Bjorn Fratangelo scores massive upset In Indian Wells first round, Reilly Opelka and Frances Tiafoe out - UBITENNIS
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Bjorn Fratangelo scores massive upset In Indian Wells first round, Reilly Opelka and Frances Tiafoe out

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Bjorn Fratangelo scored an early upset over Bernard Tomic in Indian Wells (Zimbio.com)

There were mixed emotions for American wildcards in the early matches in the Indian Wells first round. Bjorn Fratangelo managed to score a sensational 6-2, 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic, whilst 6’11 Reilly Opelka suffered a disappointing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 loss to qualifier Peter Gojowczyk. In a later match, Frances Tiafoe lost in straight sets to the Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3.

 

Fratangelo won a round in Indian Wells last year, defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili, but few would have predicted that he would manage to replicate that effort against Tomic.

Instead, the win was actually more convincing than his win last year, as Fratangelo lost just four games against the Australian. Tomic had lost in the first round of all his events since his third round exit to Dan Evans at the Australian Open, with the Memphis defeat against Darian King particularly damaging. He was also forced to retire against Donald Young in his last event.

Fratangelo dominated the first set, breaking twice and dropping just five points on his own serve, saving the one break point that Tomic created. The second set was closer, even if the score turned out the same as the first. Tomic was able to win fifteen points against the Fratangelo serve. However, it yielded just two break points, and Tomic failed to take either of them. In comparison, Fratangelo earned a respectable two breaks from four opportunities.

Fratangelo will now meet Tomas Berdych in the second round, whom he last met in the 2015 US Open, losing to the Czech in straight sets on that occasion. Berdych is in indifferent form however, so Fratangelo may fancy his chances.

Reilly Opelka could not make it two from two for Americans in the early matches, as the tall teenager went down to German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.

Opelka suffered from a poor start, broken in the first game after conceding a number of errors. Gojowczyk, was broken in the second, with Opelka aided by three consecutive double-faults. The tall American then held to take the match to a decider.

A near mirror image happened in the third game, as from a comfortable position, consecutive double-faults put Gojowczyk in trouble. The German saved a break point to hold for 2-1, and he did not drop another game. Opelka helped his cause with his own pair of double-faults, and the American was broken again trailing 1-4 as Gojowczyk snuffed out any chance of a comeback, before serving out the win to fifteen.

It was Gojowczyk’s Masters 1000 main draw debut, and he will be delighted with the win, adding at least 25 ATP ranking points to the 16 he earned in qualifying.

Gojowczyk will next face Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.

Dusan Lajovic got off to a fast start in his first round match with Frances Tuafoe. The Serbian won the first four games at a canter. Tiafoe retrieved one of the breaks to make the scoreline respectable, but could draw level. Tiafoe did at least start the second set well, breaking in the first game. Lajovic immediately won it back, and would break again for a surprising win given the form of the two players coming into this match.

 

In other Indian Wells news, Roger Federer is not looking any further than his second round meeting with either Stephane Robert or Dudi Sela, despite the focus on who he could meet in the third or fourth rounds.

https://www.ubitennis.net/blog/2017/03/09/roger-federer-taking-nothing-granted-ahead-indian-wells-test/

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Curtain Comes Down On Nitto ATP Finals In London

The Nitto ATP Finals brought an unusual year to a conclusion at the O2 Arena in London. In his story, Mark Winters looks at the uniqueness of the fifty-year old competition.

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The O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

In a year of Covid-19 turbulence, the men’s tennis season has come to an end. The Nitto ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London closed out 2020. Daniil Medvedev edged Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. With the title, he gave Russia its second tournament championship. Nikolay Davydenko won the first in 2009 defeating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, 6-3, 6-4. US Open titlist Thiem is now “0” for “2” in London having come up 6-7, 6-2, 7-6 short last year against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

 

In a feel good conclusion, Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektić of Croatia defeated Jürgen Melzer of Austria and Édouard Roger-Vasselin of France, 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 for their first win as a doubles team.

The first ATP final was called the Grand Prix Masters Cup and it took place fifty years ago in Tokyo. In 1970, both the singles and doubles were round-robin competitions (and the same format was used the next year). Giving due credit, the initial event should have been called the Smith Cup, since Stan Smith was the singles winner and shared the doubles title with US compatriot Arthur Ashe.   

Smith then returned to lose back-to-back finals in 1971 and ’72. Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia became a back-to-backer in 1983 and ’84. Boris Becker of Germany joined the all-star group in 1985 and ’86. Jim Courier of the US followed in 1991 and ’92. Roger Federer of Switzerland was the last to earn the back-to-back distinction in 2014 and ’15. Relative newcomer, Thiem has now become a member of an exclusive club.

(As it turns out, Austria is still waiting for a win in year-end title rounds. Thiem has two losses in the singles’ finals. Melzer added to his country’s losses with his doubles’ defeat.  Actually in 2007, Julian Knowle became the first Austrian to be on the losing end of a trophy battle when he was a finalist with Simon Aspelin of Sweden.)

Smith remained the only double title winner until 1978 when John McEnroe claimed the singles and the doubles with US countryman Peter Fleming. The duo did it again in 1983 and ’84. Even more extraordinary, Fleming and McEnroe owned the doubles trophy from 1978 until 1984, winning seven straight titles.

Last year, Medvedev, who now has nine career titles including three Masters 1000s,  didn’t win a match in group play. This time, he was magic, claiming his most significant trophy. Looking back, and this is completely subjective, others have had “Magic Moments” at the year-ender. Alex Corretja outlasted fellow-Spaniard Carlos Moya 3–6, 3–6, 7–5, 6–3, 7–5 in 1998. I vividly remember the championship. Nightly, after the matches finished, journalists waited outside the arena in Hanover for tournament transportation to return us to our hotel. Often snow was falling and it was so cold that walking back and forth did nothing to create warmth. During these frigid times Gianni Clerici and Rino Tommasi, the two legendary Italian journalists, regularly entertained us by singing Italian arias. Their voices matched their award winning writing skills as they entertained a collection of individuals who were about to become “snowmen”.

As unlikely as the Hanover trophy clash between two clay courters was, nothing could match the 1974 title round in Melbourne. In the meeting, Guillermo Vilas of Argentina escaped with a 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6,6-4 decision over Ilie Năstase of Romania. It was Vilas’ eleventh title of the year, but what was more astounding was that the tournament was contested on grass, (and Vilas was the first “Nadal” on Terre Battue before the present day Spaniard dominated on the surface). 

One of the most fitting results took place in Lisbon. In 2000, the Tennis Masters Cup was held in an arena near the “old city” famous for its pastel colored buildings. There was nothing pastel about Gustavo Kuerten performance. The dynamic Brazilian, spurred on by the cheers of fellow Portuguese speakers, defeated Andre Agassi of the US, in a best of five straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 for the title. But there was much more to the story. The victory was truly momentous because Kuerten finished the year No. 1 in the rankings, becoming the first South American to do so.

More often than not, the expected happens at the year-end championships. Still, there have been surprises. In 1976, Manuel Orantes of Spain outlasted Wojtek Fibak of Poland in a bizarre 5-7, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6, 6-1 score final in Houston. Five set survival told the tale of David Nalbandian’s 2005 triumph. The Argentine overcame Roger Federer of Switzerland, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 to win the first year-end final held in  Shanghai.

Many hoped the last stand in London would be a No.1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain feature. But the semifinals resulted in the future actually being “now”. Medvedev downed Nadal 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 and Thiem sideswiped Djokovic 7-5, 6-7, 7-6. 

After eleven years, the O2 Arena is passing the year-end baton to Turin, Italy.  Pala Alpitour, the largest indoor sports arena in the country, will be the site for the 2021 ATP Finals and after the 2020 championships, the “la promessa per il futuro è brillante…” (The promise for the future is brilliant.)

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‘Tell Them Your Considering Working With A Dog’ – Andy Murray Says He Was Mocked For Hiring Female Coach

The former world No.1 believes former mentor Amelie Mauresmo was treated differently because of her gender.

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Andy Murray says he was ridiculed by some when rumours started to emerge that he was going to appoint a woman as his head coach.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was mentored by Amelie Mauresmo between 2014-2016 who herself is a former world No.1 on the women’s tour. Although Murray admits that his decision was one that was treated somewhat differently by both the media and those on the Tour. It still remains rare that a top player on the ATP Tour is coached by a female.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Driving Force programme, Murray recounted the reception he received when news started to emerge that he was thinking about appointing a female member to his team. At the time he had just parted ways with Ivan Lendl, who guided him to two Grand Slam titles as well as a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

‘It was in the press that I was considering working with a female coach,’ Murray said.
‘I started getting messages from other players, from their coaches, saying “I can’t believe you’re playing this game with the media. You should tell them tomorrow you’re considering working with a dog.”

The 33-year-old believes Mauresmo was scrutinized more than any of his other coaches by the media. During their time together he won seven titles, including his first two on the clay. However, he failed to win Grand Slam trophies. The two ended their partnership with a ‘mutual agreement.’

“I never had experienced that before because I’d never worked with a female coach on the tour. And then it’s kind of spiralled from there that when I started working with her, yeah, there was negative press towards her,” he explains.
‘Every time I lost the match, which was never the case kind of, when I lost matches previously in my career, nobody questioned my coach. In tennis generally, it’s the individual that gets questioned. And that wasn’t the case when I was working with Amelie.
‘It’s one of my regrets that I didn’t win a Grand Slam when I was working with her. And for people, a lot of people, that was considered a failure because I didn’t do that.”

The experience failed to deter Mauresmo from continuing her work in men’s tennis. After Murray she coached fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille until October this year when she stepped down from the role due to family-related issues. Mauresmo has also previously been selected to captain the French Davis Cup team but didn’t take the role because she wanted to work with Pouille instead.

“I feel like she was harshly judged by a lot of people just purely because she was a woman,” Murray concluded.

According to the ATP, only one member of the year-end top 20 have listed a female as part of their primary coaching team. Denis Shapovalov is coached by his mother Tessa, as well as Mikhail Youzhny.

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Daniil Medvedev’s ATP Finals Breakthrough Praised By Idol Davydenko

The former world No.3 speaks out about Medvedev’s Grand Slam title chances.

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One of Daniil Medvedev’s childhood idols believes the world No.4 is physically ready to contest for a Grand Slam title in the future.

 

Nikolay Davydenko has praised Medvedev’s tactical approach to the Nitto ATP Finals which saw him become the first Russian player to win the title since 2009. The year when Davydenko won it himself. In Sunday’s final, the 24-year-old battled back from a set down to edge out Dominic Thiem. He is the first player in the history of the year-end event to have defeated the top three players in the world en route to the title.

“Medvedev was tactically flexible. With his coaches, they used different Medvedev was tactically flexible. He and his coaches used different tactical approaches in different matches. The semifinal against Nadal had one tactic decision. The other things worked in the final against Thiem, Davydenko told news agency TASS.
Medvedev was in the optimal condition and did everything right, he added.

During the trophy ceremony, the world No.4 paid tribute to his compatriot by describing him as one of his ‘idols.’ The two men are the first and last players to have won the ATP Finals during the time it was staged in London. Next year the event will be moved to Italy. To Medvedev’s surprise, he got the chance to speak with Davydenko shortly after his win.

“I didn’t know but Nikolay Davydenko commented on my match on Russian TV and I managed to talk to him just after,” he said.
“I was so surprised and so happy because he was one of my idols when I was growing up when I was actually already starting to play tennis not so bad, he was there and he was playing unbelievable.’

The victory caps off what has been a remarkable month for Medvedev. Between November 2019 and October 2020 he didn’t claim a single win over a top 10 player. However, this month he has managed to record a total of seven victories and also won his second Masters 1000 title in Paris. Overall, he has defeated 16 top 10 players on the ATP Tour in his entire career.

After winning his biggest title yet, some are starting to wonder if Medvedev has what it takes to claim a Grand Slam trophy in 2021. In recent years the majors have mostly been dominated by the Big Three contingent but Davydenko believes the 2019 US Open finalist is physically ready to challenge for the biggest titles in the sport.

“In five-set matches, it’s harder to keep your concentration. Both psychologically and physically it is more difficult to hold oneself for a longer time. But it seems to me that Medvedev is now ready for this. Physically he is ready, but I don’t know if he has enough mental strength to withstand such concentration,” he said.

Medvedev ends his year with a win-loss record of 28-10 and is one of two Russian men to end the season in the world’s top 10. The other is Andrey Rublev, who won a record five singles title on the Tour this year.

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