Dominic Thiem to battle Grigor Dimitrov in clash of young talents - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem to battle Grigor Dimitrov in clash of young talents

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(Dominic Thiem – photo via zimbio.com)

World No. 4 Dominic Thiem will square-off against two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov in the opening match of the Pete Sampras Group at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Monday. Can Thiem come out on top of the equally talented Bulgarian who also possesses a potent one-handed backhand?

Dominic Thiem, alongside Alexander Zverev is considered as one of the future stars of the game and his rise to No. 4 in the ATP rankings has certainly substantiated that claim. In literal terms, the year 2017 has been his breakthrough year in terms of results. Thiem won the Rio Open in February, was the runner-up in Barcelona and Madrid and made it to the semis of Roland Garros and Rome.

Moreover, apart from the success he has achieved what makes Thiem a talking point among the sport’s elite is the way he plays the game. His playing style is extremely soothing to the eye, elegance is a hallmark of his ground-strokes and he barely hits a shot that looks ugly. In addition to that, his movement on the court is quite smooth and he never seemed to rush through his strokes.

Despite his beautiful all-round game, Thiem has completely gone off the boil in recent times. Since Wimbledon, he has accumulated an 8-9 win/loss record including an 0-3 streak during the Asian leg of the tour. His best results after Wimbledon have been a quarterfinal appearance in Cincinnati and a round of 16 showing at the US Open.

Dimitrov has followed a similar trajectory to Thiem as far as the season’s results are concerned. After winning titles in Brisbane and Sofia and reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open, Maria Sharpova’s ex-boyfriend failed miserably during the clay court season as he barely managed to sneak past the round of 16.

But, he did latch on to the big opportunity he got in Cincinnati as he went on to win the title in the absence of Roger Federer and the early exit of Rafael Nadal. However, he disappointed a lot of people with his poor performance in New York as after his Cincinnati title run he was expected to do exceedingly well in the final Grand Slam of the year, but lost to Andrey Rublev in the 2nd round.

Grigor somehow managed to stem the tide after the US Open by getting through to the final of the Stockholm Open, and progressing through to the semis in Beijing before losing to eventual champion Nadal. Dimitrov lost in the third round of the Paris Masters but the loss came at the hands of John Isner and that too in the deciding set tie-breaker and it wouldn’t have hurt his confidence that much.

Head-to-head: The pair have met thrice before on the ATP tour with Thiem having a marginal advantage because of his 2-1 lead over the current World No. 6. However, there two recent meetings have been extremely close with Dimitrov winning in three fiercely fought sets in Brisbane and Thiem overcoming Dimitrov in a three-set thriller in round three of the Madrid Masters. Once again, we should expect a tight match with the more aggressive player having the last laugh.

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Auger Aliassime overcomes slow start to beat Seppi in Washington

The Canadian looked down and out early in the match but bounced back to avenge a loss he suffered at the French Open in June.

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Second seed Felix Auger Aliassime survived a huge scare in his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington.

The Canadian was on the verge of being upset by the Italian Andreas Seppi but battled back to beat him 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 59 minutes. Blasting a total of 25 winners and nine aces in the win.

 

“In my mind, I wanted to find a way to come back. To get that early break in the second really helped me a lot and I think I served a little bit better and I put more volume and height on my shot,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I was more patient and in the first set I was missing too quickly in the rallies so digging deep physically and mentally allowed me to come back nicely in the match and to finish strong in the third set. I am happy with the way things turned around for me today”.

It was the world number 88 with the better start to the match and after both players held their opening service games he had two chances to get the early break and took a 2-1 lead. After consolidating the break, the Italian set up another breakpoint with a stunning forehand winner, broke again for a 4-1 lead, and served out the first set.

Auger-Aliassime was keen on getting back into the match and wanted to avoid a second straight upset loss to the Italian. After holding serve in the first game of the second set he had two chances to take an early lead and broke for the 2-0 lead with a forehand up the line of his very own on breakpoint. That was enough for him to serve out the second set and send the match into a decisive third set to decide the winner.

It was the Canadian who repeated what he did in the second set holding the opening service game and breaking Seppi’s serve with a sublime passing shot. The Italian responded the next game by breaking right back but failed to consolidate the break as the world number 15 broke again with his powerful backhand winner.

At 5-2, the Auger-Aliassime found himself at match point and it took him five attempts before being able to convert and seal the match. Avenging a loss he suffered at Roland Garros.

After the match in his post-match press conference, the Canadian was asked if he had the loss to Seppi at the French Open in the back of his mind during the match.

” In a way yes of course because we played once and he beat me and as a player, you never want to go down twice in a row against a player but it happens but in my case, I really wanted to find a way to win that match and get revenge just for myself to try and get the win”. he said.

Auger Aliassime will now face the winner of the second-round match between Jenson Brooksby or Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

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Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.

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John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.

 

The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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