Kevin Anderson Is Out To Prove That Giants Can Play Tennis Too - UBITENNIS
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Kevin Anderson Is Out To Prove That Giants Can Play Tennis Too

Can players be too tall to play tennis at the highest level on the tour?

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LONDON: In the past, many people have said that the ATP Finals features the giants in men’s tennis, but for Kevin Anderson, it is statistically true.

 

At six foot and eight inches tall, the South African is the second tallest player to have ever contested the Nitto ATP Finals. The first is 6”10’ John Isner, who is also making his debut at The O2 this week. On Sunday he kick-started this year’s tournament with a two-set triumph over Dominic Thiem. The victory equals his personal best of 46 wins within one season, which was set back in 2015.

“There’s definitely been more and more successful (players) who are tall,” Anderson told reporters on Sunday.
“I think the biggest thing when you are taller, sometimes moveability is a little tougher, change of direction, getting to lower balls. That’s something that you have to work I think a little bit harder on.”
“But I think it’s changed the perspective a little bit. When you see other guys that are tall moving well, you are a kid, it changes the way you see the game. That’s often the case.”

Height has in no way impeded the 32-year-old on the court this season. Heading into the final ATP event of 2018, he has featured in five finals on the tour. Winning titles in New York followed by Vienna, which was the first ATP 500 event he has won. On July 16th Anderson became the first South African male to break into the top five on the ATP rankings at fifth.

Players at the ATP Finals ranked by height
John Isner – 208cm
Kevin Anderson – 203cm
Alexander Zverev – 198cm
Marin Cilic – 198cm
Novak Djokovic – 188cm
Roger Federer – 185cm
Dominic Thiem – 185cm
Kei Nishikori – 178cm

So how does somebody so tall manage to succeed on the tour? Especially when it comes to facing players who repeatedly hit low balls. Forcing Anderson to bend more and apply pressure on his knees or back. The South African believes part of the success is attributed towards how he was brought up by his parents.

“My dad, who taught me growing up, was very insistent and he had great foresight to see where the game was going,” Anderson explains.
“We spent a lot of time working on my movement from the baseline. That’s what I feel more comfortable with. As my career got on, I’ve been trying to find ways to come forward more.”
“Especially in today’s game, there’s a lot of times where guys are playing such great defense that you do find yourself in rallies. I spent a lot of time in my training, both on and off the court, working on my movement. Having good technique, good footwork patterns, being strong enough, being tall.”

‘There’s still room for improvement’

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In a sport where the average of the top tennis players has increased in recent years, Anderson is refusing to declare that he is at his peak. The 32-year-old is the 12th oldest player currently ranked in the top 100. Roger Federer tops the list at the age of 37.

“If I look at my game, I definitely feel there are some areas that I can continue to get better on. They’re very, very small margins. I feel I have done a very good job in the last while in trusting in my game.” He analyzed.
“I still feel like some of my best tennis is ahead of me. I feel like the goals I’ve set for myself, there’s still a lot to play for. Of course, the biggest challenge would be health.”

Anderson’s belief has been aided by his quartet of wins over top 10 players this season, including his thrilling triumph over Federer at Wimbledon. His other conquests were Grigor Dimitrov, Isner and most recently Thiem on Sunday.

“It doesn’t always work out, but I definitely feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable in those situations, against some of the best players in the world.” He concluded.

Anderson will continue his campaign at the ATP Finals on Tuesday. He will take on the winner of the Sunday night clash between Federer and Kei Nishikori.

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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