Challenger Tour: Grega Zemlja hits impressive number of aces in win, Marinko Matosevic up and running in Dallas - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Grega Zemlja hits impressive number of aces in win, Marinko Matosevic up and running in Dallas

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Zemlja was in almost impeccable form when it came to serving on Tuesday. (Image via Zimbio.com)

There were a few shocks in Dallas on Tuesday, with Marinko Matosevic arguably causing the biggest as he beat fifth seed Radu Albot 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

 

The Australian, attempting to make his way back from a long-term injury, survived a late comeback bid from the Moldovan to win his first main draw match at any level this season. It is an encouraging result for the former World No. 39 player, as he had lost to players ranked outside the top 100 in qualifying events before making the main draw of Dallas.

Grega Zemlja earned a hard-f0ught 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 win over Jason Jung. The Slovenian, though aided by an incredible thirty-three aces, still had to dig himself out of a hole when Jung earned the right to serve for the match at five-four in the tiebreak. Zemlja survived though, winning the next three points, and fittingly won the match on an ace.

Another upset was the in-form Mikhail Vaks win over American Connor Smith. Vaks, who is currently ranked outside the top 1000 and with a career-high ranking of 567, defeated Smith 6-4, 6-2. Vaks is in form having dispatched Nicolas Barrientos in qualifying to reach the main draw.

It was a day to forget for most of the American contingent, as Clay Thompson, Eric Quigley, Dennis Novikov, and Sekou Bangoura all joined Smith in departing. Only Ernesto Escobedo won on Tuesday and that in the all American clash against Thompson. Quigley was beaten 7-6, 6-3 by John-Patrick Smith, Novikov was beaten 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 by James McGee, and Bangoura lost to Briton Kyle Edmund 7-6, 6-2.

Nicolas Barrientos, though the beneficiary of a lucky loser entry to the tournament, could not take advantage of his good fortune, going down to Marco Trungelliti 6-3, 7-6. Henri Laaksonen joined Trungelliti in the second round by beating alternate Marek Michalicka 7-5, 6-1 in one hour and twelve minutes.

(At the time of writing the final first round match between Sam Groth and Frances Tiafoe had yet to be completed).

Wednesday highlights and picks (in bold):

Ryan Harrison vs Tim Smyczek: These two have already met four times on tour in their careers, and Smyczek leads the head-to-head 3-1. Smyczek negotiated a potentially tricky encounter against Mitchell Krueger in the first round, while Harrison looked distinctly unconvincing against Alex Kuznetsov, failing to serve the match out twice before finally breaking in the last game.

Dan Evans vs Bjorn Fratangelo: Evans owns a commanding 3-0 lead in this head-to-head though Fratangelo did grab a set for the first time in their most recent meeting at the Australian Open Qualifying event in January. Both had impressive first-round wins against Andrey Rublev and Jared Donaldson respectively, but Evans has been in more consistent form and the head-to-head builds a strong case for the Briton.

Benjamin Becker vs Ernesto Escobedo: Perhaps the biggest test of the young American’s fledgling career, the veteran German Becker will prove a tough test for Escobedo. Watch this match because this teenager is talented but all the same Becker is likely to prove just a step too far at this stage.

 

 

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Emma Raducanu Crowned Action Woman Of The Year

The US Open champion has received another accolade in recognition of her season on the Tour.

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Emma Raducanu reacts to her win during a Women's Singles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Pete Staples/USTA)

Emma Raducanu’s breakthrough season has ended on a high note after she received a top honour on Monday evening.

 

The 19-year-old has been named BT Sport Action Woman of the year following a public vote which took place. The annual awards celebrates ‘the achievements of brilliant and inspiring female athletes’ and started back in 2013. Past athletes to win the award include sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and England footballer Jodie Williams.

“I just wanted to say a massive thank you for voting me as your Action Woman of the Year and I’d really like to congratulate all the other amazing nominees on their incredible achievements over the last 12 months,” Raducanu said in a video published on Monday.
“For me to win this achievement is an absolute honour, so I just wanted to say thank you and hope you’re all having a brilliant evening. I’ll see you soon.”

Raducanu made headlines earlier this year by stunning the field to win the US Open in what was only her second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. The Brit became the first qualifier to ever win the title and didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played. Players she defeated in New York include Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari. She is the first British woman to win a major title since Virginia Wade back in 1977.

The rising star didn’t make her WTA Tour main draw debut until this year’s Nottingham Open. She also reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and was the finalist at a WTA 125 tournament in Chicago. However, she suffered a slight dip in her results after the US Open by winning only two out of five matches played across three tournaments.

Raducanu, who is currently sitting at a ranking high of 19th, is preparing for the 2022 season alongside her new coach Torben Beltz who is known for his previous work with Angleique Kerber. She will return to action next week in Abu Dhabi by taking part in an exhibition match against Belinda Bencic at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships.

Torben is a super positive guy and he brings great energy,” Raducanu recently told reporters.
“He’s someone whenever you’re around him you can’t help it because it’s just like infectious. It’s really cool to have that in my team so he’s constantly lifting the mood. I’m really excited to work with him and I’ll get a better chance to get to know him better this off-season and see where it goes.
“We’ve been in communication a lot. I’ve just been doing a lot of fitness, like four to five hours a day training and start my tennis next week, so he’s coming in and we’ll be working hard together during the off-season and into Australia.”

Raducanu has risen up the WTA rankings by more than 300 places since January.

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The Russian Tennis Federation wins the third Davis Cup title

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The Russian Tennis Federation beat Croatia 2-0 to win their third Davis Cup title and their first since 2006 with straight-set wins by top 10 players Andrey Rublev and Danil Medvedev. 

 

World number 5 Andrey Rublev beat world number 279 Borna Gojo 6-4 7-6 (7-5) in 1 hour and 33 minutes to give the Russian Tennis Federation a 1-0 lead over Croatia in the final of the Davis Cup.

Russia equalled Czech Republic and Germany in seventh place in the all-time list of Davis Cup winners. 

Earlier this year Russia had also won the ATP Cup last February. 

Russia could become the fourth team to win both Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup titles in the same year after the women’s team claimed the women’s event beating Switzerland 2-0 last month. 

Gojo, who beat Lorenzo Sonego in the quarter final and Dusan Lajovic in the semifinal, saved break points in the first and third games of the first set, before Rublev earned two break points in the seventh game, as Gojo hit two backhands into the net. Rublev forced an error from Gojo with a forehand to break serve for 4-3. Rublev did not face a break point and served out the first set with an ace after 35 minutes. 

The Russian player did not convert his five break points in the first and third games of the second set. 

Rublev took Gojo to deuce at 5-5 but Gojo held with a serve down the middle. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. 

Rublev went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Gojo broke back both times and took a 5-4 lead, when Rublev sent a forehand wide and a serve out wide.

Rublev earned two match points with a pass and forehand inside out and converted his first chance when Gojo hit his backhand long. The 24-year-old player did not face a break point and hit 18 winners. 

“It was super tough. There was a lot of pressure on me. Borna was playing ubelievably for the past two weeks. He was amazing today. I will enjoy this moment”,said Rublev. 

Danil Medvedev beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 in the second singles match to give an insurmountable 2-0 lead ending Russia’s 15-year wait. Russia had won their previous titles in 2002 and 2006. 

Neither player was able to break point in a tight first set. Cilic earned a break point on Medvedev’s second serve at 4-3, but he hit a backhand return into the net. 

Cilic took a 4-2 lead when Medvedev sent a forehand wide in the tie-break. Medvedev won four of the next five points to earn a set point on Cilic’s serve. Cilic fended it off with a smash, but he sent a forehand out to face a second set point. Medvedev did not convert it after a double fault. Medvedev earned his third set point 8-7 with a big serve down the middle and converted ita s Cilic made a backhand error. 

Medvedev got his first break of the second set in the fourth game when a forehand from Cilic popped up off the net-cord. Medvedev sealed the second set 6-2 with his second break in the eighth game when a forehand from Cilic fell short. Medvedev won 87% of his first serve points. 

“It feels amazing. I am more happy for the team than myself. We have an amazing team with a great atmosphere and I am just happy to be able to be part of this team to win the points we needed. It was an amazing two weeks. I am really happy”, said Medvedev. 

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Russia sets up Davis Cup final against Croatia

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Top 10 players Danil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev won their singles matches in straight sets to guide the Russian Team Federation to a 2-1 win over Germany sending the Russian Tennis Federation into the final of the Davis Cup in Madrid. The Russian team set up a final against 2018 Davis Cup champions Croatia in the Davis Cup on Sunday.  

 

Rublev eased past Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-0 after just 49 minutes to give the Russian Team Federation a 1-0 lead. Rublev hit nine aces and converted all his four break points. 

“The difference today was compared to other matches where I was feeling I am winning quite easily. I don’t need to put in much effort, and in the end I was completely relaxed. I was giving up to the other guy”, said Rublev. 

This year’s US Open champion Danil Medvedev sealed Russia’s spot in the final with a 6-4 6-4 win over Jan-Lennard Struff in 66 minutes with a break in each set. Medvedev committed just six unforced errors and saved the only break point he faced. Struff saved two break points before sending his shot into the net to drop his serve. Medvedev held his serve to win the first set 6-4. 

“I am really happy for the team for the team. It has an amazing It won’t be easy against Croatia. They have the best doubles team in the world. We need to try to close it out in singles, but we believe in our guys in doubles”, said Medvedev. 

In the dead rubber Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev won the first set 6-4 with two breaks of serve, but they were not able to convert their two break break points, as Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz rallied to win the second set 6-2 with a break in the sixth game. The German team converted their third break point to win the match 4-6 6-2 6-3. 

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