Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 16th of June 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 16th of June 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – Federer and Dimitrov win on grass. Gerry Weber Open honoured. Azarenka ready to return. Kumantsov banned for life. Monica Seles ties the knot. Happy Birthday Steffi. The Wimbledon Wild Cards and the Mallorca will turn to grass. Joshua Bosco

 

Grass winners

Grigor Dimitrov won his first career grass court title, defeating Feliciano Lopez 6-7(8) 7-6(1) 7-6(6) in the final at Queen’s. It’s the third title for Dimitrov in 2014, after Acapulco (hard) in March and Bucharest (clay) in April.

It’s been a good week for Ana Ivanovic who lost only 21 games in five matches on the way to her first grass court title, in Birmingham, where she beat Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 6-3 6-2. It’s the third title for the Serb this year, after winning Auckland and Monterrey (hard). She also reached the final in Stuttgart (clay) where she lost in a thrilling three set match to Maria Sharapova.

In Halle Roger Federer won his 14th title on grass and his 79th title overall with a tightly contested 7-6(2) 7-6(3) victory over Alejandro Falla. By doing so he successfully defended his only 2013 title and captured his second trophy of the year. Federer will now rest for a week before starting his campaign for an eighth Wimbledon Crown.

Russian player banned for life

Former Russian tennis player Andrey Kumantsov has been banned for life after being found guilty of charges related to betting and match fixing.

Kumantsov, who has a career-high ranking of No.261, was sentenced based on the findings of an investigation relating to incidents between 2010 and 2013. The ban, which applies with immediate effect, forbids the player from entering any event “organised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of professional tennis.”

Grass will grow in Mallorca

The Spanish island of Mallorca will host a new WTA grass-court tournament starting from 2016. The event, which will be played two weeks before Wimbledon, will feature a 32-player draw.

The tournament, which will take part in Nadal’s hometown, will have 5 natural grass courts, the construction and maintenance of which will be in collaboration with The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Gerry Weber Open honoured

The Gerry Weber Open has won the 2014 ATP European Award of Excellence for the best fan experience. The award was presented on Monday by Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, to the Tournament Director Ralf Weber.

Kermode later said: The Gerry Weber Open offers the fans a great tennis and entertainment program. It is noteworthy that 12,500 spectators came on Monday for the tournament”. In 2015 Halle will become an ATP World Tour 500 tournament.

Azarenka comeback

It looks like former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka is finally making her comeback on the WTA Tour. The Belarusian, who has played just one match since her loss at the 2014 Australian Open, has taken a wildcard for Eastbourne and said: I’ve worked hard to rehabilitate my injury and to get fit for my return. [..] The grass courts are world-class, which will give me the best possible start to the second half of the season, and the perfect preparation for Wimbledon.”

Wimbledon wildcards

Five British men were awarded wildcards for the 2014 Wimbledon Championships: Daniel Cox, Kyle Edmund, Daniel Evans, Daniel Smethurst and James Ward. Marcos Baghdatis and Jiri Vesely also got a place in the main draw along with Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios, who won the Nottingham Challenger last week.

Naomi Broady, Tara Moore and Samantha Murray are the three British women who have been given wildcards for the main draw along with Silvia Soler Espinosa, Taylor Townsend and Vera Zvonareva. Krystyna Pliskova, winner of the Nottingham $75,000 tournament, will also be in SW19 while the last wildcard is still to be announced.

Martina Hingis, who won the singles title in 1997 and the doubles in 1996 and 1998, will make her Wimbledon comeback after being awarded a wildcard for the doubles with Vera Zvonareva.

Who’s playing where

Both men and women player will continue their preparation for Wimbledon this week playing tournaments in Eastbourne and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Defending champion and fresh Queen’s winner/finalist Feliciano Lopez, top seed Richard Gasquet, Alexander Dolgopolov, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Ivo Karlovic will battle for the men’s title in Eastbourne, while Spanish poker David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Roberto Bautista Agut and Marcel Granollers will lead the field in the Netherlands.

Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki will battle for the women’s title in Eastbourne, while Simona Halep will try to defend her 2013 title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch against Dominika Cibulkova, Eugenie Bouchard, Andrea Petkovic, Kirsten Flipkens and Klara Koukalova.

Happy Birthday Steffi!

On Saturday, legendary former tennis player Steffi Graf celebrated her 45th birthday.

The 22 time Grand Slam champion is the only player to have ever completed a Golden Slam, winning all the four Slam tournaments and the Olympics Gold Medal in 1988. She spent 377 weeks at the top spot in the rankings (all time record), 186 of those weeks being consecutive between August 1987 and March 1991 (a female record).

All we can say is, Happy Birthday Steffi!

Monica Seles to tie the knot

According to reports, former World No.1 and nine time Grand Slam singles champion Monica Seles is engaged to her partner Thomas Golisano. The 72 year old billionaire and Seles have been dating for the last 5 years and live together in Florida.

 

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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Championship Sunday

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Paula Badosa earlier this week at Indian Wells (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Sunday’s men’s and women’s singles championship matches feature a two-time champion and three first-time finalists at this level.  Victoria Azarenka won this event in 2012 and 2016, two of 10 WTA 1000 titles to her credit.  Paula Badosa, Cam Norrie, and Nikolaz Basilashvili are all vying for the biggest title of their careers, during what has become their best seasons to date.

 

Paula Badosa (21) vs. Victoria Azarenka (27)  – 1:00pm on Stadium 1

For Azarenka, this result is a bit of a surprise, despite all she’s achieved in the sport.  Her record of 28-8 is more than solid, but she’s dealt with multiple injuries throughout 2021, forcing her to withdraw during five different events.  This is her first final since nearly a full year ago in Ostrava. 

For Badosa, this result has been expected for some time.  She’s been most impressive this season, accumulating 40 match wins, and a record of 10-3 against the top 20.  Paula herself will debut inside the top 20 on Monday, and would be just a few points shy of the top 10 with a win on Sunday.

Azarenka will attempt to win her first final since April of 2016.  While she was the champion of last year’s Western & Southern Open, she received a walkover in the championship match from Naomi Osaka.  Vika is 0-3 in her last three finals, all on hard courts.  This is only the second WTA final for Badosa, who claimed the title in Belgrade this past May on clay.  Based on the way the Spaniard has been clubbing her groundstrokes, and her comfort level on these slow-playing courts, I’m going with Badosa to win the second title of her young career.

Cameron Norrie (21) vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (29)  – Not Before 4:00pm on Stadium 1

Norrie has been one of the most surprising and remarkable stories of 2021.  Prior to this season, he had never been ranked inside the top 40.  But like Badosa, he will debut in the top 20 on Monday, thanks to a record of 46-20 on the year. 

Basilashvili has made news for other reasons, as he was arrested last year on domestic abuse allegations from his former wife.  On the tennis court, he’s been quite streaky this season.  Between January and March, he went on a five-match losing streak before winning the title in Doha, which includes victories over Roger Federer and Roberto Bautista Agut.  He was also the champion in Munich, and came through qualifying to reach the semis in Halle.

Basilashvili’s last loss before his successful run in Doha was at the hands of Norrie, who prevailed 6-0, 6-3 in Rotterdam.  Cam has dominated his last two matches this week in similar fashion, defeating Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov while dropping only eight games across four sets.  The Brit has now won his last six semifinals, but his record in finals in striking different.  He’s only 1-4 this year in championship matches, and lost to Casper Ruud two weeks in San Diego 6-0, 6-2.  Meanwhile, Nikoloz has taken his last five finals, dating back to July of 2018.  With the biggest title of their careers on the line, Basilashvili is the favorite to utilize his powerful groundstrokes to secure victory.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

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Grigor Dimitrov after his quarterfinal win on Thursday (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Saturday’s men’s singles semifinals are quite surprising, featuring four players ranked outside the world’s top 25.  Cam Norrie and Grigor Dimitrov will square off in the first semi, in a rematch from earlier this season in Miami.  The second semifinal is also a rematch from March of this year, as Nikoloz Basilashvili and Taylor Fritz actually played in back-to-back weeks seven months ago, during the two weeks when this tournament normally takes place.

 

Also on Saturday, the men’s and women’s doubles championship matches will be contested.  The women’s final will start the day at 11:00am local time, while the men’s final will close out play after the singles semifinals are completed.

Cameron Norrie (21) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (23)  – Not Before 1:30pm on Stadium 1

What a breakout season this has become for Cam Norrie.  The Brit is now 45-20 this year, and has been victorious in his last five semifinals.  Since his run to the final of San Diego two weeks ago, Cam has defeated four top 20 players: Shapovalov, Rublev, Bautista Agut, and Schwartzman.  Dimitrov also gained crucial momentum in San Diego, advancing to the semis and narrowly going down in defeat to eventual champion Casper Ruud.  Prior to that, 2021 had been a poor season for Grigor, as he was only 15-14.  Dimitrov’s last two wins this week were his most impressive in a long time.  He first came back from a set and two breaks down against top-seeded Medvedev, then survived a third-set tiebreak against Hubert Hurkacz.  When Norrie and Dimitrov met at the Miami Masters event in March, Cam prevailed 7-5, 7-5.  In the last round, Norrie simply walloped Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2.  Based on his current level of play, I like Cam to win his sixth straight semifinal.

Nikoloz Basilashvili (29) vs. Taylor Fritz (31) – Third on Stadium 1

What a comeback Fritz staged on Friday.  Down 5-2 in the third and two match points against a red-hot Sascha Zverev, he fought back to eventually prevail in a tiebreak for what was the best and most exciting win of his career.  Taylor has now taken out three consecutive top 15 players: Zverev, Sinner, and Berrettini.  Basilashvili had compiled an up-and-down year, but when he’s on, he’s been tough to defeat.  He’s already claimed two titles this year, in Doha and Munich.  It was in Doha where Basilashvili overcame Fritz in the semifinals.  A week later, Fritz avenged that loss in Dubai, in a match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Their only other meeting occurred four years ago in Chengdu, when Taylor won as a qualifier ranked 94th in the world.  Coming off the emotional high of his huge, thrilling victory on Friday, I expect it will be difficult for the American to recover and be at his best on Saturday.  That leaves Nikoloz with an enormous opportunity to reach the biggest final of his career, and he possesses strong groundstrokes which enable him to dictate the outcome.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2) vs. Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Rybakina – Hsieh and Mertens are looking for their second title as a team, after prevailing at Wimbledon in July.  Kudermetova and Rybakina just began teaming in August, when they reached the semifinals in Canada.

John Peers and Filip Polasek (7) vs. Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev – Peers and Polasek were finalists two weeks ago in San Diego.  The Russians have won their last eight matches as a team, dating back to their title run in Qatar this past March.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Daniil Medvedev Withdraws From Moscow

Daniil Medvedev has withdrawn from Moscow as he looks to recover for the last two tournaments of the season.

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Daniil Medvedev (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev has withdrawn from his home tournament in Moscow as he looks to get fully fit for the rest of the season.

 

The world number two suffered a disappointing exit in the fourth round of Indian Wells when he lost to Grigor Dimitrov from a set and 4-1 up.

After that disappointment Medvedev has decided to take some time off and therefore withdraw from the Kremlin Cup next week in Moscow.

Citing not being at 100% the Russian will now look to be fit for the rest of the season which ends at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, “Hello everyone! I am really sad to announce that this year I won’t be participating in Kremlin cup,” Medvedev announced on his social media platforms.

“It’s always special to have a chance to play in front of Russian fans. I signed in to give myself best chances to play, but with calendar this year being extremely tough I felt that my body is not ready 100% anymore.

“This decision was very tough for me but it has to be done in order to be able to finish 2021 season strong! Thank you and see all soon!”

Medvedev will next play the last Masters 1000 event in Paris-Bercy before finishing his season in Turin as he looks to finish his historic season with a flourish.

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