Stan Wawrinka seeks to use Andy Murray's Davis Cup focus to his advantage - UBITENNIS
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Stan Wawrinka seeks to use Andy Murray’s Davis Cup focus to his advantage

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Stan Wawrinka in action during the 2015 ATP World Tour Finals (image via The Guardian)

There is just one man standing in the way between Stan Wawrinka and his bid to reach the semifinals of the ATP Finals for the second successive year.

 

After redeeming himself in London with a straight sets win over David Ferrer, The Swiss No.2 will now play against home favorite Andy Murray. It will be the first meeting between the two players since the 2013 US Open quarterfinals, where Wawrinka took the win. Looking ahead to the Friday clash, Wawrinka acknowledged that he faces a tough task.

“It’s going to be interesting for sure. We used to have some big battles in the past, some tough matches, three sets, four sets, etc. It’s will be interesting how I’m going to play Friday”. The French Open champion said.
“He’s having an amazing year, No. 2 in the world. He is so dangerous indoor, especially at home”.

In their 14 previous matches, Wawrinka currently trails the head-to-head 6-8, however, he won their two most recent matches in 2013. Despite the two-year gap since their last meeting, the Swiss player doesn’t expect any substantial difference in Murray’s game. The only difference Wawrinka has noticed is the increase in his aggressive play as well as his confidence due to his strong season, which has elevated the Brit to No.2 in the world.

This year Murray is in the same position as his Swiss rival were last year, playing the year-end championships a week before the Davis Cup final. In the lead up to the tournament the world No.2 spent time preparing on the clay in France as suppose to the hardcourts. The decision was taken due to the Davis Cup final occurring on clay as Murray aims to guide his country to their first title in the event since 1936. The approach by the Brit has resulted in a decline in his performance, according to the French Open champion.

“It’s impossible to know exactly what we can expect from him for Friday. If I look at his match (against Nadal), I think he was a little bit flat. The fact he practiced so much after Paris, on clay to get the rhythm doesn’t help him to feel completely fresh this week”. Wawrinka said.

Wawrinka will face off against Murray at 20:00 BST at the O2 Arena on Friday.

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ATP Finals 2019 Day 4 Preview: Medvedev Seeks Revenge Against Nadal

After a day of upsets in the Andre Agassi Group on Monday, will the surprises continue today?

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sascha Zverev were both 0-5 respectively against Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal, yet both were victorious in the opening round.  Tsitsipas and Zverev will now compete to take the lead in the group, while Nadal and Medvedev compete the keep their advancement hopes alive. And for Rafa, the year-end No.1 ranking is also up for grabs between himself and Novak Djokovic.

 

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4)

This is a rematch from the epic US Open final two months ago.  On that day in New York, Nadal was up two sets and a break, seemingly cruising to his 19th Major singles title.  But Medvedev would fight his way back to even the match, eventually succumbing to Rafa in a five-set, five-hour thriller.  Since that final, Nadal has battled multiple injuries, and has not completed any event he’s entered. Meanwhile the US Open was one of six straight consecutive finals for Medvedev, yet he’s now 0-2 over the past month.  Both Nadal and Medvedev admitted they were not at their best on Monday. Rafa is obviously not back to 100% after the abdominal injury he suffered in Paris less than two weeks ago. Jim Courier on Tennis Channel in the US said he’s never seen Nadal hit his forehand worse than he did on Monday.  And after taking some time off after his six straight finals, Medvedev has been struggling to rediscover his form, and said he’s been playing poorly in practice. Their only other previous match was also this summer, when Rafa dominated Daniil in the Rogers Cup final, dropping only three games. But judging by Rafa’s level against Zverev on Monday, I like Medvedev’s chances on an indoor hard court to secure his first win over Nadal.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) vs. Sascha Zverev (7)

This will be their fifth career meeting, with all of them occurring within the past 18 months.  Zverev claimed their first matchup last summer in Washington, but Tsitsipas has taken the last three, including most recently just last month in Beijing.  Their rivalry turned in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup last August, when Stefanos saved two match points in the second set tiebreak to come back and upset Sascha in three.  Tsitsipas has now won six of their last seven sets contested. While Zverev has been a better player since the Laver Cup in September, and served very well against Nadal on Monday, Sascha is still not quite at the level he reached a year ago when he won this event.  And Tsitsipas has been the much more confident competitor of the two throughout this year. Based on their head-to-head history and recent form, Tsitsipas should be favored to remain undefeated in the Andre Agassi Group. 

 

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A Rude And Silly Reply From Nadal, I Am Waiting For His Apology

I asked Nadal an innocent question about his wedding; he took it so badly that he eventually burst into an offensive: “That’s bullshit”

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LONDON – I was really surprised by Rafael Nadal’s reaction to a question that was quite innocent and totally legitimate. A reaction I consider unbecoming of him, rude and silly. I sincerely hope he will extend his apology for this behaviour. Respect remains paramount, no matter if you are the greatest champion or the new kid on the block. In front of everybody, Rafa disrespected me.

 

I hadn’t seen him since the Laver Cup in Geneva. And in the meantime,… he had gotten married. I had no intention whatsoever to ask a particularly original question or, as I have seen written in some tweets, to “show off”. And I certainly didn’t want to provoke him. Maybe the question did not come out the way I wanted: we always need to be concise during press conferences, and you cannot explain all the details, but what I wanted to ask was simply for him to explain whether the days around his wedding day had been emotional, different from the normal routine made of trainings, forehands and backhands. That’s all, no malicious innuendos, no desire to be irritating or original. I was just curious about what I considered a special moment in his life. Getting married is usually not like taking a walk in the park, even when it is possible to rely on a full team taking care of the arrangements – I assume that was the case for him – and there aren’t many details you have to worry about.

I am sorry I am forced to report such an ill-advised behaviour by Rafa Nadal of all people. He is a champion and, before that, a young man I have always appreciated, with whom I have had a good relationship ever since I saw him play for the first time in Montecarlo. He was just 17 years old, and one night he finished his match against Albert Costa very late, playing under the floodlights, in front of a scattered crowd, when most reporters had already left the Country Club to attend the traditional soirèe the tournament organizes every year at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, next to the Jimmy’z.

This is the video footage of our exchange at the end of his English-language press conference, before the question time reserved for the Spanish press. Our dialogue starts at 10:50.

In essence, I asked Rafa if by any chance his wedding had been a disrupting element, albeit solemnly important, to his routine. This is the transcript of our interaction, with my notes in brackets.

Q. Tonight you were playing very short many times. I don’t know why, because you’re not used to that. I’d like to know, for many people to get married is a very important distracted thing (in the life of a man and a woman, it was implied) before the marriage, during the marriage, after the marriage. I’d like to know if somehow your concentration on tennis life has been a bit different even if you were going out with the same girl for many, many years (I was implying that it wasn’t love at first sight, I understand it didn’t turn his life upside down, but it still could have had some distracting effect, with the King of Spain being present and all… It wasn’t a small family wedding)

RAFAEL NADAL: Honestly, are you asking me this? Is a serious question or is a joke? Is it serious?

Q. It’s serious. (Off microphone.) Is not something that happens every day (at that point I had no microphone any longer so my retort was not captured by the official transcript), you can experience strong emotions, your parents, your wife, yourself…

RAFAEL NADAL: Okay. I surprise, is a big surprise for me you ask me this after I have been with the same girl for 15 years and having a very stable and normal life.

Doesn’t matter if you put a ring on your finger or not. In my personal way, I am a very normal guy.

Maybe for you was (did he want to add ‘different’) — how many years you have been with your…

Q. Wife 30 years this year.

RAFAEL NADAL: And before?

Q. (off microphone) 5 years

RAFAEL NADAL: Ah, maybe before you were not sure. That’s why (he smiles to the rest of the press room and he adds). Okay. Okay. We move to Spanish, because that’s bullshit. Thank you very much.

Unfortunately, due to some background chatter in the interview room I didn’t hear the “bullshit” word, I just read it on the transcript after a few colleagues made me notice he disrespected me. In fact, as soon as I went back to the press room, all colleagues, French, Swiss, even Spanish expressed their support to me because my question was perfectly legitimate, it was not engaging, mean, embarrassing or indelicate. So much so that when Rafa asked me whether it was a joke or a serious question, I immediately replied “It’s serious”. I was surprised he even had to ask.

The fact that Rafa has been together with Cisca, Francisca, Maria Francisca or Mer for 15 years does not imply that the days around his wedding, with 300 guests, friends, the King of Spain Juan Carlos ans other sporting legends were just like a walk in the park. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know whether Rafa’s parents, or Meri’s parents or some of their close friends cried, were moved to tears, experienced all those emotions that are normally coupled with weddings.

If Rafa did not experience any emotions just because he has been with the same woman for 15 years, that’s his problem. As far as I am concerned, maybe I’m just more romantic, or softer, but I thought it would be normal to get emotional in tying the knot with the woman of your life in front of so many people; an important, unforgettable moment. People usually live that day as a very special day. Rafa does not hold back expressing his emotions when he wins an important point on court – over and above his “vamos”, his jumps and his fist pumps – if his wedding day was a routine experience for him, but just the formalization of his union by exchanging rings with his fiancée… well, I am sorry for him. I don’t know what Xisca thinks about it. Judging from Rafa’s response, there should be no enthusiasm or emotion capable to upset his routine, when getting married after having been with the same woman for 15 years. He was even surprised when someone, like myself, asked him about possible emotions on his wedding day. I am stunned. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but I feel I should point this out because of the way he treated me. 

To put it simply, I could not believe that even after dating the same woman for 15 years, the day before the wedding could be completely routine, without any emotional involvement. This is why I asked the question, without thinking it could be misinterpreted, or considered a joke, even less labeled as ‘bullshit’. 

Perhaps Rafa was nervous because he had just lost a match (6-2, 6-4 without ever getting a break point) against an opponent he had always defeated before, Alexander Zverev. This could partially justify his behaviour, but he had not given any signs of nerves during the previous questions. I have always considered him an intelligent person. But sometimes even intelligent people make mistakes or say silly things. But they apologise afterwards. I hope Rafa is going to do it, sooner or later. If he won’t, never mind. But he will not make a very good impression to me or to all my colleagues, including the Spanish reporters from Puntodebreak and Eurosport who came to talk to me immediately after the incident. 

I want to stress once again that my curiosity about how he may have reacted to an important moment in his life that I didn’t believe could be seen as a mere formality, was entirely innocent. He didn’t understand it, I hope someone will explain him, even if this for sure will not be an important moment in his life. Even if, in some way, we have been knowing and seeing each other for 15 years.

Origional article published in Italian on ubitennis.com

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Dominic Thiem First Through To ATP Finals Semis After Epic Win Over Djokovic

For the second time in his career, Thiem has battled back from a set down to upset the former world No.1.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem has become the first Austrian player in history to reach the semi-final stage at the ATP Finals after fighting back against world No.2 Novak Djokovic in a classic encounter.

 

In what was an enthralling nighttime clash, the world No.4 produced some of his best play to recover from a set down to prevail 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4), over the second seed after more than two-and-a-half hours of pulsating play. A turnaround from three years ago in the same tournament when it was Djokovic who won after losing the opening tiebreaker. This time around Thiem prevailed with the help of 50 winners. 32 of those coming from his forehand side.

“This was one of the most special matches. It is what I have practiced all of my life for.” Thiem said during his on-court interview. “It’s a really big one (win) in front of an amazing atmosphere against a real legend of our game. So I couldn’t be happier. Also, I qualified for the semifinals which is the best.”

Thiem has been a player of nightmares for the world No.2 in recent months. Despite trailing their head-to-head (3-6), the Austrian had won three out of their four most recent meetings. Including a clash at a windy French Open back in June. Once again Djokovic struggled to tame his rival during what was a rollercoaster opener at The O2 Arena

It was the six-time champion who struck first after breaking for a 3-1 lead. However, that advantage swiftly disappeared due to an emphatic response from Thiem in the following game as he fought back to draw level. The cat and mouse chase between the two continued as both players refused to buckle as they each won their mini battles on the court. Paving way for a tiebreak.

In an encounter of fine margins, it would be one single shot that proved fatal to Thiem. At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, a forehand sailed long to hand his Serbian nemesis set point. An opportunity Djokovic seized with the help of a 123 mph serve to end what was 65 minutes of pulsating play from the two. Handing him his ninth consecutive tiebreak win on the ATP Tour since Wimbledon.

The comeback

Dominc Thiem (Aut)

Despite the blunder, Thiem continued to antagonize Djokovic in the match. Breaking straight away in the second set en route to a 3-0 advantage. Much to the bemusement of the 16-time grand slam champion, who made numerous glares of frustration towards his camp. There was no let-up in the Thiem comeback as he rallied to level the match a set apiece.

The fightback continued to draw admiration from the London crowd. In the decider, it was another blistering forehand from Thiem that broke the Djokovic serve right away. As cries of anger continued to erupt from the five-time champion, the exchanges of breaks continued. Thiem’s first chance of serving the match out at 6-5 ended in disaster after he hit an array of errors. Nevertheless, he refused to go away. Fighting back from a 1-4 deficit in the decisive tiebreaker to stun Djokovic. Prompting the 26-year-old to drop to the floor out of sheer jubilation and exhaustion.

“I was in the zone from the first point on. Even when I served for the match, 6-5 in the third set, I was playing obviously the best returner in the game.” Assessed Thiem. “I didn’t worry too much and I was focusing on the tiebreak. Coming back from 1-4 was also a little bit of luck but in general, it was unbelievable. A match I would never forget.” He added.

Djokovic now faces a showdown against Roger Federer if he wishes to reach the last four of the tournament. The last time he failed to progress beyond the round-robin stages was back in 2011. Excluding the 2016 edition, he missed due to injury. Visibly disappointed with the outcome of his match afterward, he still paid tribute to his rival.

“He was unbelievable, and in some stages, it was just incredible that he was just literally smacking the ball as hard as he can and he was going in.” He said of Thiem.
“This today was unbelievable. But whether he can keep that up every match, if he does, chapeau There is not much you can say. For sure, he’s playing great tennis.”

As a result of the latest match, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini cannot progress beyond the round-robin stage and will finish bottom in the group.

Standings after two matches

MATCHES SETS GAMES
[1] THIEM W W 4-1 33-16
[2] DJOKOVIC W L 3-2 28-22
[3] FEDERER L W 2-2 23-23
[4] BERRETTINI L L 0-4 12-25

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