Marin Cilic Suffers Shock Exit As Wawrinka Cruises Through In Tokyo - UBITENNIS
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Marin Cilic Suffers Shock Exit As Wawrinka Cruises Through In Tokyo

It is the first time the Croat has lost his opening match at a tournament since the Istanbul Open in May.

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Top seed Marin Cilic has crashed out in the first round of the Japan Open after falling 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(1), to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

 

Cilic, who reached the semifinals of the tournament over the past two years, failed to capitalise on his chances to seal the win. Twice he served for the match in the deciding set, but was broken by some spirited play produced from the world No.56. Then a lacklustre display in the tiebreaker from the former US Open champion guided an aggressive-playing Struff towards the shock win.

“I have to evaluate the match with my team just to analyze a bit the things that I did well, things that I could do a little bit better. I now have five, six days until my next match in Shanghai, so I have time to train and also to mentally get ready,” Cilic said afterwards. “It’s getting to the end of the season and these events are big and you want to be sharp from the first match on. It’s important to just refresh, analyze well and keep going.”

Scoring a win over a top 10 player for only the second time in his career, Struff produced 28 winners to 34 unforced errors. An improvement on Cilic’s tally of 30 and 45. He will play France’s Jeremy Chardy in the second round. 28-year-old Struff has been ranked as high as 44th in the world, but he is yet to win an title on the ATP World Tour.

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Wawrinka, Gasquet march on

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Former champion Stan Wawrinka has kick-started his campaign in Tokyo with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-4, win over America’s Taylor Fritz. The Swiss world No.74 was dominant behind his first serve throughout the match. Winning 31 out of his 32 first service points as he successfully fended off two break points. In total, Wawrinka hit 29 winners to only 17 unforced errors.

“I think the level in general [was good]. I think today I was moving well. I think I was serving really well,” Wawrinka said. “On the indoor court, it’s never easy in the first round. But my level is there, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

On Wednesday the former world No.3 faces a potentially tricky test against Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian defeated Hyeon Chung in his first round match yesterday. Should he prevail, it will be the first time Wawrinka has reached back-to-back quarter-finals on the ATP World Tour this season.

“I think he’s a really dangerous player. He’s playing really well. This year he’s improving a lot week by week,” the 33-year-old said of Shapovalov. “He’s young, he’s going for it, so it’s going to be a tough match for me, especially on an indoor court, fast court. He loves it, he loves to go for it, so I’m expecting a really tough battle.”

Richard Gasquet came through a nail-biting opener to overcome qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6(8), 6-3. The eighth seed was leading the match 5-3, but got broken whilst trying to set the set out. Then in the tiebreaker, Gasquet had to save four set points before stealing the lead. In the second set, it was a single break the guided the former top 10 player over the finish line.

“The first set was very tight. I saved many set points. That made the difference in the match,” Gasquet said. “Of course if he won the first set it’s a completely different match, so that’s why I’m really happy to win this one. We did a lot of running, so it was important to me to win this one and I felt more confident in the second set.”

Bidding to win his first ATP title in Asia since the 2007 Mumbai Open, Gasquet could play Nick Kyrgios next. Kyrgios will start his campaign on Wednesday against newly crowned Shenzhen Open champion Yoshihito Nishioka.

Finally, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas dismissed Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-3.

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Tour Suspension Will Benefit Novak Djokovic More Than Nadal And Federer, Claims Woodbridge

The former world No.1 doubles player explains why he thinks Djokovic will benefit more than his rivals.

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Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge believes the current suspension of tennis could have a silver lining for Novak Djokovic and his bid to claim the greatest of all time honour.

 

On Wednesday it was confirmed that all professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until at least July due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision came shortly after Wimbledon was forced to axe their event for the first time since 1945. Prior to the suspension, Djokovic started 2020 unbeaten by winning 18 matches in a row. During that period he guided Serbia to the ATP Cup title, won a record eighth Australian Open title and triumphed at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Now with the tour being brought to a halt, some are speculating as to what the implications could be on the prestigious Big Three. A trio featuring Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Between them they have won 52 out of the last 60 grand slam tournaments.

Woodbridge believes Djokovic is in the best situation because of his age. At the age of 32 he is younger than both Nadal (33) and Federer (38). Although neither of those players are planning to retire from the sport just yet.

“Because of the uncertainty, it makes it hard to see how the three can dominate when they come back because of the age of Roger and Rafa,” Woodbridge told Yahoo Sport Australia.
“It also puts more pressure on Rafa and it changes all of those storylines that were on the table for 2020.
“For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst.
“So if anything, this period helps him the most.”

The biggest question mark surrounds Federer, who recently underwent knee surgery and will turn 39 in August. However, the Swiss Maestro has recently confirmed that he intends to play the 2021 season after pledging to return to the court in Halle. One of the grass-court tournaments that has been cancelled this year.

“We experience difficult times, however, we will arise from it strengthened. Already today I am glad and excited about my return to Halle next year.” He said.

Although Woodbridge believes the suspension will hinder Federer’s dream of extending his record-breaking grand slam tally of 20 titles. He last won a major at the 2018 Australian Open. However, since then Federer has only reached a grand slam final in one out of seven attempts.

“The less match play that you get in this period at that age, it’s so much harder to come back and recover once you start again.” Woodbridge explained.
“So I really think that post-2020 will be a new era of people trying to create records because it’ll have really have broken up a great period in tennis.
“It has stopped the potential, I think, of Federer winning one or two more.
“It becomes very highly unlikely for him.”

Djokovic heads the world rankings with a 370-point lead over second place Nadal. Federer is currently in fourth position behind Dominic Thiem.

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Dominic Thiem Denies Allegation He ‘Misled’ Former Coach

A war of words has broken out between the world No.3 and his former long-time mentor Gunther Bresnik.

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Dominic Thiem - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

Dominic Thiem has stated that he has no intention to publicly disclose the reason as to why he stopped working with his former coach despite recently coming under fire from him.

 

The three-time grand slam finalist has been criticised by Gunther Bresnik, who claims he was ‘misled’ by the world No.3. Bresnik was a key figure in Thiem’s team until last year. Coaching the Austrian throughout his junior and professional career for a 15-year period. He was replaced last April by former Olympic champion Nicolas Massu.

It is unclear as to what was the decisive factor behind the split of a partnership that at one staged looked solid. Thiem met Bresnik at the age of eight when his father applied to work at his academy in Vienna. Under his guidance, he won 11 out of his 15 ATP titles so far in his career.

“Becomes clearer to me with time how things went. It doesn’t make it more aesthetic. There are things I totally don’t understand: honesty, loyalty, values…there was not much left.” Journalist Jannik Schneider quoted Bresnik as saying.
“I have no big problem with it besides the fact that I was misled. You can’t do that to someone that you owe everything. His dad would be a club coach and Dominic a futures player without me.”

The comment has triggered a response from Thiem, who has blasted Bresnik’s suggestion that he wouldn’t have been able to reach the top of the sport without his help. In a statement issued to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), the 26-year-old questioned if his former coach has developed ‘delusions of grandeur.’ A term loosely used to describe a person who believes they are greater than they actually are.

“When he complains about a lack of respect, and says that I owe it all to him, and seriously suggests that I would have been a futures player without him, I have to ask whether he has developed delusions of grandeur.” Said Thiem.

As to the root of the fallout between the two, Thiem is refusing to speak publicly about what happened. Although he denied that Bresnik has been misled in any way.

“I did not part ways with him without a reason,” he stated. “Bresnik knows the reasons and at this time I won’t make them public.”

Since pairing up with Massu, Thiem has enjoyed further success of the tour. During the early stages of their collaboration he won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year. Since then, he has gone on to claim another four ATP titles and was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January.

Thiem is the first player from his country to break into the world’s top three since Thomas Muster back in 1997.

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Grigor Dimitrov – ‘Tennis Is A Microscopic Thing In The World Right Now’

The world No.19 speaks out about how he is coping during the tour suspension.

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Former grand slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has become the latest player to urge the governing bodies of tennis to make a united decision regarding when play will resume again.

 

The ATP and WTA Tours are currently suspended until June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although it is likely that the suspension will be extended further with rumours that Wimbledon will be cancelled for the first time since the second world war later this week. Dimitrov’s last tournament was at the Acapulco Open in Mexico, where he reached the semi-finals before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

“Tennis is a microscopic thing in the world right now. The ATP supervisors I’ve talked to in recent days have a variety of theories, but for the time being, we can really only guess if we’re being honest.” Tenniskafe quoted Dimitrov as saying during an interview with bTV.
“The tournaments are cancelled, but we have a big luxury in tennis – there is always next week. Yes, it is very difficult right now, you have seen the Olympics cancelled. The only thing that is at the forefront is to go through this situation we are in, and then start rebuilding. “

The world No.19 is currently residing in California during the lockdown. Describing the situation where he is as ‘more casual’ compared to other parts of the world. California is where the Indian Wells tennis tournament was set to take place earlier this month before it was cancelled.

“In my opinion all federations and players, no matter what rank they are, must come together and make a general decision. Because it’s really not easy at the moment to talk to everyone about points, tournaments, competitions … But now other things are really more important – to be safe, to be healthy and to go through this thing.” He said.

During the suspension, the 28-year-old is keeping himself busy in other ways. Recently he has signed up for an online course with Harvard Business School. Becoming the latest of a series of players to do so. He also manages to keep in touch with his fellow rivals on the tour thanks to the world of social media.

“One of the first players I wrote to was Fabio (Fognini) because he was in Italy. Everyone is on Instagram, we know everyone what they do every minute.”

When the restrictions related to the pandemic comes to an end, Dimitrov has vowed to return back to Europe as he outlines the first thing he would do.

“I just want to go back to Europe. Whether it will be in Bulgaria or in Monaco – I do not know. I certainly want to go home, gather all my relatives and just spend time together. I’ve been in the US for over a month now. As things currently look, there will certainly be another two months. Hopefully it will be faster, but I just want to go home and be with my loved ones.” He concluded.

In the fight against Covid-19 in his home country, Dimitrov has made a donation to a hospital in Haskovo. The city where he was born.

Dimitrov has started the 2020 season with a win-loss record of 7-5. Besides his run to the semifinals in Acapulco, he also reached the second round at the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He has been ranked as high as third in the world.

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