Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 31st of March 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 31st of March 2014

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TENNIS – Andy Murray gets slimy. Miami sets an unwelcome record. Serena Williams becomes the fourth woman to win 7 titles at the same event. The men prepare for Davis Cup duty and the women play in Charleston and Monterrey. Joshua Bosco

 

Murray gets gunked

Andy Murray got more than he bargained for during his press conference at the Crandon Park Tennis Center last week. Buckets of green goo were thrown all over him as a publicity stunt for Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2014.

 

I feel incredibly privileged to receive Nickelodeon’s UK History Maker Kids’ Choice Award […]. Getting slimed is definitely the most outrageous award acceptance I’ve ever done – it was pretty good fun” said Murray afterwards.

Tennis History in the making

Tennis history was in the making in Miami last Friday. Both the men’s semi-finals scheduled for that day were resolved with a walkover, with World No.1 Rafael Nadal and World No.2 Novak Djokovic advancing to the final of the Sony Open without having to play a single point.

According to the ATP, It’s the first time in the Open Era (since 1968) that both semi-finals at a tour-level event end in walkovers.

The first player to withdraw from his match was Kei Nishikori: the Japanese player, after a successful week in which he defeated Grigor Dimitrov, David Ferrer and Roger Federer (all ranked higher than him), was forced to forfeit the semi-final due to a left groin injury.

In the second walkover of the day  Tomas Berdych was forced to pull out of his match against Nadal with gastroenteritis. Despite his withdrawal the Czech player will now rise to No.5 in the ATP rankings, matching his career-best reached in August 2013.

Yesterday’s final marked the 40th match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard, after last night’s 6-3 6-3 loss, still leads 22-18 in the Head2Head. Worthy of mention is the fact that  Nadal and Djokovic are now defending champions in all nine  ATP World Tour Masters 1000, with 5 titles to Djokovic’s name (Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Shanghai and Paris) and Nadal trailing with just 4 (Madrid, Rome, Canada and Cincinnati).

7 times Serena

After winning the Sony Open in Miami on Saturday, World No.1 Serena Williams became just the fourth woman to win the same tournament at least seven times. She managed to do so thirteen years after her first triumph there in 2002, a straight sets victory over the then-World No.1 Jennifer Capriati.

She joins Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert in this elite club: Navratilova has won 8 different tournaments seven or more times (including 12 titles in Chicago in a fifteen year span and 9 Wimbledon titles), while both Graf and Evert have won “only” 2 different tournaments at least seven times (Wimbledon and the German Open for Graf, Roland Garros and the Family Circle for the American).

Davis Cup weekend

No major tournament will take place this week in the ATP World Tour as players will be busy with the Davis Cup quarterfinals and Zone Group I and II ties this weekend.

Japan vs Czech Republic will feature Miami’s semi-finalist Kei Nishikori and two-times Davis Cup champion Radek Stepanek;
France vs Germany will see a full-powered French team (Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils and Benneteau) take on a German side missing its four best-ranked players;
Italy vs Great Britain Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will have to defend himself against Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi on clay;
Switzerland vs Kazakhstan World No.3 & No.4 Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer will be hoping to reverse the result of the 2011 Davis Cup when Kazakhstan beat Switzerland 5-0 and reach the semi-finals for just the third time in over 90 years.

Some fascinating encounters can also be found in Zone Group I and II ties: the most anticipated is Poland vs Croatia, which will see World No.21 Jerzy Janowicz and formidable doubles team Fyrstenberg/Matkowski take on Marin Cilic and junior sensation Borna Coric.
Colombia will put faith in their consolidated quartet, made up of Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Falla and doubles Miami finalists Cabal/Farah, for their Colombia vs Dominican Republic tie and World No.15 Grigor Dimitrov will play in Athens this weekend in Greece vs Bulgaria.

Family Circle & Monterrey

The WTA Tour, however, won’t stop this week:

In Charleston, World No.1 and Sony Open winner Serena Williams will try to win her third successive Family Circle Cup (and fourth in total) but will have to compete against a tough field including her sister Venus, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani, Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard and Lucie Safarova. Nadia Petrova received a wildcard while Alize Cornet, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have withdrawn before the start of the tournament.

In Monterrey players including Flavia Pennetta, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Kirsten Flipkens and Garbine Muguruza will try to take advantage of the absence of last year’s winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and World No.4 Victoria Azarenka to take home the title.

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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