TENNIS ATP FINALS 2014 – Stan Wawrinka d. Tomas Berdych 6-1, 6-1. Group A
Q. Did you expect to produce that sort of performance today?
STAN WAWRINKA: I didn’t expect to win that easy in the score, for sure. But I was ready to play well. I did a great week of preparation. I did work really, really hard since few weeks with Magnus. Even if the result wasn’t there in Basel and Paris, I was feeling the ball really well at the practice court.
No, today at the start of the match was really important. That change completely the match after.
Q. It’s one against one. Obviously he didn’t have his best day, you had a good day. Is it possible for you to say which was more? Were you playing a particularly good match or did you get the sense he was there for the taking?
STAN WAWRINKA: It’s tough to say, but I think I did play a really good match. And since the beginning, I start really well on my serve. If you look, the second game, I had two time just a return and then I had one backhand and I put him directly under pressure.
At that moment he saw that I was taking the ball really early, seeing the ball really well, I was always putting him under pressure. He couldn’t really do anything except taking risk, and I was returning everything.
I’m just looking the match in general. If he play good or bad, doesn’t matter for me. I’m happy with my performance. I’m happy the way I was playing. Serving really well. Returning almost everything. It seems it’s not usual. And, yeah, feeling good on the court.
Q. You have the best record on tour against the top 10 this year, you’re 7 1. Against everyone else, you win two thirds of the time. You’re winning more against the top 10. Why is that?
STAN WAWRINKA: I had, what, six win against top 10 in the first three months of the year, then I never played them again because I lose early in the tournament, so it was a tough six months after (smiling).
Yeah, I think I show from the beginning of the year, already from last year, that my level is there. When I feel good on the court, I’m ready to beat everybody. It’s never easy, but you have to fight for it.
Normally when you play the top 10 guys, you are in the quarters or semifinals of a tournament. So the confidence is there. I’m feeling great mentally. That’s maybe one of the reason.
Q. When you and Roger won the Olympic gold medal, do you feel that changed the perception of you in Switzerland? Do you feel if you’re able to win, it will have the same effect, changing how you’re viewed?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, it was a long time ago. But for sure it was big in Switzerland. It was really big for me, because I was young. Even if I was top 10 at that time, it was my first big year on the tour.
To win the Olympic, it’s something really important because it’s not only about tennis, it’s about representing your country, about sportsfans in general watching you. So it was really big at that time.
For this year, for sure, if we can win Davis Cup, it’s going to be huge. But we’ll see if we do it.
Q. You obviously know Roger as well as anybody probably on the tour. If he does do well here, are you entirely confident that at 33, he’s going to have the legs still to perform right to the end of what’s already been a pretty long, hard season for him?
STAN WAWRINKA: Yeah, on that person, sure, unless he’s injured. I think that week it’s not that bad. You play one match every two days. It start yesterday. Doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he’s going to have a day off before the semifinal.
So if you look the week, it’s not a hard week. Then you have five days to come on clay. He’s the best player ever to adapt his game on the different surface. It took him maybe like one hour or one day maximum to change the surface.
I’m sure he can take few days off and find a way how to play well on clay. But then doesn’t mean he’s going to win the two singles in Davis Cup because you play against Monfils, again Tsonga, against Gasquet. Those guys are really good on tennis.
But I’m sure physically he’s going to be ready for trying to win here and trying to win the Davis Cup.
Q. What is your relationship with Tomas Berdych? How well do you get along? How do you see him as a player or a person?
STAN WAWRINKA: We are not close friend. We don’t spend so much time. But we good friend, like we practice a lot together, especially I think the last two years we are doing a lot of practice together.
Always have fun on the practice court. I think he’s an amazing player. Fifth time he qualified for the Masters end of year. It’s quite impressive. He had the win Paris Bercy. He make some final, semifinal Grand Slam. He’s there since many years. It’s quite impressive.
Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown
Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.
Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.
After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.
The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.
It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.
Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.
However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.
The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.
An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.
At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.
Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.
There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.
Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.
Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’
After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.
“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”
Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.
As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.
Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner
Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.
The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.
Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.
“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.
It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.
The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.
That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.
The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.
In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.
Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.
That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.
After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.
“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.
With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.
Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud
The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.
Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.
The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.
Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.
“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”
Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.
“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”
The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.
At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.
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