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Stan overwhelmed Novak in every phase of game

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FRENCH OPEN – Stan is just too tough.The shorts. The striped shirt. The bearded look. The court demeanor. The carefree  look. The pure power in every aspect of his game: one-handed backhand, awesome serve, brute-force forehand. He even beat Novak Djokovic at his own game. He smothered Djokovic’s cute drop shots. He “pushed” just like Novak until it came time to win the point. He practically lived at break point against Novak’s serve. James Beck

 

STAN IS THE MAN
Stan who? Wawrinka! He’s no longer Roger Federer’s understudy. He’s the man, Stan The Man. He’s the most dangerous player in men’s tennis.  Forget about a calendar Grand Slam for Novak. No career Slam either, at least for now. Even No. 1 may be in danger sooner than expected.

MEN’S TENNIS JUST GOT LESS PREDICTABLE
The ATP Tour just got a little less predictable on Sunday with Wawrinka’s 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 domination of Djokovic in the French Open final. And that’s not even considering that Rafa Nadal may still have something to say about the immediate future of the men’s game. Don’t rule out Rafa making a difference, even as early as Wimbledon. He might have beaten Djokovic, too, if he hadn’t taken his foot off of the pedal when he fought back to 4-4 in that first set of their French quarterfinal. But Wawrinka showed Djokovic that two can play the rope-a-dope game, better known as pushing until an opening comes along.

WAWRINKA BEAT NOVAK AT HIS OWN GAME
Why waste all of those big shots just to see the ball come back from Djokovic? But 50 winners! The TV analysts couldn’t stop talking about Stan’s one-handed backhand. Only 11 of those winners were backhands. This one was almost too easy for Wawrinka. John McEnroe and crew kept saying how quickly Djokovic was going to wear out Stan. But it was the other way around. Stan was just too tough, physically and mentally for Novak.

ONE-HANDED BACKHAND KEPT STAN FRESH
Perhaps, it really was the one-handed backhand that did Djokovic in. Why do you think Wawrinka never showed any true weariness? The TV guys’ assertion that Djokovic was working on Stan’s legs was just TV chatter. While Djokovic spent so much energy running around backhands, Stan just simply nailed backhands. Forget what the TV odometer registered. It obviously wasn’t programmed for one-handed backhanders. Stan showed frustration only once when a drop shot return failed to carry the net. He banged the net a couple of times. Otherwise, he was all business, except the time he smiled while chatting up close with the chair umpire about a line call that the umpire ruled missed the sideline by a fraction of an inch.

That was Stan The Man, looking so pleasant and smiling within himself after having the point taken away that could have tied the ninth game of the first set at 30-all, but instead gave Djokovic double set point. Djokovic won the set a few points later, while Wawrinka won the match as well as the heart of probably millions of viewers across the globe.

THIS JUST DIDN’T HAPPEN ON SUNDAY
Of course, this didn’t just happen on Sunday. It started at the 2013 U.S. Open when Wawrinka practically hit Djokovic off the court before losing in five sets in the semifinals. Sitting in Arthur Ashe Stadium that day, I was suddenly convinced that Stan was the player no one would want to play in the future. He could win Grand Slams, even maybe challenge for the best player in the game. Before then, I just considered Wawrinka to be wins for the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. Stan continued to achieve his potential the following January by winning the Australian Open, sending Djokovic packing in a five-set quarterfinal. He crushed Rafa on clay a few weeks ago in Rome, and then Roger Federer in Paris.

Now wearing the always elusive French crown, Wawrinka may soon be contending for a career Grand Slam himself.

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at: http://web.charleston.net/news/columnists/james_beck/

 

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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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