Dominic Thiem Eases Into Maiden French Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Eases Into Maiden French Open Final

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World No. 8 Dominic Thiem eased into his maiden Roland Garros final after making short work of Novak Djokovic’s slayer Marco Cecchinato in their semifinal on Friday. Thiem was at his absolute best as he raced to his first ever Grand Slam final after completely dominating Cecchinato from start to finish, coasting to a comfortable 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 victory in two hours and 17 minutes.  He will meet defending champion Rafael Nadal or 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro in Sunday’s showpiece final in Paris.

Thiem was off to a flyer as he forced a break-point at 30-40 in the opening game of the match. But the Argentine fired a wide serve and a forehand crosscourt winner to save it. Thiem then earned another opportunity with some penetrating hitting before forcing Cecchinato to spray a backhand long for the service break.

Thiem backed up the break with a swift hold to love. He served a massive ace down the T to lay down an early marker of his intent for an early 2-0 lead. A dominant Thiem was employing the one-two punch to great effect as he romped to a 4-2 lead. Big serves and even bigger forehands were simply too good for Cecchinato, who defeated former champ Djokovic in the previous round.

However, the 8th game turned out to be a major disappointment for Thiem as Cecchinato, who barely won a point on the seventh seed’s serve till that stage of the contest brought up three break points. Thiem saved all three, but another missed backhand from him eventually gifted the break back to Cecchinato for 4-4.

The pendulum swung once again in the 11th game as Thiem broke just when he needed to break. Thiem really cranked up the heat as both players traded blows off both wings. Thiem ultimately came out on top as he crunched a forehand winner down the line after dragging Cecchinato from side to side.

In the following game, Thiem served out the opening set to 15. He dominated early on but looked to have allowed Cecchinato back during the concluding stages. However, he responded and raised his level to claim the set in 46 minutes.

Thiem had multiple chances to break his rival early on in the second set. His first opportunity arrived in the first game, but he couldn’t capitalize as Cecchinato produced possibly his best drop shot of the encounter to save it. Thiem had two more chances in game No. 5, but his adversary once again managed to get away as he saved them both – the first with a delicate volley and the next with a serve out wide.

The quality of tennis was simply world class as neither player was giving an inch to the other. In the end, the set went to a tiebreak, which once again witnessed a see-saw battle between the pair. Grueling rallies, massive hitting and deceptive play became the norm as Thiem seized the early momentum to lead 5-2.  Thiem then brought up three set points at 6-3, but failed to convert even one of them.

Thiem then found himself in a real spot of bother as Cecchinato had three opportunities to level the proceedings at a set apiece. But, like Thiem he too couldn’t convert those chances and it was Thiem, who finally got the job done on his fifth set point to claim an enthralling tiebreak 12-10.

After winning set No. 2 Thiem went into an overdrive as he found his groove and almost never missed. Within a blink of an eye, he found himself 5-1 up with a double break of serve. Thiem then made no mistake, picking up a free point on serve to bring up match point before sealing the deal at the first time of asking with a scorching forehand winner.

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REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach

The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.

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Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.

 

TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.

The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.

“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.

Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.

Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.

Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.

Groh’s coaching CV

  • 2011: Michael Berrer
  • 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
  • 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
  • 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
  • ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
    Source -ATP/Linkldn

UPDATE*

Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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