Alexander Zverev Cruises Past Ebden To Seal Germany's Place In Hopman Cup Final - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev Cruises Past Ebden To Seal Germany’s Place In Hopman Cup Final

Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber will compete in tomorrow’s Hopman Cup final after cruising past Australia.

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Alexander Zverev (zimbio.com)

Germany are into the Hopman Cup final for a second year in a row after Alexander Zverev cruises past Matthew Ebden 6-4 6-3. 

 

The 21 year old was given the opportunity to seal victory for Germany after Angelique Kerber defeated Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-4 in the first match.

It was a comfortable win for Zverev who broke his opponent’s serve three times to seal Germany’s place in the final for a second year in a row.

The duo remained undefeated in singles and will play Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic in the final in a rematch of last year’s final.

It was a very good start from the ATP Finals champion who looked impressive throughout the contest as some aggressive play saw a break in the third game.

Although were some good patterns of play from Ebden, the Australian rarely threatened when receiving as Zverev’s big serve helped him dominate.

The world number four held very comfortably and it was the one break which helped him cruise to the first set in 43 minutes.

It was more of the same in the second set for the German as he broke again at the same time as he did in the first set to seal the momentum.

Although in the second set there was a lot more frustration as he felt he should have broken more times than the one in each set.

Despite the frustration though there was still some light-hearted moments from the German who was entertaining the crowd at the same time.

Eventually though he did get the crucial second break in the set to seal the win and Germany’s place in tomorrow’s final.

After the match Zverev said he was pleased that him and Kerber were back in the final and are looking for revenge after their defeat to Switzerland last year, “It’s nice to be back in a final. It’s nice to play Switzerland as well,” the German said.

“We lost a very close match last year, and we definitely wanted to get there and compete for the title again. And that’s why me and Angie decided after last year’s final that we are definitely going to come back here to Perth.”

Earlier in the day Angelique Kerber completed her unbeaten run in singles in Perth with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 win over Ashleigh Barty.

The Wimbledon champion broke twice in a simple victory for Kerber who has already beaten Garbine Muguruza and Alize Cornet this week.

In tomorrow’s final Roger Federer will take on Alexander Zverev in a rematch from the ATP Finals semi-final while Belinda Bencic takes on Angelique Kerber. If its level after the singles then the Fast4 mixed doubles will decide who wins the 2019 Hopman Cup.

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov Play for Gold

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Karen Khachanov celebrating victory earlier this week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

48 hours after ending Novak Djokovic’s bid for a Golden Slam, a feat only achieved by German Steffi Graf, Sascha Zverev looks to win another gold medal for Germany.  But a big-hitting Russian stands in his way, one who owns a winning record against Zverev on hard courts.

 

The last day of tennis in Tokyo will also host two gold medal matches in doubles.  In women’s doubles, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have won three Majors, and now go for a gold medal against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.  For Bencic, it’s an opportunity to win a second gold medal in as many days.  

In addition, a pair of teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee will face off for gold in mixed doubles.  Will Elena Vesnina be able to recover from a devastating loss in Saturday’s women’s doubles bronze medal match?  Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova held four match points, only to lose the last six points of the match and fail to reach the podium.

Sunday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.

Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – Second on Centre Court

Overall they have split four previous encounters, but Khachanov leads 2-1 on this surface, which includes their two most recent meetings.  And neither of those have been close.  At the 2018 Paris Masters, it was 6-1, 6-2.  At the 2019 Rogers Cup, it was 6-3, 6-3.  The event in Paris was the biggest title run of the Russian’s career, and a week where he also defeated Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.  However, he hasn’t won a title, or even reached a final, ever since.  And prior to his run to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Khachanov was only 16-14 on the year.  But it is worth noting he’s 4-0 lifetime in ATP finals, with his other three victories coming at 250-level events.

Zverev is certainly the far more accomplished player.  He owns 15 career titles, which includes four Masters events, as well as the 2018 ATP Finals.  And he’s reached the semifinals or better at Majors three times, something Khachanov is yet to achieve.   Though I do wonder just how much scar tissue was created by his loss in the final of last year’s US Open, where he was up two sets before eventually losing in a fifth-set tiebreak.  Both he and Dominic Thiem played a considerably nervy match, and this will be Zverev’s first best-of-five final since that painful loss.

And that could be a significant factor on this day: the men’s singles gold medal final is the only match at the Olympics that is best-of-five.  Zverev possesses a much stronger record in best-of-five, and a far superior record in five-setters.  As per Tennis Abstract, Sascha is 16-9 in fifth sets, compared to Karen’s record of 6-7.  And Khachanov’s two most recent five-set wins were not pretty.  A few weeks ago in the fourth round of Wimbledon, against Sebastian Korda, 13 out of the 18 games in the fifth set were breaks of serve.  And last summer at the US Open, he was only able to come back from two sets down thanks to the cramping of Jannik Sinner. 

So who is the favorite to win gold?  Their head-to-head favors Khachanov, while recent form and best-of-five experience favors Zverev.  And the German has been serving excellently throughout this tournament, striking 40 aces and only three doubles, especially impressive for a player who has suffered from double fault issues in the recent past.  However, Zverev had a much easier road to this final than Khachanov.  Other than Djokovic, Sascha faced no one ranked inside the top 40, while Karen beat three top 30 players.  The Olympics are an event which often produces surprising tennis results.  And these are two men who are known to get tight in big matches.  But considering the way Zverev has been serving, and the confidence boost his upset of Djokovic should provide, I give Sascha the slight edge to become an Olympic champion.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] – Vesnina not only lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, she and Kudermetova also served for the championship a few weeks ago at Wimbledon, before losing 9-7 in the third.  And Vesnina and Karatsev were defeated in the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros, the same event where Pavlyuchenkvoa lost in the women’s singles final.  Who will realize redemption on Sunday?

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic – The Czechs are of course the favorites, with three Major titles as a team.  The Swiss are a new team formed exclusively for this event.  But don’t count them out, especially with Bencic coming off a gold medal victory in singles on Saturday evening.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova Play for Gold

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Belinda Bencic was understandably quite emotional after her semifinal win on Thursday (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

The women’s singles gold medal match headlines Saturday’s schedule, featuring two surprising finalists.  Prior to this event, both Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova had almost as many losses on the year as wins, and no titles between them.  But on Saturday, they will compete for the biggest win of their careers.

 

Day 8 at the Ariake Tennis Park also includes four bronze medal matches.  For the fourth day in a row, Novak Djokvoic will play twice.  In men’s singles, he faces Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.  In mixed doubles, the men’s singles No.1 will be across the court from the women’s singles No.1, Ash Barty.  And the bronze medalists will also be decided in women’s singles and doubles.  Bronze medal matches at the Olympic Games often provide some of the most emotional moments of the year, as the losers leave Tokyo with no hardware whatsoever.

Saturday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time, and it is forecast to be another toasty day in Tokyo.

Novak Djokovic (1) [SRB] vs. Pablo Carreno Busta (6) [ESP] – 3:00pm on Centre Court

This is the third time out of the last four Olympics that Djokovic finds himself in the men’s singles bronze medal match.  13 years ago in Beijing, Novak defeated James Blake to win the bronze.  Nine years ago in London, he lost to Juan Martin Del Potro, and walked away empty-handed.  On Saturday in Tokyo, he faces a player he is 4-1 against, with his only loss coming in the form of his shocking default at last summer’s US Open.  That was the day Djokovic struck a ball in anger after losing the 11th game of the first set, which hit a lines judge in the throat.  If not for that error in judgment, Novak might already own 21 Major titles.  He avenged that embarrassing loss to Carreno Busta a month later in Paris, defeating the Spaniard in the fall version of Roland Garros.  Outside of the 2020 US Open, their only hard court encounter was a year earlier in Cincinnati, which Djokovic won in straight sets. 

Novak was remarkably despondent after suffering two losses on Friday, especially after failing to close out Sascha Zverev despite being up a set and a break.  He played some lackluster tennis in the second half of that semifinal, and he will not enjoy playing at 3:00pm on Saturday, the hottest part of the day.  But he is still a favorite to win his second bronze medal in men’s singles, as there’s nothing on court Carreno Busta does especially better than Djokovic.  Novak should be able to control his destiny on this day.

Belinda Bencic (9) [SUI] vs. Marketa Vondrousova [CZE] – Third on Centre Court

This should be a highly-compelling battle, between two players who utilize the variety in their games extremely well.  Their only previous meeting took place earlier this year on a hard court in Miami, with Vondrousova prevailing 6-4 in the third.  The 22-year-old Czech was a shocking finalist two years ago at the French Open.  She was sidelined by injury for about six months shortly thereafter, and didn’t fully rediscover that form until this past week.  She only possesses one career WTA title, which came over four years ago at a WTA 250 event in Switzerland, Bencic’s home country. 

24-year-old Belinda has endured plenty of injury setbacks in her career, but is the more accomplished player with four career titles, all of them at either the 500 or 1000 level.  Her backhand may be the best shot on the court, but Vondrousova’s lefty serve, paired with frequent drop shots, have proven to be a dangerous combination throughout this event.  In her last eight sets played, no opponent has won more than four games.  And those opponents include two top four seeds: Naomi Osaka and Elina Svitolina.  Bencic has survived much tighter battles to this stage, claiming a trio of consecutive three-setters. 

Between her victories over Osaka and Svitolina, Vondrousova averaged 77% of first serve points won.  If she can maintain that against Bencic, she’ll be hard to overcome.  But with a gold medal in the balance, Belinda’s experience edge in big matches should prove crucial.  And she has previous success representing her country, as she won back-to-back Hopman Cups alongside Roger Federer.  Belinda Bencic is the favorite to stand atop the medal podium on Saturday night in Tokyo.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Elina Svitolina (4) [UKR] vs. Elena Rybakina (15) [KAZ] – They have split their two previous matches, though neither were on a hard court.  While this is not exactly a tournament final, it’s worth noting Svitolina is 15-3 lifetime in career finals, which is a lot different than Rybakina’s record of 2-5, with her most recent loss in a final coming at the hands of Svitolina.

Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina [ROC] vs. Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani [BRA] – Kudermetova and Vesnina were narrowly defeated in the Wimbledon final 9-7 in the third, and lost another close match in Thursday’s semifinals, decided by a 10-point tiebreak.  Pigossi and Stefani do not usually team together, but they saved four match points in their second round matchup.

Ash Barty and John Peers [AUS] vs. Nina Stojanovic and Novak Djokovic [SRB] – It is an extremely rare occasion for both the men’s and women’s No.1’s, as well as the reigning Wimbledon champions, to share a court.  Barty and Peers are the far more experienced doubles players, though Djokovic will surely play some inspired tennis as he tries to win another medal for Serbia.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays in the Semifinals of both Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles

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Unfortunately, Novak Djokovic hasn’t had any fans in attendance to share the love with this past week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

One of the only items missing from Novak Djokovic’s resume is an Olympic gold medal.  But over the course of the next three days, he has a chance to win two.  In the men’s singles semifinals, he faces Sascha Zverev, the remaining player with the best chance of preventing him from standing atop the podium in singles.  The other men’s semifinal sees Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta face a second consecutive Russian.  On Thursday, he eliminated Daniil Medvedev from medal contention.  On Friday, he takes on recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karen Khachanov.

 

Also on Friday, the men’s doubles medals will be decided, with two teams of Croats facing off for the gold.  And the mixed doubles semifinals will also be played, which include two teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee, as well as Djokovic and fellow world No.1 Ash Barty.

Friday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.  There are possible thunderstorms forecast in the afternoon and evening, though the roof over Centre Court will guarantee uninterrupted play for those scheduled there.

Pablo Carreno Busta (6) [ESP] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – 3:00pm on Centre Court

Khachanov has achieved two Major quarterfinals, while Carreno Busta has reached two semis.  However, both players would certainly state this is the biggest match of their careers to date, as it will decide who plays for the gold medal on Sunday.  Pablo leads their head-to-head 3-2, though Khachanov leads 2-1 on hard courts, as two of the Spaniard’s victories came on clay.  Four of their five meetings have been straight-setters, meaning the first set may prove extremely crucial on Friday.  Carreno Busta has advanced considerably more comfortably, requiring only one third set, compared to Khachanov who has been pushed to a third set in three out of four matches.  Pablo has also been the much better player over the past year, and unlike Khachanov, his two best results at Slams have come on this surface.  He possesses a much more consistent game than Karen, who can easily rack up a large amount of unforced errors.  I like Carreno Busta’s chances of prevailing in this semifinal.

Novak Djokovic (1) [SRB] vs. Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] – Second on Centre Court

Djokovic is 6-2 against Zverev, and 5-1 on hard courts.  Sascha’s two victories have either come on clay or on an indoor hard court.  He defeated Novak in the championship match of the 2018 ATP Finals, the biggest title of his career.  Both men have dominated all competition through four rounds.  Neither has dropped a set, and only Zverev has been pushed to a tiebreak.  Novak has been even more savage, averaging just over two games lost per set.  Through four rounds, Sascha has struck 23 aces and absolutely no double faults, which is notable considering the second serve issues of his recent past.  If he continues to serve like that, he has a legitimate chance to upset Djokovic.  But Novak seems to be completely in the zone, exuding a calm confidence that is unmatched in the sport.  Twice before, he’s reached the semifinals of the Olympics in men’s singles, but is yet to advance to the gold medal match.  That should change on Friday.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (1) [CRO] vs. Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig [CRO] – Mektic and Pavic are the heavy gold medal favorites, with 52 wins and eight titles on the year.

Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus [NZL] vs. Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren [USA] – Daniell and Venus are the more accomplished doubles players, though they are not a regular pairing.  The Americans teamed at three events leading up to this tournament. 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Ash Barty and John Peers [AUS] – The Australians are definitely the better doubles players, but few players are having better seasons than Pavlyuchenkova or Rublev.

Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] vs. Nina Stojanovic and Novak Djokovic [SRB] – Vesnina and Karatsev were finalists at this year’s Roland Garros.  The Serbians prevailed convincingly on Thursday, dropping only three games.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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