Dominic Thiem Topples Frustrated Federer In Madrid Classic - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Topples Frustrated Federer In Madrid Classic

Once again the 20-time grand slam champion has been denied a win by the Austrian.

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Dominic Thiem (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: Dominic Thiem has maintained his winning record over 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer by outlasting the Swiss Maestro 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4, at the Madrid Open.

 

The 131-minute marathon saw the world No.5 battle back from a set down and save two match points before securing the memorable win. There was little to tell between the two throughout with Thiem just winning two more points in the match. He hit 31 winners to 27 unforced errors. An almost identical tally to Federer’s 33 and 27.

“Today was so close. I was really lucky because I saved match points.” Said Thiem.
“Roger was playing unbelievably on the clay. I’m really happy (with the win).”

On the eve of their clash, Thiem commented that Federer was being underestimated on the clay this week. The Austrian belongs to a prestigious group. Among active players, he is one of only three to have a winning record against the Swiss No.1 after playing him five or more times. Joining Novak Djokovic (25-22) and Rafael Nadal (23-15).

“He’s so special. He is maybe the best player in the history of tennis. He has something different.” Thiem said of his rival. “It is very tough to play against him. It is a beauty how he plays the game and every point against him is a big challenge.”

Playing only his third clay-court match on the tour since June 2016, the 37-year-old got off to a clinical start. Breaking Thiem in his opening service game to the delight of his army of fans in the crowd. From then on the first set was a foregone conclusion thanks to a clinical service display from Federer, who dropped only three points in four service games.

Inveitbally Federer would not have it his own way against somebody of Thiem’s caliber. Who he has previously lost to on grass, hard courts and the clay. The first real test took place six games into the second set. A tentative couple of shots saw him face three break points. However, Federer thwarted the threat by winning five straight points to draw level at 3-3.

With neither player refusing to buckle, it was a dramatic 24-point tiebreak in the second set that would turn the match around in Thiem’s favor. The 25-year-old was forced to fend off two match points as he failed to convert five of his own set points. Sending the Madrid crowd into a frenzy. With both players now playing at their top level, it would be Thiem who would come out on top. A stunning forehand passing shot, followed by a smash at the net on the following point secured him the second set. Improving his all-time record in tie-breaks to 3-0 when playing Federer.

“I was more lucky today (in the tiebreaker). Of course, I tried to play point-by-point, played good in my service games during the second set and tried to build on that.”

With a place in the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event at stake, the clash resembled a boxing match. Thiem was the first to land a punch in the decider. His blistering shot-making allowed him to dictate the rallies and force Federer to make errors. A combination that aided him to a 3-1 lead in the decider. However, Federer fought back with interest against his opponent to draw level at 4-4. Capitalizing on a backhand mistake from his rival on the break point. Still, Thiem would not be denied as he went on to break once more for a chance to serve the match out. A challenge he passed with the help of Federer backhand drifting long on match point.

“It’s been a good week. Frustrating, clearly. Losing match points is the worst, so that’s how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it’s all good.” A frustrated Federer said.
“I feel very good about my game. I thought I had some good matches here, you know, especially last two.” He added.

As Federer ponders if he will play in Rome next week, Thiem will play top seed Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Thiem now leads Federer 4-2 in their head-to-head.

ATP

REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach

The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.

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Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.

 

TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.

The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.

“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.

Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.

Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.

Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.

Groh’s coaching CV

  • 2011: Michael Berrer
  • 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
  • 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
  • 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
  • ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
    Source -ATP/Linkldn

UPDATE*

Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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