Evaluating The London Hopefuls: John Isner And Kei Nishikori - UBITENNIS
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Evaluating The London Hopefuls: John Isner And Kei Nishikori

In this four-part series we will be evaluating the season’s of next week’s ATP Finals contenders. In this part we look at John Isner and Kei Nishikori.

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John Isner (zimbio.com)

As the ATP World Tour Finals are only four days, UbiTennis evaluates the hopefuls looking at London glory next week. We start with John Isner and Kei Nishikori. 

 

John Isner 

The eighth seed at this year’s season-ending championships is American John Isner, who is making his debut at 33 years old. The world number 10 didn’t have the best start to the season after only winning one match heading into the Miami Open.

However the American’s season was boosted in Florida, where he won his maiden masters 1000 event, beating an in-form Juan Martin Del Potro and Alexander Zverev en route. He would use Miami as a platform to build on as he would reach the quarter-finals in Madrid and reach the second week at Roland Garros in Paris.

A test of Isner’s confidence would be Wimbledon, which is a slam he has surprisingly done bad at despite grass being his strongest surface. The American would save match points against Ruben Bemelmans before reaching his first ever grand slam semi-final as he would lose in a Wimbledon epic to Kevin Anderson.

An Atlanta title as well as a US Open quarter-final would seal his breakthrough season as he aims to finish the year strong. One particular reason for Isner’s great season is his serving and as we can see below his kick serve out wide has won him a lot of free points.

Via ATPWorldTour.com

His serve on the Deuce side has been the main reason why he is in the ATP World Tour Finals next week and world number one Novak Djokovic will have to look out for that serve on Monday.

So at 33, John Isner has had a great season but can he live with the best, we will find out on Monday night in his first match.

John Isner’s Best Five Tournaments:

Miami Open Champion – 1000 pts

Wimbledon Semi-Finals – 720 pts

US Open quarter-finals – 360 pts

Atlanta Champion – 250 pts

Roland Garros Fourth Round – 180 pts

 

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori (zimbio.com)

As for Japan’s Kei Nishikori, 2018 has been a rough ride with many ups and downs but ends with a place at next week’s ATP Finals. The season started with a couple of challenger events before a couple of 250 events in America.

His first successful tournament was in Monte-Carlo where he reached the final before losing to a certain Rafael Nadal. A Rome quarter-final loss to Djokovic before reaching the second week in Paris saw a good spell from Nishikori.

After another Wimbledon quarter-final, Nishikori stepped his play up a gear with a very good semi-final run at the US Open, where he beat Marin Cilic and Diego Schwartzman on his way. A couple of finals losses in Tokyo and Vienna have seen the Japanese star qualify for London once again.

Potential Weakness?

Via ATPWorldTour.com

A potential weakness of Nishikori’s though is his ability to return down the tee and how short he gets the return. To beat the best players in the world, he needs to get the ball a lot deeper especially on the forehand side. This is something Roger Federer will look to exploit in their first match on Sunday.

The Deuce side returning game is something that Nishikori will need to focus on next season if he wants to aim for a spot in the top five of the world rankings.

Overall it is good to see Nishikori back to good form and will be interesting to see if he can get out of a fairly average Lleyton Hewitt Group.

Nishikori’s five best tournaments

US Open semi-finals – 720 pts

Monte-Carlo final – 600 pts

Wimbledon quarter-finals – 360 pts

Vienna Final – 300 pts

Tokyo Final – 300 pts

 

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Alexander Zverev Continues To Struggle After Jarry Defeat In Barcelona

Alexander Zverev’s poor recent form continues as he goes out in Barcelona in three sets to Nicolas Jarry.

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Alexander Zverev (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev continues his poor 2019 season after losing 3-6 7-5 7-6(5) in Barcelona to Nicolas Jarry.

 

The German battled back from a double break down in the final set however after wasting a match point, couldn’t beat the powerful Chilean.

It means that Zverev has only won three matches in five tournaments since reaching the Acapulco final, where he lost to Nick Kyrgios.

It was a positive start for the recently turned 22 year-old after he played fairly aggressively and took the first set 6-3 with some great play.

After a consistent first set, the German failed to control the match to his tempo as Jarry rallied back in the second set with some aggressive play of his own.

The Chilean brings an aggressive game to the court and has the confidence to beat anyone on his day although he is yet to win an ATP title.

A run of five games saw Zverev’s confidence get knocked as Jarry levelled the match and stormed into a double break lead in the decider.

If there is a positive to take from the ATP Finals champion’s play today, it’s the fight he showed to rally back and show some much-needed energy.

After breaking in three consecutive games it was a controlled match from both as this was a big match for both in their respective seasons.

A simple backhand miss on match point didn’t help Zverev as the world number 81 forced a final set tiebreak to settle the match.

In the end after a nervy 12 points, it was Jarry who kept his cool to earn one of the biggest wins of his career as Zverev continued his bad run of form.

Since falling ill in Acapulco, the German has only won three matches in five tournaments and admits he is in a dilemma, “I’m in a hole and I don’t know how to get out of it,” the German explained.

“I just play bad, it’s not a secret. I’m missing backhands all over the places, which is my best shot. I cannot make one impressive shot. I’m double faulting.”

The German now has titles in Munich and Madrid to defend before final points in Rome as he goes through the toughest time of his career.

As for Jarry he will now play Grigor Dimitrov or Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

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Tough draws for Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep at the Porsche Indoor Grand Prix in Stuttgart

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Reigning US Open and Australian champion and world number 1 Naomi Osaka has been drawn in the same quarter as two-time champion Angelique Kerber and Hsieh Su Wei at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, which features six of the top 10 players of the WTA Ranking. The tournament takes place on indoor clay at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

 

Osaka will make her second appreance in the star-studded Stuttgart tournament after losing to Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the opening round in 2017. The Japanese player, who is receiving a bye from the opening round, is on a collision course for a possible second round match against Hsieh Su Wei, who will make her debut in the Stuttgart tournament against Qiang Wang in the first round.

Last year’s Roland Garros champion Simona Halep could face crowd favourite Andrea Petkovic in the second round. The Romanian player could meet either Kiki Bertens or this year’s Dubai champion Belinda Bencic.

Defending champion and this year’s Miami champion Karolina Pliskova will take on the winner of the blockbuster match between Garbine Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka. In this section Caroline Garcia has been drawn with Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who reached the semifinal in Stuttgart last year and in Miami in 2019. Garcia contributed to the win in the decisive doubles match alongside her teammate Kristina Mladenovic in the Fed Cup semifinal against Romania in Rouen.

In the bottom half of the draw this year’s Australian Open finalist and Sydney champion Petra Kvitova could meet the winner of an all-Latvian first round clash between 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasjia Sevastova.

 

 

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Fabio Fognini lifts his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo

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Fabio Fognini beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters to win the maiden Masters 1000 title of his career. Fognini has become the first Italian to win in the Monte-Carlo Country Club since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968.

 

Fognini, the first Italian player to reach the final in the Principality since Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti lost to Bjorn Borg in 1977, is the lowest player to win the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title since Gustavo Kuerten in 1999. Fognini was on the verge of defeat in the first round when he trailed 4-6 1-4 during the second set against Andrey Rublev.

In the next rounds Fognini went on to beat 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev in the third round, Borna Coric in the quarter final in another three-set match after trailing 1-6 0-2. 11-time Monte-Carlo champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinal and Dusan Lajovic in the final.

Fognini is the first Italian champion in the Masters series since 1990. Since 2005 the only three other champions in the Monte-Carlo champions have been Rafael Nadal (eleven times from 2005 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2018), Novak Djokovic (twice in 2013 and 2015) and Stan Wawrinka (2014)

In his first head-to-head match against Lajovic Fognini saved two of the four break points he faced and broke serve four times. The Italian player hit 19 winners to 23 unforced errors, while Lajovic produced a ratio of 16 winners to 36 mistakes.

Lajovic earned the first break of the match in the third game to take a 2-1 lead, but Fognini broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to win five of the next six games.

Both players traded breaks in the first and second games of the second set. Fognini earned the decisive break to take a 3-2 lead, when Lajovic sent a forehand long. Fognini received a medical time-out to treat his ankle, but he held his next three service games to close out the match with a service winner on his second match point.

Fognini will reach his career high of world number 12 just 5 points behind Marin Cilic. He is just 250 points away from the top 10.

“I was born near Monte-Carlo and it’s awesome to win this tournament. Congratulations to Dusan. You have a great team. your coach José Perlas trained me in the past. Continue to work hard. It will be your time soon. I thank my team. This year I started badly. Thanks to my wife Flavia for her support. Thank to my town Arma di Taggia. I want to thank the Tournament Director Zeliko Franulovic. I dedcate this trophy to my mother, who will celebrate her birthday tomorrow”, said a delighted Fognini during the award ceremony.

 

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