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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Year-End No.1 Not A Priority For Rafael Nadal, Says Murray

Murray spoke about his rival as he gives a update on his current form.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray believes rival Rafael Nadal is not focusing on the prospect of ending the season as world No.1.

 

Murray spoke about the big three during an extensive interview with The Times. A group compromising of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. The Brit is currently on the comeback from hip resurfacing surgery and recently reached the quarter-finals of the China Open. His best run on the ATP Tour so far this season. Currently ranked 289th in the world, Murray admits that he still has a way to go to the top. However, the 32-year-old is drawing inspiration from some of his rivals.

“If I do get up there, I’m not going to be focusing on ranking targets. You look at what Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and I guess Novak [Djokovic], to a certain extent, are doing to give themselves a chance to play longer.” Murray told The Times.
“Right now, Rafa could be fighting to finish number one in the world and it’s not a priority for him. I would like to be competitive in the big events against the best players. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was a month ago, and much closer than a couple of months ago,” he said.

Nadal is currently closing in on the world No.1 spot despite not playing since winning the US Open. On Monday Djokovic’s lead over him will be reduced to 320 points after the Serbian lost in the third round of the Shanghai Masters. Then on November 4th he is guaranteed to return to the top spot before the ATP Finals. Even more significant is that Nadal has no ranking points to defend for the rest of the season compared to 1600 for Djokovic.

Murray’s comments on Nadal echoes what the Spaniard has previously said. During the US Open in September, the king of clay stated that returning to the top was ‘not his main goal’ with his health being top priority.

“I don’t compete for it. I just do my way. If I am able to be No.1 doing it my way, great. But I always say the same: today is not my main goal.” He explained.
“Of course, it’s great to be in that fight. But for me personally, it’s not really a fight. I just try be competitive the weeks that I need to compete, or the weeks that I want to compete.’
“With my age and with my goals, I cannot lose energy or time to follow the No.1. I need to think about my career in a different way.
‘For me, my main goal is play as long as possible and compete, being competitive. Sometimes if you need to follow the No.1, you are going to lose years of your career.”

Nadal is set to return to action in November at the Paris Masters. Meanwhile, Murray returns to the court tomorrow at the European Open where he will play Kimmer Coppejans in the first round.

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Danil Medvedev beats Stefanos Tsitsipas in Shanghai semifinal to reach his sixth consecutive final

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Danil Medvedev reached his ninth final this year and his sixth consecutive title match after beating Greek Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 38 minutes in the semifinal of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

 

The 23-year-old Russian player has now beaten his 21-year-old Greek rival in all their five head-to-head matches. Medvedev has reached his third Masters 1000 final after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal and winning the Cincinnati final last August. In an impressive hard-court season Medvedev lost the US Open final in five sets against Rafael Nadal and won the indoor tournament in St. Petersburg. Since losing to David Goffin the Moscow player has won 28 of his last 31 matches. He has become the 16th player in the Open Era to reach six consecutive finals.

Medvedev hit 25 winners to 18 unforced errors and saved four of the five break points.

Tsitsipas earned three break points at 4-4 in the opening set. Medvedev saved them with two serves and a forced error from Tsitsipas. The first set came down to the tie-break where both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5. The first 10 points of the tie-break went on serve. Medvedev got the decisive mini-break in the 11th game, when Tsitsipas made a forehand error. Medvedev closed out the first set after a backhand error from Tsitsipas.

In the second set Tsitsipas wasted game points at 1-1. Medvedev got the break in the third game of the second set with a backhand down the line winner. He consolidated the break by holding his serve with three service winners. Tsitsipas broke back at 15, when Medvedev was serving for the match. Medvedev broke for the second time in the 11th game with a forehand return before sealing the win in the 12th game with three service winners. Medvedev has become the 13th player since 1990 to reach three consecutive Masters 1000 finals.

“I think it’s a great achievement. I am proud of myself. Hopefully I can get the win tomorrow. It’s actually quite crazy. Here I had a lot of opportunities. to lose sets. I was close to losing a lot of them, especially with Vasek Pospisil with five set points. I think that’s also the confidence and the dynamic I am going through”, said Medvedev.

Tsitsipas was bidding to reach his second consecutive final after finishing runner-up to Dominic Thiem in Beijing.

 

 

 

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Alexander Zverev beats Roger Federer in Shanghai to reach his eighth Masters 1000 semifinal

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Alexander Zverev battled past Roger Federer 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 in 2 hours and 4 minutes to reach his eighth Masters 1000 semifinal and the first since Shanghai last year.

 

The German star has moved up to seventh in the ATP Race to London after reaching two consecutive semifinals in Beijing and Shanghai and has a good chance to qualify for his third consecutive ATP Finals.

Zverev hit 43 winners (including 17 aces) to 23 unforced errors and faced three just three break points in the entire match. He dropped his serve twice and broke four times.

Zverev did not convert five match points in the final stages of the second set.

Zverev dropped three points in his service games and hit 11 winners to 6 unforced errors. The Hamburg native earned a break at 3-2 and held his next service games to close out the first set with four service winners in the ninth game after 27 minutes.

Both Federer and Zverev traded breaks in the second and third games of the second set and held their serve in the next seven games to draw level to 5-5. Zverev broke serve in the 11th game with a forehand winner, when Federer was serving in the 11th game. Zverev wasted three match points on serve in the 12th game and was broken by Federer, who drew level to 6-6 to set up a tie-break.

Federer saved match points at 5-6 and 6-7 in the tie-break and closed out the second set with an ace.

Zverev held at 15 in the first game with a service winner in the first game and broke serve in the second game after a forehand error from Federer.

Zverev held serve at love in the third game to build up a 3-0 lead. He earned two break points in the fourth game, but Federer saved them. The Swiss player fended off another break point at 1-4 with a forehand winner. Zverev held serve at love to build up a 5-2 lead.

Zverev closed out the match with a hold at 15, as he was serving for the match in the ninth game, to set up a semifinal against either Dominic Thiem or Matteo Berrettini.

Zverev adds to his ATP Race to London ranking with 2615 points to take seventh place ahead of  Roberto Bautista Agut.

“Finally starting to kind of play the way I should play, I was really playing really defensive the whole year, and I was not with a lot of confidence. He will always find a way. He will always make it tricky for you like he did today with me, and always got to play your best tennis to have a chance. I knew if I am going to keep playing the way I played the first two sets, I am going to have a chance in the third set as well”, said Zverev after the match.

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