The “Who Will Face Roger” Non-Semifinal In Halle - UBITENNIS
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The “Who Will Face Roger” Non-Semifinal In Halle

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Borna Coric (zimbio.com)

By Mark Winters

Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain confronted Borna Coric of Croatia in the second semi-final on Saturday at the Gerry Weber Open. Bautista Agut, the No. 4 seed, had a 21-10 career record on grass, along with one title on the surface at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2014. The unseeded Coric was 2-7 playing on the lawns. The two had faced off six times (three contests on clay and the same number on hard court) and Bautista Agut had a 4-2 lead in the series.

Both were looking for a place in the record book. A player from Spain or Croatia had never reached the final at the ATP 500 event taking place at Halle Westfalen, Germany. Carlos Moya, the only other Spaniard to make a semi-final showing, lost in 1999 to Nicklas Kulti of Sweden, 6-3, 6-4 (Nicolas Kiefer of Germany defeated Kulti, 6-3, 6-4 in the final). In 2015, Ivo Karlovic became the only Croatian to earn a spot in the semi-finals and he was “Tie-Broken” by Roger Federer, 7-6, 7-6. Federer went on to down Andreas Seppi of Italy, 7-6, 6-4 for the singles title.

Thanks to the time dictates of television football (aka soccer) coverage, the first semi-final between Federer and Denis Kudla of the US began at 11:30 a.m. earlier than the usual start-time in Halle. (Last year, the first semi-final started at 1:15 p.m.) The second 2018 semi-final kicked-off at 2:09 p.m. (in 2017, play began at 4:00 p.m.) and ended dramatically in a meager twenty-three minutes.

The score was 2-2, (both players having held serve) and Bautista Agut was serving in the fifth game of the first set. In a baseline exchange, he ran to his left and hit a backhand then, while trying to return to the center of the court, he slipped behind the baseline while attempting to move back to his right. He went down, and initially grabbed his right hip then rolled on his side to grasp his left hip. He took a medical timeout and was treated off-court. He returned to finish serving and held then walked to the net and told Coric he couldn’t continue. The official (but, in reality “unofficial” because in truth no information was provided) reason for his retirement was an injury to his left hip.

Only twenty-six points had been played and Bautista Agut was ahead by four (15-11). He had two opportunities to break serve, but Coric saved both, and he also served two more aces than his opponent – 4-2 was the statistical tally.

Following the almost “non-victory” victory, Coric admitted, “Today, I was a little bit lucky. I’m sorry for Roberto, but I can rest a little bit now, which is good.”

The 21- year-old who was born in Zagreb, Croatia, but lives in Dubai, United Arab Republic has appeared in three tour finals. He was the Marrakech champion (on terre battue) in 2017 defeating Phillip Kohlschreiber of Germany 5-7, 7-6, 7-5. A year earlier, he was a 6-3, 7-5 finalist at Chennai (on hard court) to Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland. Federico Delbonis of Argentina defeated him 6-2, 6-4 at Marrakech in 2016.

Tomorrow, the 21-year-old takes on the Gerry Weber Open “legend” Roger Federer. The 36-year-old has defeated Coric in both of their meetings. The first was in Dubai, in 2015, and the score was 6-2, 6-1. This spring their BNP Paribas Master 1000 confrontation, at Indian Wells was more of a test for Federer. The defending champion, who will be looking for his record setting tenth Gerry Weber Open title on Sunday, scored a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory in the Southern California desert.

“I think our last match (Indian Wells), I played almost perfect,” Coric said. “I think it was a great match. I was really playing well, and at the end, I was maybe a little bit unlucky, but he showed why he is No. 1 in the World. I don’t think I need to change anything. I must play on that level which is not going to be easy for sure. I think that was my best match of the season, and I’m going to try to play on the same level again.”

And, of course, Roger Federer will be…Roger Federer.

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Roger Federer: “I am not too disappointed after my defeat against Dominic Thiem in Indian Wells”

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer was not too disappointed after losing the Indian Wells final against Dominic Thiem last Sunday.

Roger Federer lost the Indian Wells final for the fourth time in his career after finishing runner-up in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Last year he did not convert three championship point against Juan Martin Del Potro.

“I am not too disappointed. I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it felt like to some extent it was on my raquet. I just came up against somebody who was a bit better when it really mattered. That’s how it goes. Sure, it’s frustrating, disappointing and sad to some extent. I have been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly. I feel like I am actually playing good tennis. Like in Australia, I was not too down on myself because I feel like my game is there. My body is there. That keeps me upbeat, and I feel it’s a privilege when I feel this way leaving a tournament. I have been playing every single day for the past three weeks. I can be very happy and proud of that fact. I feel really good”, said Federer after the final against Thiem in Indian Wells.

Federer congratulated with Thiem, who won his maiden Maiden 1000 title in the Californian desert after losing his previous two finals in the series in Madrid on his favourite clay surface.

“I am happy with Dominic, winning his first Masters 1000 title, as well. It’s a massive event to win. I just got my 100th title in Dubai and I had a great week. There is no reason to get down. There is more to look forward to Miami”.

This season Federer has a positive record of 12 wins in his 14 matches and lifted the 100th title of his career beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in Dubai.

Federer is looking forward to the Miami Open where he headlines the bottom half of the draw. Federer, who won three titles in Miami in 2005, 2006 and 2017, will take on either Matthew Eden from Australia or a qualifier in the second round and could renew his battle against his compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the third round for the second consecutive tournament after winning their recent all-Swiss clash in Indian Wells in straight sets last week. Federer leads 22-3 in his 25 head-to-head clashes against Wawrinka. Wawrinka beat Federer three times in clay court matches in Monte-Carlo in 2009 and in the 2014 final and Roland Garros in 2015 and is chasing his first win on hard court against his compatriot.

“I think Stan knows that he is very close and it’s just a matter of time until he is going to break through again”,said Federer after their most recent clash at Indian Wells.

Federer could face Danil Medvedev in the Round of 16, Kevin Anderson or Karen Khachanov in the quarter final and a semifinal against either Stefanos Tsitsipas or last year’s Miami finalist Alexander Zverev.

 

 

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Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos lift their maiden Masters 1000 title as a title in Indian Wells

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Unseeded Nikola Mektic from Croatia and Horacio Zeballos won their first doubles title as a team after beating Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 4-6 6-4 10-3.

Kubot and Melo drew the first blood by getting an early break in the first game, but Mektic and Zeballos broke straight back in the second game. Mektic and Zeballos fended off two break points in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Kubot and Melo went up a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The Polish and Brazilian team fended off a break point before serving out for the first set in the 10th game.

Mektic and Zeballos were not able to convert any of their two break points in the fourth game of the second set, but they held their service games easily and broke serve in the 10th game on the deciding point forcing the match to the decisive Match tie-break. Mektic and Zeballos cruised through to winning the tie-break 10-3 clinching their maiden doubles title as a team. Zeballos and Mektic won 40 % of their return points.

Earlier this week Mektic and Zeballos saved two match points in a match tie-break against this year’s Australian Open Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut before beating Colombian doubles specialists Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the quarter finals and Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the semifinal.

“It’s unbelievable. Being in the big press conference, it’s great. I have never been in this room. I love it”,said Zeballos in the post match press conference.

“Oh my God, we won Indian Wells. We are a great team. We can beat anyone. Especially on this tournament where the difference is a few balls. A few points will decide who is going to win. Of course you are not expecting to win, but we are going into every match confident that we can win, so we just went step by step and it happened”, said Mektic.

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Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot beat Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini to reach the Indian Wells doubles final

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Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Poland’s Lukasz Kubot secured their spot in the final of the doubles tournament of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after beating singles world number 1 player Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 10-6 in the super tie-break.

Melo and Kubot will face Horacio Zeballos and Nikola Mektic, who beat Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3). Melo and Kubot have played together since 2017, while Zeballos and Mektic are teaming up for their second time in their careers.

In the first set Kubot and Melo earned an immediate break in the first game in the first game. Djokovic and Fognini broke back in the 10th game at 15 to draw level to 5-5. Kubot and Melo came back from 1-4 down to win the tie-break 7-5. Djokovic and Fognini broke twice in the first and fifth games to clinch the second set 6-2. Kubot and Melo took the 10-6 edge in the super tie-break.

Djokovic and Fognini thrilled the crowd with their spectacular tennis, but doubles specialists won the most crucial points.

“I think the fact we played together for a long time, this makes a difference. We were aggressive in important moments. We do what we have to do and most of the time for us, it pays off. I am very happy with this, so let’s go forward for tomorrow to the finals”, said Melo.

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