2014 Monte Carlo Master 1000: Wawrinka wins the Battle of the Swiss - UBITENNIS
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2014 Monte Carlo Master 1000: Wawrinka wins the Battle of the Swiss

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TENNIS – Just in case tennis fans had any doubts about the legitimacy of Stanislas Wawrinka’s ascendancy to the top 3 in professional tennis and whether he has the goods to be a real contender for tennis supremacy, they have all been quieted as Wawrinka convincingly took out his countryman Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 to claim the 2014 Monte Carlo Master 1000 title. Cordell Hackshaw

Just in case tennis fans had any doubts about the legitimacy of Stanislas Wawrinka’s ascendancy to the top 3 in professional tennis and whether he has the goods to be a real contender for tennis supremacy, they have all been quieted as Wawrinka convincingly took out his countryman Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 to claim the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters 1000 title. Wawrinka and Federer share a lot in common besides the obvious occupation and citizenship. They are amongst the few husbands/fathers currently on tour, they share coaching staff and they have shared victories together; most famously their 2008 Beijing Doubles gold medal and quite recently their Davis Cup tie win for a place in the semifinals. Despite all this, it has always been Wawrinka fighting for prominence when coupled with Federer. It is hard to argue against this case after a passing glance Federer’s impressive resume. Federer has a 13-1 head-to-head record against his compatriot. However, 2014 has seen the Wawrinka stock rising exponentially. With his impressive wins over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to claim his maiden major title in Australia earlier this year, his “heroic” effort in Davis Cup last week and today with his first Masters Series 1000 title win, Wawrinka has done what many have thought as being impossible; he has stepped out from the shadow of Federer to claim the solo spotlight. Wawrinka has proven with this win that he is the genuine Swiss No 1.

The match started out rather tentative. It had that feel of awkwardness somewhat similar to when the Williams Sisters play each other; indecisive crowd, stilted atmosphere and neither player looked to be taking an aggressive stance on court. Wawrinka would later state, “It’s always special to play Roger. We know it’s always a strange match, especially being in the final here. He’s my best friend on the tour. We respect each other so much.” However, it was Federer who took the early lead in the opening set when Wawrinka pushed his forehand long in the 5th game to give the elder Swiss the first break. Federer despite slipping and falling several times, was sure footed about his game as he took the set 6-4. Wawrinka was not playing badly but it seemed as though nerves got the better of him and the more experienced Federer capitalized.

The second set saw Wawrinka racing to an early lead of 2-0 but he was quickly broken at love by Federer and one thought that Federer was going to run away with the match. However, there were no more breaks of serves in the set and soon the players found themselves in the 2nd set tiebreaker which would be the pivotal point of the match. It was here that Wawrinka took complete charge of the match and never looked back. With heavy serving and precision plays, Wawrinka took the mini break and this was all the momentum that he needed. He took the breaker 7-5 points and the set. There was no stopping the current Australian Open champion as he dominated in the decisive set. Wawrinka seemed super charged and almost superhuman as he could do no wrong. He would only drop 3 points on serve in the set winning an impressive 13/14 (92%) 1st serve points won. He was a completely different player from the two previous sets as he broke Federer in successive service games to put the title within grasp at 4-0. Federer had absolutely no answers for any of Wawrinka’s tactics as he was struggling to win points. The 17-time major champion was able to hold serve in the 5th and 7th game but he could do no more as Wawrinka closed out the set 6-2 to take his first Masters 1000 title.

As with his Australian Open final’s victory, the overall stats do not reveal the true prowess of Wawrinka on court. Federer had more 1st serves in (66% to 58%) and had a better break point conversion (66% to 48%) than Wawrinka. The differences in the other areas were negligible though Wawrinka was clearly more effective on 2nd serve than Federer. Wawrinka won 56% compared to Federer’s 44%. What the statistics do not show is how well Wawrinka played the big points. What the stats cannot show is how Wawrinka completely bossed Federer around in the 3rd set and so completely raised his level that Federer looked pedestrian. Make no mistake Federer was out muscled on court. Federer could not contend with the weight of shots from Wawrinka and could not get himself into the court to make his life easier. Federer, himself spoke of the 3rd set saying, I think he [Wawrinka] really found his range and started to hit bigger, deeper. He didn’t miss that many second serve returns anymore. He gave me a couple cheap points in the first couple sets which he later on really didn’t give me anymore. So it made it tougher for me.

Wawrinka’s victory means that he retains the 3rd spot in the ranking and distances himself from Federer who would have taken the spot had he won the title. It should also be a confidence booster for Wawrinka as he gets into the full swing of the clay court season. This year, he is 6-0 against top 10 players and there is no doubt that his name is up there as possible contender for the Roland Garros title. The top players would do well to not underestimate Wawrinka from here on end. As for Federer, the questions of retirement are no longer being asked of him but one has to wonder if he can really sustain the high level of play required to win these big titles anymore. He is still able to put himself in title contention but he cannot summon the strength to get over the last hurdle. This is his second Masters 1000 finals for the year and the second time he won the 1st set but unable to win a second. He last won a major and Master’s title in 2012 (Wimbledon and Cincinnati respectively).This was his 4th appearance in the Monte Carlo finals and once again he came away empty-handed. Nonetheless, this is the Roger Federer and he too should not be underestimated particularly this year.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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Brandon Nakashima shocks John Isner to reach first ATP final in Los Cabos

Brandon Nakashima stunned John Isner to reach the final in Los Cabos.

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Brandon Nakashima (@AbiertoLosCabos - Twitter)

The American became the youngest American to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

 

Brandon Nakashima booked his spot in the final beating an out of sorts John Isner 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes firing 12 aces and winning 82% points with his first serve.

“It’s always going to be tough playing against him, It’s always so hard to return his serve and try to get into the rallies with him but I tried to get back as many returns as I could and there was blocking or chipping the return or hitting over it and just try to mix it up a lot while getting different looks and I knew when I had the opportunities and when I got close in games I knew I had to take advantage of that as much as possible so luckily I was able to do it and of course taking care of my service games was important as well”.

For the first six games of the opening set, neither player had an issue holding serve but at 3-3, it was the San Diego native with the first chance to break but was denied by the world number 39’s big serve.

At 5-4, the world number 134 had two more chances to break and he got the crucial break and served out the first set.

Winning the first set seemed to invigorate the 19-year-old and he earned an early chance to break in the first game of the second set and broke to take a 1-0 lead. Once again that one break was enough to serve out the match and seal the victory.

After the match, Nakashima spoke about becoming the first American player to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

“It feels great and it’s a big accomplishment for me and of course all the Americans, we like to play in the US but it’s nice to see that I am playing well outside the US and luckily it’s not too far from my home here so I have been enjoying it here a lot both on and off the court and really looking forward to playing tomorrow again”.

Nakashima will face the number one seed Cameron Norrie in the final and can feel confident as the last time these two players met, the American beat him.

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