Kei Nishikori Crashes Out To Qualifier Dennis Novikov In Newport Beach - UBITENNIS
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Kei Nishikori Crashes Out To Qualifier Dennis Novikov In Newport Beach

The No. 1 seed Kei Nishikori was unsuccessful in his first match back losing to American qualifier Dennis Novikov 3-6 6-3 4-6.

Jakub Bobro

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It was definitely an unpleasant start to the season for Kei Nishikori. The World No. 24 hasn’t played since August last year and skipped Australian Open to play a Challenger in Newport Beach. Due to being ranked in Top 50 Nishikori had to be given a wildcard to enter Newport Beach, and he was widely considered the favorite for the title.

 

Dennis Novikov was on the other end of the spectrum, having to beat Uchida, Sarmiento, and Galan in qualifying just to play the main draw. He reached his career high of No. 119 in 2016 but is currently down at No. 238.

Novikov did not seem nervous to begin the biggest match of his career. He played the flat aggressive game that he showed through qualifying and it was effective. Nishikori seemed rather passive and rusty in the opening set. He seemed to spin his serves at around 160 km/h (there was no official serve speed measure) and just tried to keep himself in rallies. Novikov got a break for 3-1 and kept it for the remainder of the set, winning it 6-3.

Nishikori played a very high-level second set. Novikov seemed to fail at high-pressure points, giving Nishikori a 5-1 lead. Novikov fought and broke Nishikori back, but the former No. 4 did not fail in serving the set out the second time. Nishikori won the second set 6-3.

Both players were serving very well in the deciding set. Novikov took a very aggressive approach, often serve and volleying efficiently. At 3-4 down, Nishikori had two double faults and got broken to 3-5. Novikov had a tough time with serving the match out and played more passively than throughout the match. He got broken back. He got himself back together over the changeover, and with high-risk shots, he forced another break to get the win. Dennis Novikov will face wildcard Reilly Opelka in the second round.

Here are some quotes from Nishikori’s press conference:

How did your wrist feel in the match?

“The wrist was fine, I need to get used to more matches. I still felt very rusty on the court, my game was very up and down. There were some positive and some negative things and I still have to work on myself.”

What were the positive things that you can take from your match?

“The wrist was feeling pretty good, so that is the biggest positive for me right now. I still need better groundstrokes and not miss easy balls. I need to get more confidence and more matches.”

Why did you decide to skip Australian Open but come play Newport Beach a week later?

“My wrist was still not a 100% when I decided not to join. I wasn’t sure if I could play five sets with my wrist and that’s why I chose to play here. I need some matches. It was good to have three sets today without too much pain. I need one more week of practice here and hopefully, I can play well in New York and Acapulco.”

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Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert seal a hard-fought win in decisive doubles match

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Ten-time Davis Cup champions France beat Japan 2-1 scoring the fifth win in as many Davis Cup matches against the Asian team.

 

French star Jo Wilfried Tsonga reeled off seven games from 4-2 in the first set to beat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2 6-1 in 58 minutes in his 12th Davis Cup season.

Tsonga saved two break points and converted four of the five break points. The Frenchman held four service games and broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to take a 6-2 lead.

Tsonga broke twice in the second and fourth games and closed out the match in the seventh game after saving two break points.

“It was very important for our team to start well. I am also happy about my game, what I did today, so I hope it continues like this”, said Tsonga.

 Yoshihito Nishioka claimed 9 of the last 11 games in his 7-5 6-2 win over Gael Monfils in 66 minutes to level the score at 1-1 sending the tie into a decisive doubles match. The Japanese player saved one break point and earned two breaks to seal the win in straight sets.

“I wanted to show to the whole world Japan are still strong. Of course, if Key was here we would be strong, but even when he is not here, we can play. Hopefully next time Kei is here and we can play better”, said Nishioka.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the first set and stayed neck and neck until the 11th game of the first set when Nishioka got the break at 5-5 to seal the first set. Nishioka broke twice to seal the second set 6-2.

Last week’s ATP Finals doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert fought back from losing the first set to beat Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchyama 6-7 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 40 minutes.

After losing the first set at the tie-break, Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Herbert and Mahut went up a break in the third set. Uchiyama and Nishioka got the break back in the 10th game, when Herbert and Mahut were serving for the match. Mahut and Herbert got another break at 5-5 and held at 15 to seal the decisive win for France.

“They played at a very high level. We know we have arrived late from London, but the captain had a lot of confidence in our team. We were 1-1, we really had to win to give France the win. There was a lot of intensity in the win but we are really happy today, this was a really difficult tie”, said Mahut.  

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Canada beats Italy 2-1 in the opening day of the Davis Cup in Madrid

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Denis Shapovalov battled past Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought second match of the round-robin Group F at the Davis Cup in Madrid to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Italy

 

Berrettini faced three break points in the third game of the opening set. Shapovalov earned two break points in the ninth game, but Berrettini held on his serve at deuce. Both players held on their service games. In the 10th game Berrettini earned three set points on return, but Shapovalov fended them off. Barrettini saved another break point to set up a tie-break. Shapovalov took a 6-3 lead earning three set points. Berrettini won two consecutive points to claw his way back to 5-6, but Shapovalov sealed the tie-break with a backhand passing shot.

Both players went on seve setting up a second tie-break. Berrettini got an early mini-break, but Shapovalov broke straight back. Berrettini took another mini-break to take a 3-2 when Shapovalov hit a volley into the net and sealed the second set 7-3 on his first set point.

Shapovalov earned a break point in the fifth game of the third set with a forehand winner. Berrettini held on his serve with his 11th ace. Both players went on serve in the next games setting up a third tie-break. Berrettini got the first mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Shapovalov. The young Canadian player broke straight back, when Berrettini made a forehand volley error. Shapovalov sealed the tie-break 7-5, when Berrettini fired his forehand long on his first match point after 2 hours.

“After making semifinals in the Madrid Mutua Open here, and winning the Junior Davis Cup in 2015, I feel like Madrid is a really good city for me. We will see how this week goes, but it’s a good step today”, said Shapovalov.

Fognini and Berrettini won the doubles match over beating Shapovalov and Pospisil 6-2 3-6 6-3. The Italian team got a double break to win the first set 6-2. Shapovalov and Pospisil drew level by winning the second set with a break in the eighth game. Italy saved two break points in the seventh game of the decisive set before breaking serve in the eighth game. Berrettini sealed the win for Italy with an ace.

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Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claim their first ATP Finals title in London

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The French team formed by Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claimed their first men’s doubles title with a 6-3 6-4 win over Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in 70 minutes at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London ending the 2019 ATP season on a high note with back-to-back titles in Paris Bercy and London. They remained unbeaten during the whole week at the ATP Finals in London winning all five matches in straight sets.

 

Herbert and Mahut fended off all four break points they faced scoring their ninth consecutive match win. The French doubles specialists have become the first team to win the doubles ATP Finals title without dropping a set since Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.

Herbert and Mahut fended off break points in the third game of the match before earning the only break of the opening set in the next game. The Frenchmen saved a break point in the sixth game before breaking serve in the seventh game.

They have become the French team to win the ATP Finals doubles title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, who triumphed in Shanghai in 2005.

Herbert and Mahut have won 15 doubles titles as a team during their career. This year they became the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam at last January’s Australian Open and also won the Rolex Paris Masters in front of their home fans.

Last year they came within one point of winning the ATP Finals title against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock after holding a match point.

“Thank you Nicolas for sharing the court, for having so much enjoyable moments and giving me so much joy, when I am with you on the court. You played an unbelievable final, so thank you for that”, said Pierre Hugues Herbert.

 

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