Stan Wawrinka Edges Andy Murray to Set All-Swiss Semi-Final Repeat in London - UBITENNIS
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Stan Wawrinka Edges Andy Murray to Set All-Swiss Semi-Final Repeat in London

Ivan Pasquariello

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Call him WOW-rinka. Stan Wawrinka beats a spirited Andy Murray in straight sets 7-6(4) 6-4 to advance to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals for the third straight year in a total of three appearances. Murray almost completed a terrific comeback from 2-5 down in the second set. Against Roger Federer, Wawrinka will compete in a repeat of the 2014 semi-final in London, when he lost to his compatriot after holding 4 match points.

 

 

A third straight semi-final in three participations since 2013 is not a common thing to achieve at the ATP World Tour Finals. Stan Wawrinka, has managed to reach the feat. Finding major glimpses of his best tennis, the Swiss has somehow found his way to the last 4 at the O2 Arena, for an impressive triplet not many had saw coming at the start of the tournament. The feat puts Stan very close to players like Novak Djokovic (3 titles in a row and 4th semifinal in 4 years) and Roger Federer (7th semifinal in a row at the O2 since 2009) who have made history for the tournament since it got moved to central London six years ago.

It could be the slower surface at the O2 Arena, which makes the indoor court quite similar to the red clay which brought him his second Grand Slam title this year. It could be the fact that there is no wind to interfere. It could be that the atmosphere at the O2 awakens all motivations and will. Whatever it is that works as a switch to turn on Wawrinka’s tennis at the ATP Finals, has functioned again.

Stan stayed strong until the very end in the match he ended up winning after almost two hours against Andy Murray. Down 2-4 in the tie-break in the first set he won 5 points in a row. Up 5-2 in the second set, he saw a spirited Murray come back to 4-5 and 15-40 on Wawrinka’s serve. Once again, despite the odds and a fully loud British crowd, the French Open champion kept his focus and was brave enough to go for his shots when he needed them the most.

Not a great day on serve for the Swiss, who closed with just 45% of first serves on court, but managing to win 67% of the points played on those first serves. Wawrinka finished the match relying on his second serve, proving to have made a step forward in terms of mental strength and quality. The Swiss collected his 7th win against Murray. Still behind in the all-time Head2Head record by 7-8, Wawrinka has beaten the Brit three times in a row now. The last time Murray has taken a set, and the match, away from the Swiss was in Tokyo in 2012, then Andy won 6-2 3-6 6-2 in the QF.

Now, in the semi-finals, Stan will have a chance to avenge the loss he faced last year in the same arena against friend and compatriot Roger Federer. In the best match of last year’s Finals, Stan lost 6-4 5-7 7-6(6) to Federer after holding 4 match points. Now Stan will have a shot at redemption in a season that saw him find the continuity he never had before on the most important tournaments on tour. With a personal record of 21 victories and 3 defeats in Grand Slam tournaments, and 3 titles (Chennai, Rotterdam and Roland Garros), the Swiss will most likely be closing his second consecutive season among the top 4 ranked players in the world.

With Wawrinka, three of last year’s four semifinalists will be once again in action at the ATP Finals, with runner-up Federer and 3-time champion Djokovic bidding to set a reply of the final that last year wasn’t played in London.

 

MATCH REPORT

(4) Stan Wawrinka (SUI) b. (2) Andy Murray (GBP) 7-6(4) 6-4
Match time: 1 hour and 54 minutes

 

O2 Arena, London
RR Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

 

Head-2-Head = Murray leads 8-6

Last Match: US Open QF 2013 S. Wawrinka b. A. Murray 6-4 6-3 6-2

 

Who wins qualifies as No.2 in the Ilie Nastase group

Group winner: Rafael Nadal

Stan Wawrinka starts the match on serve

 

THE FIRST SET

 

The first game gets to deuce with Wawrinka on serve. The Swiss has his first game points up 40-15, thanks to a forehand drop volley winner. Stan needs to win two extra points at 40-40 to hold serve without facing a break point.

 

Murray starts his service game closing the point at the net with a forehand volley. Wawrinka responds with an attack and a forehand volley himself. The Scot wins the game holding serve to 15.

 

In the third game Andy Murray is the first player to see a break point chance as the Scot wins an incredible point. With Wawrinka at the net attacking on Murray’s forehand, the Brit manages to stretch his arm to the ball and put a passing shot right on the baseline.

 

Here is the shot:

The Scot calls the crowd in for cheering. The O2 responds with the loudest noises of excitement in the match. Wawrinka saves the break point with an ace, but Murray manages to have another chance insisting on the Swiss’s backhand, pushing Wawrinka to hit in the net. Stan saves the second break point with another first serve on Murray’s forehand. Even just putting on court 40% of first serves, Wawrinka survives the scare and holds to lead 2-1.

 

The intensity is high, as both players know the semi-finals at the ATP Finals are at stake. For those questioning Murray’s motivation the answer has already been sent, blatant, by the Scot.

On the stands, Wawrinka has full support today in London, as both his girlfriend Donna Vekic and his ex wife and son are cheering for him:

moglie

Photo credit: OKTennis

In the following game Wawrinka has a chance up 0-30 on Murray’s serve. The Swiss attacks full power with his backhand, and forces Murray to miss first. Putting more spin in the ball and catching Stan off-guard, Murray comes back to 30-30 in the game. Andy insists on hitting on Wawrinka’s forehand, but the choice doesn’t pay off. Stan fires a cross court winner and has his first break point of the match at 30-40. Murray saves the break chance with a deep first serve. Just like Wawrinka in the previous game, Murray uses his first serve to escape the danger zone and holds to tie the score at 2-2.

 

Wawrinka holds to love in the following game and keeps the lead up 3-2. Murray responds holding to love to set the score at 3-3. Murray has won 9 out of 10 points on his first serve. Wawrinka is now more confident on his serve, pushing the percentage of first serves to close to 50% now. The Swiss holds to 15 closing the last point of the game with a volley smash winner. Stan leads 4-3 after 31 minutes. Murray has 6 winners, Wawrinka 9 so far.

 

Murray faces another threat serving in the 8th game. The Brit hits his first double fault in the match to trail back 0-30 in his service game. The Swiss steps onto court in the following point, attacking with his forehand and pushing Murray to hit in the net. Down 0-40 on his serve, Murray faces 3 break points. On the first break point, the Scot hits a winning forehand volley on the attack. On his second chance, Wawrinka stays strong in a long rally played in the middle of the court. Murray misses his backhand first and Wawrinka breaks to lead 5-3 and serve for the set.

 

Wawrinka gets to 30-15 with a serve and volley winner that hits the back of the baseline. Murray responds with a stunning forehand cross court defensive shot that becomes a winner. At 30-30 Stan succumbs to tension, hitting his 3rd double fault in the match to face a break point at 30-40. Wawrinka saves the break point pushing Murray to miss again. Sustained by the crowd, the Scot steps on court on the following point, winning the rally with a backhand drop volley winner to get another break chance, his third in the match. Murray plays an impressive point on defence, scrapping, sending every ball back on a 15-shot rally. In the end, the Scot finishes off with a winning forehand, with Wawrinka left in no man’s land. Murray is back in the set at 4-5, breaking Wawrinka’s serve for the first time on his 4th chance.

 

Here the incredible rally won by the Scot:

 

Serving to stay in the set, Murray holds to 15 and completes comeback. The Scot gets back to 5-5.  Wawrinka regroups in time to stay in the set. The Swiss holds to love to regain the lead at 6-5 after 51 minutes. Murray doesn’t tumble in the following game, holding serve at 15 and sending the set to a deciding tie-break.

 

On the first point Wawrinka gets called a first serve out. The Swiss calls for the Hawk-Eye and is right, turning the call and winning the first point with an ace. With great defensive skills, Murray wins both points on his serve and leads for the first time in the match 2-1 in the tie-break. Murray solidifies the lead with a stunning backhand inside-out return winner for a mini-break and a 3-2 lead. The Scot insists on Wawrinka’s backhand, hitting high balls on the last inches of the court. Wawrinka misses and Murray wins his 11th point out of the 16 played on rallies with 10 or more shots. The Scot misses an easy forehand on the following point, hitting in the net. Wawrinka “breaks” for the first time in the tie-break as Murray leads 4-3. A second serve on Andy’s body sends Stan back in the set. The Swiss completes the comeback and sets the score tied at 4-4. Murray hits a backhand return just wide and Wawrinka regains the lead up 5-4. The home-favourite fails under pressure again. Andy misses an easy forehand wide and Stan is the first player to reach set points at 6-4. Murray misses again, with Wawrinka at the net, the Scot’s tentative of a lob shot finishes both long and wide. After 1 hour and 6 minutes, Wawrinka wins the first set 7-6(4) winning the last 5 points in a row.

 

Murray closes the set with 15 winners and the same number of unforced errors. Wawrinka finishes with 15 winners and 17 unforced errors.

 

The tournament’s supervisor enters the court to speak with Murray during the changeover. The Scot is heard complaining about the noise and “running to the net instead of walking”. Not very clear what bothers the Scot.

 

 

THE SECOND SET

 

The second set starts with a break point chance for Wawrinka on Murray’s serve. The Swiss fires a forehand winner down the line at 30-30. On the break point, Murray hits an easy forehand in the net as Wawrinka breaks in the first game to lead 1-0.

 

Staying strong on serve, Wawrinka manages to solidify the lead and is up 2-0. The match at this point seems very much over. Murray however, refuses to give up easily. The Scot holds serve in the third game and manages to get to deuce with Wawrinka serving at 2-1. Despite the unexpected comeback turns the 02 Arena back in full-loudness mode, the sparkle fades soon. Wawrinka stay strong on serve, finds his first service when he needs it the most and closes the game to lead 3-1. Murray responds with a service hold to love. The match will be played on Wawrinka’s serve now.

 

Wawrinka holds serve easily in the 6th game and has a chance to close the match in advance with Murray serving down 2-4, firing a stunning backhand down the line passing shot to get to 0-30. The Scot survives thanks to a progression that hits the baseline and an incredible central second serve on which Wawrinka doesn’t return on court. The Swiss has another chance at 30-40. Facing his 5th break point in the match, Murray seems exhausted as he hits a forehand in the middle of the net to get broken for the third time. Wawrinka leads 5-2 and goes on to serve for the match.

Serving for the match, Wawrinka faces three consecutive break points down 0-40. The Swiss saves the first two serving well. Murray’s lack of brilliance makes the Scot miss also his third chance. Wawrinka keeps the match alive, hitting a tired forehand in the middle of the net to face the 4th break point in the match. Murray wins an incredible point, closing with a winning smash after an impressive defence from Wawrinka. The Scot breaks and trails back 3-5.

Wawrinka seems momentarily lost, as he hits a backhand easy volley in the net with Murray serving in the 9th game. The Scot goes on supported by the crowd and holds serve to love to send Wawrinka serving for the match a second time.

Murray uses the crowd to find extra energy in his tank. The Scot has incredibly another chance, with Wawrinka hitting a backhand wide to fall behind 0-30. Wawrinka pushes with his shots despite the tension, forces with his forehand to push Murray to hit in the net. At 15-30 Murray hits a backhand return down the line, on which Wawrinka hits a defensive forehand in the net. The Swiss is down 15-40 and can’t find his first serve. Stan finds courage to attack with his forehand and force Murray to hit in the net. The Brit touches his back in pain after missing the last shot.

Andy misses a forehand just long on his second break point chance and sets Wawrinka two points away from the match. Wawrinka attacks on the following point, comes to the net and closes the point with a winning smash. Murray smashes and destroys his racket in frustration as Stan has his first match point.

Murray’s racket smash:

Wawrinka attacks with his forehand again, but misses inches long wasting his first chance of closing the match. The drama goes on, as Wawrinka hits a second serve called out, which happens to be in as revealed by Hawk-Eye. On the following point, Murray kills a backhand in the net.

Wawrinka has a second match point. The Swiss fails to put the first serve on court, but wins the point as Murray hits a backhand wide. After 1 hour and 54 minutes Stan Wawrinka reaches his third consecutive semi-final at the O2 Arena.

The match stats:

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 22.24.39

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France’s Lucas Pouille To Undergo Surgery

The 26-year-old has suffered another setback to his plans for a return to the Tour.

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Lucas Pouille (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Lucas Pouille says he is hopeful that he will be able to play tennis again this season after announcing plans to undergo surgery.

 

The world No.58 confirmed on Tuesday morning that he will be having an operation on his right elbow later this month in Paris. Pouille has only managed to play one match this year on the ATP Tour due to the injury, which was at the Indian Wells Challenger tournament where he lost in straight sets to Noah Rubin.  The issue has been bothering the Frenchman since last October when he shut down his season early after the Shanghai Masters.

“It’s never an easy decision to take, but I will get surgery on my right elbow this month in Paris. After new medical exams, it appeared it was the best solution in order to finally be able to play pain-free. I still hope to play before the end of the season.” Pouille said in a statement.

Pouille initially looked to be on track to making a return to action after participating in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in June. An exhibition tournament created by Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou. However, he lost two matches to Feliciano Lopez and Elliot Benchetrit before being forced to withdraw from the competition due to his elbow.

In recent days the coach of the former world No.10,  Loic Courteau, said they will not be travelling to the US Open next month. Although it is unclear if Courteau’s comments were made before or after the decision to undergo surgery was made.

“I will not be in New York, for the good reason that Lucas… is not going to play the tournament,” he told French television.

Pouille has won five ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $7 million in prize money. He is currently the eighth highest ranked French player on the ATP Tour.

Pouille’s ATP titles breakdown

2018 1 Montpellier (Indoor/Hard)
2017 3 Vienna (Indoor/Hard)
Stuttgart (Outdoor/Grass)
Budapest (Outdoor/Clay)
2016 1 Metz (Indoor/Hard)

 

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US Open Must Allow Entourages Of Three Or Four People, Says Thiem

The world No.3 says he is feeling good ahead of the return of professional tennis next month.

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Dominic Thiem has come out against proposals to restrict the number of coaching staff that can travel to this year’s US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This year’s New York major will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing a series of measures to help minimise the threat posed by the virus. Part of their plan is to limit how many people a player can bring with them to the tournament. It was originally reported that only one team member per player would be allowed to travel, but it has emerged that the limit has since been extended to three.

Speaking about the limits, three-time Grand Slam finalist Thiem said the idea of only allowing one member of his team to travel with him would be a risk for some players on the Tour.

*”I do not think so. Three or four people must be allowed. It would be extremely risky to travel without your own physio. You need a local coach for this,’ Thiem told The Kronen Zeitung newspaper on Sunday.

Thiem last played a match on the ATP Tour at the Rio Open in February where he lost in the quarter-finals. However, throughout the lockdown he has still managed to maintain his match fitness by participating in numerous tournaments. In total he has played 24 matches across three different countries, including one named after him called Thiems 7.

“Right now I feel very good,” he said. “I have played a lot of exhibition games in the last two months and I am not tired at all. I really wanted to play tennis again, since my start of the year was very good.’
“During This period of confinement at home I have been crushing myself a lot in the physical aspect and already when I returned to training. I have decided to improve the backhand and the serve a little more.”

The ATP Tour will resume next month with Thiem hoping that he can continue his form generated from earlier this year. At the Australian Open he reached the final for the first time in his career before getting edged out by Novak Djokovic. Although when he returns, tournaments will not be the same as before due to the ongoing pandemic with strict safety measures and reduced crowds in place.

“When the circuit returns, the matches will be exactly the same as we had previously, but the atmosphere will be different,” he said.
“All tennis players will miss playing tournaments where many people travelled to see us every day. In New York, Paris or Melbourne there are between 60,000 and 70,000 people every day in the facilities. That previous life we ​​had will not be the same and we may have to get used to this new normal for a few years.”

Thiem is one of only four men to have already made more than $1 million in prize money so far this year on the ATP Tour.

*NOTE: Since the publication of this article quotes have been edited following a translation mix-up.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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