TENNIS 2014 ATP FINALS – Before the start of the 2014 Barclay’s World Tour Finals just after group assignments were made, many pundits held that Group A was the toughest of the two groups as it held 3 major winners, however, as it turned out, Group B is the one that has provided only moderately more interesting affairs.
Before the start of the 2014 Barclay’s World Tour Finals just after group assignments were made, many pundits held that Group A was the toughest of the two groups as it held 3 major winners, (Novak Djokovic , Stan Wawrinka , Marin Cilic ) and all 4 players had made it to a major final at least once in their career, (Tomas Berdych  back in 2010). Group B on the other hand only has two major winners (Roger Federer  and Andy Murray ) and Kei Nishikori  who recently made it to the last two at the US Open. Milos Raonic  was the lone man in the entire field without an impressive resume. However, as it turned out, Group B is the one that has provided only moderately more interesting affairs. Through two rounds of play in Group A, all matches have been consummate blowouts for the winners. Prior to the Djokovic verses Wawrinka match, the final match of Day 4, the three previous matches in the group featured at least one breadstick set (6-1). Wawrinka ended this streak in favour of having something much more “hefty” like a bagel set as Djokovic simply crushed the Swiss 6-3 6-0 in a mere 65 minutes.
The very early goings of the match captivated fans of the players and the sport alike as Wawrinka broke Djokovic and held serve for a 2-0 lead. The last time these two met was back in Australia when Wawrinka won a tight 5-setter in the quarterfinals and moved on to claim his first major title and in doing so ending Djokovic’s reign in Melbourne. However, as any fan of the sport knows, Wawrinka has not shown any real sign of that type of player outside of his winning run at Monte Carlo in April. He came into this tournament winning one match in his last four tournaments. Yet at the start of the match, one almost believed that Wawrinka was back to that winning major form. However, Djokovic crushed all hopes of that when he fully asserted himself in the match for a 5-2 lead. At one point, Djokovic had won 16/17 straight points on a 5-game streak. It was then fans knew that Wawrinka is back to his old Grade C form self and this matchup was not going to turn into a long awaited 3-setter that the tournament has been crying out for. This was going to be another whitewashing.
Wawrinka showed some true resilience to win the 8th game but Djokovic easily served out the set, 6-3. Djokovic was on another level. In fact, he was several levels above Wawrinka and thus virtually unplayable. In the 2nd set, Djokovic was simply hitting impossible shots from all corners of the court. Everything was working for the Serbian and anything that Wawrinka threw at him, he had the correct response. Nothing from the Swiss fazed him. The numbers alone tell the tale. Djokovic was winning 76% of his 1st serves and 50% on his 2nd serves whilst Wawrinka was at a measly 45% on his 1st serve and a pitiful 26% on his 2nd serve. The Swiss only won 3 points on serve and 7 points total in the entire 2nd set along with a 29 errors and 8 winners for the match. This poor level of play from Wawrinka only allowed for mere target practice for Djokovic as he hit winner after winner, (16 in all for the match) that even Wawrinka had to stop and applaud one of these magnificent shots. So it was no surprise that the match ended 6-3 6-0 in favour of Djokovic.
“[T]his year everybody before the tournament was expecting some big matches because was more surprise during all the year with me winning Grand Slam, Cilic also, Raonic, Nishikori being there”, Wawrinka noted. Those big matches have yet to occur at the O2 Arena in London. Of the 8 singles matches played, they have all been 8 straight-set victories to the higher ranked player with 1 bagel set (6-0), 6 breadsticks (6-1), 1 tiebreaker (7-6) where the loser did not win a single point for a total of 8 hours and 26 minutes of actual play, averaging just about 1 hour and 3 minutes per match. Djokovic, himself expressed surprise at this statistic but said that he hoped that he can keep up his level of play and continue to be on the winning side. He added, “After I lost the first two games, you know, obviously I didn’t start so great. I thought he played very well the first two games. But, again, I wasn’t frustrated. I kept my calm. After that, was a really amazing performance.” He will play Tomas Berdych this Friday to maintain his unblemished record in group play and solidify his claim as the world’s No. 1 player for the rest of the year.
Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup
Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day
After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.
Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”
American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.
“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”
After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:
“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”
The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:
“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”
Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”
Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.
Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.
T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open
Love him, or hate him. But respect him.
No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.
Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.
Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.
DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER
Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.
It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.
Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.
A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE
At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.
The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.
Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.
Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.
THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE
Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.
Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.
The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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