RG 2015 Day 5: Djokovic, Nadal, Williams survive as Schiavone wins epic battle - UBITENNIS
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RG 2015 Day 5: Djokovic, Nadal, Williams survive as Schiavone wins epic battle

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TENNIS – Novak Djokovic (1) beat Gilles Muller from Luxemburg 6-1 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes, although he received treatment on his hip. Djokovic scored his second win against Muller in a Grand Slam tournament this year after prevailing in the fourth round at last January’s Australian Open. Diego Sampaolo

 

Djokovic converted on five of his 12 break points and hit 35 winners.

“There are no significant injury concerns. Thankfully it’s nothing major. It’s not a concern for the next match, which is the most important thing. It wasn’t pleasant with the conditions that were changing today. I think a bit of heavier conditions made the court a little bit more wet and it was pretty slippery”, said Djokovic

Andy Murray (3) dropped the second set but clinched the match in four sets with 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1 against Joao Sousa. The Scotsman cruised to 6-2 in the first set in which he dropped just three points on serve but he was seriously tested in the second set where he won just 36% of his first serve points. In a trade of break Murray dropped his serve for 3-5 but he broke straight back. However Sousa broke again to clinch the second set.

Sousa got two chances to take an early break in the third set but he failed to convert it after hitting his return long. Murray earned a break point at 3-3 with his backhand winner down the line and took the break with a forehand into the corner. He served out for the third set with 6-4.

Murray broke early in the fourth set before taking a 3-0 lead with a cross-court forehand winner. He got another break to close out the match after two hours and 30 minutes.

Rafael Nadal (6), the 9-time champion here had a tough test against fellow countryman Nicolas Almagro but the defending champion was able to come away unscathed 6-4 6-3 6-1. David Ferrer (7) also faced a fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3 6-2 6-1. Several other seeded players also won including Marin Cilic (9), Kevin Anderson (15), Leonardo Mayer (23) and David Goffin (17).

This year’s French Open might be the tipping point for the next generation of ATP stars as four of them find themselves in the 3rd round of the French Open. 20-year old Nick Kyrgios (29) got through to the 3rd round without playing Kyle Edmunds withdrew from the tournament with injury. Borna Coric, 18, knocked out Tommy Robredo (18) in 5 sets 7-5 3-6 6-2 4-6 6-4. 19-year old Thanasi Kokkinakis had a similarly epic match against his compatriot Bernard Tomic (27) coming from 0-2 sets down to take it in 5th set after denying Tomic the chance to serve out the match, 3-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 8-6.

Although American Jock Sock is slightly older than the others at 22 years old, his stocks too are rising. He recently won his first ATP title in Houston this year and already knocked out 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the 1st round. In his next match, he battled hard against Pablo Carreno-Busta taking the match in 4 sets 6-7 7-6 6-1 7-6. In the 3rd round, Kyrgios will face Murray, Coric against Sock and Kokkinakis will face Djokovic. These all make for some very interesting encounters come Saturday in Paris.

Schiavone battled past Kuznetsova after 3 hours and 49 minutes

In a clash between two former French Open champions, 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone battled past 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in an epic three-set match with 6-7 (11-13) 7-5 10-8 in a repeat of the legendary Australian Open 4 hour and 44-minute match in 2011 where the Italian prevailed yet again 6-4 1-6 16-14 in the longest women’s Grand Slam match in the Open Era. Many felt that the Russian had a chance to win this title as she had recently shown good form in Madrid when she got to the final.

In the 1st set, Kuznetsova (18) edged Schiavone 13-11 in the tiebreaker after an hour and 20 minutes. Schiavone rallied from a 0-2 deficit in the 2nd set to take it 7-5 and forced the match to a decisive 3rd set. Kuznetsova took a 4-2 lead in the third set and served for the match four times at 5-4, 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7 but each time she would be denied the opportunity to close out the match. Schiavone was relentless fending off the match point with a backhand winner before clinching the win when Kuznetsova hit her volley into the net after 3 hours and 49 minutes in the third longest match at the Roland Garros.

Schiavone will face Andrea Mitu who recovered from a set and a break down to upset Karolina Pliskova (12) with 2-6  7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

“I don’t know how much of it is magic or how much of it is working and just keeping going and believing in something that looks so far away but it’s so close. I feel like every match for me is great history now. It doesn’t matter where I am. The score doesn’t matter.Everything is a bonus for me,” said Schiavone

Serena Williams (1) had to dig deep when she recovered from a set down to edge Anna Lena Friedsam with 5-7 6-3 6-3. The German came close to breaking serve in the second set in the 1st and 5th games but Williams recovered to win the second set with 6-3 before getting the early break in the decider en route to clinching the third set with 6-3. Williams set up a blockbuster third round match against Victoria Azarenka (27) who defeated Lucie Hradecka 6-2 6-3. In their most recent encounter in Madrid, Williams had to fend off three match points before clinching the match in the 3rd set tiebreaker.

Julia Georges upset Caroline Wozniacki (5) 6-4 7-6 (7-4). The German hit 39 winners, including a forehand winner on her match point which enabled her to close out the match after one hour and 46 minutes. Georges scored her sixth win over a top-five player and her first at Grand Slam level. Other winners on the day include Andrea Petkovic (10), Irina Begu (30), Sara Errani (17), Timea Bacsinszky (23) and Madison Keys (16). Several unseeded players also made it through to the 3rd round, Sloane Stephens, Irina Falconi, Alison Van Uytvanck, Tsetvana Pironkova and Kristina Mladenovic.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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ATP Announces 22-Month Ranking System To Support Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Parts of the changes have been done to help support those who prefer not to or can not travel to tournaments due to safety concerns.

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The ATP Tour has revised their calculations for this year’s ranking system with the governing body admitting that the new changes could also be applied in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Players on the men’s Tour have been given a wider period where they can select their best tournaments to determine their ranking. Prior to the suspension of competitive tennis, male players were allowed to select their 18 best performances in tournaments within a 52-week period. This has now been expanded to 22 months (March 2019-December 2020). Although they are not allowed to use the same tournament twice.

In a press release the ATP says their new measures allows ‘flexibility and fairness’ with players on the tour. Furthermore, it has been designed with the possibility of the rules continuing into 2021 should the ongoing pandemic continue to disrupt the Tour in some degree. Outlining their objectives, the ATP says one of their goals is to protect those who ‘cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.’ A point recently raised by Australian player Alexei Popyrin who has voiced concerns about playing at the US Open.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

As a result of the changes, it remains to be seen if this will have any effect on other players concerning their decision to play at the New York major which will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Some parts of America have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with 52,228 New Cases being reported on July 5th.

Under the new calculations, no player will have less ranking points than what they currently have at present. The ATP rankings have been frozen since March 16th but will resume on the Monday after the first tournament in the revised calendar concludes.

There are exceptions to the new 22-month ruling. Qualification for the ATP Finals will still be based on 52 weeks because the event is classed as an ‘additional tournament.’ Therefore it doesn’t count as one of the 18 key events to determine a player’s ranking. Points from last year’s tournament will drop off on November 9th after the Paris Masters. The reason for doing so is to make the chances of qualifying more fair. Furthermore Challenger and ITF events will also be based on the 52-week rule because ‘events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar.’

The ATP Tour is set to resume at the Citi Open in Washington during the second week of August.

A full FAQ of the new ranking system can be read here.

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