Wawrinka: Is it the year of Stan? - UBITENNIS
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Wawrinka: Is it the year of Stan?

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TENNIS – The 2014 season is shaping up as the year of Stanislas Wawrinka who clinched his first Master 1000 title in Monte-Carlo with his 4-6 7-6 6-2 over Roger Federer adding to his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open. The 28-year-old Lausanne player has moved up to World Number 3 overtaking his illustrious compatriot Roger Federer as the best Swiss player in the ATP Ranking and is now the World Number 1 in the Race to London. Diego Sampaolo

Wawrinka finally managed to win his first Master 1000 title in his third attempt after losing his first two finals in Rome 2008 against Novak Djokovic and in Madrid 2013 against Nadal. The Swiss broke the duopoly of Nadal and Djokovic who totally dominated the circuit winning all the 2013 Master 1000 Tournaments and the first two events of 2014 at Indian Wells and Miami. In 34 of the last 36 previous Master 1000 Tournaments only players belonging to the exclusive Big Four club (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray) had managed to lift trophies. This is the only third time in the past 37 Master 1000 Tournaments that a title has been won by a player other than the Big Four. The other two were Robin Soderling and David Ferrer.

Thanks to his win in the Principality, Wawrinka has moved to Number 1 player in the Race to London, which takes into account only the results achieved in 2014. He has improved his record to 20-3 this year and won six times in six matches against Top-ten players. Wawrinka, who was ranked World Number 17 at the start of 2013, was able to beat Novak Djokovic in the quarter final and Rafa Nadal in the final at the Australian Open and Roger Federer in Monte-Carlo. He broke a 14-match losing streak against Djokovic and beat Nadal for the first time after 12 defeats in a row. Before Monte-Carlo Federer won 11 consecutive matches against his compatriot.

I did an amazing job. I am very happy to win a Master 1000 so quickly after clinching my first Grand Slam. When I came here, It was more like a test. I knew I was playing good tennis but I didn’t expect to win because the draw was so strong”, said Wawrinka

It was not the first time that Wawrinka managed to beat Federer on the Monte-Carlo clay of the famous Country Club. This was the only win achieved by Wawrinka over Federer in the previous 14 head-to-head matches before last Sunday’s final. Federer lost his second all-Swiss final 14 years after losing against Marc Rosset in Marseille in 2000. “I have never been able to win finals against Swiss players”, said Federer referring to his previous defeat in a all-Swiss final against Rosset and Sunday’s defeat against Wawrinka.

Federer and Wawrinka showed big respect before and after the match because of their friendship. They even practised in the morning before the final.

It’s always special to play against Federer. We know it’s always a strange match, especially in the final here. He is my best friend on the circuit. We respect each other so much. I am just trying on the court to win the match. Before and after we are very good friends. During the match, we just try everything to win the match”, said Wawrinka.

Federer praised his friend after the Monte-Carlo final and was not so disappointed despite the defeat which prevented him from winning his first Monte-Carlo Tournament.

Of course, I am very happy for Stan. It’s a huge for him after winning his first Grand Slam, also to win his first Master 1000. To take the opportunities when they are there, that’s the key in a tennis player’s career.So I am very happy for him. I would have loved to win my second title this year but Stan deserved this title because he was tough at the end. It was a great pleasure to share this moment with Stan. It was a tennis celebration on a beautiful court. This was one of those weeks we were able to capitalize on it. Stan did the same at the Australian Open. I didi t in Dubai. It’s definitely a good start to the season for all four of us”, said Federer

Will Wawrinka be able to continue his impressive season and lift other Master 1000 or Grand Slam Tournaments this year ? This is the big question of many tennis experts and fans ahead of the next big clay tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Paris followed by Wimbledon on grass and the US Open on hard-court.

Wawrinka has showed his versatility on all surfaces winning his first Grand Slam on hard court at the Australian Open last January and reaching the semifinal at the US Open on hard court. He also won a grass tournament at s’Hertogenbosch. He has the experience to maturity to continue winning on the big stage.

Secondly, some of his biggest rivals did not show their best form recently. Djokovic won Indian Wells and Miami but he was hampered by a wrist injury during his semifinal against Federer in Monte-Carlo. Djokovic needs a period of rest to treat this problem. Nadal has not reached the Monte-Carlo final for the first time since 2005 and was not the only dominant player on his favourite clay surface but he will have a chance to bounce back this week in Barcelona. However, he will have to defend a lot of points. Federer will now take a break before Madrid waiting for the birth of his child who is expected in the next weeks. Andy Murray, who skipped Monte-Carlo, is practicing in preparation for Madrid.

I am capable of beating any of the best players. The win in Monte-Carlo has given me an extra motivation and to beat Roger is such an important moment. I believe in myself and in my game and if I can bring this level all the time, I will have a chance to win any match”, said Wawrinka.

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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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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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