Marat Safin and Justine Henin entered into the International Tennis Hall of Fame - UBITENNIS
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Marat Safin and Justine Henin entered into the International Tennis Hall of Fame

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Henin in action at the 2011 Australian Open, her final Grand Slam tournament before retirement (Image via Zimbio.com)

Former Grand Slam champions Justine Henin and Marat Safin have been entered into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

 

Justine Henin is regarded as one of the best female players of the 21st Century, winning seven Grand Slam titles between 2003-2007. She won the French Open four times in the space of five years, taking the title in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007. She also won the Australian Open once, the US Open twice, and was twice a runner-up at Wimbledon. Henin was also ranked World No.1 for more than 100 weeks.

Henin is noted for being one of the most serious challengers to the dominance of the Williams sisters, Serena Williams led their head-to-head, but Henin led in Grand Slam meetings, four to Williams three. Henin also had a rivalry with fellow Belgian Kim Cjlisters and Amelie Mauresmo.

  • Henin winning the 2005 French Open.

Henin was noted for having one of the best single-handed backhands in tennis, earning praise from a number of players and commentators including John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova. Her game was also known for precise, accurate ground-strokes, and possessing an all-court game, compared to many more powerful base-liners. Henin retired in 2008 before returning to the tour in 2010. Henin retired for a second time in 2011 due to an elbow injury.

Henin – “Not a lot of people really believed I could reach my goal because my dream was to become the best player in the world. It became my goal. A lot of people thought I was a little bit crazy. But strongly, deeply I never really doubted about the fact that I could make it.

  • Marat Safin tribute video.

Marat Safin is a two-time Grand Slam title winner earning victories at the US Open in 2000 by defeating Pete Sampras, and also enjoyed a nine week reign as World No.1 that year. He would reach the 2002 and 2004 Australian Open Finals, losing to Thomas Johansson and Roger Federer, before finally winning the title in 2005 by defeating Lleyton Hewitt. Injury and loss of form would haunt the Russian, and he would only once progress past the fourth round of a Grand Slam after his Australian Open triumph. That was a shock run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2008, after defeating current world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the second round. That run ensured that Safin joined a select group of players who have reached the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams.

Safin also won five Masters 1000 titles earning the titles in Canada, Madrid and Paris (3). Safin was notable for being an tough opponent for the young Roger Federer. Between the 2004 Wimbledon and the 2008 Australian Open, Safin was the only player besides Rafael Nadal to defeat Federer in a Grand Slam tournament, as Safin defeated Federer in a five set thriller en route to his title win in 2005.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoYaSlbPHig

  • Safin defeating Federer en route to the 2005 Australian Open title.

Safin was also part of Russian Davis Cup team that included Yegeny Kafelnikov and Mikhail Youzhny. They won the title for the first time, with Safin crucially winning both of his singles rubbers in a 3-2 win. Safin also proved pivotal in Russia winning in 2006 , losing one singles rubber, but winning the second and playing in the winning doubles team to beat Argentina.

Safin on his career – “Very difficult to come out of the country. No money. To come out of the country and start to play on the world level, I think it’s a really big achievement.”

Safin has now embarked on a political career in Russia.

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WTA Bronx: Camila Giorgi Set For Title Showdown With Magda Linette

Camila Giorgi has twice survived a third set tiebreak this week, and saved four match points just yesterday, but can she claim the title?

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In Friday’s semifinals, Giorgi faced the top seed and world No.18 Qiang Wang.  This match would see a ton of service breaks, with each set consisting of five or more.  They would split the first two sets by identical scores of 6-4. In the third, the 27-year-old from China served for the match at 5-4, and would hold a match point, but Giorgi would save it and break for 5-5.  Camila’s firepower allows her to dictate play more often than not, and she’s continually lifted her game at the right moments this week.

 

Giorgi would then garner a match point of her own on Wang’s serve at 6-5, but also failed to convert.  In the deciding tiebreak, Qiang gained the early mini-break on the first point with a backhand winner down the line.  But Camila would punish an extremely soft second serve and get the breaker right back on serve. Wang then took advantage of a Giorgi forehand clipping the net, giving her extra time to rip a forehand and regain the mini-break.  They switched sides with Wang leading 4-2.

A few Giorgi errors gave Wang three more match points 6-3, with two of them on Qiang’s serve.  But Wang’s forehand misfired on both of the match points on her serve, and then Giorgi would put away a backhand volley to level things at 6-6.  Camila would again strike some deep and powerful groundies when she needed them, granting herself a match point at 7-6 on Wang’s serve. And Wang would sail a backhand beyond the baseline, sending the 27-year-old Italian into tomorrow’s final in dramatic fashion.

It’s the second final in four weeks for Giorgi, who was stunned in the Washington final by a first-time WTA champion, Jessica Pegula.  Camila saw her ranking fall outside the top 50 last month when her Wimbledon quarterfinalist points from 2018 dropped off her 52-week tally, but she’ll return to the top 50 with today’s win.  In her career, Giorgi is 2-5 in WTA tournament finals, with her most recent title coming last October at the Linz Open.

On Saturday in the first Bronx Open singles final, she’ll face another 27-year-old in Magda Linette of Poland.  This is only Linette’s second WTA-level final in her career, with the last coming four years ago in Tokyo. She lost in that final to Yanina Wickmayer, so a win today would give Magda her first career singles title.  Linette had to qualify to get into this draw, meaning this will be her seventh match in nine days. On Friday, she ousted Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, a day after surviving a third set tiebreak of her own in the quarterfinals against Karolina Muchova.

As much tennis as Linette has played in the Bronx, she may be the fresher of the two finalists.  Giorgi’s semifinal was played later in the day on Friday, and lasted nearly three hours. In their only previous meeting, Giorgi prevailed in three sets, on a hard court in Linette’s home country four years ago.

The first Bronx Open doubles champions were crowned on Friday, with Darija Jurak and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez defeating Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu in a deciding 10-point tiebreak 10-7.  This is the first title for this team, which was formed just a few weeks ago in Canada.

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Jannick Sinner saves two match points to reach the third round at the US Open qualifying round

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Italian 18-year-old rising star Jannick Sinner came back from one set down to beat Croatia’s Viktor Galovic 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 after two hours and 49 minutes advancing to the third round of the US Open qualifying round.

 

Galovic went up an early break in the first game and held his serve until the 10th game, when Sinner earned two break-back points. Golovic held his serve to win the first set 6-4.

Sinner wasted a break point in the fourth game, but he broke serve in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead. Galovic broke back, when Sinner was serving for the set. Galovic saved two set points at 6-5 forcing the second set to the tie-break, where Sinner cruised through to winning the second set 7-2.

Galovic went up a break in the fourth game to build up a 4-1 lead.

Sinner saved two two match points at 2-5 on his serve before winning five consecutive games to win the third set 7-5. Galovic dropped his serve, when he was serving for the match. Sinner broke again in the 11th game, but he had to save two break-back points, as he was serving for the match.

Sinner won his first match on the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome beating Steve Johnson in three sets and is currently ranked world number 131.

The player from SudTyrol will play against Spain’s Mario Vilella Martinez for a spot in the main draw.

Martinez fought back from losing the first set to beat Akira Santillan 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-2.

 Jiri Vesely overcame Jason Jung 6-4 5-7 7-5 setting up a match against Paolo Lorenzi for a spot in the main draw. Lorenzi beat Enzo Couacaud 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Guillermo Garcia Lopez cruised past Noah Rubin 6-1 7-6 (7-3) securing his spot in the third round where he will face Constant Lestienne, who swept aside Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 6-0.

 

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Dominic Thiem Downplays US Open Chances

The world No.4 has given a frank assessment about his hopes at the New York major shortly after the draw was made on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem may be a top four seed in next week’s US Open, but the Austrian has played down the prospect of him winning his first grand slam title at the event.

 

The 25-year-old has experienced a setback in his build up to the tournament. Since winning the Kitzbuhel Open on clay, Thiem has only managed to play three matches on a hard court. Reaching the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in what what was his best-ever run at the tournament. However, more recently Thiem has been sidelined from action due to a virus and pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters.

Thiem’s first round opponent at the US Open will be Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, who has suffered two consecutive first round losses on the tour. Fabbiano reached the third round in New York back in 2017, but has missed the two most recent editions.

“Without a doubt, there are much tougher rivals than Thomas Fabbiano in a first round, although I must say that, after overcoming this viral disease, I do not expect miracles.” Thiem told Sky Sport Austria on Thursday.

Heading into the event, Thiem has said he has set out no goal. He will be defending 360 ranking points after reaching the quarter-finals 12 months ago before losing in a five-set thriller to Rafael Nadal. Overall, Thiem’s win-loss at the US Open is 15-5 heading into this year.

“Right now I do not consider reaching a quarterfinals or a semifinal. I want to go round to round, looking beyond would be presumptuous.” He said.
“In the next few days I will keep my training to a minimum, the goal is to be in perfect shape on Monday.”

https://twitter.com/ZahrerLukas/status/1164574948528132097

Despite his recent setbacks, 2019 has been a season of success for the world No.4. In March he won the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. He would then go on to win trophies in Barcelona and Kitzhbuel. However, in the grand slams he has been less consistent. At the French Open Thiem reached the final, but has failed to win back-to-back matches at both the Australian Open (second round) and Wimbledon (first round). Although at the Australian Open he was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to illness.

The US Open will get underway on Monday.

Dominic Thiem at the US Open

2018
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Quarter-Finals 1
Rafael Nadal ESP
L 60 46 57 764 675
Round of 16 5
Kevin Anderson RSA
W 75 62 762
Round of 32 74
Taylor Fritz USA
W 36 63 765 64
Round of 64 31
Steve Johnson USA
W 675 63 57 64 61
Round of 128 81
Mirza Basic BIH
W 63 61 64
2017
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 28
Juan Martin del Potro ARG
L 61 62 16 671 46
Round of 32 34
Adrian Mannarino FRA
W 75 63 64
Round of 64 108
Taylor Fritz USA
W 64 64 46 75
Round of 128 186
Alex de Minaur AUS
W 64 61 61
2016
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 142
Juan Martin del Potro ARG
L 36 23 (RET)
Round of 32 39
Pablo Carreno Busta ESP
W 16 64 64 75
Round of 64 89
Ricardas Berankis LTU
W 64 63 62
Round of 128 66
John Millman AUS
W 63 26 57 64 63
2015
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 32 14
Kevin Anderson RSA
L 36 673 673
Round of 64 70
Denis Istomin UZB
W 64 64 10 (RET)
Round of 128 76
Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
W 75 63 75
2014
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 7
Tomas Berdych CZE
L 16 26 46
Round of 32 21
Feliciano Lopez ESP
W 64 62 63
Round of 64 12
Ernests Gulbis LTA
W 46 36 64 63 63
Round of 128 84
Lukas Lacko SLO
W 63 63 62

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