TENNIS – Wimbledon 2014 has launched the career of 18-year-old Australian sensation Nick Kyrgios who impressively stunned Rafa Nadal to reach the quarter finals. The Championships also confirmed the great prospect of Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. On the women’s side Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard reached her first Grand Slam final after two consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. Diego Sampaolo
Nick Kyrgios was born in Canberra on 27th April 1995. His father is a self-employed house painter. His mother is a computer engineer. He is the third of three children. He was a promising basketball player in the early teens before taking the decision to focus entirely on tennis at the age of 14.
Kyrgios emerged in January 2013 when he he beat his compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in the Australian Open Junior final with 7-6 6-3 to win his first Grand Slam Junior title. He scored his first ATP Tour match at the 2013 Roland Garros when he knocked out Radek Stepanek in three sets which ended each in a tie-break before losing against Marin Cilic in the next round. Later in the summer he qualified for the US Open where he lost against David Ferrer in the first round.
He has been considered as the new Australian star with a potential to continue the proud tennis tradition of this country which produced some tennis legends like Pat Cash Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis. Kyrgios, the son of a Greek father and a Malaysian mother, played an impressive Wimbledon tournament in which he recovered from two sets down and fended off nine match points against Richard Gasquet in the second round before sensationally knocking out this year’s Roland Garros Rafa Nadal in the fourth round to qualify for his first ever Grand Slam quarter final. He became the first male debutant to reach the quarter finals since Florian Mayer in 2004. He lost against Milos Raonic in four sets in the quarter final.
Kyrgios hit 312 winners and 128 aces in the five matches he played at the All-England Club. He entered Wimbledon but he has moved up 78 spots to a career best 66th after the third Grand Slam Tournament.
Mark Philippoussis, who beat former World Number 1 Pete Sampras in the 1996 Australian Open when he was a teenager, praised Kyrgios and the other Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“I watched Nick a couple of times and he has got a big serve and a big forehand. He had an amazing tournament. He should get a lot confidence from this and hopefully learn from it”, said Philippoussis
“He is a big guy. He has to be careful and has to be careful the way he trains because he could be prone to injuries. When you beat Nadal the way he did, you can beat anyone in the world. He has to grow as a tennis player, and get more experienced and work a little more on the volleys and he is gong to get better. He has got a big game. What I really love is that he has a big heart. He doesn’t give up until the end that’s beautiful to watch and something that I enjoy. I think Australia should be excited. He is the best prospect since it was myself, Pat and Lleyton”, continued Philippoussis
Philippoussis also criticized another Australian young star Bernard Tomic who reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon in 2011 but he did not live up to his huge talent since then.
“When you hear that he loses a match against Jarkko Nieminen in 28 minutes, I don’t even see it’s possible to lose a match in 28 minutes. It’s impossible to lose that fast and it’s a shame. He can turn it around but it’s got to be now”, said Philippoussis
Wimbledon 2014 also confirmed the huge prospects of Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. Dimitrov has continued his impressive period of form of 2014 in which he collected titles on all surfaces in Acapulco (hard-court), Bucharest (clay) and Queen’s (grass) and reached the semifinals in Rome and at Wimbledon.
At the All England Club Dimitrov showed that he fully deserves his reputation as the heir of Roger Federer when he upset defending champion and local hero Andy Murray playing great tennis in the quarter final. He pushed hard Novak Djokovic in four hard-fought sets but he was knocked out by the Serb with 6-4 3-6 7-6 7-6 in the semifinal where the young Bulgarian squandered three consecutive set points in the tie-break of the fourth set. The merit of this outstanding breakthrough goes to his coach Roger Rasheed who has contributed to his outstanding year in which he has moved to World Number 9 and has a good chance to qualify for the ATP World Finals in London for the first time in his career.
Milos Raonic has also made outstanding breakthrough this year thanks to the advice of former World Number 3 Ivan Ljubicic and Riccardo Piatti. He reached the semifinals in Rome and Wimbledon and the quarter finals at the Roland Garros. He beat only a seed Kei Nishikori to reach the quarter final where he beat Nadal’s conqueror Kyrgios. The young Canadian was beaten by Roger Federer in the semifinal. Thanks to these results he has reached the World Number 6.
Last but not least, we have a look at the new generation of women who made a major breakthrough this season and confirmed this reputation at Wimbledon. The most prominent rising star is young Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who has reached at least the semifinal in all three Grand Slam tournaments this year. Eugenie played an outstanding Wimbledon semifinal in which she did not drop a set in the whole tournament until the final where she lost against Wimbledon queen Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-0 in just 55 minutes. She beat two top-10 Angelique Kerber and World Number 3 and Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep in the semifinal. She showed the potential to win her first Grand Slam crown after winning Wimbledon at junior level in 2011. After Wimbledon she has broken the top-10 for the first time in his career reaching the World Number 7 spot for the first time in her young career.
Bouchard received a strong support of British tennis fans during the tournament. “I don’t know if I deserve all your love today during the final I lost against Kvitova but I really appreciate it”, said Bouchard.
Among her fans there was Princess and namesake Eugenie (the daughter of the Duke and the Duchess of York) who attended the women’s final in the Royal Box.
“I am very happy that she came out. Unfortunately I could not put on a better show for her”, said Bouchard
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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