Tiafoe Reaches First Career ATP Final in Delray Beach - UBITENNIS
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Tiafoe Reaches First Career ATP Final in Delray Beach

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Courtesy: Peter Staples/ATP WorldTour

Delray Beach, Florida

 

It was a battle of two exciting #NextGen players on the ATP Tour in Saturday nights semi-final at the Delray Beach Open. 20-year old American Frances Tiafoe moved into his first career ATP main draw Final with a 7-5, 6-4 win over 18-year old phenom Denis Shapovalov in just 71 minutes.

Tiafoe, who needed three sets in each of his previous matches just to get into the semi-finals, played well from the onset and was more consistent than his opponent from the baseline. His first serve was also strong at 72-percent and he managed to avoid a single double fault for the first time in the tournament.

“Big Foe” and “Shapo” as they are nicknamed, each held serve in the opening set until the 11th game. That’s when Shapovalov got into a Love-30 hole after a backhand into the net. Two points later, a bankhand shank gave Tiafoe two break points and on a Shapovalov second serve, Tiafoe crushed a backhand winner down the line. Tiafoe, in a Lebron James-like celebration, raced to the chair with his fist in front of him. Just the third time in the tournament the Canadian has been broken. In the next game a 130 mph ace gave Tiafoe the set in 37 minutes.

It was a sluggish start to the second for Shapovalov, playing in his second career ATP main draw semi-final. He began the set with his first double fault of the match. A pair of shots into the net including a poor decision to go for too much on a backhand down the line gave Tiafoe an early 1-0 lead.

Two games later, there was more trouble for the Canadian. Two more double faults followed by another backhand mistake into the net gave Tiafoe, ranked No 91 in the world coming into the tournament, his third straight break and a 3-0 lead.

Shapovalov did get one break back in next game but the damage was done. Shapovalov, the No 46 ranked player in the world couldn’t get into any rhythm and on match point flew another backhand wide giving the match to Tiafoe.

“Some of my goals for this year was to start doing well in these events,” said Tiafoe. “I’m gonna keep riding this wave and see where it takes me. I wasn”t expecting this. I am going to see his (Shapovalov’s) face a lot across the net quite a few times here in the next 10-15 years, I’m excited for it.”

“Definitely sucks to lose but have to give Frances credit today, he played extremely well,”Shapovalov said. “He’s been hot all week beating unbelievable players. It’s disappointing but it’s been a great week for me.”

With a win in the final on Sunday, Tiafoe has a chance to become the first Wild Card to win the Delray Beach Open in the 26 year history. He will face German Peter Gojowczyk in Sunday’s final. It is also just the second all-unseeded Final in the tournaments history.

Gojowczyk has an impressive run going against Americans. Including Challenger events, he has won his last 14 straight matches against US born players, 8 straight in main draw ATP events and three this week. His last loss coming to Tiafoe at a Challenger event in Illinois last year.

“It’s a joke, it’s unbelievable,” Tiafoe said jokingly. “It’s got to stop, he loves that American flag, I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

Note:

A nice gesture by the tournament organizers at the Delray Beach Open on Saturday. They invited students from the nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to attend the days matches free of charge. The school was the sight of last week’s mass shooting in which 17 people lost their lives.

@Sportshorn

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Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice

The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.

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This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.

 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.

Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.

“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.

As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.

“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”

Del Potro’s comeback delayed again

There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.

However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.

Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.

Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.

RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

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Vasek Pospisil dispatches James Ward in Eastbourne

Vasek Pospisil is into the second round at Eastbourne.

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Vasek Pospisil (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

The Canadian won his first match on grass of the year beating the local favourite James Ward.

 

Vasek Pospisil is through to the second round of the Viking International ATP 250 in Eastbourne after beating the Brit James Ward in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes on court number two.

“It was a good match, I played pretty well, I thought I served well and he is a tough opponent on grass because he has a tough first serve but I was pretty sharp and played well when I needed to and happy to get the win”.

It was the Canadian who had the first chance to break at 1-1 and he got the early break and that one break was good enough for him to serve out the first set.

The second set was much of the same and actually was identical to the first with the world number 66 getting the break to take a 2-1 lead but faced a breakpoint when consolidating the break.

Again that one break was enough for him to serve out the match and book his spot in the next round. This is Pospisil’s first win since the month and after the match, he spoke about how the last couple of months have been for him.

“It was good I just took a break from the tour just to refresh the mind and the body and I hadn’t seen my family in nine months so it was a good reset and I felt I needed a break to kinda be excited about touring and the covid conditions and now I’m back and I am happy to be back and I am playing well so it was a nice break.”

Pospisil will now face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the next round after the Spaniard beat the Swede Mikael Ymer in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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