Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 7th of July 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 7th of July 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – Victoria Duval has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Li Na splits with her coach. The Bryan brothers are stuck at 98. Miami Open changes sponsor. Nole is now qualified for the ATP Finals and who is playing where this week. Joshua Bosco

 

Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval, 18 year old American who makes her debut in the Top 100 today after reaching the second round of Wimbledon as a qualifier, released a statement through her management company on Friday saying she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The player revealed she received the news after her first round of qualifying at the grass-court Slam but decided against withdrawing. She went on to qualify for the first time at Wimbledon and also win a first round match against Sorana Cirstea, before losing to Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

Fortunately it looks like the cancer was caught in its early stages and the prognosis is for a full recovery within a couple of months, according to IMG. The American youngster is the third player to have been diagnosed with the disease in the last four years, after Alisa Kleybanova in 2011 and Ross Hutchins in 2013. Both players then made a successful return to the courts, so we hope for a safe and speedy recovery for Duval.

Li Na splits with coach

On Thursday it was announced that World No. 2 Li Na and coach Carlos Rodriguez had parted ways after nearly two years of collaboration.

The official reason behind the split is that Rodriguez is no longer able to travel around the world with the player as he needs to spend more time at his Beijing-based tennis academy.

Li Na will now try and regain her form and confidence in time for the US Open, which starts on August 25th, after two shocking defeats at Roland Garros (1st round) and Wimbledon (3rd round).

Bryans stuck at 98

The Bryan brothers were denied a 16th Grand Slam title and 99th overall title together on Saturday when they were defeated by unseeded Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock, who were playing together for the first time in their career.

The American doubles legends, who are now 3-4 in Wimbledon finals, will have to win at the US Open in order to keep alive their nine year streak of winning at least one Grand Slam tournament per season.

Sony leaves Miami Open

According to reports, electronics giant Sony has decided against the renewal of its agreement as main sponsors for the Miami Masters. Even though the tech firm is considering staying connected with the Masters and Mandatory Premier event in other ways, the tournament will go by the name Miami Open until it finds a new title sponsor.

It also looks like clothing line Fila opted out of its sponsorship because the tournament is asking $900,000, three times more than their previous agreement.

Djokovic qualifies for ATP World Tour Finals

After reaching the final at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic has become the second player to qualify for the World Tour Finals which will take place at the O2 Arena in London in November. Djokovic joins Nadal who qualified after winning his ninth Roland Garros title last month.

After reaching his ninth final at Wimbledon Roger Federer is 1230 points shy of automatic qualification, while Stan Wawrinka is safely in fourth position and Berdych in fifth. It remains to be seen who will take the last three spots with less than 600 points separating sixth placed Grigor Dimitrov and eleventh placed Milos Raonic with Murray, Nishikori, Ferrer and Gulbis sitting in the middle.

Who’s playing where

While many top players are resting after Wimbledon, some of them are eager to get back on court and will divide themselves between ATP tournaments in Bastad, Newport and Stuttgart.

Carlos Berlocq will travel to Bastad to try and defend his 2013 title at the Swedish Open, but will face tough competition from the likes of David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Fernando Verdasco, Jerzy Janowicz and Jeremy Chardy.

Defending champion Nicolas Mahut will play at the 2014 Hall of Fame Tennis Championship in Newport and the Frenchman will be joined by John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Lleyton Hewitt, Donald Young and Wimbledon doubles champion Jack Sock. Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey have withdrawn before the start of the tournament.

Fabio Fognini will be both defending champion and top seed at the 2014 MercedesCup in Stuttgart, where he will play alongside Mikhail Youzhny, Roberto Bautista Agut, Feliciano Lopez, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Santiago Giraldo. Marcel Granollers and Denis Istomin have withdrawn before the start.

The majority of top women will also take a break before the difficult American swing, but some of them are willing to play a couple of clay-court tournaments in Europe before flying over to the US.

In Bad Gastein, Austria, we will see defending champion Yvonne Meusburger take on seven other Top 50 players: Sara Errani, Carla Suarez Navarro, Andrea Petkovic, Elina Svitolina, Camila Giorgi, Karolina Pliskova and Flavia Pennetta, the top seed, who received a wildcard for the tournament. Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova withdrew before the start of the International event.

Today sees the start of the first edition of the BRD Bucharest Open, an International tournament which replaces the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. Local girl Simona Halep is the top seed but she’ll have to battle past some difficult players like Roberta Vinci, Klara Koukalova, Karin Knapp, Annika Beck and Anna Schmiedlova to become the first champion of this Romanian tournament. Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova are among the players who withdrew before the start.

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Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown

Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATPTour_ES - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.

 

After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.

The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.

It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.

Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.

However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.

The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.

An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.

At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.

Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.

There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.

Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.

Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’

After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.

“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.

As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.

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Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner

Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.

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Dominic Thiem (@atptour - Twitter)

The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.

 

Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.

“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.

It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.

The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.

That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.

In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.

That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.

After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.

“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.

With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.

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Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud

The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.

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Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.

 

The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.

“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”

Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.

“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”

The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.

At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.

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