Tsitsipas To Face De Minaur in Final of Next Gen Finals in Milan - UBITENNIS
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Tsitsipas To Face De Minaur in Final of Next Gen Finals in Milan

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Milan Italy

 

On Thursday Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur easily won their final round robin matches in straight sets. 24 hours later, it was anything but the same for the two youngest players at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

The number two seed de Minaur, had a Friday to remember starting off the night needing five sets to defeat seventh seed Jaume Munar 3-4, 4-1, 4-1, 3-4, 4-2 in a highly entertaining affair. That was followed by another cracker of a match as top seed Stefanos Titsipas got past No. 5 Andrey Rublev in five sets as well 4-3, 3-4, 4-0, 2-4, 4-3.  Fans who packed the arena definitely getting their moneys worth on the night with some stellar shotmaking and a little bit of drama thrown in as well.

De Minaur, who still hasn’t been broken in the entire tournament, should have won his match in four sets. Up 3-2 with Munar serving at 0-40, the 19-year old had four chances to close things out but credit to the Spaniard for fighting back and then going on to win the tiebreak.

However, De Minaur broke Munar in the first game of the final set and then held serve the rest of the way to advance. There were some memorable rallies throughout but in the end it was the faster Australian who made the right shots at the right time who came away victorious. It was icing on the cake for de Minaur who also won the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award earlier in the day. Once ranked World No. 208 at the start of 2018, de Minaur has now reached his third final of the year and his ranking has shot up to World. No 31.

“It was a roller coaster of a match,’ said the Aussie. “Always knew coming in playing against Jaume that he’s an incredible fighter and competitor, and I was going to have to win this match. He played some really good tennis when he needed it in the fourth set. There was stages where it wasn’t looking too good for me, especially after that fourth set. But I’m very happy with my attitude and composure and the way I’ve been playing this whole week.”

Tsitsipas will also remember November 9, 2018 for years to come as he also received some hardware from the ATP winning the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year Award. He was presented the trophy immediately after his hard fought match with Rublev, one that could have gone either way.

Tsitsipas, ranked No. 15 in the World after starting the year at No. 91, split the first two sets with the 21-year old Russian after each player won a tiebreak. Tsitispas dominated the third, registering the first 4-0 score in 14 matches of the Next Gen Finals tournament.

But in the fourth Rublev stormed back and after he broke with a backhand winner to go up 3-2, Tsitispas unleashed some frustration during the changeover. He banged his hand down on a stack of towels three times and then took his anger out on the coaches headset smashing it down on the table. The device allowing the players to speak to their coaches was blown to pieces.

Before the start of the next game, the 20-year old was then forced to take a medical timeout after chair umpire Ali Nili noticed a cut on his left finger likely from the obliterating the headset.  After getting taped up, it was Rublev who then held to force a decider.

More drama in the fifth. Rublev facing a match point down 2-3 and Deuce was called for his second time code violation of the match. That meant he lost his first serve and would only have a second serve on match point. Rublev, appeared not to realize the implications and unleashed a 196 km/hr rocket into the corner. Luckily it went in and Tsitsipas couldn’t get the return forcing a final set breaker.

In that tiebreak Tsitispas jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after a big serve wide which Rublev was unable to return. After a pair of unforced errors and a fall behind the baseline it was the Greek native who was victorious and moving on to the Final

“I want to go to sleep. That’s how I feel,” said a fatigued Tsitsipas speaking to the press after Midnight in Milan. “You feel great after this, after winning such matches, because there has been a lot of effort, really, I mean, hard work. You know, we were hours on the court fighting, you know, wanting that win. But, yeah, the one that gets it at the end, I think, is the most happy person on earth. And, yeah, I’m very satisfied.”

Saturday’s final between Tsitispas and de Minaur won’t start before 9pm local time in Milan. Munar and Rublev will play for third place before the finale starting at 7. The winner of the No.1 vs No. 2 seeded final will take home a $407,000US undefeated first place pay cheque. A nice early Christmas present for one of these Next Gen stars of the game.

Tsitsipas won the lone head-to-head meeting against de Minaur just over a month ago in Japan. A three sets win in the second round 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

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Johanna Konta Speaks About Charity Work Ahead Of Second Half Of Season

Johanna Konta talks about her work with charity as she looks to end the season strong.

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Johanna Konta (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Johanna Konta has spoken about her charity work as she prepares for the final grand slam of the season. 

 

It has been an encouraging 2019 so far for the Brit after reaching the finals in Rabat and Madrid as well as reaching the last four at Roland Garros.

Although that was met with disappointment and criticism at Wimbledon after her quarter-final exit to Barbora Strycova, Konta is looking to continue the momentum in the American summer.

However for now, the world number 15 is taking her mind off tennis to focus on her charity work and in particular tackling homelessness.

Recently Konta visited the prime minister on the subject and spoke to the WTA Website about why she feels passionately about homelessness, “Homelessness has always been a big thing that’s close to my heart, that I want to help,” Konta said.

“I met a young lady called Kenny, who has come through Centre Point and it’s through them that she’s got her shift here with The Clink.”

The Brit is an ambassador for the charity CentrePoint, who support young homeless people in London since 1969 as homelessness has been a big problem in the UK.

The Clink provided catering for the event an 10 Downing Street, which was about bringing young people who are at risk of violence and helping them talk to businesses and role models to see how they can not take to crime.

On her visit, Konta explained why it was a dream come true to go to 10 Downing Street, “I feel like you’re walking through history, especially as you walk up the stairs and you see all the Prime Ministers through time. It’s inspiring and I feel very lucky.”

Next for Konta is the Rogers Cup in Toronto, which starts on the 5th of August as she prepares for the final grand slam of the year at the US Open.

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Wimbledon Day 13 Preview: The Gentlemen’s Final

In a championship match with significant GOAT implications, Roger Federer plays for a record-extending 21st Major, as Djokovic defends his title and vies for his 16th.

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Roger Federer (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

In 25 days, Roger Federer will turn 38 years of age. Remarkably, here he is in his 31st Major final, and his 12th at The All England Club. His most recent Slam final came 18 months ago in Australia, where he defeated Marin Cilic in five sets. Playing the French Open last month for the first time since 2015, and advancing to the semi-finals on his worst surface, provided Roger with considerable confidence. After falling to Rafael Nadal in Paris, he avenged that loss here on Friday in a thrilling semi-final. But in order to win his ninth Wimbledon, he’ll need to do something he’s never done before: defeat both Nadal and Djokovic at the same Grand Slam event.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic arrived at SW19 ranked outside the top 20. After holding all four Majors at once, he hadn’t claimed another in over two years. But a semi-final victory over Nadal would propel Djokovic to win three consecutive Slams. He’s now the definitive world No.1, and looks to pull within four Major titles of Federer, and within two of Nadal.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Roger Federer (2)

This is their third time playing in the gentlemen’s singles final. In 2014, Djokovic pulled out the win in five sets, a turning point in Novak’s career having lost his last five Major Finals outside of Australia. A year later, Djokovic prevailed in four. Overall Novak has the slight edge in their head-to-head 25-22, and has taken eight of their last 10 meetings. At Majors, Djokovic leads 9-6, and hasn’t lost to Federer at a Slam in seven years, which was their first Wimbledon matchup in the 2012 semi-finals.

Both men needed three sets and about three hours to win their semi-finals, though Federer’s match against Nadal was the tighter and more draining affair. For Roger, coming back less than 48 hours later to play the other GOAT contender, who is also nearly six years younger than Federer, is a huge ask. But if Roger plays with the same energy he did on Friday, he has a shot. He’ll need to serve even better than in the semi-finals, as he faces the best returner in the game.

The crowd could play a critical role here. They’ll undoubtedly be raucously behind Roger, and we saw on Friday against Roberto Bautista Agut how bothered Novak can get by crowds cheering for his opponent. He receives it as disrespect, though he often seems to thrive on it. But Novak would be wise to not outwardly mock the Centre Court audience today, as it will only increase their enthusiasm for Federer. On paper, Djokovic is a solid favourite. There’s no real weakness in his game, and the best-of-five format plays to his advantage, especially if this goes the distance.

However, we saw on Friday the magic Roger is still capable of on Centre Court. He’ll know this may be one of his last chances to win a Major, though will that inspire him or unsettle him? We saw Serena Williams tighten up under similar circumstances yesterday. While I don’t think this will be a blowout like the ladies’ championship match, Djokovic will be too much for Federer to overcome in the end. Novak will be joining Simona Halep at the champions ball on Sunday evening.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

In the ladies’ doubles final re-scheduled for today due to the length of the gentlemen’s doubles final, singles standouts Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (3) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu (4), who upset the defending champion in the semi-finals.  Singles semi-finalist Strycova would become the new doubles No.1 with a win today.

In the mixed doubles final, which has unfortunately been bumped to No.1 Court, French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan (8) vs. 42-year-old Roberto Lindstedt and Jelena Ostapenko, who is a former junior champion here, and was a singles semifinalist a year ago.

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Wimbledon Day 12 Preview: The Ladies’ Final

Serena Williams goes for a record-tying 24th Major, while Simona Halep tries to solidify her Hall of Fame resume with her second.

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Serena Williams (@SI_Tennis - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

A year ago at The All England Club, Serena played in her first Major final in 18 months, in just her fourth tournament after a life-threatening child birth. She was outplayed on that day by Angelique Kerber. Two months later in New York, she again reached the final. But in highly controversial fashion, she went down in defeat again to Naomi Osaka.

As usual, Serena did not play for the rest of 2018. And she spent the first six months of this season battling injuries, only playing 12 matches ahead of this fortnight. But as she has so many times, Serena has rounded into form as Wimbledon progressed. This is the moment of redemption she’s been waiting for since last September’s US Open, where she feels she was treated unjustly.

Despite cutting her 2018 season short due to a back injury, Halep ended the year as the world No.1 for the second consecutive time. And after Darren Cahill stepped down as her coach in the offseason, she went without a title for the first six months of this year, and dropped to No.7 in the rankings.

Now on her worst surface, she’s into her fifth Major final. Simona only dropped one set on the way to this championship match, and has spoken of how she finally feels fully comfortable on the grass.

Simona Halep (7) vs. Serena Williams (11)

Serena has owned Halep throughout their careers. Their head-to-head is 9-1 in Serena’s favour, with Simona’s only victory coming in the round robin phase of the 2014 WTA finals on an indoor hard court. It’s worth noting that just a few days later, Serena avenged that loss in the final, dropping just three games. Their only match on grass was their first, here at Wimbledon in 2011. Serena took that in three sets over a young and undeveloped Halep.

Their most recent meeting was six months ago in the fourth round of the Australian Open, which Serena also won in three. As with so many of her matches, if Serena plays her best, it’s hard to imagine her losing. Her movement, which was so hampered at Roland Garros due to her knee, has improved as this fortnight has progressed.

But Halep won’t be overwhelmed by this moment or this opponent, and has the consistency and movement to push Serena, especially if the GOAT gets tight. Simona will desperately need to get in a high percentage of first serves, as Serena will crush her soft second ones. While the nerves will certainly be present for Serena, I think her determination will defeat her nerves in the end, as she will Halep.

Other notable matches on Day 12:

In the gentlemen’s doubles final, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (2), easily the best doubles team in the world this year, vs. the French team of 37-year-old Nicolas Mahut and 35-year-old Edouard Roger-Vasselin (11).

In the ladies’ doubles final, singles standouts Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (3) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu (4), who upset the defending champion in the semi-finals.  Singles semi-finalist Strycova would become the new doubles No.1 with a win today.

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