TENNIS US OPEN – All week long, the women have had to answer questions regarding the numerous upsets taking place within their draw. As of today, only 4 of the top 10 seeded women remain in the draw and all 4th round matches have not been completed. However, today, the men’s draw has suffered its first major casualty. Ferrer was dismissed by Simon. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw
All week long, the women have had to answer questions regarding the numerous upsets taking place within their draw. As of today, only 4 of the top 10 seeded women remain in the draw and all 4th round matches have not been completed. However, today, the men’s draw has suffered its first major casualty. David Ferrer (4) was dismissed by Gilles Simon (26) 3-6 6-3 1-6 6-3 in 2 hours and 48 minutes. Simon will take on in the 4th round the ever rising star, Marin Cilic (14) who knocked out Kevin Anderson (18) 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Coming into this match, Ferrer had a 5-1 lead head to head over Simon. However, four of those victories came on clay where Ferrer’s one of the world’s best. On hardcourts however, the record is 1-1 so this encounter had the potential to be an interesting matchup especially when coupled with the very hot and humid conditions. Both Ferrer and Simon were holding serve with relative ease in the opening set. At 3-3, Simon made a huge push to break Ferrer and was rewarded for his efforts with a 4-3 lead. Ferrer quickly tried to get back on levelled terms but he could not convert on the two break points in the 8th game. Simon extended the lead to 5-3. Serving to stay in the set, Ferrer began to leak errors giving Simon set points. On his first, Simon unleashed a forehand winner to take the set.
Simon extended his lead early in the 2nd set by breaking Ferrer and went up 2-0. Ferrer broke back in the 4th game to level the set. They remained on serve through to the 7th game when Ferrer broke Simon for 4-3. Ferrer then took the set 6-3 to level the match. At this point, one expected Ferrer to take control of this match and Simon to wilt under the pressure of trying to beat a top seed in a major. However, it was Ferrer who went flat in the 3rd set. He won his opening service game but Simon simply raised his play level to something just short of amazing. He was making incredible shots inch perfect on the line. The crowd was with him every step of the way and in about half an hour’s time, Simon won the set for a 2-1 sets lead; 6-3 3-6 6-1.
In the 4th set, it was very clear that the conditions were severely affecting Ferrer. His shorts were soaked through and he had them tucked into the sides of his underwear. “[I]t was a tough match today. There is a lot of humidity, very sun and it was not easy for me. I was not good with my fitness,” Ferrer said after the match. He attempted to get something going on his end but after he was broken in the 6th game to give Simon a 4-2 lead, Ferrer looked like he had had enough. Simon served for the match 5-3 and looked rather tentative in the process but he closed it out for the win. Ferrer had a staggering 52 errors in the match compared to 30 from Simon. Simon had this to say after the match, “I feel it was one of the hardest days for me on the court because it was hot and it was so humid … [T]o play David in this condition is really demanding physically … But then I had more energy; I felt he was in trouble also.”
Simon next plays Cilic, a player who he has never lost to in his career. Cilic came through a tough battle of serves contest against Anderson. With both players relying heavily on his respective serve, this match was not about rallies but about who can be most effective with the serve in these conditions. With the conditions being so humid, it made matters difficult for the server. There were 10 breaks of serves in the match and no tiebreaks. Anderson broke first in the opening set for a 3-2 lead but he could not consolidate the break and it was back even at 3-3. Cilic continued with the momentum to take the set 6-3. Anderson quickly turned things around as he edged out to 5-2 in the 2nd set and ended any hope of Cilic getting back into the set with two monster aces for 6-3.
With the match levelled at a set a piece, Cilic quickly gained a 2-0 lead in the 3rd set but he was unable to maintain this advantage as Anderson broke back for 2-2. Cilic seized the opportunity to break again in the 8th game for a 5-3 lead and served it out for a 2-1 sets lead. In the 4th set, both players remained on serve till the 9th game when Cilic broke for 5-4. He then closed out the match 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 in 3 hours. After the match, Cilic noted that the conditions definitely made things difficult for him as well as the missed opportunities he had in the 2nd set to get an early break. There were only 25 aces in the match between the two players. However, Cilic was just a bit more solid on the serve and total game. Cilic won 82% of the points behind his 1st serve compared to Anderson with 65%. Anderson was also making far too many errors in keys moments totalling 53 for the entire match as opposed to Cilic with only 34.
Andrey Rublev: “I don’t expect anything from myself in Melbourne”
Russian 22-year-old rising star Andrey Rublev started the 2020 season on a high note winning back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide. He beat French Next Gen player Corentin Moutet in the final of the Doha Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in the first week of the new year and repeated the feat by beating South African rising star Lloyd Harris in Adelaide.
Rublev has extended his winning streak to 12 matches, including 8 wins in the first two weeks of the 2020 season. He won the Doha title without dropping a set during the week. In Adelaide the Moscow native had to dig deep to beat Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 in a hard-fought semifinal match. With the Doha-Adelaide double Rublev became the first player to win back-to-back titles in the first two weeks of the season since 2004, when Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty won two consecutive trophies in Adelaide and Auckland.
Rublev picked up where he left off in 2019, when he won the Kremlin Cup in his hometown Moscow beating Adrian Mannarino in the final and finished runner-up to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Hamburg final. The player coached by Fernando Vicente scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in Cincinnati to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter final before losing to eventual champion Danil Medvedev. At the US Open he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios en route to reaching the fourth round at the US Open before losing to eventual semifinalist Matteo Berrettini.
“I was not thinking about this statistic, but it’s an amazing feeling. I am really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen”, said Rublev.
Rublev will open his Australian Open campaign against local favourite Christopher O’Connell in the first round. The Russian player is projected to play against David Goffin in a potential third round match, Alexander Zverev in the fourth round and Danil Medvedev in the quarter final.
Rublev, who has never advanced from the third round at the Australian Open, has no expectations for the first Grand Slam of the season.
“I am not waiting anything from myself in Melbourne. The only thing is that I want to fight and I believe well on court in my first match. Then we will see. I don’t think I am invincible, but for sure I am more confident in what I do after two titles in a row. I am working to be more consistent, to be more mentally strong. This is what we were working for and I am happy that these two weeks went this way. I got two titles. It’s amazing. I never had this before”, said Rublev.
Ugo Humbert claims the first title of his career after winning all-French final against Benoit Paire in Auckland
Twenty-one year-old Ugo Humbert beat Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 34 minutes in the all-French final of the ASB Classic in Auckland to claim the first title of his career.
Humbert has become the first French player to win the Auckland tournament. He enjoyed a great week beating Denis Shapovalov and John Isner en route to reaching the final.
Humbert earned the first break of the match in the second game after a double fault from Paire and held his serve with a service winner in the next game to open up a 3-0 lead. Paire broke back in the fifth game with a backand return winner. Humbert broke serve again in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Paire broke back in the seventh game to claw his way back to 3-4. Humbert earned three set points, when Paire was serving at 5-6. Humbert reeled off five consecutive points from 2-2 to claim the tie-break with three mini-break after a forehand error from Paire.
Paire fended off three break points in the third game of the second set before breaking serve in the fourth game after a double fault from Humbert. Paire saved a break point at 5-3 with an ace and closed out the second set with a backhand down the line winner.
Humbert earned an early break in the second game of the decider with a backhand crosscourt passing shot, before saving three break points at 4-2. Paire hit three consecutive backhand winners, as Humbert was serving for the match at 5-3 30-0. Paire got the crucial break in the next point, when Humbert sent a forehand long. Paire saved a championship point with a backhand volley winner in the 10th game. Paire held his serve with a backhand volley winner to draw level to 5-5. Paire rallied from 0-30 down in the 12th game to force the decisive set to the tie-break.
Humbert earned a mini-break on the sixth point with a forehand return to take a 4-2 lead and earned three championship points at 6-3. Humbert sealed the win on his third chance when Paire sent a backhand wide after 2 hours and 35 minutes.
“It’s a tournament of revenge because I have lost to four of five players I played this week. It’s a great improvement for me and I could not dream of a beginning for the season”, said Humbert.
Roger Federer Plays Down Air Quality Concerns Ahead Of Australian Open
Roger Federer has rejected concerns that air quality will affect the Australian Open ahead of his first round match on Monday.
Roger Federer has rejected the idea that air quality concerns will be a factor at this year’s Australian Open.
Recently air quality has been fairly unsafe as a recent result of the Australian bushfires that have impacted many parts of the country.
Melbourne has been one of the cities that has been impacted the most with many animals, firefighters and civilians suffering.
As the Australian Open approaches, it has also affected the first grand slam of the year with many players in qualifying suffering on Tuesday and Wednesday with conditions being deemed unsafe to compete in.
This has raised concerns about the tournament itself, which starts on Monday and one player that has been criticised in his lack of action is Roger Federer.
The 20 time grand slam champion is on the ATP Players Council and today he broke his silence, insisting that the air quality shouldn’t be a factor at this year’s Australian Open, “No, I don’t worry. From what we were told yesterday in the player meeting, the Olympic Games and other competitions have the numbers set at 300. Ours is set at 200,” Federer told the media on Saturday.
“From that standpoint, I think we’re moving in a very safe range. We’re not here for six months straight at over 200, 300, you know. That’s when maybe effects really become bad. No, I don’t worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke. Also we can stay indoors all day, quickly go out and play, go back in again. It’s not like we’re stuck outside at all times.
“I think communication is key from the tournament to the people, to the media, to the fans, to the players, because you do hear it’s not safe to be outside, keep your pets inside, close your windows. You have court calls, then you look at the haze and everything, it doesn’t look good. I think we’re going to get through it and it should be fine. It shouldn’t move, no.”
Conditions are expected to get safer in time for the first week of the grand slam as rain has hit the latter stages of the past week in Melbourne.
Although Federer has played down concerns of the air quality causing harm to the players, it is still is a cause for concern amongst tournament directors if the conditions played a part in the second week.
As for Federer, he starts his Australian Open campaign against Steve Johnson on Monday and is taking the tournament one match at a time, “I got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick,” Federer said.
“Practice has been going well. Had plenty of time to pace myself and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it’s enough. I know it’s a super long road to victory. That’s why I got to take it one match at a time. My expectations are quite low. No, I’m excited to play Steve. He’s a good guy. I think with his old-school playing – big forehand, slice backhand, good serve – I think it’s going to be a nice match for me, as well.”
The Swiss will be looking for his 7th Australian Open title in Melbourne and his third in four years but will have to play Novak Djokovic before the final. The match with Johnson will be third on Rod Laver Arena on Monday after Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams play their matches.
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