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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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Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice

The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.

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This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.

 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.

Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.

“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.

As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.

“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”

Del Potro’s comeback delayed again

There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.

However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.

Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.

Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.

RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

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Vasek Pospisil dispatches James Ward in Eastbourne

Vasek Pospisil is into the second round at Eastbourne.

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Vasek Pospisil (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

The Canadian won his first match on grass of the year beating the local favourite James Ward.

 

Vasek Pospisil is through to the second round of the Viking International ATP 250 in Eastbourne after beating the Brit James Ward in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes on court number two.

“It was a good match, I played pretty well, I thought I served well and he is a tough opponent on grass because he has a tough first serve but I was pretty sharp and played well when I needed to and happy to get the win”.

It was the Canadian who had the first chance to break at 1-1 and he got the early break and that one break was good enough for him to serve out the first set.

The second set was much of the same and actually was identical to the first with the world number 66 getting the break to take a 2-1 lead but faced a breakpoint when consolidating the break.

Again that one break was enough for him to serve out the match and book his spot in the next round. This is Pospisil’s first win since the month and after the match, he spoke about how the last couple of months have been for him.

“It was good I just took a break from the tour just to refresh the mind and the body and I hadn’t seen my family in nine months so it was a good reset and I felt I needed a break to kinda be excited about touring and the covid conditions and now I’m back and I am happy to be back and I am playing well so it was a nice break.”

Pospisil will now face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the next round after the Spaniard beat the Swede Mikael Ymer in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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