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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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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