Pennetta beats Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Pennetta beats Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final

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US OPEN – It has been coined the improbable final as no one saw either Flavia Pennetta (26) and the unseeded Roberta Vinci in the finals or anywhere close to it. However, both players came through the 6 previous rounds to create history of the first ever all-Italian major final. Pennetta, the more accomplished singles player took this grand stage to put on a once in a lifetime dream performance. She took the match 7-6(4) 6-2 in an hour and 33 minutes to not only rise to the top of the tennis world right now but to go out with a bang. After capturing her first major title, the 33-year-old Italian let the world know that she would soon be retiring from the professional world of tennis. Vinci, on the other hand, is still simply overjoyed at her run at this major.

 

In the opening games of the match, it looked as though Pennetta was dealing with the nerves of her first major final. Vinci looked comfortable after all, she took out the world’s number one in the semifinals. However, despite the nervy start, Pennetta was the one who broke first for 3-2. Vinci was having trouble holding serve in that 5th game giving Pennetta many looks at break points before one was finally converted. Pennetta consolidated the break for 4-2 but Vinci came on strong in the next few games to level the set at 4-4 and then serve strong to go up 5-4 to force Pennetta to serve to stay in the set. Pennetta sorted out her game to get back into the match and the opening set was forced into a decisive tiebreaker at 6 games all.

The winner of this breaker was vital as the winner of most of their encounters has always been decided by the one to took the opening set. Pennetta, the more experienced player in the big moments, took a 4-2 points lead. Vinci’s shots were unreliable and she rarely put Pennetta under pressure. Pennetta got up to 5-3 and then led 6-4 off another Vinci error. Now on serve, Pennetta hit a searing serve out wide which proved unreturnable for Vinci and Pennetta took the set 7-4 in the breaker, in exactly an hour.

After the match, Vinci would say that she was a bit exhausted in the first set after that massive upset over Serena Williams in the semifinals. She would add that it was a tough match facing Pennetta. The toll of the last 24 hours clearly showed in Vinci’s game in the 2nd set as she soon found herself down a double break. Vinci was able to break Pennetta for 1-4 and reduced the deficit to 2-4. Pennetta extended the lead to 5-2 and forced Vinci to serve to stay in the match. With the grey clouds circling, Vinci sensed the end was near and her game completely unraveled. She played a poor final game to be broken at love giving Pennetta the maiden major win, 7-6(4) 6-2 in an hour and half.

In the post match interview, Pennetta’s joy was unbridled. She was beaming with joy and Vinci was beyond ecstatic for her childhood friend and professional colleague biggest win in her career. This was a major moment for both players as they had never made it this far in a major in their entire professional singles career. The match statistics do not tell much of the match although Pennetta had the better numbers with 28 winners to 22 errors compared to Vinci’s 21 winners and 30 errors. Vinci would say, “I think she played better. She was more solid than me and she play much better backhand, long line, and she served better than me today.” However, the real difference in the match was that Pennetta seized the moment. She relaxed into the match and played her brand of tennis. Vinci was never really allowed to settle on this big stage. Pennetta will now play out the rest of the year and retire on a high note with her lone major title. She said that her biggest dream prior to this tournament was to win the Rome clay court title. However, winning the US Open, the last major of the year in 2015 has surpassed even her wildest expectations.

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Alexander Zverev On 2020 Breakthrough, Dealing With Disappointment And Idols

The world No.7 reflects on his year so far during an interview with German magazine Gala.

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With less than a month until the 2020 ATP Tour season concludes Alexander Zverev has plenty to smile about.

 

The German tennis star is currently on an eight-match winning streak after claiming back-to-back titles in Cologne to bring his career tally to 13. Six more than any other professional male player born after 1994. He has also enjoyed success in the Grand Slams with him playing in his first ever final against Dominic Thiem at the US Open which he lost in five sets. Zverev also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

I think it’s difficult to single out a single moment (in 2020). I invested a lot of time and energy to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The pressure was great and it’s great that the hard work has finally paid off with great results in Melbourne and New York,” he said during an interview with Gala.
“There are many difficult moments in a player’s career and more is still expected. That is why it means a lot to be present on the last weekend of a Grand Slam.”

Undoubtedly his biggest heartbreak occurred during his clash against Thiem in New York. Zverev led the final by two sets to one before his rival battled back to clinch victory in dramatic fashion. The 23-year-old admits that he still thinks about the match as he aims to clinch his maiden Grand Slam title in the coming years. So far in his career, Zverev’s biggest triumph was at the 2018 ATP Finals.

“Of course, I still think about the fact that I was two points away from victory and my decisions in the fifth set. That is normal. I hope that I will have good chances again next year and in the years to come and at some point I can win the trophy,” he said.

Life on the Tour can be tough at times with the constant travel and living up to high expectations. So how does the world No.7 unwind after a match? For him the key is either playing a game of FIFA with his friends or watching TV shows such as ‘The Grand Tour.’ A TV programme on Amazon Prime about cars.

Unlike others Zverev said he never idolised a specific role model growing up but there were some athletes who he would ‘look up to’ from both the world of tennis and basketball. He is a keen follower of the NBA and is a fan of the Miami Heat.

“Role models may be the wrong word as I’ve always tried to go my own way. But as a child I always looked up to Roger Federer. He was my idol and embodied everything I wanted to be. I also like Dirk Nowitzki and Dwayne Wade. They were basketball icons growing up. They were amazing and just unstoppable,” Zverev revealed.

Zverev is set to return to action next week at the Paris Masters. He currently has a win-loss record of 23-8 this season.

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Benoit Paire – ‘I Was Not Mentally Ready To Play Without Fans’

Ubitennis.net speaks to the world No.28 during a press conference ahead of his campaign at the Astana Open.

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Benoit Paire knows better than anybody about how much of a roller-coaster 2020 has been for players on the Tour.

 

The Frenchman looked to be on course to continue his strong form of 2019 after reaching the final of the ASB Classic in January. Although as the season progressed with the COVID-19 pandemic wrecking havoc Paire have found himself struggling on the Tour not just physically but mentally too. He has failed to win back-to-back matches at 10 consecutive tournaments with his current earnings for this season standing at just over $500,000.

This year was good at the beginning. I made the final in Auckland, felt good on the court and I was happy to play. Last year was a good year too, so I was very happy to start the season like this and then covid-19 arrived with lockdown in France,” Paire told UbiTennis during his press conference on Tuesday.
“We had to stay at home and couldn’t do anything physically.”

Following a five-month break in Tour events due to the pandemic, the hope for Paire that he would be able to get back on track during the North American swing. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way with the world No.28 testing positive for the virus on the eve of the US Open and was subsequently placed into isolation. To add to the drama, a couple weeks later in Germany he tested positive again but was allowed to play under local rules.

Although having COVID-19 wasn’t the only battle, it was adjusting to playing under the new rules concerning limiting spectators, continuous testing and restrictions as to where you can travel to. Like his rivals he embraced the changes but it was not easy.

When we started again I was not ready mentally to play like this without fans on the court. This is not easy for me but I am going to try and do my best in Kazakhstan.”

Paire is the top seed at this week’s Astana Open with him being the only top 30 player taking part. The event was a late addition to the tournament calendar in the wake of the pandemic with others being cancelled. However, the title isn’t the most important thing for the 31-year-old right now as he aims to get his momentum back.

“I have not had the best preparation for this tournament. I haven’t won a lot of matches but you never know. If I win one or two matches maybe I can go for the title,” he said.
“The confidence is not there for the moment but it will be here if I win a couple matches.’
“That is the most important thing for me in the tournament. To try to enjoy playing on the court and have fun. Even if I play bad, just try and fight. This is what I haven’t done since the Tour started again.”

Thriving on playing in front of fans in packed arenas, Paire has a somewhat traditional view of tennis as others debate modernising the game. Novak Djokovic recently suggested that the line judges should be replaced at tournaments by an electronic line calling system similar to what was used during the US Open. Although he won’t be able to count on the support of Paire.

“I don’t like this at all. I want to hear something from the crowd and a real person. The noise (from electronic line calling) I don’t really like honestly. This is not why I play tennis. I play to play in front of people. To have crowds and not fake noise,” he stated.

Paire, who has a bye in the first round, will play his opening match at the Astana Open against either Federico Delbonis or Mikhail Kukushkin.

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Plan Underway To Rename Top Spanish Sports Venue After Rafael Nadal

The world No.2 is said to be ‘delighted’ with the proposal but has set out one condition.

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The Caja Magica (venue of Madrid Open)

Members of Spanish political party VOX has set out a proposal for the venue of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament to be renamed in honor of world No.2 Rafael Nadal.

 

Madrid councillor Fernando Martínez Vidal is part of the group campaigning for the Caja Magica to be renamed the ‘Caja Magica Rafa Nadal.’ The venue is home to the Madrid Open which is Spain’s most prestigious tournaments in terms of attendance and Tour category. The multi-purpose arena also held the first edition of the revamped Davis Cup finals last year, as well as other events outside of tennis.

“Nadal already has other recognitions from the Community of Madrid (he received the Gold Medal of the Community of Madrid in 2007 and was named adoptive son in 2014), but we believe that this is going one step further,” Marca newspaper quoted Vidal as saying.

Nadal has won the Madrid Open more times than any other player in the history of the tournament with five titles. Originally the tournament was held on hard courts before switching to the clay in 2009. Nadal is one of two players to have won the tournament on both surfaces along with Roger Federer. So far in his career the Spaniard has achieved a win-loss record of 52-12 at the Masters 1000 event and has earned more than $6.4 million in prize money.

Despite being in line for another honour, Nadal has stepped in by saying that should the proposal get the green light he doesn’t wish for the Caja Magica to have its name changed until after he retires from the sport. At the Barcelona Open their premier court has been named after the 20-time Grand Slam champion since 2017.

They are delighted with the proposal, but understand that it is not the right time. He (Nadal) feels comfortable playing in the Caja Mágica, but he does not want his rivals to feel more uncomfortable about playing in a facility that bears his name,” Vidal explained.
“He has asked us, and thus we have accepted, that the name change be done once his stage as a professional ends.”

It is understood that one term in the possible renaming of the venue is the person in question, Nadal, will need to ‘stop playing in professional championships’ first.

The Madrid City Council will debate the motion put forward by VOX at a session on Tuesday.

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