TENNIS DUBAI DUTY FREE– Roger Federer cruised to 6-2 6-1 in the first semifinal of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament against Croatian teenager Borna Coric to qualify for his ninth final in his favourite tournament. Federer will be bidding to win his seventh final in Dubai. In Saturday’s blockbuster final Federer will take on Novak Djokovic who beat Tomas Berdych in three sets with 6-0 5-7 6-4. Diego Sampaolo
Federer and Coric met for the first time in their career. Coric, who entered the Dubai tournament as a lucky loser, qualified for the semifinal after his upset win over Andy Murray in the quarter final.
Federer, who is 15 years older than Coric, raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set but he had to save two break points in his first service game. The Swiss Maestro converted on the first of his two break points in the second game for 2-0 and held his serve in the third game.
Coric broke back to 3-2 in the fifth game. Federer broke straight back for 4-2 after Coric made a double fault. Coric faced three set points after committing a double fault and a forehand error.
The six-time Dubai champion sealed the first set with his third break for 6-2 in the eighth game. Federer opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set with a break in the second game but he failed to convert on a break point chance in the fourth game. Federer got the double break for 5-1 before closing it out on the first match point after 56 minutes to reach his ninth Dubai final
Federer will renew his battle against Novak Djokovic who edged past Tomas Berdych in three sets with 6-0 5-7 6-4. Djokovic got off to a great start taking three consecutive breaks and won the first set with 6-0 in just 23 minutes. This score was reminiscent to that inflicted by Djokovic last October in the Beijing final.
Berdych finally won his first game to 15 at the start of the second set but Djokovic took control of the match again getting the break in the third game to love. Berdych raised the level of his match breaking back to love in the next game. Berdych took the 5-3 lead but Djokovic broke back to 30-0 as the Czech player served for the set at 5-3. Berdych broke serve in the 12th game on the second set point to win the second set with 7-5.
The third set went on serve until the fifth game when Djokovic earned three break points at 2-2. Djokovic got the crucial break for 3-2 as Berdych hit a forehand long after a long rally. Djokovic wrapped up the third set with 6-4.
Djokovic beat Berdych for the third time in Dubai after the 2011 semifinal and the 2013 final.
“Even after the first set that went as perfectly as possible and when I was break up I knew that the match was not over. I just went to stay on that level but it was hard”, said Djokovic.
Last year Federer and Djokovic met in a fantastic three-set semifinal in Dubai. Federer prevailed against his Serbian rival before beating Tomas Berdych in the final.
The top two players in the world will meet for the 37th time. Federer leads 19-17 in their head-to-head matches and clinched two of his past three matches. Federer will be bidding to win his seventh title in Dubai, while Djokovic will be looking to win this tournament for the fifth time and his 50th overall title.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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