ATP Oeiras: Berdych survives scare. Raonic out. - UBITENNIS
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ATP Oeiras: Berdych survives scare. Raonic out.

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TENNIS – Tomorrow’s ATP Oeiras semi-finals will see top seed Tomas Berdych face Romanian Victor Hanescu and qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver take on Argentine Carlos Berlocq. The Czech top seed recovered from a set down against Leonardo Mayer. Carlos Berlocq defeated Milos Raonic. Joshua Bosco

 

Tomorrow’s ATP Oeiras semi-finals will see top seed Tomas Berdych face Romanian Victor Hanescu and qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver take on Argentine Carlos Berlocq.

In the first match of the day Gimeno-Traver stunned fellow countryman, World No.31 Marcel Granollers, defeating him 6-1 6-2 in 74 minutes. The qualifier started the match strongly and, after an everlasting 18 points first game hold, broke his opponent twice to take an early 5-0 lead before closing the first set 6-1.

The second set was no different with Gimeno-Traver breaking Granollers in the opening game and never looking back, claiming a second break in the 7th game and closing the match at the first opportunity to seize the match and his 4th career ATP World Tour 250 semi-final.

His semi-final opponent will be Carlos Berlocq who surprised the Portuguese crowd beating World No.9 Milos Raonic in straight sets, 7-5 6-4. The match started with both players holding their service games quite easily up until 4-4 in the first set, when Berlocq broke Raonic and served on 5-4 but failed to hold on his serve thus bringing the Canadian back in the contest. Raonic, however, failed to take advantage of this opportunity and lost his serve again: this time, serving on 6-5, Berlocq didn’t back out and closed the first set 7-5 in just under 50 minutes.

The second set began with the players exchanging early breaks and then, once again, holding effortlessly on their service games without conceding a single break point until they reached 4-4: Raonic once more failed to hold his serve in the ninth game and again gave Berlocq the opportunity to serve 5-4 up. The Argentine didn’t make the same mistake twice and closed the match with his first match point and booked his spot in the semi-final.

Tomorrow’s match will be the 7th encounter between Gimeno-Traver and Berlocq, all of them played on clay, with the Argentine leading the Head2Head 5-1.

In the top half of the draw World No.6 Tomas Berdych survived a scare to beat qualifier Leonardo Mayer 3-6 6-4 6-4 in a very lopsided match. Berdych started the match by breaking the Argentine and racing to an early 3-1 lead before losing the next 5 games to hand Mayer the first set in just over half an hour.

Berdych lost his first service game in the second set before breaking Mayer twice to win 6-4 and force a decider. The third set was a bit of a rollercoaster: Berdych took an early 2-0 lead but then got broken twice to put Mayer within reach of a win at 4-2, before the Czech took control winning the last four games in a row to close the set and win the match 3-6 6-4 6-4 in 2h 10m.

In the semi-final the Czech will play Victor Hanescu, who defeated Portuguese qualifier Gastao Elias 6-1 7-5. The match began with a photocopy of Gimeno-Traver’s first set: Hanescu broke Elias twice to gain a 5-0 lead, before conceding the Portuguese his first game of the match, and then served to take the set 6-1 in 24 minutes.

The Romanian started the second set in the same fashion, breaking Elias twice to take a 5-1 lead and was probably hoping for an early bath. Elias, however, had other plans and, spurred on by his home crowd, fought back to level the score at 5-5. Hanescu was determined to have the last word and won the last two games to take the match 6-1 7-5.

It will be the second match between Berdych and Hanescu, the only previous meeting dating back to Wimbledon 2008 where the Czech won in four sets.

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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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