Dominic Thiem Snaps Losing Streak Against Anderson To Reach Madrid Final - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Snaps Losing Streak Against Anderson To Reach Madrid Final

The 24-year-old eased to his second consecutive final at the Caja Magica.

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MADRID: On his seventh attempt Dominic Thiem has got the better of Kevin Anderson to reach the final of the Madrid Open.

The fifth seed, who knocked out Rafael Nadal on Friday, dismissed the South African 6-4, 6-2, in just 85 minutes. Despite previously never beating his rival, this was the first time they have clashed on the clay with Thiem wearing Anderson down as the match progressed. Hitting 18 winners to eight unforced errors. The encounter saw Thiem take advantage of Anderson’s hot and cold performance, where he was making mistakes on relatively straightforward shots.

“I was keeping my level up from yesterday, so that was a great thing. The way I started was also well. Even though I played really different, I was returning very far back today.” Said Thiem.
“Almost everything worked out. To beat him 4 and 2, it’s a very good result.”

A lengthy Anderson service game kicked-off the match with the 31-year-old struggling to find consistency in his shot-making. Enabling a relentless Thiem to capitalize and break for the 1-0 lead, benefiting from an error from his rival on his third break point. That sole break was pivotal to the outcome of the set as the world No.8 failed to find a way to fight back, despite a golden opportunity at 4-5. As Thiem served for the set, his first serve evaded him as he went behind 0-40. Still, it wasn’t enough to deny him as he battled back to deuce before sealing the 6-4 lead with the help of a forehand cross-court winner.

A US Open finalist last year, Anderson illustrated glimmers of his best tennis with the drop-shot and his strong serve being his best tactics. The issue was that it was nowhere consistent enough to trouble Thiem, who continued to apply pressure throughout the second set. Taking advantage of a double fault from his rival to extend his lead to a set and a break.

Strolling towards the finish line, Thiem continued to dictate the points and push his opponent around the court. Prompting a lacklustre Anderson to shake his head and look towards his camp in the crowd. After 85 minutes of play, Thiem booked his place in the final with a serve out wide that triggered another error from Anderson. His 27th of the match.

“I thought that I was pretty far away (from winning a Masters title) before this week started. Now I’m in the final again, which is amazing for me.” Thiem reflected about his Madrid run. “It would be definitely nice if I win the title tomorrow.” 

The run in Madrid comes after what has been a roller-coaster past few months for the Austrian. During March, he was forced to miss the Miami Open due to an ankle injury. Leading into this week, Thiem has not gone beyond the quarter-final stage at his past five tournaments.

“There was a little bit of a lack of confidence in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. Even though I beat Novak, which was a huge result.” He admits.
“I had a little time out before Monte-Carlo because of the ankle injury from Indian Wells. Took me a while until I was moving my best again, until I was playing my best again. I think the level of my game has increased, especially in this week.”

Thiem will now play in his second Masters 1000 final after Madrid last year. Awaiting him will be either Alexander Zverev or Denis Shapovalov. He has a winning head-to-head record against both of those players.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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