Novak Djokovic Outlasts Nemesis Nadal In Epic To Reach Wimbledon Final - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Outlasts Nemesis Nadal In Epic To Reach Wimbledon Final

The Serbian will take on Kevin Anderson in the final.

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Former world No.1 Novak Djokovic has reached his first grand slam final since 2016 after battling past Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-3, 10-8, after a two-day roller-coaster clash at The All England Club.

The meeting between the two was postponed on Friday night after Djokovic valiantly rallied his way to a two-sets-to-one lead. Unfortunately for the Serbian, he couldn’t continue his momentum as the 11pm Wimbledon curfew halted proceedings. Giving both players a chance to reflect upon their performance overnight.

“When you finish at 11pm and you have to come back to the practice court at 1030am. The adrenaline is really high, but it is not easy to relax. “ Djokovic said during his post-match interview.
“At the end of the day, I’m just so glad to overcome this challenge.”

14 hours after the last ball was hit in the match, the battle resumed on Centre Court. Resulting in the delay of the women’s Wimbledon final. A decision that has angered some in the sport. Nevertheless, the high calibre of exchanges between the two continued in what was their 52nd tour meeting. The was little to tell between the two with Djokovic winning just four points more than Nadal in the entire match (195-191). Coincidentally, both produced 73 winners to 42 unforced errors. Although Djokovic lead the ace count with 23 to nine.

“It’s hard to pick the words. I’m just going through things such as flashbacks over the past 15 months and everything I have been through to get here to the finals.” Said Djokovic, who missed six months of 2017 due to an elbow injury.
“It is one of the longest matches I’ve ever played. I’m just overwhelmed.”

At the start of the fourth set, Nadal saved two break points to battle through a 16-minute opening service game during what was a set of cat and mouse chase. The Spaniard then stormed to a 3-0 lead with the help of his sublime aggressive play. Only for a determined Djokovic to draw back and level 3-3. Nadal continued to apply pressure on his opponent and once again got rewarded for it. A low shot trigger a Djokovic forehand slamming into the net to gift another break to the second seed and the chance to serve the set out. A task that was far from simple. Nadal recovered from a 0-40 deficit by winning five points in a row. Forcing the match into a decider with the help of an ace.

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With a minimum prize money pay-check of £1.125 million at stake for the winner, there was little disparity between Nadal and Djokovic during the closing stages. Paving the way for a marathon 18-game final set that will go down as one of the most memorable in the history of their 52-match rivalry.  In total the 111-point set featured 14 aces and 42 winners.

Ultimately, it was a single falter that would prove instrumental in the outcome of the encounter. That was the case for Nadal more than five hours into the match. Serving behind 8-9, a slip on the grass enabled Djokovic return the ball in to work his way to three match points. His place in the final was then sealed after a Nadal forehand drifted out. Prompting Djokovic to look up at the air in delight.

“It (the match) was really special. I think it could have gone either way. It was very clear that few things separated the two players. I didn’t know if I was going to win until the last shot. I believed it, but I knew that he was very close.” Djokovic reflected.
“These are the kind of matches you live for. You work for.“ He later added.

A win away from his 13th grand slam title, Djokovic will next take on Kevin Anderson.  On Friday the South African prevailed over John Isner after six hours and 35 minutes of play. Making it the second longest match in Wimbledon history.

“Hopefully we can both play.” Djokovic joked about the upcoming final. “It has been a roller-coaster ride for him in the last couple rounds. He has had a day off, which means a lot. I wish I could have one.
“I’m in the finals of Wimbledon. It is an incredible achievement for me after what I have been through. I’m just trying to digest it for and then look ahead.”

Djokovic has now won 250 matches in grand slams. He leads Anderson 5-1 in their head-to-head and has won both of their previous meetings at Wimbledon.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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