TENNIS US OPEN – Our Giulio Gasparin has selected the best quotes from Day 12 of US Open at Flushing Meadows. Words from men’s semifinalists.
Saturday 6th September could be remembered for a long time in the history of tennis, as for the first time since Australian Open 2005, none of the “big three” advanced to the final stage of a Slam tournament.
Kei Nishikori upset world number one Novak Djokovic and, later in the day, Croat Marin Cilic took down Roger Federer in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
“Just for the performance today from, I mean, first point to the last, I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life,” said the Croat. “Considering the huge occasion I was playing in, I mean, for the second time in a semifinals of a Grand Slam, it just can’t be more special.
“Considering also that, you know, even I was a set up and break up, you know, the crowd was rooting for Roger to come back. You know, it wasn’t easy to deal with that, but I felt that my serve helped me a lot today.”
Following his ban for a controversial case of doping in 2013, Cilic came back this year showing probably the best tennis of his life.
“I felt that very similar to the Berdych match,” he added. “I adjusted pretty well to the wind and to the conditions we were playing in.
“It was a different game from different ends. With one end it was wind in the back, so it was a bit easier to play from that side. Most of my breaks I made from that end.”
He also gave credits to this surprising result to the first “normal man” to win a slam in this moment of big champions.
“Well, it’s a bit of a changeup year considering all the past years that these top four guys were making to the final,” he said. “Wawrinka opened the doors for us from the “second” line, and I think most of the guys have now bigger belief that they can do it on the Grand Slams.”
The Swiss champion could not but prize his opponent and did not look for any excuse for his loss.
“It’s fairly simple: I think Marin played great,” he said. “I maybe didn’t catch my best day, but I think that was pretty much it in a nutshell.
“I was feeling good, you know. I was feeling fine. I just think if I could have stayed longer with him in the first set, you know, I felt like there was a proper match going on.
“But I think him playing with the lead he played with, you know, no fear and just full-out confidence, which clearly everybody at this point sort of has in the semis of a slam.
“I think he served great when he had to.”
He also gave his opinion about this change in depth that seems to be happening also in men’s tennis.
“I think it’s exciting for the game, you know, to have different faces from time to time,” he commentated. “At the same time, I think people still enjoy seeing the guys they have seen for a while or often in the big matches. But I think it’s definitely refreshing to some extent.
“Everybody who gets to this stage of this kind of a competition deserves to be there because they have put in the work and they hoped for the break, and this is it for both of them. I hope they can play a good final.”
The Japanese player showed to be in the form of his life, physically, as he survived another long match in his semi-final as he passed past Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3.
“I think that two days — last couple of days helped so much,” he said. “You know, it wasn’t easy playing two five sets and four hours’ match.
“It was even tough for me to play today. Especially third and fourth I couldn’t really put effort for every game. But I tried to concentrate with those important points. Especially last game, you know, I tried to get more energy and tried to concentrate again.”
He is a new face in such stages of a slam, but Nishikori had always showed great skills in the past.
“I was ready to play, you know, these kind of players always,” he said. “Especially this year I have been playing really well. I went to final in Masters once and, you know, I have been beating those top guys already.
“But I knew I was a little bit nervous, getting nervous, you know, first time semis here. But I think the confidence helped for today’s match.”
It was definitely an upset for the world number not to be able to play one more final in New York, but he gave full credits to his opponent.
“It was not easy to play in these conditions,” he admitted. “But also he had more hours spent on the court. So it’s no excuse.
“He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.”
To the question about what changed in his opponent’s game to make him so competitive these past two weeks, he said: “I think he wasn’t using forehand as well as he does now.
“His backhand is very solid. One of the best double-handed backhands from all over the court. Really aggressive. He’s very quick, so he gets a lot of balls back. Uses every short ball to attack. I think now he’s all-around player.”
On Monday, we will have a new slam and US Open winner, the second first timer of this 2014.
Andy Murray Surging In Confidence After Reaching First ATP Quarter-Final Since 2019
The 34-year-old believes he is getting better with every match played on the Tour as he eyes a spot in the final later this week.
Former world No.1 Andy Murray says he is starting to gain more belief in his game after reaching the quarter-finals of the Moselle Open on Wednesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion rallied to a 6-3, 6-3, win over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the French city. Murray dropped serve only once at the start of the second set but broke his opponent four times en route to the victory. It is the first time he has registered back-to-back wins on the ATP Tour since Wimbledon and it is the first time he has reached a quarter-final since winning the 2019 Antwerp Open.
Murray showed glimmers of his best tennis recently at the US Open where he took Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the first round before losing. However, in his following tournament on the Challenger circuit he lost in the second round to world No.154 Roman Safiullin. Despite the mixed performances, the Brit says his fitness continues to improve and he believes he is heading in the right direction.
“For me, this period of the last few years has been the most I have played really,” Murray said following his win over Pospisil.
“My body feels good and I am starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match, starting to see the points and how I want to play them, which is great.
“There have been times in the past year where I have been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing which was always a strong part of my game.
“It made me feel quite uncomfortable on court when I was feeling that way, so I am starting to get that back and the results are coming, my tennis is getting better.”
The 34-year-old, who now plays on the Tour with a metal hip after undergoing two operations, is targeting a return back into the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2018. He came agonisingly close in July when he reached 102. At present, he is currently ranked 113 but will climb at least four places following his run in Metz this week.
In the next round Murray will play either top seed Hubert Hurkacz or former top 10 player Lucas Pouille. Both players are likely to be a stern challenge for the three-time Grand Slam champion who is hoping to reach the final for the first time since 2007.
“I would love to get another opportunity to play here in the final, but there is a lot of tennis to be played before then potentially against the number one seed in the next round,” he reflected.
“It is not going to be easy if I want to reach the final, but I am playing well and have an opportunity.”
Murray has won 42 ATP titles and has earned more than $62M in prize money so far in his career.
Diego Schwartzman Receives Threats On Social Media Following Shock Davis Cup Defeat
The world No.15 is the latest player to speak out about recieving abusive messages on social media.
The weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster for Diego Schwartzman, who suffered ‘one of the worst’ losses of his career before helping secure victory for his country in their Davis Cup tie against Belarus.
On Saturday the world No.15 was stunned by unranked 18-year-old Daniil Ostapenkov who is yet to play a professional match on the pro Tour. Ostapenkov is currently ranked 63 in the world on the junior circuit. The comprehensive victory shocked the Argentinian team who was hosting the tie at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
Despite the shock upset, Schwartman managed to redeem himself the following day when he defeated Alexander Zgirovsky 6-1, 6-2. That victory handed his country an unassailable 3-1 lead in their tie and secured their place in the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers which will take place next March.
“Not only playing Davis, but in Buenos Aires, with a lot of people you don’t see, it’s not easy. My level can be and has to be much better. After the game on Saturday I had a difficult day in the spirit of being able to get up and enjoy with the group,” La Nacion quoted Schwartzman as saying.
“The most normal thing was that we won the series. It’s what everyone expected. But when you have a very difficult day at work like it was on Saturday and then you win, it excites you because you have some internal things withheld.”
Between those two matches, Schwartzman revealed that he was trolled on social media by some people unhappy about his loss in the tie. The 2020 French Open semi-finalist said he received criticism and even threats from some asking him to leave his home country. Something he admits affected him at times.
“It was one of the worst days of my career,” Schwartzman commented on his loss to Zgirovsky. “I lost to an unranked, inexperienced player. All that already affects (me) a lot. Although 80 or 90 percent of the people are always encouraging (me), there was a minority who criticized me with bad intentions.’
“I received threats, insults and requests not to return to Argentina. More or less, it affects (me)”.
Schwartzman is not the first player to speak out about online abuse. During the US Open Shelby Rogers said she was expecting to receive ‘death threats’ following her loss to Emma Raducanu who went on to win the title. Sloane Stephens has also previously spoken out about being the victim of racism online.
The 29-year-old says he has previously tried to interact with those who have trolled him on social media to find out why they are doing so.
“Sometimes I start to answer some messages and I ask those people if they realize what they are sending,” Schwartzman said during his press conference. “The vast majority apologize and say they had not realized it. But at the moment it hurts. That very ill-intentioned criticism is the only bad thing about social networks.”
Schwartzman has won four ATP titles and earned more than $10M in prize money so far in his career.
Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour
23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.
Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.
The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.
Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.
“I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
“It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.
Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.
“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”
Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.
Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.
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