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

Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert seal a hard-fought win in decisive doubles match

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Ten-time Davis Cup champions France beat Japan 2-1 scoring the fifth win in as many Davis Cup matches against the Asian team.

 

French star Jo Wilfried Tsonga reeled off seven games from 4-2 in the first set to beat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2 6-1 in 58 minutes in his 12th Davis Cup season.

Tsonga saved two break points and converted four of the five break points. The Frenchman held four service games and broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to take a 6-2 lead.

Tsonga broke twice in the second and fourth games and closed out the match in the seventh game after saving two break points.

“It was very important for our team to start well. I am also happy about my game, what I did today, so I hope it continues like this”, said Tsonga.

 Yoshihito Nishioka claimed 9 of the last 11 games in his 7-5 6-2 win over Gael Monfils in 66 minutes to level the score at 1-1 sending the tie into a decisive doubles match. The Japanese player saved one break point and earned two breaks to seal the win in straight sets.

“I wanted to show to the whole world Japan are still strong. Of course, if Key was here we would be strong, but even when he is not here, we can play. Hopefully next time Kei is here and we can play better”, said Nishioka.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the first set and stayed neck and neck until the 11th game of the first set when Nishioka got the break at 5-5 to seal the first set. Nishioka broke twice to seal the second set 6-2.

Last week’s ATP Finals doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert fought back from losing the first set to beat Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchyama 6-7 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 40 minutes.

After losing the first set at the tie-break, Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Herbert and Mahut went up a break in the third set. Uchiyama and Nishioka got the break back in the 10th game, when Herbert and Mahut were serving for the match. Mahut and Herbert got another break at 5-5 and held at 15 to seal the decisive win for France.

“They played at a very high level. We know we have arrived late from London, but the captain had a lot of confidence in our team. We were 1-1, we really had to win to give France the win. There was a lot of intensity in the win but we are really happy today, this was a really difficult tie”, said Mahut.  

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Russia opens the Davis Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over Croazia

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Russia beat defending champions from Croatia 3-0 thanks to the two singles wins of Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov on Centre Court of the Caja Magica in Madrid.

 

Rublev cruised past Borna Gojo 6-3 6-3 in the opening match before Karen Khachanov came back from one set down to beat Borna Coric 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

Khachanov and Rublev returned to the court to beat specialists Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to give Russia a 3-0 win.

“It was important to start well. I had some opportunities and took them. I am really happy we won this tie”, said Khachanov.

Belgium (two-time finalists) beat Colombia 2-1 on Court 3. In the opening match Davis Cup specialist Steve Darcis cruised past Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-2. David Goffin came back from one set down to beat Daniel Elahi Galan 3-6 6-3 6-3. Last week’s ATP Finals semifinalists Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah won the doubles match for the Colombian team beating Sander Gillie and Joran Vliegen 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

“The challenge was to fight against myself. It was not easy. Sometimes you have to fight. I am happy the way I fought. I did not give up. That’s the most important thing because I am playing for my country”,said Goffin.

 

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Canada beats Italy 2-1 in the opening day of the Davis Cup in Madrid

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Denis Shapovalov battled past Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought second match of the round-robin Group F at the Davis Cup in Madrid to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Italy

 

Berrettini faced three break points in the third game of the opening set. Shapovalov earned two break points in the ninth game, but Berrettini held on his serve at deuce. Both players held on their service games. In the 10th game Berrettini earned three set points on return, but Shapovalov fended them off. Barrettini saved another break point to set up a tie-break. Shapovalov took a 6-3 lead earning three set points. Berrettini won two consecutive points to claw his way back to 5-6, but Shapovalov sealed the tie-break with a backhand passing shot.

Both players went on seve setting up a second tie-break. Berrettini got an early mini-break, but Shapovalov broke straight back. Berrettini took another mini-break to take a 3-2 when Shapovalov hit a volley into the net and sealed the second set 7-3 on his first set point.

Shapovalov earned a break point in the fifth game of the third set with a forehand winner. Berrettini held on his serve with his 11th ace. Both players went on serve in the next games setting up a third tie-break. Berrettini got the first mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Shapovalov. The young Canadian player broke straight back, when Berrettini made a forehand volley error. Shapovalov sealed the tie-break 7-5, when Berrettini fired his forehand long on his first match point after 2 hours.

“After making semifinals in the Madrid Mutua Open here, and winning the Junior Davis Cup in 2015, I feel like Madrid is a really good city for me. We will see how this week goes, but it’s a good step today”, said Shapovalov.

Fognini and Berrettini won the doubles match over beating Shapovalov and Pospisil 6-2 3-6 6-3. The Italian team got a double break to win the first set 6-2. Shapovalov and Pospisil drew level by winning the second set with a break in the eighth game. Italy saved two break points in the seventh game of the decisive set before breaking serve in the eighth game. Berrettini sealed the win for Italy with an ace.

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