Davis Cup Final: Gasquet, Herbert to fight Bemelmans, De Loore in crucial doubles tie - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup Final: Gasquet, Herbert to fight Bemelmans, De Loore in crucial doubles tie

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(Ruben Bemelmans, Joris de Loore – photo via zimbio.com)

Belgium’s David Goffin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France accomplished comfortable victories on Friday to leave the Davis Cup final evenly balanced at 1-1 going into Saturday’s crucial doubles rubber. Will the pair of Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert be able to hand over the advantage to the hosts by winning the match or will the duo of Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore power the Belgians to a 2-1 lead this afternoon?

 

Saturday’s pivotal doubles rubber will see the French team of Gasquet and Herbert, a surprise combination chosen by their captain Yannick Noah taking on Belgium’s Bemelmans and De Loore. While it is true that neither of the two combinations participated in the semifinals, still the Belgian decision to bring in De Loore in place of Arthur de Greef is reasonably understandable whereas the French change is quite baffling to say the least.

Noah’s decision to opt for Gasquet at the expense of Nicolas Mahut hasn’t gone unnoticed in the media and the people are questioning his decision even before the start of the rubber. And it is quite normal to see the fans react in such a manner because Mahut is one of the finest doubles players of the current era and secondly, why would you chose a combination of players that have never played before for such an important clash.

One of the greatest exponents of doubles play, World No. 6, Mahut has been a regular member of the French Davis Cup squad, appearing in all three earlier rounds, and triumphing in all three doubles’ rubbers. Mahut joined forces with Herbert twice to defeat Japan and Serbia and then partnered Julien Benneteau to beat Great Britain in the quarters. Mahut’s ouster is all the more surprising considering the fact that Herbert had recently withdrawn from the ATP Finals citing a lower back injury and will enter the vital doubles encounter with some questions to answer about his fitness.

On the other hand, the Belgians opted for Bemelmans and De Loore for the doubles. The pair participated in the initial two rounds, registering a huge win over the Zverev brothers in the first round against Germany in Frankfurt. De Loore couldn’t play in the semis against Australia due to a knee injury that needed a surgery in September. He hasn’t played any form of competitive tennis since then, but Belgians believe that he has trained extremely hard to regain his spot in the squad.

With the home crowd right behind them, France would definitely have a slight edge over the Belgian duo. However, had the French stuck to Mahut and Herbert as a pair, they would have been overwhelming favorites to win this rubber. But, Noah’s big change has given Belgium a real opportunity to gain the upper hand in the tie. At the moment France can only hope that both Gasquet and Herbert will be able to strike a chemistry to prevent an upset on Saturday.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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Brandon Nakashima shocks John Isner to reach first ATP final in Los Cabos

Brandon Nakashima stunned John Isner to reach the final in Los Cabos.

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Brandon Nakashima (@AbiertoLosCabos - Twitter)

The American became the youngest American to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

 

Brandon Nakashima booked his spot in the final beating an out of sorts John Isner 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes firing 12 aces and winning 82% points with his first serve.

“It’s always going to be tough playing against him, It’s always so hard to return his serve and try to get into the rallies with him but I tried to get back as many returns as I could and there was blocking or chipping the return or hitting over it and just try to mix it up a lot while getting different looks and I knew when I had the opportunities and when I got close in games I knew I had to take advantage of that as much as possible so luckily I was able to do it and of course taking care of my service games was important as well”.

For the first six games of the opening set, neither player had an issue holding serve but at 3-3, it was the San Diego native with the first chance to break but was denied by the world number 39’s big serve.

At 5-4, the world number 134 had two more chances to break and he got the crucial break and served out the first set.

Winning the first set seemed to invigorate the 19-year-old and he earned an early chance to break in the first game of the second set and broke to take a 1-0 lead. Once again that one break was enough to serve out the match and seal the victory.

After the match, Nakashima spoke about becoming the first American player to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

“It feels great and it’s a big accomplishment for me and of course all the Americans, we like to play in the US but it’s nice to see that I am playing well outside the US and luckily it’s not too far from my home here so I have been enjoying it here a lot both on and off the court and really looking forward to playing tomorrow again”.

Nakashima will face the number one seed Cameron Norrie in the final and can feel confident as the last time these two players met, the American beat him.

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