Maria Sharapova beats Karolina Pliskova to level the Fed Cup final at 1-1 - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova beats Karolina Pliskova to level the Fed Cup final at 1-1

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Maria Sharapova beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-4 in 89 minutes to level the Fed Cup tie at 1-1 after the first two matches at the O2 Arena in Prague.

 

Both players held serve in the first five games. At 3-2 Sharapova brought up a break point in the sixth game with a drop shot for 15-40. The Russian legend got the break to take a 4-2 lead after a double fault by Pliskova who won just 30 percent of her first serves. Pliskova broke straight back in the next game as Sharapova made three double faults.

Pliskova saved a break point with a forehand winner but Sharapova converted another break point to take a 5-3 lead. The Russian star closed out the first set 6-3 with a forehand winner.

Pliskova, who is playing her second Fed Cup tie and is making her first appearnce in this event on home soil, broke serve in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead but Sharapova broke straight back before consolidating the break to draw level to 2-2.

Sharapova broke serve for the fourth time in the match in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Sharapova fought back from 0-40 with a lob and a forehand winner to hold her serve. At 3-5 Pliskova served to stay in the match. The young Czech star went down 15-40 on her serve but saved two match points to hold her serve for 4-5. Sharapova served out for the match to take the second set after 1 hour and 29 minutes

Sharapova fired 28 winners to 25 unforced errors and won eight points at the net.

“It’s an incredible atmosphere. You see a lot more Czech flags than Russians but in my mind I see red, white and blue and I turn it in my mind as the Russian flags”, said Sharapova.

Sharapova will take on Petra Kvitova in the first reverse singles rubber on Sunday. In the second Sunday match Pliskova will face Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova.

“I think it is very open. It’s a completely even tie. The Number 1 players from each team are favourites so we will have to see how they handle it”, said Czech captain Petr Pala

Before the match Czech captain Petr Pala received the Fed Cup Award of Excellence from ITF President David Haggerty and Hall of Famer Jane Brown Grimes. The ITF and the International Tennis Hall of Fame present the Fed Cup Award of Excellence to an individual who represents the ideals and the spirit of the Fed Cup competition.

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Alexander Zverev Ends Djokovic’s Golden Slam Dreams At Olympics

Alexander Zverev stunned Novak Djokovic in three sets to end the Serb’s dreams of winning the golden slam.

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Alexander Zverev (@Tennis - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev has ended Novak Djokovic’s dreams of winning the golden slam after a 1-6 6-3 6-1 victory in Tokyo.

 

Djokovic will now have to win gold in the mixed doubles if he wants to leave Tokyo with the ultimate prize. As for Zverev he will play Karen Khachanov for the gold medal in the singles.

“I feel sorry for Novak, but he’s won 20 grand slams, 550 masters series or whatever, you can’t have everything,” Zverev told the Olympic News service.
“He’s the greatest player of all time, he will win the most grand slams out of anybody on tour, but I’m also happy that I’m in the final.”

Djokovic got off to a better start and after the first three games of the match went on serve it was the Serb with the first breakpoint of the match as he got the first break of the match. Djokovic was relentless after that getting the double break after consolidating it and serving out the first set in dominating fashion.

The second set saw the world No.1 get the first break as he looked in command heading into a 3-2 lead. However Zverev provided the perfect response as he broke straight back and sealed four games in a row to force the match into a deciding set.

The Hamburg native carried the momentum into the third and had two breakpoints in the first game which resulted in a break to take an early 1-0 lead but faced some heavy pressure from the world number one the very next game.

The world number five saved three breakpoints before consolidating the break and went up a double break breaking the Serb again with a superb passing shot.

It was one-way traffic from there and the German managed to get one more break of serve to seal the match and the win and set up a gold medal match final with the Russian Karen Khachanov.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you’re going to bring the medal back to your house, back home to Germany. It’s incredible beating the best player in the world undoubtedly right now and in this season,” said Zverev.
“It seemed it was impossible to beat him at this event, so I’m very happy right now. But yet there’s still one match to go.”

Zverev and Khachanov are tied 2-2 in their official head to head and both players will be bringing medals home on Saturday.

As for Djokovic he will play Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal match in singles and still has a chance to win gold in the mixed doubles with Nina Stojanovic.

They face Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev later on Friday in the semi-finals.

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Karen Khachanov Reacts To Reaching Olympic Final In Tokyo

The former top 10 player is the first man from his country to reach the singles gold medal match in over 20 years.

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Karen Khachanov says he feels ‘pure happiness’ in reaching the gold medal match at the Tokyo Olympics after producing a comprehensive semi-final win.

 

The world No.25 disposed of Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3, in just 80 minutes to become the first Russian man to reach an Olympic singles final since Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 2000. Khachanov was particularly impressive behind his serve where he won 93% of his first service points and fired 10 aces past his rival. It is the first time he has reached the final of a tournament since winning the 2018 Paris Masters.

“Today it was working, unbelievably well,” Khachanov told the Olympic News Service.
“That’s the way I prepared, against every opponent you play a little bit differently. The final will be another story, another match, another day. I hope it will be the same.”

Khachanov’s dominant performance drew praise from a disappointed Carreno Busta who stunned second seed Daniil Medvedev in his previous match. He was bidding to become the fourth man from his country to reach an Olympic singles final since 1988.

“I didn’t feel comfortable on court today because Karen played unbelievable,” the Spaniard reflected.
“It was not the best match I have played, but Karen was unbelievable today, playing very aggressive and serving really good.”

Khachanov’s run to the gold medal match has also seen him defeat seeded players Diego Schwartzman and Ugo Humbert earlier in the tournament. Reflecting on his Olympic run so far, the 25-year-old says it is one he will never forget.

It’s just pure happiness, pleasure to be here to live those moments, these kind of memories will stay forever.” He said.

In the final Khachanov will play Alexander Zverev who pulled off a shock win over Novak Djokovic. The world No.1 has won the first three Grand Slam tournaments of the season and was on course for an historic calendar Golden Slam which has only been achieved by Stefi Graf in 1988.

Khachanov is currently tied at 2-2 with Zverev in their head-to-head but their last meeting was at the 2019 Rogers Cup.

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays in the Semifinals of both Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles

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Unfortunately, Novak Djokovic hasn’t had any fans in attendance to share the love with this past week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

One of the only items missing from Novak Djokovic’s resume is an Olympic gold medal.  But over the course of the next three days, he has a chance to win two.  In the men’s singles semifinals, he faces Sascha Zverev, the remaining player with the best chance of preventing him from standing atop the podium in singles.  The other men’s semifinal sees Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta face a second consecutive Russian.  On Thursday, he eliminated Daniil Medvedev from medal contention.  On Friday, he takes on recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karen Khachanov.

 

Also on Friday, the men’s doubles medals will be decided, with two teams of Croats facing off for the gold.  And the mixed doubles semifinals will also be played, which include two teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee, as well as Djokovic and fellow world No.1 Ash Barty.

Friday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.  There are possible thunderstorms forecast in the afternoon and evening, though the roof over Centre Court will guarantee uninterrupted play for those scheduled there.

Pablo Carreno Busta (6) [ESP] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – 3:00pm on Centre Court

Khachanov has achieved two Major quarterfinals, while Carreno Busta has reached two semis.  However, both players would certainly state this is the biggest match of their careers to date, as it will decide who plays for the gold medal on Sunday.  Pablo leads their head-to-head 3-2, though Khachanov leads 2-1 on hard courts, as two of the Spaniard’s victories came on clay.  Four of their five meetings have been straight-setters, meaning the first set may prove extremely crucial on Friday.  Carreno Busta has advanced considerably more comfortably, requiring only one third set, compared to Khachanov who has been pushed to a third set in three out of four matches.  Pablo has also been the much better player over the past year, and unlike Khachanov, his two best results at Slams have come on this surface.  He possesses a much more consistent game than Karen, who can easily rack up a large amount of unforced errors.  I like Carreno Busta’s chances of prevailing in this semifinal.

Novak Djokovic (1) [SRB] vs. Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] – Second on Centre Court

Djokovic is 6-2 against Zverev, and 5-1 on hard courts.  Sascha’s two victories have either come on clay or on an indoor hard court.  He defeated Novak in the championship match of the 2018 ATP Finals, the biggest title of his career.  Both men have dominated all competition through four rounds.  Neither has dropped a set, and only Zverev has been pushed to a tiebreak.  Novak has been even more savage, averaging just over two games lost per set.  Through four rounds, Sascha has struck 23 aces and absolutely no double faults, which is notable considering the second serve issues of his recent past.  If he continues to serve like that, he has a legitimate chance to upset Djokovic.  But Novak seems to be completely in the zone, exuding a calm confidence that is unmatched in the sport.  Twice before, he’s reached the semifinals of the Olympics in men’s singles, but is yet to advance to the gold medal match.  That should change on Friday.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (1) [CRO] vs. Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig [CRO] – Mektic and Pavic are the heavy gold medal favorites, with 52 wins and eight titles on the year.

Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus [NZL] vs. Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren [USA] – Daniell and Venus are the more accomplished doubles players, though they are not a regular pairing.  The Americans teamed at three events leading up to this tournament. 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Ash Barty and John Peers [AUS] – The Australians are definitely the better doubles players, but few players are having better seasons than Pavlyuchenkova or Rublev.

Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] vs. Nina Stojanovic and Novak Djokovic [SRB] – Vesnina and Karatsev were finalists at this year’s Roland Garros.  The Serbians prevailed convincingly on Thursday, dropping only three games.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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