Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 18th of August 2014 - UBITENNIS English
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 18th of August 2014

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TENNIS BITS & PIECES – Sock & Pospisil in record books, Serena wins US Open Series, Federer reaches ATP Finals, Del Potro out of US Open and who’s playing where this week. Joshua Bosco

 

A new record for a new duo

After just eight weeks together, Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock are already in the record books.

Their partnership got off to a fantastic start with 14 straight wins, shattering a 30-year-old record belonging to Paul Annacone and Christo van Rensburg, who won their first 12 matches as a doubles team.

In their incredible run Pospisil and Sock clinched titles at Wimbledon and the Citi Open in Washington before reaching the final in Cincinnati on Sunday. Here they played a rematch of their Wimbledon final against the Bryan Brothers: the Americans avenged their defeat winning 6-3 6-2 in just 53 minutes to claim their 99th title as a team.

2014 US Open Series

World No.1 Serena Williams became the first woman to win the US Open Series three times  after defeating Caroline Wozniacki 2-6 6-2 6-4 in the semi-final of the Cincinnati Masters.

The American, who went on to win the tournament defeating Ana Ivanovic in the final, has now set her eyes on a whopping $4 million US Open prize: $3 million for the Grand Slam win plus $1 million for the US Open Series. Should she win in Flushing Meadows, it will be the biggest pay-out ever in tennis history.

On the men’s side, Milos Raonic has virtually clinched the US Open Series title: he is 110 points clear of Roger Federer, who won’t be competing in next week’s Winston-Salem Open. The only two players who can surpass him are John Isner and Kevin Anderson, but they both need the title in North Carolina this week to make it happen.

Federer makes the cut

With his semi-final win over Milos Raonic, Roger Federer became the third player after Nadal and Djokovic to make the cut for the ATP World Tour Finals.

It’s the thirteenth consecutive time that Federer qualifies for the season final showdown, a tournament he has already won a record six times.

Del Potro ruled out of US Open

Juan Martin del Potro has ruled himself out of the 2014 US Open, while he continues to recover from the wrist surgery he underwent in March. He’s still on course to make his comeback at the Malaysian Open, which takes place in September, as he had already announced in June.

Other players who have already announced their withdrawal are Alexandr Dolgopolov, Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Haas while last year’s winner Rafael Nadal is expected to make an announcement regarding his appearance in the next couple of days.

As of today, 2013 semi-finalist Li Na is the only woman to have officially withdrawn from the tournament.

Davis Cup relocates

The ITF has decided to move the Davis Cup tie between Israel and Argentina from Tel Aviv to Sunrise, Florida. The decision came after it was ruled that the match could not be played in Israel due to the situation in Gaza.

Who’s playing where

There are only two major tournaments this week in the lead up to the US Open.

The men will fly to North Carolina for the Winston-Salem Open, where defending champion Jurgen Melzer will be joined by John Isner, Kevin Anderson, Tommy Robredo, Guillermo Garcia Lopez, Lukas Rosol and Andreas Seppi. Ivan Dodig, Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock are among the players who have withdrawn before the start of the tournament.

In New Haven eight of the Top 16 WTA players will take part in the 2014 Connecticut Open, where top seed Simona Halep will try to defend her 2013 title against the likes of Petra Kvitova, Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Dominika Cibulkova, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro. Wildcards for the tournament were given to Kirsten Flipkens, Andrea Petkovic and Sam Stosur.

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Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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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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