Nishikori wins another 5-set battle to make his 1st major semis - UBITENNIS
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Nishikori wins another 5-set battle to make his 1st major semis

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TENNIS US OPEN – It is said that slow and steady wins the race. Well Kei Nishikori has taken that adage as his own personal mantra. He has now played two consecutive straight set matches where he seemed to be prolonging the matches instead of taking the early initiative and run with it. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw

 

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It is said that slow and steady wins the race. Well Kei Nishikori (10) has taken that adage as his own personal mantra. He has now played two consecutive straight set matches where he seemed to be prolonging the matches instead of taking the early initiative and run with it. He took on Stan Wawrinka (3) for a place in the semifinal. Nishikori again weathered the storm as he upset the reigning Australian Open champion, 3-6 7-5 7-6(7) (5)6-7 6-3. Nishikori now joins the “Young Guns Club” of Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic as making their first major semifinals.

Wawrinka started the match in impressive style. He quickly broke Nishikori for a 3-0 lead after saving break point on his opening service game. Wawrinka maintained this lead to take the set as he ended it with an ace for 6-3. In the 2nd set, Nishikori had 4 early chances to break but again failed to capitalize on those opportunities. However, later on in the 12th game, Wawrinka double faults to hand Nishikori the set 7-5 and in essence level the match.

Nishikori used this momentum to gain the upper hand in the 3rd set. He was finding his range on his groundstrokes and forcing the errors from Wawrinka. He was up 5-2 and had a set point on Wawrinka’s serve but made a forehand error and the Swiss kept cool under the pressure to hold. Serving for the set, Nishikori had what could be described as a mental lapse. He played one of the craziest service games ever including going for a “hotdog shot” which inevitably gave Wawrinka break point. It seemed as though Nishikori was not ready to close out the set as he was broken and then 20 minutes later was forced to play a tiebreaker. After many shifting momentum in the breaker, the Japanese was able to close it out 9-7 points and gain a 2-1 sets lead.

In the 4th set, both players held the course as neither faced a single break point. Hence a tiebreaker was necessary to decide the matter. Wawrinka raced out to a 4-0 lead before Nishikori found his way back into the breaker for 4-4. However, he began to play loose shots and so Wawrinka was able to take the set 7-5 points and force a decisive set. Again, like the 4th set, they remained on serve for much of the 5th set. Nishikori was looking rather lifeless on the court trying not to overextend himself since the latter stage of the 4th set. He was conserving energy and mainly concerning himself with holding serve. “From outside he looks really dead, but we know on the court he can play, and he play long like what he did today. If even at the beginning he looks like he’s going to die on the court, but he’s there. Physically he’s there,” said Wawrinka.

In the 10th game, up 5-4, Nishikori knew the time was now to act if he wanted to win this match. Wawrinka serving to stay in the match became rather dodgy as he double faulted to bring up double match points. He was able to save one but on the other, his forehand was dumped in the net. Nishikori won 3-6 7-5 7-67 56-7 6-3 and is through to his first semifinal in a major. After the match, Nishikori said, “I was playing much better in third and fourth and I have more confidence to get in the fifth set. So, you know, I tried to focus on my service game. I just took, yeah, one chance in the end.”

There was nothing outstanding about the statistics than the 8 double faults from Wawrinka particularly the two that would give Nishikori the break/set points. Also of interest in the fact that Wawrinka was not making a lot of 1st set serves, 56% for the match and only winning 51% on his 2nd serves. His 2nd serve has been key for him in his big wins this season, particularly against Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. Wawrinka also had 68 winners and 78 errors compared to Nishikori who had 41 winners and 51 errors. “I’m a little bit disappointed with myself, with the level I had today. I don’t think I played a great match. I think I was a little bit hesitating with my game. I didn’t find a way to take control of the rhythm of the match big time because he was playing well, but I still think that I should maybe try something different. But it’s tough,” said Wawrinka. Nishikori will play Novak Djokovic in the semifinal for a place in his first major final.

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Andy Murray Fights Back To Reach First ATP Final In 27 Months

The Brit was in impressive form against America’s Reilly Opelka.

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Andy Murray (GBR) AELTC/Simon Bruty

Former world No.1 Andy Murray is on the verge of re-entering the world’s top 100 after battling into his first Tour final since 2019 at the Sydney International on Friday.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion recovered from a set down to beat Reilly Opelka 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4 in a marathon clash which lasted almost two-and-a-half hours. Murray, who is currently ranked 110 places lower than his American opponent, faced just one break point in the match which he saved. Impressively the Brit produced 16 aces and won 88% of his first service points. After dropping the opening tiebreak, he managed to turn the match around in his favour by breaking Opelka once in each of the next two sets.

“I love competing. You want to try to finish the matches if you can but I lost a tight first set and not easy to come back against someone who serves like that. I kept fighting… and managed to get the win,” said Murray who produced just 10 unforced errors.

It is the second time this week Murray has beaten a seeded player in Sydney after edging out second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets. He also beat eighth seed David Goffin in the quarter-finals who was forced to retire whilst trailing 6-2 due to injury.

The 34-year-old has reached his first Tour final since winning the 2019 European Open when he defeated Stan Wawrinka. He now has a shot at claiming his 48th ATP title on Saturday where he will play either compatriot Dan Evans or Aslan Karatsev.

“It would be amazing to start the year with a win,” he said. “It’s been a great week for me, great progress against anything I’ve done in the past year. I’ll go for 47 tomorrow. It’s been a good week. I’ve played better with each match.”

It has been two years since Murray last played a tournament on Australian soil. Back then he was facing the prospect of having to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury but later received resurfacing surgery which has enabled him to continue playing. Murray now plays with a metal rod inserted into his hip.

Should he prevail in Saturday’s final, Murray will crack the top 100 for the first time since May 2018.

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Bernard Tomic Tells Umpire He Thinks He Has Covid During Australian Open Qualifying Match

The tennis player says he is ‘really sick’ after crashing out of the tournament.

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Bernard Tomic (image via https://twitter.com/rnadalacademy)

Bernard Tomic has taken a swipe at Australian Open officials over their testing system for COVID-19.

 

The former top 20 player crashed out in the first round of the qualifying tournament to Roman Safiullin, who impressed many during the ATP Cup last week. Tomic was on the court for less than an hour as he lost 6-1, 6-4. This was the first match he had played since September 2021.

During the second set of his clash with Safiullin, the 29-year-old was heard telling umpire Aline Da Rocha Nocinto that he believes he has COVID-19. Saying he would ‘buy her a meal’ if he was wrong.

“I’m sure in the next two days I will test positive, I’m telling you,” he said.
“I’ll buy you dinner if I don’t test positive in three days, otherwise you buy me dinner.”

Venting his frustration, Tomic said he was shocked that no official PCR tests are required for players, just rapid tests. However, Tennis Australia later clarified that all players must complete a PCR test before participating in the tournament and their result must be negative in order to play.

“They’re allowing players to come on court with rapid tests in their room, c’mon … no official PCR testing,” he continued.

Following the match Tomic posted an update on his Instagram account saying that he is currently feeling ‘really sick’ and has been asked by doctors to isolate in his room. During the match he did have a medical time out and was seen checking for his own pulse.

“Feeling really sick, I’m now back in my hotel room,” Tomic wrote.
“Just spoke to the doctors on site and they’ve asked me to isolate. They couldn’t treat me yet to avoid contact.
“Thank you for all the support on the court today. I really appreciate it! I’ll do better next time.
“Very disappointed as I really wanted to make Aussies proud and perform well on my home turf.”

Tomic has not commented on why he decided to play his match if he believed he could have covid. It is also unclear as to what symptoms he experienced leading up to today or the severity of them.

In a separate development, Portugal’s Nuno Borges was forced to pull out of the qualifying draw after he tested positive for COVID-19.

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Eight Questions For Novak Djokovic

So far Djokovic has been anything but transparent. His positive COVID-19 result was made known by the lawyers, not him. He trusted Craig Tiley’s assurances that he misinformed him. Here are the questions we would ask him.

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Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters (Credit: Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Roberto Ferri

For several weeks the troubled events relating Novak Djokovic and his participation in the Australian Open have been taking place.

 

For the few who still do not know them, I will summarize them briefly.

In order to take part in the 2022 edition of the Australian Open it is necessary to have completed the vaccination cycle against Covid-19 or, alternatively, to have requested from the competent local medical authorities a certificate of exemption.

On January 4, Djokovic announced in a post that he had obtained medical exemption and was on his way to Australia. Some may say it was kind of naive post, but it’s hard to believe that it was his responsibility to check consistency between the exemption that had got and the Australian federal laws.

Before his arrival at the Melbourne airport, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison – perhaps under the pressure of a large part of national and international public opinion who had immediately expressed their discontent with this concession – declared: “Djokovic will be sent home on the first plane if he is unable to provide sufficient evidence to support his exemption from vaccination ”.

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5th but his visa to enter the country is rejected by the border authorities.

Tension rose between Australia and Serbia with the Serbian government summoning the Australian ambassador.

Djokovic’s lawyers are appealing against the visa refusal; the judge in charge of examining the appeal reserves the right to make a decision on Monday 10th January.

While awaiting the sentence, Djokovic is accompanied to a hotel of the lowest level; many fans of the champion gather in front of the hotel to protest in his favour.

In Serbia, Djokovic’s father made a series of statements in which he compares his son to Spartacus and Jesus, we assume not necessarily in this order of importance.

In the meantime, through the papers supporting the appeal filed with the Melbourne court, we learn that Djokovic had requested an exemption because he recently recovered from COVID and that he had obtained it from the Medical Director of Tennis Australia on December 30th. In the same documents we read that Djokovic’s positivity to COVID was ascertained through a molecular test carried out on December 16th.

If we (UbiTennis) had the chance, I would like to put these eight 8 questions to the Serbian champion:

1- The documents filed by your lawyers state that on December 16th you took the test for COVID 19. Why did you take it that very day?

2- On what day did you know your test result?

3- In this circumstance you considered it appropriate not to publicly reveal your positive result unlike what you did in June 2020. Why?

4- Between the day you learned about your positivity and the following days did you take part in public events?

5- If you took part in public events, what precautions did you take to avoid transmitting the infection?

6- When you arrived at Melbourne airport did you have complete documentation that provided all the evidence supporting the exemption?

7- If you had not contracted COVID you would have not been able to apply for vaccine exemption; what alternative strategy did you plan to participate to the Australian Open?

8- Would you get vaccinated if it were the only option to be able to take part in ATP and ITF tournaments during 2022?

Is Novak Djokovic going to answer them?

Only time will tell.

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