5 of the best ATP matches of 2016: No.5 Dominic Thiem vs Nicolas Almagro - UBITENNIS
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5 of the best ATP matches of 2016: No.5 Dominic Thiem vs Nicolas Almagro

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With the ATP season now finished for 2016, we can look back on some great matches over the course of the year, and reflect on how these matches have helped shape the rankings going into 2017. Over the course of this week five matches will be remembered.

No.5 – Dominic Thiem defeats Nicolas Almagro 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, in the Buenos Aires Final.

This match makes the list for remembering a young talent’s victory over a excellent clay specialist trying to get his career back on track after injury. It just edges out the equally enthralling semi-final victory for Thiem against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. This match really shaped the course of Dominic Thiem’s outstanding 2016 season. Going into the year ranked at No.20 the Austrian had had an indifferent start to the year, reaching the semi-finals of just one of his first three events at the Brisbane International (l. to Federer). His run at the Buenos Aires Open handed him his first title of a season where he would add a further three titles, reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time, qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals and finish inside the Emirates Top 10.

This match was not just about Dominic Theim though. Nicolas Almagro was once ranked at No.10 in the ATP rankings. His best results have come on clay, reaching the quarter-finals at Roland Garros three times (2008, 2010, 2012). Since 2014 though, Almagro had struggled with a foot injury, and saw his ranking plummet out of the Top 100. Almagro recovered to play this match with a ranking once again in the Top 100, though not near his once normal placing in the Top 30. Nevertheless, this match saw Almagro at his sensational best once again, providing formidable opposition for the young Austrian. The Spaniard built on his performance in this final, moving his ranking back into the Top 50 by the end of the season.

The match itself saw many long rallies, as both players unsurprisingly looked to dictate from the baseline and beyond. Both right-handers with one-handed backhands and aggressive games, in many ways Almagro and Thiem were very similar in style. The first set saw both attack hard, often forcing thirty or deuce games against each other’s serve. In particular both used the cross-court angles superbly well, on both wings, forcing each other to demonstrate admirable defensive traits as well as attacking strengths.

The first set went to a tie-break, and Thiem took the initiative from the off, seizing on a slightly short mid-court ball from Almagro to crush a forehand. Almagro then collapsed when serving at two-five, losing both points to give the younger man the early advantage.

Almagro did well to recover from love-thirty when serving at one-two in the second, before breaking Thiem at three-all when a fortunate net cord forced a net-rushing Thiem into an error. Thiem lost his composure towards the end of the set, missing a regulation lob before double-faulting on set point to ensure that Almagro would serve first in the championship decider.

Almagro’s hot form continued into the second set, breaking early. Thiem came back and refused to let Almagro consolidate the early break, levelling up at two-all. The set then went with serve, resulting in a tie break. Again, it was the Austrian who came through the victor, with Almagro framing a forehand long on match point to hand Thiem his first title of a terrific 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUjmImvbuVU

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Stefanos Tsitsipas extends his winning streak with straight-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta in Minsk

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Last week’s Marseille champion and 2019 Dubai finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 after 1 hour and 34 minutes to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Touurnament.

 

Tsitsipas earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Carreno Busta won three consecutive games with a break-back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. The opening set went on serve without breaks to set up a tie-break. Tsitsipas cruised through to 7-1 to win the tie-break.

Tsitsipas broke three times in the first, fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-1.

The Greek player has extended his winning streak to 10 consecutive wins and has a record of 8-4 in his 12 matches this year.

“I am happy that I got two-set victories for a very long time. I am not spending extra hours out on the court, which for sure is going to help me”, said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas sets up a second round match against Alexander Bublik, who fended off three of his four break points in his 6-2 7-5 win over Hubert Hurkacz. Tsitispas beat Hurkacz 7-5 6-3 last week in the Marseille semifinal last week.

“Bublik is a tricky player. He does unexpected things on the court. I just need to be there, do my job the way I am doing it so far”, said Tsitsipas.

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Benoit Paire saves four match points to beat Marin Cilic in Dubai

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Eighth seed Benoit Paire saved four match points to beat Marin Cilic 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships taking a re-match for the tie-break loss in the fifth set at last January’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

 

Cilic saved two break points before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. The Croatian player saved a break point at deuce before holding serve in the third game for 3-0. Cilic broke serve from 0-40 down to break serve at deuce in the final game of the opening set.

Paire broke serve in the first game of the second set to open a 2-0 lead. Cilic broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games. Cilic won the final three games with a break to win the first set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games of the decisive set. Cilic saved break points in the fifth and eleventh games. Paire saved two break points to hold serve at deuce. Paire reeled off six consecutive points from 1-1 to win the tie-break 7-1.

“I am really happy about the win. It was not easy today. I was not feeling really good on court. I have been a little bit sick for two, three days. I am really happy to win today and to fight until the end”, said Paire.

 Daniel Evans rallied from one set and one break down to edge Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Fognini went up a double break to take a 4-0 lead. Evans pulled one break back in the fifth game, but Fognini held his next service games and wrap up the first set 6-3.

Fognini saved two break points before breaking serve at 15 to take a 3-1 lead. Evans broke back at deuce in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Evans converted his second break back in the 10th game to wrap up the second set 6-4.

Fognini started the third set with a break at deuce to take a 1-0 lead. Evans broke straight back in another deuce game to draw level to 1-1. Fognini earned another break at 15 to take a 3-2 lead. Evans broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Evans wrapped up the third set with a break in a marathon 12th game on his sixth match point.

Paire set up an all-French match against Richard Gasquet, who beat Marton Fucsovics 6-4 7-5.

Another Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert defeated Delray Beach finalist Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-2 in 78 minutes.

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Queen’s Organizers Optimistic Over Andy Murray’s Return As Two Top 10 Players Join Entry List

The first four names set to play in the ATP 500 event has been announced.

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The director of the Fever-Tree Championships has said he is ‘hopeful’ that Andy Murray will play in the tournament later this year after he was included in the first group of names on the official entry list.

 

The three-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup last November due to a pelvic injury. Murray has already delayed his return to the tour on numerous occasions as he continues his rehabilitation process. It is the latest setback for the injury-stricken 32-year-old, who also underwent career saving hip resurfacing surgery last year.

“Andy is our greatest champion. We know Andy is still working his way back to fitness, but we also know that he wants to play, so fingers crossed that he will be able to.” Stephen Farrow said in a press release on Tuesday.

Murray, who is currently ranked 130th in the world, is the most decorated player in the history of the Queen’s event. He has won the trophy five times between 2009-2016 and has won 30 out of 37 matches played there. Last year he also won the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez in what was his comeback tournament following his hip surgery.

Tuesday’s announcement of Murray playing at The Queen’s Club comes as no surprise. He has a lifetime contract to play there for the rest of his career unless he is ill or injured. Similar to what Roger Federer has with the Halle event, which takes place during the same week as Queen’s.

Other names to play in London this year include ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year. The Greek is yet to contest an ATP final on the grass, but did win the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title back in 2016.

“London will always be a special place for me after winning the ATP Finals last year and I am looking forward to coming back in June.” Said Tsitsipas. “The crowd at the O2 touched my heart in a very special way and I am excited to play at Queen’s again this June. It is a big tournament and important to play in the lead up to Wimbledon.”

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev is another top name set to play in what will be his fourth appearance at Queen’s. In 2019 he produced his best ever run at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals before falling in three sets to France’s Gilles Simon.

“The last 6 months have been incredible for me, a real breakthrough, and now I want to try to do the same on grass.” The US Open finalist stated. “The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club is a great event with perfect grass courts, and I am looking forward to playing there ahead of Wimbledon.”

Completing the quartet of confirmed names is 38-year-old two-time champion Lopez, who won the singles title last year, as well as the doubles with Murray. He is one of only two Spanish men to have ever won the event in the Open Era. There other was Rafael Nadal back in 2008.

“I thought when I won the title in 2017 that it was the best moment of my career. I was wrong. It was last year! Winning singles and doubles was something incredible, more than I could ever have dreamed when Stephen (Farrow) gave me the wild card.” Lopez reflected.
“That final day is one that I will never forget, Queen’s is always going to be one of the most special places of my career, and I am already looking forward to coming back to the Fever-Tree Championships in June to defend my title.”

The ATP 500 event will get underway on June 15th.

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