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.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months
The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.
Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.
The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.
“It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”
Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.
“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.
Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.
In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.
“Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.
Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.
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