Serena tested by fellow American Mattek-Sands - UBITENNIS
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Serena tested by fellow American Mattek-Sands

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US Open – Few predicted the high drama that unfolded on Arthur Ashe in the Serena Williams (1) v fellow American wildcard entrant Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Mattek-Sands came out on court in what could only be described as “on fire” as she seized control of the match and near looked ready to upset history in the making. However, the Serena legacy is nothing without the epic comeback matches. This match on the night, might not be the best one of the many Serena has played but it might be the most important one. Serena took the last 8 games of the match to win it 3-6 7-5 6-0 and move into the Round of 16 on Sunday.  [S]he’s a great closer. She always has been. I think she gains momentum and gets pumped up, pumps herself up, and I think that’s why she’s able to close matches out really well,” said Mattek-Sands after the match.

 

Mattek-Sands raced out to a 3-0 lead. Serena was missing by a country-mile as errors poured off her racquets. She held serve and broke to get back on serve at 2-3 but Mattek-Sands was relentless. She remained focused and error-free as she broke again for a 4-2 lead and consolidated the break for 5-2. What was most surprising in this opening set was the number of break point chances Serena missed. She had break point chances in nearly all of Mattek-Sands games including the pivotal 8th game when Mattek-Sands was serving for the set. Mattek-Sands did not so much win these crucial points as opposed to Serena gave them away. She was rushing on her shots, hitting wide of the mark and taking up poor court positions in light of the shots she was going for. She was 1/7 on break points in the set whereas Mattek-Sands converted on the two chances that she had. Thus in just 37 minutes, Mattek-Sands was up a set and Serena was a set away from losing. Mattek-Sands had a single unforced error in the set compared to 14 from Serena.

Serena down a set was not usually reason to panic but the problem was that Serena’s game was not improving. She again squandered 5 more break points. Mattek-Sands looked poised for the upset and then in the 8th game, the unseeded American blinked. Serena broke for 5-3 and served for the set. However, it seemed that the pressure of the moment got too much for Serena as she too took this moment to blink and was broken. Mattek-Sands leveled the set at 5-5 and it looked like this was going to be an upset of the 21-time major champion. The crowd was aghast of this possibility. The tension both inside and outside the stadium.

Serena sensing the urgency of the matter responded in her classic manner. She raised her level to “unplayable”. “I knew that I could play better, so with that in the back of my mind — because I made a lot of errors, but I knew, like, this wasn’t the best game, my best game,” Serena said after the match. Mattek-Sands could not keep pace with her compatriot and soon it became clear that the danger of Serena losing was not about to happen on the day. Serena held serve for 6-5 and broke her opponent to take the set 7-5. In the 3rd set, Mattek-Sands became a mere spectator in the match winning only 9 of the 34 points played. Serena bageled her compatriot to take the match 3-6 7-5 6-0 in an hour and 49 minutes. After the match, Mattek-Sands said this of Serena, “[W]hen she’s really confident in her shots. Obviously she starts ripping the ball really hard and timing it well and taking balls on the rise. I think you can feel the pressure.”

 

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Elina Svitolina Eyes The Olympics In 2020 Despite Spat With National Association

The world No.6 has hit back at criticism she received for missing a Fed Cup tie earlier this season.

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Elina Svitolina (@usopen on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina has insisted she is ‘ready to play’ in the Fed Cup next season in order to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games following a disagreement with the Ukrainian Tennis Federation.

 

Under rules set out by the International Tennis Federation, the 25-year-old is required to play in at least one more tie to be eligible for the Games or she will have to go through an appeal. Since 2016, Svitolina has only participated in two Fed Cup clashes. She was due to play in Ukraine’s clash with Poland earlier this year, but withdrew shortly before in what was claimed to be an argument over pay.

“We agreed with all the players on all conditions, both financial and organizational, last year (2018). Everything changed when the agent of Elina Stefan Gurov called the team manager Olga Savchuk and called for new conditions that were 2.5 times higher than agreed.” The president of the Ukrainian Tennis Federation (FTU) Yevgeny Zukin told btu.org.ua.
“My personal opinion at the moment is that their agent is behind this, is opposed to playing for the Ukrainian national team. Playing for the country should be, in my opinion, an honour for every athlete.” He added.

Responding to those comments in a recent interview, Svitolina said ‘it was not clear to her’ as to why she came under so much criticism from her national federation. Stating that she is happy to explore all of her options to qualify for the Olympics. Svitolina is one of two players from her country ranked inside the top 50 on the women’s tour. She is the only Ukrainian woman in history to reach a grand slam semi-final.

“Yes, I plan to play in Tokyo and the situation is such that I need to play another (Fed Cup) match for the national team. But let’s just say that if the FTU does not need my help, then there are some other opportunities for qualifying for the Olympic tournament, since I am still a top player in women’s tennis.” She said.
“I am always ready to play and play for the national team when I have physical capabilities, but it is difficult to do when there are health problems. There are a lot of matches in the subgroup, and to come and sit on the bench, I do not think this is right.’
“For many years I played for Ukraine, so frankly, it was not clear to me why they attacked me so much, and from the Federation’s side, I don’t think it’s normal to attack a top player.”

The next opportunity for Svitolina to play in the Fed Cup will be in February at the Tallink Tennis Center in Estonia. Ukraine is one of 13 teams playing in Group 1 of the Europe/Africa Zone. Whilst not fully committing to the event, she said she will ‘try to play there.’

Svitolina made her Olympic debut back in 2016 where she stunned Serena Williams. She missed out on a medal after losing in the quarter-finals to Petra Kvitova.There is yet to be a player from her country to win a medal in tennis at the four-year sporting extravaganza.

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Marton Fucsovics Reflects On ‘Tough’ Transition To Main Tour

Marton Fucsovics speaks about the difficulties of travelling to the ATP World Tour from the Juniors.

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Marton Fucsovics (@atptour - Twitter)

World number 70 Marton Fucsovics has revealed the pressures that came after success at Juniors level. 

 

The Hungarian has reached a career high ranking of 31 in the world with his big-hitting game but many expected Fucsovics to do better on the ATP Tour.

After winning the 2010 Wimbledon Juniors title, many had predicted big things for Fucsovics but the transition wasn’t a smooth one.

Now in a recent interview, the 27 year-old reveals that he felt the pressure that came with being a good Juniors player, “I felt a lot of pressure,” Fucsovics told TennisHead. 

“Everybody expected me to be in the top 100 in the next one or two years, but it didn’t happen for another eight years. It was a difficult time. I played Challenger tournaments every week. It was tough.”

Despite finding it hard to transition, Fucsovics’ hard work finally payed off in 2018 as he won his first ATP World Tour title in Geneva.

It’s an achievement that shows that his fighting spirits have paid off, “When I turned 18 or 19 I wasn’t very good. The transition was really hard for me. But I kept on fighting. It was my dream, and finally I made it.”

Although it wasn’t a career many had expected from the Hungarian, it’s one that he is proud of and that is what tennis all about, celebrating those who work hard for their dreams.

Another tough thing about Fucsovics’ career was the fact he came from a country that isn’t a big tennis nation and he also revealed how tough it was growing up, “As a country we’ve been getting better since me and Timea Babos broke into the top 100, Tennis is getting more popular in Hungary but we’re still not there yet,” Fucsovics admitted.

“Ninety-five per cent of the courts in Hungary are clay, There are very few indoor courts in Hungary. I don’t think there are any in the whole country outside of Budapest.

“In Hungary we didn’t have the facilities, the coaches, the courts. You have to pay to play but you don’t have to join a club to play, You can just pay the hourly rate.”

It’s an interesting insight and gives a perspective of just how hard Fucsovics has had to work to reach his goals having been only the second male player in history to be in the top 100.

The Hungarian will need to work even harder next season if he wants to climb up the ATP rankings as he sits number 70 in the world at the end of 2019.

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At His Best Novak Djokovic Is Better Than Federer And Nadal, Says Mouratoglou

The prestigious coach gave his verdict on the Big Three and also criticised Alexander Zverev in a recent interview.

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The Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) debate splits opinion in the world of men’s tennis, but the coach of Serena Williams has no doubt as to who he thinks he is the best.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou has lent his backing behind 16-time grand slam champion and current world No.2 Novak Djokovic. The Serbian is a member of the prestigious Big Three contingent, which also includes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Between them, the trio has won the last 12 grand slam tournaments and have occupied the year-end top three for three consecutive seasons.

Speaking about the Serbian in a recent interview, Mouratoglou believes he will one day break Federer’s all-time record for most grand slam titles. Which currently stands at 20.

“When the big three play their best tennis, Novak wins most of the time.” He told Spiegel. “If Novak had not had the two years when he almost disappeared from tennis, he would probably already be the player with the most Grand Slam titles. I can imagine that one day he will be the most successful player in history.”

At the age of 32, Djokovic is the youngest out of the three. He has already won more prize money than any other player in the history of the sport with more than $139 million in earnings (excluding endorsements). As of the end of 2019, Djokovic has won 77 ATP titles and spent 277 weeks as world No.1.

Djokovic isn’t the only member of the Big Three to earn praise from Mouratoglou, who also works with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Coco Gauff. He describes 38-year-old Federer as a ‘genius’ of the sport. Federer has won the second most ATP titles in the Open Era after Jimmy Connors.

“Roger is a genius. He plays tennis in perfection. I can not remember ever seeing a player playing tennis like this. And I think I will not, until I die.” He stated.
“You can film Roger and then play the tape in slow motion: Then you can see that everything he does is perfect. “

Looking at the head-to-head of the trio, Djokovic is the only player to have a positive record against his two other opponents.

Nadal Federer Djokovic
Nadal 24-16 26-28
Federer 16-24 23-26
Djokovic 28-26 26-23

Zverev far off winning a grand slam

Elsewhere in the interview, Mouratoglou took a swipe at German rising star Alexander Zverev. One of the players tipped to fill the void when Djokovic and co retire. Saying the world No.7 hasn’t developed his game enough in order to challenge for a major title yet. Zverev best grand slam result to date is reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open twice.

“He climbed fast in the ranking thanks to his qualities. But during this time he has not developed any other things necessary to win a Grand Slam.” Said the Frenchman.
“He has a great base, he moves incredibly well. He is super-cool. But that’s not enough. And if you do not develop the other things, you are in trouble.”

Earlier this year, former world No.1 Boris Becker made similar comments about his compatriot. Saying on Eurosport that he thinks Zverev ‘has not improved in the last 18 months’ and his game was ‘too readable’ for his opponents. The comment was made after he lost in the fourth round of the US Open.

Despite his criticism, Mouratoglou believes Zverev has the capability of winning the biggest titles in the sport if he changes his game style.

“He reminds me of Andy Murray. Murray has long been a fantastic player, but not a Grand Slam winner. Then he changed some things in his game and became a winner. I think Sascha can do that too. But he needs to evolve,” he concluded.

Zverev, who is 22-years-old, has experienced a roller-coaster 2019 season due to issues both on and off the court. Although he did reach the final of three events, winning the Geneva Open in May. At the season-ending ATP Finals he reached the semi-finals.

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