FRENCH OPEN: WAWRINKA THROUGH TO HIS 2nd MAJOR FINAL - UBITENNIS
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FRENCH OPEN: WAWRINKA THROUGH TO HIS 2nd MAJOR FINAL

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TENNIS – Stan Wawrinka battled past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(3) 6-4 on a very hot day to qualify for his first French Open final and his second Grand Slam title match since his win at the 2014 Australian Open. Interestingly enough, Wawrinka won the Roland Garros Junior Tournament in 2003.  Diego Sampaolo

 

This was Wawrinka and Tsonga’s 7th encounter with the head-to-head tied 3-3. However, Wawrinka won their last two matches on clay including their most recent matchup in the Davis Cup final in Lille last November. The Swiss player got an early break for 3-1 having saved triple break points in his opening service game. It appeared as though the occasion of being in another major semifinal was too much Tsonga as he was unable to impose himself in the match. Soon Wawrinka had closed out the 1st set 6-3 and up a break 4-2 in the 2nd set.

However, Wawrinka lost his way in the match a bit as he later admitted that the match got both physically and mentally tough. He was treated for blisters. Tsonga sensing that his opponent’s weakness seized upon the opportunity to break Wawrinka and won three consecutive games to go up 5-4. Wawrinka fought off five break point chances for 5-5. The set was forced to a tiebreaker where Tsonga continued with the momentum and fed off the crowd’s energy to take it 7-1 points.

The match was now leveled at a set apiece. In the 3rd set, the momentum was definitely with Tsonga as he had numerous break points on Wawrinka’s serve, 6 in the set to be exact, and he failed to convert on any of them. The set was thus forced to a tiebreaker where Wawrinka earned three set points before clinching the set with 7-3. This 2-1 set advantage squarely put the momentum back in Wawrinka’s corner and this time, he never relinquished it. He broke early in the 4th set and went up 2-0. It was not an easy task maintaining this lead as he saved 6 more break points on his serve. However, he closed out the set 6-4 to take the match 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-4 in 3 hours and 46 minutes.

Wawrinka fended off 16 of the 17 break point chances he faced. He will be looking to equal his compatriot Roger Federer who clinched his only Roland Garros triumph in 2009

“Even when I was really nervous in the third and the fourth sets, I stayed calm and was focused on my game plan. Tennis is an extreme sport in terms of emotions, both positive and negative. You should make the most of these moments and enjoy them fully”, said Wawrinka

Tsonga lost his second semifinal at the Roland Garros in three years. The last French player to play in a Roland Garros final was Henry Leconte in 1988 with the last local champion being Yannick Noah in 1983.

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Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo secure their semifinal spot in the ATP Finals in London

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Former ATP Finals runners-up Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo battled past Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 10-7 after 1 hour and 44 minutes to finish the Group Jonas Bjorkman with a 2-1 round robin record.

 

Kubot and Melo came back from an early break down and fended off four set points before Ram and Salisbury converted their fifth chance to win the opening set 6-4.

Kubot and Melo fended off a break point in the seventh game with a great serve, before they converted their first break point in the 10th game.

Kubot and Melo won five consecutive points in the Match Tie-Break to open up a 6-2 lead. The Polish and Brazilian players converted their fourth match point to secure their spot in the semifinal.

 

 

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Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals

The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.

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LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.

 

The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.

“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.

The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.

A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.

Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“

Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.

“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.

Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.

Italian men in the ATP Finals

-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses

 

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ATP Finals 2019 Day 5 Preview: Will It Be Djokovic Or Federer In The Semis?

It’s the 49th installment of Federer against Djokovic, with the winner moving onto the semifinals, and the loser being eliminated from the tournament.

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The advancement scenarios for today are that simple, as Dominic Thiem has already guaranteed his place in the semis with tremendous back-to-back wins over both Djokovic and Federer.  For Djokovic, there are also year-end No.1 ranking implications, as he now needs to win this event to keep his hopes alive. And while Matteo Berrettini cannot advance to the semis after going 0-2 thus far, he’ll play to become the first Italian man to ever win a match at the ATP Finals.

 

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Matteo Berrettini (8)

This will be their third meeting within the past five weeks.  Berrettini prevailed in the Shanghai quarterfinals to reach his first Masters 1,000 semi, while Thiem was victorious at home in Vienna on his way to that title.  Their only other previous encounter was last year at Roland Garros, where Dominic won in four. What a week it’s already been for Thiem, but he has a lot of work still ahead of him.  And perhaps he is due for a letdown after two sensational wins, especially with his qualification for the semifinals already secured. However, Dominic should feel supremely confident coming off his results earlier this week.  And I’m sure his team will warn him of the danger in allowing his level to drop today, even with the result having no impact on his advancement. On the other side of the net, Berrettini has absolutely nothing to lose. Matteo can play freely, and knows he owns a recent win over Thiem.  Still, based on his form this week, Dominic should be favored to go 3-0 in the Bjorn Borg Group round robin play.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Roger Federer (3)

Four months ago in this same city, Djokovic saved two championship points and went on to defeat Federer in the first-ever 12-all fifth set tiebreak at Wimbledon to win his 16th Major singles title.  It was a heartbreaking loss for Federer, who was just one point away from his record-extending 21st Major.  Instead, he’s now just four Majors ahead of Djokovic, and only one ahead of Nadal after Rafa’s US Open victory.  Overall Djokovic leads this prolific rivalry 26-22. Novak has claimed their last five meetings, dating back to the championship match at this event four years ago.  But notably, Roger’s last win was just a few days prior, during the round robin stage of this tournament in 2015. On hard courts, Djokovic leads their head-to-head 19-17.  At the ATP Finals, Novak leads 3-2. Djokovic looked extremely agitated at times on Tuesday, seemingly surprised by how vehemently the crowd was rooting for Thiem. But Djokovic will know the London audience to be fully behind Roger today, so I don’t expect that to throw him.  Federer will certainly be eager to avenge the Wimbledon defeat from earlier this year, though overcoming Djokovic on this surface is no easy task. I anticipate another tight contest today between these two all-time greats, but give the slight edge to Novak to prevent Roger from advancing to the semifinals for just the second time in 17 appearances at the ATP Finals.

A breakdown of the Djokovic-Federer rivalry

By tournament

Grand Slams: Djokovic leads 10-6
ATP Finals: Djokovic leads 3-2
Masters 1000: Djokovic leads 11-9
ATP 500 events: Federer leads 4-2
Davis Cup: Federer leads 1-0

By year

YEAR

DJOKOVIC

FEDERER

2006

0

2

2007

1

3

2008

1

2

2009

3

2

2010

1

4

2011

4

1

2012

3

2

2013

2

0

2014

3

3

2015

5

3

2016

1

0

2017

0

0

2018

2

0

2019

1

0

 TOTAL

26

22

 

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