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.
Andrey Rublev: “I don’t expect anything from myself in Melbourne”
Russian 22-year-old rising star Andrey Rublev started the 2020 season on a high note winning back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide. He beat French Next Gen player Corentin Moutet in the final of the Doha Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in the first week of the new year and repeated the feat by beating South African rising star Lloyd Harris in Adelaide.
Rublev has extended his winning streak to 12 matches, including 8 wins in the first two weeks of the 2020 season. He won the Doha title without dropping a set during the week. In Adelaide the Moscow native had to dig deep to beat Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 in a hard-fought semifinal match. With the Doha-Adelaide double Rublev became the first player to win back-to-back titles in the first two weeks of the season since 2004, when Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty won two consecutive trophies in Adelaide and Auckland.
Rublev picked up where he left off in 2019, when he won the Kremlin Cup in his hometown Moscow beating Adrian Mannarino in the final and finished runner-up to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Hamburg final. The player coached by Fernando Vicente scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in Cincinnati to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter final before losing to eventual champion Danil Medvedev. At the US Open he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios en route to reaching the fourth round at the US Open before losing to eventual semifinalist Matteo Berrettini.
“I was not thinking about this statistic, but it’s an amazing feeling. I am really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen”, said Rublev.
Rublev will open his Australian Open campaign against local favourite Christopher O’Connell in the first round. The Russian player is projected to play against David Goffin in a potential third round match, Alexander Zverev in the fourth round and Danil Medvedev in the quarter final.
Rublev, who has never advanced from the third round at the Australian Open, has no expectations for the first Grand Slam of the season.
“I am not waiting anything from myself in Melbourne. The only thing is that I want to fight and I believe well on court in my first match. Then we will see. I don’t think I am invincible, but for sure I am more confident in what I do after two titles in a row. I am working to be more consistent, to be more mentally strong. This is what we were working for and I am happy that these two weeks went this way. I got two titles. It’s amazing. I never had this before”, said Rublev.
Ugo Humbert claims the first title of his career after winning all-French final against Benoit Paire in Auckland
Twenty-one year-old Ugo Humbert beat Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 34 minutes in the all-French final of the ASB Classic in Auckland to claim the first title of his career.
Humbert has become the first French player to win the Auckland tournament. He enjoyed a great week beating Denis Shapovalov and John Isner en route to reaching the final.
Humbert earned the first break of the match in the second game after a double fault from Paire and held his serve with a service winner in the next game to open up a 3-0 lead. Paire broke back in the fifth game with a backand return winner. Humbert broke serve again in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Paire broke back in the seventh game to claw his way back to 3-4. Humbert earned three set points, when Paire was serving at 5-6. Humbert reeled off five consecutive points from 2-2 to claim the tie-break with three mini-break after a forehand error from Paire.
Paire fended off three break points in the third game of the second set before breaking serve in the fourth game after a double fault from Humbert. Paire saved a break point at 5-3 with an ace and closed out the second set with a backhand down the line winner.
Humbert earned an early break in the second game of the decider with a backhand crosscourt passing shot, before saving three break points at 4-2. Paire hit three consecutive backhand winners, as Humbert was serving for the match at 5-3 30-0. Paire got the crucial break in the next point, when Humbert sent a forehand long. Paire saved a championship point with a backhand volley winner in the 10th game. Paire held his serve with a backhand volley winner to draw level to 5-5. Paire rallied from 0-30 down in the 12th game to force the decisive set to the tie-break.
Humbert earned a mini-break on the sixth point with a forehand return to take a 4-2 lead and earned three championship points at 6-3. Humbert sealed the win on his third chance when Paire sent a backhand wide after 2 hours and 35 minutes.
“It’s a tournament of revenge because I have lost to four of five players I played this week. It’s a great improvement for me and I could not dream of a beginning for the season”, said Humbert.
Roger Federer Plays Down Air Quality Concerns Ahead Of Australian Open
Roger Federer has rejected concerns that air quality will affect the Australian Open ahead of his first round match on Monday.
Roger Federer has rejected the idea that air quality concerns will be a factor at this year’s Australian Open.
Recently air quality has been fairly unsafe as a recent result of the Australian bushfires that have impacted many parts of the country.
Melbourne has been one of the cities that has been impacted the most with many animals, firefighters and civilians suffering.
As the Australian Open approaches, it has also affected the first grand slam of the year with many players in qualifying suffering on Tuesday and Wednesday with conditions being deemed unsafe to compete in.
This has raised concerns about the tournament itself, which starts on Monday and one player that has been criticised in his lack of action is Roger Federer.
The 20 time grand slam champion is on the ATP Players Council and today he broke his silence, insisting that the air quality shouldn’t be a factor at this year’s Australian Open, “No, I don’t worry. From what we were told yesterday in the player meeting, the Olympic Games and other competitions have the numbers set at 300. Ours is set at 200,” Federer told the media on Saturday.
“From that standpoint, I think we’re moving in a very safe range. We’re not here for six months straight at over 200, 300, you know. That’s when maybe effects really become bad. No, I don’t worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke. Also we can stay indoors all day, quickly go out and play, go back in again. It’s not like we’re stuck outside at all times.
“I think communication is key from the tournament to the people, to the media, to the fans, to the players, because you do hear it’s not safe to be outside, keep your pets inside, close your windows. You have court calls, then you look at the haze and everything, it doesn’t look good. I think we’re going to get through it and it should be fine. It shouldn’t move, no.”
Conditions are expected to get safer in time for the first week of the grand slam as rain has hit the latter stages of the past week in Melbourne.
Although Federer has played down concerns of the air quality causing harm to the players, it is still is a cause for concern amongst tournament directors if the conditions played a part in the second week.
As for Federer, he starts his Australian Open campaign against Steve Johnson on Monday and is taking the tournament one match at a time, “I got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick,” Federer said.
“Practice has been going well. Had plenty of time to pace myself and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it’s enough. I know it’s a super long road to victory. That’s why I got to take it one match at a time. My expectations are quite low. No, I’m excited to play Steve. He’s a good guy. I think with his old-school playing – big forehand, slice backhand, good serve – I think it’s going to be a nice match for me, as well.”
The Swiss will be looking for his 7th Australian Open title in Melbourne and his third in four years but will have to play Novak Djokovic before the final. The match with Johnson will be third on Rod Laver Arena on Monday after Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams play their matches.
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