US Open Men’s Preview: Federer and Nadal Fight For No.1 As Young Guns Aim To Shine - UBITENNIS
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US Open Men’s Preview: Federer and Nadal Fight For No.1 As Young Guns Aim To Shine

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

Following the absence of some of the tour’s biggest names, it has been left for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to headline this year’s US Open.

A total of five top 11 players will be absent from the draw due to injury. Sidelined from action is Novak Djokovic (elbow), Stan Wawrinka (knee), Kei Nishikori (wrist), Milos Raonic (wrist) and Andy Murray (hip). As a consequence, Nadal and Federer will be the top two seeds in Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2010.

Top seed Nadal, who hasn’t won a hard court title since January 2014, has been given a fair draw. In his section, the Spaniard is guaranteed to face no player ranked higher than 15th seed Tomas Berdych in the first four rounds. He will open up against Dusan Lajovic, a player he hasn’t played since the 2014 French Open. Lajovic is yet to win a main draw match at the US Open, but did manage to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells this year. Further on in the draw, Nadal could play Richard Gasquet in the third round. Earlier this month, the world No.1 defeated the Frenchman for the 15th consecutive time at the Cincinnati Masters. Later on in the draw, he could play either Fabio Fognini or Berdych in the last 16.

“I’m here at the US Open, and doesn’t matter if I’m No. 1 or not. Today, (the) only thing that matters is to try to work well and try to be ready for the first match and try to play a good US Open. That’s my goal.” Nadal commented on Saturday.

Following Murray’s withdrawal, 36-year-old Federer is the second seed and is drawn in the same section as Nadal. Aiming to win a record 20th grand slam title in New York, the Swiss player starts against Frances Tiafoe. A 19-year-old American who tested Federer during their previous clash in Miami earlier this year. During the first week he could play either Blaz Kavcic or Mikhail Youzhny in the second round. Followed potentially by 31st feed Fernando Verdasco and then rising star Nick Kyrgios.

“I think it’s an interesting first round, you know. Clearly he has nothing to lose but everything to gain. It’s a tough one.” Federer said about his meeting with Tiafoe.
“He’s aggressive baseliner like so many of the Americans. Thankfully I played him in Miami this year so I have a little bit of an idea of how he plays, and his patterns and what he prefers to do and whatnot.”

If all goes to plan, there will be a mouthwatering clash between the two players in the semifinals of the tournament. They have played against each other 37 times over a 13-year period, but they are yet to meet in Flushing Meadows.

“I’d be happy to play him (Nadal) here.” Said Federer. “We never played here in New York, so I think that would be fun for everybody involved. I mean, there is, like, I don’t know, 60-plus players in between us that don’t agree in our section that we should make it to the semis. We have our work cut out there.”

The new kids on the block

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With so many top players out of action, the younger generation has their best opportunity yet to make a mark in one of the biggest tournaments of the sport. 20-year-old Alexander Zverev has already won five ATP titles on three different surfaces this season. He will be the highest seeded German male in a US Open draw since Tommy Haas back in 2002.

“I felt like I could compete and beat anyone during this period of time.” Zverev commented about his form this year. “I feel quite welcoming into this Open. I feel different about this Grand Slam than I have felt before about the Grand Slams.”

Zverev will kick-off his campaign against Darian King, who will be making his debut in a grand slam main draw at the age of 25. His section is filled by players known for their fast serves. Former quarter-finalist Kevin Anderson could be a third round opponent if Ernests Gulbis doesn’t make another out of blue surge in the draw. Meanwhile, Gilles Muller and Jack Sock are potential fourth round opponents.

Dominic Thiem is yet to reach the second week at Flushing Meadows. Since Wimbledon, he has only managed to achieve a win-loss of 3-3 on the tour. Still, there is hope for the talented Austrian player. The first two rounds will see him play against teenager Alex de Minaur followed by either Taylor Fritz or Marcos Baghdatis. The biggest test lies in the second part of the first week. An unseeded Ivo Karlovic is a potential third round opponent. Then Winston-Salem champion Roberto Bautista Agut or Juan Martin del Potro could await him in the last 16.

The other guys

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Due to the supremacy of the ‘big four,’ some players have had to settle for second best on the tour. Could one of them spring a surprise?

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov illustrated what kind of form he is in by winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at the Cincinnati Open. The 26-year-old has never reached the quarter-finals of the US Open, but remains a danger to all with the absence of some of his rivals. In his section, the other seeds has endured a poor lead into the final grand slam of the year. David Goffin hasn’t won back-to-back matches since injuring his ankle at the French Open and Pablo Cuevas is currently experiencing more downs than ups. Last year’s semifinalist Gael Monfils is also in Dimitrov’s quarter and should be his biggest threat.

“Going to the Open, it’s for sure a lot of positivity with it, but the most important thing now is just to stay grounded, keep on doing the same work, believe in myself, and just prepare the best way that I can for the Open,” Dimitrov recently said.

Marin Cilic knows what it like to win a major as the underdog. The Croat hasn’t played on the tour since losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final due to injury. He has taken Murray’s place in the draw and will be hungry for redemption after coming so near to his second grand slam trophy at SW19.

The full list of seeds

1. Rafael Nadal
2. Andy Murray (Withdrew due to a hip injury)
3. Roger Federer
4. Alexander Zverev
5. Marin Čilić
6. Dominic Thiem
7. Grigor Dimitrov
8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
9. David Goffin
10. John Isner
11. Roberto Bautista Agut
12. Pablo Carreño Busta
13. Jack Sock
14. Nick Kyrgios
15. Tomáš Berdych
16. Lucas Pouille
17. Sam Querrey
18. Gaël Monfils
19. Gilles Müller
20. Albert Ramos Viñolas
21. David Ferrer
22. Fabio Fognini
23. Mischa Zverev
24. Juan Martín del Potro
25. Karen Khachanov
26. Richard Gasquet
27. Pablo Cuevas
28. Kevin Anderson
29. Diego Schwartzman
30. Adrian Mannarino
31. Feliciano López
32. Robin Haase
33. Philipp Kohlschreiber

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Emma Raducanu Finding Positives Ahead Of Eastbourne Return And ‘Pristine’ Wimbledon Experience

Emma Raducanu will play Eastbourne for the first time this week.

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Emma Raducanu is finding the positives as she looks forward to a big next few weeks.

The former US Open champion is preparing to play Wimbledon for the first time in two years.

Last year, Raducanu was undergoing multiple wrist surgeries but now the Brit returns to her home Grand Slam.

In an exclusive interview with Porsche Raducanu described Wimbledon as ‘Pristine’ as she prepares for a big two weeks at SW19, “I’m looking forward to competing at Wimbledon this year,” Raducanu explained.

“Obviously, Wimbledon is Wimbledon, and that speaks for itself, but I’m most looking forward to the stage which I missed last year and now I’m looking forward to coming back and being in a better place than I was in 2022!

“For me, it’s always about the rich history and traditions, like the pristine grass courts and iconic white dress code. It’s always the tournament that every player dreams of winning.

“The courts at Wimbledon are obviously pristine and look beautiful. The aesthetics and tradition that come with the tournament are unparalleled. Being a British player at Wimbledon is incredible, the atmosphere is hard to put into words.

“I particularly love court 1 because I feel the fans get more involved, that coupled with everything else that Wimbledon brings gives you extra motivation to perform well.”

Heading into Wimbledon, Raducanu enters the tournament with a semi-final in Nottingham and is now prepared to play in Eastbourne for the first time.

Ahead of Eastbourne, Raducanu admitted she is finding the positives in her preparation and is looking forward to her experience in Eastbourne, “Preparation has been going well thanks. I have had a good last few days training in London before Eastbourne this week so excited to get going,” Raducanu stated.

“Yes, I took a lot of positives from Nottingham. I performed well, and it showed me that my game is strong on the grass, so yes, it’s given me positivity heading into Wimbledon. Most importantly for me though at Wimbledon I feel in a place where I’m in love with the sport. Whatever happens this Wimbledon, I have full belief in myself for the years to come too.

“I’ve never played in Eastbourne, it’s on the water which I like, minus the wind maybe and it’s another home tournament where I get to play in front of a home crowd! That’s the best part.”

Raducanu will face fellow Grand Slam champion Sloane Stephens in a blockbuster opening round match on Tuesday.

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Tommy Paul Downs Lorenzo Musetti Wins Maiden Grass Court Title At Queen’s Club

Tommy Paul is the new American number one!

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Tommy Paul has won his maiden grass court title at Queen’s Club after defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-1 7-6(8).

The fifth seed was too good for the Italian who never really got going as Paul claimed his first title at ATP 500 level.

It was Paul’s third ATP title of his career and moves to world number 12 after an impressive week.

Heading into the final, Paul had beaten Jack Draper and Sebastian Korda and the American continued his red-hot form in the opening set.

Incredible movement on the grass as Paul played efficient counter-attacking tennis as he frustrated Musetti early on.

The American secured the early break for a 3-0 lead as the world number 13 dictated with power and touch.

Looking for a response, Musetti aimed to dictate play on the backhand and the Italian’s serve was firing in the next game as he secured his only hold of the match.

However, Paul was too consistent and solid as the American broke again and would soon win the opening set 6-1.

In the second set, Musetti started more positively as he was more proactive and aggressive as he looked to control his power more.

Paul managed to outlast Musetti’s early power to keep moving the Italian about and creating angles to hit winners into.

After a controlled start, Musetti produced a reckless seventh game as erratic unforced errors saw Paul break for a 4-3 lead.

The American was calm and collected for the majority of the match but when serving for the match Paul faltered under pressure.

Too many missed first serves saw Musetti with an opportunity to break back and the Italian didn’t need a second invitation as a crisp backhand return winner sealed the break back to level the set at 5-5.

An inspired Musetti applied pressure on Paul with some phenomenal hitting from the baseline as he secured consistent winners.

The American held his nerve to force a second set tiebreak as the American looked to overcome some jitters.

It looked like Musetti was going to cruise to the tiebreak but the Italian squandered a 4-1 lead in what was a highly entertaining tiebreak.

In the end Paul would win the tiebreak 10-8 and secure his first ATP 500 title as well as becoming the new American number one.

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Jannik Sinner Wins Maiden Grass-Court Title In Halle

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Jannik Sinner - Parigi 2024 (foto X @ATPTour_ES)

Jannik Sinner has reached another milestone in his blossoming career after claiming his first title on grass at the Terra Wortmann Open in Halle. 

The world No.1 ousted fifth seed and doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(8), 7-6,(2), in a tightly contested encounter. Sinner was sternly tested by the big-hitting Pole who knocked French Open finalist Alexander Zverev out of the tournament on Saturday. Nevertheless, he managed to come out on top to become only the eighth player in PIF ATP ranking history to claim a trophy in his first tournament as world No.1.

“This means a lot,” Sinner told TennisTV. “It was a tough match against Hubi. I knew that I had to serve really well. You play only a couple of really important points throughout the whole set. I tried to produce in the best possible way in the important moments. 
“I’m very happy about this tournament because it’s my first time winning (a title) on a grass court. It’s a good feeling.”

Proceedings got underway with a 53-minuite opening set which saw no breaks of serves during the first 12 games played. However, each player had one opportunity to do so during the early stages. In the tiebreak, Sinner continued to be troubled by Hurkacz after failing to maintain a 5-2 lead. Then at 6-5, he was unable to convert his first set point due to an ace from his opponent. He missed a second opportunity to do so before prevailing on his third by hitting a shot deep to the baseline that his rival returned into the net. Making Sinner the first player to take a set off Hurkacz this week. 

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with both players standing strong behind their serve. Hurkacz was unable to find a way to break but he did win over the crowd after hitting a fantastic over-the-shoulder passing shot without looking to win a point. 

Meanwhile, Sinner continued to weather the storm as he closed in on victory. The second tiebreaker saw him capitalised on back-to-back unforced errors from his rival en route to a 5-1 lead. Two points later he earned his first match point with the help of another costly mistake from across the court before closing the match out with ease.

Sinner’s latest victory is only the second time he has beaten a top 10 player on the grass with his first triumph being against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon two years ago. He is also the second player to win Halle whilst ranked No.1 in the world after Roger Federer. 

Heading into Wimbledon, the 22-year-old has won four ATP trophies so far this season on three different surfaces. He has now won 38 out of his last 41 matches played. 

“I’m looking forward to it,” Sinner said of the next Grand Slam. “Last year I made the semis and played some good tennis. So let’s see what’s coming this year. 
“For sure I’m more confident on this surface. Obviously, the grass here (in Halle) might be a bit different to Wimbledon but I have a week to prepare so hopefully it is going to be a good tournament.”

Sinner is the 17th active male player to win a tour-level title on all three surfaces. 

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