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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Rafael Nadal Apologizes To Opponent After Wimbledon Win

The Spaniard admits he made a mistake.

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Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

Rafael Nadal said he was ‘wrong’ to call his opponent to the net during the third set of their third round match at Wimbledon.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last 16 of the tournament by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon for more than a decade, was out in full flow as he raced to a two-set and 4-2 lead. At that point, Sonego managed to get the roof to be closed due to poor lighting.

After speaking to the umpire, Nadal called his opponent to the net for a discussion over what is believed to be about the noise he was making during the match. After losing his 4-2 advantage, Nadal battled back by breaking once again to secure victory.

“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So I apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that,” said Nadal.
Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on), because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that.
“My intention was never to bother him at all. Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some code between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”


The two shared a lengthy exchange at the net after the conclusion of the match and there were no hard feelings between either player.

Controversy aside, Nadal has hailed what he believed is his best performance at The All England Club yet. Against Soego, he won 73% of his service points and hit 24 winners.

“It was my best match, without a doubt, since the tournament started,” said Nadal. “I have made improvements and I’m very happy.’
“I’ve made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days, the determination, the way that I manage to play more aggressively and going to the net plenty of times.”

 

Nadal will play Dutch world number 25 Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16. 

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“Every Match Is A War” – Carlos Alcaraz Excels With Best Performance Yet At Wimbledon

The world No.7 reacts to his latest win ahead of a showdown with a fellow rising star of the sport.

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Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Carlos Alcaraz believes he is quickly finding his footing on the grass after storming into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.

Alcaraz, who is playing in only his second grass-court tournament as a pro player, blasted his way past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. The Spaniard dropped only 14 points behind his serve as he hit a total of 37 winners against eight unforced errors.

“I played unbelievable. This was my best performance so far. So I’m really happy with the level, and I will try to keep this level into the next round.” Alcaraz said afterwards.

The 19-year-old has been a revelation on the Tour this season which has already seen him crack the world’s top 10 and win two Masters 1000 titles. He currently holds the record for the youngest player to ever win an ATP 500 event, as well as being the youngest to score back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament.

In one way Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport is illustrated by his current campaign at Wimbledon. In the first round he found it tough going throughout his five-set win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Learning from that experience, his form improved in the second round against Tallon Griekspoor (who he defeated in straight sets) and even more so against Otte.

“Every match is a war. Every match you can play unbelievable or you can play your worst match,” he explains. “Obviously Monday was my first match on grass (this year). It was really tough. Struff played unbelievable.’
“After four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”
“Now I feel more comfortable playing on grass, and I feel better on grass right now.”


Alcaraz’s next ‘war’ will be another rising star of the Tour – Jannik Sinner. A player who is less than two years older than him. They locked horns last year at the Paris Masters where the Spaniard prevailed in two close sets. Alcaraz also won their meeting at a Challenger event in Alicante back in 2019.

With a place in a Grand Slam quarter-final at stake, it is expected to be a tough battle. Although a challenge is something Alcaraz thrives on.

“Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges.” He said.
“On grass you have to play aggressive, you have to go to the net, you have to try to play more aggressively than the opponent. That’s my idea that I try in every match, to not let the opponent dominate the match.” He added.

The upcoming showdown will be Alcaraz’s sixth Tour-level match on grass which is only two less than that of Sinner. 

 

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Novak Djokovic Shrugs Off Threat Of Covid-19 Outbreak At Wimbledon

The world No.3 explains why he is not ‘overconcenred’ about COVID-19 at the Grand Slam.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB) - Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Novak Djokovic says the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon is one that doesn’t concern him too much after a trio of top-20 players withdrew.

Earlier this week Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut all withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the virus. Unlike the strict protocols that were in place last year, The All England Club has based its policy on local health advice. Where it is recommended that a person takes action if they have symptoms of the virus but they are not required to do so.

With fewer testing measures in place at Wimbledon, there is a high possibility that there are people working on site carrying COVID-19 without realizing it. However, the threat to players is one that reigning champion Djokovic is not too concerned about.

“I did visit the city (London) a few times before the tournament started but I’m not overconcerned about anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, focused and play the tournament.” Djokovic said following his third round win.
“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m going to catch COVID. But being cautious is something that is a necessity I think for everyone, and particularly because we have been through what we’ve been through in the last two years.”

 

Djokovic is one of the few top players who didn’t have a vaccination against covid. Resulting in him having a high-profile legal dispute with Australian authorities which resulted in his deportation and him missing the Australian Open. The tennis star later explained that he didn’t want to be vaccinated as he is cautious about what will be injected into his body. Even though the vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization.

However, nemesis Rafael Nadal said on Thursday that he is taking extra precautions due to the threat. To common knowledge, there is no rule in place preventing a player who tests positive for Covid from playing in the Grand Slam.

“I am not doing many things. Just staying here (at Wimbledon) and staying in the house, not going out at all anymore. That’s part of this challenging world that we are facing in the last couple of years.” Nadal said.
“I am not saying that we are not doing things the proper way because at some point we need to open everything again, we need to be free, have a normal life.”

According to the National Office of Statistics (ONS) it is estimated that 1 in 30 people currently have the virus in the UK in the week ending June 24th.

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