Four Things To Know About Semifinals Day At Queen's - UBITENNIS
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Four Things To Know About Semifinals Day At Queen’s

Ubitennis’ guide to what you need to know about today’s last-four showdown at The Queen’s Club.

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On Saturday four players will lock horns for a chance to reach the final of the Fever-Tree Championships. Nick Kyrgios will take on Marin Cilic first on Centre Court. Following that match, 12-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic faces France’s Jeremy Chardy for a chance to reach his first final of the season.

 

Here are four things to know about today’s semi-final matches at The Queen’s Club.

Chardy looks to break his losing streak

The past few weeks have seen 31-year-old Chardy experience some of his best ever results on the grass. At the start of this month he defeated Dan Evans to claim his first ever Challenger title on the surface in Surbiton. He was able to follow up on that milestone by reaching his third ATP final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch a week later.

Despite Chardy’s recent surge in success, he still faces a tall order against Djokovic. They have already played each other 10 times with the Serbian winning all of them in straight sets. Queen’s will be their first meeting on the tour since 2015 and their first meeting on the grass since 2013.

“I think being able to play that many matches and win in a row builds confidence, especially on this surface where we don’t have a long season on. So he got plenty of matches under his belt in the last couple of weeks.” Djokovic said of his semifinal opponent.
“He is feeling confident and comfortable, as well. I have seen him play a little bit, Chardy. He has a powerful serve and I have played him many times also on grass. Big forehand.”

Route to the semifinals
R1 – Def Tim Smyczek 6-2, 6-4
R2 – Def Daniil Medvedev 7-6(6), 6-3
QF – Def Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-4

Djokovic aims to extend near-perfect French record

Former world No.1 Djokovic has an almost flawless record against French opposition within recent years. Since 2012 he has won 48 out of 50 matches against French players. The only two players to buckle that trend was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2014 ATP Finals and Benoit Paire at this year’s Miami Masters.

Earlier in his career, Djokovic played in eight ATP Finals against French players between 2007-2012. His only loss was at the hands of Tsonga at the 2008 Thailand Open.

“I’m just excited to be in the semifinals. I haven’t had too many of those over the last 15 months. So let’s hope that I can get a chance to fight for a trophy.” Djokovic said after winning his 800th tour match on Friday.

Route to semifinals
R1 – Def John Millman 6-2, 6-1
R2 – Def Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-1
QF – Def Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-1

Kyrgios targets grass-court milestone

23-year-old Kyrgios is aiming to reach his first grass-court final on the ATP World Tour. He has already featured in seven ATP Finals. Six on a hard-court and one on the clay.

Kyrgios has already hit a whopping 32 aces in his two previous matches against Kyle Edmund and Feliciano Lopez. Bringing his total for the week to a tournament record of 82. The tour record for most aces in a two-sets match is held by John Isner, who hit 33 aces during his clash with Radek Stepanek at the 2015 Atlanta Open.

“My serve’s been like this ever since I was a little kid. It was my best shot. I always based my game around it.” Said Kyrgios.
“It was one shot where I didn’t really practice much at all. I would hit maybe 10 or 15 serves a day.
“I used to just throw the ball up and hit it as hard as I could. I guess just one day it started winning me easy points. I was, like, this is better than running, and that’s it.”

Should Kyrgios win, he would become the first Australian to reach the final at Queen’s since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2007. Kyrgios teamed up with Hewitt to play in the doubles tournament this year.

Route to semifinals
R1 – Def Andy Murray 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5
R2 – Def Kyle Edmund 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3
QF – Def Feliciano Lopez 7-6(5), 7-6(3)

Marin Cilic targets No.4

Earlier in the week Cilic said The Queen’s Club felt like home to him and with good reason. This year is his 12th consecutive appearance at the tournament. Cilic, who won the title back in 2012, currently has a win-loss record of 29-9 at the tournament (not counting walkovers).

“I’ve been coming here since 2007, every single year, and enjoying it. I’ve had great success even though the tournament is extremely strong every single year.” Said Cilic.
“It’s always a pleasure for me to play here. I think it’s very special as every single match is a full crowd, so it makes it even more interesting.” He added.

A win over Kyrgios will elevate Cilic into his fourth Queen’s final. Besides claiming the title in 2012, he also finished runner-up to Andy Murray in 2013 and Lopez in 2017. So far in his career, Cilic has only reached four finals of the same tournament once before. That was back in his home country at the now defunct Zagreb Open.

Route to semifinals
R1 – Def Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4
R2 – Def Gilles Muller 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
QF – Def Sam Querrey 7-6(3), 6-2

The Queen’s semifinals will get underway at 13:00 GMT.

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Dominic Thiem Ousts Rafael Nadal For Maiden Australian Open Semi-Final

Dominic Thiem edged out world number one Rafael Nadal in four sets to reach his first Australian Open semi-final.

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Dominic Thiem (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem edged out Rafael Nadal 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time. 

 

In a stunning performance, Thiem eventually held his nerve to win all three tiebreaks in the match and secure a place in the last four.

The result means Nadal will lose his world number one if Novak Djokovic can win an eighth Australian Open title in Melbourne.

As for the Austrian, he will meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday.

In a rematch of the Roland Garros final, it was Thiem who had the more aggressive start to the match as he was red-lining the ball across the court and created break point opportunities.

Nadal’s clutch serving remained crucial though to survive the Austrian’s early surge. This was important as Nadal would soon show why he has won 20 grand slam titles as he played his best tennis when it mattered.

A good mix of pace and variety troubled Thiem as the Spaniard earned the first break of the match for a 5-3 lead in the opening set.

Despite the early setback, the Austrian continued to raise his level especially on the backhand side, producing a lot of winners. A forehand return winner sealed the break back immediately on his third opportunity.

Both men would continue to cancel each other out with insane cross-court angles as the opening set went to a tiebreak.

Dominating from the baseline, the 5th seed took control and wrapped up the opening set 7-6(3) in 68 gruelling minutes.

In the second set, Nadal continued to be the aggressor especially on the forehand as he realised how crucial the set was going to be.

An increased amount in unforced errors for Thiem proved costly as the world number one opened up a 4-2 lead in the second set.

But once again, Thiem struck back as a loose and nervy game from the Spaniard saw the Austrian level up at 4-4 in a tense point in the match.

Another tiebreak loomed as Thiem failed to take his chances after Nadal’s uncharacteristic unforced errors. However he didn’t make the same mistakes in the tiebreak as a net cord-forehand combination secured three consecutive points and a two set lead.

A two set advantage was a comfortable lead for Thiem but it doesn’t guarantee victory especially against one of the best competitors tennis has ever seen.

A cleaner set was produced from Nadal as he dug in deep to hold his service games and create some opportunities to break especially off the forehand.

Eventually those opportunities came as a tentative Thiem service game saw Nadal create two set points. A netted baseline shot from the world number 5 saw the Spaniard grab the third set as he roared in delight to the packed Rod Laver Arena crowd.

The momentum was now firmly with Nadal, who had better intensity as the forehand was firing against Thiem’s defensive skills.

However the Austrian’s mental strength has improved and he managed to overcome the Nadal storm by saving two break points as well as gaining the immediate break advantage.

There was trouble for the world number one now as Thiem’s serve was improving as he continued to outsmart and outpower the Spaniard.

Threats of a double break were quickly snuffed out by the 2009 champion and that would soon cost Thiem as he couldn’t serve out the match. The world number one took advantage of the Austrian’s nerves to break for 5-5.

Both men held their nerve afterwards to force a fourth set tiebreak, the third of the day. Yet again it would be Thiem who would win the tie-break as he booked his place in a maiden Australian Open semi-final.

It was a stunning performance which now sees him meet good friend Alexander Zverev for a place in the final. As for Nadal his search for a second Australian Open title continues and could still lose his world number one ranking should Novak Djokovic win his eighth title in Melbourne.

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Australian Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude

Wednesday is highlighted by a rematch of the French Open final from the last two years.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf 

 

Rafael Nadal is one win away from securing his world No.1 ranking, though I’m sure he’s much more concerned with being three wins away from winning his record-tying 20th Major title. But standing in his way today is an opponent who has beaten him many times before. The other men’s quarter-final features the 2014 champion and a Next Gen standout who has excelled on the ATP tour, but is yet to make a deep run at a Major. On the women’s side, we have a pair of two-time Major champions against two women looking to reach their first Slam semi-final.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)

This is a marquee quarterfinal between two top five seeds. Nadal leads their head-to-head 9-4, with all but one of those matches taking place on clay. Their only hard court meeting was certainly a memorable one. In the 2018 US Open quarterfinals, they played for almost five hours, and past 2:00am, in a match decided by a fifth-set tiebreak.  Thiem should take a lot of positives from that encounter despite the loss, and he’s only improved his hard court game since that time.

Dominic has won four hard court titles in the past 16 months, including the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells. And just two months ago, he reached the championship match at the ATP Finals, with wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. This is his first time advancing to the quarters in Australia, but this run is not surprising based on his recent hard court resume. The slower courts in Melbourne this year work to Dominic’s favour, though Rafa will like that temperatures are forecast to rise over the next few days. But with this being a night match, it’ll get rather cool as this match goes on. Nadal has looked good through four rounds here, and passed a stern test supplied by Nick Kyrgios two days ago. However, I think this may be Thiem’s time to shine. He was oh-so-close to beating Nadal in their last hard court match, and he’s a much-improved player since hiring Nicolas Massu as his coach. In what will surely be a highly-competitive affair, I’m tipping Thiem to pull off the upset.

Sascha Zverev (7) vs. Stan Wawrinka (15)

Alexander Zverev (@usopen)

Can this be true? Zverev, who has historically become entangled in long matches during the first week of Majors, has won four rounds here without dropping a set. It’s even more startling when you consider he went 0-3 at the ATP Cup to start the year, where he had terrible troubles with his serve. In his post-match interview on Monday, he spoke of how finding peace in his personal life has lead to good results on court. The 22-year-old has reached his third Slam quarterfinal, and his first off clay. He’ll certainly be the fresher player today, as Stan not only battled an illness last week, but has already played two five-setters.

That includes his comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev two days ago. And Zverev is 2-0 against Wawrinka, with both victories coming on hard courts. But this is a case where experience at this stage of a Major will be crucial, and Stan has plenty of that. This is his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne, and his 18th at all four Majors. Wawrinka has proven himself to be a big-match player, and excels in the best-of-five format. As improved as Zverev’s serve has been this fortnight, Wawrinka remains the bolder and more aggressive player, which is usually critical in matches like this. With that in mind, I like Stan’s chances to return to the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time in three years.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Anett Kontaveit (30)

Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen – Twitter)

The 24-year-old Kontaveit has been a rising WTA star for a few years now, but she appears ready for her big breakthrough. This run has literally come out of nowhere, as an illness forced her to withdraw from the US Open and miss the rest of the 2019 season. Her coach, Nigel Sears, told the media that she was hospitalized for a week and had to undergo surgery. This resulted in a substantial weight loss, and a lack of activity for three or four months. But here she is into her first Major quarter-final, thanks to some impressive play. She dropped just one game to the sixth seed, Belinda Bencic, and came back from a set down to claim a tight match over a talented teenager, Iga Swiatek.

But today Kontaveit runs into an in-form Halep, who has reunited with Darren Cahill and is yet to drop a set at this event. These two players have similar, all-around games, though Halep is a bit more consistent, and a bit more skilled defensively. And Simona is 2-0 against Anett, having comfortably won the four sets they’ve played.  Halep should be favoured to reach her second semi-final in Melbourne.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30) vs. Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza (@WeAreTennis – Twitter)

Speaking of Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions in good form, Garbine Muguruza is back. She seems to be rejuvenated with Conchita Martinez back as her coach. When her former coach, Sam Sumyk, missed Wimbledon a few years ago to undergo a medical procedure, Conchita filled in, and coached Muguruza to the title. Garbine split with Sumyk during the offseason, and is playing her best tennis in a few years with Martinez as a full-time coach.

But guess who Sumyk coaches now? That would be Pavlyuchenkova.  This union has also paid immediate dividends, though the 28-year-old Russian has been playing great tennis since the fall. Pavlyuchenkova outplayed a game Angelique Kerber on Monday, extending her record in the fourth round of Majors to 6-1. The problem is she’s 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. And she’s 1-4 against Muguruza, with the only win coming via a Garbine retirement. Muguruza just has a bit more game than Pavlyuchenkova, and she’s been on fire since overcoming an illness last week. Garbine took out two top 10 seeds in the last two rounds, via scores of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-3. While Sumyk will certainly have some sage advance for how to play against Muguruza, I don’t see it being enough considering Garbine’s current level.

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(VIDEO) Roger Federer Pulls Off Houdini Act To Set 50th Djokovic Meeting

Ubitennis is joined by Rene Stauffer to discuss Roger Federer’s miraculous win over Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open.

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Roger Federer (@atptour - Twitter)

It was another dramatic day at the Australian Open as Roger Federer pulled off a miraculous comeback to edge out Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals. The Swiss saved 7 match points as he survived the three and a half hour clash to set up a 50th meeting with Novak Djokovic. Below Ubaldo Scanagatta and Rene Stauffer discuss Federer’s miraculous win against Sandgren. 

 

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