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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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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