Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4 - UBITENNIS
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Tough wins for Azarenka and Errani early on Day 4

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US Open – Two-time US Open finalist (2012-2013) Victoria Azarenka (20) and 2012 semifinalist Sara Errani (16) both had to dig deep to get passed their 2nd round opponents as they were both facing upsets. Azarenka was able to get the job done in straight sets 7-5 6-4 against Yanina Wickmayer and Errani battled hard to escape the clutches of qualifier Jelena Ostapenko 0-6 6-4 6-3.

 

Azarenka was under pressure from the beginning of the match as Wickmayer jumped out to a 2-0 lead. She would sustain this lead until the 8th game when Azarenka broke back for 4-4. Wickmayer broke back for 5-4 and serve for the set but again was unable to hold the lead as Azarenka got back the break and broke her again in the 12th game for the set as Wickmayer was serving to stay in it, 7-5. In the 2nd set, Azarenka was able to be in control of the points better but could not serve out the match when she was up 5-3. Wickmayer on the other hand again could not hold serve when it counted the most. Serving to stay in the match down 4-5, the Belgian could not come up with the goods and so was bounced from the tournament 5-7 4-6. This has to be a tough loss for Wickmayer who has yet to equal her 2009 result when she made the semifinals. Since then, she has only gone past the 2nd round once. Azarenka moves through to the 3rd round where she will play Angelique Kerber (11) who beat Karin Knapp 7-5 6-2.

Errani looked well out of sorts at the beginning of her match. She lost the opening set 0-6 to Ostapenko who was simply on top of every shot. Errani had a medical time out and got some treatment which seemed have helped as the Italian raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set. Ostapenko was able to get back the double breaks for 3-4. However, Errani remained relentless as she broke back for 5-3 and despite being unable to serve out the set in the 9th game, she broke Ostapenko again to take it 6-4. The 3rd set saw 6 successive breaks of serves for 3-3. However, Errani allowed her experience to shine through as she held serve for 4-3 and broke Ostapenko for the 4th time in the set for 5-3. Errani then fought through the pain and serve it out 0-6 6-4 6-3 in 2 hours.

Errani is set to play Sam Stosur (22), 2011 champion here, who virtually stormed through to the 3rd round with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Evgeniya Rodina in just 51 minutes. The Australian had 8 aces added to her total of 29 winners. Rodina only had 1 ace and 7 winners altogether for the match. “I’m very happy with the way I played. I thought I played great from start to finish. [N]ice to get on and off very quickly, especially when it’s hot and I’ve got doubles later today. [M]y first two matches have been really good,” Stosur said after the match.

American Varvara Lepchenko took out Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko who earlier in the tournament upset Lucie Safarova (6). Lepchenko won 7-6 6-2 in just over an hour an a half. Andrea Petkovic (18) was also able to take out her opponent in straight sets. The German got by Elena Vesnina 6-3 7-6. Vesnina was able to gain a 5-3 lead in the 2nd set but was unable to serve it out at 5-4 and could not get much traction in the breaker.

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Novak Djokovic Confident Elbow Scare Will Not Hamper Davis Cup Duty

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LONDON: Novak Djokovic’s niggling elbow issue briefly resurfaced during his last match played at this year’s ATP Finals in what was a slight scare for the camp of the 16-time grand slam champion.

 

The world No.2 was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Roger Federer, who he last lost to back in 2015. It was far from a vintage performance from the Serbian, who appeared somewhat flat on the court. Potentially suffering from the after-effects of his three-set thriller with Dominic Thiem that occurred two days prior.

“There was not much that I did right this match, to be honest. I mean, realistically he was a better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win.” Djokovic told reporters in London.
“He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well. From his end, I think he did everything right. From my end, I was just playing too neutral. I couldn’t read his serve well. Just a pretty bad match from my side.”

It was during the match where some started to notice the 32-year-old flexing his elbow at certain points. Raising fears among his entourage. In the past, he has experienced numerous issues with that area of the body. Missing the second half of the 2017 season to rest his elbow and undergoing minor surgery on it the following year.

Nevertheless, Djokovic continued on the court and was never on the verge of calling for a trainer on the court. However, concerns are starting to mount about if he could miss the upcoming Davis Cup in Madrid to avoid aggravating it further.

“I hope it’s nothing that will prevent me from playing Madrid. The pain was pretty sharp.” He revealed.
“I could play the rest of the match, so if I had something really serious I think I wouldn’t be able to hold the racquet. So it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did. It did not pose any form of issues later on.”

Djokovic hasn’t played in the team tournament since his country’s quarter-final loss to Spain in 2017. He has represented Serbia in 25 ties. Winning 34 out of 44 matches played. Speaking about the event during the same press conference, he then said ‘things are physically fine.’ Disregarding the elbow scare he spoke about just minutes before.

“Of course the gas tank is not as full as the beginning of the season, but I am motivated to join the guys and play there because I have not played in the team competition of Davis Cup for some time.” He said.
“I look forward to it. They are my dear friends, all of the guys in the team, and I can’t wait to feel that team spirit. The format is different. Should be exciting.”

Now his 2019 season on the ATP Tour has come to an end, Djokovic closes the year out with five titles. Including Wimbledon and the Australian Open. His 54 wins mean that he has won 50 or more matches in 12 out of the past 13 seasons.

Only three players have managed to score multiple wins over Djokovic in 2019 – Roberto Bautista Agut, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

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Roger Federer Ends Djokovic’s Year-End No.1 Bid With Vital Win At ATP Finals

The 20-time grand slam champion has avenged his Wimbledon loss to reach his 16th semi-final at the season-ending event.

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LONDON: Roger Federer has recorded his first win over Novak Djokovic in four years after downing the world No.2 in their winner-takes-all clash at the ATP Finals on Thursday evening. 

 

The eagerly anticipated meeting between the two tennis icons failed to live up to expectations as a more dominant and solid Federer prevailed 6-4, 6-3. Ending his five-match losing streak against the world No.2, who lacked the usual firepower in his game. In total Federer hit 23 winners to five unforced errors as he converted three out of his seven break point opportunities.

“It was a great atmosphere, against a great opponent here in London at The O2.” Said Federer. “It is definitely special. Right from the beginning, I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that is what Novak does. I was able to produce, it is definitely magical.”

Thursday saw the continuation of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Heading into the match Djokovic boasted a 26-22 stronghold and hasn’t lost to his nemesis since doing so at the same tournament four years ago. Their 13-year rivalry is the second-longest in the Open Era.

Recent history has seen the Serbian dictate Federer on the court. Coming back from two match points down to defeat his rival in the Wimbledon final earlier this year. However, this time around it would be Federer who would prove to be the dominator. Reading the Djokovic serve like a book he placed his rival under pressure from the onset.

It would be one lackluster Djokovic service game that would prove pivotal to the outcome of the opening set. Two double faults combined with Federer’s ability to hit the ball deep to the baseline enabled the Swiss maestro to break three games into the match. Sending the largely pro-Federer crowd into hysterics. Even more impressive from the world No.3 in the opener was the fact he dropped just three points behind his serve (16/19) against somebody deemed as one of the best returners in the game.

Clinching the opening set has proved decisive in the head-to-head between the two players. Before this week, all 13 of their most recent meetings have been won by the person who clinched the opener. It would be no different at The O2 Arena. Federer continuoued to dominate Djokovic, who seemed bothered by his elbow at times. This time it was five games into the second set when the six-time champion pounced. Capitalizing from yet more errors from across the court.

The anticlimactic encounter ended after just 72 minutes of play in the British capital. It would be another Djokovic shot into the net that would elevate the Swiss played in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“There was a lot riding on this match. I came out great, served great and had great anticipation. It worked to perfection tonight and hopefully it won’t be the last time (against Djokovic).” Federer evaluated of his latest win.

The triumph by Federer has also had a significant impact on the year-end race. Rafael Nadal has secured the year-end No.1 spot for the fifth time in his career. Djokovic had to win the tournament to take the honor way from the Spaniard.

“Of course that was a big motivation also for the end of the season.” Djokovic told reporters during his press confrence. “I mean, every time you step on the court, you know there is something on the line, I mean, at least on the highest level in tennis.’
“I feel pressure and excitement all the time, every single match, especially if I play against the best players in the world.”

It remains to be seen who Federer will play in the semi-finals on Saturday. There are two possible players he could face depending on how the other group of matches fair on Friday. He will take on either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Rafael Nadal.

“I’m happy to stick around.” Said Federer.
“Hopefully I will go a step further than last year. I lost to Zverev who was unreal, that was tough.”
“I will watch some (tennis) tomorrow and then get ready.” He added.

Federer is the most successful player at the ATP Finals with 59 wins under his belt. That is 20 more than his nearest opponent Ivan Lendl.

 

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Loss Meaningless To Dominic Thiem In Hunt For ‘Most Difficult’ Title At ATP Finals

The world No.5 explains why the key to his latest match was keeping it short, but not necessarily winning.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem isn’t going to be losing any sleep over his latest loss at the ATP Finals with the ultimate prize still in his sight.

 

Thiem, who qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament of Tuesday, was far from his best as he slumped to a straight-sets loss to Matteo Berrettini. Who has become the first Italian in history to win a match at the event. It is hard to read too much into Thiem’s latest performance with him openly admitting that his focus was on his upcoming semi-final clash. Highlighting one of the drawbacks of having a round-robin tournament with some matches providing irrelevant to the overall standings.

“Of course I was still trying to win that match, but also, at the same time, I knew in my head that I have to take care (of my body) for Saturday because obviously, it’s the way more important match,” Thiem explained during his press conference.
“I’m really trying to get the body going 100% for Saturday, and it wouldn’t be that smart if I would have another three-hour match today.”

The comments do not mean that Berrettini just had a walkover win and he was made to work for the victory. Which levels the head-to-head between the two players to 2-2. However, both would admit that with not much on the line there was a lack of intensity.

“I think that today was maybe even the weakest compared to those three (matches).” Thiem states.
“We had a great one in Shanghai. We had a great one in Vienna and also here. Of course, it affected a little bit that both of us, we couldn’t do anything about the standings in the group anymore.”

The 26-year-old has certainly illustrated his worthy candidacy to lift the title on Sunday in London following his previous triumphs. Earlier this week he scored back-to-back wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Should he end up playing Nadal over the weekend and win, he would become the first player to defeat all members of the Big Three in the same tournament since David Nalbandian at the 2007 Madrid Masters.

There is still a way to go for Thiem to clinch the biggest title of his career to date. The Austrian believes he if he does manage to win the tournament, any other title is not off-limits for him.

“I think that maybe this tournament is the most difficult to win because you have to beat five top 10 guys in a row. Okay, you can afford to lose one match maybe, but still, I’m 100% sure that if you win this title you can win, as well, any other title.” He explains.
“I haven’t done it yet, but I think that if you win this title, it gives you a lot of confidence for Australia (Open) because it’s the closest, but for the full next year as well.”

Few can dispute the fighting spirit of the Austrian on the court in London. However, after a long season, he admits that he isn’t fully healthy. A situation his rivals also find themselves in. Although some are struggling more than others at present.

“I’m not 100%, but it didn’t affect me in these three matches,” Thiem admits. “That’s why I also really need to be careful because I really hope I have two more matches so I can give all that I have and my own 100% in the remaining two matches.”

Thiem could play one of three players in the semi-finals depending on the outcome of Friday’s matches. Awaiting him will be either Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev or Daniil Medvedev. The only way he can play Nadal is if they both progress to the final.

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