Nick Kyrgios beat Andreas Haider Maurer in the first round in Shanghai - UBITENNIS
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Nick Kyrgios beat Andreas Haider Maurer in the first round in Shanghai

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The Shanghai Rolex Master, the penultimate Master 1000 tournament of the season, is underway with first round matches. There are still four spots up for grab for the ATP World Finals in London. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have already secured their berths for London. Al the top-20 of the ATP Race to London are in Shanghai this week.

 

Nick Kyrgios beat Andreas Haider Maurer 6-3 6-2 after playing a solid match in which he fended off five break point chances he faced and hit 13 aces. The young Aussie player set up a tough second round match against Kei Nishikori, who was surprisingly beaten by Benoit Paire in the semifinal of the Rakuten Open in Tokyo last week. Kirgyos, world number 32, broke in the opening game and held his service games to to win the first set with 6-3. Only in the eighth game Kirgyos faced two break points which he saved with his serve. Kyrgios got another break in the ninth game to clinch the first set with 6-3 in 26 minutes. Kirgyos got a double break in the sixth and in the eighth games to close out the match in one hour and 4 minutes

Nishikori, who is in contention for the ATP Finals in London and is currently ranked seventh in the ATP Race, could face Roger Federer in a potential quarter final in Shanghai.

Ivo Karlovic, who beat Goran Ivanisevic’s aces record last week in Beijing, overcame Jeremy Chardy 6-4 7-6 (8-6) with 18 aces setting up a second round match against 2009 finalist Rafa Nadal, who showed improving form last week in Beijing despite the 6-2 6-2 loss against Novak Djokovic in the final

John Isner hit 20 aces and won 81 percent of his first serve points to cruise past to a easy 6-1 6-2 win over Adrian Mannarino in just 46 minutes. Isner broke serve immediately in the first set. Mannarino had an injury on his groin in the fourth game and this affected the rest of his match. He made 25 unforced errors. Isner will take on either David Goffin or Japanese qualifier Go Soeda in the second round

Roberto Bautista Agut dropped just six first service points in his 6-2 6-3 win over Guillermo Garcia Lopez.

Steve Johnson rallied from a set down to overcome Andreas Seppi with 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-2). Seppi wasted a match point at 5-3 40-30 in the third set before losing the decider at the tie-break. World Number 47 Johnson beat Seppi in their previous head-to-head match in Winston Salem on hard-court in 2013 with 7-5 in the third set. Seppi broke serve twice in the first and in the seven games of the first set. Johnson recovered one of the two breaks in the eighth game but Seppi closed out the first set in the tenth game with 6-4 after 44 minutes. Johnson reeled off five consecutive games from 1-1 to win the second set with 6-1. The decisive set went on serve until the sixth game when Seppi broke serve to take the edge. The Italian player earned a match point but he failed to capitalized on it. Johnson forced the match to the tie-break where he clinched the match with 7-2 setting up a second round with Andy Murray.

Martin Klizan beat Chinese wild card Ze Zhang 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 setting up a second round match against six-time Beiing champion and last year’s Shanghai runner-up Novak Djokovic who won this tournament twice. Djokovic is bidding to win his ninth title of the year after the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Wimbledon, the US Open and Beijing. Djokovic extended his winning streak to 29 consecutive winning matches in Beijing and was unstoppable last week in the Chinese capital where he dropped just 18 games in five matches.

 

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Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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