Miami Open Day 14 Preview: Roger Federer To Lock Horns With Fast-Serving Isner For Title - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Day 14 Preview: Roger Federer To Lock Horns With Fast-Serving Isner For Title

Federer gives title No.101 another try, while Isner looks to defend his Miami title.

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Roger Federer (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

A month ago in Dubai, Federer lifted his 100th winner’s trophy above his head. Two weeks ago in Indian Wells, he was just a few games away from No.101, but was outplayed in the end of that final by Dominic Thiem. Now in a tournament where he’s looked sharper with every passing round, he’ll face an opponent most players don’t enjoy playing against.

 

2018 was the best year of John Isner’s career. While he started last year by only winning two of his first eight matches, everything changed in Miami one year ago. That was the biggest title of his career, a run that included victories over three of the top five seeds. Later in the year, he advanced to his second Major semifinal, where he went down in defeat in the longest semifinal of all-time. This year he slowly built momentum on the North American hard courts, and advanced to this final without dropping a set.

“I have backed up other tournaments before after winning them the previous year, but nothing of this magnitude.” Isner said about reaching the final. “To be back in the finals is a good accomplishment for me.”

Roger Federer (4) vs. John Isner (7)

7-6, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. Those are the scores of Isner’s matches in this tournament. He’s played nine tiebreakers, and prevailed in each one of them. We’ll likely see more tiebreakers on Sunday. In their seven previous matches, they’ve played eight tiebreaks, with Roger winning five of them. As Chris Fowler of ESPN highlighted, Isner has never broken Federer’s serve on a hard court.

“I’m just finding myself pretty calm in those situations.” The reigning Miami Open champion commented about his success in tiebreakers. “Maybe it’s a little bit mental. I’m definitely playing my best tennis when I have been in that situation this week, there is no doubt.”

Federer is 5-2 overall against Isner. John did win the last time they played on tour, at the 2015 Paris Indoors. Isner’s other victory came in a Davis Cup match on clay in Switzerland. This is their fourth meeting on an American hard court, and Isner is yet to defeat Federer in the US. Those stats do not count their actual last meeting, at last September’s team event, the Laver Cup. That was also played on a US hard court, with Federer saving match points and pulling out the win in a 10-point tiebreak. While the Laver Cup is not an officially-recognized event, the result is certainly legitimate, as both players were obviously giving their all.

“I know what to expect – that he will not miss many serves. He’s got an amazing serve. One of the best in the game, forever. It’s really hard to play against him,” Federer said during his on-court interview with ESPN on Friday.

Of course this match will likely come down to just a few pivotal points where a break or a minibreak is up for grabs, and that gives Isner a legitimate chance. Federer will feel less pressure to hold his serve than Isner knowing his previous inability to break Roger. That being said, Federer has struggled to convert break points in a few recent cases, most notably against Tsitsipas in Australia and Thiem in Indian Wells. If that trend continues here, that’s big trouble for Roger in a match where break points will be so limited. All things considered, I give Federer the slight edge to win his fourth Miami Open title.

Six facts to know about the final

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  1. This is the oldest combined final in the history of the men’s tournament. Federer is 37-years-old and Isner is 33.
  2. Federer has a 15-1 win-loss record against American players in the final of tournaments. His only loss was to Andre Agassi at the 2002 Miami Open.
  3. Isner has already won nine tiebreaks in the tournament so far in what is a career-best for him.
  4. Federer could become the first player on the ATP Tour to win a second title in 2019. The first 19 tournaments have all been won by different players.
  5. Isner is bidding to become the fourth person in history to defend a title in Miami. Following in the footsteps of Pete Sampras, Novak Djokovic, Agassi and Federer.
  6. Federer will be playing in his 50th Masters 1000 final and will be bidding to claim his 28th title. Regardless of the outcome, he will remain third on the all-time list for most trophies won at that level. Rafael Nadal leads with 33 titles, followed by Djokovic with 32.

The full head-to-head record (Federer leads 5-2)

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Serena Williams Confident In Bid For Grand Slam History Claims Patrick Mouratoglou

Patrick Mouratoglou says that Serena Williams is confident of another grand slam victory despite recent setbacks.

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Serena Williams and Patrick Mouratoglou (@BBCSport - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that the American is confident in her bid for more grand slam history. 

 

Despite the American not winning a set in her last four grand slam finals, Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that she is still confident in winning another grand slam again.

Serena’s last grand slam win was at the Australian Open in 2017 before taking a break from the sport to become a mother.

Although it has been a struggle, Mouratoglou believes time is on the 37 year old’s side, “I think time is working for her,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.

“I think she was much better at the US Open than she was at Wimbledon and Wimbledon better than Roland Garros. 

“She is getting back in shape and the more in shape she will be the more dangerous she will be. I think she has started to play really good tennis.”

Losses to Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu have exposed Serena’s lack of confidence and how nervous she is in the grand slam finals.

However Mouratoglou believes that Serena’s historic moment will come sooner rather than later, “It is one match for history and the pressure is quite high,” he said.

“I am not in her mind but I can figure she is playing one match for history. This is the highest pressure anyone can have in life and on the other side of the court she plays girls who have zero pressure because it is their first final.

“They are going to play many [Grand Slams], they are young, they are excited, enthusiastic so they play without pressure and that makes a big difference. But at some point she will figure out how to deal with that.”

Serena’s next tournament is scheduled to be the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in late October, should she qualify although there is a good possibility that we won’t be seeing on a tennis court until next year.

Will 2020 be the year that Serena finally figures out how to deal with the pressure of creating more history for herself? Only time will tell.

 

 

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat Italian Next Gen star Jannick Sinner in St. Petersburg

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat 18-year-old Italian Next Gen rising star Jannick Sinner 6-3 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Kukushkin fended off nine of the eleven break points he faced.

 

Sinner, who turned 18 last month and received a wild-card to take part at the next November’s ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan, did not convert three break points in the first game, but Kukushkin saved them to hold his first game.

Kukushkin, who won his only title in St.Petersburg in 2010, was the first to break serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Sinner earned three break points but Kukushkin fended them off. Sinner saved a break point in the eighth game but Kukushkin served out the opening set on his first set point.

Kukushkin went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead, Sinner converted his second break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Kukushkin got a break lead for the second time but Sinner rallied from the break down for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Sinner earned set point at 5-4 to force a decider, but Kukushkin saved it to draw level to 5-5. Kukushkin got a mini-break in the tie-break to win the tie-break 7-4.

Adrian Mannarino, who won his first ATP Tour title in s’Hertogenbosch, beat Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 19 minutes. Travaglia held his first two service games at love and broke serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Mannarino converted his first break-back point for 3-4. Both players held their serve to draw level to 5-5. Travaglia saved a break point, but he made two double faults to drop his serve in the 11th game for 5-6. Mannarino served out the first set on his first point.

Travaglia saved a break point at the start of the second set, but Mannarino converted his second chance.

Travaglia earned two break-back points in the second game but did Mannarino saved them to open up a 2-0 lead. Mannarino went up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman saved a break point in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead and sealed the win on his first match point.

 

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Despite New WTA Guidelines, Could Kim Clijsters’ Return Be Marred By Aberration?

Kim Clijsters will not have any restriction in the number of wildcards she receives. But she also deserves more in her upcoming third stint on the Tour

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Kim Clijsters, 2010 US Open, US Open
Photo Credit: WTA Tennis/Getty

By the time, Kim Clijsters makes her return to professional tennis in 2020, around eight years will have passed since her second retirement from the WTA Tour. In this near-about octet of years, there have been several changes on the Tour, especially for those women attempting a return post maternity. But where does the 36-year-old stand amid these alterations?

 

The Belgian was one of the earlier trendsetters – of this decade – to resume her professional activity after becoming a mother for the first time. In 2009, when she returned during the American hard-court summer, the subject never gained as much traction as it did when Williams returned to the game, in 2018 after her pregnancy hiatus in 2017.

Clijsters’ win at the US Open that year – the first for an unseeded player – stifled the mushrooming of any possible avenues of such ranking tweaks back then. Over the next couple of years, as Clijsters ascended in the rankings boosted by her performances, including re-attaining her career-high of no. 1, the topic became moot.

Now, after all these years, in spite of the WTA bringing in modifications to its rules – by way of provision of special ranking to women re-joining the Tour after motherhood, among other factors – Clijsters’ continues to remain an outlying scenario. The obvious reason for this is the lapsing of time of the four-time Major champion’s returning to pro tennis. According to the new rules, a player who is out of the Tour on account of pregnancy must make a comeback within three years after her child’s birth, at most.

Her previous successes and titles ensure Clijsters will never lack for wildcards from tournaments, as per the WTA regulations. However, the question stemming here is should an exception be made for the former world no. 1 vis-à-vis the special ranking while overlooking the passing of years?

When announcing her imminent return to the Pro Tour on the WTA Insider podcast, Clijsters mentioned about challenging herself. “I don’t feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it’s the challenge…,” she said.

“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I’m saying, ‘OK, let’s try this’.”

Clijsters’ path to trying this while taking it on as a challenge need not come at a cost of her being immediately pushed off the deep end in terms of encountering a higher-seeded opponent. The present state of the WTA would make it for an interesting match-up – whenever it happens – but it would also be akin to defeating the purpose underlining her return, regardless of how confident the 2011 Australian Open champion is with her timing.

The norms, too, could be nudged into further relooking easing them towards a player’s preference in ascertaining her post-childbirth return instead of clubbing them, at large. After all, as significant as Williams’ laurels were to usher in changes, Clijsters’ stunner yet again proves the variety that exists in women’s decision-making.

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