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

Focus

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

Published

on

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

Embed from Getty Images

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

Embed from Getty Images

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

Focus

Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

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

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading

Focus

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.

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

ATP

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

Image via ATP Twitter

Published

on

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

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending