TENNIS US OPEN – Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov were amongst the few remaining men who had yet to play their first round match at the US Open despite it being Day 3 at the championships. None of the other big names have been upset so far in the tournament and neither Berdych nor Dimitrov wanted to be the one to change this status. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw
Tomas Berdych (6) and Grigor Dimitrov (7) were amongst the few remaining men who had yet to play their first round match at the US Open despite it being Day 3 at the championships. None of the other big names have been upset so far in the tournament and neither Berdych nor Dimitrov wanted to be the one to change this status. They faced tough opponents in the form of Lleyton Hewitt and Ryan Harrison respectively. However, despite Hewitt and Harrison doing their level best to cause trouble for Berdych and Dimitrov, in the end their efforts were in vain as they lost in straight sets. Berdych took out Hewitt 6-3 6-4 6-3 and Dimitrov dispatched Harrison 6-2 7-64 6-2.
Hewitt knew the importance of holding serve against the likes of Berdych and was battling hard to avoid going down an early break. He was able to fight off the early break opportunities against him but a mighty backhand return winner from Berdych secured him the break and the lead at 3-1. Berdych was able to maintain this break advantage to close out the set 6-3. In the 2nd set, Hewitt was able to turn things around as he got up 4-1. Berdych then turned up his intensity to take the next 7 games and extend his lead to 2-0 sets and a break in the 3rd. Hewitt later stated, “[T]hat was my obviously my small chance out there if I could have tried to keep that lead … Yeah, if I had broken again and then given myself a chance to serve for the 2nd set, at least put … more doubt in his mind”
Hewitt was able to level the 3rd set at 3-3 breaking the Berdych serve in the 6th game. However, Berdych broke back immediately and did so again to take the match 6-3 6-4 6-3. “It was a tough opponent, a big challenge. The conditions were extremely tough today. The heat, the wind and facing Lleyton for the first round … I’m happy with the way I handled it.” Berdych was simply the better player. He had 9 aces whereas Hewitt had 9 double faults. The Czech had seemingly horrible numbers on his winners to errors sheet with 43 winners to 51 errors. This hardly mattered as Hewitt had only 19 winners along with 36 errors. Berdych will have to clean up his game if he wishes to have another good run at these championships. He will play in the 2nd round Martin Klizan who rallied from 0-2 sets down against Steve Darcis to win it in 5 sets.
This is the second consecutive major where Dimitrov and Harrison are meeting in the first round. At Wimbledon, Dimitrov beat Harrison in straight sets on his way to his first major semifinal appearance. In this match, Dimitrov was a lot more alert from the beginning than he was in London. The Bulgarian broke the American in the 4th game to lead 3-1. He broke Harrison again in the 8th game to close out the set 6-2 in just over half an hour. Similar to the Berdych match, the lower ranked opponent made a serious bid in the 2nd set to even the match. Harrison broke an erratic Dimitrov for 3-2. He maintained this break and served for the set at 5-4. However, he could not close it out. Harrison had soon gone from leading 5-3 in the set to trail 5-6. He held serve to force the breaker but again on the big points, he either made an error or allowed Dimitrov to control the point. Dimitrov won the tiebreak to lead 6-2 7-64.
There was very little Harrison could do in the 3rd set to stop Dimitrov as he was broken in his opening service game. A second break of serve in the 5th game sealed his faith as Dimitrov serve out the match 6-2 7-6 6-2 in just over two hours. Harrison was simply outclassed by a superior player. He had 37 unforced errors to 25 winners whereas Dimitrov had only 19 errors and 37 winners. Dimitrov was winning 84% of the points behind his 1st serves and 66% on his 2nd serves along with 8 aces and faced only two break points the entire match. Harrison could only muster up 62% on his 1st serves and 45% on 2nd serves with 6 double faults and 3 aces. The American was broken 5 times in the match. Dimitrov faces Dudi Sela in the 2nd round. Sela beat Carlos Berlocq in 4 sets.
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open
Love him, or hate him. But respect him.
No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.
Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.
Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.
DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER
Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.
It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.
Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.
A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE
At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.
The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.
Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.
Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.
THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE
Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.
Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.
The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
Alcaraz Fell Victim To Unbeatable Medvedev
Carlos Alcaraz was no match for Daniil Medvedev in the US Open semi-finals.
A star had to fall. There was no other way.
This time, Carlos Alcaraz was the victim. Daniil Medvedev was unbeatable.
The 6-6 Russian was everywhere, playing almost perfect tennis in a 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Alcaraz.
So, one former champion went down while one advanced to Sunday’s final at the U.S. Open.
And then there was Novak Djokovic, another former champion headed for the title match.
U.S. OPEN WAS THE BIG WINNER FRIDAY
The U.S. Open couldn’t lose once Djokovic dominated young American Ben Shelton, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Djokovic appeared to be content with just winning while getting the preliminaries over with. He seemed to be a little miffed by Shelton’s cockiness. There were no hugs or embraces when the match ended. Just a handshake.
Shelton has huge potential, but it’s going to take some time before he’s ready to join the likes of Djokovic, Medvedev and Alcaraz. He’s a better athlete than he is tennis player.
Novak is ready to go for a record 24th Grand Slam title.
Believe it or not, Medvedev will be playing in his fifth Grand Slam final.
Sunday should be a great day in Arthur Ashe Stadium, with two former champs, Djokovic and Medvedev, going against each other.
CAN COCO HIT WITH SABALENKA
The women’s final will be interesting. Can Coco Gauff compete with Aryna Sabalenka?
Sabalenka looked helpless against Madison Keys’ big strokes and serves in the first set of their semifinal on Thursday.
Sabalenka couldn’t win even one game in that set. She looked helpless.
But she obviously felt all along that she could beat Keys anytime she wanted. Or why else would the powerful Sabalenka go for broke on almost every shot? And it almost cost her.
Amazingly, Sabalenka waited almost to the final moments to decide to play within her game and stop the wildness.
Once Sabalenka decided to settle down and play to win, Keys went just the opposite way, similarly to her one-sided loss to Sloane Stephens in the 2017 U.S. Open final.
Keys appeared ready to win this time as she held a 6-0, 5-4 advantage over new world’s No. 1 Sabalenka, who seemed to be stumbling all over the court as she repeatedly hit wild shots in every direction.
Just like that, everything changed. Sabalenka started hitting winners everywhere as Keys reversed roles with Sabalenka. Not only did Sabalenka win the second set while dropping just one point in a tiebreaker, she stormed through a decisive 10-point third-set tiebreaker to win the match.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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