US Open: Marin Cilic outplayed Roger Federer for 1st major final - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Marin Cilic outplayed Roger Federer for 1st major final

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TENNIS US OPEN – In a continuation of an epic day of upset men’s semifinal, Marin Cilic not only beat Roger Federer for the first time, he crushed him in straight sets 6-3 6-4 6-4 for his first major final. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw

 

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Goran Ivanisevic: “You saw everything. It was the best match of his life”

The tennis world barely got over the shock of world’s number 1 Novak Djokovic being dismissed in 4 sets by Kei Nishikori (10) before it had to face another startling reality; Roger Federer (2) was summarily dismissed from the tournament in straight sets by Marin Cilic (14) 6-3 6-4 6-4. This is almost like tennis Armageddon; both top men’s seeds beaten on the same day in emphatic fashion by two players not even officially ranked in the top 10. Surely when Djokovic went out, it could not be possible that Federer would exit on the same day, having not made the finals. Coming into this match, Federer was 5-0 lifetime against Cilic. In fact, he beat several weeks ago en route to the Montreal final. Yet in this match, Federer hardly looked like he had a clue as to what was going on as Cilic was as he said, “[F]irst point to the last, I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life.”

The match was barely on its way before Federer was facing break point having been up 40-0 in the game. Cilic was able to secure the early break and with that, complete control of the match. Cilic closed out the set 6-3. In the 2nd set, Cilic continued with his great form as he broke Federer early for a 2-0 lead. Federer never saw a break point chance in the set as Cilic continued to be dominant. Cilic on his 10th ace, took the set and a 2-0 sets lead. This lead was unassailable and even Federer knew this as he would later state, “I wasn’t as confident this time around because Marin played more aggressive … I knew probably this comeback would be tougher just because of the risk he was taking and … how big he was serving.”

In the 3rd set, Federer started it off well with a break of Cilic’s serve for the first time in the match. However, he was broken immediately after to get back on serve. Cilic then broke Federer again in the 7th game to lead 5-3 after consolidating the break. Federer was able to hold serve comfortably for the first time to force Cilic to serve for the match. Cilic completed the task in spectacular fashion. He served three consecutive aces to bring up triple match point and then hit a backhand winner for the match win, 6-3 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 45 minutes.

The real measure of this match was the completeness to Cilic’s game, on both his serve and his return. He was doing everything right. He won 87% of his 1st serve points and 56% on his 2nd serve compared to Federer who was only winning 71% on his 1st serve and 48% on his 2nd serve. “I felt today the return was extremely good, especially on the second serve and that, you know, opened up many more opportunities for me,” Cilic said. This was very much the case. He broke Federer four times in the match compared to Federer who did it once and only saw two break point chances. Federer did not necessarily play a bad game, he was simply outplayed and outmatched. He had 6 less errors than Cilic for the match, 17 to 23 but Cilic had 43 winners compared to the 28 from Federer. “I think him playing with the lead he played with, you know, no fear and just full-out confidence … It was just like full swing from all sides … No holding back from his side. I just couldn’t hang with him for long enough to create some doubts in his mind,” Federer said after the match.

This is the first time since 2005 Australian Open men’s final that neither Federer, Djokovic, Andy Murray nor Rafael Nadal has made the final of a major event. “[I]t’s interesting situation, you know, where you have two players who have never been in a Grand Slam final before and in a way they have nothing to lose,” Federer said. Cilic also spoke on this matter, “[I]t’s a bit of a changeup year considering all the past years that these top four guys were making it to the final. Wawrinka opened the doors for us from the “second” line and I think most of us guys have now bigger belief that they can do it on the Grand Slams.”

Nishikori is 5-2 lifetime against Cilic and interestingly enough, they played at the US Open twice in the past and they each won one of the matches. Cilic spoke of the matchup, “[W]e have both different game styles … [H]e hits the ball extremely well from the back of the court. I think I’m going to have to just focus on my game to break that a little bit of rhythm and to try to serve well.”

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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