Cincinnati: The Men’s semis are set. Federer v Raonic and Ferrer v Benneteau - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati: The Men’s semis are set. Federer v Raonic and Ferrer v Benneteau

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TENNIS ATP CINCINNATI – The men’s quarterfinals matches at the 2014 Western & Southern Open on Friday proved to be a rather balanced affair. The two earlier matches were rather lopsided and the latter two were heavily contested. Two of the matches were straight sets and two were three set affairs. Cordell Hackshaw

 

The men’s quarterfinals matches at the 2014 Western & Southern Open on Friday proved to be a rather balanced affair. The two earlier matches were rather lopsided and the latter two were heavily contested. Two of the matches were straight sets and two were three set affairs. In the early morning and afternoon sessions, Julien Benneteau took on Stan Wawrinka (3) and Milos Raonic (5) played Fabio Fognini (15). In the evening and night sessions, David Ferrer (6) took on Tommy Robredo (16) and Roger Federer (2) battled Andy Murray (8). Benneteau perhaps the surprised semifinalist here, scored the lone upset so far over a lacklustre Wawrinka in 3 sets, 1-6 6-1 6-2 in 80 minutes. whereas Williams and Raonic both faced opponents who never seemed to get their feet in the match. Benneteau took out Wawrinka 1-6 6-1 6-2 in 80 minutes, Raonic dismantled Fognini 6-1 6-0 in 57 minutes and Ferrer battled it out with Robredo for over 2 hours 6-4 3-6 6-3. Federer fended off a strong charge from Murray to win 6-3 7-5 in 93 minutes.

Wawrinka came out hard and fast against Benneteau who surprisingly leads their head to head 2-1. Within half an hour, Wawrinka had wrapped up the 1st set 6-1. One expected more of the same from Wawrinka in the 2nd set but all his momentum soon evaporated as he was down 0-3 in no time. Wawrinka was able to fight off the early double break but when Benneteau got another chance to break in the 6th game, he converted for 5-1. Benneteau was able to seal the deal with an ace to close out the 2nd set 6-1. In the 3rd set, Benneteau continued his winning ways as again broke early and was soon up 3-1. Wawrinka was only able to win 1 more game as Benneteau with an ace closed the match out 1-6 6-1 6-2. Wawrinka committed 40 errors for the match compared to 27 from the Frenchman. “It’s my best result in a Masters 1000 … You don’t have a lot of opportunities to make a very big result.” Benneteau is in his first Masters Series 1000 semifinal and will play David Ferrer for a place in the final on Sunday.

Ferrer also had to play 3 sets in order to get to the semifinal. Robredo was broken first in the 7th game but he broke back to even it at 4-4. However, Ferrer was not to be denied as he broke Robredo again and served out the 1st set 6-4. Robredo came back strong in the 2nd set as he broke in the 6th game for a 4-2 lead and maintained this lead as he took the 2nd set 6-3. In the 3rd set, the contest was far more even as they remained on serve through the first 7 games. In the 8th game, Robredo could not withstand the relentless defensive skills from Ferrer as the 5th seed, broke for a 5-3 lead. He then served out the match for a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory in just over 2 hours. It was a very even contest but in the end Ferrer was the more consistent player. He had 34 winners to 43 errors compared to his countryman who had 22 winners to 51 errors. After the match, Ferrer spoke about the difficulty playing his friend, “Well, it’s not easy play against a friend … Tommy and I have played a lot of times in our careers. I wish him the best luck for the next tournaments.”

Things were far more straightforward for Raonic as he had the 1st set under his belt 6-1 in about 27 minutes. After the routing, Fognini decided to call the trainer out to have his leg massaged. However, the treatment did not help his cause as Raonic continued his onslaught as he took the 2nd set 6-0. Fognini had no answers for Raonic on either serve or return. The Italian did see 7 chances to break including a triple break point opportunity in the 5th game of the 2nd set but he was unable to convert. Raonic was 6 for 6 on break points with 24 winners and 10 errors. Fognini on the other hand only had 10 winners and 16 errors. Despite this seemingly easy day at the office, Raonic’s serve was not always present. He only got 51% of 1st serves in though he won 83% of the points. “For once I actually struggled with my serve and not my return,” Raonic said after the match. This is the 6th Masters Series 1000 tournament where Raonic has made it to the quarterfinals or better this year. He is still looking for his 1st Masters Series 1000 final.

The final men’s quarterfinal matchup was the biggest, Federer v Murray. There was a lot of talk about this match because with a win here, Federer would even his head-to-head record against Murray which stood at 11-10 Murray prior to the match. Federer came out strong as he had break points in nearly all of Murray’s service game in the 1st set. However, his conversion rate has always been an issue and it was not until the 7th break chance did he finally convert to lead 3-2 after Murray’s forehand went wide. Federer was able to maintain this break advantage having had to save break points on his own serve several times. In the 9th game of the match, Federer up 5-3, Murray lost focus and played a most untidy game. He was spraying balls all over the place and was soon broken again as Federer took the opening set 6-3. Federer later noted, “I hit the ball well … I was the more aggressive guy out there. I was having more impact from the baseline and on the serve.”

In the 2nd set, it seemed as though we would be going the distance in this match after Murray raced out to a 4-1 lead with two breaks of serve. Federer was committing errors on both wings and could barely get his first serve into play. He soon saw Murray serving for a 5-1 lead. However, Federer was not about to let the set go so easily. He reeled off 4 straight games with some nifty shots including his infamous backhand slice which kept him in many of the rallies and also gave Murray no pace at all to work with. Therefore, Murray who was up 4-1, found himself down 4-5 in a matter of minutes. Murray later stated, “I started the match off pretty slow tonight … [O]bviously was well up in the second and blew it. It’s a shame.” The negative body language did not help his cause but he was able to serve to stay in the match for 5-5. Federer held serve with relative ease to go up 6-5 and Murray was again under pressure to serve to stay in the match. In the 12th game, Federer turned up the intensity again and soon broke Murray for a 5th time in the match. Federer moves through to the semifinal 6-3 7-5 in just over an hour and a half.

After the match, Federer spoke of his comeback in the 2nd set, “In the second set, I lost a little bit of the rhythm … I snuck in a quick break, and next thing you know, I’m back. I feel like I stole that second set.” The numbers were very healthy for Federer as he got 60% of his first serves in and winning 71% of those points and 52% on second serves. Murray on the other hand was only getting in 48% of first serves in and won 60% of those points and 45% on his second serve. There was not much to differentiate them on the winner/error ratio as Federer had 20 winners to 32 errors compared to Murray who had 18 winners and 28 errors. The main issue was that Murray made those errors at inopportune times. It did not help that a lot of them came in the 2nd set after being up 4-1. Federer is in his 6th semifinals in Cincinnati. In all previous 5 trips to the semifinals, he went on to win the title.

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Liam Broady On Why He Wore Rainbow Laces During His Australian Open Match

Following his first round defeat, the Brit spoke about why he believes it is important to speak out in support of the LGBT community.

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Image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/

It is sometimes the small gestures which go a long way and Liam Broady showed that during his first round match at the Australian Open.

 

Taking to the John Cain Arena for his night-time clash against Nick Kyrgios, the qualifier embarked upon a situation he had never experienced before with a boisterous crowd cheering on their home player. At times the atmosphere resembled that a football match with fans drinking beer and chanting Christiano Roinaldo’s ‘siu’ celebration. The reason as to why they were doing that particular chant was unclear.

Broady ended up falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, to Kyrgios who will next play the formidable Daniil Medvedev. Throughout the match the world No.128 was wearing rainbow laces and he did so for a special reason.

“I just kind of wanted to send the support. I know obviously within men’s tennis — is it a taboo? I don’t think it’s really a taboo, but I’ve seen questions before about why there aren’t any openly gay men on the tour, and I just wanted to kind of voice my support in that kind of general area,” Broady explained during his press conference.
“And the LGBTQ community, I mean, a lot of those guys have given me a lot of support throughout my career and have been there since day one, so I kind of wanted to give a thank you in my own sort of way.”

The Rainbow Laces initiative was created by LGBT charity Stonewall and initially marketed specifically towards football’s Premier League before later expanding into other sports. The idea is to get players to wear rainbow laces in order to raise awareness of LGBT representation within sport.

https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/1483379917337534465

Tennis is renowned for having some of the most formidable LGBT athletes over the years with the likes of pioneers such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova who were among some of the first to speak openly about their sexuality. However, on the men’s Tour it is somewhat different. There are currently no openly gay players and only a small handful in the past. Although most of those players, such as Brian Vahaly, came out after retiring from the sport.

“I saw that the first openly gay footballer just came out in Australia (Josh Cavallo) a month or two ago. And it’s difficult, right? I mean, it’s a big thing to do and at the end of the day in the 21st century, it’s pretty rubbish that people don’t feel like they can be openly gay. It’s quite sad, really,” Broady continued.
“Hopefully I will help raise awareness for it and if there are people in the locker rooms and you kind of, you don’t want to force them to come out, you know, especially if they don’t want to. It’s their choice.’
“So you just got to try and support in the way you can and just let them know that everything’s okay.”

It is not the first time the 28-year-old has spoken out about LGBT rights. In 2018 he criticized Margaret Court who likened gay-rights activists to Adolf Hitlef in terms of what she claims is ‘propaganda.’ Court has a history of making anti-LGBT remarks despite insisting that she has nothing against gay people.

Broady says he doesn’t personally know of any gay player on the Tour. Although if there was, he assumed that it would be known because the sport is a ‘pretty leaky ship’ when it comes to having private details revealed online.

On Monday the Australian Open will launch their first ever Pride Day at the tournament.

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Australian Open: Pablo Carreno Busta Through But Fabio Fognini Stunned

Busta has booked his place in the second round at Melbourne Park for the sixth year in a row.

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Pablo Carreno Busta - image via https://twitter.com/SuperTennisTv/

On day one of the Australian Open, Spanish ace Pablo Carreno Busta sealed an efficient straight-sets win to take his place in the second round.

 

The Spaniard was no match for Argentinian qualifier Tomas Etcheverry coming through 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

The 30-year-old from Giron sailed through the opening set that included two breaks in the fourth and sixth game.

Etcheverry, who won three matches to qualify for the Australian Open, improved in the second set.

However, it wasn’t enough as Carreno-Busta flicked through the gears breaking his younger opponent in the third and seventh game to seal the set.

In the third, the 2017 and 2020 US Open semi-finalist took an early break of serve, only to be pegged back by Etcheverry who forced a tie-break.

It wasn’t to be for the 22-year-old though as Carreno-Busta turned up the heat with some big groundstrokes to move into round two.

Next up for the world number 21 is Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor who thrashed a poor Fabio Fognini in straight sets.

The out of sorts Italian was beaten 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

Having lost in the first round of the US Open in September, the former world number world number is nine is in danger of slipping outside the top 40.

Having shown much promise to win a first Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo back in 2019, the husband of former US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, looks desperately short of motivation and confidence.

Fognini is yet to go beyond the fourth-round of a major, and at 34 time is running out for him to mine the potential that made him one of the sports best juniors growing up alongside Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

Elsewhere, former Australian Open star Lucas Pouille, was knocked out in round one by fellow Frenchman Corentin Moutet.

Wildcard Pouille has endured a glut of injuries since making the semi-finals at Melbourne Park three years ago.

The 27-year-old has now fallen to 159 in the world. 

Pouille made a bright start to take the opening set 6-3, but his lack of fitness and confidence soon showed, as he lost the following sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Czech Jiri Vesley, also slumped out to American wildcard Stefan Kozlov 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

He will face seventh seed Matteo Berrettini next.

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Cameron Norrie Puzzled By Australian Open Defeat

It was a bad day at the office for the British number one.

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Cameron Norrie ad Indian Wells 2021 (Credits: @BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Cameron Norrie is finding it hard to pinpoint where it all went wrong for him in his first round match at the Australian Open.

 

The 12th seed could only win seven games against Sebastian Korda as he crashed out 6-3, 6-0, 6-4, after just over 100 minutes of play. It is the third time in four appearances that Norrie has fallen in the first round at Melbourne Park but last year he did manage to reach the third round. Against his American rival, he hit 29 unforced errors compared to 23 winners and was broken five times.

I had a week off to prepare, prepared as well as I could, and I was just slow, I was missing routine backhands, which I never miss,” Norrie said during his press conference.
“I honestly can’t put a finger on it. I just need to get better and improve. Lots to work on.’
“Any time I had a chance to kind of come back, he (Korda) served his way out of it. And on the bigger points he was much better than me. I didn’t play well in any big points today.”

It has been a far from smooth start to 2022 for the 26-year-old who also suffered disappointment at the ATP Cup earlier this month. In the team tournament he lost all three of his singles matches to Alexander Zverev, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Zverev is the only one of the trio currently ranked higher than him.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Norrie’s latest defeat is the fact he seemed perplexed about why he played the way he did. Asked by one journalist if he was possibly suffering any lingering affects from catching COVID-19 during the festive period he replied ‘No, I think I prepared as well as I can, and I felt fine physically, fine mentally.’

Norrie was one of the breakthrough stars last year on the ATP Tour when he raced up the world rankings. He featured in six Tour finals across three different surfaces and won the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. The stellar season earned him a place at the ATP Finals as a reserve and he even played two matches following the withdrawal of Stefanos Tsitsipas due to injury.

“I don’t know why I played the way I did today. I was feeling good physically,” he said. “Yeah, I played a lot of matches (last year) but this is what we (tennis players) are paid to do and just not good enough. I just need to raise my standards, practice, matches, and execute a lot better.”

Of course, credit has to be given to Korda, who is making his debut at Melbourne Park. The American had a far from ideal preparation for the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19 which forced him to withdraw from two warm-up events.

21-year-old Korda has now beaten a top 20 player on six separate occasions. He will play France’s Corentin Moutet in the second round.

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