Marin Cilic Continues To Blossom In The Shadow Of The Big Four - UBITENNIS
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Marin Cilic Continues To Blossom In The Shadow Of The Big Four




LONDON: At the start of the Aegon Championships the three title favourites were Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic. One name left out was former US Open champion Marin Cilic, who continues to play in the shadows of the elite.


Unlike the top three seeds, Cilic remains in the draw at The Queen’s Club. On Thursday he impressed the London crowd with an emphatic 6-0, 6-4, win over 19-year-old Stefan Kozlov.  The disparity in experience between the two was noticeable from the onset. Former US Open champion Cilic was targeting his sixth quarter-final in his 11th consecutive year playing at The Queen’s Club. In comparison 19-year-old qualifier Kozlov found himself playing a top 10 player for the first time in his career.

“I approached today as any other day. Especially when you’re in this kind of a tournament, playing on grass and playing a youngster like Kozlov, you have to be ready from the first point.” Said Cilic.

Cilic’s power and speed overwhelmed the American during what was a clinical first set performance from the Croat. During the 24-minute display, he dropped only two points behind his serve as he benefited heavily from Kozlov’s unforced error count.

Producing such an outstanding display, Cilic soon had to contend with the crowd cheering on the underdog. When Kozlov claimed his first game of the match in the second set, a huge roar erupted around centre court. Still, it failed to disrupt the fourth seed and his stronghold in the match. A disastrous Kozlov service game, featuring a quartet of errors, extended his lead to a set and a break. The one-sided triumph was concluded a couple games later when the Croat hit a clean forehand winner on match point.

“I think I played really well. Served extremely good. I think he was struggling a bit with his serve, so didn’t have such a great rhythm.” He reflected afterwards.

A run of good form

As the best players in the world currently struggle to find consistency in their game, Cilic is having more success. This week is the sixth time he has reached the quarterfinals of an ATP tournament since April. Overshadowing Djokovic’s tally of four and Murray’s two within the same period. Still, the Croat continues to play in the shadow of the Big Four (Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer). Some might find the scenario frustrating, but Cilic sees it as an opportunity.

“The media attention is always towards the small part of players, and that’s the way it goes.” The 28-year-old explained.
“For me, I don’t mind that. Just it’s less talking for me, which is good (smiling). I’m still focused on myself to improve.” He later added.

Cilic currently has a losing head-to-head record against every member of the Big Four, but has defeated them all at some point. Asked if that fact he isn’t in the media spotlight compared to his rivals enhances his game, the Croat played down the significance. Instead, it is his own objectives that are pushing him to succeed.

“I’m setting up some goals for myself, some targets with the game where I want to go to, and that’s what’s driving me.”

The individual focus of the Croat has taken him to a win away from returning to his career high of sixth in the world. In order to regain the position he needs to defeat Donald Young on Friday, a player he hasn’t played since 2015.

“I’m pushing myself forward, improving week after week, and hoping that definitely at the end of the year when I’m going to be looking back that I’m going to have a  great season.” He concluded.

This week eight top-10 players are participating in tournaments. Cilic is one of only two that is still participating. The other is Roger Federer at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.


Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.




World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.


The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.




The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 


The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington




Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 


Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

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