ATP Rome: Djokovic is King of Rome for the third time - UBITENNIS
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ATP Rome: Djokovic is King of Rome for the third time

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TENNIS ATP Rome – Novak Djokovic triumphed at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome for the third time in his career after beating seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal in three sets with 4-6 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes. Diego Sampaolo

 

Interviews, results, order of play, draws of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome 

The Serbian super-star, who will turn 27 on 22 May, earned his third Rome Trophy after the wins in 2008 against Stan Wawrinka and in 2011 against Rafa Nadal. It was an anticipated birthday present for the World Number 2 player who has earned 1000 points increasing his chance to return to the World Number 1 spot.

Djokovic clinched his third Master 1000 Trophy of the year after Indian Wells and Miami.

Nadal played his ninth final in the Foro Italico and his 40th final at Master 1000 level.

Djokovic and Nadal met for the 41st time in their career. Nadal led 22-18 in their previous head-to-head matches.

The two players contested their second head-to-head match in a Master 1000 final. They met last March in Miami where Djokovic won in straight sets with a double 6-3.

In the third game of the opening set Djokovic committed three unforced errors and faced a triple break point at 1-1 0-40. Nadal converted his third break point with a drop shot.

Nadal got a double break to pull away to 4-1

Djokovic made seven unforced errors with his backhand in the first five games. He broke straight back in the sixth game to close the gap to 2-4 and went up 0-40 on Nadal’s serve but the Mallorcan star saved the break point.

Nadal earned a set point at 5-4 with a service winner and wrapped up the first set after 46 minutes as Djokovic sent a return wide. Nadal won 75 percent of second serve points.

Djokovic fought back in the second set turning around the match. He got a break in the second game to go up 2-0 with a cross-court forehand passing shot. and backed it up in the next game to pull away to 3-0.

Nadal earned his first break point of the second set after Djokovic made forehand errors when he was serving at 3-1. The Spaniard converted on the break point to close the gap to 2-3.

Djokovic broke straight back for 4-2 and held serve in the next game to love to extend his lead to 5-2. Djokovic hit an ace to close out the second set with 6-3 to force the match to the decider

In the second set Djokovic won 69 percent of his second serve points and hit 18 winners.

Djokovic picked up where he left off at the end of the second set by breaking at the start of the decider. Djokovic earned a break point which could have given him a double break but Nadal managed to save it and held serve for 1-2 keeping his hopes alive.

Djokovic dictated the match from the baseline. Djokovic got another break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 edge. He won nine points to take a 5-3 30-0 lead with a series of down-the.line winner and converted on his second match point for 6-3 when Nadal hit his forehand long.

Djokovic hit 46 winners and six aces

Djokovic won his fourth consecutive match against Nadal

The match was attended by tennis legends Boris Becker (coach of Djokovic), John Newcombe, Manolo Santana, Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli.

“I want to dedicate this title to Serbia. I have been following what’s going on with the catastrophic flood during the last 2 or 3 days. It’s something that has taken away a lot of hope and homes and not being present makes me sad because I cannot physically contribute. If I was there I would help definitely.

It’s been a great week considering where I have been few weeks ago with the wrist injury. Luckily I played with no pain and increased the level of tennis as the week went on. I have had some tough matches. Four of five matches were three-setters and I had to come back from a set down yesterday against Raonic and today against Nadal. This gives me a lot of confidence. Winning against Rafa in the final of a big tournament on clay, his preferred surface, is a confidence booster. The crowd support was amazing. It’s something that I don’t take for granted. I try to show love as much as I can. It helps that I speak Italian. I feel at home here and close to these people. I am glad that I could this title in front of them”, said Djokovic

Nadal could not win two back-to-back Master 1000 Tournaments but he finished the tournament with a renewed confidence ahead of the Roland Garros.

“I felt that Novak was pushing me and has a great talent to play inside the lines. I think that this week is important for me. I have won 600 points. I was able to play in another final here. I was able to compete well against one of the best players at the moment. I arrive to the Roland Garros more encouraged now”, said Nadal

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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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