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Evaluating The London Hopefuls: Kevin Anderson And Alexander Zverev

In the penultimate part of this series we evaluate the seasons of Kevin Anderson and Alexander Zverev

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Kevin Anderson (zimbio.com)

In the penultimate part of our four-part series we evaluate the seasons of Kevin Anderson and Alexander Zverev as the ATP World Tour Finals is just two days away. 

 

Kevin Anderson

The South American will be making his ATP World Tour Finals debut at 33 years old after an incredible season which saw him reach his second grand slam final. In his first tournament of the season he reached the final of Pune before suffering a surprise first round exit at the Australian Open. I guess his opponent, Kyle Edmund, didn’t have a bad season though, did he?

After the Melbourne disappointment he managed to reach the quarter-finals or better in every tournament up until the clay court season. That run included a title at the 250 event in New York and a final in Acapulco, losing to Juan Martin Del Potro.

On the clay he made a Masters 1000 breakthrough by reaching his first semi-final at that level in eleven attempts, when he reached the last four in Madrid. A second week performance in Roland Garros was satisfactory after eventually losing in the fourth round to Diego Schwartzman from two sets up.

Reverse fortunes saw an epic two set comeback against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals as he reached his second grand slam final in London. That was before losing to Novak Djokovic in the final in straight sets.

Another Masters 1000 semi-final in Toronto followed, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic, as he reached the fourth round of the US Open. He ended his season with a Vienna title, his second of the season to seal a brilliant 2018.

STAT: Out of the ATP Finals contenders, Kevin Anderson has only lost to Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, in-which he has an 0-4 combined record against in 2018. 

The South African will be looking to change that stat, when he faces Dominic Thiem in the first singles match of the ATP Finals on Sunday.

Anderson’s Best Five Tournaments

Wimbledon Final – 1,200 pts

Vienna Champion – 500 pts

Madrid Semi-Finals – 360 pts

Toronto Semi-Finals – 360 pts

Acapulco Final – 300 pts

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev (via Zimbio.com)

The 21 year-old German has once again reached the ATP Finals after winning three titles and reaching his first grand slam quarter-final. It was a disappointing start to the season for Zverev having lost another five set match at a slam, this time to Hyeon Chung, in the third round of the Australian Open.

After a slow start, a semi-final in Acapulco and a final in Miami finally lifted his season as he had something to build on heading into the clay court season.

The world number five then went on a 13 match winning streak on the clay which included defending his title in Munich as well as winning his third masters 1000 title in Madrid this year. He almost did the Madrid-Rome double before the rain prevented him from making him significant progress against Rafael Nadal in the Rome final.

A grand slam breakthrough was made at Roland Garros as he won three five set matches in a row en route to reaching his first quarter-final at grand slam level. That was before his body failed him against Dominic Thiem in the last eight.

After illness prevented any grass court progress, Zverev competed in an up and down American hard court swing. A third title of 2018 in Washington was followed by a disappointing US Open campaign. A semi-final in two of his last three tournaments sealed his place in London, with the German hopeful for more progress under Ivan Lendl.

Serving The Key To Defeating Cilic

Surprisingly, the German has a 5-1 head-to-head record against the Croatian and one reason why is his success down the tee and out-wide when serving. As the stats show below the German’s serve is too hot to handle for Cilic as the Croatian can not make deep enough returns to cause any trouble.

(via ATPWorldTour.com)

The German will look to use this when he plays Cilic on Monday afternoon in his first ATP Finals match.

Zverev’s Best Five Tournaments

Madrid Champion – 1,000 pts

Miami Final – 600 pts

Rome Final – 600 pts

Washington Champion – 500 pts

Roland Garros quarter-finals – 360 pts

ATP

Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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ATP

Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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ATP

Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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