AO2015: Djokovic and Wawrinka to meet in the semifinal - UBITENNIS
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AO2015: Djokovic and Wawrinka to meet in the semifinal

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TENNIS AO2015 – Defending champion Stan Wawrinka cruised past US Open finalist Kei Nishikori in straight sets with 6-3 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to get through to his second consecutive semifinal at the Australian Open. Wawrinka set up a blockbuster semifinal against Novak Djokovic who beat Milos Raonic in three sets with 7-6 6-4 6-2. Diego Sampaolo

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Stan the Man has showed impressive form so far this year winning the Chennai for the second year in a row before advancing to the semifinal of the Australian Open dropping just a set in the whole tournament. Nishikori was looking to improve the result achieved in 2012 when he was beaten by Andy Murray in the quarter final.

Nishikori overcame Wawrinka in a five-set quarter final at last year’s US Open with 3-6 7-5 7-6 6-7 6-4. Today’s match was expected to another thrilling match but this time around Wawrinka was too strong in the first two sets.

Wawrinka broke serve for the first time in the match in the fourth game of the opening set before pulling away to 5-3. In the ninth game Nishikori drew level to 30-30 but Wawrinka sealed the first set with 6-3 after a forehand winner and a backhand unforced error from Nishikori

Nishikori saved a break point opportunity in the third game of the second set but Wawrinka got the break in the fifth game. At 4-2 Wawrinka brought up three break point chances which Nishikori saved them.

Nishikori earned a break point chance for the first time in the match in the 10th game of the second set but Wawrinka saved it by hitting a first serve at 222 km/h and clinched the second set with 6-4.

Nishikori broke serve in the second time of the third set but was broken back immediately to love. The third set went on serve until the tie-break.

Wawrinka hit three aces to go up 6-1 in the third-set tie-break but he faced trouble when Nishikori rallied from 1-6 by saving five match points to draw level to 6-6. However, the Japanese player sent his forehand drop-shot into the net to earn Wawrinka the sixth match point. Wawrinka hit his 20th ace at 209 km/h to clinch the win after two hours and four minutes. Wawrinka won 86 percent of his first serve points and hit 46 winners.

I was really happy to see the dropshot hit the net because I was not going to get to that ball. I had the wind with me, so it was not easy to make a drop-shot, especially at that moment. It was a crazy tie-break, but it was a good tie-break. It was good to finish in three sets. Today I was serving really well. I am happy with that part of my game. It’s never easy to break Kei because he playing so well. You need to be focused on what you need to do. You need to change the speed. You need to change where you serve also. I think it was one of my best matches if I look about that”

Wawrinka is 5-0 in the tie-breaks he played at the Australian Open this year.

It’s just the beginning of the season. We’ll see at the end of the year. Two days ago I was lucky. I was down 6-2 and I won the tie-break with some luck. Today I was 6-1 up, but I started on the side with the wind, so that helped me a lot. He started with serve and volley. When he came back from 6-1 to 6-all, he was playing good, aggressive. I was a little bit hesitating. I didn’t put first serve. It’s never easy when you have so many match points to focus after. But at 6-all I had the wind again. I was trying to be aggressive. Luckily he missed the drop-shot. I am happy to make an ace after”

I am just happy to be back in the semifinals so far. It was important match for me today. It’s never easy against Nishikori. I had to be ready for that. I had to fight with myself to stay with him, to play really aggressive, to stay on my line not give him the opportunity to put me in a defensive play. I am really happy that I did that really well today. I think it was a great match in general”

Wawrinka feels that he is playing even better than last year when he won his first Grand Slam title and is confident that he can repeat the achievement this year.

I think I am playing better. I think we all improve every year. I am more aggressive. I have more confidence wit my game when I come to the net. It’s a Grand Slam. You play every two days. Today was a great match. I am now going to enjoy a little bit, watch who is going to win tonight and get ready for the semifinal. I know that now I have a Grand Slam at home. I have the Grand Slam trophy. I won the Davis Cup also. I have the confidence from that. I know I can make it. I trust my game. I trust myself on the court even when we start to play the semifinal or the final in Grand Slam. Apart from that, it’s a new year. It’s going to be a new semifinal. We’ll see whom I am going to play”

Wawrinka said that winning the Davis Cup at the end of last year game him the confidence.

I think I got a lot of confidence from first winning the Davis Cup at the end of the year. I think since Shanghai I have been playing great tennis. I am focused on what I am doing every day. I am trying to practice really hard, trying to improve my game. I had a really good Masters in London, playing one of my best tournaments indoors, losing the semifinal against Roger. Then I had the important Davis Cup final. It was important mentally to get there, to play well. That’s what I did. I had a short pre-season. I am trying to work hard. I am trying to improve my game. I have the chance to have a great team around me with Magnus Norman and Pierre Paganini who are really behind me trying to push me every day. I got a lot of confidence by winning Chennai, the first tournament. My game is there and I am happy to play here in Melbourne, to have a chance to play the semifinal again. As I said before the tournament, I do not feel pressure by defending the title because I don’t come here to defend it. I come here as a new challenge, a new Grand Slam. That’s how I start the tournament. I am really happy to be already in the semifinal, to play that well so far. This match was really important for me especially the way I deal with the pressure to play Nishikori. It’s never easy for me for my game.

Nishikori felt more aggressive in his game in the third set and he might have changed the match if he he had won the breaker. “I started to feel more comfortable in the third set, especially after I found out a couple of points that I could go little more aggressive than in the first and in the second sets. I was mixing up serve and volleys. My serve was much better than in the first couple of sets because I was making more first serve. I was struggling my serve. That’s why I couldn’t get good rhythm in the first and in the second set. The tie-break was really close. If I could get that one, I might change the whole thing. But he was serving really well until the end of the set. I have to give him credit. He obviously played really aggressive and played great tennis. I didn’t play really bad. Congratulations to him”, said Nishikori

Wawrinka will face Novak Djokovic for the third consecutive year at Melbourne Park.In 2013 Djokovic edged Wawrinka in the fourth round with an epic 12-10 in the fifth set. Last year Wawrinka overcame Djokovic with 9-7 in another dramatic five-set battle in the quarter final.

Djokovic beat Raonic 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2

Djokovic beat Raonic in straight sets with 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2. The match was expected to be a battle between the biggest returner (Djokovic) and the biggest server (Raonic) but only in the first set Djokovic faced stiff resistance from Raonic who kept pace with the World Number 1 with his big serve. Djokovic earned four break points in the first set. Predictably the opening set went on serve until the inevitable tie-break. In the previous matches Djokovic had a record of three tie-break wins in four against Raonic. The Canadian had already won 8 out of 10 tie-break this year.

Djokovic took advantage of a costly forehand unforced error from Raonic at 5-6 in the breaker allowed Djokovic to clinch the opening set.

Djokovic broke the resistance of Raonic and went from strength to strength holding serve with ease. He dropped just two points on serve and broke serve in the remaining two sets.

The Serb finally managed to break with his cross-court backhand at the start of the second set and won the second set in 33 minutes. Raonic did not earn a single break point in the match. Djokovic broke serve twice in the third set and sealed the win with a backhand volley on his first match point after 119 minutes to get through to his fifth Australian Open semifinal and to his 25th Grand Slam semifinal.

Djokovic extended his winning streak to 5-0 in his head-to-head matches against Raonic. He has not dropped a single set in the whole tournament so far.

Djokovic is looking to win his fifth title in Melbourne and equal Roy Emerson at the top of the ranking of players with more titles at the Australian Open.

I played my best tennis in the tournament so far. Tonight I played the way I wanted. It’s great to see Stan doing good three years. He didn’t believe he could win Slams. This has changed now. Stan is playing very confident and is one of the guys to beat in this tournament. I am ready for the battle.We get to play on a high level against each other. I am a very good friend but when we get on the court we wanna beat each other”

It was a close first set but I thought I had I had more chances in the first set than him. I managed to stay tough in the right moments and win the crucial first set. Obviously winning it in a tie-break and making the break of serve in the first game in the first game of the second set was definitely huge for me. I could start swinging through a little bit more, be more aggressive into the court. Since that first game of the second set I played a great match. I take a lot of confidence out of the last two matches that were very tricky, where I didn’t lose a set. I try to carry that in every next match, next challenge. I am going to play Stan, who Is the defending champion here. We played five-set matches in the 2013 and 2014 Australian Open. I am going to be ready for a fight. Knowing that I have raised the level of performance tonight, and probably playing the best match of the tournament so far is affecting my confidence in a positive way. Hopefully I can carry that into next one. I try to take the positives out of every match. Tonight there was not much I could complain about. From the first game till the last I played the way I wanted. I created a lot of breakpoint opportunities. The key of tonight’s match was to get an many balls back in play, returns back in play. I thought from the back of the court I had more more chances than him to win the points. I executed very well. It’s easier said than done, but I feel very good about my game in this moment”, said Djokovic.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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