Indian Wells - Miami: Who's Hot and Who's Not - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells – Miami: Who's Hot and Who's Not

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Novak Djokovic scored his second Indian Wells – Miami double after 2011. In the women’s tournament Flavia Pennetta won the most prestigious tournament of her career at Indian Wells and Serena Williams won her seventh Miami title A record of the US hard court tournaments. by Diego Sampaolo

Novak Djokovic: Novak Djokovic showed that he is back to his best form after clinching the second Indian Wells-Miami double of his career. He started the US hard court campaign with some doubts after losing to Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open quarter finals and to Roger Federer in the semifinals in Dubai but he finished his US hard-court campaign in style winning both US Master 1000 tournaments. The US double is a confidence-booster for the Serbian player ahead of the European clay season which will kick off in less than two weeks with the Monte-Carlo Rolex Master where he will defend his title won in the final against Rafa Nadal. Both Nadal and Djokovic have dominated the Master 1000 circuit since 2013 winning all tournaments apart from Miami in 2013 which was won by Andy Murray.

Monte-Carlo will be another chapter of the rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal. Djokovic will have to defend just 190 points in Madrid and Rome. On the contrary Nadal will defend 2000 points as he won both these Master 1000 Tournaments in 2013. Nadal will defend 2000 points as Roland Garros champion, while Djokovic lost in a epic semifinal against Nadal last year and will defend 750 points, The Roland Garros is one of the few tournaments Djokovic never won in his career. He would complete his collection of Grand Slam tournaments with a win at the Roland Garros.

Djokovic beat Murray and Nadal in straight sets en route to winning his fourth Miami title confirming his status as the Hard-Court King. Only Djokovic and Federer have managed to score the Indian Wells and Miami double twice: Federer won both tournaments in 2005 and 2006 and Djokovic made the double in 2011 an 2014.

Djokovic won his second consecutive title with his coach Martin Vajda on his side as Boris Becker underwent hip surgery. This fact raised the question of many whether Becker was a good hire for Djokovic or not. It is difficult to say that but what is more important is that Djokovic is peaking his form at the right time ahead of the big tournaments.

Rafa Nadal: The Spaniard suffered a defeat in his fourth Miami final after losing three times in 2005, 2008 and 2011 losing with a double 6-3 against Djokovic but he remains at the top of the Ranking.However he gained 500 points after missing Miami last year. He will have to defend a lot of points on his favourite clay surface, having won in Rome, Madrid and the Roland Garros last year.

Kei Nishikori: The Japanese player was so unlucky to withdraw from the Miami semifinal after beating Roger Federer in three sets. Nishikori showed his maturity at high level when he scored three top wins beating Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, David Ferrer in the fourth round (after saving four match points) in a three-set tie-break and Roger Federer in the quarter final after rallying from a set and a break down.

Roger Federer: He played a great tournament in Indian Wells losing in three sets against Novak Djokovic. In Miami he went up a break twice in the second set against Nishikori but he could not close out the match. With his recent results in Indian Wells and Miami Federer has moved up to fourth in the ATP Ranking.

Tomas Berdych: The Czech reached the Miami semifinal after beating two strong rivals like John Isner and Aleksander Dolgopolov. He was then forced to withdraw before his semifinal against Nadal due to gastroenteritis.

Aleksander Dolgopolov: The Ukrainian player produced a major come-back reaching the semifinal in Indian Wells losing to Federer and confirmed his return to form by reaching the quarter final in Miami where he lost against Tomas Berdych after beating Stanislas Wawrinka.

Milos Raonic: The young Canadian player reached two consecutive quarter finals at Indian Wells and Miami reaching the too 10 position of the ranking. At Key Biscayne Raonic pushed Nadal to the third set and recorded the fastest ever serve in Miami with a 144 kph ace.

Andy Murray: In his first tournament after his split from Ivan Lendl who guided to wins at the US Open and the Olympic gold in 2012 and his Wimbledon triumph in 2013, Murray showed some encouraging improvement beating Feliciano Lopez and Jo Wilfred Tsonga before losing in the quarter final against Nole Djokovic. Murray will now play for Great Britain against Italy in Naples in the Davis Cup quarter final.

The Bryan brothers: The famous doubles legends Mike and Bob Bryan scored an impressive triple winning Delray Beach, Indian Wells and Miami. They completed the Indian Wells.Miami double for the first time in their long careers.

Stanislas Wawrinka: The Swiss did not show the same form as during the fantastic two Australian Open weeks. He failed to advance the fourth round in both Indian Wells and Miami. He lost to Kevin Anderson in Indian Wells and to Aleksander Dolgopolov in Miami.

Bernard Tomic: The young Australian player lost 6-1 6-0 in the first round against Jarkko Nieminen in just 28 minutes in the shortest match on the Open Era history.

Women:

Serena Williams: The US legend made history by winning her seventh Miami title in her ninth final in her home tournament which is held not far from the place where she lives. She was able to recover from 1-4 against Maria Sharapova in the semifinal and 2-5 against Li Na in the final. Serena holds the record for most Miami titles and is one of the four players to win the same WTA tournament more than seven times. The other players are Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.

Li Na: This year’s Australian Open champion reached the seminal at Indian Wells where she lost in the semifinal against Flavia Pennetta and played the final in Miami where she was lost against Serena Williams 7-5 6-1 after storming to a 5-2 lead in the first lead. “I feel heavy right now but I am not feeling old at all. I feel I a young 32. I feel like tennis has changed a little bit now because it’s not about technique. It’s more mental and physical too and I am taking care of myself”, said Li Na after the final against Williams in Miami.

Flavia Pennetta: The Italian heroine ha mover to World Number 12 after her impressive title won in Indian Wells against Agnieszka Radwanska after beating Li Na in the semifinal. Pennetta achieved the most prestigious tournament of hr career. She continued her great period of form after the semifinal at the US Open and the quarter final at this year’s Australian Open.

Dominika Cibulkova: The Slovak player followed up her final at the Australian Open with a win in Acapulco, a quarter final at Indian Wells and a semifinal at Miami reaching the top-10 for the first in her career. In the third set of her Miami semifinal against Li Na Cibulkova was three games from the final in Miami final. Cibulkova reeled off six consecutive points and eight of the next nine points from 7-5 2-2 for Li Na to clinch the second set 6-2 and build up a solid 3-1 lead in the third set. Cibulkova had a point to go up 4-1 but Li Na scored four games in a row to take a 5-3 lead before clinching a hard-fought win with 7-5 2-6 6-3.

Maria Sharapova. The Russian player played one of the best tournaments of the year in Miami but she lost 7-5 6-1 after leading 4-1 in the first set and 2-0 in the second set against Serena Williams

Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki: The Swiss legend teamed up with last year’s Wimbledon finalist Lisicki to win her first doubles title since 2007 in Miami beating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in three sets with 4-6 6-4 10-5 reeling six points in a row from 4-5 in the third set tie-break. Six years after her retirement Hingis returned last summer playing alongside Daniela Hantuchova in five WTA doubles tournaments. The Swiss player did not play for six months after the US Open but she made a second return in Indian Wells teaming up with Sabine Lisicki.

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Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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