Andy Murray Downs Milos Raonic To Clinch His Second Wimbledon Title - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray Downs Milos Raonic To Clinch His Second Wimbledon Title

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Andy Murray has become the 12th man in the Open Era to win multiple Wimbledon titles after defeating Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).

 

In what was a significant occasion for both players, neither men showed any signs of nerves from the onset. Unlike his previous ten grand slam finals, Murray was the clear favourite to take the title in front of his home crowd. Meanwhile, Raonic was bidding to become the first Canadian in history to win a major title.

Murray had clearly learned his lesson from their previous meeting at the Aegon Championships last month, when he was forced to recover from a set and a break down against Raonic. Tackling his opponents big serve, the world No.2 launched his first offensive in the seventh game of the match. A double-handed backhand cross court winner elevated Murray to 30-15 up against Raonic’s serve before back-to-back errors from his opponent gifted him the break. The rare occurrence of a break in Raonic’s serve was critical to the outcome of the first set. Prior to the final, the 25-year-old had only dropped his serve five times in the entire tournament. Closing in on the first set lead, the 2013 champion sealed proceedings on his first try after a well constructed rally concluded with a winning Murray forehand at the net.

The dream start to the match by the world No.2 almost continued into the second set after a double fault from Raonic handed Murray a chance to break before the Canadian battled back to keep within touching distance. Murray continued his attack with a sublime backhand winner sneaking up the side of the court to move him to the verge of breaking for 4-3, but once again Raonic continued his world-class resistance. Even a winning Murray return of a 147 mph serve from his opponent, the fastest of the entire tournament, was still not enough to generate a break as a tiebreaker approached.

Unlike the closeness between the two throughout the second set, the tiebreaker was dominated by a sublime Murray. The disparity in stamina between the two was huge after two consecutive errors from the underdog granted the world No.2 the break for 2-0. From then on, there was no way back for the Canadian as Murray raced to a two-sets-lead after a deep serve was unsuccessfully returned.

Despite having a two-set lead, Murray still faced a tough battle. Earlier in the tournament Raonic recovered from two sets down to win a match for the first time in his career. Then, during the semifinals, he came from behind to defeat Federer. On the other hand, this encounter was very different to his previous matches at SW19. Entering the third set the 25-year-old had already faced seven break points compared to none for Murray.

Facing the prospect of being broken for the first time in the match, Murray battled back by winning four consecutive points to move ahead to 3-2 in the third set. Once again, both players matched each other game by game with the use of some blistering serving. An ace down the line move the Brit to a game away from the title as his opponent served to stay in the match, but still he couldn’t find a way to break Raonic as a second tiebreaker loomed.

Closing in on the title, Murray produced a flawless performance in the last tiebreaker. Three winners combined with a duo of Raonic errors elevated Murray to 5-0 and two points away from the trophy. The win was inevitable after an Raonic shot into the net rewarded the crown to Murray, sparking an almighty cheer from the British crowd.

Murray has become the eighth British man to win multiple Wimbledon titles in the tournament’s 130-year history and the first since Fred Perry in 1936.

“It is the most important tournament for me every year.” Murray said during the trophy ceremony.
“I have had some great moments here as well as some tough losses. This win feels extra special because of the tough losses I’ve had.”
“ I’m proud to have my hands on the trophy again.”

During his straight sets triumph, the world No.2 produced 39 winners and only 12 unforced errors in the 170-minute encounter. The win is also Murray’s six consecutive over Raonic. Despite his recent dominance against his opponent, he has praised the improvement in Raonic’s game.

“I played really good stuff today, but Milos has some really good weeks on the grass. He has had some unbelievable wins, especially against Roger (Federer) in the semis. He is one of the hardest workers out there.” He said of Raonic.
“He is always working and each time we play against each other he has made big improvements.”

Murray will exit the grass-court major with a cheque of £2 million. He will remain at world No.2, 4845 points behind Novak Djokovic.

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Curtain Comes Down On Nitto ATP Finals In London

The Nitto ATP Finals brought an unusual year to a conclusion at the O2 Arena in London. In his story, Mark Winters looks at the uniqueness of the fifty-year old competition.

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The O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

In a year of Covid-19 turbulence, the men’s tennis season has come to an end. The Nitto ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London closed out 2020. Daniil Medvedev edged Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. With the title, he gave Russia its second tournament championship. Nikolay Davydenko won the first in 2009 defeating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, 6-3, 6-4. US Open titlist Thiem is now “0” for “2” in London having come up 6-7, 6-2, 7-6 short last year against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

 

In a feel good conclusion, Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektić of Croatia defeated Jürgen Melzer of Austria and Édouard Roger-Vasselin of France, 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 for their first win as a doubles team.

The first ATP final was called the Grand Prix Masters Cup and it took place fifty years ago in Tokyo. In 1970, both the singles and doubles were round-robin competitions (and the same format was used the next year). Giving due credit, the initial event should have been called the Smith Cup, since Stan Smith was the singles winner and shared the doubles title with US compatriot Arthur Ashe.   

Smith then returned to lose back-to-back finals in 1971 and ’72. Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia became a back-to-backer in 1983 and ’84. Boris Becker of Germany joined the all-star group in 1985 and ’86. Jim Courier of the US followed in 1991 and ’92. Roger Federer of Switzerland was the last to earn the back-to-back distinction in 2014 and ’15. Relative newcomer, Thiem has now become a member of an exclusive club.

(As it turns out, Austria is still waiting for a win in year-end title rounds. Thiem has two losses in the singles’ finals. Melzer added to his country’s losses with his doubles’ defeat.  Actually in 2007, Julian Knowle became the first Austrian to be on the losing end of a trophy battle when he was a finalist with Simon Aspelin of Sweden.)

Smith remained the only double title winner until 1978 when John McEnroe claimed the singles and the doubles with US countryman Peter Fleming. The duo did it again in 1983 and ’84. Even more extraordinary, Fleming and McEnroe owned the doubles trophy from 1978 until 1984, winning seven straight titles.

Last year, Medvedev, who now has nine career titles including three Masters 1000s,  didn’t win a match in group play. This time, he was magic, claiming his most significant trophy. Looking back, and this is completely subjective, others have had “Magic Moments” at the year-ender. Alex Corretja outlasted fellow-Spaniard Carlos Moya 3–6, 3–6, 7–5, 6–3, 7–5 in 1998. I vividly remember the championship. Nightly, after the matches finished, journalists waited outside the arena in Hanover for tournament transportation to return us to our hotel. Often snow was falling and it was so cold that walking back and forth did nothing to create warmth. During these frigid times Gianni Clerici and Rino Tommasi, the two legendary Italian journalists, regularly entertained us by singing Italian arias. Their voices matched their award winning writing skills as they entertained a collection of individuals who were about to become “snowmen”.

As unlikely as the Hanover trophy clash between two clay courters was, nothing could match the 1974 title round in Melbourne. In the meeting, Guillermo Vilas of Argentina escaped with a 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6,6-4 decision over Ilie Năstase of Romania. It was Vilas’ eleventh title of the year, but what was more astounding was that the tournament was contested on grass, (and Vilas was the first “Nadal” on Terre Battue before the present day Spaniard dominated on the surface). 

One of the most fitting results took place in Lisbon. In 2000, the Tennis Masters Cup was held in an arena near the “old city” famous for its pastel colored buildings. There was nothing pastel about Gustavo Kuerten performance. The dynamic Brazilian, spurred on by the cheers of fellow Portuguese speakers, defeated Andre Agassi of the US, in a best of five straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 for the title. But there was much more to the story. The victory was truly momentous because Kuerten finished the year No. 1 in the rankings, becoming the first South American to do so.

More often than not, the expected happens at the year-end championships. Still, there have been surprises. In 1976, Manuel Orantes of Spain outlasted Wojtek Fibak of Poland in a bizarre 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6, 6-1 score final in Houston. Five set survival told the tale of David Nalbandian’s 2005 triumph. The Argentine overcame Roger Federer of Switzerland, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 to win the first year-end final held in  Shanghai.

Many hoped the last stand in London would be a No.1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain feature. But the semifinals resulted in the future actually being “now”. Medvedev downed Nadal 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 and Thiem sideswiped Djokovic 7-5, 6-7, 7-6. 

After eleven years, the O2 Arena is passing the year-end baton to Turin, Italy.  Pala Alpitour, the largest indoor sports arena in the country, will be the site for the 2021 ATP Finals and after the 2020 championships, the “la promessa per il futuro è brillante…” (The promise for the future is brilliant.)

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‘Tell Them Your Considering Working With A Dog’ – Andy Murray Says He Was Mocked For Hiring Female Coach

The former world No.1 believes former mentor Amelie Mauresmo was treated differently because of her gender.

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Andy Murray says he was ridiculed by some when rumours started to emerge that he was going to appoint a woman as his head coach.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was mentored by Amelie Mauresmo between 2014-2016 who herself is a former world No.1 on the women’s tour. Although Murray admits that his decision was one that was treated somewhat differently by both the media and those on the Tour. It still remains rare that a top player on the ATP Tour is coached by a female.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Driving Force programme, Murray recounted the reception he received when news started to emerge that he was thinking about appointing a female member to his team. At the time he had just parted ways with Ivan Lendl, who guided him to two Grand Slam titles as well as a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

‘It was in the press that I was considering working with a female coach,’ Murray said.
‘I started getting messages from other players, from their coaches, saying “I can’t believe you’re playing this game with the media. You should tell them tomorrow you’re considering working with a dog.”

The 33-year-old believes Mauresmo was scrutinized more than any of his other coaches by the media. During their time together he won seven titles, including his first two on the clay. However, he failed to win Grand Slam trophies. The two ended their partnership with a ‘mutual agreement.’

“I never had experienced that before because I’d never worked with a female coach on the tour. And then it’s kind of spiralled from there that when I started working with her, yeah, there was negative press towards her,” he explains.
‘Every time I lost the match, which was never the case kind of, when I lost matches previously in my career, nobody questioned my coach. In tennis generally, it’s the individual that gets questioned. And that wasn’t the case when I was working with Amelie.
‘It’s one of my regrets that I didn’t win a Grand Slam when I was working with her. And for people, a lot of people, that was considered a failure because I didn’t do that.”

The experience failed to deter Mauresmo from continuing her work in men’s tennis. After Murray she coached fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille until October this year when she stepped down from the role due to family-related issues. Mauresmo has also previously been selected to captain the French Davis Cup team but didn’t take the role because she wanted to work with Pouille instead.

“I feel like she was harshly judged by a lot of people just purely because she was a woman,” Murray concluded.

According to the ATP, only one member of the year-end top 20 have listed a female as part of their primary coaching team. Denis Shapovalov is coached by his mother Tessa, as well as Mikhail Youzhny.

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Daniil Medvedev’s ATP Finals Breakthrough Praised By Idol Davydenko

The former world No.3 speaks out about Medvedev’s Grand Slam title chances.

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One of Daniil Medvedev’s childhood idols believes the world No.4 is physically ready to contest for a Grand Slam title in the future.

 

Nikolay Davydenko has praised Medvedev’s tactical approach to the Nitto ATP Finals which saw him become the first Russian player to win the title since 2009. The year when Davydenko won it himself. In Sunday’s final, the 24-year-old battled back from a set down to edge out Dominic Thiem. He is the first player in the history of the year-end event to have defeated the top three players in the world en route to the title.

“Medvedev was tactically flexible. With his coaches, they used different Medvedev was tactically flexible. He and his coaches used different tactical approaches in different matches. The semifinal against Nadal had one tactic decision. The other things worked in the final against Thiem, Davydenko told news agency TASS.
Medvedev was in the optimal condition and did everything right, he added.

During the trophy ceremony, the world No.4 paid tribute to his compatriot by describing him as one of his ‘idols.’ The two men are the first and last players to have won the ATP Finals during the time it was staged in London. Next year the event will be moved to Italy. To Medvedev’s surprise, he got the chance to speak with Davydenko shortly after his win.

“I didn’t know but Nikolay Davydenko commented on my match on Russian TV and I managed to talk to him just after,” he said.
“I was so surprised and so happy because he was one of my idols when I was growing up when I was actually already starting to play tennis not so bad, he was there and he was playing unbelievable.’

The victory caps off what has been a remarkable month for Medvedev. Between November 2019 and October 2020 he didn’t claim a single win over a top 10 player. However, this month he has managed to record a total of seven victories and also won his second Masters 1000 title in Paris. Overall, he has defeated 16 top 10 players on the ATP Tour in his entire career.

After winning his biggest title yet, some are starting to wonder if Medvedev has what it takes to claim a Grand Slam trophy in 2021. In recent years the majors have mostly been dominated by the Big Three contingent but Davydenko believes the 2019 US Open finalist is physically ready to challenge for the biggest titles in the sport.

“In five-set matches, it’s harder to keep your concentration. Both psychologically and physically it is more difficult to hold oneself for a longer time. But it seems to me that Medvedev is now ready for this. Physically he is ready, but I don’t know if he has enough mental strength to withstand such concentration,” he said.

Medvedev ends his year with a win-loss record of 28-10 and is one of two Russian men to end the season in the world’s top 10. The other is Andrey Rublev, who won a record five singles title on the Tour this year.

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