Novak Djokovic Kick-Starts Bid For Sixth ATP Finals Crown With Clinical Win Over Isner - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Kick-Starts Bid For Sixth ATP Finals Crown With Clinical Win Over Isner

The 14-time grand slam champion was almost impeccable on serve as he didn’t face a single break point during his opening match at The O2 Arena.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic withstood 13 aces from John Isner to prevail 6-4, 6-3, in his first match at this year’s ATP Finals in London.

 

Djokovic, who returned back to the world No.1 position on Monday, tamed the threat posed by his fast-serving opponent. Dropping only six points behind his serve throughout the match without facing a break point. Furthermore, Djokovic produced 22 winners to only six unforced errors.

“It’s great to be back at The O2 Arena, I love this place. It has been a lucky place for me over the years.” Said Djokovic.
“The match was great. I managed to get three breaks of serve against John, which is sometimes a mission impossible. But I managed to be at the right place at the right time.
“I held my serve really well and I thought I backed it up really nicely from the baseline. From the back of the court, I played solidly and didn’t give him too many opportunities.”

The Monday night clash at the O2 Arena was one of two worlds. World No.1 Djokovic is relishing in a stellar second half of the season, which has seen him win four titles. His record at the year-end finale is one that stands out in the Guga Kuerten Group. The quartet has a combined match wins of 34 in the event, of which 32 of them have been achieved by Djokovic. In contrast, Isner, who is the tallest player to have ever qualified for the event at 6”10’ was making his debut at the age of 32.

In what was a battle of the big servers, Djokovic stood firm throughout the encounter. Isner has hit more than 10,000 aces during his career, compared to Djokovic’s tally of just over 5200. Inevitably it would be the fine margins that separated the two on the court and this was the case during the first set. Five games into the match, Djokovic broke for 3-2 after hitting a passing shot that landed just inside the court. In pole position, Djokovic’s first set point chance came at 5-3. However, he was denied by a 139 mph Serve from the American. Nevertheless, he prevailed a game later with a love service game that concluded with an Isner error.

A similar pattern occurred in the following set, but this time it was in the seventh game. An Isner forehand went crashing into the net to hand Djokovic his second break of the match for a 6-4, 4-3, lead. From that moment, the win was all but certain for the 14-time grand slam champion. Two games later the Serbian sealed victory with the help of another perfectly timed passing shot.

“I missed playing this tournament last year because of my injury and I really enjoyed my time off, but at the same time missed playing at this arena.” Reflected Djokovic. “I think this is one of the biggest stages in the world of tennis and I am glad to be back.”

After the first round of matches, Djokovic tops his group. Winning 200 ranking points and $110,000 in prize money. Following his latest victory, the top seed has achieved 50 wins within a year for the 11th time within the past 12 seasons.

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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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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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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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