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 )

 

ATP

Kei Nishikori completes his third came-back win to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open

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Kei Nishikori won his third five-set match at this year’s edition of the Australian Open by completing his third come-back from two sets down with a 6-7 (8-10) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-6 (10-8) win over Pablo Carreno Busta after a 5-hour and 5-minute battle.

Kei Nishikori lived up to his reputation as a marathon man, when he completed his third come-from-behind win at the 2019 Australian Open following up his previous two five-set wins over Kamil Majchrzak and Ivo Karlovic.

Carreno Busta went down a break twice in the early stages of the opening set, but he managed to pull back both breaks in the fourth and sixth games to draw level to 3-3. Nishikori got an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead, but Carreno Busta won three consecutive points for 3-2 after three errors from Nishikori. The Spaniard did not convert three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7, but he converted his fourth chance for 10-8 with a forehand winner.

Carreno Busta went up a set and a break with two forehand winners in the third game before saving two break points at 2-1. The Spanish player did not convert two set points at 5-3, when he made two forehand errors as Nishikori was serving at 15-40, but he closed out the second set at love in the 10th game.

Nishikori went down a break in the fifth game of the third set, but he broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nishikori won the tie-break 7-4 to keep his hopes alive Nishikori broke serve in the first game of the fourth set at 30, but Carreno Busta broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. Nishikori broke for the second time in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and earned three break points for 5-2 in the seventh game, but Carreno Busta held his serve. Nishikori held his next three service games at love to seal the fourth set 6-4.

Nishikori converted his third break point chance in the third game of the fifth set to take a 2-1 lead. The Japanese player came back from 15-40 down in the sixth game to hold his serve at deuce for 4-2, but he dropped his serve while he was serving for the match in the 10th game at 5-4. Carreno Busta built up a 8-5 lead in the decisive super tie-break, but Nishikori reeled off the final five points to seal a thrilling five-set match.

“I don’t know what to say. That was the toughest match. I have no idea how I broke back and I fough my way through. It was a great match. I feel like I have not played enough. It hasn’t been easy of course, especially not today. It was hard against Karlovic with a super tie-break, but today had longer rallies”, said Nishikori.

The Japanese star will face Novak Djokovic, who beat Danil Medvedev 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-2 in his fourth round match. Djokovic leads 15-2 in his 17 head-to-head matches against Nishikori.

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Novak Djokovic Outlasts Medvedev To Reach 10th Australian Open Quarter-Final

Novak Djokovic is into his 10th Australian Open quarter-final with a four set physical win over Daniil Medvedev.

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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is into his 10th Australian Open quarter-final after a 6-4 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3 win over Daniil Medvedev. 

The six time champion was less than convincing but dug deep to seal his place in the last eight with a four set win over Medvedev.

In the quarter-finals he will now play Kei Nishikori who battled past Pablo Carreno Busta in five hours and five sets.

The Serb was looking to play better than his previous round against an in-form and crafty Medvedev, who won the most matches on hard courts in 2018.

After a decent start from the Russian, a few loose errors gave the Djokovic key break in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. The 15th seed continued to work the angles throughout the contest and punished Djokovic’s lack of focus as he gained the break back in the ninth game.

Eventually though the top seed refocused and broke straight back as he sealed the first set 6-4 in 40 minutes as he looked to build on his lead.

It was more of the same from Djokovic as he controlled the points from the baseline. Despite not converting any of his six break points in the third game he eventually raced to a 4-1 lead.

However there is a reason why Medvedev won 38 matches on hard courts last season and he immediately found a response by breaking back and making the match into a physically exhausting battle.

As a tiebreak loomed the Russian produced his best tennis moving the Serb from side to side as he powered through his shots.

After overcoming some nerves, the world number 16 converted his third set point to take the second set in a brutal 71 minutes.

The match continued to get more physical as rallies between 30 and 40 shots occurred as Medvedev’s craft was earning some good points.

However the Russian started to fade out as Djokovic proved to be the stronger competitor in the third and four sets despite some heavy stretching from the world number one.

Two breaks of serve was enough for Djokovic to take a two sets to one lead with a tactically good match saving his chances of reaching the last eight.

In another late finish in Melbourne park, Djokovic broke twice more in set four as Medvedev vented his frustrations as the Serb came through a tough match in four sets.

The win means it’s the tenth time Djokovic has reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and after the match explained how difficult the match was, “It was difficult to go through him. I had to find a different way,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview.

“I was fortunate to save a couple of break points. In this kind of matches you have to hang in there and wait for your opportunities.”

Next up on Wednesday is Kei Nishikori after he won a five set epic with Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(8) 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 7-6(10-8).

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Lucas Pouille beats Borna Coric in four sets to set up a quarter final against Milos Raonic in Melbourne

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Lucas Pouille upset Borna Coric in four sets by the scoreline of 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Pouille set up a quarter final against Canadian player Milos Raonic, who beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-1 7-6 (7-5). The Frenchman has not won a single set in his three head-to-head matches against Raonic.

Coric broke serve in the first game of the opening set, but Pouille pulled back the break in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next games to set up a tie-break. Coric converted the first of his two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break with his ninth ace to close out the first set.

Pouille got the only break in the seventh game of the second set to draw level to 1 set apiece after Coric made his fourth double fault the match and a forehand error.

Both players held their serve in the first ten games of the third set. Coric went down 0-40 on serve in the 11th game, but he managed to saved the first two break points. Pouille converted his third opportunity with a forehand winner to seal the third set 7-5.

Pouille got an immediate break in the first game of the fourth set. Coric converted his fourth break-back point chance at deuce to draw level to 4-4 setting up a second tie-break. Pouille sealed the win on his first match point, when Coric made his 55th unforced error of the match.

Pouille fired 57 winners and won 66 % of his second serve points.

Lucas Pouille has become the 13th French player to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open and the first since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2017. The Frenchman reached the third quarter final at Grand Slam level in his career after Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016.

Pouille lost in the first round for the fifth consecutive year at the 2018 edition of the Australian Open and won his fifth title in Montpellier against his compatriot Richard Gasquet after saving two match points in the semifinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Pouille reached a career-high of world number 10 after advancing to his third ATP Tour level final in Dubai, where he lost against Roberto Bautista Agut. After a difficult second half of the season Pouille hired Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.

“It feels great. It has been a tough match against Borna. He is one of the best players in the world. The last time we played I lost 6-4 in the third set, so I knew what to expect. A few points here and there. In the first tie-break I had 5-4 and made two lets and the ball went out. It was just a few details that made the difference. I am now very happy to be in the quarter final. The atmosphere is great here. In the previous round I played against Popyrin, an Australian guy, and the atmosphere was just electric”,said Pouille.

Pouille has not won a set in his three head-to-head matches against his next rival Milos Raonic and lost in straight sets against the Canadian player in their previous head-to-head match at the 2016 Australian Open.

“He is playing well. I watched the match against Alexander Zverev. I am going to be ready for it and try to reach my first semifinal”,said Pouille.

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