Federer v Monfils in the Open quarters - UBITENNIS
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Federer v Monfils in the Open quarters

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The last of the Round of 16 matchups were quite exciting as they provided a nice mix of styles and a lot of great tennis for fans. Roger Federer (2) continued his domination of Spanish players not named Rafael Nadal as he overcame the tough charge from Roberto Bautista-Agut (17) in straight sets 6-4 6-3 6-2. Gael Monfils (20) is again striking the balance between great tennis and mental stability on court as he upset Grigor Dimitrov (7) also in straight set 7-5 7-6 7-5.

 

Federer and Monfils will play each other for a 8th time with Federer leading the head-to-head 5-2 but they have been 2-2 in their last four meetings. Interestingly enough, the only major they have met is at the French Open where Federer has a 3-0 record. Federer described Monfils, “[H]e’s got easy top 10 potential, you know. He’s a great mover. He’s got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much, you know. His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he’s had because of injury. Then sometimes, you know, maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain.”

In order to face Monfils, Federer had to first get past Bautista-Agut who he was playing for the first time. Federer was aware of the challenges that the Spaniard provided as he noted that “He hasn’t got the biggest game but he’s consistent. He’s fast. He can adapt. So he’s got things that can make you feel uncomfortable, I must say. He can absorb pace well.” However, Federer seemed well adept to handling him as he raced out to a 5-2 lead. Things got complicated somewhat as Federer was broken serving for the set. He regained his focus and took it 6-4 in 43 minutes. In the 2nd set, Federer again broke early for a 3-1 lead. He saved break point on his serve as he continued to press the issue going for his shots particularly up at net. He closed out the set at 6-3. In the 3rd set, with both the crowd and momentum clearly in his favour, Federer broke Bautista-Agut twice to win the match 6-4 6-3 6-2 in near two hours.

What was most impressive about the match from Federer was his willingness to come forward. He was up at net 52 times and won the point on 32 of those occasions. His serving was not at its best but it was working well enough. He only got 57% of his first serves in, winning 78% of those points with a measly 51% on his 2nd serve. He had 36 winners and 25 errors which included 8 aces and 5 double faults.

Monfils too had a straight sets victory but it was far from routine against Dimitrov. Monfils has been playing spectacular tennis throughout this tournament particularly in the 3rd round when he defeated 12th seed Richard Gasquet in straight sets. Monfils took on Dimitrov for the 3rd time in their career, 2nd time at the US Open. From the beginning of the match it was clear that Monfils came out to play serious tennis. Always accused of being distracted on court, Monfils played a complete and focused match. He secured the crucial break in the 11th game of the 1st set and served it out for 7-5. Dimitrov was not making it easy for Monfils but in the big moments, the Bulgarian was unable to step up his game to gain the momentum. He broke for a 4-2 lead in the 2nd set but was broken in the 8th game to level the set. Things were pushed to a decisive tiebreaker where despite leading 6-3 points, Dimitrov allowed Monfils to fight his way back into it and take it 8-6 points and with it a 2-0 sets lead.

In the 3rd set, Dimitrov failed to convert on two break opportunities. They remained on serve until the 12th game when Dimitrov was serving to push the set into a tiebreaker. On match point, the only break point chance that Monfils saw in the set, Dimitrov double faulted to hand Monfils the win in straight sets, 7-5 7-6 7-5. “[I]t was a very poor match for me … Didn’t play as close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the center court and perform my best … Of course I have to give credit to Gaël that he played a really good match, but I also did a lot of unforced errors and that cost a lot. 6-3 in the tiebreak, I had all odds on me. And it was just poor shot selection. Eventually I didn’t execute at the right time.”

There was not much to separate the two in this match and as Monfils mentioned that it was partially luck that saw him through this match. “I’m happy I think because I played good. I think I played solid. I think I hit better the ball day after day; served better. I keep like simple thing in my head, so obviously is working. Then it’s luck. To be honest, look at set point. I hit one of the worst dropshots I ever hit and he hit a frame. It’s pure luck, you know, to haven’t drop a set. So you need to have it sometime, and I hope I will have more.”

Monfils went on to speak about playing Federer, “[H]e’s definitely the legend of the tennis, you know. I think right now he’s the greatest tennis player we ever had, and for me it’s always challenging to play against him … I think I play tennis for, to play against a big legend, big court, show time. That’s what I train for. That’s why every day I wake up and I wish I could play those matches” Monfils along with Djokovic are the only players in the men’s quarterfinals who have not dropped a set en route to this stage.

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Simona Halep Beats Erractic Anisimova To Reach Wimbledon Semis

The former world No.1 dropped six games against her opponent who produced a series of costly errors.

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Simona Halep has stormed into the last four at Wimbledon after producing a comprehensive win over Amanda Anisimova. 

 

The 2019 champion survived a last-minute resurgence from her rival to prevail 6-2, 6-4, over the American on the Center court. Halep was able to dictate the play throughout with the use of her aggressive shot-making in a match that resembled their meeting in Bad Homburg just two weeks ago. It is the first time she has reached the last four of a major since the 2020 Australian Open.

It’s great to be back in the semi-finals. I am very emotional right now because it means a lot,” said Halep. 
“I played a tough opponent today who could crush the ball in the end and I didn’t know what to do. I just believe in myself. I believed until the end that I could win.”

The 16th seed hit fewer winners than her rival (11-13) but the most telling factor was the unforced error count. Halep’s tally of six was more than four times less than that of Anisimova (28).

Out of the active players on the WTA Tour, Halep is only the third to reach a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final after both of the Williams sisters. Taking on Anisimova, the Romanian got off to a blistering start by breaking just three games into their clash. Producing some powerful ball-striking Halep forced her rival to commit back-to-back forehand errors which granted her the early break. Two games later the lead was extended further after yet more Anisimova errors moved the former champion to 4-1. She took the opener after exactly 30 minutes of play with the help of a serve down the line Anisimova returned.

It was a case of deja vu in the second set with Halep’s game simply overwhelming her error-stricken opponent who looked growingly lost on the court. Anisimova continuously looked towards her entourage out of frustration. It eventually all got too much for the world No.25 who began to cry during a changeover after going down 1-4 once again. 

Halep’s only struggle in the match occurred when she was tasked with serving it out. With Anisimova hitting more freely and with nothing to lose, suddenly she was the aggressor and retrieved one of the breaks to gradually close her deficit to 4-5.  Prompting a big cheer from the crowd. 

After going through a period where 13 out of 16 points played went to her opponent, Halep eventually held her nerve to clinch victory. 

“I am definitely playing my best tennis (since winning the 2019 Wimbledon title),” she said.
“Last year I struggled a lot and now I am just trying to build my confidence back. My tennis here and all I need to do now is to start to believe in myself.”

Halep is yet to drop a set at Wimbledon after five matches played. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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Wimbledon: Nick Kyrgios Shakes off Injury Trouble During Epic Clash To Reach Quarter-Finals

The Australian is through to the last eight but how will his body fair in the next round?

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Nick Kyrgios has reached his first Wimbledon quarter-final in eight years but fresh concerns have risen over his current health. 

 

The world No.40 ousted America’s Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1, in a marathon last-16 encounter but at times looked to be in discomfort. Throughout the match, Kyrgios clinched his right shoulder on multiple occasions and required a medical timeout during the third set. The issue comes two days after his dramatic clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas who has since accused the tennis star of bullying. 

Despite the injury scare, Kyrgios still managed to produce a total of 35 aces and dropped serve only three times in the match. Overall, he hit a total of 78 winners against 42 unforced errors. 

“It was a hell of an effort by Brandon. He is a hell of a player. He is 20-years-old and he is going to do some special things (in the future), that’s for sure,” said Kyrgios.
“It wasn’t anywhere near my best performance but I’m super happy to get through. I fought really well today and the crowd was amazing. it was special stepping out here (on center court) once again.”

Kyrgios’ use of unorthodox antics was on display from the start. Besides a series of heavy-hitting, his first use of the underarm serve occurred just three games into the match. Although it was canceled out by a let call. It was soon after that when the alarm bells first began to ring with the Australian showing visible discomfort with his right shoulder. Appearing to clutch it after almost every point. At 5-4, Nakashima was the first to draw blood after a forehand shot from his rival landed beyond the baseline to hand him the break to clinch the opener.

Whilst Kyrgios initially looked to be far from his best, he was handed a lifeline at the start of the second frame. 20-year-old Nakashima produced a double fault followed by a forehand shank to hand Kyrgios an early break. The American was making his second main draw appearance at the tournament and sixth overall in a major.  Seizing the moment, Kyrgios consistently served around the 130 mph mark to close in on leveling the match. Doing so with a serve down the middle of the court his rival returned into the net. 

However, the shoulder still proved problematic for the 26-year-old who had to take a medical time out for treatment half-way through the third frame. Visibly bothered by the issue and shaking his head, he continued playing on Center Court and somehow managed to go ahead. During the third set tiebreak, a Nakashima double fault handed Kyrgios an early break as he worked his way to a 6-2 lead. He then sealed the set with a blistering forehand return.

The roller-coaster continued into the fourth frame with Kyrgios buckling after hitting back-to-back errors to go down a break. It was at this point that he fumed at a comment made by somebody in the crowd.

“It’s the same sh*t over and over again. I’m trying to obviously make my first serve. Stop saying that. Obviously, I’m trying to f**king make my first serve.” He was heard saying during the changeover.

Nakashima continued the momentum with a three-game winning run to force the encounter into a decider. 

Despite the blip, Kyrgios managed to find another level by storming through the decider by winning six out of the last eight games played.

“I’ve played a lot of tennis in the last month-and-a-half. I’m just proud of how I managed to steady the ship,” Kyrgios replied when asked about his shoulder. “He came out firing in the fourth set. My five-set record is pretty good and that is what I was thinking about.’
“I was like ‘I’ve been here before, I’ve done it before and I can come through again.’”

Kyrgios is the sixth Australian man in the Open Era to reach the last eight of Wimbledon on multiple occasions after also doing so in 2014. The run continues his fine form on the grass this season where he has already reached back-to-back semi-finals in Stuttgart and Halle.

In the next round, he will play Chilean underdog Christian Garin who edged out Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 in an epic clash to become only the fourth man from his country to ever reach the quarter-final stage. Garin saved two match points en route to victory after four hours and 34 minutes of play. 

“I was really excited to play de Minaur, to be honest. He has been flying the Aussie flag for so long. I came on the court when he was two sets to love up and I was expecting to play him but I’m not going to think about that,” said Kyrgios.
“I need a glass of wine for sure tonight.”

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