Five Storylines To Follow In Men’s Tennis Heading Into 2019 - UBITENNIS
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Five Storylines To Follow In Men’s Tennis Heading Into 2019

From Novak Djokovic’s dominance to the pending retirements of some familiar names, Ubitennis looks at what to expect during the new year on the ATP Tour.

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Novak Djokovic in action against Roger Federer at the 2018 Paris Masters (photo by Gianni Ciaccia)
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Will 2019 be the year the Next Generation comes of age in the grand slams or will the same names continues to dominate? Here are five key storylines to follow in men’s tennis throughout the new season. 

Will Novak Djokovic keep hold of his crown?

This time last year, many was wondering if Novak Djokovic would be able to recover from an elbow injury and rise back to the top of the men’s tour. Now the question is how long will his dominance continue?

A stellar second half of 2018 saw the Serbian claim both Wimbledon and the US Open titles, as well as two others Master 1000 trophies. The quartet of triumphs has elevated him back to the world No.1 spot. Making Djokovic the first man in history to reach the top spot after being ranked outside of the world’s top 20 within the same season.

The first indication of Djokovic’s current form was given this week at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships. An exhibition event held in the United Arab Emirates. Djokovic downed Russia’s Karen Khachanov and defending champion Kevin Anderson to with the tournament. Doing so for the fourth time in his career to win a $250,000 paycheck.

“I really am happy to have a match like this,” Djokovic told reporters on Saturday. “Kevin is one of the best players in the world and he is in form. He was playing a very high level consistently throughout the match and I had to work really hard for the win.”

Djokovic will officially kick-off his 2019 season next week at the Doha Open in Qatar. A tournament he has won on two previous occasions. He is looking to tune-up his game prior to the Australian Open, where he will be targeting a 15th major title. Despite his recent dominance on the tour, Djokovic is under no illusion of the threat he faces from other players.

“For me, it’s going to be a big challenge and a big ask to stay at such a high level, it’s very demanding especially as a family man.” He explained.
“It’s different in the last couple of years. But I like a challenge in life, because from the challenges we grow and we learn. So I try to embrace whatever is in front of me, I have to accept it but I’m working for the best.”

In the first round of the Doha Open, Djokovic will open up against Damir Dzumhur. Since June, he has reached the final at seven out of the eight tournaments he has played. Within that period, he has only lost to four players. Marin Cilic (Queen’s), Stefanos Tsitsipas (Rogers Cup), Khachanov (Paris) and Alexander Zverev (ATP Finals).

Based on his recent results, It is without a question that Djokovic will be the player to beat in the new year.

Djokovic’s 2018 at a glance

  • Tied Sampras for 3rd on the all-time list with 14 Grand Slam men’s singles titles
  • Tied Lendl and Sampras for Open Era-lead with 8 appearances in US Open final
  • Ranked 21st in the world at Wimbledon, he became the lowest-ranked Grand Slam champion since No. 44 Gaudio at the 2004 French Open.
  • Became 1st player to win titles at all 9 ATP Masters 1000 events since the start of the series in 1990
  • Scored 15 wins over top 10 players
  • 2018 Win-loss record of 53-12

 

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Nick Kyrgios sets up Round of 16 match against Borna Coric

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Two-time Miami semifinalist and this year’s Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios cruised past Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-1 after 57 minutes. Kyrgios will face Borna Coric in the Round of 16. 

The Australian player hit 12 aces and fended off six of the seven break points he faced. Lajovic, who upset Kei Nishikori in the previous round, wasted three break points at the start of the match and dropped his serve at 1-2 after a backhand error. Kyrgios hit a forehand down the line winner to break serve for 5-1. Lajovic got one break back to claw his back to 3-5, but Kyrgios hit four winners to seal the opening set 6-3. Kyrgios broke three times in a row and sealed the win in the seventh game 6-1 on his first match point to secure his spot in the fourth round, where he will face Borna Coric, who came back from one set down to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 6-3 after 2 hours and 36 minutes.

Kyrgios leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Coric. The Australian player beat his Croatian rival in the Estoril quarter final in 2016 and in Cincinnati 2018. Coric edged Kyrgios in three sets in Cincinnati 2016.

“Borna is an unbelievable competitor and one of the best players in the world. He knows how to win matches and is an unbelievable player. He moves incredibly well and I know he won’t give me a single point. I am not going to think about it right now though. I have a day off tomorrow”, said Kyrgios.

Chardy came back from 2-4 down in the first set before winning the tie-break 7-2. Coric broke serve at the start of the second set to open up a 3-0 lead and saved four break points. The Croatian player sealed the second set 6-2 with a break at 15 in the 8th game. Coric reeled off three games in a row including 12 of the final 14 points from 3-3 to close out the third set 6-3.

 

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John Isner continues his title defence with straight-set win over Albert Ramos Vinolas

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Defending champion John Isner battled past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-5 7-6 (8-6) to reach the fourth round at the Miami Open.

Seventh seed John Isner was broken in the opening game but he saved the next four break points he faced in the match and hit 16 aces. The US player broke back on his second opportunity in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Isner got another break in the 12th game to clinch the first set 7-5.

Isner saved two break points in the fifth game of the second set to hold serve for 3-2. Both players held on their service games to set up a tie-break. Isner rallied from 5-6 down by winning three consecutive games to take the tie-break 8-6.

“I did a lot of things well today. I played a good first set, event though I did not start it off well. In the secondi t was not quite as clean. I will talk to my coach and try to iron things out, but I am into the Round of 16 of a big tournament and I am happy”, said Isner.

Isner set up a fourth round match against Kyle Edmund, who beat Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 34 minutes. The British player got a break in the fifth game of the first set and in the ninth game of the second set.

Roberto Bautista Agut beat Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-4. The Spanish player got an early break to build up a 3-0 lead. Fognini broke back in the ninth game to claw his way back to 4-5, but the Spaniard broke again in the 10th game to seal the opening set 6-4. Fognini earned an immediate break in the first game of the second set, but Bautista broke straight back. Fognini went un a break in the fifth game. The Italian player saved a break-back point chance in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, but Bautista Agut fought back by winning the the final four games to seal the second set 6-4.

 

 

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‘You’re A F***ing Disgrace’ – Nick Kyrgios Erupts At The Miami Open

Another tournament, another on-court controversy involving the former top 20 player.

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Nick Kyrgios (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is in line for another hefty fine after blasting the umpire following his doubles match with partner Taylor Fritz.

Kyrgios, who is no stranger to either controversy or fines, completely lost his cool after being edged out of the doubles. Losing 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 8-10, to Guido Pella and Joao Sousa. Throughout the match there was a series of dubious line calls that infuriated the Kyrgios team. Something the racket-smashing 23-year-old complained to the umpire about seconds after the clash.

“What the f**k is wrong with you?” Kyrgios shouted at the umpire. “You’re a f**king disgrace. F**king disgrace.”

Continuing to unleash his rage on the court, Kyrgios interacted with the crowd. Asking them  ‘Do you think that’s alright, yes or no?’ The outburst was caught on camera by one fan, who uploaded in onto his Twitter account.

‘Just give me the answer. He’s a disgrace. ‘I come out and give 100% and I have to deal with idiots like him. Does he get fined for his mistakes? It’s rubbish, man.’ Kyrgios said.

It is not the first time the world No.33 has raised eyebrows for his actions. He previously served a brief ban from the sport in 2016 for unsportsmanlike conduct during the Shanghai Masters. Meanwhile, last June he was fined more than $17,000 for making a lewd gesture during the Fever-Tree Championships in London.

The controversy is a stark contrast to Kyrgios’ opening match in the singles. Taking on Alexander Bublik, he prevailed 7-5, 6-3, with the help of a fairly disciplined and mature performance. He is already a two-time semi-finalist in Miami and has won more matches (11) at the tournament than any other Masters 1000 event.

“I know he’s a player who tries to keep things on his own terms… kind of reminds me of me a little bit,” he said of Bublik. “He just needs to play those bigger points with a little more discipline. Strange me saying that…
“I thought he was going to put me on a couple of highlight reels. I knew he was trying to at some stage. I knew I had to be the disciplined one of the two today.”

Kyrgios will return to the Miami Court’s on Sunday when he play’s Dusan Lajovic in the third round.

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