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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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid’ – Nick Kyrgios Offers Support To Those Struggling During Covid-19 Pandemic

The bad boy of tennis says he will support those in need by delivering essential supplies.

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Former top 20 player Nick Kyrgios has urged members of the public to reach out to him if they require any help during the covid-19 pandemic in a social media post.

 

The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has offered to deliver food to those who are struggling during the current crises, which has suspended the ATP and WTA Tours until at least July. It is estimated by economists that more than 500,000 people in Kyrgios’ home country of Australia will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. There have been more than one million cases of the coronavirus worldwide with many countries currently placed in a lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

‘If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,’ Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.
‘Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or some milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked.’

In Australia there have been 5687 cases of Coronavirus as of Sunday which has resulted in 34 deaths. This is according to figures provided by chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

It is not the first time Kyrgios has offered to support those in need. Earlier this year he was an instrumental figure in helping raising money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Donating AUS$200 for every ace produced during the first month of the season and participating in a series of exhibition matches. According to 7 News, Kyrgios raised in the region of AUS$100,000 for the bushfire fund.

Kyrgios is currently ranked 40th in the world and has won six out of his nine matches played earlier this season. At the Australian Open he reached the fourth round before falling in four sets to Rafael Nadal.

 

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Diego Schwartzman On Playing The Big Three And Who He Believes Is The Best

The top-20 player pays tribute to the three tennis legends as he cast his vote in the greatest of all time debate.

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When it comes to taking on the Big Three in tennis, Diego Schwartzman is perhaps one of the best players to provide an insight into how frustrating it can be.

 

The Argentine world No.13 has played a member of the illustrious trio no less than 18 times in his career, but is yet to gain a single victory to his name. Consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big three have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. Between them, they have won the last 13 grand slams and at least one of them has featured in 58 out of the past 60 major finals. Since February 2004, Andy Murray is the only player outside of the group to have held the No.1 position.

Schwzrtman’s record against the big guns has seen him lose to Nadal nine times as well as succumbing to both Djokovic and Federer on four occasions. Nevertheless, the three-time grand slam quarter-finalist isn’t bitter as he hails their achievements in the sport.

“Against Nadal you always come in hope of giving him a fight on any day and on any surface, but you quickly realize that it is almost impossible to defeat him.” Schwartzman said during an Instagram live chat with journalist Danny Miche.
“Djokovic makes me feel that in the second game of service I no longer have lungs. It’s unbelievable.’
“Federer gives you more air (time), but you don’t seem to know how to play tennis. It’s amazing how he hits the ball.’
“The three are unbelievable, in different ways.”

There is also the ongoing debate as to who should be named the greatest of all time. Each player has their own credentials. Federer currently has the all-time lead for most grand slam titles at 20. Nadal has won more ATP tournaments on the clay than any other player in history. Meanwhile, current world No.1 Djokovic has won more prize money in the sport than any other player – male or female.

Weighing on the debate, Schwartzman has given the edge to Djokovic. Prior to the suspension of the tour due to covid-19, Djokovic started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. Claiming titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“At his best, Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal many times on the clay and Roger Federer many times on the grass. So maybe I would say that he is slightly above the other two.” He explained.
“Let’s see if you can reach the records, now it was packed and saw that pace being broken. But Djokovic knows that he has to keep the level, because if he doesn’t win he will win the other two.”

Schwartzman started the year by winning nine out of 14 matches played. His best performance of the season so far took place on home territory when he reached the final of the Cordoba Open before losing to Christian Garin.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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