Indian Wells: Li Na wins all-Chinese match. Nadal survives Stepanek scare - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: Li Na wins all-Chinese match. Nadal survives Stepanek scare

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TENNIS –  On the women’s side, Li Na (1) took on her and beat countrywoman, Zheng Jie who was a dangerous floater in any draw. The first seed won 6-2. 7-5. In the men’s event Rafael Nadal survived an early scare against Radek Stepanek. Cordell Hackshaw

 

With all 1st round matches concluded over the past 3 days, Day 4 at the BNP Paribas Open has heated up considerably for the 2nd round matches. Many of the top seeds and tour favourites were on court and the fans loved every moment of it. On the women’s side, Li Na (1) took on her countrywoman, Zheng Jie who is a dangerous floater in any draw. This is the highest seeding Li has had at a “major” event and she most definitely was not about to waste this opportunity. Li took the first set easily 6-2 but lost her way a bit as she was down 2-4 in the 2nd set. However, Zheng was unable to close the deal and force a 3rd set as Li cleaned up her game and took the match 6-2, 7-5. She will be joined by Maria Sharapova (4) in the 3rd round who took out Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-4.

Other top seeds were in action and moved through to the next round including Petra Kvitova (8) who took out American wildcard Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets as did Dominika Cibulkova (12), Sam Stosur (16) who took out Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-3; a rematch of the 2010 French Open final, and Sloane Stephens (17). Ana Ivanovic (11) had a tough time against her opponent Elina Svitolina. Ivanovic’s inability to stay focus in matches is now legendary and found herself down a set in the early parts of the match 4-6. She was able to take the 2nd set 7-5. However, Svitolina served for the match twice in the 3rd set in a string of six consecutive breaks of serve culminating in a tiebreaker to decide the match. It was at this point that Ivanovic found her range again to take it 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(1). Flavia Pennetta (20) found herself in a somewhat similar fight against 17-year old American Taylor Townsend. Townsend, despite all the talk of her body, has a very solid game and it would be interesting to see how far her career goes in spite of the weight of expectation. Nonetheless, it was not her day today. The American had a break in the 3rd set but could not consolidate and the more experience player in Pennetta simply capitalized to take the match 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.

Other winners of the day included several Russians who will join Sharapova in the 3rd round: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (21), Ekaterina Makarova (23), Svetlana Kuznetsova (27) and unseeded Alisa Kleybanova who took out the 32nd seed Garbine Muguruza in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. It is nice to see Kleybanova back on tour and playing top draw tennis as she did when she rose to No. 20 in 2011. Since then, she has successfully battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which took her off the tour for a considerable amount of time.

There were several upsets, the biggest of which saw Angelique Kerber (5) bounced out of the tournament by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in 3 sets 6-2, 6-7, 4-6. Sabine Lisicki (15) continued her inconsistent streak of play as Aleksandra Wozniak took her out on her way to the 3rd round 7-5 1-6 7-6. Soria Cirstea (25) and Klara Zakopalova (28) were also knocked out of the tournament by Camila Giorgi and Karoline Pliskova respectively.

The men’s draw proved to be far more interesting than the ladies in the earlier rounds of the tournament as many of the top men face stiff opposition from their opponents. Andy Murray (5) dropped the 1st set 4-6 to Lukas Rosol, the man who took out Rafael Nadal out of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. Murray had only 1 winner to the 18 from Rosol in that initial set. However, the Scotsman righted his ship and soon nullified the potential threat that was the Czech. Rosol had the initial break in the 2nd set but was unable to adapt his style of play, the monster serve/forehand combination to the superior tactics of the 2 time major winner. Murray drew Rosol side to side and withstood the barrage of heavy-handed forehands which became more and more erratic as the match went on. In the end, Murray was just too much for Rosol to handle and Murray moved on 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Things were looking very comfortable for Roger Federer (7) against Paul-Henri Mathieu as he was up 6-2, 5-4 serving for the match. However, he gave Mathieu his first looks at break points and Mathieu converted on this rare occasion. Federer then became quite erratic and the match became anything but routine for the Swiss. He barely got the 2nd set to a tiebreaker and was down a mini break. Federer then found his top form again and closed out the match 7-6(5) to move through to the 3rd round. It seemed as though all the top men wanted to complicate their lives as Rafael Nadal too joined in on the action. He dropped the 1st set to Radek Stepanek who was playing a most aggressive style throughout the match. Nadal did his best to avoid the upset and just got by to the 3rd round in under two and a half hours 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. The world’s number one is looking to retain the title here as he did last year when kick started an incredible 2013 for him on hardcourts. He did not lose a match all of last year on the surface.  Milos Raonic (10), Fabio Fognini (13) and Andreas Seppi (29) also had to battle it out in 3 sets to get through to the 3rd round.

Several of the other top seeds figured out how to get to the 3rd round in an easier fashion. Current Australian Open champ Stanislas Wawrinka (3) won in straight sets over the monster serving Ivo Karlovic. Other straight sets winners include Tommy Haas (11), Kevin Anderson (17), Kei Nishikori (19), Gael Monfils (23), Dmitry Tursunov (27) and Alexsandr Dolgopolov (28). In terms of upsets, Jerzy Janowicz (18), one of the potential stars of the tour, lost to Alejandro Falla 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(5). Janowicz was up 5-2 in the 3rd set before becoming unraveled. Pablo Andujar (32) also lost to Jiri Vesely in 3 sets.

It was not just the men’s singles matches that proved to be interested at this tournament. There were many great pairings on the court which has made the men’s doubles event here a hot ticket. Novak Djokovic paired up with his countryman Filip Krajnovic for a chance of doubles glory but it was cut short by the team of Ernests Gulbis and Milos Raonic in straight sets 7-6, 6-1. The giant duo of Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro got together to take on the very experienced team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic. They also lost their bid for doubles glory as the Nestor/Zimonjic took in the super-breaker 4-6, 6-3, 10-8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and his partner Nicolas Mahut came through against Kevin Anderson and Robin Haase. They will join Richard Gasquet and Jonathan Ehrlich in the 2nd round as they took out the Polish team of Marius Fystenberg and Marcin Matkowski.

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Tomas Berdych: It Is Up To Others To Decide My Legacy

The former top-10 player spoke with reporters for the first time since officially retiring from the sport

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Tomer Berdych (far left) among group of recently retired player's attending special presentation at The 2019 ATP Finals

LONDON: Tomas Berdych has said his future plans is ‘to not have a plan’ after officially retiring from tennis on Saturday at the age of 34.

 

The former Wimbledon runner-up joined a series of other former players to celebrate their careers in a special on-court presentation at the ATP Finals. Also present was Radek Stepanek and David Ferrer. News of Berdych’s decision to walk away from the sport surfaced earlier this week after a Czech newspaper spoke with his father Martin.

Speculation has mounted in recent months about Berdych’s future in the sport after struggles with injury issues concerning his back and hip. He hasn’t played on the tour since the US Open. Overall, he has only managed to play 22 matches this season. Winning 13 of them.

“I was able to train, practice, prepare, and then you get to the tournament, and then I play three games, the problem came back.” Berdych explained during a press conference about his decision.
“You put all the negative stuff on the one side, and then the positive is to go on court, fight, win the match, and there was no chance to achieve that. There is really no point to continue.”

Playing in the shadows on the Big Four contingent, the Czech still managed to establish himself as a household name. Albeit on a smaller scale. As of this week, he is ranked as the 11th highest-earning player on the ATP Tour in history with more than $29 million in prize money. His achievements include winning 13 ATP titles and spending 794 consecutive weeks in the top 100. At his peak, he was fourth in the world rankings and finished seven seasons inside the top 10.

Like any other player, it hasn’t always been a smooth journey for Berdych. One example was during the 2012 Australian Open where he was booed off the court after defeating Nicolas Almagro during what was a bad-tempered encounter. However, fortunately, most of his career has been free from controversy.

“Do I have any regrets? No, I think even the bad things or the negative experience that I went through or I experienced or I have done, I think they were there for the reason. I think without them, I wouldn’t be as good as I was.” Berdych stated.
“I think even the bad ones were there for a reason.”

Now he has stepped away from the sport for good, what does the future have in store? According to the Czech, he is in no intention of rushing into anything else soon. Although he admits that it may not be tennis-related.

“The plan is actually not to have any plans. The last 15, 20 years was so hectic and so demanding that I just need to just to breathe out easily after all those years.”

As the chapter closes on the career of one of the Czech Republic’s most successful male players in the Open Era, he leaves the sport with high respect from both his fans and fellow rivals. As for his legacy, he says that it is not for him to decide.

“I think I’m not the correct one to judge that. I was trying to do the best I possibly can, and I think this is something that you created with your achievement and with your behavior.” He concludes.

Berdych’s career in numbers

2 – number of Davis Cup titles won
4 – highest ATP ranking achieved
13– number of ATP titles
53 – number of wins over top 10 players
342 – number of losses on the ATP Tour
640 – number of wins on the ATP Tour
2002 – the year he turned pro
2019 – the year he retired
29,491,328 – career prize money (in US dollars)

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Alexander Zverev Topples Medvedev To End Hopes Of Fedal Clash At ATP Finals

The defending champion survives, but knocks Rafael Nadal out of the competition.

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LONDON: Alexander Zverev has kept his chances of claiming a second consecutive ATP Finals title alive after downing Daniil Medvedev in a crucial match.

The world No.7 rallied to a 6-4, 7-6(4), victory in what was a must-win match for the German player. Who was on the brink of exiting the event as a result of Rafael Nadal’s win earlier in the day. The key to Zverev’s win was his trusted serve as he didn’t face a single break point in the 77-minute match. On top of that, he hit 21 winners and eight aces.

 

“This arena at The O2 is probably where I play my best tennis.” Said Zverev.
“The atmosphere here is something we (the players) don’t play in at all anywhere else in the world. This is so special to us.”

Resting on this match was the prospect of Roger Federer locking horns with nemesis Rafael Nadal for the 41st time. In order for that to occur, it was up to Medvedev to clinch a win. However, Zverev had his own plans as he extended his winning head-to-head record against the Russian to 5-1.

“He had nothing to lose. It was his last (ATP) match of the season and he could just enjoy the tennis, the atmosphere, and the stadium. And for me, it was a must-win situation to go through.”

It was a substandard Medvedev service game at the start of the match which would elevate Zverev to an early advantage as he broke instantly. Fortunately for the rowdy crowd at the 18,500 capacity arena, the Russian did manage to elevate the level of his game. Although it was still not good enough to derail Zverev from clinching the opener after just 33 minutes of play. A 141 mph serve down the center of the court from the 22-year-old forced another error from his rival to generate a set point chance. Zverev then converted after an attempted down the line shot from Medvedev backfired.

Despite clinching the lead, it was by no means a foregone conclusion for Zverev. Who had to contend with some stern play across the court. There was little difference between the two players throughout the second set. In the end, it would be a tiebreak that separated them. At the worst possible time, a Medvedev double fault enabled Zverev to break for 5-3. Once again in control of proceedings, he held his nerve to close the match out with an ace down the center of the court. Prompting a huge roar from Zverev as he paid tribute to his rival moments after.

“He was probably the best player in the world over the summer. Making it to six straight finals is unbelievable. You haven’t seen that (on the tour) for a long time.” He commented on Medvedev’s season.
“I think next year he is going to be very dangerous.”

Zverev finishes second in the Andre Agassi Group. He will play rival and friend Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Saturday. A player who he trails 2-5 in their head-to-head.

“Playing against your friend means you have both done incredibly well throughout the whole year and this week. It’s a great honor to play against him.” He reflected.

Should he defend his title this week, Zverev would become the first player outside of the Big Three to do so since Lleyton Hewitt (2001-2002).

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Cabal And Farah Gain Semi-Final Berth In London As Herbert And Mahut Keep Winning

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah gained their first win at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals and advanced to Saturday’s semi-finals.

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Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (@atptour - Twitter)

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah are into the semi-finals in London after beating Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies 7-6(7) 6-2. 

 

The year-end world number one’s won a tight contest to get their first win of the tournament at the ATP Finals as they advanced to the last four.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1194979819886387203

Although it hasn’t been a convincing tournament for the Colombians, they finally clicked into gear today beating the Roland Garros champions.

In a tight first set, the German duo failed to take the only break point of the set as both team served with great power as well as precision.

The tiebreak was no different in terms of the margins that were in it as Krawietz and Mies failed to take the set point at 6-5.

But the top seeds were more clinical with their chances as they took their second set point to claim the tight tiebreak 9-7.

From that point onwards it was all about the Colombians as they broke twice in the second set to gain their first win of the Nitto ATP Finals.

As a result of their win, they knocked out the Germans from the tournament but had to wait to see if Herbert and Mahut could claim a straight sets win over Rojer and Tecau to secure their semi-final spot.

The Wimbledon and US Open champions didn’t have to worry too much though because Herbert and Mahut produced another dominating display to secure the straight sets win.

A 6-3 7-6(4) win for the French team meant they went 3-0 for the Round Robin stage and seal Cabal and Farah’s place in the last four.

Despite winning only one match in the Round Robin stage, the Colombians are looking to seal an history-making season with the ATP Finals title this weekend.

As the round-robin stage reaches its climax, here is the confirmed semi-final line-up for Saturday’s blockbuster showdown:

12pm 

Klaasen/Venus (5) v Cabal/Farah (1)

6pm 

Herbert/Mahut (7) v Kubot/Melo (2)

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