RG15 Day 4: Federer advances as Halep is upset again by Lucic-Baroni - UBITENNIS
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RG15 Day 4: Federer advances as Halep is upset again by Lucic-Baroni

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Roger Federer (2) beat Marcel Granollers 6-2 7-6 6-3 to get through to the 3rd round. Federer broke twice to win the 1st set with 6-2 but he dropped his serve and had to recover from 2-4 down in the 2nd set before clinching the second set at tie-break with 7-1 points. Diego Sampaolo

 

Federer recovered from a 0-2 deficit to start the 3rd set by converting his third break point chance in the very long 7th game, which featured 12 points.  Federer reeled off five consecutive games before closing out the match with 6-3 after one hour and 47 minutes. Federer hit 38 winners and three aces.

“I was actually playing very well. I wasn’t nervous really. Even though I was down a break in the second set, I still felt the match was in my raquet. When you feel that way, you are always going to feel more confident”, said Federer.

Federer will take on Damir Dzumhur who beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-2. Federer’s compatriot, Stan Wawrinka (8) did not have all it all his way against Serbian Dusan Lajovic as he dropped the 3rd set and had to close the match out in four sets with a 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-3 scoreline after 2 hours and 37 minutes.

Wawrinka (8) played a solid match until 6-3 5-1 when he dropped his serve for the first time but he wrapped up the second set with 6-4. Wawrinka played a solid match until 6-3 5-1 when he dropped his serve for the first time in the match. However he wrapped up the second set 6-4. In the 3rd set, both players traded breaks for four consecutive games but it was Lajovic who took advantage of the many errors being made by Wawrinka to win the set 7-5. Wawrinka recovered to clinch the match in the fourth set with 6-3.

Wawrinka will face American Steve Johnson who recovered from a set down to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky with 2-6 6-3 7-6(5) 7-6(6). This was a solid battle between the two unseeded players and though Stakhovsky had opportunities to take the 3rd and 4th sets, Johnson hung tough and battled through for the win.

Kei Nishikori (5) had to battle hard to get past Thomaz Bellucci 7-5 6-4 6-4. The World Number 5 saved a break point in the sixth game before wasting a chance to get the break at 4-4. Nishikori broke in the 11th game to clinch the first set with 7-5. Bellucci was not deterred as he fought admirably in the 2nd and 3rd set but unfortunately for him, Nishikori raised his level of play in the key moments to get the win. Nishikori will play Benjamin Becker who battled past Fernando Verdasco (32) with 6-4 0-6 1-6 7-5 10-8. Verdasco served for the match up 5-3 in the 4th set but his game collapsed as Becker started to reassert himself in the match.

Tomas Berdych (4) won the all-Czech match against Radek Stepanek with 6-3 6-7 6-3 6-3. Berdych went up a break en route to winning the first set with 6-3. Stepanek earned a set point at 5-4 in the 2nd set but he could not convert but he later seized another opportunity to take the set in the tiebreaker. Berdych sensing that his upset was possible raised his level of play to take the 3rd and 4th sets comfortably and hence the match.

Pablo Cuevas (21) battled past Dominic Thiem 7-6 7-5 6-7 7-5. Thiem fought hard but it appeared as though exhaustion set in and he was unable to give more. He recently won his first ATP title last Saturday. Meanwhile, Frenchmen have been having a great tournament thus far as a number of them made it through to the 3rd round. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14) easily knocked out Dudi Sela in straight sets 6-4 6-1 6-1, Gilles Simon (12) got past Martin Klizan 7-5 6-2 6-3 and Gael Monfils (13) bad to battle it out in 5 sets to secure the win over Diego Schwartzman 4-6 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3. Both Nicholas Mahut and Benoit Paire secured upset wins over their opponents. Mahut edged out Ernests Gulbis (24) 6-3 3-6 7-5 6-3 and Paire upset Fabio Fognini (28) 6-1 6-3 7-5. As a result of this loss, Gulbis’ ranking will drop to the 80s. He has won roughly around 6 matches all year.

Lucic Baroni upsets Halep

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni upset Simona Halep (3) for the second time in a Grand Slam tournament having done so the first time at the US Open last year. Lucic-Baroni clinched a very tight first set in which Halep twice recovered from being a break down to get to 5-5. However, Lucic-Baroni found her A-game again was able to serve out the set 7-5. Her confidence increased as she raced out to a 5-0 lead. Halep struggled mightily in the set as nothing appeared to work in her favour.  Halep won the sixth game but Lucic-Baroni closed out the match with an ace for 7-5 6-1.

“It’s incredible. Simona is such a great champion and I respect her so much and to play her on such a big stadium makes me so happy. I am so proud of myself. It’s such a huge win for me. It’s just amazing”, said Lucic Baroni.

French Open defending champion Maria Sharapova (2) cruised past Vitalia Diatchenko with 6-3 6-1 setting up a third round match against Samanta Stosur (26) who who cruised past French wild-card Amandine Hesse 6-0 6-1.

Sharapova leads 14-2 in the head-to-head against Stosur but last year the Russian star was just six points from losing against the Australian player when she went down a set and break before winning nine consecutive games to clinch a hard-fought victory.

Ana Ivanovic (7) fought back from losing the first set to edge past Misaki Doi with 3-6 6-3 6-4. Ivanovic will face Donna Vekic who followed up a first round win against Caroline Garcia with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Bojana Jovanovski

Angelique Kerber (11) winner in Charleston and Stuttgart, continued her good form on clay with an easy win over Alja Tomljanovic with 6-3 6-2. The German will take on Garbine Muguruza (21) who beat Camila Giorgi 6-1 6-4. Giorgi fought back from 1-5 in the second set by reeling off three consecutive games  and saved a match point at 4-5 but Muguruza was able to fend off the Italian. Giorgi committed 35 unforced errors.

Flavia Pennetta (28) cruised past Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 6-0 setting up a third round match against Carla Suarez Navarro (8). Pennetta leads 4-2 in their head-to head matches but lost her previous match at the French Open in 2008. Other winners on the day include Sabine Lisicki (20), Ekaterina Makarova (9), Lucie Safarova (13) Alize Cornet (29) and Elena Svitolina (19) who beat Yulia Putinseva 1-6 7-5 9-7.

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REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach

The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.

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Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.

 

TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.

The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.

“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.

Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.

Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.

Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.

Groh’s coaching CV

  • 2011: Michael Berrer
  • 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
  • 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
  • 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
  • ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
    Source -ATP/Linkldn

UPDATE*

Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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