Novak Djokovic Overcomes Back Spasms To Move Past Tomas Berdych In Miami - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Overcomes Back Spasms To Move Past Tomas Berdych In Miami

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic during Day 10 of the Miami Open. (Zimbio.com)

Novak Djokovic continued his dominant record against Tomas Berdych with a 6-3, 6-3, win in the quarterfinals of the Miami Masters.

 

The encounter between the two was a sharp contrast to Djokovic’s previous match against Dominic Thiem, which was a somewhat lackluster performance from the Serbian.

The world No.1 began proceedings convincingly by converting his fourth break point after an unforced error from the Czech handed him a 2-0 lead. The break by Djokovic was the first of a series during a tense start to the match. As Berdych retrieved the break immediately, he was dealt another blow from the top seed after a flawless cross-court forehand put the Serbian back in command to lead 3-1. The second break was critical to the outcome of the opening set as the world No.7 failed to find his way to come back in the match, an all too familiar scenario for Berdych. The set was sealed after a heavy forehand shot from Djokovic forced his opponent to return the ball out.

During the second set, Djokovic had another issue to contend with on the Miami court, his back. The world No.1 received a medical time out to treat spasms in his back. Despite the scare, it did little to disrupt Djokovic’s momentum as he eased through the second set without facing a break point. In contrast Berdych’s serve faltered at the start of the second set and at the crucial end. A backhand slice from the Czech landed out to hand the defending champion two match points. Failing to convert either opportunity, Djokovic had another chance two points later. It was third time lucky for him after another costly unforced error from Berdych handed Djokovic his 26th win of 2016.

The triumph in Miami has extended Djokovic’s impressive win-loss record against Berdych to 23-2 (20-0 on hard courts). In their latest battle, the 11-time Grand Slam champion produced 10 winners and nine unforced errors. In contrast, Berdych’s error-winner ratio was a disappointing 3-1 as he produced 45-15. Speaking about his performance in an on-court interview, Djokovic praised his opponent and dismissed any concerns about his back.

Djokovic is now just two wins away from equalling Andre Agassi’s record of six Miami Masters titles. In the next round he will play Belgium’s David Goffin, who defeated Gilles Simon in his quarterfinal match. Djokovic has played the 25-year-old on three previous occasions on the tour, winning all of them.

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Dominic Thiem Downs Reigning Champion Zverev In Historic Win At ATP Finals

The 26-year-old has achieved a duo of personal and national records at the London event.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem has become the first Austrian player in history to reach the title match at the ATP Finals after battling his way past Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.

Thiem, who has been battling with flu symptoms throughout the week, showed little signs of physical tiredness as he rallied to a 7-5, 6-3, victory. Securing his sixth career win over Zverev in eight meetings. In their latest clash, he saved all four of the break points he faced and claimed 81% of his first service points.

 

“This is a big dream come true for me.” Said Thiem. “It’s one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year and I’m getting the chance to play in the final. It’s unreal to me.’
“To beat the defending champion, a good friend and unbelievable player is always a great achievement. I’m very, very happy.”

At stake for Thiem in his latest match wasn’t just a place in the final, it was also the chance to rise to number four in the world rankings. The highest-year end ranking of his career to date.

Taking to the court, there was little to tear the players apart throughout the opening set. In two separate Thiem service games, he faced break points, but managed to hold his nerve to draw level. Much to the annoyance of his rival. Ultimately it would be an error-stricken Zverev service game that would separate the two. Leading 6-5, Thiem gained two set-point opportunities thanks to a forehand shank from across the court. After failing on his first attempt, he prevailed on his second at the expense of a Zverev double fault.

There was little emotion showed by the 26-year-old throughout what was a business-like performance. Even his camp, which included former player Nicolas Massu, looked relatively calm. Meanwhile, Zverev lacked the intensity he showed in some of his other matches earlier this week.

The second frame initially followed the same pattern as the first. A seemingly tense Zverev dropped serve midway to elevate the world No.5 to a set and 4-2 lead. In control, Thiem continued to tame the threats he faced. Serving for a historic place in the final, he raced to match point with the help of his sixth ace. The victory was then secured with a clean forehand winner.

“Luckily, I’m feeling much better,” Thiem commented on his current health. “I had some days off and of course I played a match against Matteo (Berrettini), which was not great for my body.”
“I hope I’m feeling even better tomorrow and I will give my everything. It is my last match of the season.” He added.

Thiem will play Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday evening. It will be the seventh meeting between the two and he currently leads their head-to-head 4-2. Should he win, he would become the only player on the ATP tour in 2019 to win six tournaments.

“We are both very offensive players.” He previewed. “He’s very attractive to watch, I love watching him (play). I’m looking forward to playing him.”
“I’m happy and also lucky to get a chance to play him in this amazing atmosphere (at The O2).”

The soon to be world No.4, which was the position Zverev held at the end of 2018, will be playing in his 25th ATP Final on Sunday.

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‘I Tried Everything’ – Frustrated Roger Federer Reacts To ATP Finals Exit

The 20-time grand praises his rival, but questions if mental toughness played a role in their match.

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LONDON: The only consolation for a frustrated Roger Federer is that he is exiting the ATP Finals without any injury woes.

 

The six-time champion was denied the chance of winning the title for the first time since 2011 after suffering straight-sets loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Bringing a bitter end to a season where the 38-year-old has claimed four ATP titles. None of which were at a grand slam tournament. In his latest match, the Swiss Maestro struggled at times to generate consistency in his game as he leaked 29 unforced errors.

“I tried everything I could, to be honest,” Federer said during his press conference. “I tried to chip it, tried to stay back and hit some. I tried to come forward. And for the most part, I actually tried to play up in the court and tried to play aggressive, but of course with his aggression, it’s not always easy because he always takes the ball very early himself too.”

Federer’s error tally was not the most troublesome aspect of his game, it was his break point success rate of only one out of 12. Shortly after this match, Tsitsipas said he said he was happy to handle what felt like a ‘mental struggle’ to him on the court. However, Federer has a different viewpoint.

“Spinning it (the ball) into the body and then getting an error, I don’t know if that’s, like, mental toughness.” He argues.
“Sure, he didn’t double fault, he didn’t do anything silly, and he’s tough as nails.’
“I’m frustrated that I couldn’t play better, and when I did and fought my way back, I threw it away again.”

The 38-year-old now has a 2-2 head-to-head record against his younger rival, who was just a four-year-old when he made his debut at the ATP Finals back in 2002. He also lost to him at the Australian Open.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to reach the final of the season-ending event and the youngest since Juan Martin del Potro back in 2009. He has reached nine ATP finals so far in his career with six of those occurring this year.

“He’s tall and he’s strong up there (upper body). He can loop it and come down on it, and that’s why I also believe he’s good on faster courts and on slower courts. It’s going to be very beneficial for his career.” Federer said of his rival.
“Obviously it’s his footwork that’s always on the aggressive side. Any short ball will be attacked, and I think he does that very, very well. He’s one of the best at that in the game.”

When a member of the NextGen scores a notable win, there is always the same question. Is the change of guard in men’s tennis coming soon? This year they are four players in the ATP Finals under the age of 23 for the first time in a decade.

“I look at the list of who finished World No. 1, who has been World No. 1 all these years, and it’s just crazy that it’s always one of us (the big four). But we are not getting any younger. So chances increase not because we are getting worse but because they are getting better, I believe.” Federer concludes.

Federer will now fly to South America where he will play in a series of exhibitions next week.

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Youth Prevails As Stefanos Tsitsipas Stuns Six-Time Champion Federer At ATP Finals

A shock win has taken the Greek into the final of the season-ending event on his debut.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has ensured that there will be no member of the Big Three in the finale of the ATP Finals after taming third seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Tsitsipas, who is 17 years younger than the 20-time grand slam champion, was relentless in his intensity he battled to a 6-3, 6-4, victory at The O2 Arena. Recording his second win over Federer this year after the Australian Open.

 

In his latest match, the Next Gen player impressively saved 11 out of the 12 break points he faced as he hit 18 winners. Meanwhile, Federer struggled behind his second serve as he won only 11 out of 24 points played. Bringing his season to an end.

“Wow, Jesus. I’m so proud of myself today.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview. “It was a great performance. Once again the people (crowd) were great and I really enjoyed my time on the court.”
“Sometimes with matches like this you always wonder how you can recover from all those break points down. It’s like a mental struggle, so I’m really proud that I was able to save so many break points today.” He added.

In previous meetings between the two, the serve has been detrimental to the outcome of the match. Since his loss to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, Federer has gone on to defeat the Greek twice without dropping serve. Furthermore, this week in London both men have been impressive in that area of their games. Heading into the semi-finals, Tsitsipas has won 95% of his service games and Federer had won 90%.

It wasn’t long into their latest encounter when the usually reliable Federer service game buckled. In the second game of the match a failed smash from the Swiss Maestro, followed by a winning forehand from Tsitsipas gave the ATP debutant the early break. Tsitsipas’ breakthrough proved decisive to the outcome of the opener as his rival failed to convert a series of golden opportunities. Six times Federer had the chance to break, including two when the world No.6 was serving the set out. Continuing to prevail on the clutch moments, Tsitsipas sealed the 6-3 lead with the help of a 133 mph serve down the center of the court.

It looked as if the 21-year-old would eased his way to the surprise win as he once again capitalized on a lackluster service game from his opponent early in the second set. However, this time Federer finally found a way to break Tsitsipas’ brick wall defense to revive his chances.

Despite the temporary change in momentum, Tsitsipas continued to pounce like a lion. Forcing his rival to be continuously under pressure as he broke once again to restore his lead. There was little Federer could do to change the outcome as the Next Gen star roared his way to victory. Closing out the match with an ace out wide. Prompting him to drop his racket out of disbelief.

“I was trying not to give too much time to Roger.” He commented on his match tactics. “He was playing good and shout out to him as well. He played pretty good this week.”
“Playing him is the biggest honor I can have. Today’s victory is probably one of the best matches of my season.”

Tsitsipas will play either Alexander Zverev, who he defeated earlier in the week during the group stages, or Dominic Thiem. He has a negative head-to-head record against both of those players.

“I have no preference (of who I play).” He said. “I played Sasha in the groups. Obviously, anything can happen in the final. Sasha proved that to us last year in the finals. He was defeated by Novak and then went on to beat him. I just need to be super careful and have a good schedule ahead of my next match.”

Tsitsipas is the youngest player to reach the final of the tournament since Juan Marin del Potro back in 2009.

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