Serena still on track for Calendar Slam by defeating Venus - UBITENNIS
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Serena still on track for Calendar Slam by defeating Venus

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US Open – There was a time, just over a decade ago when Venus and Serena were fighting for major titles. Now it is Serena alone at the top and Venus seemingly struggling to find that major form. Yet here they are again in another battle on one of the grandest stage in tennis with the entire world watching. However, in the end, Serena remains on quest for the calendar slam as she defeated Venus for the 16th time 6-2 1-6 6-3.

 

Despite the fact that this was their 27th meeting on the professional tour level, Venus and Serena Williams matches have always drawn much spectacle, speculations as well as something special in tennis. How could it be that not only one tennis legend but two come out of the same household to transform and transcend the sport of women’s tennis has always fascinated tennis fans and the general public at large. This US Open encounter for a place in the semifinal between the two was no different. Serena is on the cusp of history and Venus possibly on the cusp of retirement. Some liken this matchup to the Billie Jean-King v Bobby Riggs hype and energy but Venus quickly stated,I’m not sure anything can top Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.”

The match was everything one can hope for as it was very competitive despite a casual look at the scoreline. Serena got the early break in the 5th game to go up 3-2 when Venus’s forehand went into the net. Serena broke again in the 7th game for 5-2 and quickly served it out 6-2 in just 33 minutes. In the 2nd set, Venus got charge in the 4th game, breaking Serena to go up 3-1. The elder sister would break again in the 6th game to serve it out 6-1 and level the match just over an hour into the match.

Serena is no stranger to comebacks and she had shown in all her major wins this year, she can summon her best tennis when under pressure. In the decisive set, Serena quickly broke Venus in the 2nd game. She quickly consolidated the break for 3-0. Venus did all she could to remain on serve to avoid another break in the set. The lone break point she had on the Serena serve was not converted and so Serena was able to maintain the lead and close out the match with an ace 6-2 1-6 6-3 after 93 minutes. It’s really great to see her do so well. She was at an unbelievable level today. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It’s probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn’t actually beating myself. I was out there facing an incredibly tough opponent,” said Serena.

There was not much to really separate them in the match as they were both playing aggressive from the baseline trying to force the other to scramble from behind it. They both served well winning over 70% of their 1st serve points and near half of the points on their 2nd serves. Serena had 35 winners to 29 errors whereas Venus had 24 winners to 26 errors. Besides this winner to error ratio, the only real discernible difference between the two was that despite Venus many attempts to get into to the net, 20 times, she was far less successful than Serena who was 9/11. Venus only won 9 of those 20 points. The crucial thing in the match was that Serena got off to a great start in the 3rd set and maintained it. “[S]he has of course a wonderful mental game, but she also has ability to come up with a great shot when she needs it. That’s just been the hallmark of her game,” Venus said after the match.

Serena will next play Roberta Vinci in the semifinals for a place in the final. Were Serena to win that, this would be her 5th consecutive US Open finals. Of the matchup, Serena had this to say, “I played her in Canada. She played me really tough, and I didn’t really expect that … I’m not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She’s not in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play … I just think it was great that I played her because I kind of know what to expect, and I’ll be more ready for it this time.” 

 

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In Familiar Surroundings Naomi Osaka Looks To Cause Another Stir At The US Open

The world No.2 is hungry for more glory in New York.

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It has been almost a year since Naomi Osaka scored the breakthrough she so desperately wanted in the world of tennis.

 

Going into the 2018 US Open, the Japanese player has been among those mentioned as one of the potential outside contenders for the title but nothing more. Osaka didn’t just meet those expectations, she exceeded them. Racing to the final by dropping only one set, she met her idol Serena Williams. The first clash between the two were overshadowed by her opponents confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos, however, Osaka still managed to reign supreme. Announcing herself as a force to be reckoned with in the sport.

“My feeling last year was I lost three matches in a row before I came here (to the US Open), so I just wanted to, like, get one match,” wtatennis.com quoted Osaka as saying. “Then it just kept building on from that.
“As opposed to this year, I went to two quarterfinals back to back [in Toronto and Cincinnati], and I feel very confident about how I am right now. So, yeah, it’s a bit contrasting.”

Since her triumph in New York 12 months, it has been a roller coaster journey for the 21-year-old, who is the only Asian player in history to have reached the world No.1 ranking. A surge in popularity placed the introverted player directly into the spotlight. Something she has openly admitted to struggling with. Furthermore, she has become a gold mine for endorsements with Sports Pro Media going as far as naming her the most marketable athlete.

“We’re fortunate that Naomi has the star power and personality to connect with multiple parts of the Endeavor network.” Stuart Duguid, Osaka’s agent and manager, recently said in an interview.

Taking to Flushing Meadows Osaka finds herself in both familiar and unfamiliar scenarios. It will be the fourth consecutive year she had played in the main draw of the major. In the past, she also trained at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which features the largest tennis stadium in the world.

However, this time round the world No.2 enters a grand slam as the defending champion for the first time of her career. Something she unfazed about thanks to her experience at another prestigious American tournament.

“I think going to Indian Wells and kind of learning how defending champion pressure feels, I think it definitely helped me out going into this tournament,” Osaka reflected.
“Because I just feel more loose and comfortable here. I’m not sure if it’s because the last couple of months have been kind of turbulent, but definitely I feel really comfortable and I know that, despite everything, I play well here every year. So I’m not too worried about that.”

The calm and collecting views of the two-time grand slam champion comes following a health scare. At the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, she was forced to retire with an injured knee. Something she has since played down.

“I mean, it’s getting better,” she assured. “Like, I have been playing more, like, longer every day. It’s feeling better. Luckily I’m a fast healer, so I think it’s looking good.”

Osaka will play Russia’s Anna Blinkova in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday.

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Rafael Nadal Talks Injury And The Secret Behind His Success Ahead Of US Open Campaign

The world No.2 is gunning for another deep run at his 59th grand slam tournament.

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For Rafael Nadal hard court tournaments had given him both pleasure and pain throughout his illustrious career.

 

At one stage it looked like the former world No.1 would give up altogether playing on the surface. Between 2018-2019, he was forced to retire or withdraw from 12 out of 13 hard court tournaments he had entered. Due to a variety of injury-related issues concerning his knees, abdomen and more. Yet still, he enters the upcoming US Open as one of the big favourites for the title.

Nadal is the only member of the Big Three to have won a trophy leading up to Flushing Meadows. Successfully defending his title at the Rogers Cup in Canada. Making it the first time in his career he had defended a hard court title on the ATP Tour.

“Of course, arriving to the big events with good feelings helps,” the world No.2 said during media day at the US Open on Friday. “My last events have been win Rome, win in Roland Garros, semi-finals in Wimbledon, and winning Montreal. That’s a positive feeling, positive memory on my mind. That helps for the confidence.”

The talent of the Spaniard has never been disputed. His resume currently features 83 ATP titles and 196 weeks as world No.1. Furthermore, he has won more titles on the clay than any other player. Including a record 12 at the French Open.

It is the body of the 33-year-old that prompts anxiety around his camp. Last year he was forced to retire from his semi-final match at the US Open due to his right knee. Suffering from the effects of some lengthy matches that took place prior to the semi-finals. However, this year round, Nadal is more upbeat about his current health.

“My feeling on the knees are better this year than last year,” he said. “Last year the problem was I played three or four very, very long matches. That’s tough…
“I hope to be ready for it. I think I am playing well. I am practising the right way during these days. Of course, winning in Montreal helps. I am ready for the action.”

Growing up in the Spanish town of Manacor, Nadal believes his somewhat ordinary upbringing has been a key factor to his success as an athlete. With 18 grand slam titles currently to his name, only Roger Federer has won more than him.

“You need to be prepared for the tough moments,” explained Nadal.
“If you overprotect the young kids when they have problems – because in life you are going to have problems at some point – probably they are not very well-prepared.
“Probably that’s one of the reasons I have been able to be very competitive at very young stages of my career.
“I probably got a normal education, not like superstar education. I just played on the street with my friends.
“I had a very really normal life. That helps you to grow with the normal education.”

Nadal has achieved a win-loss record of 58-11 at the US Open so far in his career. He will play John Millman in the first round. Millman was the player who knocked Federer out of the tournament 12 months ago.

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Revitalized Roger Federer Sets Sight On Ending 11-Year US Open Title Drought

The former world No.1 rates his current form ahead of the final grand slam of the season.

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When Roger Federer last won the US Open, arch rivals Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were yet to top the world rankings.

 

The Swiss maestro was at one point the king of Flushing Meadows with a 35-match winning streak seeing him win the grand slam five consecutive times between 2004-2008. Something that has only previously been achieved twice prior to the Open Era. William Larned triumphed between 1907-1911 and Bill Tilden dominated New York during the 1920s with six straight titles (1920-1925) and a further one in 1929.

However, since Federer’s last triumph back in 2008, success in New York has evaded him. With his last final appearance taking place back in 2015. However, the world No.3 remains undeterred ahead of his latest US Open campaign.

“We were saying on the practice court two days ago that this is probably the best I’ve felt in years coming into the US Open again, which is encouraging.” Federer told reporters on Friday.
“I’ve been playing well, and playing well in the slams recently, which has been great. I think also the win over Rafael in the Wimbledon semis was big for me. Also the final, the way I played that, is going to give me some extra confidence.”

Stating emphatically that he isn’t placing any pressure on himself, the 20-time grand slam champion will be eager for redemption following his recent Wimbledon misfortune. At The All England Club he had two championship points against Djokovic, but failed to convert as he lost the five-hour clash.

Whilst the loss hurt, Federer said a spot caravanning helped him mentally recover. Switching the focus of that match to his family life. Although flashbacks did haunt him for some time.

“I struggled a little bit the first couple days. At the same time I was caravanning with my kids. I didn’t have that much time thinking about all the missed opportunities,” he explained.
“I was setting up tables and organising my life for my four children, driving around the beautiful countryside in Switzerland.
“Sometimes you have flashbacks, things like ‘oh, I could have done that, should have done that’.
“The next day you’re having a glass of wine with your wife thinking ‘the semis was pretty good, even the finals was pretty good’. You go in phases.”

Not the favourite

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Federer is under no illusion of the potentially difficult task he faces if he wishes to add to his grand slam tally in the coming weeks. World No.1 Djokovic has won four out of the past five major titles. The only exception was the French Open, which Nadal won. Meanwhile, Nadal is the only member of the Big Three to have won a title during the build up to the event. Defending his title at the Rogers Cup.

“I know it’s going to be tough. I’m not coming in as the overwhelming favourite like maybe I did back in 2006 or 2007.” Federer admits.
“I’m very much aware of how I need to approach this tournament mentally.”

Ulike Nadal’s success, Federer hasn’t been so fortunate. Since Wimbledon he has contested only one tournament at the Cincinnati Masters. Where he was stunned in the third round by Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who prevailed in straight sets. Rublev is a former US Open quarter-finalist himself.

“I’m happy where my game is at,” Federer concludes. “Cincinnati might be a good thing that I lost early, who knows?
“It’s maybe one of those things that sometimes needs to happen, like when I won at the Australian Open, went to Dubai, lost first round in 2017, then went on to win Indian Wells and Miami.
“Maybe it’s the same thing, I played a great Wimbledon, I needed to get knocked down in Cincy, to get my act together, train hard.
“That’s what I did. I’m ready for the US Open. It’s going to be a tough tournament to win, no doubt about it. I feel like I’m part of that group who can do it.”

Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal will be Federer’s first round test at Flushing Meadows. Nagdal will be making his grand slam main draw debut at the age of 22. Federer has only failed to reach the fourth round of the tournament once in his 18 previous appearances, which was back in 2000.

Federer will take to the court on Tuesday.

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