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.
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.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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