US Open Day 14 Preview: The Men’s Final - UBITENNIS
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US Open Day 14 Preview: The Men’s Final

Novak Djokovic looks to tie Pete Sampras’ tally of 14 Major singles titles, while Juan Martin Del Potro goes for his first Major in nine years.

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After rehabbing his elbow for the second half of 2017, it still wasn’t 100% when Novak Djokovic was upset in Australia by Hyeon Chung.  Novak then underwent a procedure to repair his elbow, but came back too soon, going 0-2 in embarrassing efforts at Indian Wells and Miami.  It was at that time that Djokovic parted his ways with his coaching team of Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek, and brought much of his old team back, headed by Marian Vajda.  Shortly after, his results started to turn around. It’s hard to believe it was only four months ago that he was 6-6 on the year. It was his semifinal appearance in Rome where he played his best tennis in some time despite going down in defeat to Rafael Nadal.  Roland Garros was a setback, as he suffered a shocking upset to Marco Cecchinato. He also let a match point slip through his hands in the final at Queen’s Club. But everything finally clicked at Wimbledon, where he outlasted Rafael Nadal in an epic semifinal, and won his first Major in over two years.  Djokovic then won his second title of the year by taking out Seven-Time Champion Roger Federer in Cincinnati, and is now into his second consecutive Major final.

 

New York has been the home of many milestones in Juan Martin Del Potro’s career.  10 years ago, he made his first Major quarterfinal at the US Open. Of course one year later, he won his first Major title.  It was assumed to be the first of many, but multiple wrist surgeries forced Del Potro to miss several years of his career. After bring absent from the 2014 and 2015 US Open events, he returned to a Major quarterfinal at the 2016 Open, his first in over three years.  Last year, he took it one step further and made the semis. That run was highlighted by his unbelievable and electric comeback from two sets down against Dominic Thiem, in a match where he was close to retiring while suffering from a virus. And now, New York is the place where he’s finally back in a final at a Grand Slam event, for the first time since his 2009 title.

Novak Djokovic vs. Juan Martin Del Potro

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Just like his rivalry with Rafael Nadal, Del Potro’s last victory over Djokovic came at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  Juan Martin took out Novak in a highly-emotional first round match, four years after he had beaten Djokovic to win a bronze medal at the London Olympics.  Also just like Del Potro’s head-to-head with Nadal, Djokovic has won all three matches against Juan Martin since the Rio Olympics. Overall Djokovic has a 14-4 records against Del Potro, with Juan Martin’s only non-Olympic victories coming in a 2011 Davis Cup tie, and the 2013 Indian Wells Masters 1,000 event.  They’ve played twice before at the US Open, with Novak winning both times in straight sets. Their most notable match at a Major was their near five-hour semifinal at Wimbledon in 2013. While Djokovic prevailed, he didn’t have enough left in his loss to Andy Murray in the final.

Unlike recent years where Del Potro was exhausted by the second week of Majors, he comes into this match with a lot left in his tank.  At a career-high ranking of No.3, he’s avoiding other top seeds during the first week, and only dropped one set during this fortnight. He also benefitted from Nadal’s retirement after two sets of their semifinal.  Del Potro has spent 14 hours and 16 minutes on court in his previous six matches. Djokovic has only spent about one hour more on court, but he suffered much more from the hot and humid conditions. The good news for Novak is none of his six matches went longer than three hours, and he also easily won his semifinal, against Kei Nishikori.

The crowd could play a huge role in this match.  Del Potro will have his vocal Argentine support, but he’ll also be the sentimental favorite amongst the majority of the crowd.  And Djokovic has never fully had the New York audience on his side, something we’ve seen him become frustrated with many times over the years, including several times in this tournament.  Into his eighth US Open final, Novak is only 2-5 at this stage. Djokovic has clearly returned to being the best player in the world this summer, though Del Potro was the best player in the world during the North American hard court season earlier this year.  He won his first Masters 1,000 title at Indian Wells in March, on the heels of his victory in Acapulco where he took out three top 10 players.

The men’s semifinals on Friday were a letdown in quality, but I suspect this final will not disappoint.  Whenever these two have squared off before on a big occasion, their matches have been excellent. A Djokovic victory would be historic, though a Del Potro victory would be one of the most popular and heart-warming moments in recent memory.  As far as picking a winner, my head says Djokovic, but my heart says Del Potro. I’m sure the majority of the tennis world would agree.

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Daniil Medvedev Praises Tiebreak Record After Reaching Cincinnati Semis

Daniil Medvedev’s bid for momentum heading into the US Open has continued in Cincinnati.

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Daniil Medvedev (@WeeseSports - Twitter)

Daniil Medvedev is into the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event for the first time this year after a 7-6(1) 6-3 victory over Taylor Fritz.

 

The world number one was too resilient for the impressive American as he reached the last four at a Masters 1000 event for the first time this year.

Medvedev had to survive a wall of aggression from Fritz and was forced to save all six points faced before the world number one proved why he is the best player in the world.

After the match Medvedev admitted it was a tricky match but was pleased to reach the last four in Cincinnati, “Cincinnati fast courts and fast balls and I have always liked it. But always tricky matches, especially between two great servers,” Medvedev admitted to the ATP website.

“I feel like me and Taylor served good, even if we aren’t John [Isner] maybe! I knew that it was going to be a tight match. The first set he was on top of me a little bit. He had many more chances than I did on my serve, but I managed to stay in.

“There were some set points where I could have missed and no one would have talked about it, it would have been normal. But I managed to stay in the set and that helped me win the match.”

Medvedev is now 14-4 at the hard court event and clearly enjoys playing in Cincinnati having won the title in 2019 as well as reaching the semi-finals last season.

Another record that Medvedev can boast is that he is 20-6 in tiebreaks at Masters 1000 level this season and that is something he is very proud of, “That is great because tie-breaks are a fine thing,” Medvedev said.

“We call it a lottery and I do think it is this way a little bit. I remember when I had the crazy run in 2019. I think someone told me once that I won a lot of tie-breaks in a row.

“I don’t know if it was eight or 12, so I was like, ‘That is cool.’ I just try to do my best and win every point. You win some and lose some. But 20-6 is a good record, so I am happy about it.”

Medvedev will aim to continue his US Open preparations on Saturday when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas or John Isner in the semi-finals.

Should the Russian win he will reach his fifth final of the season after finals at the Australian Open, S-Hertogenbosch, Halle and Los Cabos.

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Will Rafael Nadal Keep The Grand Slam Winning Feeling Going In New York?

Rafael Nadal has injury doubts heading into his search for a 23rd grand slam title in New York.

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Rafael Nadal (@usopen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal will look to repeat successes from Melbourne and Paris by answering his doubters with triumph in New York.

 

The Spaniard enters the last grand slam with injury doubts having only just come back from an abdominal injury suffered in his Wimbledon quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.

It was injury that saw his calendar grand slam dream come to an end and ever since then has been recovering in the hopes of finishing the grand slam year strong in New York.

However in his first match back Nadal was defeated in three sets to Borna Coric in New York which has put doubts on whether the Spaniard can be a threat in the US.

Nadal will likely not have to worry about Novak Djokovic but a victory in New York could see him be world number one with current number one Daniil Medvedev defending the title.

The likes of Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be standing in Nadal’s way and if the Spaniard isn’t match-fit then he could face an early exit.

However as tennis pundit Barbara Schett pointed out, ruling out Nadal at this stage would be foolish and the Spaniard always raises his level at the grand slams, “The match is always different from practice,” Schett told Eurosport.

“And whoever had an abdominal injury and a tear on the abdominal muscles knows how it feels. You have to be extremely cautious. You’re worried that you’re going to reinjure it again.

“And I think that’s what we’ve seen on Wednesday. When he played against Coric, he was a little bit uncertain how the body was going to hold up. And for sure he’s going to feel better and better.

“If there’s no damage to the abdominal muscle, then he still has a week and a half to improve his health, to improve the trust also that he can extend and he can’t bend on the serve because that’s the trickiest shot, the serve and the smash.

“When that is the case, Rafa Nadal certainly can be dangerous again at the US Open. I mean, he’s so fired up at every single Grand Slam. We’ve seen this year playing the best tennis of his life. You can never, ever write him off.”

Nadal is currently undefeated at grand slams and if fit, the Spaniard will certainly fancy himself to win another seven matches at the US Open this year.

Whatever it should be interesting to see if Nadal improves before the US Open with the tournament starting on the 29th of August.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Quarterfinals Featuring Medvedev/Fritz and Alcaraz/Norrie

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Daniil Medvedev this week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Friday’s ATP singles quarterfinals feature six of the top 13 players in the world.  By contrast, in the WTA singles draw, the top five seeds have all been eliminated, and only two seeds remain.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (11) – Not Before 1:00pm on Center Court

Medvedev has earned both his wins this week in straight sets, while Fritz came back from a set down on Thursday to defeat Daniil’s close friend Andrey Rublev.  The 24-year-old American is having the best year of his career, with a record of 35-13.  Taylor is on the verge of breaking into the top 10, and would be even closer to doing so had he received points for his run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.  He earned his first Masters 1000 title at another North American hard court event earlier this year in Indian Wells.  In their first career meeting, Fritz has the firepower to pull off the upset, especially with a partisan crowd behind him.  But on a hard court, Medvedev remains the favorite to reach his third semifinal in Cincinnati.


Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Last on Center Court

This will be their fourth meeting within the past year, and thus far, all three have gone to Alcaraz.  That includes straight sets wins at the US Open and Indian Wells, and a three-set victory in Madrid on clay.  As impressive as Norrie has been across the past 18 months, no one has skyrocketed to new heights this past year like Alcaraz.  The 19-year-old is now 44-8 in 2022.  However, the sheer amount of tennis the youngster has played this year is concerning, despite his high level of fitness.  And many of those matches have been grueling, dramatic affairs.  Given his recent history with Norrie, Carlitos should be favored, though an upset by the British No.1 would not be a shocking result.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Madison Keys vs. Elena Rybakina – Keys upset world No.1 Iga Swiatek on Thursday.  Both Keys and Rybakina are yet to drop a set this week.  When they played at this year’s Roland Garros, Madison prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Ajla Tomljanovic (Q) vs. Petra Kvitova – Tomljanovic has survived four consecutive three-setters, going back to the last round of qualifying on Sunday.  Kvitova took out Ons Jabeur on Thursday. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. John Isner – Tsitsipas lead their head-to-head 4-2, and has taken their last four meetings.  Stefanos is vying for his third consecutive semifinal at this event.  Isner was a finalist here in 2013.

Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Caroline Garcia – Pegula is now No.3 in the year-to-date rankings, with a record of 30-15.  However, Garcia has slightly bested that record, as she’s now 32-15 this season.  Jess is 2-1 against Caroline, though the Frenchwoman claimed their only meeting in 2022.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Borna Coric (Q) – Auger-Aliassime saved two match points on Thursday night in a comeback victory over Jannik Sinner.  Coric followed up his upset of Rafael Nadal by defeating another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.  Felix and Borna split two encounters back in 2019. 


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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