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US Open: Two finals with similar results

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TENNIS US OPEN – This U.S. Open produced two distinctly different singles finals. Serena Williams used her brute power to totally dominate Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday’s women’s final. No one expected a repeat in the men’s final. It was a coin flip: Kei Nishikori or Marin Cilic. But almost from the beginning, it was surprisingly obvious that Nishikori would have a difficult time against Cilic’s sheer power. by James Beck

 

This U.S. Open produced two distinctly different singles finals, yet the results were much the same.

Of course, Serena Williams used her brute power to totally dominate Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday’s women’s final.

No one expected a repeat in the men’s final. It was a coin flip: the entertaining Japanese road-runner named Kei Nishikori or Croatian Marin Cilic, whose past was one of unpredictability.

But almost from the beginning, it was surprisingly obvious that Nishikori would have a difficult time against Cilic’s sheer power. Few would have expected such a turn of events after the way the smallish Japanese player dismantled world’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s men’s semifinals.

It Was Saturday All Over Again For Cilic

Cilic controlled play from the beginning with his overpowering serve. His monster serves dictated play, setting up his powerful groundstrokes. It was Saturday all over again. The opponent just changed from Roger Federer to Nishikori.

It was like a lightweight fighter trying to fend off a true heavyweight puncher. Nishikori could only try to peck away at the 6-6 Cilic. There was no knockout ability. Even the sun didn’t cooperate with Nishikori the way it did on Saturday when Djokovic buckled under the midday heat.

The weather Monday evening was cool. The sun was hidden. Nishikori’s true game was unveiled. He was no match for Cilic’s big game.

Nishikori Lucky To Get Three Games Each Set?

At times, Cilic would step to the service line, look confidently toward the other side of the net, and take a mighty swing that left Nishikori almost motionless. Cilic yielded a total of just one point in his last four service games of the first set. He nailed consecutive aces several times.

It was almost as if Cilic willed a 3, 3 and 3 match result. Nishikori could count himself lucky to get those three games in each set. This one probably could have been worst if Cilic had really wanted to embarrass his 24-year-old opponent.

Nishikori, indeed, might be a one-timer in the spotlight of a major. He probably is a perennial quarterfinalist instead of a true title contender.

Cilic Made Things Almost Boring The Last Three Rounds

Fans who watched Cilic’s win over Tomas Berdych in last Thursday’s midday heat got an early preview of what was going to happen in the last two rounds. The match was somewhat boring the way Cilic completely dominated Berdych in the quarterfinals.

Berdych could hardly put a racket on Cilic’s big shots and serves. Berdych appeared to be in awe of what was happening in Arthur Ashe Stadium. I thought maybe Berdych was just having a bad day and Cilic was on his game.

Then on Saturday, it was much the same against Federer. Cilic’s big groundstrokes passed Federer before Federer could even get to the service line on many of his net charges. It was a beat-down. Now, Nishikori knows how Federer felt.

Men’s tennis probably should get accustomed to Cilic’s big game. At 25 years old, he is likely to be a force for several years, especially on hard courts, and also maybe at Wimbledon.

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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John Isner upsets Andrey Rublev to reach quarterfinals in Madrid

John Isner is into the Madrid quarter-finals after a last set tiebreak win over Andrey Rublev.

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John Isner (@atptour - Twitter)

The American once again needed three sets and two tiebreakers to earn a top 10 scalp.

 

John Isner booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open by upsetting the number six seed Andrey Rublev 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes hitting 43 winners and 29 aces in the win.

“I’ve always served well, the conditions for the server are fantastic, physically I was heavy-legged today, I finished late last night, the good thing is I finished a bit earlier today and I should be ready to go tomorrow, I’m going to need all of my legs tomorrow against Dominic (Thiem) and I’m looking forward to it for sure”.

The first set was pretty routine and we didn’t see a single break of serve the entire set as the first set would be decided by a tiebreaker. That’s where the American ran away with it jumping out to a 4-0 lead playing some great tennis and he would take it 7-4 to win the first set 7-6.

The Russian was keen to get back in the match in the second set and earned the first two breakpoints of the match at 1-1 and broke to take an early 2-1 lead. That break was all the number six seed needed to serve out the second set taking it 6-3 and setting up a deciding third set.

The number six seed once again had the first break opportunity of the third set but it was immediately saved with the big booming serve from the Greensboro, North Carolina native. That was the only breakpoint of the set and once again the match would be decided by a tiebreaker.

This one was much more closer and we didn’t see a break of serve until 4-3 when the American returned the Russian serve with a powerful forehand to take a 5-3 lead.

He would go on to serve it out to win the match and set up a quarterfinal encounter with the Austrian Domenic Them and he spoke about the matchup in his post-match press conference.

“He’s fresh, he’s won two matches and I think he is the second-best clay courter right now so it’s going to be a very tough task for me tomorrow especially on this court because he hits the ball so big and pretty fast and he does so many things well and I am going to have to play extremely well if I want any chance to beat him”

Theim currently holds a 2-1 lead in the head to head and their most recent meeting was back in 2017 in Laver Cup on an indoor hardcourt when the Austrian won in three sets.

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Christian Garin reaches his second career Masters 1000 quarter final in Madrid

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Chile’s Christian Garin has reached his second Masters 1000 quarter final with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 win over world number 3 Danil Medvedev at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

 

Garin earned an early break after a loose service game from Medvedev at 1-1. The second set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Medvedev cruised through to a 7-3 win with two mini-breaks. Garin broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to claim the third set 6-1. 

Garin will face either this year’s Serbian Open champion Matteo Berrettini or Federico Delbonis. The Chilean player is tied at 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Berrettini and won his only previous match against Delbonis en route to last year’s title at the Rio Open. Garin won all his five titles on clay in Houston and Munich in 2019, Rio de Janeiro and Cordoba in 2020 and Santiago de Chile in 2021.

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Jannik Sinner Vows To ‘Come Back Stronger’ After Madrid Misfortune

The 19-year-old believes his latest loss will help him grow as a player.

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Italian rising star Jannik Sinner has revealed that he was suffering from an allergy during his latest match at the Madrid Open but has insisted it wasn’t the reason for his loss.

 

The world No.18 crashed out of the tournament in straight sets on Wednesday to Australia’s Alexi Popyrin. A player ranked 57 places lower than him who has reached the third round of a Masters tournament for only the second time in his career. The Italian struggled behind his second serve where he won just 41% of the points. A frustrating outcome for Sinner who led the match 5-3 before losing 6-7(5), 2-6.

“I suffer from allergy and here there is a lot of pollen, I also play with contact lenses and everything. This bothered me a lot,” said Sinner who was coughing throughout the match.
I suffered more because there was more sun and in that field (court) he entered easily, but I did not lose for this (reason). He played better than me.”

The 19-year-old has recently broken into the world’s top 20 following what has been a solid start to the season. At the Miami Open he became only the fourth teenager in history to reach the final after Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On the clay he recently reached the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Despite his disappointment in Madrid, Sinner is hoping that it will help him become an even better playing in the coming weeks heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam which he reached the quarter-finals at on his debut last year.

“This defeat helps me to grow, now I go to the court to work to be at the top for the next match. I’ll come back stronger than before,” he stated.

Sinner will be hoping to get back on track next week when plays his home tournament at the Italian Open. He made his Rome debut back in 2019 where he defeated Steve Johnson in the first round before going out. A year later he reached the third round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.

As for Popyrin, he will face a showdown against top seed Rafael Nadal in Thursday.

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