WTA: Race To Singapore, Muguruza strengthens claim - UBITENNIS
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WTA: Race To Singapore, Muguruza strengthens claim

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Muguruza and Bacsinzsky were the big winners this week

With the news last week that Serena Williams has elected to end her season early, forgoing the final major events of the year, the race to be involved in the premier season-ending event is no less exciting. The WTA event in Beijing saw a number of contenders fall early, as a select few pulled away.

 

This week has seen Garbine Muguruza continue to assert her claim to be involved for the first time, as she moved up to No.4 in the race last week. She plays in the final of Beijing after defeating another contender in Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals. Radwanska will move back into contention after her strong semi-final showing.

She will play Timea Baczinszky, who will also improve her bid, by moving into the Top ten for the first time. She came back from a set down to beat Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic meanwhile, looks like joining Serena Williams as a player who qualified for last year’s event who may not appear this year. A good week in Beijing has aided her cause, but she still needs to perform in the final weeks to get back into the reckoning. Eugenie Bouchard will also not appear after suffering a season of poor form and injury problems. Caroline Wozniacki is also struggling to replicate the form that saw her take her place in Singapore last year. She only managed a third round in Beijing this week.

Simona Halep has already qualified again, whilst Maria Sharapova looks well placed to join her. There are just two more weeks of events before the season-ending finale, and Sharapova  would have to be displaced by a number of rivals if she is not to qualify. Petra Kvitova saw her strong position weaken significantly, suffering a shock early exit to Sara Errani. Madison Keys, Flavia Pennetta, and Carla Suarez Navarro, all fell in the third round.Venus Williams suffered a setback in her early defeat to Ana Ivanovic in the second round. She will drop from eleventh in the race. Karolina Pliskova will also fall out as she in the opening round. Belinda Bencic was forced to withdraw with a right hand injury, and Lucie Safarova did not play this week’s event in Beijing.

Angelique Kerber will continue to keep her destiny within her control, a strong quarter-final run saw her put further ground between herself and many of her rivals.

 

 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Thumps Zverev To Qualify For Next Stage Of ATP Finals

The anticipated batle of the young guns ended up being a one-way dominance by Tsitsipas.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas’ dream debut at the ATP Finals is gathering momentum after he produced a clinical straight sets win over defending champion Alexander Zverev. 

 

The world No.6 was relentless in his attacking of his opponents game as he rallied to a convincing 6-3, 6-2, win. Expanding his head-to-head record against Zverev to 4-1 in his favor and qualifying for the semi-finals of the tournament. Achieving yet another historic milestone for Greek tennis. The dominant 73-minute performance saw Tsitsipas win 86% of his first service points as he blasted 21 winners past his rival.

“I am really surprised by my performance today.” Said Tsitsipas. “I mean, I did everything right and once again it was not just me out there (on the court). A whole bunch of people came and supported me. It was a cool situation.”

Taking to court at The O2 Arena was the two youngest players in this year’s tournament. The combined age of 21-year-old Tsitsipas and 22-year-old Zverev made it the youngest match to take place in the tournament for a decade (43.94). Andy Murray locked horns with Juan Martin del Potro back in 2009 with a total age of 32.72.

Billed as a clash between two rising stars of the sport, proceedings got off to a level footing. Both could produce some blistering serving as well as some impressive defensive skills. Tsitsipas was the first to be tested in the fifth game after battling his way through a four-deuce game. Avoiding the scare, the Greek went on to break for a 5-3 lead with the help of a lackluster Zverev service game that featured three unforced errors in the row. The breakthrough was enough to enable him to close the opening set with the help of another mistake from across the court.

It was evident that Zverev was clearly rattled as he struggled to conjure up the form that saw him dismantle Rafael Nadal just two days ago. Yet another error-stricken service game from the German at the start of the second set enabled a determined Tsitsipas to break once more. Continuing to carefully construct his points and bully a growingly frustrated Zverev around the court, the double break was sealed shortly after as he strolled to a one-sided victory with little resistance.

“I’m just playing my game. I have a clear picture and a clear mindset out there on the court.” The Australian Open semi-finalist stated.
“I’ve been trying to mix my game up a lot, trying to be unpredictable and that has helped me.’
“I have also devoted a lot of time on my serve, which has improved tremendously over the past couple of months. Me and my team are doing a great job together.”

The win means that Nadal is required to defeat the Greek if he wishes to progress to the semi-final stage of the tournament. He leads their head-to-head 4-1, but did lose to Tsitsipas earlier this year on his beloved clay at the Madrid Masters.

“I will have to give it my all. I know it won’t be easy.” Tsitsipas previewed his next match. “He is one of the toughest players out there. He plays with a lot of intensity. It requires a lot of focus and a lot of concentration.”
“I’m going to have to serve past my limits.”

The final round-robin matches, which is when Tsitsipas plays Nadal, will take place on Friday.

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ATP Finals Comeback The Wrong Example To Focus On, Insists Rafael Nadal

The world No.1 spoke bluntly about his latest performance at the ATP Finals in London.

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LONDON: Relieved, but not complacent is the best way to describe Rafael Nadal’s feelings following his turbulent win at the ATP Finals on Wednesday afternoon.

 

In what was a rematch of the US Open final, the Spaniard hit back at Daniil Medvedev to clinch a critical win. Coming back from a set behind and then a 1-5 deficit in the decider. The win was his first victory on the tour since withdrawing from the Paris Masters due to an abdominal injury.

“It was not one of the best performances of my career. Not at all. I really hope that I can play better.” The 33-year-old reflected after.
“I was better than the other day, of course. I have been playing a better level of tennis than the first day in general terms. To win this match was a combination of a lot of things: luck, some mistakes by Daniil and some good moments from myself at the end.”

It is understandable as to why a perfectionist like Nadal was far from pleased with his latest win. Despite it reviving his chances of winning the season-ending tournament for the first time in his career. His 26 winners were canceled out by 27 unforced errors. Furthermore, his second service winning rate dropped at the match progressed from 62% in the first set to 45% in the second.

“In general terms, knowing that I was not able to practice the way that I would like before the tournament, to be able to increase the level since two days ago to today like this is a very positive thing and I’m very happy with this.” The Spaniard affirms.
“Winning or losing is another thing.” He added.

The implications of Nadal’s win not only means that he extends his perfect record of winning the decisive tiebreakers at the ATP Finals (3-0), his quest to end the season as world No.1 has also been helped. Although a certain Novak Djokovic could spoil the party if he wins the tournament this week.

The 19-time grand slam champion has been praised numerous times for his fighting spirit displayed on the court. Illustrated by his latest win on the tour. However, he believes this shouldn’t be the example for rising stars of the game should focus on.

“The example is not the comeback. The example, in my opinion, is not breaking a racquet when you are 5-1 (down) in the third or not lose your self-control when things are not going the right way.” Nadal explained.
“Just staying positive, staying on the court, accepting that the opponent is playing a little bit better than you and accepting that you are not that good. That’s the only example.”

Nadal will next play Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday. He has now won 52 matches on the tour this season.

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Relentless Rafael Nadal Fights Back From The Brink In ATP Finals Thriller

The king of clay is back on track in London after staging an audatious comeback.

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LONDON: Rafael Nadal staged a dramatic last-minute comeback to defeat Daniil Medvedev in a three-set roller-coaster at the ATP Finals.

The world No.1 struggled with his rhythm at times and looked to be on the verge of a loss after going down 0-4 in the decisive set. However, an emphatic fight back saw the Spaniard prevailed 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(4), after more than two-and-a-half hours of action. Providing a much-needed boost to his chances of qualifying for the semi-final stage. 

 

“Honestly, I have been super lucky. That’s the real thing.” Said Nadal, who also saved a match point. “I feel sorry for Daniil, that is a tough loss for him. He was playing much better than me in the third (set) and today was one out of 1000 that you win. It happened to me today.”

Wednesday’s meeting at The O2 was the first clash between the two since their memorable battle at the US Open. On that day, Medvedev came back from two sets down before being edged out in the decider during what was a marathon encounter. Like New York, the two were once again locked in a roller-coaster battle. Illustrated best by the fact that Nadal only won three more points than Medvedev (108-105).

A series of gut-busting rallies saw the world No.1 being placed constantly under pressure by his Russian nemesis. A 54-minute opening set saw just one break point opportunity arising in 12 games played. That was when Medvedev had a chance to nudge ahead to 4-3 due to some tentative play from his opponent, but the Spaniard battled back once again.

It would be in the tiebreak when Medvedev secured the breakthrough he sought. A deep return forced Nadal to produced a costly error to elevate the world No.4 to a 5-3 lead. Then another tight-looking forward from the Spaniard followed to hand Medvedev two set point chances. He converted on his first with the help of a 131mph serve out wide.

Sensing the possibility that he could lose a second consecutive round-robin match in the tournament for the first time since 2009, Nadal responded valiantly. Displaying the emphatic fighting spirit that has won him many fans over the years. A break at the start of the second set revived his winning hopes. Rapidly gaining in momentum, he soon leveled the match at a set apiece after a Medvedev forehand drifted wide.

Despite Nadal’s best efforts, it looked like he was down and out once again. A lull in his form saw the 19-time grand slam champion go behind 1-5. However, he refused to be complacent with a loss. Some tentative play from Medvedev opened the door for him to hit back and level 5-5. Sending the crowd into hysterics. He would then go on to prevail in the tiebreaker after a hawk-eye call declared a Medvedev shot out on match point.

“When you have the first break at 5-3 then you are only one break away. I know from my experience how tough it is to close the match.” Nadal commented on how he managed to come back into the match.
“Especially when you are two breaks in front and you lose the first one. At that moment I thought I had a chance. I think I played a bit better towards the end.”

The triumph has done Stefanos Tsitsipas a huge favor, who Nadal will play on Friday. The Greek can secure his place in the semi-finals if he beats Alexander Zverev in straight sets later today.

“He is a great player. He has a lot of energy – very young. He is having an amazing season so it will be a very tough one.” Nadal said of Tsitsipas. “I hope to be ready for that. Let’s try to make that happen.”

Nadal’s win also has significance on the race for the year-end top spot. Novak Djokovic is now required to win the tournament if he wants to clinch the position.

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