Wimbledon: Djokovic battles past Dimitrov for a 2nd straight final - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon: Djokovic battles past Dimitrov for a 2nd straight final

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – Novak Djokovic once again showed true grit when his back was up against the wall and the momentum seemed to be shifted well out of his reach. The 6-time major champion fought hard against the young tenacious spirit of Grigor Dimitrov to reach his third Wimbledon final. Cordell Hackshaw

 

Results, Order of Play, Draws and Interviews from The Championships

Novak Djokovic once again showed true grit when his back was up against the wall and the momentum seemed to be shifted well out of his reach. The 6-time major champion fought hard against the young tenacious spirit of Grigor Dimitrov to reach his third Wimbledon final. Djokovic did well to win this match 6-4 3-6 7-62 7-67 in just over 3 hours as there were moments when Dimitrov looked like he was going to be in his first major final. Although this was not an epic match by any stretch of the imagination, it was however, a match that showed two great competitors battling their hardest for a highly desired prize. They slipped and slid across Centre Court defending points as though life depended on it. In the end, it would be Djokovic left standing on top displaying even more so why he would be one of the sport’s legends.

Dimitrov served to open the match and was showing himself to be up to the challenge of taking another top player. He kept it even till the 5th game when the Bulgarian played a most sloppy game and was broken at love. Therefore, instead of him going up 3-2, it was Djokovic who would serve for a 4-2 lead. Djokovic maintained this lead and served out the set 6-4 in 27 minutes. Djokovic carried this momentum into the 2nd set as he broke Dimitrov and went up 3-1. However, Dimitrov finally got his act together and reeled off 5 straight games to take the set 6-3. Now the match was even. Djokovic was looking baffled and beside himself. Nearly all this matches here at this year’s Wimbledon seemed to involve him “complicating” his life and this was no different.

In the 3rd set, things remained on serve although Djokovic had to save a break point in the middle of the set. It seemed that Dimitrov had the momentum in the match and he was going to take the breaker. However, in the breaker, Dimitrov fizzled as Djokovic earned the minibreak to go up 4-2. Then Dimitrov double faulted to give Djokovic a 5-2 lead with two serves to close it out. Djokovic did not muck about as he did earlier in the set. With the lead in hand and two serves, he closed out the breaker 7-2 points to take the set 7-62.

In the 4th set, even at 1-1, Dimitrov played one of the most inexplicable games seen this tournament. He threw in three consecutive double faults and then on a 2nd serve point, he pushed the forehand long to be broken at love. Djokovic not to be outdone by this bizarre play, allowed himself to be broken immediately to get back on serve 2-2. The match stayed even on terms as both players fought off several break points to force another tiebreaker.

Dimitrov who had set point in the 10th game, rebounded from the missed opportunity to earn himself 3 more set points up 6-3 in the breaker. Djokovic came up with the big serves to erase two of those set points. It was now 6-5 Dimitrov. This match was surely heading to a 5th set. However, it seemed that Dimitrov had other ideas. He played a couple of poor points including double faulting yet again which now saw him down match point; from 6-3 Dimitrov to 7-6 Djokovic. Djokovic then decided foolishly to serve and volley on match point and sure enough it was now 7-7. Djokovic would earn a 2nd match point 8-7. It was now Dimitrov’s turn to act silly down match point. He too tried the serve and volley ploy at such a crucial stage but Djokovic read it and picked off the easy forehand pass for the win 6-4 3-6 7-6 7-6.

It would be hard to pick apart this match from the statistics. Both men served relatively well. Djokovic won 73% of his 1st serve points and 56% of his 2nd serve. Dimitrov won 82% of his 1st serve and 45% of his 2nd serve. There was not much separating them in the winners to errors ratio as Djokovic had 45 winners to 26 errors and Dimitrov 48 to 33. However, the key to this match was really both players not capitalizing on their opportunities to take full control of the match. There were many instances where either player when out in front, lose focus and allowed his opponent back into the match. Dimitrov double faulting at inopportune times, 8 in total for the match, would be what he will take away from this match. Djokovic, after the match stated, “I was frustrated because I, again, allowed my opponent to come back to the match. I was a set and a break up and, again, made some unforced errors and gave my opponent today a hope that he can win the match. That’s something that I definitely cannot allow myself in the finals against Roger.” Djokovic will play Roger Federer in the men’s final on Sunday. The two played here once before in the 2012 semifinals. Federer won that match went on to win the title.

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Rafael Nadal May Have Luck On His Side This Time Down Under

Could 2022 be Nadal’s year at Melbourne Park?

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Rafa Nadal hasn’t always been so lucky, especially at the Australian Open.

 

Melbourne generally has treated the great Spanish left-hander rather harshly. If not injuries, it was bad luck. He easily could have been sitting well ahead of both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in Grand Slam titles, say 23-19 in both cases. The fact Djokovic was not allowed to compete in this Australian Open wouldn’t even be an issue.

But anyway, here’s Rafa back in the Australian semifinals. Federer and Djokovic aren’t anywhere in sight.

BEST TWO-SET PLAYER IN THE GAME?

Nadal may be 35 years old, but he still may be the best two-set player in the game. He looked like his old self the first two sets of his five-set (6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3) quarterfinal win over talented, but bad-mouthing 22–year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

Then, there was another significant quarterfinal just a year ago in Melbourne that almost made this Nadal-Shapovalov meeting look like a replay of Nadal’s five-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year’s Australian Open.

Nadal didn’t waste his 2-0 set lead against Shapovalov, although all Nadal fans watching Tuesday’s Nadal-Shapovalov match must have had an errie feeling that it could be 2021 all over again.

NADAL PLAYED IT SMARTER THIS TIME

Yes, Nadal appeared to play it smarter this time. He went after the third set until he missed what should have been an easy passing shot down the line to get to double break point at 3-3 in the set. After 4-4, Nadal won only two more points in the set, one on a Shapovalov double fault and the other one a Naval love-40 ace.

Finally, after dropping three straight games to fall behind 4-1 in the fourth set while looking very un-Nadalish, the Spaniard called for medical help while holding his stomach. That didn’t make Shapovalov happy.

RAFA CAME ALIVE IN FIFTH SET

Afterward the medical visit that Shapovalov seemed to be upset about, Nadal appeared to slowly respond to the medication while closing to 5-3 and holding a double break point in the ninth game before Shapovalov evened the match at two sets each.

In that stretch of four games and then the seven-minute break for Nadal between sets, it became obvious that the medication had worked as Nadal jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fifth set. 

Earlier, Shapovalov reportedly called chair umpire Carlos Bernardes “corrupt” for not calling out Nadal for taking too much time between points and thus giving Nadal special treatment. And the seven-minute break before the start of the final set upset the Canadian left-hander even more.

LUCK OF THE DRAW ON NADAL’S SIDE

This time, Nadal’s luck comes from the fact Djokovic is absent as well as the draw that pits Nos. 2 and 4 seeds Daniil Medvedev and Tsitsipas against each other in Friday’s semifinals while sixth-seed Nadal will go against hard-hitting Italian Matteo Berrettini, the seventh seed.

Berrettini is a strong player, but realistically he isn’t in the class of Medvedev or Tsitsipas.

Berrettini isn’t the most consistent player around. Very erratic at times, repeatedly going all-out on the forehand side, while his backhand is a glaring weakness,

Of course, Medvedev turned back Djokovic’s bid to break the 20-20-20 Grand Slam title deadlock between Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. That says enough about Medvedev’s ability to live up to the task in Grand Slams.

And then there’s Tsitsipas with his enormous talent and desire to win a Grand Slam title.

Maybe Medvedev and Tsitsipas will push each other to physical extremes in the semifinals, while Nadal breezes past Berrettini.

IS NADAL’S BAD LUCK IN MELBORNE OVER?

Nadal’s bad luck Down Under where his lone title came with his 2009 five-set victory over Federer in the Aussie final that brought Federer to tears receiving the runner-up trophy for the third straight time after major finals against Nadal.

Eight years later in 2017, Federer got Nadal back by upsetting the Spaniard in another five-set Aussie final in which Nadal was a heavy favorite.

Another misfortune for Nadal was his five-set loss to Djokovic in the five hours and 15 minutes long Australian Open final in 2012. Nadal owned a 4-2 lead in the fifth set before missing an open line on an easy-looking backhand passing shot down the line with both players at the net. A winner would have put Nadal within one game and one point of a second Australian Open title

BACK INJURY GOT IN WAY AGAINST STAN

Of course, there have been a line of injuries for Nadal in Melbourne, including the 2014 final against Stan Wawrinka in which early in the second set a near-incapacitating back injury got in Rafa’s way of completing a career double Grand Slam.

But Nadal didn’t throw in the towel, except maybe the rest of the second set.

Wawrinka complained heavily to the chair umpire and tournament supervisor for almost the entire seven minutes and 15 seconds Nadal was gone from the court to receive treatment for his back. Although in obvious pain, Nadal came back to win the fourth set before losing the decisive fourth set.

OTHER 3 HAVE AGE AND SIZE ON THEIR SIDES?

Nadal is the small one of the semifinalists. He’s only 6-1. The other three climb the stairs in height, 6-4 Tsitsipas, 6-5 Berrettini and 6-6 Medvedev.

And, of course, Nadal is the old-timer at age 35, while two of the other three are 25 years old and Tsitsipas is only 23.

 Nevertheless, Nadal looked like a 20-year-old in those first two sets against Shapovalov. Now with fresh confidence that he can survive in the heat, even another five-setter, Nadal has maybe his last shot at a second career Grand Slam. Win or lose Down Under, Nadal should still have a great shot at another Grand Slam title at the French Open.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers.  A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Matteo Berrettini Outlasts Monfils To Reach Australian Open Semi-Finals

Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian male singles player to reach the Australian Open semi-finals after a five set win over Gael Monfils.

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Matteo Berrettini (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini edged out Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-2 to reach his maiden Australian Open semi-final.

 

The Italian was too strong in the key moments as he outlasted the Frenchman to reach the last four in Melbourne.

Despite a strong start to the season and a vintage comeback, Gael Monfils ran out of energy and produced key errors in big moments.

Berrettini will now face 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday.

It was a strong start from both players as they knew it was a golden opportunity to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam.

However it was Berrettini who drew first blood with some aggressive groundstrokes mixed with shortening the points at the net.

A break to love secured a 3-2 lead and the Italian had a pretty comfortable set on serve with some big first serve and forehand combinations.

Monfils had a better read on the serve in the second set, creating a break point when the Italian served for the set.

But the power of Berrettini counter-attacked the insane defence of the Frenchman as he closed out the opening set in 37 minutes.

In the early exchanges of the second set both players had to endure tough tests on their serve with Monfils saving three break points for an opening service hold.

In the fourth game Berrettini overcame a 15 minute hold of serve as he saved three break points and sealed a crucial hold for 2-2.

This seemed to be the turning point as he then turned up the aggression on both wings and a clinical seventh game secured the break for a 4-3 lead.

The Italian comfortably secured the second set with a hold to love as a two set to love lead was obtained and surely a comfortable straight sets win.

But this was Gael Monfils we are talking about and nothing is straightforward against the Frenchman with the third set showing why.

Monfils, one of the biggest fighters in tennis, continued to work the angles against a now passive Matteo Berrettini.

Eventually extending the rallies and making the Italian cover a lot of the court worked as the Frenchman secured the break for a 4-2 lead.

Monfils executed effected patterns of play on serve as he wrapped up the third set and rallied the crowd in his favour.

Berrettini’s legs were suddenly looked tired as well as his mental concentration going as sublime Monfils winner on the line saw him break for a 3-2 lead as Berrettini seemed to think the shot was out.

A re-energized Frenchman built his lead from then as Monfils took command of the rallies and dictated the tempo of the match.

Berrettini’s passive play wasn’t getting through Monfils’ angles and effortless power as another long game went the way of the Frenchman as he secured a second break to level the match at two sets all.

Now the pressure was on the Frenchman as the crowd were gearing up for an entertaining final set.

But this time it was Monfils’ passive play and fatigue that played a part in the final set as Berrettini found his consistent power when he needed it most.

A quick double break was secured for a fired up Berrettini who booked his place into the semi-finals in Melbourne for the first time.

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Denis Shapovalov Accuses Nadal Of Receiving ‘Unfair’ Advantage After Australian Open Clash

The two players give their versions about an argument which erupted during their clash at the Grand Slam.

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After losing a marathon five-set encounter against Rafael Ndal on the Rod Laver Arena, Denis Shapovalov didn’t hold back when it came to speaking about the treatment his opponent received during their match.

 

The Canadian world No.14 was still highly agitated during his press conference following a run-in he had with umpire Carlos Bernardes over the amount of time given to Nadal on court. A heated exchange started during the second set when Shapovalov was serving and he was frustrated by the amount of time Nadal was taking. Under the rules, the server must abide by the service clock timer and the returner must follow the pace of the server.

However, Shapovalov was ready to serve but was unable to as Nadal wasn’t. His frustration grew when Bernardes didn’t give the Spaniard a code violation. Resulting in the Canadian extraordinary calling the umpire ‘corrupt’ before later saying he misspoke.

Shapovalov: “You started the clock like 45 seconds ago and he is not ready to play. You started the clock like so long ago and he is still not ready to play. You’ve gotta code him.”
Bernardes: “Yeah. I code him now, now you are not ready to play?”
Shapovalov: “Code him!”
Bernardes: “For what?”
Shapovalov: “He’s not ready to play!”
Bernardes: “Yeah but you are not ready to play, because you came to talk to me.”
Shapovalov: “Are you kidding me?”
Bernardes: “I’m not kidding you.”
Shapovalov: “You guys are all corrupt! You guys are all corrupt!”

Following their clash, Shapovalov continued to voice his frustration to reporters by saying what Nadal has been allowed to get away with is ‘unfair.’ It is not the first time the 20-time Grand Slam champion has been accused of taking longer between points than what the rule states.

“I think it’s unfair, you know, how much Rafa is getting away with,” he told reporters.
“I’m completely ready to play and the clock is ticking 3, 2, 1, clicking towards zero, and I’m looking at the ump and obviously I’m going to speak up and say something.
“I’ve been ready to play for a minute and a half, and he tells me he’s not going to give him a code violation because I’m not ready to play. To me, it’s a big joke if somebody says that.”

At the end of the fourth set Nadal left the court for six-and-a-half minutes to have a medical check and go to the toilet. The Spaniard was experiencing stomach issues during the match and was given medication to help treat the issue.

“The guy goes — and for the same thing last year I wasn’t allowed to take a toilet break when I asked for a medical. He had already taken two medicals,” Shapovalov ranted.
“He was getting medically evaluated, that’s what the ump said after the fourth set, getting medically evaluated, and after the evaluation the guy goes and takes a toilet break.
It’s like, where is the line?”

When questioned by one journalist if Shapovalov thinks his opponent receives preferential treatment due to his status in the sport, he responded ‘100%.’

“Every other match that I have played, the pace has been so quick because the refs have been on the clock after every single point.” Shapovalov said.
“This one, I mean, after the first two sets it was like an hour and a half just because he’s dragged out so much after every single point. He’s given so much time in between sets and all this. It’s just dragged out.”

Rafa responds

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1485842948420161536

Providing his version of the argument, Nadal has hit back at what the 22-year-old said by saying that he believed the umpire acted in a ‘fair way’ given the humid conditions. Nadal and Bernardes haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on the Tour. During the 2015 Rio Open he wasn’t allowed to leave the court by the match official to change his shorts. He ended up covering himself with towels to change his shorts, which he initially put on backwards. That caused a rift between the two.

I know I took some extra time at the end of the first set because I had to change everything there on the chair, in the changeover. I think honestly in that case normally at the end of the sets the umpire gives you some extra time, especially under these very humid conditions to change the clothes because that’s obvious that you can’t play with the clothes in the condition that I was in.” He argued.
“I think, in my opinion, Denis was wrong in that case. I understand that he just lost the (first) set and in some way he wanted to keep playing quick, but I think he’s gonna understand a little bit later that normally you have some time to change your clothes.”

The 35-year-old says he feels ‘sorry’ for Shapovalov who came back from two sets down to level before getting broken at the start of the decider.

As for the allegation of receiving special treatment, Nadal was quick to dismiss that claim.

“No. Not in that case. I really believe that on the court you don’t deserve better treatment than others and I don’t want it and I don’t feel I have it,” he stated.
“Without a doubt, as everyone knows, I have huge respect for Carlos [Bernardes]. I don’t think that is the case.
“I really believe sometimes it is always in the mind that the top players get bigger advantages and honestly on court that is not true. That is my feeling. I never felt I had advantages on court and really believe he is wrong.”

Nadal now leads Shapovalov 4-1 in their head-to-head.

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