BNP Paribas Open Is Heating Up! - UBITENNIS
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BNP Paribas Open Is Heating Up!

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TENNIS – If the action over the last two days is any true indication for the rest of the tournament, the BNP Paribas Open 2014 is going to be mercurially hot in the coming days. Day 5 saw the fall of fourth seed Berdych to Bautista-Agut, the withdrawal of Del Potro and Wozniacki’s win over Shvedova. Cordell Hackshaw

 

If the action over the last two days is any true indication for the rest of the tournament, the BNP Paribas Open 2014 is going to be mercurially hot in the coming days. Day 5 at this “major” event was incredible for both casual and avid fans alike. The men’s draw featured several high octane 2nd round matches. Tomas Berdych (4), fresh off a tournament win in Rotterdam and finalist in Dubai last month, came into this tournament with considerable buzz behind him. However, the Czech was flat against his 2nd round opponent, Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain. Berdych was down an early break in the 1st set, 2-4 but got himself together to win 4 straight games and close out the set 6-4. Bautista-Agut remained undeterred from his task of scoring the upset and showed that he was the more aggressive player as he raced out to a 5-1 lead in the 2nd set and closed it out 6-2. One wanted to believe that Berdych was going to get his act together and protect his career high ranking of No. 5 in the world but one only saw him employing the wrong strategies out on court. He was missing his forehands badly and engaging Bautista-Agut in long rallies but unable to pull the trigger at the right time. Bautista-Agut was relentless and proved to be the more fit of the two. This gave the Spaniard many opportunities to find his range and take the offensive against the Czech. A few games into the 3rd set, one just knew the upset was coming. Berdych was able to erase an early break by Bautista-Agut and even things at 4-4 but in the end, his error prone forehand done him in. Bautista-Agut knocked out the 4th seed 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

With Berdych’s unexpected departure and the late withdrawal of Juan Martin Del Potro (6) because of a plaguing wrist injury, Novak Djokovic (2) saw his draw become even easier than it was before; the top half of the men’s draw is jam-packed with heavy “arsenal”: Rafael Nadal (1), Stanislas Wawrinka (3), Andy Murray (5) and Roger Federer (7). Nonetheless, in order for Djokovic to get to the final, he has to get through the early rounds and that is what he did. He took care of Victor Hanescu in straight sets 7-6(1), 6-2 albeit a bit erratic in the early parts of the match. There were several other straight sets winners: John Isner (12), Grigor Dimitrov (15), Ernests Gulbis (20), Marin Cilic (24) and Fernando Verdasco (30) are all through to the 3rd round. Tommy Robredo (16) is also through to the next round with a win over Marinko Matosevic in 3 sets as did his countryman, the unseeded Feliciano Lopez who initially looked as though he was about to squander the golden opportunity of Del Potro’s withdrawal. Lopez faced lucky loser James Ward who took the 1st set 6-3. Lopez got his head straight and closed out the match in 3 sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Richard Gasquet (8) is also through to the 3rd round when his opponent Teymuraz Gabashvili retired after dropping all 8 games played in the match.

There were several upsets most notable of which was the straight sets dismissal of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9) by his countryman Julien Benneteau 4-6, 4-6. A rather disappointing result for Tsonga one is sure. He fancied his chances of getting far in this draw but instead will join Gilles Simon (21) who sent packing by Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem (5)6-7, 2-6. Philipp Kohlschreiber (22) was virtually dismantled by Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets 2-6, 2-6 as was the 25th seed Vasek Pospisil who only won two games against Mikhail Kukushkin 0-6, 2-6. Ivan Dodig (31) lost to Alejandro Gonzalez in 3 sets. Florian Mayer (26) retired in the 2nd set against Jarkko Nieminen.

On the ladies’ side, there were several battles for a place in the Round of 16. Caroline Wozniacki (10) looked to have been completed outclassed by Yaroslava Shvedova. Shvedova lead in the 1st set 4-2 but it seemed she grew uncomfortable with the lead or momentum in her favour. Wozniacki fought her way back and took the set to a tiebreaker where she saved set points to take it 7-6(7). Again Shvedova raced out to an early lead in the 2nd set 4-0 but became erratic and allowed things to get back on serve. However, she was able to close out the set 6-3 but the effort proved to be too much for her. In the decisive set, the wheels came off completely and Wozniacki avenged her lost to Shvedova last year in Madrid and took this match 7-6, 3-6, 6-1. Alizé Cornet (22) won another war of attrition against Carla Suarez-Navarro(14). They were both uncomfortable with playing very aggressive from the baseline or moving forward as they were “miles” behind the baseline. Although when they did become aggressive or came forward, it was at times in spectacular fashion. Carla Suarez-Navarro looked to be taking charge of the match often but then soon relinquished this hold. She took the 1st set 7-6(4) and had 3 match points in the 2nd set. However, Cornet was determined to fight to the end as she saved match points and soon wore down her Spanish opponent to take the match 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 in nearly three and a half hours.

Aga Radwanska (2) took care of business when she picked apart Annika Beck’s game 6-0, 6-0 to move through to the Round of 16. She would be joined by Jelena Jankovic (7) who defeated Magdalena Rybarikova (31) and Simona Halep (6) who quelled the late surge of Lucie Safarova (26) to take the match in 3 sets. Doubles team Sara Errani (9) and Roberta Vinci (13) will have to hope for the doubles title as their singles’ dream were dashed by Eugenie Bouchard (18) and qualifier Casey Dellacqua respectively. American Lauren Davis continued her good fortunes of defeating an ailing Victoria Azarenka in the 2nd round as she excused her compatriot Varvara Lepchenko from the tournament in straight sets for a place in the Round of 16.

As have been the norm here, the doubles events continue to be a hot ticket. The ladies draw not to be outdone by the men’s saw a bit of drama when Flavia Pennetta pegged both her opponents Kristina Mladenovic and Kimiko Date-Krumm. Her blow to Date-Krumm resulted in play being halted for some time as Date-Krumm was treated for possible injury to her eye. Pennetta was very apologetic about the matter and rushed for ice to soothe her opponent’s pain. In the end, play continued and Date-Krumm/Mladenovic took out Pennetta/Zahlavova-Strycova in the super-breaker 10-5; revenge is the best medicine for pain. The wildcard entry of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sam Stosur also won their match to move to the 3rd round. On the men’s side, Andy Murray and his partner Jonathan Marray lost in straight sets to the 2nd seed Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the 2nd round. The monster combo of John Isner and Sam Querrey took out Jeremy Chardy and Gilles Simon in the 1st round. Neither Jerzy Janowicz nor Philipp Kohlschreiber found doubles success after singles failure in their pairing as they lost to 4th seed in Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek. All in all it was a great day for tennis and Day 6 promises to be even better.

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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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