Nishikori takes down the juggernaut Djokovic for first major final - UBITENNIS
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Nishikori takes down the juggernaut Djokovic for first major final

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There are upsets in the tennis world and then there are tectonic shifts. That Kei Nishikori (10) coming off back-to-back 5-set matches beat Novak Djokovic (1) was no upset; this was a tectonic shift in the tennis world. No one doubted Nishikori’s ability to hang with the big guys but as Roger Federer noted, one “[j]ust wasn’t quite sure that in a best-of-five-set-tournament if he could get all the way to the back end of the tournament.” Well he has made it to the final of his first ever major having beat Djokovic 6-4 1-6 7-6 6-3 in near 3 hours. “I was playing really well and really aggressive … Even the opponent is, you know, Novak, I was playing my tennis,” Nishikori said after the match.

 

Nishikori started off the match with an aggressive stance. He knew that he could not win this match being passive. He broke Djokovic in the 3rd game of the match but was unable to consolidate the break. They remained on serve through to the 7th game when Nishikori broke again for a 4-3. This time, he was able to hold serve for 5-3. Djokovic seemed content to stay back and allow his opponent to dictate the points. Nishikori seized this opportunity and served out it out 6-4 and took the early lead. This momentum did not follow Nishikori into the 2nd set as Djokovic morphed into an entirely different player. His levels began to rise and Nishikori could not keep up. Djokovic broke for a 3-1 lead and again for 5-1 to serve for the set. Djokovic closed out the set 6-1 to level the match.

In the 3rd set, Nishikori fought off 4 early break points to remain on serve. However, unlike the 1st set, the Japanese player was not getting a look on Djokovic’s serve. Djokovic was having an easy time on serve. However, in the 8th game, down 3-4, Djokovic opened his service game with a double fault, revealing a slight chink in his amour. Nishikori was now more alert on the court knowing that a break here would give him the chance to serve for the 3rd set. At 30-30, Nishikori fully unleashed on a backhand crosscourt to give himself a break point then followed that up with a monster forehand return winner for the break and 5-3.

Nishikori’s troubles with consolidating breaks continued as he was broken once again serving for the 3rd set when he double faulted on break point. Nishikori began managing his movement and energy on court. He was conserving his powers for the big moments in the match and allowed Djokovic to spend his effort trying to rally the crowd. Both players held serve to force a tiebreaker where Nishikori immediately raced out a 4-0 lead. With the lead in hand, Nishikori grew cautious on his shots allowing Djokovic to get back into the thick of things. Up 5-3 Nishikori double faulted again to reduce his lead to 5-4. This was where you expected Djokovic to raise his level to unplayable as Nishikori was not as assertive as he was in the beginning of the match. Instead, Djokovic committed two wild forehand errors to hand Nishikori the breaker and with it a 2-1 sets lead 6-4 1-6 7-64. “I was winning 4-0 and he came back … very close game. But you know, that helped after winning third set,” Nishikori said.

Nishikori took the momentum into the 4th set as he broke Djokovic in his opening service game. Serving for a 2-0 lead, Nishikori found himself down triple break points. However, this time around, he was able to hold as he came up with some big plays and shots to keep Djokovic at bay. This was perhaps the crucial point in the match as it was now or never for Djokovic. This is usually the point in these big matches where he raises his game and steals the momentum from the other player. Twice in the semifinals back in 2010 and 2011, he saved match points against Federer. However, such heroics never took place on this day. Those three squandered break points from Djokovic, in essence broke him. Djokovic never found his way back into the match. “Other than that second set, my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be. A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.”

At 3-5, Djokovic, serving to stay in the match, Nishikori shrugged off his lackadaisical stance and looked ready to break the 2011 champion for the match. He picked up his level and had Djokovic on the defensive. With a backhand winner, he secured two match points. Djokovic saved one but again his forehand failed him at this critical point when it sailed well long. Kei Nishikori secured the win, 6-4 1-6 7-64 6-3 and becomes the first Japanese player to reach the final of a major.

Djokovic assessed Nishikori’s performace by saying, “He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort … His backhand is very solid. One of the best double-handed backhands from all over the court. Really aggressive. He’s very quick so he gets a lot of balls back. Uses every short ball to attack.” The numbers for this match tell a very interesting tale, Djokovic made 59% of his 1st serves compared to 58% from Nishikori. The Serbian won 80% of those points but a poor 37% on his 2nd serve. Nishikori won 67% of his 1st serve points and 50% on his 2nd serve. They had similar numbers in the winners to errors category with Djokovic at 38 winners and 35 errors and Nishikori at 37 winners and 34 errors.

Djokovic was not able to get a real edge on Nishikori as the Japanese was sticking to him very closely. It was Djokovic who was being forced to go for more on his shots and the margins for errors very small. As Nishikori later noted, “Everything was worked well today.” Djokovic had 13 break point opportunities but only converted 4 of them. Nishikori on the other hand converted 5/7 break chances. Since teaming up with Michael Chang, Nishikori has shown even more potential to be one of the top players on tour. He has played the top guys very hard this year and even more this tournament, taking out Raonic, Wawrinka and Djokovic en route to the final. No matter who he faces, Nishikori clearly has a great chance to win his first major title.

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Alex De Minaur Learning Patience After Two Month Injury Lay-Off

Alex De Minaur is ready to be patient as he looks to build some momentum in Atlanta this week.

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Alex De Minaur (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

Alex De Minaur is learning the art of patience after missing less than two months of action earlier this year. 

 

The Australian had a rough start to the 2019 as he was forced to fight off a groin injury despite winning the Sydney title in January.

Then he had a couple of months off before once again struggling on his return at Indian Wells where he lost in his opening round.

But these setbacks haven’t stopped the 20 year-old from being patient as he looks to make his mark in the US hard court swing,“I feel like I’m doing all the right things, putting myself out there,” De Minaur told atptour.com.

“If it doesn’t happen this week, next week or the week after, I’m going to keep doing the same things. I’m going to do all the right things, be mentally strong, physically strong and I’m playing good tennis, so I think it’s just a matter of time.”

After Indian Wells, De Minaur spent a few weeks in his home in Alicante, Spain as he looked to regain match sharpness.

It was a period that proved challenging for the talented Aussie as he loves to compete, “I’m not used to being at home for that long and, I mean, us tennis players, we need to go out there and compete, at least me,” De Minaur explained.

I’m a very competitive person, and it was tough for me. I had my outlets. I was playing golf a lot. But still, I needed to get back on court. 

“Obviously seeing people go ahead of you and guys are playing these tournaments and seeing the results they were doing and me not being able to actually even be able to be out there and competing, that was very tough.”

Despite losing five of his seven ATP tour matches since returning properly in Estoril, De Minaur is determined to get back to the level that saw him rise to world number 24.

The Next Gen Star thinks it’s a confidence thing and is not easy to regain after an injury, “[It’s] just confidence. Playing matches, playing the big points right,” he explained.

“It’s something that you take for granted when things are going well. But when you have to stop and try to get back into it, it’s tough. Now I’m just keen to go out there and compete and play some good tennis.”

De Minaur continues his comeback surge this week when he competes in Atlanta, where he will face Bradley Klahn or Marius Copil in his first match.

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Nicolas Jarry Aims To Follow In Family Footsteps After Reaching Bastad Final

Nicolas Jarry looks to join his grandfather in winning an ATP title as he reaches the Bastad final.

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Nicolas Jarry (@FOXSport_Chile - Twitter)

Nicolas Jarry will look to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps tomorrow when he takes on Juan Ignacio Londero in the Bastad final. 

 

The Chilean was in fine form today as he beat another Chilean in Federico Delbonis in the semi-finals today, 6-3 6-2 in 64 minutes.

It is Jarry’s third ATP final and his second of the season following his final in Geneva, where he wasted two championship points to lose to Alexander Zverev.

Should the 23 year-old be triumphant on Sunday, he will join his grandfather as an ATP titlist after Jaime Fillol Sr. won six tour titles and finished a high of number 14 in the rankings in 1974.

Next up for Jarry is Cordoba champion Juan Ignacio Londero, who cruised past 2016 Swedish Open champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets.

The 6-3 6-4 victory included the Argentinian winning 73% of his first service points as he dominated the Spaniard in the 1 hour and 21 minute win.

It will be the second final of the season for Londero, who has enjoyed thriving on the clay in 2019 which has helped him reach a career high ranking of 58 in the world in June.

A good sign for Londero, was that en route to winning his lone title in 2019 in Cordoba, he beat Jarry in their only previous ATP World Tour meeting.

Both men will look to cap off an excellent week tomorrow as the final is scheduled for 2pm local time.

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Alexander Bublik Praises Mentality Change Ahead Of Newport Semi-Finals

Alexander Bublik is on the rise after changing his mentality as he looks to win his first ATP title in Newport this weekend.

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Alexander Bublik (@TennisHalloFame - Twitter)

Alexander Bublik praises his change in his mental approach to tennis after reaching the semi-finals in Newport. 

 

The 22 year-old from Kazakhstan is arguably having one of the best seasons of his career, having reached a career high ranking of 82 in 2019.

Having won three challenger events in Budapest, Pau and Monterrey, Bublik is full of confidence and is currently trying to transition that form on the ATP tour.

In an interview with the ATP website, Bublik has praised a change in mentality for the improvement in form, “When I was a kid I got in mental troubles a lot because I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to win this match. I want to win this tournament’,” Bublik said to atptour.com.

“Then last year when I broke my ankle is when I realised it’s fine… I’ve got to work hard to make it here, to make more and more, so that’s why I’m working hard every day trying to succeed.”

There is no doubting that Bublik has the talent as he has a unique style, which includes tweeners and during his quarter-final match with Tennys Sandgren in Newport, hit four aces in a game which concluded with an underarm ace.

However the world number 83 has said that he entertains himself first and aims to stand out from the crowd, “I entertain myself first. That’s the most important thing for me,” Bublik explained.

“Always be a leader, not a follower, You just have to be your own leader, make your own decisions,” Bublik said when speaking about one of his tattoos.

Well Bublik’s fate is certainly in his own hands when he faces Marcel Granollers for a spot in his first ever ATP final on Saturday.

The other semi-final will see top seed John Isner take on 4th seed Ugo Humbert as the Frenchman looks to take advantage of an under-par American.

In both of his matches, Isner has needed a third set to overcome both Kamil Majchrzak and Matthew Ebden as he looks to win a 3rd title at the Hall Of Fame Open.

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