Kei Nishikori wins his fourth consecutive title in Memphis, ends the Taylor Fritz fairytale run - UBITENNIS
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Kei Nishikori wins his fourth consecutive title in Memphis, ends the Taylor Fritz fairytale run

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Nishikori got a great reception from the crowd, despite knocking out the home finalist Fritz (Image via ZImbio.Com)

Kei Nishikori recovered from losing the first three games against teenage sensation Taylor Fritz, to defeat the young American 6-4, 6-4 for his fourth Memphis title in a row.

 

Fritz started well, holding to love, then broke Nishikori to thirty in the top seed’s first service game, ripping a backhand return down the line. Nishikori could only block the shot wide and the eighteen year old had the first service break. He again held to love before Nishikori finally got on the scoreboard at three-one. The young American then found himself in trouble, as Nishikori earned love-forty and three break back points. he saved two break points, but double-faulted on the third as the World no. 7 fought back to an on serve position.

Despite losing the advantage, Fritz clearly had a similar game-plan that nearly saw compatriot Sam Querrey earn a shock win in the semi-final against Nishikori, ripping into second serves and trying to finish points quickly. Fritz hit an exceptional return winner that was almost Nadal-esque, lunging wide to force a forehand winner up the line. Nishikori would hold once again to thirty. Nishikori then ramped up the pressure, attacking Fritz and earning break points after an excellent return put Fritz on the back foot, putting away a volley. Fritz saved the first two, and then a third from deuce-advantage with an unreturned serve. Nishikori then held to thirty, winning three of his four points when Fritz uncharacteristically failed to return serve.

Fritz then put himself under pressure, twice missing short forehands on game point, before Nishikori engineered a break point with a second serve return winner. Nishikori then hit a forehand into the backhand corner of Fritz, who could only find the tramlines, and the top seed would serve for the set. Nishikori took the set with a love service hold, and the three-time defending champion appeared to be in total control.

Three errors saw Nishikori surge to three break points in the first game of the second set. A running forehand, a big serve from Fritz and a Nishikori forehand unforced error saw Fritz save all three, and then hold when Nishikori missed a backhand return. Fritz earned fifteen thirty in the next game when he hit the line with a forehand, and Nishikori pushed a backhand wide. He earned a pair of break points, with Nishikori saving the first with a angled drive, and the second when Fritz failed to return a serve. He earned a third when he ripped a forehand return with a body shot that Nishikori could only hit into the net. Again Nishikori saved with a serve. Nishikori had the opportunity to serve the game out, but Fritz ripped another backhand winner off a short kick serve. Nishikori finally held in a seven minute game.

Nishikori won an excellent point in the next service game, defending a Fritz volley and smash, before earning break points again. Fritz saved one, and narrowly missed a first serve on the second ball, before Nishikori broke with a forehand winner. Like the match with Querrey yesterday, Nishikori was finding another gear in the second set, starting to dominate, as Fritz became increasingly desperate. Fritz did settle and ensure he at least stayed in touch with a hold to fifteen, to earn three-four in the second set. Nishikori held comfortably to move within a game of a fourth consecutive title.

Nishikori earned two championship points against the Fritz serve at five-three, Fritz saved the first, before Nishikori attempted a between the legs lob after Fritz lobbed him.He missed what would have been a stunning match winning point. Fritz managed to hold the game, ensuring that Nishikori would have to serve for the title.

Nishikori showed his confidence in the last game by utilising the drop-shot, and finished the match with a full forehand smash.

Fritz will move up in the rankings just short of the Top 100, to around no. 103, a ranking normally good enough to earn direct entry into the Grand Slams, though if Fritz earns a win in Delray Beach next week, where he has received a special exemption into the event.  Nishikori can celebrate seventeen consecutive wins in Memphis that have rewarded him with four titles.

Nishikori: ” Four years in a row is something new so I’m very happy for that“. On Fritz : “He beat many players this week and looks to have a bright future.”

Fritz: ” I’d like to thank my coach Nico, my family and girlfriend back home, also all the volunteers and ball kids they did a great job“.

 

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.

 

It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.

Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.

” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.

Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.

In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.

Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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