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Rotterdam: Simon stops Murray

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TENNIS ROTTERDAM – Defending champion and seed number 3 Tomas Berdych beat Gael Monfils 6-1 6-4 in the first quarter final of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam to advance to the semifinals. Andy Murray crashed out against Giles Simon. Stan Wawrinka set up a semifinal against Milos Raonic with a 7-6 6-3 win over Giles Muller. Raonic rallied from a set down to edge Sergiy Stakhovsky 2-6 6-3 6-4. Diego Sampaolo

 

Berdych got two breaks of serve and did not face any break points to win the first set with 6-1 in just 22 minutes.

In the third game of the second set Monfils drew level to 30-30 with his second serve and volley and went up 40-30 with his forehand passing shot. Berdych won three consecutive points to get the break for 2-1. In the fourth game Berdych went down 15-30 on his serve but he drew level to 40-all with two first serves before holding his serve with a forehand and a first-serve winner.

Berdych fell heavily in the third game of the second set but this did not stop the Czech from closing out the match in one hour and eleven minutes.

In the sixth game Berdych went up 4-2 0-40 on Monfils’ serve but the Frenchman drew level to 40-all before holding his serve for 3-4. Berdych hit two aces to win the eighth game to pull away to 5-3. Berdych earned the match point with a down-the-line backhand passing shot winner but he did not convert it as he sent his forehand into the net. He brought up two more break points at 5-4 before closing out the match at the first opportunity.

Berdych, who won the Rotterdam title last year beating Marin Cilic in the final, extended his win-loss record to 4-1 over Monfils. The Czech is continuing his strong start to his season in which he finished runner-up to David Ferrer in Doha, reached the semifinal at the Australian Open after breaking a 17-match losing streak against Rafa Nadal in the quarter final.

In Saturday’s semifinal Berdych will take on Frenchman Giles Simon who upset Andy Murray in straight sets with 6-4 6-2. Simon converted on all his two break point chances in the first game and in the fifth game of the first set to open up a 5-1 lead. Murray played more aggressively and broke back to claw his way back to 4-5. Simon closed out the first set with 6-4 with a forehand winner.

At the start of the second set Simon went up 30-15 on Murray’s serve after a 20-shot rally and 40-15 after Murray hit his forehand into the net and got the break. After holding serve in the second game Simon got the double break and opened up a 4-0 lead. Murray held serve to 30 before breaking back in the sixth game for 2-4. Murray saved two match points in the eighth game but he made too many errors on his first serve in the second set and dropped serve again to trail 2-5. Simon closed out on his third match point. Murray dropped five of his nine service games during the match. Murray lost in the quarter final in Rotterdam for the second consecutive year. Last year he was beaten by Marin Cilic.

Simon boasts a win-loss record of 6-3 in his previous head-to-head matches against Berdych.

Stan Wawrinka, who was forced to the third set in the previous two matches, overcame Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller in straight sets with 7-6 (7-3) 6-3. Wawrinka did not convert on his only break point chance in the fifth game before winning the first set at the tie-break with 7-3. In the first set he won 28 of his 29 service points. The Lausanne player dropped only one point on his serve in the first set at 2-0 in the tie-break. Muller got an early break in the second set but Wawrinka broke straight back. Muller earned another break point in the third game but Wawrinka saved it. The 2014 Australian Open champion broke serve in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead before winning a service game to love with consecutive aces after 80 minutes.

Wawrinka set up a semifinal match against Milos Raonic who fought back from a set down to battle past Sergiy Stakhovsky with a 2-6 6-3 6-4 win after 93 minutes. Raonic fended off three of the five break points he faced.

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(VIDEO) Novak Djokovic Makes Tearful Tribute To Mentor Kobe Bryant After Australian Open Win

The world No.2 pays his respect to ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time’ on the Rod Laver Arena.

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Novak Djokovic posing for a photo ahead of his quarter-final match with Milos Raonic at the Australian Open (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

World No.2 Novak Djokovic shed tears following his quarter-final win over Milos Raonic after paying tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

 

The 16-time grand slam champion took to the Rod Laver Arena wearing a green zip-up top. On the top right of his jacket with Bryant’s initial along with the numbers 8 and 24. The jersey numbers Bryant worn throughout his 20-year NBA career with the LA Lakers. A love heart was also placed under the numbers on Djokovic’s top.

“’I don’t know what we could say. It really caught us by surprise.” An emotional Djokovic said during his on-court interview with John McEnroe on Tuesday.
‘He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world. I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.’
‘When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend, it’s just heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter. It’s unbelievable.’

Bryant was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. As an athlete, he achieved numerous milestones. Including being named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also a two-time Olympic gold medallist and played in 18 All Star Games.

Just days before Bryant’s death, Djokovic spoke about their friendship during an interview with ESPN. Praising him for the support he received during his elbow injury and fall in the rankings during 2017 and the start of 2018. Reflecting on the conversations the two have had, he said he received some ‘valuable guidance.’

“Kobe has been one of my mentors,” Djokovic told ESPN. “I’ve had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the Rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I’ll be back.”

Djokovic will play Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

The tribute can be watched below (from 00:30 to 01:40)

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Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open

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Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.

 

He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.

Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.

Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.

“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.

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Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka

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Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.

 

Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.

Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.

In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.

Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.

Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.

“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.

Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.

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