There’s something about certain venues and certain players, and New York seems to just click for Marin Cilic. After a nonchalant season, the Croatian is once again playing his best tennis on the courts that saw his greatest triumph. Tonight’s match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will go down as one of the best encounters of this year’s US Open and definitely a win Cilic will not soon forget. Goran Ivanisevic’s charge almost let a two set lead slip but ultimately came through 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4 in just under 4 hours.
Cilic was the better of the two in the opening set and, after posing some questions on the Tsonga serve, he finally broke through at in the 9th game and served it out comprehensively for 6-4. Nothing in the second set would have suggested the final outcome of this tie as a sparkless Tsonga meandered around the court and his trademark big serve was definitely not on show. In fact it was an outrageously wide second serve which gifted Cilic the break at 2-2 as a downbeat Tsonga made his way to his chair.
At this point it was Cilic’s down the line strokes off both wings what was making the difference between the two but in the following game the Frenchman at least offered the crowd one of the shots of the tournament: a one hand backhand above shoulder height on the run which found an impossible cross court angle. Nevertheless Cilic sealed the second set with yet another backhand down the line, conceding only three points on serve en route.
In the third set things started changing ever so slightly, Tsonga started firing up and the crowd engaged with the exciting Frenchman. The number 19 seed was rewarded with a break of serve at 3-4 and served out the set 6-3. With a dip in Cilic’s serve and a notable improvement from Tsonga, a turnaround wasn’t far from likely, even if the stats were stacked heavily against it from taking place: Cilic was 43-0 in grand slams after taking a two set lead, whereas Tsonga was 2-13 after going two sets down.
Well stats are there to be broken and Jo-Wilfried came out in the fourth set decided to ensure that was the case. He almost broke at 2-2 as the Croatian was going through a terrificly tough patch which was affecting his confidence and, more importantly, his first serve. But out of the blue, with Tsonga serving at 4-5, a horrendous game from the Frenchman awarded Cilic two match points, which the Croatian didn’t take advantage of. He was given another chance at 5-6 but a poor drop shot attempt put an end to that occasion.
Cilic could have lived to regret those three match points as his serve let him down again in the tie break and the match headed to a fifth set. His serve did come to the rescue however at 1-2 with an ace to fend off a break point opportunity for Tsonga. Much like the fourth set, the momentum was with the man from Le Mans but another erratic game from nowhere handed Cilic a break which he wouldn’t look back from.
In the following game there was a slight moment of tension between the defending champion and the crowd as he ripped a huge backhand down the line which barely drew a reaction from the fans in the Arthur Ashe stadium and Cilic’s celebrations challenged them to appreciate what he was offering on court. It’s always surprising and disappointing to see a group of neutral fans not get behind a defending champion and the difference in noise levels was clear to see when Tsonga won a point as opposed to Cilic. At 5-4, the Croatian managed to waste yet another match point with a double fault but he finally got over the finish line at match point number five. That’s 12 wins in a row now at the US Open for Marin Cilic, dare he dream once again?
Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’
Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’
German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.
The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.
“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.
Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.
Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.
Zverev’s Instagram statement in full
“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government
The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?
Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.
The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.
Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.
“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.
Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.
Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.
“In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”
This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.
The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.
Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt
A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.
Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.
Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.
There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.
The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.
Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.
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