Soon To Be Retired Mikhail Youzhny Looks To Achieve One Final Milestone - UBITENNIS
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Soon To Be Retired Mikhail Youzhny Looks To Achieve One Final Milestone

The Russian could end his career on Thursday when he takes on Roberto Bautista Agut.

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This week’s St. Petersburg Open marks the end of an era for Russian tennis as Mikhail Youzhny plays on the tour for the final time.

 

Known by his fans as ‘the colonel’ for his post-match salutes, the 36-year-old is bringing to an end a career that has spanned almost 20 years. Throughout his career, Youzhny has won 10 titles on the ATP Tour and peaked at a ranking high of number eight back in 2008. He is also a two-time US Open semi-finalist who has accumulated 31 wins over top 10 players.

“I can say I had a great career. I never thought I could play until 2018 and I can play at a high level,” Youzhny said during an exclusive interview with ATPWorldTour.com. “I was one of the youngest guys from my age who went into the Top 100 and from all the times, I was at a high level. All the time I can say I was a professional, that’s why I maybe stayed later in the tennis career.”

Youzhny’s achievements on the tour is one that has also influenced the next generation of players in his country. Currently there are four Russian players ranked in the top 100 of the ATP rankings. Three of those are under the age of 22. Karen Khachanov is the highest ranked at 24th in the world. Speaking about the veteran player, Khachanov praised the example that was set by him growing up.

“When he was at his best form he was playing really well, beating top guys and was a Top 10 player at a time. He is a good example for Russian players.” Khachanov said of Youzhny.
“He won the Davis Cup two times. When he was younger, he was faster and hit flatter and more powerful, but he was always tough to beat. He and his coach, Boris, were always helping and following me, giving me good advice. He has been a great influence.”

The 500 club

On Wednesday Youzhny kicked-off his final tournament with a 7-6(6), 6-4, win over Bosnia’s Mirza Basic. At the end of the match, he caught fans off guard by reading out a poem that he wrote. During his press conference, Youzhny said it was a ‘spontaneous’ decision that nobody else knew about.

In the second round the former world No.8 faces Spanish fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut. A win would reward him his 500th victory on the ATP World Tour. Something that has only been achieved by 45 male players in the history of the sport. Should he lose, is there any temptation for him to delay his retirement in order to join the 500 club?

“I already met Agut once on the court. I think, I lost to him in Chennai in three sets. And, of course, my next match will be much harder for me.” He said.
“As for the 500th victory, I have already decided for myself – for me it makes no difference what kind of victory it will be – 500th, 501st or 499th victory. Nothing will change.”

Youzhny’s clash with Bautista Agut will be the third match on Center Court today.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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Brandon Nakashima shocks John Isner to reach first ATP final in Los Cabos

Brandon Nakashima stunned John Isner to reach the final in Los Cabos.

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Brandon Nakashima (@AbiertoLosCabos - Twitter)

The American became the youngest American to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

 

Brandon Nakashima booked his spot in the final beating an out of sorts John Isner 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes firing 12 aces and winning 82% points with his first serve.

“It’s always going to be tough playing against him, It’s always so hard to return his serve and try to get into the rallies with him but I tried to get back as many returns as I could and there was blocking or chipping the return or hitting over it and just try to mix it up a lot while getting different looks and I knew when I had the opportunities and when I got close in games I knew I had to take advantage of that as much as possible so luckily I was able to do it and of course taking care of my service games was important as well”.

For the first six games of the opening set, neither player had an issue holding serve but at 3-3, it was the San Diego native with the first chance to break but was denied by the world number 39’s big serve.

At 5-4, the world number 134 had two more chances to break and he got the crucial break and served out the first set.

Winning the first set seemed to invigorate the 19-year-old and he earned an early chance to break in the first game of the second set and broke to take a 1-0 lead. Once again that one break was enough to serve out the match and seal the victory.

After the match, Nakashima spoke about becoming the first American player to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

“It feels great and it’s a big accomplishment for me and of course all the Americans, we like to play in the US but it’s nice to see that I am playing well outside the US and luckily it’s not too far from my home here so I have been enjoying it here a lot both on and off the court and really looking forward to playing tomorrow again”.

Nakashima will face the number one seed Cameron Norrie in the final and can feel confident as the last time these two players met, the American beat him.

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