Novak Djokovic Tackles Donald Young Test To Reach The Semifinals In Eastbourne - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Tackles Donald Young Test To Reach The Semifinals In Eastbourne

Joshua Coase

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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals at the Aegon International in Eastbourne after coming through a tough test against Donald Young 6-2, 7-6(9) as his preparations for Wimbledon continue.

 

The top seed looked back to his best and perfectly at home on the grass in the opening set, racing through it only dropping three points on serve to take it 6-2. The second set was a rather different story as Young grew in confidence and earned the chance to serve for the second set at 5-4. The American had a set point then and a couple more in the tiebreak, but Djokovic held his nerve and finally got over the line on his fourth match point to extend his time by the seaside in his first trip to Eastbourne.

Prior to this match on Centre Court, second seed Gael Monfils completed his second round match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over British wildcard Cameron Norrie. The two players managed 45 minutes court time on Wednesday evening and returned Thursday morning with the Frenchman leading by a set and a break 6-3, 2-1. Norrie had half a chance to break back immediately at 15-30 on his opponent’s serve, but the second seed responded to hold to stay in front. The 21-year-old Brit secured his first ever ATP World Tour level win a few days ago with victory over Horacio Zeballos, but was outhit by the second seed in this match. Monfils secured a second break in the seventh game on his third opportunity and served it out with an ace on his second match point to seal a quarterfinal place.

Monfils will now face former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic later on Thursday after the Australian ran out a comfortable winner over sixth seed Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-2 in just 50 minutes. Seventh seed Richard Gasquet also booked his place in the last eight with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Kevin Anderson and will now meet third seed John Isner, who came through a tough battle against Dusan Lajovic 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4). In the other matches held over from yesterday, defending champion Steve Johnson saw off qualifier Thomas Fabbiano in three sets 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to set up a meeting with Daniil Medvedev, who recovered from a set down to defeat Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

In the first men’s quarterfinal match of the day in front of a sell out crowd, top seed Djokovic started out strongly on serve and had three break point opportunities in the fourth game at 0-40. An ace, followed by an unreturned second serve, followed by an unreturned first serve kept Young in the game. The American did extremely well to raise his level and make it five points in a row to stay with the world number four early on.

Young could not hold off the 12-time Grand Slam champion for long as the Serb secured the first break of serve in the sixth game after his opponent went well wide with an aggressive forehand. After an encouraging start Young struggled to stay with the top seed from the back of the court and soon faced two set points on his own serve. Djokovic only needed one, securing the set 6-2 after 26 minutes with a forehand winner which landed on the baseline. The former world number one was growing in confidence all the time playing in his first Wimbledon warm-up event since 2010, only losing two points behind his first serve and one behind his second over the course of the opening set.

A lapse in concentration in the third game of the second set left Djokovic facing a first break point in the match, but the Serb refocused, hitting an unreturned first serve before holding to stay in front. With that rare opportunity passing the American by, his standard of play dropped on serve, with a double fault leaving Young having to save two break points against him. Young, also a quarterfinalist at Queen’s last week, responded very well under pressure, serving his way out of trouble to win the next two points and save a third break point before holding to level at two games all.

After a series of service holds it was the top seed who next faced adversity on serve in the ninth game, facing two break points. Agonisingly for Young, sensing the importance of the moment in the match, he tentatively struck backhands into the net on both points to squander the chance. A double fault from the Serb gifted the American a third bite at the cherry and this time he took it after Djokovic went long with a backhand slice.

Serving to level at one set all, a double fault left Young down 15-30, but the American responded to move to set point. Djokovic held firm and prevented his opponent from taking them into a final set before converting on his second break point in the game to restore parity and level at five games all.

A hold to love from the top seed made it six points in a row, but a strong response from Young, finishing with a 93mph forehand winner took the players into a tiebreak.

A double fault from Djokovic instantly handed the mini break to his opponent, but the world number four swiftly levelled the scores. Young pushed in front again to take a 5-3 advantage before the world number four came back once again to level at 5-5. A well executed backhand cross court winner brought up a second set point for the American, which the top seed duly saved with an unreturned serve.

After the second change of ends Djokovic earned his first match point but missed a backhand to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats in the tiebreak. A backhand down the line winner brought a second match point, this time on the top seed’s own serve, but once again he could not get over the line. A third match point also went begging as the players changed ends once again at nine points apiece. The most untimely of double faults from Young gave Djokovic a fourth chance and this time he took with an unreturned first serve to secure a place in the semifinals against either Johnson or Medvedev.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Denis Shapovalov gets revenge win over Nadal to reach quarterfinals in Rome

The Canadian avenged a loss he suffered last year by beating the king of clay in the eternal city.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Denis Shapovalov booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after beating the world number four Rafael Nadal in three tight sets 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes on Pista Centrale.

 

The Canadian fired 35 winners and served 13 aces while the Spaniard hit 34 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth.

“It’s definitely incredible to me to beat him. Having match points against him last year was kind of a hurtful feeling,” said Shapovalov who lost to the Spaniard at the same tournament 12 months ago. “Coming back here this year, I definitely remember that match. Obviously great tennis, but that one really hurt. Happy to get the win this time around”.

It was the Spaniard with the better start to the match, putting pressure right away on the world number 16 in the second game of the match and it took Shapovalov almost 10 minutes to save three breakpoints and hold serve.

At 2-1 Nadal kept pushing and struck setting up two breakpoints with his ferocious forehand and then broke the Toronto native with a solid backhand down the line winner.

After consolidating the break the world number four was hungry for more and again with his powerful forehand set up more break opportunities and broke again to take a 5-1 lead and served out the first set.

Shapovalov once again faced three breakpoints in the opening game of the second set but managed to save all of them and was able to hold serve. In the following game he broke Nadal to love for the early 2-0 lead.

He was able to consolidate the break but at 4-3 the Spaniard fought back and managed to break back to go back on serve. However, the Canadian at 6-5 was able to get the crucial break to take the second set and send the match to a third.

Nadal responded right away breaking the Canadian in the first game of the third set but the following game Shapovalov set up three breakpoints with a perfectly timed forehand winner.

He broke back the following point and at 3-2 Nadal struggled with his serve and double faulted to give the world number 16 a 4-2 lead as it seemed he was struggling with an injury.

After running down a ball he was seen hunched over at the towel box and was almost limping after points and wincing before serving or returning serve.

At 5-2 with the Spaniard serving to stay in the match and in pain, Shapovalov had three chances to seal the win and it was third time lucky as Nadal last shot went out.

I was trying to change something, he was completely outplaying me and I was hanging in there and I was really happy to turn it around,” said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov will next face Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals on Friday. In their last meeting the Norweigan was able to come out with the win when they played in the Geneva Open final last summer.

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After Multiple Surgeries, Comeback Kid Stan Wawrinka Books Djokovic Showdown In Rome

In only his third tournament of the year, 37-year-old Wawrinka admits the upcoming clash will be ‘really difficult’ but he is willing to give it his best shot.

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Image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia/

Until now 15 months have passed since Stan Wawrinka last experienced the feeling of recording back-to-back wins in a tournament of any sort.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined from the sport for a year due a foot injury which ended up requiring two surgeries. The first was done in March last year before he underwent another procedure in June. The surgeries occurred just four years after he underwent two other operations on his left knee. Despite the physical problems and frustration, the Swiss isn’t giving up on his career just yet and is proving why at this week’s Italian Open.

A day after knocking out 14th seed Reilly Opelka, Wawrinka battled on court for almost three hours to oust Laslo Djere 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4, in front of a highly animated crowd. The rollercoaster battle saw him fight back from a 1-3 deficit in the deciding set. Then four match points came and went before he finally prevailed. Booking his place in the last 16 of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since Paris 2020.

“It’s helping me to keep doing what I love. Tennis is a passion. The crowd, the support, the atmosphere, these courts is the reason why after two surgeries and one year out (of the Tour) I’m still playing tennis at 37. To live those moments as much as I can and I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wawrinka told atptour.com following his win over Djere.

At 361st in the world, Wawrinka has become the lowest-ranked player to reach the third round of a Masters event since Taylor Dent at the 2009 Miami Open. In Rome specifically, he is the lowest-ranked third round player since Carrado Borroni in 1995.

The reward is a clash with world No.1 Novak Djokovic in what will be a true test for Wawrinka. The two have an extensive rivalry after playing each other on the Tour 25 times before, including the finals of the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open. Djokovic currently leads their head-to-head 19-6 with their last meeting taking place in 2019.

“It’s always special to play against him,” Wawrinka said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner. “As I’ve said many times I’m not where I want to be yet with my game and fitness level. I need those matches.’
“To have a chance to play against the best player (in the ATP rankings) it’s going to be really difficult for me because I think I’m not ready to compete at that level. (But) it’s what I need. I need those challenges and push myself as much as I can to keep improving.”

Wawrinka’s win over Djere is his 535th on the ATP Tour and his 24th at the Italian Masters.

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