US Open: Sporadicity taking over the men's game? - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Sporadicity taking over the men's game?

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TENNIS US OPEN – Rafa Nadal isn’t around. Tomas Berdych is dominated by Marin Cilic. Kei Nishikori upstages Stan Wawrinka. And Roger Federer takes advantage of a Gael Monfils meltdown to come back from two sets down. Is the competition for Novak Djokovic and Federer getting stronger or weaker? By James Beck

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

What’s going on?

Rafa Nadal isn’t around. Tomas Berdych is dominated by Marin Cilic. Kei Nishikori upstages Stan Wawrinka. And Roger Federer takes advantage of a Gael Monfils meltdown to come back from two sets down.

Is the competition for Novak Djokovic and Federer getting stronger or weaker? And what happens when Nadal, Djokovic and Federer age out or get tired of being so dominant?

There’s a good list of outstanding players waiting for their time. But the drop off from the big three of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer is immense.

Cilic’s Game May Or May Not Show Up

Of course, Cilic can play lights out at times as he did in rolling past Berdych in straight sets on Thursday in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. The Croatian also can play like an erratic teen-ager at times. His game may or may not show up for the semifinals.

Andy Murray just isn’t the same player he was two years ago, and may never reach that level again, despite the huge forehands he delivered against Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Wawrinka might have had his one shot of fame at the Australian Open, thanks possibly to Nadal’s physical liabilities.

And Jo-Wilfried Tsonga? He’s anyone’s guess at any time. He shows up or he doesn’t show up, a lot like some amateurish league tennis players.

Monfils Is A Misuse Of Talent

Then there’s Monfils. What a misuse of talent!

The athletic Frenchman was everything you’ve heard about him. At its worst. Thursday’s meltdown brings back memories of the 2004 French Open final when eventual loser Guillermo Coria tried to “gamesmanship” Gaston Claudia after also taking a 2-0 lead in sets.

Of course, that performance effectively marked the end of a promising career for Coria.

The question is how will Monfils’ meltdown on probably tennis’ biggest stage affect his career?

No One Will Believe In Monfils Again

No one will ever believe in Monfils again. Six points from victory, after already having blown two match points earlier in the set, Monfils badly double-faulted on two straight points to give Federer a 6-5 lead in the fourth set.

Monfils once again demonstrated that he’s the type of player who had rather say he “almost won” than actually won. Even in the fifth set, he tried to hit between his legs on a normal shot at the baseline when someone as athletic as Monfils easily could have turned and got setup for a normal groundstroke. Of course, he didn’t put the trick shot into play.

That’s the type of thinking that makes Gael Monfils the biggest joke in tennis.

Something Unpredictable In The Air?

There must be something in the air these days that renders some players completely unpredictable, not in the way they play but in their level of sporadicity. Maybe it’s the game they play, the boring baseline battles such as Cilic and Berdych displayed in the quarterfinals. Are the players bored with their own play to the extent they lose focus in matches, even when cruch time arrives?

Maybe the hierarchy of tennis should consider doing something to liven up the game before it falls into a deeper sleep. There has to be some mix of the baseline game and intelligent approaches to the net. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all incorporate at least a bit of that excitement in their matches, but few of the other players make an effort to escape the drudgery of baseline battles.

Thank goodness Federer is still around. He’s going to the net more than ever, and the tactic is paying big dividends as it did in the meltdown by Monfils.

Nishikori Is A Bundle Of Excitement

Other than the big three, the most exciting player in the game is Nishikori. The Japanese star plays with such ebullience and electricity that he is quickly gaining an international throng of followers.

Nishikori’s only weakness may be his body. He generally hadn’t been able to handle the physicality of long matches well until his five-set win over Wawrinka. So, maybe Nishikori has turned that corner.

The Japanese ace plays with childish enthusiasm, maybe too childish at times. That part of his game broke out at a critical time in the match against Wawrinka. It came on a game point when he tried to pull off a between-the-legs shot after running down a lob past the baseline. He appeared to have time to turn and hit a less show-offish shot.

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at:

http://web.charleston.net/news/columnists/james_beck/

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Novak Djokovic Survives Almighty Sinner Scare to Reach Wimbledon Semis

The dramatic encounter featured a fight back, multiple breaks of serve and even an injury scare.

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Reigning champion Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to keep his hopes of winning a seventh Wimbledon title alive after ousting Jannik Sinner in a five-set thriller.

 


Djokovic, who only dropped six games against Sinner in their previous Tour meeting, was forced to battle back from two sets down to prevail 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, in a roller-coaster encounter on Center Court. The triumph marks Djokovic’s 84th win at the tournament which is the joint-second highest tally in history alongside Jimmy Connors. Only Roger Federer has won more.

“Huge congratulations to Jannik today for a big fight. I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of opportunities for him on the big stage. He’s mature for his age and is already an established top 15 player over the last few years,” said Djokovic.
“He was unfortunate today but he has plenty of time.”

Taking on one of the most promising future prospects of men’s tennis, Djokovic’s latest encounter was a match of two halves. Initially, he appeared as if he would suffer a shock loss to world No.13 before he managed to conjure up an emphatic comeback. Breaking Sinner’s spirit who was bidding to become only the third Italian man to reach a Wimbledon semi-final in history.

“We had two different matches. He was the better player for two sets. (Then) I went out for a toilet break, had a little pep talk (with myself) in the mirror,” the 20-time major winner revealed.
“Sometimes in these circumstances where not much is happening positively for you on the court in terms of tennis. These things are necessary – a little break and pep talk to try to recuperate.’
“I was fortunate to start well in the third set by breaking his serve and that gave me the confidence boost. I saw a bit of doubt in his game and my experience of these kinds of matches helped me.”

The first set was a roller-coaster encounter between the two tennis titans on Center Court. Reigning champion Djokovic started out guns blazing by winning seven points in a row before Sinner got onto the scoreboard after prevailing in a 17-shot rally. The top seed looked to be in full control until a double fault on break point enabled his rival to bounce back. Continuing to play some inspired tennis with blistering shot-making, a cross-court winner enabled the Italian to break once again and this time had the chance to serve the opener out. A task he passed with flying colors.

Continuing to take his game to Djokovic, Sinner appeared unfazed about trying to become the youngest men’s semi-finalist at SW19 since 2007. Producing powerful hitting from the baseline, the 20-year-old extended his lead two games into the second frame. A stunning backhand volley followed by a Djokovic error elevated him to a 2-1 advantage. Spurred on by the crowd, the unprecedented onslaught continued with the help of some costly errors from the Serbian. He sealed the double break with the help of a successful Hawk-Eye challenge before securing a two-set lead in his favor with the help of a 122mph service.

Facing a swift exit, Djokovic once again illustrated the fighting spirit that he is renowned for. Capitalizing on a blip in form from Sinner, he cruised through the third set to resurrect his chances. 

Steaming rolling his way into a decider, Djokovic continued his dominance during the fourth frame by winning four straight games. However, closing that set out was full of drama. First, Sinner suffered an injury scare after going over his ankle before continuing. Then Djokovic fended off a break point and squandered two set points before closing it out. 

A stunning sliding passing shot in the decider set Djokovic up with a chance to break and move to a game away from victory. Something he did with the help of a Sinner error which the Italian instantly regretted by putting both his hands on his head. After that mishit, Djokovic ended the clash with a love service game. 

“I’ve been blessed to play professional tennis for 20 years but nevertheless I go through those doubtful moments like everybody else. The inner fight is always the biggest fight. Once you win the fight the external circumstance is more likely to go in your favor. I knew I could turn this match around. I have done that a few times in grand slams.” Djokovic concluded.


 

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Why Rafael Nadal Faces His Biggest Test Yet

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins UbiTennis to reflect on the highs and lows of day 8 of Wimbledon.

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Will the upcoming quarter-final be Rafael Nadal’s hardest match yet? How will Nick Kyrgios’ shoulder recover?

 

The second Monday at Wimbledon was one full of intrigue in the men’s draw. Whilst on the women’s side, Simona Halep was in impressive form against Paula Badosa but tennis commentator Flink explains why he thinks her upcoming clash with Amanda Anisimova will be tougher.

Alongside Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta, Flink also looks at Jannik Sinner’s chances of causing a huge upset against reigning champion Novak Djokovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Rafael Nadal Coy Over New Injury Speculation

After the foot problems in Paris, there is a strong possibility the Spaniard could be experiencing another injury issue.

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image via twitter.com/atp

There are fresh concerns surrounding Rafael Nadal after he declined to go into the reason why he was wearing abdominal taping during his fourth round match at Wimbledon. 

 

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was seen wearing some kind of protection in the abdominal area after changing his t-shirt during one of the breaks. In recent weeks Nadal has been dealing with physical issues due to a long-term foot condition he has. At the French Open he revealed that he had to undergo injections in order for him to continue playing en route to winning the tournament for a 14th time.

Playing 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp, Nadal battled his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6), win. Speaking to reporters after his latest win at The All England Club, the Spaniard sidestepped a question about a potential abdominal problem he could be experiencing. 

“I am a little bit tired of talking about my body. It’s not that I don’t want to answer your question, but at the same time sometimes I am tired of myself, all the issues that I am having. I prefer to not talk about that now,” he replied.
“I am in the middle of the tournament and I have to keep going. All respect for the rest of the opponents. I am just trying my best every single day. For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things that I want.”

Continuing to stay coy about his form and health, Nadal offered an alternative perspective when asked if he was nearing his best level once again. He has dropped just two sets in four matches played so far at Wimbledon which is his first grass-court event since 2019. 

“It’s always the same here. It’s not about how close I am to the level or not. I don’t know that. I can’t predict what can happen.” He said.
“But the positive thing is the first two matches haven’t been good. Then two days ago I played at a high level for the first time. And today most of the matches, again, at a very positive level.”

The straight sets scoreline failed to tell the true story of Nadal’s roller-coaster win on Center Court. Taking on Zandschulp, a player who burst onto the main scene last year by reaching the US Open quarter-finals as a qualifier, the 22-time major champion engaged in a match of two halves. Nadal looked on the verge of an easy victory after breaking once in the first set, twice in the second and storming to a 5-2 in the third. However, the Dutchman refused to go down without a fight by displaying his best tennis of the match to draw level. 

Now engaged in his first real test, Nadal was under intense pressure to close it out in three. If he didn’t there would have been an inevitable delay for the roof to come on due to poor light. If that occurred, there would be less than two hours of play left before the 11pm curfew began.

Nevertheless, Nadal didn’t need the roof as he squeezed through the tiebreaker. After squandering three consecutive match points, he prevailed on his fourth with the help of a lob that triggered Zandschulp to smash the ball out. 

Nadal is through to his 47th major quarter-final and is only the third man in the Open Era to do so at Wimbledon after celebrating his 36th birthday. In total, he has won 309 main draw matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

In the last eight, the Spaniard has a shot of revenge when he takes on Taylor Fritz who ended his 20-match winning streak earlier this year in Indian Wells. During that match, Nadal had a rib injury and he had beaten the American earlier that month in Mexico. 

“That last match (in Indian Wells) was zero because I had a stress fracture on my rib, and it was difficult to learn many things because the pain was terrible playing that match.” He said. 

As for Fritz, he believes their upcoming clash will be at a higher standard given the form both players are currently in. Fritz is currently on a eight-match winning streak after recently claiming the Eastbourne Open title. 

“It’s going to be a lot different match obviously. Indian Wells was kind of crazy with both of us being extremely beaten up before the final. This time I think we’ll get healthier versions of both of us, we’ll see.” Fritz previewed.

The question for nadal, is how healthy is the current version of him really is? Only time will tell. 

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