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.

 

ATP

Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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ATP

Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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Simona Halep rallies from one set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka in Dubai

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Simona Halep came back from one set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-2 6-2 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in one hour and 35 minutes to advance to the semifinals in Dubai one day after saving a match point against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

 

Halep earned her third win in four head-to-head matches against Sabalenka.

Halep broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, but Sabalenka broke straight back in the next game. Halep broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and never faced any break point in the next games.

Halep earned a break in the fourth game of the decider and backed it up to open up a 4-1 lead. The 2019 Wimbledon champion was taken to deuce once in her last eight service games of the match.

“I think I started to play a little bit stronger in the second set and find rhythm. It’s always tough to play against her because she is very strong and hits the ball really hard, so I had to play faster, be quicker on court and give everything I had to win”, said Halep.

Halep will face US qualifier Jennifer Brady, who clinched a win against a top 20 player for the third consecutive year by beating this year’s Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4. Brady has reached her third WTA semifinal and the first at Premier level.

Muguruza earned a break point with a forehand winner, as Brady was serving for the set. Brady was broken, when she hit two consecutive forehands into the net. Muguruza rallied from 1-3 to draw level to 5-5 and earned her first set point. The Spaniard sealed the tie-break, as Brady sent her backhand long.

Muguruza earned a break point in the sixth game with a backhand winner. Brady saved the break point with a forehand crosscourt winner and held serve with a backhand winner down the line. Brady broke serve to take a 4-3, as Muguruza made two forehand errors and hit two double faults. Muguruza dropped her serve again with another double fault.

Both players held serve in the first nine games of the third set. Muguruza held three break points in the third game, but Brady saved them with a backhand crosscourt winner. Brady sealed the win with a break on her second match point, as Muguruza sent a backhand long.

 

 

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