Tomas Berdych battles past Alexander Zverev to level the tie for the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup First Round - UBITENNIS
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Tomas Berdych battles past Alexander Zverev to level the tie for the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup First Round

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Tomas Berdych found it very tough going against Alexander Zverev, but managed to produce the goods when it mattered most to level the tie. (Image via Zimbio.com)

The second match of the Davis Cup First Round tie between Germany and the Czech Republic also went the distance of five sets. Following on from Philipp Kohlschreiber’s five-set defeat of Lukas Rosol, Tomas Berdych came back from two-sets-to-one down to defeat Alexander Zverev 7-6, 1-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, in a match lasting more than four hours. 

 

Berdych had raced into an early lead, three love after breaking the Zverev serve in game two. Zverev would quickly regain the break, before the two again traded breaks en route to a opening set tie-break. Berdych took the first set, and the match appeared to be going to form for the former Wimbledon finalist and current Top Ten player.

Zverev had other ideas. The German took heart from the loss of the first set by such a close margin, breaking Berdych early. Berdych managed three aces but could not muster a single winner, with Zverev dropping just two points on serve. Berdych’s serve continued to falter, and Zverev quickly levelled the match. Zverev’s form continued into the third, earning a double-break to go four-one up on Berdych. At this point the Czech had won just two of the last twelve games, but Berdych did manage to regain one of the breaks, bringing the set back to four-three before both men held the rest of way through the set, Zverev now leading by two-sets-to-one.

The fourth set proved to be the tightest of the match, as it was the only set where both men held all their service games. Both men had opportunities to break, with Zverev earning four break points, and Berdych one. Berdych worked Zverev hard as the young German served to stay in the set at five-six, but a tiebreak beckoned. Berdych took the early lead, and led four-two at the change of ends before Zverev came back. Berdych earned the lead again, and this time did not relinquish it, taking the match to a decider.

In the early stages of the fifth set it appeared that Zverev might prove the victor, as he fought strongly early on, earning love-thirty in one game, only to be disappointed by Berdych. It was the Czech who managed to break midway through the set at four-three. Zverev did not give in, fighting to deuce against the Berdych serve but failed to break. He then held to deuce himself, earning one last chance to break back. Berdych denied him even the glimmer of an opportunity, as the Tour veteran held to love to the level the tie at one-all.

Berdych proved in this match that consistency is key, as he suffered in the second set, and parts of the third. Berdych’s level proved enough to edge Zverev in the three sets where he played some of his better tennis, whereas Zverev could not sustain the level of play that he produced in the second and much of the third.

Tomorrow will the doubles take place, with Dustin Brown and Philipp Petzschner set to take on Radek Stepanek and Jiri Vesely. Both Petzschner and Stapanek have doubled pedigree, whilst Dustin Brown prefers the serve-and-volley tactic. Jiri Vesely has a decent left-handed serve and is a former Junior Doubles Champion at Wimbledon.

 

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The ATP reveals the nominees for the 2021 Awards

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The ATP has revealed the nominees for the 2021 Awards for all players categories: Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship of the Year and for the Coach of the Year. 

 

Casper Ruud and his father Christian (a former world number 39 player) have picked up a total of three nominees. Ruud won five ATP Tour titles in Geneva, Baastad, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel and San Diego and is a candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Christian is one of five nominees for the Coach of the Year Award together with Craig Broyntom (Hubert Hurkacz), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz) and Facundo Lugones (Cameron Norrie). 

Carlos Alcaraz, Aslan Karatsev and Cameron Norrie are the nominees for the Most Improved Player Award. 

Felix Auger Aliassime, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and Frances Tiafoe and Ruud are the candidates for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Nadal won the Sportsmanship Award. 

Thanasi Kokkinakis, Mackenzie McDonald, Andy Murray and Jack Sock have been shortlisted for the Comeback player of the Year Award. 

The shortlist for the Newcomer of the Year Award includes Sebastian Baez, Jenson Brooksby, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima. 

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Serbia tops Kazakhstan to set up Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia

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Serbia set up a semifinal against Croatia in the Davis Cup by Rakuten as world number 1 Novak Djokovic led his team to a comeback win over Kazakhstan. 

 

Mikhail Kukushkin gave Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 7-6 (13-11) win over Miomir Kecmanovic in the first singles match.  

Djokovic sent the Davis Cup quarter final match into a deciding doubles match after cruising past Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-4. The Serbian star scored his 17th consecutive singles win in a Davis Cup match. 

The Wimbledon champion returned to the court to team up with Nikola Cacic in their 6-2 2-6 6-3 win over Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov. 

Kukushkin beats Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11)

World number 182 Michail Kukushkin saved four match points to beat Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11) in 3 hours and 16 minutes after an entertaining quarter final match at the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Madrid to give Kazakhstan a 1-0 lead over Serbia. Kukushkin fought back from 2-5 down in the deciding set and saved four match points before converting his fifth match point to win the tie-break of the third set 13-11. 

Kecmanovic earned an early break in the first game to take a 2-0 lead. Kukushkin pulled back on serve immediately to draw level to 2-2. Both players went on serve in their next service games en route to the tie-break. Kukushkin earned a mini-break to take a 2-1 lead. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve for 4-5, but Kukushkin earned his second mini-break to claim the tie-break 7-5. 

Kukushkin took an early 3-1 lead with a break in the fourth game of the second set. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Serbian player converted his fifth set point on Kukushkin’s serve in the tenth game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Kecmanovic opened up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Kukushkin saved five five break points in the fourth game to avoid falling down 0-4. When Kecmanovic was serving for the match at 5-3, he dropped serve after wasting two match points. 

Kecmanovic was the first to earn match point in the tie-break but he hit a forehand long at 6-5. The Serbian player fended off four match points but Kukushkin converted his fifth match point to seal the breaker 13-11. 

Djokovic beats Bublik 6-3 6-4

Djokovic earned two break points with a forehand at 2-1. Bublik saved the first chance with an ace. Djokovic converted his second break point after Bublik made a drop shot error. Djokovic held his next service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Djokovic went up a 2-1 lead with a break in the third game of the second set. The 20-time Grand Slam champion won close to 90% of his first service points to open up a 4-2 lead. He held his service game to love to take a 5-3 lead. Bublik held his serve fo 4-5 in the ninth game, but Djokovic served out the win on his second match point. 

“The Davis Cup is a team competition. It’s completely diffferent than any other competition”, said Djokovic. 

Serbia beats Kazakhstan 6-2 2-6 6-3

Djokovic and Cacic broke twice in the fifth and seventh games to win the opening set 6-2. 

Golubev and Nedovyesov converted their fourth break point in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. The Kazakh team sealed the second set 6-2 with a double break in the eighth game. 

Djokovic and Cacic earned two breaks in the fifth and ninth games to win the third set 6-3. 

“I am proud of the fighting spirit. We dropped off in the second set, but we bounced back and held our nerves. I am proud of Nikola and of my team”, said Djokovic. 

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Rafael Nadal To Skip ATP Cup Ahead Of Australian Open

Where will the former world No.1 play his first tournament of 2022?

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not be starting his season at the ATP Cup in Australia, according to a leading sports newspaper.

 

Marca has reported that the former world No.1 has opted to not play in the team event which is set to get underway on January 1st. Nadal is currently on the comeback from a foot injury and hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since August. Next month he will return to action in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which is an exhibition event.

“I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a video released earlier this week. “I hope to see you soon there.”

It is understood that due to his off-season schedule Nadal has chosen to pass on the team event but it is unclear as to what or if he will play in any other events leading up to the Australian Open which will begin on January 17th. Besides the ATP Cup, four ATP 250 events will be staged in the lead up to the Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old isn’t the only top Spanish name set to miss the ATP Cup. It has also been reported that rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollerswill not be playing as they intend to arrive in Australia at a later date. Instead the team will be headed by Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup offers both ranking points and prize money to players.

Nadal has won 24 out of 29 matches played on the Tour this year before ending his season due to injury. He won the Italian Masters and Barcelona Open to increase his career ATP title tally to 88. In the majors he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the French Open.

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