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Rising Star Naomi Osaka relishing Historic Run At Indian Wells

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Naomi Osaka (zimbio.com)

At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Naomi Osaka is making a name for both herself and Japanese tennis.

 

Taking on Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals, the 20-year-old powered her way to a one-sided 6-2, 6-3, win. Breaking her rival six times in the match, Osaka benefited from an error-stricken performance of her opponent. Which featured a total of 29 unforced errors during what was both cold and windy conditions.

“I knew that I had to really pay a lot of attention when I was serving, because it could have turned into one of those matches where, like, holding serve is very important.” Said Osaka.
“But when I got the break in the first game, I sort of shifted a little bit more attention to returning, because it seemed like she was a little bit unconfident on her serve today.”
“I tried to focus a lot on returning and just making her play a lot of balls.”

Indian Wells has provided Osaka with a platform to live up to her rising star status. At 44th in the world, she is currently one of only four players aged under 20 in the top 50. Earlier this year she reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time at the Australian Open and was a quarter-finalist at the Dubai Tennis Championships. It is due to this why Osaka is reluctant to call her run in California a ‘breakthrough.’

“I feel like this year I have been more consistent. So yes and no at the same time, because I feel like all the matches I have played at the start of the year, they have sort of been leading up to this.” She explained.
“I just want to keep this level throughout the entire year, because that’s what the good players do.”

Besides her own achievements, Osaka is the first Japanese player in history to reach the last four of a Premier mandatory event. Although the youngster is eager to continue rewriting the record books.

“I’m happy, but also I feel like it’s cooler to go to the finals and win it, so I’m going to try to do that.” She commented about the latest milestone. “I feel like I want to break records for male and female. I’m coming for Kei (Nishikori).”

A clash with world No.1 Simona Halep awaits in the semifinals. Halep came through her quarter-final match with a three-set win over Petra Martic. Osaka is yet to defeat the Romanian on the tour, but has managed to take a set off her in two of their three meetings.

“I made a lot of unforced errors while not really going for the shots that I had.” She said about her last match against Halep. “So I’m just trying to commit more and also playing longer rallies at the same time.”

Osaka is the lowest ranked played left in the women’s draw and the only one yet to win a WTA title.

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Sebastian Korda sets up quarter final clash against Ugo Humbert in Halle

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Sebastian Korda came back from one set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-3 7-5 at the NOVENTI Open in Halle setting up a quarter final match against Ugo Humbert, who upset Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 53 minutes 

 

Both players went on serve with no breaks of serve. Zverev won 84% of his first serve points. Humbert won the first set tie-break when Zverev netted a forehand. 

Zverev converted his first break point at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Humbert sent his backhand long. Zverev held on his next service games to claim the second set 6-3. Humbert earned the break in the fourth game of the third set to close out the third set 6-3. 

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently. Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set. We both barely won points on each other’s serve. Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. He was outplaying me. It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently”, said Zverev. 

Korda reached the first ATP Tour final of his first career at Delray Beach, the quarter final in Miami and won his firts ATP Tour title on clay at the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma. 

Nishikori broke twice in the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. The Japanese player won 67% of his second serve points and saved two break points in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. Korda broke serve in the sixth game after seven deuces and held serve in another hard-fought game to race out to a 5-2 lead. The US player served out the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set. 

Nishikori saved three break points in a nine-minute first game. The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Korda broke Nishikori with a lob. Korda fended off a break point as he served out the match at deuce in the 12th game. “I would say it was good level from both of us. I think I played almost too good in the first set. He then started making more balls and changed his position. He started playing better in the second set.I think the third set could go both ways. I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks”, said Korda. 

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Matteo Berrettini beats Andy Murray to reach the quarter finals in his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 after 1 hour and 25 minutes at the cinch Championships to reach the quarter final at the Queen’s Club in London without dropping a set in his debut at this event. 

 

Berrettini won his fourth ATP Tour at the Serbian Open in Belgrade, reaached the final at the Madrid Mutua Open and the quarter final at Roland Garros. 

Murray, who won the Queen’s title five times in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, has made his come-back from a groin injury with a wild-card in his first ATP Tour level tournament since March. He was seeking his seventh quarter final at the Queen’s tournament and his first since lifting this title in 2016.

Berrettini fended off all three break points and his 28 winners to just seven unforced errors. The Italian top 10 player broke twic in the fifth and ninth games to close out the first set 6-3. He earned an early break in the second game of the second set and held his next service games to close out the second set 6-3. 

“This was really hard. We all know who Andy is, he is a great player and he was always there even until the last point. I am really happy for my performance. I know how tough it is to come back from an injury, so I wish him the best of luck. I played better. I am just happy that he is back. I have worked really hard on my serve in my career since I was a kid. I grew up on clay, so I waas serving more kick serves, but we figured that I had to hit hard like this. Today it worked really well”, said Berrettini. 

Murray is unlikely to play in Eastbourne next week because of the logistics around the tournament bubble. 

“I made some good moves on court but my tennis was not very good. That’s the thing I will need most rather than the movement. There are some slight niggles in the groin and I will have to try and get rid of between now and Wimbledon. I need matches and I need to practise with top players over the next ten days”, said Murray. 

Berrettini set up a quarter final match against British player Daniel Evans, who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4 7-6 (9-7) in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Evans won 81% of his first serve points and fended off five of the six break points. 

“I am just pleased to come through. I knew that he was good on grass. I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, but I didn’t envision it being that tight and obviously I did not want it that tight either. It was a tough match, mentally more than anything, trying to hold my serve when I was a set down”, said Evans. 

Denis Shapovalov cruised past Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-3 with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games of the first set and in the fourth game of the second set. 

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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