ATP Finals: Zverev Enchanted London, Djokovic And Federer Disappointed - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals: Zverev Enchanted London, Djokovic And Federer Disappointed

Ubitennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta breaks down this year’s ATP Finals with a list of the most remarkable storylines.

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  1. In my opinion, this year’s ATP Finals turned out to be a mediocre tournament, failing to produce any memorable matches. Sometimes a few matches might not be spectacular, but at least they can produce drama. This year we didn’t get any drama at all. Cilic-Isner was the only match out of 15 to be decided in a third set, even though none of the two players reached the semifinals.
  2. All of the matches – including the final – seemed to be uninspired. As soon as one player jumped to a lead, his opponent did very little to turn the match around and continued to play very poorly.
  3. Nevertheless, the tournament could go down in the history books as Sasha Zverev’s first big title just when nobody expected him to win. Who knows how many big titles the young German will win in the future.
  4. Zverev is only the fourth player to defeat Federer and Djokovic in the same tournament. Nalbandian achieved the double at the 2007 Madrid Masters, Murray defeated both the Swiss and the Serb at Wimbledon during the 2012 Olympics, while Nadal had the best of his two rivals in Hamburg and at Roland Garros in 2008. To say that Zverev achieved an incredible feat is an understatement and his future is certainly very bright. He might also become a little more likable. He definitely took a step in the right direction throughout the weekend, keeping his composure and showing good sportsmanship when a very pro-Federer British crowd started booing him at the end of their semifinal match.
  5. Zverev captured his first ATP title in St. Petersburg in 2016, but his first memorable win took place at the Masters 1000 event in Rome in 2017. His maiden Italian Open title will probably be remembered in the same way we all remember Stefan Edberg’s first title in Milan in 1984 or Federer’s first victory also in Milan in 2001. The Swede went on to win a total of 41 titles in his illustrious career, while Roger has captured a staggering 99 titles so far.
  6. While Zverev deserves all the credit for playing an impeccable final despite being only 21 years of age, Djokovic was the shadow of the player that dominated his younger rival 64 61 on Wednesday. On his way to the final, Djokovic never dropped serve and only conceded 32 points in 36 service games. At some point in the final, he was broken three consecutive times. Unrecognizable.
  7. In their round-robin match on Wednesday, we witnessed the opposite situation: After Zverev failed to capitalize on two break-points at 4-4 in the first set, he started missing left and right. From 1-1 in the second set, the German won only three points for the rest of the match.
  8. The final of the year-end championships was contested 19 times by two players who previously faced each other in the group stages. 10 of those 19 finals have been won by the player who lost the round-robin match. Zverev was unaware of this strange coincidence before the match and when a reporter asked him about it, he joked: “Well, next time I’ll remember to lose a match in the round-robin stage.” Djokovic wasn’t obviously as happy about the outcome: “You would think that the player that won the first match in the round-robin should have a psychological advantage and play with more confidence. I knew that he would have changed something and played better. As for me, I played below my best level, especially compared to all the matches that I played during the week.”
  9. The final will be remembered more for producing an upset and giving us a young champion than for the quality of play. After Djokovic won 35 of his last 37 matches, nobody thought that he could lose to Zverev. The bookmakers paid Zverev’s win at 6 – an unbelievable odd.
  10. Looking back at recent finals that were contested at the year-end championships, very few have been appealing and interesting. The last remarkable final was played in 2012 when Djokovic defeated Federer 76 75. When the final used to be a best-of-five match, we had memorable clashes in 2005 when Nalbandian prevailed over Federer 67 67 61 62 76, in 1996 when Sampras defeated Becker 36 76 76 67 64 and in 1994 when Sampras once again had the best of Becker 46 63 75 64. The 1993 final when Stich defeated Sampras 76 26 76 62 was also a good match, even if the court speed in Frankfurt was so fast that the serves were sometimes too dominant. A legendary final was certainly played by Becker and Lendl at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1988, when the German captured the last point with a shocking net cord after a gruelling 36 shot rally: 57 76 36 62 76 was the final score in Becker’s favor. Another memorable final was won by Lendl over Gerulaitis 67 26 76 62 64, with Ivan saving a match-point in the third set. McEnroe-Ashe in 1978 saw John prevail 63 67 75, while Vilas defeated Nastase 76 62 36 36 64 on the Kooyong grass in 1974.
  11. Speaking of Lendl, Ivan captured the year-end championships 5 times and contested an astonishing 9 finals. He qualified for the championships for 12 years in a row between 1980 and 1991, winning 39 out of 49 matches. Djokovic and Connors qualified 10 times, Nadal 14 times (even if he withdrew in 5 occasions) and Federer 16 times.
  12. The three matches that Novak Djokovic lost since Wimbledon are great advertisement for the Next-Gen ATP Finals. He lost to Tsitsipas in Toronto, Khachanov in Paris-Bercy and Zverev at the ATP Finals in London.
  13. The Next-Gen Finals in Milan offered better and more interesting matches than the ATP Finals in London. The level expressed by Tsitsipas and de Minaur in the Milan final was higher than most of the matches that were contested at the O2 Arena, even if the shorter sets, tie-breakers at 3-3 and no-ad games are almost a different sport.
  14. Which was a better match: The semifinal between Zverev and Federer or the final between Zverev and Djokovic? It’s hard to say. Zverev played a better match in the final. Djokovic probably played worse than Federer. The what-ifs are certainly not the best way to analyze a match, but had Federer captured the second set, I believe that he would have ended up winning the match.
  15. Zverev was brilliant in his speech during the trophy presentation. He thanked the sponsors, chair umpires, line judges and ballkids. At that point, I started thinking that he could have mentioned the ballkid who accidentally dropped a ball mid-rally in a crucial moment of the semifinal against Federer. I think the organizers should have brought the same ballkind back for the final as well.
  16. I used to truly love doubles and I would have probably followed the doubles event if an Italian team had qualified. Instead I didn’t watch it at all. Shame on me.
  17. Sasha Zverev is the first German year-end champion in 23 years, since Boris Becker defeated Michael Chang. Boris won six Grand Slam titles and was world No. 1 for “only” 12 weeks. I think that Zverev will eventually achieve more than Becker in the future. He will also win more and probably spend less money than his legendary countryman. Unlike Boris, he will be more careful with women, but I doubt that he will become more popular. Will Sasha win a Slam in 2019? Yes and no, but he will certainly be one of the favorites, especially after his win in London.
  18. The most recurring question is: Will Roger Federer qualify for next year’s ATP Finals and win another Slam? In my opinion, he will qualify for London as I don’t think that there are eight better players than him. I also think that he will not win another major title. Best-of-five tennis is probably going to take a toll on him, even if he could keep his hopes high on grass with a favorable draw.
  19. Nadal will be the favorite at Roland Garros once again. He could win his 12th title in Paris, but I don’t think that he will capture a major title anywhere else.
  20. Had Djokovic not showed a certain mental fragility in his final loss at the year-end championships, I would have said that the Serb could be a strong candidate to capture the calendar year Grand Slam in 2019. These last two or three losses against rising Next-Gen stars put a few doubts on my mind.

 

Ubaldo Scanagatta

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )

 

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Bianca Andreescu becomes the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion at Indian Wells

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Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu edged past Angelique Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 to become the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion and the fourth youngest winner at Indian Wells behind Martina Hingis, Serena Williams and Monica Seles.

Bianca Andreescu has won her maiden WTA title. With this win she has won 28 of her 31 matches this season and becomes the first wild-card to win the Indian Wells title.

Andreescu started the first set with an immediate break on her fourth break point chance in the opening game after Kerber’s second double fault. The Canadian teenager held her serve with a hold of serve at 15 to open up a 2-0 lead.

In the third game Andreescu hit a forehand slice to draw level to 30-30, but Kerber held her serve for 1-2, as Andreescu sent her forehand wide.

Andreescu held her serve at 30 in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The teenager got to 30-all on Kerber’s serve, but the German player hit a big forehand and held her serve for 2-3. In the sixth game Andreescu hit a forehand winner to earn a game point and held her serve with her first ace. Andreescu made a double fault at 30-15 in the 10th game but she held her serve to close out the first set 6-4 in 40 minutes. Kerber won all her points on her second serve, compared to Kerber’s 55%. The German player made 14 unforced errors in the first set.

In the second set Andreeu got to 30-30, but she hit her backhand into the net to hold serve for 1-1. In the best game of the match Kerber saved two break points to hold her serve for 2-1. Andreescu battled hard to hold her serve but Kerber came back from 30-40 down to convert her only break point of the set after two deuces thanks to a forehand error from Andreescu. The player consolidated the break with a hold at 30 to open up a 4-1 lead. Kerber held her next service games to close out the second set 6-3.

Andreescu opened the third set with a hold at 30 to take a 1-0 lead. The Canadian held serve in the third game at deuce for 2-1, but she missed a chance for a break point, when she netted a short forehand. Andreescu required medical treatment on her arm after the third game.

Kerber converted her second break point to take a 3-2 lead, when Andreescu hit a shot into the net. Andreescu broke straight back at 15 to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love for 4-3. The Canadian got the second consecutive break on her second break point chance in the eighth game to earn her chance to serve for the match, but Kerber saved three championship points to break back in the ninth game on return at deuce, when Andreescu hit her drop-shot into the net.

Andreescu closed out the match with another break in the 10th game on her fourth championhip point. She hit a forehand winner at 30-30 and closed out the match, when Kerber hit the net, and fell to the ground in celebration.

“I would like to congratulate Angelique Kerber for an amazing tournament. It was amazing to share the court with you today. You are an incredible champion and an inspiration. Hopefully this moment can be an inspiration for many young athletes because, like I always say, if you believe in yourself anything is possible. My mother told me throughout the years ‘if you work hard, you dream to get big. Then you can accomplish so many things and that’s what I’ve been doing throughout. This moment has become a reality and it’s really crazy. To my team – thank you for being there for me throughout so many years. It’s really means so much to share this moment right now”, said Andreescu.

 Angelique Kerber congratulated with Andreescu on her amazing week in the post match speech.

“I would like to say congratulations to Bianca for your unbelievable tournament, for your win here. You played amazing during the whole tournament and you really deserved to win the title”, said Kerber.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Federer Clash With Knee Injury, Withdraws From Miami

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his BNP Paribas Open semi-final with Roger Federer due to a knee injury.

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Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his Indian Wells semi-final with Roger Federer after suffering a right knee injury.

The Spaniard injured his during his 7-6(2) 7-6(2) win over Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. As a result he has also withdrawn from next week’s Miami Open.

It was reported that Nadal had a 15 minute practice before a 10 minute conversation with his team where they made the decision to withdraw from the semi-final.

After the announcement Nadal emphasised his disappointment at the withdrawal, “I wanted to try my best to be competitive, but during the warmup I felt my knee was not good enough for the level I need to play,” Nadal explained.

“It’s tough for me to accept all these things that I’m going through in my career. Sometimes I feel sad because I’m in a disadvantage to all my opponents. 

[I need to] be positive and grateful for all the things tennis has given to me. I feel fortunate for all the things I’ve done in my life and the world of tennis.”

It is a bitterly disappointing setback for Nadal who would’ve been hoping to close the gap between him and Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.

Next for the Spaniard will be Monte-Carlo in mid-April after also announcing his withdrawal from next week’s Miami Open, “The plan for the clay season is Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Roma and Roland Garros. That has been my calendar throughout my career and I hope to be able to complete it one more time.”

As for Roger Federer, he will now play either Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic in tomorrow’s final as he looks to win his sixth title in California.

 

 

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Indian Wells Day 13 Preview: The Men’s Semi-Finals

It will be Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal for the 39th time in the BNP Paribas Open Semi-Finals… or will it be?

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Roger Federer (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

During his semi-final yesterday against Karen Khachanov, Rafa aggravated the knee tendinitis that has plagued his hard court tennis in recent years. He was still able to finish off the dangerous Russian, but even Nadal himself admits he won’t know how his knee will be for this match until he wakes up today. It’s entirely possible he may retire from yet another hard court tournament. Assuming he is able to play, we’re in for a rekindling of tennis’ most historic rivalry. The other men’s semi-final will feature two men who have advanced to finals at both Grand Slam and Masters 1,000 events, but are yet to win one.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Roger Federer (4)

Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN – Twitter)

This will be their first match since the Shanghai Masters in October of 2018, nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Nadal holds an overall 23-15 edge in their head-to-head, but he hasn’t defeated Federer in over five years, by far the longest stretch in this rivalry without a Rafa victory since they first met 15 years ago this month. Roger has won all of their five most recent meetings, all of which have been played on hard courts. That run started at the 2015 Basel event.

It famously continued in the 2017 Australian Open final, which is really the match that turned this rivalry around.  Federer came back from down a break in the fifth to beat his toughest opponent. The bigger racquet face he changed to during an injury layoff in 2016 played a significant role. Roger went on to beat Rafa at this tournament two years ago, and then again two weeks later in the Miami final.

Their last three matches have all been straight set wins for Federer, ever since that Australian Open final. Both men have advanced to this semi-final without dropping a set, with Federer only losing his serve once in four matches. Roger has looked exceptionally sharp, and is on a 9-match win streak coming off his 100th career title in Dubai two weeks ago. Considering their recent history, the court surface, and Nadal’s knee, Federer is the favourite to reach his 9th Indian Wells final.

Dominic Thiem (7) vs. Milos Raonic (13)

Dominic Thiem (@OanaVancea – Twitter)

Both of these men should be fully rested ahead of this semi-final.  Unlike Nadal and Federer, they got a day off between their quarterfinal and semi-final matches. And Thiem got Thursday off as well when Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarterfinal. Dominic didn’t lose a set in his other three matches at this tournament, while Milos only dropped one in four matches.

Raonic is yet to face a seeded player at this event, but he’s 2-0 lifetime against Thiem. Both of those matches were on hard courts, and Milos took both in straight sets. Thiem though is a much-improved hard court player since they last met in 2016, and he’ll prefer the slower hard court in Indian Wells. However, Raonic has achieved much more previous success in the desert than Thiem. This is the first Indian Wells semi-final for Dominic, while Milos has advanced this far in all of his last four appearances. I like the big-serving Canadian’s chances to reach his second final in tennis paradise.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot (@ESPNtenis – Twitter)

In the women’s doubles final, the best team in the world, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1), vs. two top 15 singles players, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

In the men’s doubles final, an established team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (6) vs. a newly-formed team of Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos.

 

 

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