Rain Halts Play, But Not Feliciano Lopez’s Childhood Dream At Queen’s - UBITENNIS
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Rain Halts Play, But Not Feliciano Lopez’s Childhood Dream At Queen’s

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LONDON: Describing his journey this week as a ‘gift,’ troublesome weather and a slippy court failed to deter Feliciano Lopez as he outlasted Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, to reach the final of the Aegon Championships.

 

35-year-old Lopez is ranked 21 places lower than Dimitrov, but experience can never be underestimated. So far in his career, the Spaniard has won almost twice as many matches on the ATP Tour than Dimitrov (444-232) and is a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist.

“Experience is always important. It’s not only today,” Said Lopez. ”Also the fact that I have been winning many matches lately. I reach the finals in Stuttgart. It was four matches won there.”  He added.

Illustrating his grass-court skills, the Spaniard looked on course to clinch a comfortable victory after sealing a late break in the opening set. The momentum then grounded to a halt as the rain fell, forcing both players back to the locker room. Mother nature seemed to benefit world No.11 Dimitrov the most. A backhand winner combined with an error from his opponent secured him a 5-3 lead when play resumed. He then levelled up the match after closing the second set out with back-to-back aces.

With everything to play for at The Queen’s Club, Lopez’s attack was greeted by some sublime defence of Dimitrov. During one of the Bulgarian’s service games a total of six opportunities came and went for Lopez. Eventually he managed to break down the wall two games later with the help of a forehand volley crashing into the next from Dimitrov. Avoiding the scare, Lopez approached the finished line with ease as his opponent continued to falter in the somewhat cooler conditions.

“It is true that during the week the weather was perfect, it was sunny and the court was dry, but today the court was still dry.” The Spaniard replied when asked about the conditions.
“Conditions were windy a little bit. That’s it. The rest was very similar.”

Surging with confidence, gaining momentum

Feliciano Lopez (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

Lopez doesn’t attribute his latest surge in form to any kind of physical activity. Instead, he believes it has been caused by the power of his mind. Today was his eighth win on the grass this season, emulating his winning run in 2014. It is an impressive achievement for the third oldest player currently in the world’s top-40 after Ivo Karlovic and Roger Federer.

“I came on court today with a lot of confidence. Right now it’s all about, confidence in tennis. It’s not 100%, but nearly 80 or 90% is on the mental part.” He explained.
“Today I came also on the court with a lot of confidence. I lost the second set, but I still believed that if I keep playing as I was playing the whole week, I will have a chance to win the match. This is what happened in the end.”

As a Spanish player, one stereotypically assumes that it is the clay that Lopez loves the most. It is, however incorrect as he also grew up once dreaming of lifting the Queen’s Club title, which he nearly did in 2014. Now a win away from winning the trophy, the passion he feels is no less.

“When I was younger, I was watching Queen’s all the time, and it’s one of those tournaments that you always want to play. For me, it’s so special to be in the finals.”

Standing in the way of a London triumph is world No.7 Marin Cilic, a player who has only dropped serve once in the tournament. Lopez trails 5-2 in his head-to-head with the Croat, but this doesn’t concern him. Instead, he relishes in his joyful rise in 2017, which started with a injury setback.

“This year hasn’t been great for me. Started the year injury in Australia. So it’s a gift for me to be again in the finals, especially here.” He concluded.

A win on Sunday would give Lopez his sixth ATP title. Meanwhile Cilic is gunning for his 12th.

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Roger Federer Overcomes Fucsovics To Reach 57th Grand Slam Quarter-Final

Roger Federer came back from a set down to defeat Marton Fucsovics and reach his 57th grand slam quarter-final.

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Roger Federer (@atptour - Twitter)

Roger Federer reached his 57th grand slam quarter-final with a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory over Marton Fucsovics. 

 

The Swiss maestro overcame tough conditions and a rusty opening set to reach the Australian Open last eight with a four set victory.

It now means Federer will play his 15th Australian Open quarter-final and his 57th grand slam last eight when he plays world number 100 Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

After an epic match with John Millman a couple of days ago, Federer was hoping that victory would give him confidence against an in-form Marton Fucsovics.

There were some confident moments to start the match as Federer struck the ball cleanly off both wings as he looked for a fast start.

But Fucsovics was also hitting the ball well, creating wide angles to make life difficult for the 20-time grand slam champion.

Eventually it was the Swiss maestro who would blink first as a poor game full of unforced errors and poor decision-making handed the early break to the Hungarian.

Fucsovics kept his cool and continued to play with bold as well as brave tennis to hold his nerve and seal the opening set in 37 minutes.

However the first set was the only set where Fucsovics played anywhere near his best tennis as Federer stepped up a gear for the rest of the match.

Using good variety, Federer settled into a rythym as the winners flowed from his racket as the Hungarian started to fade especially on serve.

Two breaks of serve was needed in the second set as he blasted his way to the second set, 6-1.

Another masterclass was handed out in the third set although not without struggled as Fucsovics capitalised on Federer inconsistency to break late in the set.

Although by that point Fucsovics was two breaks down when he broke and Federer broke him back anyway as he shortened the points up at the net as the 3rd seed took a two sets to one lead.

In a match lacking in quality, it was Federer who proved to be the more ruthless and clinical player as he took advantage of a lethargic Fucsovics.

Another two breaks of serve sealed a spot in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for a 15th time in his career. Next up will be world number 100 Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

After the match, Federer admitted the conditions were tough to play in, “Was a tough start,” Federer said in his post-match interview.

“I thought that Marton played clean. It was the rest of the Millman match, he gave me a beatdown from the baseline, so maybe took my confidence away a little bit, and it just took some time.

It’s really slow in the night time especially when it’s cool like this. I had to figure it out, finally found a way at the start of the second set and from there, things got a little bit easier.”

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Alexander Zverev Cruises Past Verdasco To Set Last 16 Clash With Rublev

Alexander Zverev is into the last 16 of the Australian Open after a comfortable victory over Fernando Verdasco.

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Alexander Zverev (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev cruised into the last 16 after a 6-2 6-2 6-4 win over Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open.

 

The German dominated from start to finish as he served 15 aces to blast past Verdasco and reach the last 16 without dropping a set.

Next for Zverev will be Andrey Rublev after the Russian won his 15th consecutive match to edge past David Goffin in four sets.

It was a strong start from Zverev, who uncharacteristically had not needed five sets so far and had preserved a lot of energy.

Although he had struggled against Verdasco in the past, he served well and struck the ball cleanly as he took a 4-0 early advantage.

As for the Spaniard, he was clearly struggling to find any rhythm as he hit 10 unforced errors as well as creating only one break point.

The first set was sealed in 36 minutes and the second set was heading in a similar direction as Verdasco looked lethargic.

Another early break was sealed for the 7th seed as the unforced error count continued to mount for the Spaniard as Zverev created four break points during the set.

Some good use of the angles helped Zverev get another break towards the end of the set as his movement was also looking very good this week.

A 2 set lead was restored for Zverev as he looked to be in control but Verdasco was capable of comebacks before and he made a good start to the third set.

Some more aggressive and accurate play saw him finally take the match to the German and test his opponent’s defensive skills.

There were a few more errors than usual from Zverev as Verdasco upped the intensity and varied the pace of the ball to capitalise and get his first break of the match for a 4-2 lead.

However that wave of momentum didn’t last long for the Spaniard as the German showed good pace from defensive positions.

This allowed him to assume control of the match again and a run of four consecutive games sealed the match as well as a place in the last 16.

A highly impressive first week from Zverev sees him not drop a set so far after looking so underwhelming at the ATP Cup.

Next for Zverev is Andrey Rublev who won his 15th consecutive match to seal a 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4 7-6(4) win over David Goffin.

The Russian hit 19 less unforced errors than his Belgian opponent as he continued his hot-streak and will provide a stern test for Zverev on Monday.

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Simona Halep Unfazed By Big Name Exits Ahead Of Australian Open Second Week

Simona Halep remains focused on her own Australian Open campaign despite many big name exits.

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Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Simona Halep remains unfazed by early exits of the big seeds as she approaches the second week of the Australian Open.

 

Many big names have failed to make the second week with the likes of defending champion Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Karolina Pliskova crashing out before the fourth round.

However one name that still remains heading into the last 16 in Melbourne is Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, who produced a clean performance to dismiss Yulia Putintseva 6-1 6-4.

Hitting 26 winners, Halep easily progressed into the last 16 as she aims for a third grand slam title of her career following victories in Paris and London.

Despite being the biggest seed left in her half of the draw, Halep has remained focused even amongst the exodus of the big names, “Well, I’m not focusing on others, as you know,” the Romanian told the press.

“I know at this level everything can happen, so that’s why sometimes I’m a little bit stressed, sometimes I’m relaxed, because everything can happen.

It’s just a tournament, and I’m sure that for you guys it’s a little bit of shock when the top-10 players are losing, but it’s life and we cannot be 100% every day. So we go ahead, and if I’m still in the tournament, it’s a good thing.”

Even though the fourth seed won’t admit it, now is a big chance for Halep to make her second Australian Open final with many big names from her half crashing out.

Next for Halep is 16th seeded Elise Mertens, who defeated Cici Bellis 6-1 6-7(5) 6-0, and the Romanian knows the threat that she poses, “She has a good game, like she plays fast, close to the baseline. We played many times, so it’s enough to know how she’s playing and what I have to do against her.”

As Halep approaches the second week, the Wimbledon champion also told the media that she feels more relaxed heading into the latter stages of slams, So maybe I relaxed a little bit more. And I don’t see that these tournaments very high that I cannot touch them,” Halep said about the possibility of winning grand slams.

So I feel more confident, and I feel that actually I know that it’s really tough to get match by match and to win seven matches, but I know it’s possible.”

The Romanian’s next match will be on Monday.

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