Djokovic knocks out Murray for a 8th straight US Open semis - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic knocks out Murray for a 8th straight US Open semis

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TENNIS US OPEN – Novak Djokovic (1) avenges his 2012 US Open lost to Andy Murray (8) by beating him 7-6  6-7 6-2 6-4 for an 8th consecutive US Open semifinal appearance. 

 

Novak Djokovic loves it here in New York City. He might have only won a lone US Open title back in 2011, but there is something about NYC that brings out the best in the Serbian. It is requires a near herculean effort to beat him here as he has made 4 straight finals. He faced the 2012 champion Andy Murray (8) for a place in the semifinal. A lot was riding on this match for both players as they are hungry for another title here to lessen the gap between them and the major counts of both Rafael Nadal at 14 and Roger Federer at 17. The last time Djokovic and Murray met here at the Open, Murray won in 5 sets for his 1st major title. However, this time around, it would be Djokovic who won and keep alive his chance to get a 2nd title here this year. In an over 3 and a half hour battle, Djokovic dismissed Murray 7-61 16-7 6-2 6-4 for an 8th consecutive US Open semifinal appearance.

Murray came out firing as he broke Djokovic to open the match. However, he was unable to hold his own serve as Djokovic broke back immediately to level the set. It was clear at this point that this match was going to be long no matter the scoreline. It took 22 points to decide the first two games. The first set alone took 73 minutes to be completed. “[W]hen me and Novak play against each other, you obviously see a very tight, long rallies. Both of us do a lot of running,” Murray said after the match.  Djokovic broke Murray again for a 4-1 lead but he could not maintain the lead as Murray broke back in the 7th game and held serve to level at 4-4. They held serve and went to a decisive tiebreaker where Murray barely looked present as he won only a single point. Djokovic took the lead 7-61, 1-0 set.

In the 2nd set, Djokovic again got out to an early 3-1 lead and similarly he could not hold on to it. He was broken and the se leveled at 3-3. Djokovic responded by breaking back but Murray did likewise and they remained on to force another tiebreaker. This tiebreaker was almost a near carbon copy of the 1st set’s. The initial server raced out to a 4-0 lead before the other player won a point. In this case Murray was the one leading and Djokovic would only win a single point. Murray closed out the breaker with a huge serve to the body and leveled the match at a set a piece.

In the 3rd set, Djokovic continued the pattern of breaking early in the set. However, this time around, he was able to maintain the lead avoiding break points in the 5th game. Djokovic held serve and broke again in the 8th game to take the set 6-2. Djokovic now had the upperhand and Murray seemed to be fading. He noted later on that he felt that his hips were stiff at the end of the set and perhaps fatigued played a part in it. In the 4th set, Murray began lumbering around the court, clutching his body and wincing in seemingly endless agony. He continued to play.

Djokovic said, “[I]t was difficult because … he hits a serve 125 miles and suddenly hits a 90, 95mile first serve … [I]t was pretty unpredictable. It was not enough for me to just get the return back in play, because first shot he would just hit with a lot of pace.” They remained on serve until the 10th game when Murray serving to stay in the match, down 4-5, committed four unforced errors, two on each wing. He thus sealed his faith on a 2nd straight dismissal from the US Open in the quarterfinal.  “[I]n the most important moment in 5-4 in the fourth, he made a couple of errors. I stayed in the point and that’s what brought me a win,” Djokovic surmised after the match.

Both these players were evenly matched for the most part. However, Djokovic was just a bit stronger and more solid throughout the match and particularly in the key moments. Djokovic won 67% of his 1st serve points whereas Murray won 65%. On the 2nd serve, Djokovic was 52% and Murray was 47%. The real measure showed up in the winners to errors columns. Djokovic had 46 winners and 48 errors compared to Murray with 47 winners and 65 errors. Djokovic stated, “[P]laying each other and in such a close match, you’re not gonna win it by staying back and getting balls back in the court. You are going to win it by pressuring your opponent, by hitting … angles, by coming to the net … He didn’t serve as accurately as he did in the first part of the match, so that gave me more possibilities kind of to step in.”

Djokovic will next face Kei Nishikori (10) who defeated Stan Wawrinka (3) in 5 sets 3-6 7-5 7-6 6-7 6-4. Djokovic had this to say about the Japanese player, “I think he’s playing of his life in the last 12 months … To be able to come back after winning against Raonic 2:30 am, again 5 sets, 5 sets, it’s pretty impressive. I give him credit for that. This would be their third meeting and so far they are evenly split at 1-1.

 

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Davis Cup: Great Britain Handed Wildcard For 2022 Finals, Qualifiers Draw Announced

The Davis Cup Qualifiers draw was announced with Great Britain and Serbia handed a wildcard to next year’s finals.

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Great Britain and Serbia have been handed a wildcard for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals as the qualifiers draw was announced.

 

As this year’s Davis Cup comes to a conclusion, plans for next year’s competition have been put in place.

Although it is still unclear if the Finals will be held in Abu Dhabi next year, we do know which four countries have qualified for the year ending competition next month.

Russia and Croatia will contest the 2021 final, therefore earning themselves an automatic spot in next year’s finals.

However joining them will be two wildcards and they have been given to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia who reached the semi-finals this year as well as Great Britain.

To the surprise of many there was no wildcard for Spain, who are hosting the final this year, further indicating that next year’s competition is unlikely to take place in the country.

Spain join a whole host of other top nations such as Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia in March’s qualifiers.

Spain will host Romania for a place in next year’s finals while France and USA have been given home ties against Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Here is the full draw for the qualifiers which will take place on the 4th and 5th of March:

France v Ecuador

Spain v Romania

Finland v Belgium

USA v Colombia

Netherlands v Canada

Brazil v Germany

Slovakia v Italy

Australia v Hungary

Norway v Kazakhstan

Sweden v Japan

Argentina v Czech Republic

South Korea v Austria

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Iga Swiatek Working With Agnieszka Radwanska’s Former Coach After Recent Coaching Split

Iga Swiatek has made some coaching changes ahead of the 2022 season.

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Iga Swiatek will start working with Agnieszka Radwanska’s former coach Tomasz Wiktorowski on a temporary basis after splitting up with her long term coach.

 

The Pole announced the news on Instagram yesterday that she and Piotr Sierzputowski had split up after five years working with each other.

Swiatek had achieved ultimate success with Piotr having won Wimbledon Juniors, reaching her first WTA final in Lugano and the most important achievement of winning her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

However the 20 year-old now feels its time to move on ahead of the 2022 season, “I’ve started my pre-season, but today I would like to tell you something significant,” Swiatek wrote on Instagram.

“After more than 5 years I’ve decided to finish my cooperation with my coach Piotr Sierzputowski. This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either… As tennis players we meet on our path a lot of people who contribute great value into our work and, often, into our life too, because we spend almost the whole year on tour together.

“I found out that sometimes in our professional life we need changes to develop more, evolve and meet other people with whom we’re going to create a cooperation for the next stages of our development. 

“I would like to thank you Coach for everything that you did for me. We gave each other so much and I hope that we’ll continue to grow and develop with this experience we’ve gained together. I owe you a lot and truly appreciate the time we’ve spent together. All those years enabled us to be in the place that we are now. 

“I suppose you may have questions about what’s next. I have everything I need to be able to work and I would like to focus on my pre-season without any outside pressure. I hope you’ll understand it.”

https://twitter.com/Sierzputowsky/status/1467456169161678851

Although the news comes as a surprise given that Swiatek was the only woman to reach the last 16 of every grand slam 2021, it is always better for players to change coaches at the end of the season rather than mid-season.

Swiatek’s long-term replacement is yet to be discovered however the Pole has appointed former coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomasz Wiktorowski as an interim replacement according to TenisKlub.Pl.

Wiktorowski was there for most of Radwanska’s successes and knows the polish tennis system well so will have a good working replacement with Swiatek.

The former Roland Garros champion is now starting preparations for the new season as she looks to win a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The first grand slam of the season in Melbourne will start on the 17th of January.

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‘Proud’ Barty Reflects On 2021 Season Ahead Of Pre-Season Preparations

Ash Barty has reflected on a great 2021 season as she looks forward to more success in 2022.

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Ash Barty (@BNPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

World number one Ash Barty has reflected on her 2021 season as she prepares for next season with a tough pre-season schedule ahead.

 

It was another successful season for the world number one who ended the year as the world’s best player for the third year in a row.

Barty claimed her second grand slam title by winning Wimbledon having also won a bronze medal at the Olympics and claiming regular tour titles on clay and hard courts.

As a result the Australian won Queensland athlete of the year and spoke to Tennis Australia about winning the award and her off-season preparations, “It was an honour to win the Ashley Cooper Medal,” the world number one told tennis.com.au.

“I’m a proud Queensland athlete, so being recognised in my home state is always special. It’s definitely been nice to have some time at home after such a long year.

“I did feel rested until preseason started a few weeks ago! I’ve still been training every day but have managed to have quality time with family and friends. I’ve been working hard on and off court, doing everything I possibly can to get ready for January. The first few weeks of preseason are always tough physically.”

Having achieved so much at just 23 years old, Barty is definitely proud of her season as she looks to win more grand slam titles on a competitive WTA circuit in 2022.

Regardless of her status Barty is always trying to show good personal qualities and is looking forward to competing well next season, “I am proud I was able to finish the year at No. 1, especially after the challenging and unpredictable season,” Barty admitted.

“Being away from home for so long was really tough for not only me but my whole team, everyone made sacrifices which I’m very grateful for. We went into 2021 knowing it was going to be an adventure and it definitely was, I wouldn’t change it.

“Being the world No 1 is something I am very proud of, but my ranking doesn’t change the way I am. I try and be a good person and do the right thing, regardless of the number next to my name.”

Barty will look to kick off her season in the best possible way when she looks to capture her first Australian Open title when the event takes place on the 17th of January.

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