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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Rafael Nadal Hoping Coronavirus Will Not Spoil His Olympic Dreams

The 19-time grand slam champion speaks out about the worldwide outbreak.

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World No.2 Rafael Nadal has said he is hopeful that a remedy can be found to contain the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak in order to stop what he describes as ‘fear’ erupting.

 

Several countries have declared major medical emergencies in order to tackle the illness, which also goes by the name of Covid 19. It is believed to have originated in China, where the most infections and deaths from the illness have been recorded. However, Iran is also struggling with an outbreak, Italy has quantified 11 towns, Saudi Arabia is preventing foreign pilgrims from entering their country and Japan has closed schools.

Coronavirus has also had an impact on various tennis events with a string of Chinese ITF and Challenger events cancelled. Meanwhile on Sunday, the final of the ATP Bergamo Open in Italy was cancelled due to concerns. Making it the first time an European event has been impacted by the threat posed by Coronavirus.

“I hope it is controlled, that a remedy is found and this uncertainty is stopped, this psychosis, this fear. It is the most important thing, not only for the Olympic Games, but for humanity, “ Nadal commented on the issue following his second round win at the Mexican Open.

One of the biggest sporting events is also under threat – the Olympic Games. This year’s edition will be held in Tokyo, Japan. IOC council member Dick Pound has recently said the sporting event will be cancelled if there is ‘world health at stake.’ The World Health Organisation is currently working with Olympic organizers, who are keen to empathise that they have no intention of cancelling the event.

“Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled,” Committee chief executive Toshiro Muto recently told Japanese reporters.
“For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Nadal is one of many tennis players hoping to win a gold medal later this year. The Spaniard is already a three-time Olympic after competing in 2004, 2008 and 2016. He has previously won two gold medals. Claiming the singles title in 2008 and the doubles trophy alongside Marc Lopez in 2016.

“Regarding the Olympic Games, to say that it is one of the most special events in the world. It is a unique experience to be there and I consider it the most difficult tournament to win because you only have two or three chances in your career, “ Nadal commented.

The Olympic tennis tournament will get underway on July 25th. It will be held at the Ariake Coliseum.

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Novak Djokovic reaches the semifinal in Dubai for the ninth time in his career

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Novak Djokovic cruised past Karen Khachanov 6-2 6-2 in one hour and six minutes to reach the semifinal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament for the ninth time in his career.

 

Djokovic dropped 13 points in eight service game and converted on five of his nine break points. He dropped his serve only once in the first set.

Djokovic held serve with a drop shot winner in the third game and broke serve at love with a forehand return down the line winner in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The 2020 Australian Open champion held his serve with a drop shot winner in the third game and broke serve at love with a return down the line winner.

Djokovic held serve at love with a volley winner to consolidate the break. The Serbian player went up a double break earning his chance to serve for the set, as Khachanov netted a backhand in the sixth game. Khachanov pulled one break back after a forehand error from Djokovic, as the Serb failed to convert a set point in the next game. Djokovic got another break in the eighth game to clinch the opening set 6-2 on his third set point in 32 minutes, as Khachanov hit a backhand into the net.

Khachanov fended off a break point in the second game of the second set before Djokovic earned a break at love in the fourth game with a lob. Djokovic sealed the second set with another break at 5-2.

“I don’t know if I am playing the best tennis of my career. That’s a big statement, but I am feeling and playing well.  I like the conditions, but in windy conditions it’s not easy to serve and find rhythm. I know it wasn’t Karen’s day, but I think I played a very solid match. I am trying to be in the present and execute my game plan”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic set up a semifinal against Gael Monfils, who won the all-French clash against Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-3 after 73 minutes. Monfils broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to win the first set 6-3 and went up a 5-1 lead with two breaks. Gasquet pulled back one of the two breaks, as Monfils was serving for the match at 5-1. Monfils served out the win on his first match point.

Monfils is seeking his third title of the year after winning two consecutive tournaments in Montpellier and Rotterdam.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches his second consecutive semifinal in Dubai

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Last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas came back from one set down to beat Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6 6-4 6-4 reaching the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the second consecutive year.

 

Struff earned three set points at 5-4 in the opening set. Tsitsipas recovered to 30-40, as Struff hit two forehands into the net. The German player converted his third break point chance to win the first set 6-4 after 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas earned an early break in the first game of the second set, as Struff hit a forehand long at 15-40. Tsitsipas rallied from 15-40 down, when he was serving for the second set at 5-4, and converted his second set point with a forehand down the line winner.

Struff fended off four break points in the first game of the decisive set. Tsitsipas earned the decisive break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 and sealed the win on his first match point. Tsitsipas will face Daniel Evans, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-2 7-6 (11-9).

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