Dominic Thiem's ranking move could significantly affect Rafael Nadal's Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem’s ranking move could significantly affect Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open

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Dominic Theim could be seeded to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open ahead of Rafael Nadal as a result of moves last week (Zimbio.com)

In the wake of the main ATP events ending with Paris, there have been fewer moves amongst the very top players in the last weeks of the season. Nevertheless, challenger events and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals have resulted in moves that will likely affect outcomes for next season’s Australian Open.

 

Milos Raonic: Up from No.4 to No.3. An excellent World Tour Finals display. Wins against Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem helped him reach the semi-finals, where he put up a real fight against Andy Murray in the longest three-set match of Murray’s career. He replaces Stan Wawrinka who could not match his semi-final run from last year, winning just one of his three group matches.

Marin Cilic: Up from No.7 to No.6. Won just the one match in London, against Kei Nishikori, but it was enough to take him above Gael Monfils who swaps places with Cilic after the Frenchman pulled out with a rib injury having lost his first two matches.

Dominic Thiem: Up from No.9 to No.8. Like Cilic won just one match at the World Tour Finals, but it was enough for him to build a 115 points lead over Rafael Nadal. This move should it stay this way could have a serious impact on the seedings for Australian Open as, if Nadal is to stay seeded ninth, he will be seeded to face one of the top eight as early as the fourth round in Melbourne.

The rest of the movers are the results of  Challenger titles or performances.

Diego Schartzmann: Up from No.58 to No.52. The titlist in Montevideo, Schartzmann adds to the Barranquilla title he won early in the season, collecting 90 points after beating Rogerio Dutra Silva in the final. Guido Pella moves from No.59 to No.72 

Taylor Fritz drops to No.77 after he elected not to defend the finalist points he earned from Champaign last season. He plays this week in Columbus as the top seed.

James Duckworth put himself in a strong position to avoid qualifying for the Australian Open. The Aussie moved up to No.104 after winning the Toyota Challenger. He may have been awarded a wildcard anyway, but it might mean the Australian Tennis Federation can look to select someone else if Duckworth can get into the main draw on his own merits.

In comparison, Taro Daniel (No.126) and Tatsumo Ito (No.125) suffered drops of nineteen places and twelve places respectively, ensuring that only a strong performance in the last events this year and the first events of 2017 could help them avoid the qualifying draw.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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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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