John Isner ends the 15 match winning streak of Del Potro to reach the final of the Miami Open - UBITENNIS
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John Isner ends the 15 match winning streak of Del Potro to reach the final of the Miami Open

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John Isner produced a masterclass performance to end the impressive 15 match winning streak of Juan Martin Del Potro, 6-1 7-6(2) to move into his first Miami Open final.

 

Miami Open 2018 - Day 12

The 14th seeded American has been in fine fettle all week, and he started strongly against the somewhat weary Del Potro, breaking him immediately by targeting his backhand. On break point, Isner ran around his backhand and pounded his forehand into the Argentinean’s backhand wing several times, and came into the net to put away an easy forehand volley for a winner.

Del Potro found himself in trouble again, serving at deuce in the sixth game. A double fault yielded a break point, and Isner moved to 5-1 when the Argentinean’s mishit forehand sent the ball into orbit. Isner closed out the 26 minute set in the next game with an ace out wide, 6-1.

Games went comfortably with serve until 4-4 in the second set when Del Potro saved a break point with a service winner to roars of approval from the raucous Argentinean fans. He held serve minutes later and a tiebreak would eventually determine his fate.

Isner started off the breaker smoking hot; a stop volley winner, an ace out wide and a forehand winner into the backhand corner of Del Potro, gave the American 3-0 in double quick time. A 139mph ace up the centre gave Isner 5-2 and when he nailed a two handed backhand pass up the line to bring up 4 match points, the Argentinean fans were virtually silenced.

The American clinched the match on his first match point with a classy forehand drop volley winner and the two men embraced at the net as the audience applauded a great performance from Isner, and the departure of a great champion.

Isner served 13 aces, won 80% of the points off his first serve and converted 2 out of 3 break points, and did not face a break point in the entire match.

“I have the feeling that it was the case where he came out a little bit slow because he’s played so many matches, he’s literally running on fumes”, Isner said of Del Potro. “That was a big advantage for me. I was much fresher than him and I think that played a big role today, and I think also I did play my game well, so that certainly helped. He came into the match super confident, and even when you’re tired, you still find a way to win, so I knew he had that on his side.”

I had a game plan, but it wasn’t what I was solely focused on”, Isner said when asked about whether his targeting of the Del Potro backhand was part of a preconceived game plan. “I prefer hitting my forehand inside out and my backhand cross court, and it just happens to go to his backhand. There was a game plan and I stuck to it pretty well. But more importantly than that, it was just a case of me playing good tennis out there and being relaxed which was crucial.”

Del Potro’s run at the final edition of the Miami Open at Key Biscayne has come to an end, but the Argentinean was upbeat despite the defeat. “I did a good tournament, and I go home with many things to celebrate”,he said. “John deserved to win today. He serves unbelievable. He plays great tennis on the tiebreak. He was too good for me.”

He has a better serve than me, and when he plays as good as he did today, he’s one of the tougher guys on tour. I mean, not many players can return his serves. He plays every time making winners. When he has a good day, he has everything to win a title like this.”

“I’m so happy for these tournaments. I won Acapulco, also. It was my 16th match in a row. I think, in only one month that’s enough”, he said smiling.“I will have a good vacation, maybe a week or more days. Depends how I feel.”

When asked about the upcoming clay court season, Del Potro suggested that he would take a long break before playing tournaments before Roland Garros. “I’m not thinking about tennis anymore. It was enough, enough”, he said humorously. “But I would love to keep playing in this level on the clay court tournaments, but I don’t know when I’m going to start, because I need to prepare myself even better than hard court. And I want to stay healthy during the whole year. So maybe I will quit a few tournaments at the beginning and then be ready for Paris or maybe a tournament before.” 

A signal that we may not see Del Potro again until Rome.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins First Title Since Return From Surgery In Washington

The two-time grand slam champion has returned back to the winners circle following her six-month absence due to injury.

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Former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points to defeat Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.

 

Kuznetsova, 33, fought back against the aggressive play of her opponent. Saving seven out of the 10 break points she faced in the match. Eventually, it was the experience of the Russian that guided her to the finish line as she hit 34 winners to 36 unforced errors to win her first title on the tour since the 2016 Moscow Open.

“It was a difficult week,” Kuznetsova reflected afterwards. “Tennis is always mental, if you lose or if you win, you always gotta stay focused.”

With both players contesting their first final of the season, it was Vekic who battled through what was a roller-coaster and tense opening set. At first, the seventh seed appeared on course to clinch the opener with ease after breaking Kuznetsova in the fourth game as she raced out to a 4-1 lead. Only to be pegged by the 2014 champion. Serving for the set at 5-3, a forehand error rewarded Kuznetsova the chance to break back. Prior to the following point, the Russian complained about the movement of the crowd just as Vekic was about to serve. Then the Croat hit a double fault with the two players exchanging words at the changeover.

Despite feeling hard done by, Vekic soon restored order in the match. As Kuznetsova served for a chance to level 5-5, she pounced one again as the former world No.2 faltered. Recovering from a 15-40 deficit to seal the opening set with the help of a Kuznetsova double fault on set point.

Vekic continued to fight with the help of her of some rapid shock-making. Fending off a break point to nudge ahead 4-3 in the second set. Although Kuznetsova refused to go away. Saving two match points, it was in the tiebreaker where the Russian managed to turn her fortunes around. Vekic missed out on another two chances to win the match, allowing Kuznetsova to nudge ahead 8-7. She was then able to force proceedings into a decider after a Vekic forehand slammed into the net.

Kuznetsova’s resilience eventually wore her opponent down, who was close to tears after the match. Vekic admitted afterwards that she was dealing with leg pain and took a medical time out just before the start of the final set.

A double break in Kuznetsova’s favor in the decider guided her to a 5-0 lead. Enough of a cushion to enable her to close out the match after two-and-a-half hours of play to win her second Washington title.

“I know I’ve been a little bit lucky today,” she said.
“There’s something going on with Washington. I never lose here. I played two times and I won both.”

The victory comes after what has been a testing first half of the year for Kuznetsova. Left wrist surgery forced her to miss six months of the tour. Meaning that she didn’t start the 2018 season until March. Prior to the Citi Open, she had only won four matches in 10 tournaments played. Making her latest triumph even more special.

“Those times I had after the surgery, I had difficulties everywhere — personal, working different things. I switched coaches. I had lots of issues,” Kuznetsova explained. “But still, I rise again, and it’s really good for me.”

As a result of her latest win, Kuznetsova has risen 41 places in 87th in the world. Meanwhile, Vekic has jumped seven places to 37th.

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Davis Cup Reforms Face Late Opposition As Vote Looms

The proposed Davis Cup reforms have received strong criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe ahead of this month’s vote.

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David Haggerty (zimbio.com)

The upcoming Davis Cup reform vote has received some strong opposition and criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe. 

 

The vote is set to take place on the 16th of August, where federations will vote to change the 118 year old format to a one week season finale at the end of the year. The proposed move by Kosmos, has received fierce criticism and will need a two-thirds majority in order for it to be approved.

However with the vote just two weeks away Tennis Australia has been among the federations to oppose these reforms and have pushed this even further as they have wrote a letter expressing their discontent at the idea. The letter has been signed by the likes of John Newcombe, current Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.

The letter raises the following concerns, “We have written and spoken to the ITF President for several months now requesting clarity on the proposal from Kosmos, but this has not been forthcoming,” explained the letter, which is even signed by former ITF president Brian Tobin.

“Very large numbers are being referenced, but there is not enough detail to give us confidence this proposal will genuinely deliver enough additional value to players and the nations to offset the loss of home and away camaraderie and all the local marketing, facility investment and player development benefit that comes with those ties. In the absence of such important information, we have no choice other than to vote against the proposed amendments.”

However Tennis Australia isn’t the only federation to be against this move as Tennis Europe, who represent more than 50 member nations have also expressed their concern at the idea, “I am particularly concerned that there is hardly any information received from the ITF regarding bank guarantees for the proposed US$120 million per year which would be the $3 billion deal over 25 years, according to the original proposal,” President Vladimir Dimitriev explained in a separate letter.

“I have not yet seen a final and feasible explanation on how the business model or the governance structure will be either.”

The ITF do have the backing of Germany and France ahead of the move though with the AGM meeting set to take place in Orlando, Florida between the 13th and 16th of August.

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Serena Williams Withdraws From Montreal Due To Personal Reasons

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week due to personal reasons.

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Serena Williams (zimbio.com)

Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week as she deals with some personal issues. 

 

The American suffered the worst defeat of her career last week when she lost 6-1 6-0 to Johanna Konta in San Jose. The 23 grand slam champion clearly wasn’t at her best and it now turns out that she had personal problems to deal with as this is the reason for her withdrawal in Montreal next week.

The recent Wimbledon finalist also felt that she could not play Montreal and Cincinnati in back to back weeks as she continues her comeback from pregnancy. The tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, admits that he is disappointed but still recognises the high quality field that is left, “Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not be joining us, Fans were very much looking forward to seeing her in action,” explained Eugene.

“But beyond the disappointment, the tournament, as a whole, remains a high-level competition. The entire Top 10 is here, along with 22 of the Top 25. There are exciting matches in store from the outset.”

The American was set to play in Canada for the first time since 2015 before withdrawing today. The 23 time grand slam champion has played five events since returning from pregnancy and the results have been mixed as you can see below:

Indian Wells – Third Round

Miami – First Round

Roland Garros – Fourth Round

Wimbledon – Final

San Jose – First Round

Tatjana Maria will now replace Serena Williams in the main draw and the German faces Alize Cornet in the first round.

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