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.
Dominic Thiem rallies from one set down against Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final at Thiem’s 7 in Kitzbuhel
Dominic Thiem came back from losing the first set to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 en route to reaching the final at the Thiem’s 7 tournament. Thiem earned two breaks in the third and fifth games to race out to a 4-1 lead. Bautista Agut got both breaks back in the sixth and eighth games to draw level to 4-4 forcing the match to the tie-break. The Spanish player won the tie-break 7-5 to take the opening set.
Thiem slowly found his rhythm again in the second set and earned two break points in the fourth game but he was not able to convert them. The home star dropped only two points on his serve until the end of the second set and converted two of the three break points to clinch the second set 6-2.
Thiem earned a break in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead and held on his next service games. The tournament organizer sealed the third set 6-2 with his double break with a blistering return on the match point in the eighth game securing his spot in the final. Thiem will face either Andrey Rublev or Matteo Berrettini in the final.
Former Roland Garros champions and five top 20 players to highlight a great edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo
The Ladies Open WTA International in Palermo will be the first tournament to be held next August since last February.
The Italian tournament will feature a great line-up which includes two confirmed past Roland Garros champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko and five top 20 players. There is a good chance that 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep could be added in the field.
“We are glad about Simona Halep’s great interest in Palermo Ladies Open. We will be waiting for her at the Country Club for an historic edition of the Palermo tournament. We have been in contact with Halep’s manager for some time. We have been talking for days about her potential participation in Palermo. She is one of the best players in the world and her presence would contribute to make an already high-level tournament extrahordinary. We will leave our doors open to her for as long as possible, as well as for other top ten players that will want to resume their season in Palermo”, said tournament’s CEO Oliviero Palma.
The other stars who have signed up to the Ladies Open are 2019 Roland Garros champion Marketa Vondrousova, two Grand Slam semifinalists Elise Mertens (2018 Australian Open) and Anastasija Sevastova (2018 US Open), Aryna Sabalenka (winner at the Wuhan Open in 2018 and 2019, WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and Doha in 2020) and Elina Rybakina (winner in Hobart and finalist in St. Petersburg and Dubai in 2020), Dayana Yastremska (winner of three tournaments in Hong Kong in 2018, Thailand and Strasbourg in 2019).
Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia
Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.
“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.
World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.
“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.
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