Denis Shapovalov defeats Edmund to reach Madrid Open semi-finals - UBITENNIS
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Denis Shapovalov defeats Edmund to reach Madrid Open semi-finals

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In a war of attrition here at La Caja Magica, Denis Shapovalov finally saw off the brave efforts of Britain’s Kyle Edmund after 2 hours and 27 minutes of gripping tennis, 7-5 6-7 (6) 6-4.

 

ATP Masters Series: Monte Carlo Rolex Masters - Day Two

Denis Shapovalov (zimbio.com)

The opening set saw Edmund get the early break to go 2-0 up, only to lose his break advantage immediately as Shapovalov levelled for 2-2. The Canadian’s shot making is a sight to behold off both wings, and Edmund had his hands full defending against it.

Games went with serve until Edmund, serving at 5-6, went down break point when his forehand up the line flew long, and he lost the next point going for too much on his forehand up the centre to concede the 49 minute set, 7-5.

At 4-4 in the second set, Edmund hit a fabulous backhand cross court pass and a couple of unforced errors on the forehand wing of the Canadian saw the Brit earn himself two break points. The Canadian nailed an inside out forehand for a clean winner and in the next point unleashed a fierce backhand up the line to force the error from his opponent. He held serve two point later with an ace.

At 5-5 30-30, Shapovalov served an ace up the centre, however, Edmund’s attempt to return the ball was hindered by a woman screaming out in support of the Canadian. Edmund wanted the point to be replayed, but the umpire gave the point to Shapovalov to the Brit’s annoyance. He argued his case to no avail and the Canadian was unwilling to serve again. The Brit’s concentration was temporarily disturbed and he served two consecutive double faults to go down 0-30 before regrouping in the nick of time, saving a match point in the process to force the tiebreak.

A scorching running forehand winner up the line gave the Brit a 5-3 lead, but he was soon pegged back to 5-5 when his short forehand approach found the net. He served an ace up the centre for his first set point which the Canadian staved off with a service winner. The Brit breathed a sigh of relief when a Shapovalov forehand approach went long and his perseverance paid off when on serve, he saw the Shapovalov backhand return fly long to level at one set all after almost 2 hours of play.

Going into the final set, Shapovalov proved to be the stronger marginally, and he rode home on an early break advantage, serving out the match to love with an ace.

Shapovalov spoke about how he was able to regroup mentally after being match point up in the second set, only to lose the set at the end of a nail-biting tiebreak.

“It wasn’t easy but I took a bit of a break, went to the wash room and cooled down a little bit”, Shapovalov said. “It was kind of similar to what happened in Brisbane this year against Kyle; I won the first and we had a really close tiebreak in the second. I missed a pretty easy overhead and he took the second and I got broken first game of the final set and he just held, so I tried to learn from that and I think I did that really well today. As soon as the second set was done I just told myself it’s in the past and told myself to just focus on the third. Focus on every point this set and I’m really proud of  the way I handled myself mentally.”

This rivalry seems to produce great matches between the two and the Canadian says that he relishes the matches that they have.

We have a really similar game styles. We both go big on our serves and we love to dictate with the forehand. It’s really tricky to play Kyle. When he’s on I’m not seeing the ball at all. He’s slapping winners left and right, so it’s tough to play a player like this. In my opinion he’s so talented and he’s going to go so far in this sport and he’s done a great job this year and I’m sure he’s going to get better and keep on improving. I feel like every time we play we have a thriller match and it’s fun to be on the court with him. To be honest, we have had some incredible matches and it’s always a pleasure to play him.”

Speaking about the controversial incident toward the end of the second set, Shapovalov was sympathetic but firm in his opinions on the outcome.

“As I was tossing the ball a lady yelled out, and I served and I’m not sure if he was intending to play it or not, I mean it’s too fast. Obviously, I felt really bad and I felt awful about it, but I was really sure what to do in the situation. At the end of the day I think it’s the ref ‘s call, he has to make the decision, that’s why he’s there on the court. It’s not up to me and it’s not up to Kyle. That’s why we have ref’s in the first place. It’s tough to put the blame on me to replay that at such a big point in the match. As I’m tossing the ball, maybe if the ref yells out ‘Stop!’ or if I had stopped. I mean something could have been done, but no one did anything, so I pursued to serve. It’s a really tough situation and like I said, I felt really bad, but at the end of the day it’s not my call. It’s up to the ref.”

The Canadian is feeling confident able his chances of reaching his first Masters 1000 final whoever he plays tomorrow.

It’s going to be a tough match tomorrow, but I think I can win whether it’s John (Isner) or Alex (zverev). It’s going to be extremely tough, they both are playing with a lot of confidence. They have been playing some of the best tennis of their lives, so it’s not going to be easy.”

For Edmund, the disappointment of losing such a close match that could have gone either way was softened somewhat by the knowledge that he will debut inside the top 20 next week.

“It’s nice to get to a ranking like that. After Australia, I wanted to get to the top-20, it was definitely a realistic goal.” Edmund said. “It’s just one of them when it’s nice to see it but you just continue pushing. It’s not even the middle of the season so there’s still so much tennis to be played, stuff to work on so it’s nice that I’m getting some positive results, but there’s always room for improvement. That’s the nature of this game. I want to keep pushing basically, this summer is always a busy period so it’s nice to have some momentum with some good results. I’ll keep going basically, I’m looking forward to the British summer as well. It will be nice to be back home.”
 
Regarding the incident in the second set that saw Edmund get into a lengthy argument with the umpire, the British No.1 felt that the point ought to have been replayed.
 
“Obviously someone called out right when he was serving so I stopped and yeah because he served and it went past me it was the point so I stopped and then I said: “do we not take a let on that”, the umpire said: “it’s not my decision”.
‘So then I said to Denis “do you want to take a let on that?” and he said “no I’m going with the umpire”. 
He obviously wanted the point quite badly so, yeah.”

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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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