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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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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Unseeded Ugo Humbert Becomes First Player In Over A Decade To Win Halle On Debut

The 22-year-old fired nine aces and 29 winners to claim his first ATP 500 title.

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image via https://twitter.com/ATPHalle

France’s Ugo Humbert has clinched his maiden ATP title on the grass after defeating Andrey Rublev in straight sets at the Noventi Open in Halle.

 

Humbert remained unbroken throughout his 6-3, 7-6(4), win over the Russian fourth seed who has won more matches on the ATP Tour than any other player since the start of 2020 (74). The Frenchman was particularly impressive behind serve where he won 83% of his first service points and 55% on his second. It is the first time he has beaten Rublev on the Tour after losing to him on two previous occasions in 2019 (Monte Carlo) and 2020 (St. Petersburg).

“It’s incredible,” said Humbert. “The best victory of my career. I’m very proud because it wasn’t easy, I was a little but tired today but I tried to stay focused on each point. It’s very nice.”

The triumph concludes what has been a marathon week in Halle for the 22-year-old. En route to the final he had to come through four three-set matches where he scored wins over Sam Querrey, Alexander Zverev, Sebastian Korda and Felix-Auger Aliassime. Becoming only the second player in Halle’s 28-year history to have reached the final by playing only three-set matches.

Meanwhile, runner-up Rublev paid tribute to his opponent following their clash. The world No.7 is now 1-2 in finals played so far this season after winning Rotterdam before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo. To put that into perspective, in 2020 he won all six finals he played in.

“I have often told my coach that you play in an incredible way,” he said. “You have everything to be a very great player. So keep working, doing everything you do. You play very well, you have incredible shots. I wish you a great career.”

Humbert, who won two ATP titles last year in Auckland and Antwerp, is the first player to win Halle on the debut since 2010. On that occasion Lleyton Hewitt prevailed over Roger Federer in the final. He is now projected to rise to a ranking high of 25 on Monday when the ATP standings are officially updated.

The Frenchman will be hoping that he can continue his winning streak heading to Wimbledon where he reached the fourth round back in 2019. His best ever result in a Grand Slam to date.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1406612207086059528

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David Goffin Out Of Wimbledon Following Halle Accident

It has been reported that the unfortunate injury he suffered is ‘more serious’ than a sprain.

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David Goffin has been forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering an ankle injury during the Noventi Open earlier this week.

 

The former top 10 player was taking on Corentin Moutet in Halle where he slipped on the grass and subsequently hurt his right ankle. Forcing the Belgian to retire from the match at the start of the third set. Providing an update on Goffin’s health, agent Martin Roux said he is unsure how long he will be absent from the Tour for.

“Yes, David has officially withdrawn from Wimbledon following his ankle injury in Halle. For the moment we do not know more about the exact duration of unavailability, ” Roux told lesoir.be. “He is of course disappointed to miss a Grand Slam tournament, especially since he had recovered well on grass before his injury. “

https://twitter.com/tennis_gifs/status/1404375935625875457

Elaborating further, Roux confirmed Goffin’s injury is ‘more serious’ than a sprain and tests are ongoing to assess the extent of the damage which has been caused to the ankle. It is not the first time he has suffered a freak accident on the court. During the 2018 Rotterdam Open he hurt his eye after a tennis ball rebounded into his face, forcing him to pull out of Marseille and Indian Wells that year.

“David told me that it was more serious than a minor sprain, after exams in Belgium.”Roux added. “The ankle has not yet deflated (stopped swelling). David realizes that ice and bandages won’t be enough to play. The ligaments must be affected in one way or another. The idea is to do new exams at the end of the week in order to then have a healing protocol, especially since after Wimbledon the Olympic Games will arrive quickly. These are now his next goals. “

The 30-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 14-13 so far in 2021 and won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier. He has also reached the semi-finals in Antalya and quarter-finals in Monte Carlo. However, recently Goffin has struggled on the Tour with Halle being the fifth tournament in a row where he has failed to win back-to-back matches.

Goffin is currently ranked 13th in the world.

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