Ilie Nastase Backs Djokovic Resurgence As Brutal Indian Wells Draw Looms - UBITENNIS
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Ilie Nastase Backs Djokovic Resurgence As Brutal Indian Wells Draw Looms

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Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

Two-time grand slam champion Ilie Nastase has publicly backed Novak Djokovic ahead of his bid to defend his title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

Since winning his 67th ATP title in Doha at the start of the year, Djokovic has experienced a duo of disappointments on the tour. At the Australian Open he suffered a shock second round defeat to an inspired Denis Istomin. Then at last week’s Mexico open the world No.2 crashed out in straight sets to Nick Kyrgios during what was their first meeting on the ATP tour.

Reflecting on Djokovic’s recent misfortunes during an interview with Sky Sports, former world No.1 Nastase believes that the Serbian will once again regain his footing to compete at the highest level of the men’s game.

“I think he’s going to be back,” Nastase told Sky Sports on Tuesday.
“He can just play from Monday to Sunday and start fresh on Monday like others. People don’t understand that. There’s just pressure for him to win week-by-week and you get tired and you cannot concentrate for so long.
“Maybe the other guys play well, that’s also possible. But Djokovic is a great champion and you have to count on him coming back, that’s for sure. He’s a fighter.”

The journey to the title at this year’s Indian Wells tournament promises to be one of the toughest Djokovic has ever experienced in his entire career. Drawn in the bottom half stacked with talent, he could play great Britain’s Kyle Edmund in his opening match followed by a series of blockbuster encounters. Round three could see Djokovic play crowd favorite Juan Martin del Potro, who he lost to at the Rio Olympics last year. In the last sixteen he has a shot of getting revenge against Kyrgios, if the Australian overcomes German rising star Alexander Zverev.  Then an extraordinary quarter-final clash against either 18-time grand slam champion Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal looms.

Playing in the so-called ‘group of death’, the desert tournament promises to be the best indication yet of Djokovic’s current physical and mental form. Recently the Serbian has been the recipient of criticism from his former coach, Niki Pilic. Pilic, who guided the 29-year-old during his junior years, said he has lost the tenacity in his game.

That tenacity is no longer the same. It remains to be seen whether he can rediscover it and get back to the top level.” He said during an interview with Bosnian daily Nezavisne.

Pilic’s comments come as Djokovic openly admitted that tennis is no longer his main priority due to family commitments during an interview with RTS in his home country.

Claiming the sunshine double last year, Djokovic is defending a total of 2000 points this month in Indian Wells and Miami.

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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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