Stan Wawrinka Resuscitates Tour Finals Hopes With Win Over Cilic - UBITENNIS
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Stan Wawrinka Resuscitates Tour Finals Hopes With Win Over Cilic

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Three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka overcame 33 unforced errors to move past Marin Cilic 7-6(3), 7-6(3), at the ATP Finals.

 

Wawrinka entered the match with all the momentum on his side after defeating his Croatian opponent six consecutive times since 2010, including this year’s Geneva Open final. On the other hand, Cilic is no push over after securing titles in Cincinnati and Basel since August. It is for this reason why it was hard to separate the two during the early stages of the match. Nine games went by before Wawrinka’s service venerability was exposed. A deep Cilic return rewarded him a breakpoint before the Swiss player battled back to hold serve and force a tiebreaker.

It was a somewhat anticlimactic tiebreaker for Cilic fans as Wawrinka dismantled the former US Open champion in a masterful manner. Benefitting from a few costly unforced errors from across the court, Wawrinka strolled to a 6-3 lead. The three-time major champion took the first set in a way that would make his compatriot Roger Federer proud. Performing his own version of the infamous SARB (Sneak Attack By Roger), the third seed hammered a serve followed by racing towards the net as he roared to the lead.

As Wawrinka moved to six games away from reviving his semifinals aspirations, a spot of irony struck the match. The reliable serve of both men began to turn into more of a liability with an exchange of breaks occurring during the first four games of set number two. Besides that slip, the Swiss still had the ability to get under the skin of his opponent. Slamming his racket on the ground, the frustration of Cilic’s inability to generate any momentum on his side become more visible. Still, that incident failed to shine any light between the two players.

Closing in on his 11th career win over the former US Open champion, Wawrinka hammered the final nail on Cilic’s bid by hitting a deep return, prompting an error for the Croat to grant him a 4-2 lead in the second tiebreak. From that point on the man known by many as ‘Stanimal’ powered his way to his first win at this year’s year-end championships.

“It was great match. I’m really happy with the way I played in general.” Said Wawrinka.
“In general, I think the level was really high. I’m happy with many things tonight: the way I was mentally on the court, the way I was moving. I think I was moving great. I had some good defence, some long rallies. I mixed a lot with my game in general. Yeah, it’s a great victory for me.”

Few can question Wawrinka’s desire to shine in London. On the verge of reaching his fourth consecutive semifinal at the end-of-year event, the grateful US Open champion described his presence as the event as a ‘dream.’

“It’s the best tournament you can play in the ATP World Tour. It’s still always a dream for me to be here. I’m trying to enjoy, I’m trying to do the right thing, I’m trying to fight as much as I can to stay alive on the tournament. It was important tonight to play well.” He said.

Cilic pledges to keep working

Guaranteed to not progress to the last four regardless of the outcome of his upcoming clash with Kei Nishikori, Cilic has pledged to continue pushing hard in the tournament despite the upcoming Davis Cup final in his home country.

“I’m going to definitely enjoy also in the match against Kei. I feel that I want to obviously step up a little bit my game. I’m feeling that my tennis is not far from being on a good level. So that’s another good match against a great player to have.” Said Cilic.
“I’m still here in this week. My thoughts are only here. Davis Cup is still ahead. I’m completely focused to stay here in tournament.”

Cilic trails 5-7 to his Japanese rival in the head-to-head, but he did win their most recent meeting at the Basel Open this year.

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Stan Wawrinka Parts Way With Long-Time Coach Norman

Stan the man is on the look out for a new coach for the first time in almost a decade.

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It is the end of an era for three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka after he announced his split from coach Magnus Norman.

 

The former world No.3 confirmed on Monday that the two have decided to end their collaboration with ‘mutual consent’ following eight years working together on the Tour. Norman was last with Wawrinka at the Italian Open last week where the Swiss player lost his opening match to rising star Lorenzo Musetti. It is unclear as to exactly when the decision was made.

“After 8 great years together Magnus Norman and I have decided to part ways by mutual consent. We have had an amazingly strong, enjoyable and hugely successful partnership. We reached the height of this sport together and I want to thank him for helping me win everything that I could ever dream of winning,” Wawrinka said in a statement posted on Instagram.

44-year-old Norman is a former world No.2 player himself who reached the final of the French Open back in 2000. During his coaching career, he guided Wawrinka to various milestones in his career that includes 13 ATP titles with three of those being at Grand Slam level. The Swede has also been recognized by the ATP for his work with Wawrinka after winning the inaugural Coach of the Year award back in 2016.

“He’s been a great coach, friend and mentor and will always be a dear friend,” Wawrinka said in a tribute.
“I want to publicly thank him for all his hard work, dedication and commitment in making me a better player over the years. Winning three grand slams have been a life changing experience for me and I could not have done that without him. I wish him all the best in his next chapter in his life.”

The announcement from the world No.17 comes a week before the French Open starts. Wawrinka has been training on the clay for the past few weeks after deciding against travelling to North America to play in the US Open. Instead, he played in a couple Challenger events and won a trophy in Prague last month. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-3 so far in 2020.

It is unclear as to who will be replacing Norman in Wawrinka’s team.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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