US Open: Wawrinka Edges Nishikori To Enter Third Major Final - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Wawrinka Edges Nishikori To Enter Third Major Final

Wawrinka comes from one set down to defeat Nishikori and qualify for his first US Open final. The Swiss was much more effective on break points

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Stan Wawrinka (zimbio.com)

The Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka will be challenging Novak Djokovic for the 2016 US Open title on Sunday after defeating Kei Nishikori 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-2 in a 3h07 semifinal on Saturday that was played. Wawrinka was eventually more consistent throughout the match and Nishikori paid a poor conversion rate on his break chances (4/15 in the entire match and 1/8 in the second set alone).

 

It took one single break in the fifth game in favour of Nishikori to decide the first set: Wawrinka netted an easy forehand volley on 15-30 and a rally backhand on 15-40 to concede his opponent the first lead of the match. Nishikori was very solid from the baseline, playing with his feet on the baseline and using the backhand slice to mix-up the pace for Wawrinka’s backhand. Some very impressive volley completed the outstanding display of tennis on behalf of the Japanese player, who did not allow any break points in the set and made only three unforced errors.

The trend continued at the beginning of the second set, when a rattled Wawrinka missed two forehands and a backhand to lose his serve at “15” for a quick 2-0 lead by Nishikori, but the Japanese was not able to consolidate and was immediately equalized at 2-2. The two players continued to hold their respective serves for the rest of the set, but not without difficulties: at 3-3 Wawrinka had to come back from 0-40 to stave off to stave off 4 break points, which he did in impressive fashion (one ace, two winning serves and one very well played baseline point). At 4-4 the Swiss got embroiled again in a complicated 12-point service game, where he faced two more break points, but still managed to hold.
But the tide turned a couple of games later, when at 5-4 Wawrinka, three consecutive backhand unforced errors from Nishikori gave the “Yonex man” a set point. But if on that occasion Stan missed a baseline forehand, two games later he secured the second set after a forehand by Nishikori went long.

The third set saw Wawrinka rebuff a break attempt by Nishikori on the second game to go on and take a commanding 4-1 lead thanks to a break on the fourth game conceded by five unforced errors made by the Japanese. But Nishikori, after coming back from two more break points to go down 1-5, started stepping into the court to take the return early and managed to break back Wawrinka and level the set at 4-4, after that at 4-3 the tournament referee Brian Earley decided to close the roof at the first drops of rain. With the roof closed, the playing conditions changed considerably: the oppressive humidity that had been afflicting of New York City was being mitigated by the powerful air conditioning system o the Arthur Ashe Stadium, therefore resulting in a more pleasant environment for both the players and the spectators.
A chance for Nishikori to go and serve for the set at 5-4 vanished when his backhand sailed wide after a 17-shot rally, and from that point Wawrinka won five games in a row to conquer the third set by 6-4 in 59 minutes and take a 3-0 lead in the fourth. A short dip from the Swiss on the fifth game, when Wawrinka found himself 0-40 on his serve, gave Nishikori his last chance, but after breaking back for 2-3, on the following game the Japanese failed to equalize the score when on his game point he started a losing streak of 9 points in a row sending Wawrinka two points from the match.

Wawrinka has won his last 10 consecutive finals (the last he lost was in June 2013 in s-Hertogenbosch to Nicolas Mahut), including the only two Grand Slam finals played, one of which against Djokovic (Roland Garros 2015). On the other hand, the head to head record speaks clearly in favour of the n.1 Novak Djokovic, since he has won 19 of their 23 matches, although if we consider only the meetings they had at Grand Slams on hard courts (i.e. here in New York and at the Australian Open) Djokovic leads 3-1, but one of the matches ended in retirement and the other three all went to the fifth set.

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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