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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Ugo Humbert stuns Borna Coric to advance to the quarter final in Marseille

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French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert upset world number 12 Borna Coric 6-3 6-3 at the Open 13 in Marseille scoring the biggest win of his career.

Humbert broke three times in the third game of the first set and twice in the third and ninth games of the the second set to reach his first ATP quarter final.

Humbert, who won the Challenger title in Cherbourg, converted three of his eight break points. The young French player held his serve in the first game before earning three break points in the second game, but Coric saved them.

The Frenchman got the first break in the fourth game with a volley winner and fended off a break point in the next game. The Frenchman saved a break point, as he was serving for the first set at 5-3 and sealed the first set with a good serve.

In the second set Humbert broke serve in the third set and sealed the second set with another break, when Coric made a backhand error.

Humbert will face German qualifier Matthias Bachinger, who beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-3 in 77 minutes. Bachinger saved eight of the nine break points and broke three times.

David Goffin beat Benoit Paire 6-2 6-3 after 63 minutes to reach his first quarter final since Cinicinnati last year.

“My level was good, very positive. The atmosphere was great, and it’s always easier when you are not the favourite. This was the first time I played a player ranked that high. I was able to stay calm and play well”,said Humbert.

 

Goffin won five consecutive points in the sixth game to break serve after a backhand error from Paire. Goffin got another break in the eighth game to close out the first set after another error from Paire.

Paire broke serve in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead. Goffin broke back in the sixth game at love to draw level to 3-3.

Goffin converted his sixth break point in the eighth game and held serve at love in the eighth game with a service winner at 5-3 to close out the match securing his spot in the quarter finals, where he will face Gilles Simon.

Andrey Rublev edged Matteo Berrettini 6-3 7-6 after 1 hour and 31 minutes to avenge his last year’s defeat against the Italian player in Gstaad. Rublev, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening round, broke serve in the second game and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-3.

Rublev broke serve in the fifth game to take a 4-2 lead, but Berrettini broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Rublev won the tie-break 7-2 to secure his spot in the quarter final, where he will face Mikhail Kukushkin, who beat Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday.

 

 

 

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Following Career-Best Win, Félix Auger-Aliassime Achieves Another Milestone In Rio

The former US Open boy’s champion is a win away from reaching the semi-finals of a ATP Tour event for the first time in his career.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - Toronto 2018 (via Twitter, @rogerscup)

Félix Auger-Aliassime’s week at the Rio Open keeps getting better and better.

The 18-year-old Canadian began his campaign at the tournament on Tuesday with a shock straight sets win over second seed Fabio Fognini. The Italian veteran, who is currently ranked 16th in the world, is Auger-Aliassime’s biggest win in terms of ranking. Furthermore, that sole victory has ensured that the Canadian will break into the top 100 next week for the first time in his career.

Continuing his momentum at the tournament, Auger-Aliassime followed up on his first round triumph by defeating Chile’s Christian Garin 7-5, 6-4, in the second round. Hitting 27 winners to 31 unforced errors. Auger-Aliassime will now play in only his second quarter-final on the ATP Tour and his first in a 500 event.

“It’s been good, I didn’t know what to expect when I got here, hadn’t won many matches this year. I knew I was playing well from the practices. I thought I had the chance to have tournaments like these. I came in, believed in my game and it’s paying off now. I was able to stay strong physically and mentally at these conditions,” tournament website rioopen.com quoted the Next Gen star as saying.

Wildcard Auger-Aliassime has been tipped as a future star in the sport since his teenage years. At the age of 14 he qualified for the main draw of a Challenger event for the first time. He is a former US Open boys champion and is one of the youngest players of all time at win a Challenger title at the age of 16 years and 10 months. In total, the Canadian currently has four Challenger titles to his name.

Awaiting Auger-Aliassime in the next round will be another rising star on the men’s tour. Spain’s Jaume Munar prevailed in a marathon clash against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie. The Spaniard required almost three-and-a-half hours to defeat Norrie 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(4).

“It’s probably the toughest game I’ll have to play so far this week. Munar has been playing good, having good results. He already beat me two times on clay last year so I’m expecting a tough match. But I believe in myself and I know I have what it takes to beat a guy like him”, Auger-Aliassime said about his upcoming opponent.

In their head-to-head, Auger-Aliassime is yet to defeat Munar after losing to him twice last year.

Following a series of shocks, there are only one seeded player remaining in the Rio Open draw. That is fifth seed Joao Sousa, who will play his second round match on Thursday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets in Marseille

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Hungary’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-2 after just 59 minutes in a match between two Next Gen players at the Open 13 in Marseille to score his first win in his third appearance in the French tournament

Tsitsipas had already beaten Hurkacz at last November’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The Greek star, who reached the Australian Open semifinal last January, converted his second break point chance in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. He earned back-to-back breaks in the sixth and eighth games to seal the second set 6-2, when Hurkacz fired his forehand into the tramline.

“It was a good match. I enjoyed it. I am moving on. It is nice to start so well. It was a no-trouble match. Everything went smooth. Breaks happened when they had to happen. It was a solid match”, said Tsitsipas.

Mikhail Kukushkin upset Denis Shapovalov 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in 82 minutes. The Kazakh player earned his break in the seventh game for 4-3 en route to winning the first set 6-4. Kukushkin saved two break in the fourth game of the second set, which went on serve with no breaks until the tie-break. Kukushkin won the first four points to win the tie-break 7-4.

Gilles Simon rallied from one set down to beat Peter Gojowczyk 4-6 6-4 6-2 to secure his spot in the quarter final where he will face either David Goffin or Benoit Paire. Gojowczyk sealed the first set 6-4 with his only break in the 10th game. Simon converted his second break chance in the third game to win the second set 6-4. Simon broke twice at love in in the first and fifth games to win the decisive set 6-2.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Ernests Gulbis 6-3 7-6 (7-3). German qualifier Matthias Bachinger fought back from one set down to beat Steve Darcis 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and three minutes.

 

 

 

 

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