Alexander Zverev battled past Jeremy Chardy 7-6(5) 6-4 5-7 6-7(6) 6-1 to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
The 21 year old will play Alex Bolt on Saturday after he epically fought off Jeremy Chardy as he outlasted the Frenchman.
Joining Zverev is world number one Novak Djokovic who breezed past jo-Wilfred Tsonga in straight sets as he faces Denis Shapovalov on Saturday.
The Serb is looking for a seventh Australian Open as he is yet to drop a set in his opening two rounds in Melbourne.
The fourth seeded German started confidently as he used some aggressive returns to storm into a 3-0 lead in the first set. The break advantage didn’t last long though as Chardy used his own aggressive play to suffocate the 21 year old at the back of the court.
As both players started to serve well with high percentages the first set resulted in a tiebreak as the world number 36 was trying to make Zverev uncomfortable.
However the German survived Chardy’s big hitting to take the opening tiebreak 7-5 as roared in celebration, noting how important that set was.
The second set was a more controlled set by Zverev as he gained the early break in the fifth game with some lovely movement and aggression.
There was a confidence about the German in the second set as he was better on the bigger points, settling into his rhythm nicely.
After saving break point, Zverev successfully gained a two sets to love lead in what looked to be a comfortable match by the ATP Finals champion.
However Chardy was one win away in Brisbane from being seeded in Melbourne and continued to fight as Zverev played a little passively in the third.
After sharing breaks mid-way through the set, Chardy took confidence from saving five break points and pounced on his opportunity to break to take the third set 7-5.
The fourth set had a similar feel to it with Zverev failing to break as he grew a frustrated figure during the fourth set. This comfortable match had now turned into a battle with the German looking to deny the Chardy the satisfaction of forcing a fifth set.
As a tiebreak was forced the momentum was swinging from player to player as the unpredictability of the match continued.
Eventually an aggressive Chardy return forced an unforced error as the Frenchman took the tiebreak 8-6 as the comeback was on.
But the comeback never materialised as Zverev took advantage of Chardy’s tiredness having played an epic first round match against Ugo Humbert.
The German won six of the last seven games to seal victory and outlast Chardy to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
His reward is a match against Australian wildcard Alex Bolt, who knocked out Gilles Simon in five sets.
Djokovic Cruises Through
Meanwhile world number one Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round of the Australian Open with a dominant win over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
The 6-3 6-4 7-5 win over the Frenchman was highly impressive as he only hit 24 unforced errors as he continues his search for a 7th Australian Open title.
Waiting for the top seed on Saturday is 25th seed Denis Shapovalov, who defeated Taro Daniel to set up a meeting with the dominant Serb.
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?
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.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
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.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
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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