British No.1 Kyle Edmund has scored a sensational second round victory over the two time Madrid Open champion Novak Djokovic, 6-3 2-6 6-3 in an hour and 42 minutes of pulsating tennis.
Edmund had failed to take so much as a set off the former world No.1 coming into the match with a 0-3 head to head record. But when he nailed a ferocious forehand cross court winner to break the Serb at the start, he looked as if he was looking to show his more aggressive intent from the get-go. Although Djokovic broke back immediately, Edmund got another break in the fifth game when the Serb double faulted on break point to gift his opponent the game.
The Brit closed out the set in 32 minutes by breaking the Djokovic serve to love with a stupendous two handed backhand return of serve, that cleaned the side line for a winner.
The second set saw Djokovic move up a gear as he broke Edmund immediately when the Brit donated a couple of cheap unforced errors off the ground. Another errant game saw Djokovic get the double break insurance for 5-2, and he duly closed out the set on serve, 6-2.
Djokovic looked to have the momentum in the final set; targeting his opponent’s weaker backhand and hitting consistently with length from the baseline. When he had Edmund on the ropes at 2-2 0-40, it looked for all the world that he might get the decisive break, but somehow the Brit extricated himself with a couple of big serves and the Serb squandered the third break point with a backhand unforced error, going long down the middle at the end of a punishing rally. Edmund held serve with a run of 5 points, and from there the match was his for the taking.
An off balance Djokovic forehand into the net serving at 3-4 saw the Serb in trouble at 30-40, and when he sent a tentative loopy forehand long up the line in the next point, the collective groans from the many Djokovic fans in the Manolo Santana stadium court told the story of sheer despair.
Edmund wasted no time in riding home his advantage, setting up three match points with an immaculate forehand, drilled up the line for a clean winner, and closing out the match to love when a weary Djokovic backhand return went long.
“It’s a great win for me. He’s a two time champion here, but he’s more than that, he’s a legend of the game and one of the best players of all time”, Edmund said. “I’m pleased with the way my game is developing that I’m able to beat a player like that, so it does me the world of good in lots of ways in terms of confidence and belief. It’s just a really good win for me. First time on stadium court and it was a really good experience just being out there. I had a great start to the year in Australia (reached the semi-finals) and so it’s good to continue to have good results throughout the year and not just one offs. It shows a nice progression. It’s good and I’m just all in all happy.”
“I last played him at Indian Wells last year and so it’s been a year and a bit for me. That’s what I focused on. Since then I’ve had some good wins and developed more of a repertoire in my game and a wiser head on my shoulders. I knew that I’ve had more experience in that environment in those pressure situations, and I got a lot from Melbourne this year. Playing him three times was nice in terms of knowing what to expect in the ball speed and the way he plays. Just in terms of belief and taking confidence from previous situations, I knew if I put myself in the match, I would have a good chance of winning.”
Edmund will face David Goffin in the third round after the Belgian overcame Robin Haase in straight sets.
A deflated Djokovic was left to rue his missed opportunities in the final set, when he had Edmund at his mercy in the fifth game.
“During that 0-40 game he came up with two big serves, and at 30-40 it was the only real chance the entire game”, Djokovic explained. “Even though it’s 0-40, (it looks misleading) from the outside with this altitude, serving as big as he did and with big forehands. You have to use every possible chance, so it wasn’t to be today.”
“He started off well; second set and most of the third set I thought I played well”, Djokovic said. “One or two points decides these kind of matches. Luck was on his side a little bit, but he was courageous enough to attack the ball when it mattered.”
“There are obviously things that are not working well for me. I will keep on working on them and pray and hope that my game will get stronger and get better as the matches go the distance, especially in such big tournaments against such quality players. You have to step in and I tried, but it wasn’t to be today and so I wait for the next one.”
“It’s not the end of the world, you know. I’ve played this sport so many years and I’ve had a lot of success, so I always try to remind myself and be grateful for that. At the same time nobody is forcing me play this sport. I do it because I like it and I want to do it and that is something that makes me fortunate to play this sport and that’s where I draw my strength. As long as I love the sport I will keep going.”
There was an upset earlier in the day when the 11th seeded Roberto Bautista Agut was beaten 6-3 4-6 7-5 by Philipp Kohlschreiber.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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