US OPEN – Perhaps after the dramatic upset of Serena Williams (1)by Roberta Vinci earlier in the day and the would be crowning glory of these championships, a calendar grand slam for an American at an American major tournament, went by the wayside, everything else just became mundane.The men’s semifinals just did not have any dramatic flair or panache to them at all as they were both straight sets affairs. It might also be the fact that the both Novak Djokovic (1) and Roger Federer (2) saw the top 2 seeds on the women’s side exited in the semifinals in spectacular style that they felt it necessary to get through their matches in quick time. After Djokovic routed Marin Cilic (9) 6-0 6-1 6-2 in just 1 hour and 25 minutes, Federer comfortably moved passed his countryman Stan Wawrinka (5) 6-4 6-3 6-1 in an hour and 32 minutes. A 6th Djokovic v Federer final is on tap for the year. Djokovic is 3-2 for the year and 20-21 lifetime.
In the opening two games of the match, it looked like Wawrinka was going to pull off another upset win over Federer as he did last time they met at the French Open quarterfinals. Wawrinka held serve with ease for 1-0. On the other hand, Federer had all sorts of trouble getting on the scoreboard. Wawrinka was hitting hard and deep. Federer was constantly on the backfoot and soon had a breakpoint on his serve. In the end, he closed out the 13-point game to level it at 1-1. At this point in the match, there was a noticeable shift in momentum; Federer’s level began to rise whereas Wawrinka’s dipped. Wawrinka, up 30-0 on his serve, lost his way as he committed 4 straight errors to give Federer the break. Federer quickly got to 3-1. Wawrinka steadied his ship by holding serve for 2-3 and saw triple break points in the 6th game. However, all three quickly disappeared as Federer brought out his serving game online and closed out the game for 4-2. Federer maintained this lead to close out the set when Wawrinka’s forehand went long, 6-4 Federer in 36 minutes.
In the 2nd set, it became quite clear that Wawrinka’s serve was not helping him in the match. At the end of the day, Wawrinka only got 49% of his first serves in play and only won 58% of those points and just half of the points on his second serve. Federer on the other hand got 65% of the first serves in play, won 80% of those points and 63% of his second serves. Thus Wawrinka was having to constantly defend his serve whereas Federer coasted. Warwinka thrice went down 0-40 on his service game and whereas he was able to fend off those break points to hold serve for 3-2, he never recovered the other two times. Federer won the set 6-3 having won the last 16/17 points.
Facing a 0-2 sets deficit, Wawrinka soon became despondent on court. Federer was definitely playing on a much higher level than he was. Nothing he did made any impact of Federer’s game. His serve was unreliable and his groundstrokes were being returned with interested and often Wawrinka just simply looked lost on court. The reigning French Open champion was making far too many unforced errors. He would go on to make 30 for the match compared to 17 from Federer who simply seemed to have all the answers. “For sure it doesn’t help when you play Roger and he’s trying to play really aggressive, really fast. When he get the lead, when he get the break, then he’s relaxed. The way he’s playing he’s reading better, moving better, so everything going faster, that’s for sure,” Wawrinka said after the match. The 3rd set was routing, Federer took control of the match after 1-1 to take the last 5 games and get into this 7th US Open finals, first since 2009. Were Federer to win on Sunday, it would be his 6th US Open title and 18th overall major title.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
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
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.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
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
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.
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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