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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Year-End No.1 Not A Priority For Rafael Nadal, Says Murray

Murray spoke about his rival as he gives a update on his current form.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray believes rival Rafael Nadal is not focusing on the prospect of ending the season as world No.1.

 

Murray spoke about the big three during an extensive interview with The Times. A group compromising of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. The Brit is currently on the comeback from hip resurfacing surgery and recently reached the quarter-finals of the China Open. His best run on the ATP Tour so far this season. Currently ranked 289th in the world, Murray admits that he still has a way to go to the top. However, the 32-year-old is drawing inspiration from some of his rivals.

“If I do get up there, I’m not going to be focusing on ranking targets. You look at what Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and I guess Novak [Djokovic], to a certain extent, are doing to give themselves a chance to play longer.” Murray told The Times.
“Right now, Rafa could be fighting to finish number one in the world and it’s not a priority for him. I would like to be competitive in the big events against the best players. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was a month ago, and much closer than a couple of months ago,” he said.

Nadal is currently closing in on the world No.1 spot despite not playing since winning the US Open. On Monday Djokovic’s lead over him will be reduced to 320 points after the Serbian lost in the third round of the Shanghai Masters. Then on November 4th he is guaranteed to return to the top spot before the ATP Finals. Even more significant is that Nadal has no ranking points to defend for the rest of the season compared to 1600 for Djokovic.

Murray’s comments on Nadal echoes what the Spaniard has previously said. During the US Open in September, the king of clay stated that returning to the top was ‘not his main goal’ with his health being top priority.

“I don’t compete for it. I just do my way. If I am able to be No.1 doing it my way, great. But I always say the same: today is not my main goal.” He explained.
“Of course, it’s great to be in that fight. But for me personally, it’s not really a fight. I just try be competitive the weeks that I need to compete, or the weeks that I want to compete.’
“With my age and with my goals, I cannot lose energy or time to follow the No.1. I need to think about my career in a different way.
‘For me, my main goal is play as long as possible and compete, being competitive. Sometimes if you need to follow the No.1, you are going to lose years of your career.”

Nadal is set to return to action in November at the Paris Masters. Meanwhile, Murray returns to the court tomorrow at the European Open where he will play Kimmer Coppejans in the first round.

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Danil Medvedev beats Stefanos Tsitsipas in Shanghai semifinal to reach his sixth consecutive final

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Danil Medvedev reached his ninth final this year and his sixth consecutive title match after beating Greek Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 38 minutes in the semifinal of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

 

The 23-year-old Russian player has now beaten his 21-year-old Greek rival in all their five head-to-head matches. Medvedev has reached his third Masters 1000 final after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal and winning the Cincinnati final last August. In an impressive hard-court season Medvedev lost the US Open final in five sets against Rafael Nadal and won the indoor tournament in St. Petersburg. Since losing to David Goffin the Moscow player has won 28 of his last 31 matches. He has become the 16th player in the Open Era to reach six consecutive finals.

Medvedev hit 25 winners to 18 unforced errors and saved four of the five break points.

Tsitsipas earned three break points at 4-4 in the opening set. Medvedev saved them with two serves and a forced error from Tsitsipas. The first set came down to the tie-break where both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5. The first 10 points of the tie-break went on serve. Medvedev got the decisive mini-break in the 11th game, when Tsitsipas made a forehand error. Medvedev closed out the first set after a backhand error from Tsitsipas.

In the second set Tsitsipas wasted game points at 1-1. Medvedev got the break in the third game of the second set with a backhand down the line winner. He consolidated the break by holding his serve with three service winners. Tsitsipas broke back at 15, when Medvedev was serving for the match. Medvedev broke for the second time in the 11th game with a forehand return before sealing the win in the 12th game with three service winners. Medvedev has become the 13th player since 1990 to reach three consecutive Masters 1000 finals.

“I think it’s a great achievement. I am proud of myself. Hopefully I can get the win tomorrow. It’s actually quite crazy. Here I had a lot of opportunities. to lose sets. I was close to losing a lot of them, especially with Vasek Pospisil with five set points. I think that’s also the confidence and the dynamic I am going through”, said Medvedev.

Tsitsipas was bidding to reach his second consecutive final after finishing runner-up to Dominic Thiem in Beijing.

 

 

 

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Alexander Zverev beats Roger Federer in Shanghai to reach his eighth Masters 1000 semifinal

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Alexander Zverev battled past Roger Federer 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 in 2 hours and 4 minutes to reach his eighth Masters 1000 semifinal and the first since Shanghai last year.

 

The German star has moved up to seventh in the ATP Race to London after reaching two consecutive semifinals in Beijing and Shanghai and has a good chance to qualify for his third consecutive ATP Finals.

Zverev hit 43 winners (including 17 aces) to 23 unforced errors and faced three just three break points in the entire match. He dropped his serve twice and broke four times.

Zverev did not convert five match points in the final stages of the second set.

Zverev dropped three points in his service games and hit 11 winners to 6 unforced errors. The Hamburg native earned a break at 3-2 and held his next service games to close out the first set with four service winners in the ninth game after 27 minutes.

Both Federer and Zverev traded breaks in the second and third games of the second set and held their serve in the next seven games to draw level to 5-5. Zverev broke serve in the 11th game with a forehand winner, when Federer was serving in the 11th game. Zverev wasted three match points on serve in the 12th game and was broken by Federer, who drew level to 6-6 to set up a tie-break.

Federer saved match points at 5-6 and 6-7 in the tie-break and closed out the second set with an ace.

Zverev held at 15 in the first game with a service winner in the first game and broke serve in the second game after a forehand error from Federer.

Zverev held serve at love in the third game to build up a 3-0 lead. He earned two break points in the fourth game, but Federer saved them. The Swiss player fended off another break point at 1-4 with a forehand winner. Zverev held serve at love to build up a 5-2 lead.

Zverev closed out the match with a hold at 15, as he was serving for the match in the ninth game, to set up a semifinal against either Dominic Thiem or Matteo Berrettini.

Zverev adds to his ATP Race to London ranking with 2615 points to take seventh place ahead of  Roberto Bautista Agut.

“Finally starting to kind of play the way I should play, I was really playing really defensive the whole year, and I was not with a lot of confidence. He will always find a way. He will always make it tricky for you like he did today with me, and always got to play your best tennis to have a chance. I knew if I am going to keep playing the way I played the first two sets, I am going to have a chance in the third set as well”, said Zverev after the match.

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