US Open Day 3: A Grounds Pass Diary - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 3: A Grounds Pass Diary

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A grounds pass at the US Open gives you access to every court except Arthur Ashe Stadium.  On a normal day early in the tournament, it’s hard enough to keep up with all the action on the grounds.  But this is no normal day: with most of yesterday’s matches postponed due to rain, there are 87 singles matches scheduled for Day 3.  Here’s my diary of the day as I scurry around to catch as much tennis as possible.

 

View from the 7 train.  On the left: construction of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium.  On the right: Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Normally I would arrive before play begins to watch players practice, but 7 train delays did not allow for that, so I immediately plotted out which court would be my first stop for the day.

The temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium

11:00am – Settle into Louis Armstrong Stadium for the resumption of Elina Svitolina vs. Siniakova.  Svitolina easily won the first set yesterday 6-0, they will now re-start in the second set tiebreak.  This year’s temporary Louis Armstrong stadium consists of metal bleachers with “luxury” porta-potties underneath, but finds some charm in its intimacy and the surrounding trees.  Finding shade on long days like this is critical, yet usually challenging, so the trees are a welcome sight.  Svitolina won the first set 6-0, but we re-start play in the second set tiebreak.  An extremely extended rally gives Siniakova three set points, and she takes the set on the third.  It’s only 11:15, and we already have some intrigue with the number four seed pushed to a final set.

Another extended rally ends with a beautiful drop shot and lob combo, giving Siniakova the break to open the third.  Siniakova is hitting a lot of backhand winners, and dictating play with her ground strokes.  The third set sees lots of long rallies, but in the end Svitolina is able to grind out the win with some superb defense.

Grigor Dimitrov in action on the Grandstand

12:15pm – I arrive at the Grandstand on the opposite side of the grounds and watch Grigor Dimitrov finish off an easy 6-1 first set over Vaclav Safranek of the Czech Republic.  It’s a mismatch with the Cincinnati champ against the 210th-ranked qualifier, but nonetheless Dimitrov looks very sharp, winning in straight sets.  He could be ready for his first deep run in New York.

I was surprised to find there were a lot more fans watching Kyrgios on Armstrong than Dimitrov on the Grandstand.  Dimitrov is the more established player, but Kyrgios is much more popular on this day.  The stands were only about 20% full on the Grandstand, while people lined up to get onto Armstrong.

Alexander Zverev hits with his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero.  In the background, Martina Hingis gets in some doubles practice.

1:45-2:15pm – I wander the practice and outer courts for a bit.  I get to see Marin Cilic, Jelena Ostapenko, Alexander Zverev, Martina Hingis, and Steve Johnson all on the practice courts.  Catch the final point of a five-set victory for Taro Daniel of Japan over American Tommy Paul.  Daniel’s reward after a five-set win?  He’ll play Nadal tomorrow.  I then walk right past Fabio Fognini, returning to court from a bathroom break.  He promptly loses the next six games to an opponent who has never won a tour-level match, and Fabio is heading home.  Typical Fognini.

 

2:30pm – Take a quick lunch break, and thanks to the little radios American Express gives out, listen to coverage of Nick Kyrgios’ match.  The ESPN team is critical as Kyrgios struggles with injury and motivation.  Kyrgios goes out to a much lower-ranked countryman.  Typical Kyrgios.

David Goffin takes on Julien Benneteau on Court 5

3:00pm – Grab a seat on intimate Court 5 for ninth seed David Goffin versus veteran Frenchman Julien Benneteau.  Goffin still has the knee he injured at Roland Garros taped up, but his movement doesn’t look hampered as he scrambles his way to a 2-1 set lead.  Benneteau then completely goes way, dropping 12 of the first 14 points of the fourth set, so I also decide to go away.

Lucas Pouille and Jared Donaldson warming up on Court 17.

3:45pm – In the opposite corner of the grounds, another Frenchman, Lucas Pouille, gets his match underway against Jared Donaldson.  The American cramped during his win on Monday, and got off to a slow start here.  Donaldson appeared tense early on.  He looked up in frustration to the row in front of me repeatedly, where coaches Marsy Fish and Jan-Michael Gambill were seated.  Both players struggled with consistency, but Pouille played better at the end of each of the first two sets.  I exited during the third set to ensure I didn’t miss my top priority for the day (Donaldson would come back and win the next two sets, but Pouille prevailed in the fifth).

Alexander Zverev and Borna Coric get set for what would be a stellar match on the Grandstand.

6:00pm – Returned to the Grandstand for the start of Alexander Zverev against Borna Coric.  The Grandstand got jam-packed for this one, especially as the start of the night session on Ashe was delayed. All players look bigger in person than on TV, but Zverev’s height is especially impressive from courtside.  On the fashion front, Zverev abandoned the knee-high tube socks he wore on Monday.  Good choice.

Zverev quickly won the first set.  In the second set, he saved one set point on a 41-shot rally, but lost a second set point to even the match.  Coric would return the favor by saving break points in the third on 25, 29, and 40-shot rallies.   Coric would take the third in a tiebreak.  At 5-6 in the fourth, Coric would save three sets points, and take the fourth set tiebreak to complete the big upset.  Zverev only broke serve once in the match despite 11 tries, and played too tentatively in the big moments.  At 9:45pm on Day 3, the fourth seed is out.

10:00pm – take a quick food break and watch the big screens by the fountains in the main plaza.  Get to see Shapapolov take the first set over Tsonga, and Sloane Stephens finish off eleventh seed Dominika Cibulkova.

10:20pm – Back to the Grandstand for Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.  She’s playing 92nd-ranked Ying-Ying Duan of China.  Muguruza gets a critical break in the ninth game and takes the first set.

10:50pm – Unfortunately bedtime is fast approaching, so I begrudgingly need to go home.  Still seven matches on court as I head out.  Just another 12-hour day at the Open.

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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