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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ATP Finals 2019 Day 6 Preview: Rafael Nadal’s Fate Hangs In The Balance

Who will join Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Saturday’s semifinals?

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The final stage of round-robin matches will get underway at The O2 on Friday. Yesterday saw Rafael Nadal seal the year-end No.1 spot after challenger Novak Djokovic lost in straight sets. However, there is little for to celebrate for the king of clay. Today he faces the prospect of winning his match and still not qualifying for the semi-final stage of the tournament. 

 

Here are the advancement scenarios for the Andre Agassi Group, with Tsitsipas advancing regardless of today’s results:

  • Zverev advances if he wins, or if he loses in three sets and Tsitsipas wins.
  • Nadal advances if both he and Medvedev win.
  • Medvedev advances if he wins in two sets and Tsitsipas wins.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)

Nadal seemed all but out of this tournament less than 48 hours ago, down 5-1 and a match point in the third set to Medvedev.  But Rafa made a classic comeback, aided by a Medvedev meltdown, and Nadal now has new life. Rafa will need more help from Daniil today, as the only way Nadal can advance to tomorrow’s semifinals is if he wins and if Medvedev defeats Zverev.  The first half of that equation will not be an easy task, against a confident and thus-far undefeated Tsitsipas. Stefanos already beat Medvedev and Zverev this week, and owns victories this year against Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal. The win over Rafa even came on clay in Rafa’s home country, when Tsitsipas prevailed in three sets at the Madrid Masters.  But Nadal has been victorious the other four times these two have played, including the very next week at the Rome Masters. A fast indoor hard court is far from Rafa’s favorite surface, yet he should feel good coming off his great escape on Wednesday. He also does not have the pressure of battling for the year-end No.1 ranking, as the King of Clay has already secured that crown thanks to Federer’s win over Djokovic last night.  And as our own Adam Addicott reported, Tsitsipas had an injection in his foot earlier this week, so he’s obviously not 100%. At the beginning of this week, Nadal’s advancement chances seemed slim, as he arrived with an abdominal injury that hampered his play on Monday. But with his tournament life on the line, I’m not betting against one of tennis’ all-time great competitors to find a way to win.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Sascha Zverev (7)

If Nadal does win in the afternoon session, it would eliminate Medvedev from the tournament before this night match even takes place.  Regardless of the afternoon match outcome, Zverev will be playing for his tournament life in this last match of the round robin stage. Sascha owns a 4-1 record over Daniil, though Medvedev claimed their last meeting.  That was just last month in the final of the Shanghai Masters. But the Russian is not the same player he was a month ago, and he’s 0-3 since that championship match in Shanghai. Of course that includes the loss to Nadal two days ago, where Medvedev completely unraveled in the third set, sarcastically giving a thumbs up to his team after nearly after point he lost.  It will be tough to come back and win after that defeat, especially against a player who has dominated their head-to-head. And as the the defending champion in London, Zverev has good vibes playing at the O2. The German should be favored to win, which would guarantee his place in the semifinals for the second straight year.

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Novak Djokovic Confident Elbow Scare Will Not Hamper Davis Cup Duty

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LONDON: Novak Djokovic’s niggling elbow issue briefly resurfaced during his last match played at this year’s ATP Finals in what was a slight scare for the camp of the 16-time grand slam champion.

 

The world No.2 was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Roger Federer, who he last lost to back in 2015. It was far from a vintage performance from the Serbian, who appeared somewhat flat on the court. Potentially suffering from the after-effects of his three-set thriller with Dominic Thiem that occurred two days prior.

“There was not much that I did right this match, to be honest. I mean, realistically he was a better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win.” Djokovic told reporters in London.
“He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well. From his end, I think he did everything right. From my end, I was just playing too neutral. I couldn’t read his serve well. Just a pretty bad match from my side.”

It was during the match where some started to notice the 32-year-old flexing his elbow at certain points. Raising fears among his entourage. In the past, he has experienced numerous issues with that area of the body. Missing the second half of the 2017 season to rest his elbow and undergoing minor surgery on it the following year.

Nevertheless, Djokovic continued on the court and was never on the verge of calling for a trainer on the court. However, concerns are starting to mount about if he could miss the upcoming Davis Cup in Madrid to avoid aggravating it further.

“I hope it’s nothing that will prevent me from playing Madrid. The pain was pretty sharp.” He revealed.
“I could play the rest of the match, so if I had something really serious I think I wouldn’t be able to hold the racquet. So it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did. It did not pose any form of issues later on.”

Djokovic hasn’t played in the team tournament since his country’s quarter-final loss to Spain in 2017. He has represented Serbia in 25 ties. Winning 34 out of 44 matches played. Speaking about the event during the same press conference, he then said ‘things are physically fine.’ Disregarding the elbow scare he spoke about just minutes before.

“Of course the gas tank is not as full as the beginning of the season, but I am motivated to join the guys and play there because I have not played in the team competition of Davis Cup for some time.” He said.
“I look forward to it. They are my dear friends, all of the guys in the team, and I can’t wait to feel that team spirit. The format is different. Should be exciting.”

Now his 2019 season on the ATP Tour has come to an end, Djokovic closes the year out with five titles. Including Wimbledon and the Australian Open. His 54 wins mean that he has won 50 or more matches in 12 out of the past 13 seasons.

Only three players have managed to score multiple wins over Djokovic in 2019 – Roberto Bautista Agut, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

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Roger Federer Ends Djokovic’s Year-End No.1 Bid With Vital Win At ATP Finals

The 20-time grand slam champion has avenged his Wimbledon loss to reach his 16th semi-final at the season-ending event.

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LONDON: Roger Federer has recorded his first win over Novak Djokovic in four years after downing the world No.2 in their winner-takes-all clash at the ATP Finals on Thursday evening. 

 

The eagerly anticipated meeting between the two tennis icons failed to live up to expectations as a more dominant and solid Federer prevailed 6-4, 6-3. Ending his five-match losing streak against the world No.2, who lacked the usual firepower in his game. In total Federer hit 23 winners to five unforced errors as he converted three out of his seven break point opportunities.

“It was a great atmosphere, against a great opponent here in London at The O2.” Said Federer. “It is definitely special. Right from the beginning, I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that is what Novak does. I was able to produce, it is definitely magical.”

Thursday saw the continuation of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Heading into the match Djokovic boasted a 26-22 stronghold and hasn’t lost to his nemesis since doing so at the same tournament four years ago. Their 13-year rivalry is the second-longest in the Open Era.

Recent history has seen the Serbian dictate Federer on the court. Coming back from two match points down to defeat his rival in the Wimbledon final earlier this year. However, this time around it would be Federer who would prove to be the dominator. Reading the Djokovic serve like a book he placed his rival under pressure from the onset.

It would be one lackluster Djokovic service game that would prove pivotal to the outcome of the opening set. Two double faults combined with Federer’s ability to hit the ball deep to the baseline enabled the Swiss maestro to break three games into the match. Sending the largely pro-Federer crowd into hysterics. Even more impressive from the world No.3 in the opener was the fact he dropped just three points behind his serve (16/19) against somebody deemed as one of the best returners in the game.

Clinching the opening set has proved decisive in the head-to-head between the two players. Before this week, all 13 of their most recent meetings have been won by the person who clinched the opener. It would be no different at The O2 Arena. Federer continuoued to dominate Djokovic, who seemed bothered by his elbow at times. This time it was five games into the second set when the six-time champion pounced. Capitalizing from yet more errors from across the court.

The anticlimactic encounter ended after just 72 minutes of play in the British capital. It would be another Djokovic shot into the net that would elevate the Swiss played in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“There was a lot riding on this match. I came out great, served great and had great anticipation. It worked to perfection tonight and hopefully it won’t be the last time (against Djokovic).” Federer evaluated of his latest win.

The triumph by Federer has also had a significant impact on the year-end race. Rafael Nadal has secured the year-end No.1 spot for the fifth time in his career. Djokovic had to win the tournament to take the honor way from the Spaniard.

“Of course that was a big motivation also for the end of the season.” Djokovic told reporters during his press confrence. “I mean, every time you step on the court, you know there is something on the line, I mean, at least on the highest level in tennis.’
“I feel pressure and excitement all the time, every single match, especially if I play against the best players in the world.”

It remains to be seen who Federer will play in the semi-finals on Saturday. There are two possible players he could face depending on how the other group of matches fair on Friday. He will take on either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Rafael Nadal.

“I’m happy to stick around.” Said Federer.
“Hopefully I will go a step further than last year. I lost to Zverev who was unreal, that was tough.”
“I will watch some (tennis) tomorrow and then get ready.” He added.

Federer is the most successful player at the ATP Finals with 59 wins under his belt. That is 20 more than his nearest opponent Ivan Lendl.

 

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