Indian Wells: the first few days - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: the first few days

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TENNIS – Both the ATP and WTA tours have stopped in the US for just over 3 weeks of action with the first stop being the desert location of Indian Wells California. The biggest “shocker” of the tournament thus far will have to be the early exit of 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka who lost in straight sets to American Lauren Davis 6-7, 0-6. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Both the ATP and WTA tours have stopped in the United States for just over 3 weeks of action with the first stop being the desert location of Indian Wells California, BNP Paribas Open (March 6 – March 16). This event, the most attended tennis event outside of the majors, is always special for fans as it gives them an opportunity to see many of their favourite players in one place at a fairly decent price. These premier hardcourt events are also the last stops before we head into the clay court season which culminates at the French Open in May. However, despite its desert locale, the tennis action at the BNP Paribas Open has been somewhat cold for the most part over the first 3 days. The biggest crowd draw thus far has been the doubles match up of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka v Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. The 2011 finalist and 2008 Olympics gold medalists Swiss duo won 6-2, 6-7, 1-0.

The biggest “shocker” of the tournament thus far will have to be the early exit of 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka who lost in straight sets to American Lauren Davis 6-7, 0-6. Azarenka who was clearly hampered in the match, later admitted that she is suffering from nerve damage in her foot which has been plaguing her for some time. She added that she may have been a bit too stubborn to have not adhered to medical advice to not play this event. Despite this upset, other top women’s seed managed to hold their own to move through to the 3rd round: Agnieszka Radwanska (2), Simona Halep (6), Jelena Jankovic (7), Sara Errani (9), Carolina Wozniacki (10), Roberta Vinci (13), Carla Suarez-Navarro (14), Eugenie Bouchard (18), Alizé Cornet (22), Lucie Safarova (26) and Magdalena Rybarikova (31). A pair of qualifiers Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova took out seeded players Kristen Flipkens (19) and Kaia Kanepi (24). They will be joined by Annika Beck who took Elena Vesnina (30). Two time champion (2002 and 2007) Daniela Hantuchova (29) was also upset by Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets in the 2nd round.

With this being a 96 field draw and seeded players getting a bye into the 2nd round, Days 1 and 2 had some interesting match ups for the avid tennis fan. Russia’s Vera Zvonareva (2010 Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist) saw her comeback to top level play cut short when Shuai Peng of China took her out in 3 sets. Peng went on to lose to Bouchard in the 2nd round. Fellow Russian Nadia Petrova had to retire from her match against Silvia Soler-Espinoza after just 2 games. While on the subject of veteran players trying to get back in major form, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone took out young German Mona Barthel in the 1st round. She will face her opponent in that major final, Sam Stosur for a place in the 3rd round. Promising players of the likes of Julia Goerges and Monica Niculescu are also through to the 2nd round. Other results saw the comeback efforts of Andrea Petkovic and Urszula Radwanska halted by Camila Giorgi and Aleksandra Wozniak respectively.

There were many young up and coming players also in action in the 1st round here at Indian Wells. Great Britain’s Heather Watson won over the 16-year over Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Although Watson lost in the 2nd round to Aga Radwanska in straight sets, it was a good effort against the top player. Not surprisingly, the United States put forward many of their young talents in the field. Shelby Rogers, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Townsend all won their 1st round matches. Fellow Americans Victoria Duval, Alexandra Kiick, Alison Riske, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Christina McHale and Vania King were not so lucky. Keys went on to lose to Vinci in 2nd round.

On the men’s side, main draw action began on Thursday and like the women’s draw, the top 32 seeds were given byes into the 2nd round. Veteran and two time major winner, Lleyton Hewitt proved that he still has something left in the tank when he took out his countryman Matthew Ebden in 3 sets. Another veteran on tour Mike Russell of the US took out his fellow countryman Donald Young. Russell was joined by his compatriots Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison and Tim Smyczek in the 2nd round. Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin won over Benjamin Becker in straight sets. It must be noted that it was a very lackluster performance from the German in this match up. There were so many careless errors from his racquet that at times it looked as though they were intentional. Nonetheless, a good win for the Frenchman.

Other winners included Radek Stepanek surprisingly over Denis Istomin. Stepanek will get for his 2nd round opponent, world’s number 1 Rafael Nadal. Speaking of Nadal, Lukas Rosol won his 1st round encounter and will try for another major upset as he faces Andy Murray in the 2nd round. Jeremy Chardy, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Ivo Karlovic and Juan Monaco also moved through to the next round. Tour veterans such as Feliciano Lopez, Jarkko Nieminen, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Nikolay Davydenko, Julien Benneteau and Victor Hanescu are also through to the 2nd round where they will all face seeded players.

The top seeds begin play on Saturday with Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and recent Australian Open champion Stanislav Wawrinka all set to play. The tournament is sure to come alive from here on end or so one would hope.

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Daniil Medvedev Can Improve Further After US Open Win, Says Coach

Gilles Cervara has overseen the rise of the world No.2 since 2017 and he believes there is still more to come.

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The 2021 Men's Singles Champion, Daniil Medvedev at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

The team of Daniil Medvedev are already looking into ways the Russian can improve his game less than a week after he won the US Open, according to his coach Gilles Cervara.

 

On Sunday the 25-year-old defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to claim his first-ever Grand Slam title and become the first Russian man to win a major since Marat Safin in 2005. Impressively Medvedev only dropped one set in the tournament which was against Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals.

Guiding Medvedev to glory in New York was his coach Cervara who has been working with him since 2017. The Frenchman was recognized for his work with Medvedev back in 2019 when he was named ATP coach of the Year. Speaking to Tennis Majors earlier this week, Cervara believes part of the success they have had is due to the desire to continuously improve.

“It’s huge to have won the US Open. But Daniil, me and the whole team, we are always focused on performance,” he said. “It’s a way of life, of thinking, which means that I will always be drawn to the idea of doing better, and therefore of winning the next tournament. To make this possible, I have to set up workouts to be even stronger and respond to more situations, to win even more.”

It is hard to question the approach taken by Cervara when you look at Medvedev’s results on the hardcourts. According to the ATP, the world No.2 has won 147 matches and 12 titles on the surface since 2018 which is more than any other player. The next best player is Djokovic with 115 wins and 10 titles.

Medvedev could end the year as world No.1 but it will be far from easy. He is currently more than 1300 points behind Djokovic in the standings. If he wants to overtake him he will need to win or reach the finals of key events in Indian Wells, Paris and the ATP Finals. Although it is hard to project an exact route as it is unclear as to what tournaments will be played.

“I tell myself that it involves work and improving many things on a daily basis. The team has already started to think: yes, he wins a Grand Slam, but we can see a lot of things to improve,” Cervara commented. “These things represent the concrete aspects to be deployed with a view to a potential future great result. To be number one and win other majors, you have to achieve concrete things, at work, every day.”

Just because Medvedev has won a Grand Slam doesn’t automatically mean that he will go on to dominate the Tour. 12 months ago at the US Open, it was Dominic Thiem who triumphed at the tournament. However, the Austrian admitted that he struggled over the following months after achieving one of his career goals. Thiem didn’t play in this year’s US Open due to a wrist injury.

“I don’t think that will happen to him, but if we want to use what has happened for others, then yes it is a point of attention. It’s too early to know. If that happens, we will look for solutions,” Medvedev’s mentor commented.

One of the most unique aspects of Medvedev’s game is how far he stands behind the baseline during points. In one research article conducted by UbiTennis on the 2020 ATP Finals, the average player stood 1.9 meters behind the baseline. However, Medvedev’s return position was between 4.51 and 5.51 meters. Interestingly the analysis found that the further he stood behind the more he won.

Cervara admits that initially he tried to stop Medvedev from standing so far behind the baseline but the Russian refused to do so. His initial fear was that the tennis player was opening himself up to too many angles which his opponent could use. However, he soon came to realise that this wouldn’t be the case.

“I tried to get him to return closer to the line, but he refused,” he said. “He felt that as he got closer to the line, things just stopped happening for him. I think I had the intelligence to listen to him and put myself in his shoes, not to deconstruct something that is advantageous for him thanks to his size, his eye and his playing intentions. And the stats tell us that it pays a lot.”

Medvedev is set to return to action in just over a week at the Laver Cup. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 44-9.

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Top Seed Tennys Sandgren Defaulted From Match Two Games In At Challenger Event

The tennis player was on court for less than 20 minutes before the incident happened.

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Tennys Sandgren’s appearance at the Atlantic Tire Championships Challenger event in Cary was a very brief one after he was disqualified from his first round match for hitting a lines official with a ball.

 

The world No.103 was taking on Christopher Eubanks in the first round on Tuesday and got off to a promising start by breaking in the first game before working his way to a 40-30 lead in the second. However, Sandgren then landed himself in hot water after hitting a tennis ball which struck one of the court officials. At the time the American was frustrated after hitting a forehand error.

The bizarre incident wasn’t caught on camera by the tournament livestream but Sandgren gave his version of events shortly after. He said a ball thrown to him by a ball kid hit him in the genitals and after that he slapped a wayward ball towards the fence. However, that wayward ball ended up hitting the ‘tushy’ of a court official.

https://twitter.com/TennysSandgren/status/1437933892456140809

Immediately after the incident, the tournament supervisor was called to the court by the umpire. Following a brief discussion on the court, Sandgren was then disqualified from the match for an action which he later took full responsibility for.

“Just to be clear, this was all totally my fault,” he wrote on Twitter.

It is not the first time a player has been disqualified for hitting a ball which then struck an official. The most famous incident took place at last year’s US Open when Novak Djokovic was disqualified from his fourth round match after hitting a ball which hit the lineswoman in the throat. In another incident, Denis Shapovalov was disqualified from one of his Davis Cup matches after unintentionally firing a ball into the umpire’s eye.

Sandgren, who is a two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist, has experienced a disappointing 2021 season so far. The American is yet to win back-to-back matches at a tournament and has only recorded a total of eight wins overall. Since January he has fallen more than 50 places in the ATP rankings.

Full video (go to the 19-minuite mark)

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Daniil Medvedev Marks US Open Milestone With FIFA-Inspired ‘Dead Fish’ Celebration

In his own words, the new champion produced an ‘L2 + Left’ celebration after defeating Novak Djokovic in New York on Sunday.

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Daniil Medvedev reacts to winning the Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

Daniil Medvedev’s reaction to winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open wasn’t random. In fact, he has been thinking about his FIFA-inspired celebration since Wimbledon.

 

On Sunday the world No.2 defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to become only the third Russian man in history to win a major title. The triumph caused heartbreak for his opponent who was on the verge of achieving the elusive Calendar Slam which last happened on the men’s Tour back in 1968. Leading 6-4, 6-4, 5-4, Medvedev sealed victory after a Djokovic return slammed into the net. Prompting him to literally drop to the ground in a somewhat unusual way.

“Only the legends will understand, what I did after the match was a L2 + Left,” he said during the trophy presentation.

The reference was to the game FIFA with L2 + Left being the code for what is called by some as the brick fall celebration or what Medvedev describes as ‘dead fish.’ When a player would just drop to the ground on his side after scoring a goal.

“When I was running through [the draw at] Wimbledon… I was really confident about my game. I think it was one night, you know, you cannot fall asleep. Five, 10 minutes you have crazy thoughts, like every other person,” he said.
“I was like, OK, if I’m going to win Wimbledon, imagine I win it against Novak or whatever. To not celebrate is going to be too boring, because I do it all the time. I need to do something, but I want to make it special.”

Medvedev’s planned celebration was no secret with him openly speaking with others in the locker room leading up to the US Open. No names of who he spoke to were mentioned by the Russian who says his peers described the idea as ‘legendary.’

“I like to play FIFA. I like to play PlayStation. It’s called the dead fish celebration. If you know your opponent when you play FIFA, many times you’re going to do this. You’re going to score a goal, you’re up 5-0, you do this one,” he continued.
“Yeah, I talked to the guys in the locker [room], they’re young guys, super chill guys. They play FIFA. They were like, ‘That’s legendary’. Everybody who I saw who plays FIFA thinks that’s legendary. That’s how I wanted to make it… It’s not easy to make it on hard courts. I got hurt a little bit, but I’m happy I made it legendary for myself.”

It certainly was legendary from Medvedev.

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