‘Give Him A Little Break’ - Rivals Djokovic, Nadal Rally Around Alexander Zverev - UBITENNIS
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‘Give Him A Little Break’ – Rivals Djokovic, Nadal Rally Around Alexander Zverev

The two grand slam champions speak out about the German player’s recent performance on the tour.

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Alexander Zverev (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: With 1000 points to defend at this week’s Madrid Open, Alexander Zverev faces a stern test during what has been a turbulent season both on and off the court.

 

Since winning the ATP Finals in November, the German has only reached the quarter-finals or better in two out of eight tournaments. Doing so in Acapulco, where he finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios, as well as a quarter-final appearance in Munich. Overall, he has won 11 out of 19 matches played heading into this week (excluding the Davis Cup).

“I’m happy with how things are improving. I’m happy I’m starting to play better and starting to feel more confident and I think every week that I play is going to get better and better.” Zverev said earlier this week.

Away from this tour, Zverev has also endured a tough time. He is currently in a legal battle with his former manager Patricio Apey, who is arguing his contract with the player is still valid. On top of that, he recently separated from his girlfriend Olga Sharypova.

Zverev’s 2019 record
Australian Open – R4
Acapulco – RU
Indian Wells – R3
Miami – R2
Marrakech – R2
Monte Carlo – R3
Barcelona – R2
Munich – QF

Despite his roller coaster journey in recent months, two of Zverev’s prime rivals have backed him to regain his form. He is the only active player outside of the Big Four to win three or more Masters 1000 titles. Overall, Zverev has 10 ATP trophies to his name.

“He won this tournament (Madrid) last year and he possesses the quality and as a player, he possesses the game that will get him in a position to win any tournament on any surface, really. He has proven that.” Novak Djokovic said of the world No.4.
“I think you guys have to give him a little break. I know the expectations are high. But, look, he’s a great guy. He loves the sport. I have known him for a long time. And he’s dedicated. He’s got a good team of people around him. He has won some big events. He’s proven that he belongs to the top and he is still there.”

Guided by Ivan Lendl on the tour, some are wondering what needs to be done to help Zverev overcome his current demons. He is not the first player to experience problems. Rafael Nadal is also experiencing a troublesome 2019, which is partly due to injury as well as a recent bout of illness.

In Nadal’s eyes, Zverev doesn’t require any advice from him. Instead, he outlined that the process is different for every player.

“I’m nobody to tell him what he needs. He has a great team around him, family around him. And probably he will receive the right advice for everything, for his education, for his tennis and for all the things that really matter in his life.” He said.
“Tennis is just a part of the life of all of us. There are a lot of things that are more important than tennis in this world and that’s it. It is not a drama, to lose a couple of matches. He’s a great player and he will fight for the most important things.”

Zverev starts his title defense in Madrid on Wednesday against David Ferrer, who is retiring from the sport this week. He will be hoping the lightning doesn’t strike twice after losing to the Spaniard in Miami earlier this year.

Points Zverev is defending for the rest of the clay swing

– Madrid: 1000 (champion)
– Rome: 600 (runner-up)
– Roland Garros: 360 (quarter-finalist)
TOTAL = 1960 points

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Denis Shapovalov wins Next Gen clash against Miomir Kecmanovic to reach the quarter final in Winston Salem

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Denis Shapovalov beat Serbian Next Gen Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 6-3 after 1 hour and 16 minutes in Winston Salem winning two consecutive matches for the first time since he reached the Miami Open semifinal last March.

 

Shapovalov won 80 % of his service points and fended off four of the six break points he faced.

The Canadian Next Gen player earned six break points in the second game of the first set, but Kecmanovic saved them. Shapovalov earned the break in the fourth game at 15 to build up a 3-1 lead.

Shapovalov went up a double break in the next game after a forehand error from Kecmanovic. The Canadian player wrapped up wrapped up the first set 6-2 with two winners and two double faults from Kecmanovic after 37 minutes.

Shapovalov went up a 3-0 lead with a break, but he wasted three break points in the fourth game. Kecmanovic broke back to draw level to 3-3 and earned two break points in the seventh game, but Shapovalov saved them with two winners. The North American star broke serve in the next game to open up a 5-3 lead. Shapovalov hit four winners in the ninth game to close out the match.

Shapovalov is currently working with Mikhail Youzhny, who returned in St. Petersburg last September and is sitting in his coaching box in Winston Salem.

“Miomir is a very tough opponent. I have played him a lot in the past. We have had some crazy battles. I am really happy with the way I am playing”,said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who battled past Sam Querrey 7-4 (7-4) 7-6 (12-10). In the tie-break of the second set Rublev saved three set points and Querrey fended off two match points. Rublev hit a forehand winner at 10-11 on Querrey’s serve to seal the win after 1 hour and 54 minutes. Rublev took a re-match against Querrey, who beat the young Russian player at Wimbledon in straight sets.

“It’s a special win for me. He just destroyed me, and now we had a great fight, and we were so close and I was a little more lucky”, said Rublev.

 Frances Tiafoe advanced to his fourth quarter final and his first since May when Filip Krajinovic had to withdraw from the match after losing the first set 6-2. Tiafoe went up a double break to race out to a 5-0 lead.

Hubert Hurkacz got three breaks to build up a 6-3 3-1 lead, when Feliciano Lopez was forced to retire from the match after 55 minutes.

Pablo Carreno Busta cruised past Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 6-0 after 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach his fourth quarter final of the season. Sonego got an early break to open up a 4-1 lead in the first set. Carreno Busta broke back in the sixth game before converting his sixth set point in the tie-break. The Spaniard broke three times to cruise to a bagel win in the second set after 25 minutes.

Benoit Paire came back from losing the first set to beat French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3. Paire broke serve, when Humbert was serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set. Paire went up a double break to a 4-1 lead. Humbert converted his third break-back point in the eighth point, but Paire broke for the third time to seal the win.

John Millman cruised past Robin Haase 6-3 6-4 setting up a quarter final match against Steve Johnson, who beat Casper Ruud 6-2 7-6 (7-5).

 

 

 

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Andy Murray To Play Rafa Nadal Open

The former world No.1 has announced where he will play next as his comeback from injury continues.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray is returning back to the Challenger tour for the first time since the year he turned professional back in 2005.

 

The Brit is set to take to the court in Manacor next week to play in a hard court tournament named after his rival Rafael Nadal. Murray is currently in the process of stepping up his comeback from a second hip operation earlier this year. The Rafa Nadal Open will be only his third singles tournament since January. Murray has previously lost in the first rounds at Cincinnati and Winston-Salem to Richard Gasquet and Tennys Sandgren.

Murray, who is currently ranked 329th in the world, had previously hinted that he may return back to the lower levels of competition in order to help regain his form. It will be the first time he has played a Challenger tournament since the 2005 Mons Open.

“I’m quite aware of sort of where I’m at just now and what my level is. It’s competitive at this level but it needs to be better,” Murray told atptour.com last week.
“Maybe I need to play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again.”

The 32-year-old had declined a wild card invitation to play at next week’s US Open due to concerns that he wouldn’t be fit enough to contest best-of-five set matches. He reached the second round of the tournament last year before losing to Fernando Vertdasco.

Murray’s return to the Challenger Tour is expected to be short lived. He has already confirmed his intention to play a duo of ATP Tournaments in Zhuhai and Shanghai. On Wednesday he added the European Open in Antwerp to his schedule, where a maximum of 250 ranking points will be on offer.

“With Andy Murray on our tournament poster, we are now reaching absolute world class and taking the European Open to an unprecedented level in Belgium.” Said tournament director Dick Norman.

Since his comeback in June, Murray has won one title on the ATP Tour. Doing so alongside Feliciano Lopez in the men’s doubles at The Fever-tree Championships.

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Andrey Rublev follows up his Cincinnati win over Rober Federer with a three-set win over Albert Ramos Vinolas in Winston Salem

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Andrey Rublev followed up his win over Roger Federer in Cincinnati with a 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1 win over Albert Ramos Vinolas in Winston Salem.

 

The Russian 21-year-old player did not face a break point in the first set, but he lost the tie-break 7-5. Rublev was leading 5-3 in the tie-break, but Ramos Vinolas fought back by winning four consecutive points to win the first set.

Rublev earned two breaks in each set and dropped 11 points in his service games to win the second and third sets 6-3 6-1.

Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov overcame a fight-back from Tennys Sandgren to take a 6-2 6-4 lead. Shapovalov broke serve in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead and sealed the first set with a double break with a backhand winner on his second set point. Shapovalov broke serve at love to build up a 3-0 lead. Sandgren broke straight back in the fifth game at love to claw his way back to 2-3 and took a second break at love to take a 4-3 lead. Shapovalov came back by breaking serve in the eighth and tenth games to clinch the win in two sets. Shapovalov, who has clinched just five of his eleven matches since Miami last March, has brought on Mikhail Youzhny as his coach on a trial basis. The now retired 37-year-old Russian player is in Shapovalov’s coaching box.

“It was definitely a great win. We have played a few times in the past and I normally play well against him, so I was just trying to be aggressive and take time away from him. I am feeling fresh and ready for tough situations like the second set today, so I am looking forward to my next match”, said Shapovalov.

 Top seed Benoit Paire reached the third round after beating India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3 7-5 in 69 minutes. The French player broke three times and fended off four of the five break points he faced. Gunneswaran got the break back in the seventh game. Paire got another break to open up a 5-3 lead and saved a break point to seal the opening set 6-3 at love in the ninth game.

Both players held serve in the first ten games of the second set. Paire won 12 of the last 16 points and closed out the second set 7-5 with a break in the 11th game to reach the round of 16.

Filip Krajnovic came back from one set down to beat Tomas Berdych 3-6 7-5 6-1. The Serbian player went down a break to trail 4-5 in the second set, but he came back by breaking serve in the 10th game, when Berdych was serving for the match. Krajnovic broke serve in the 12th game to win the second set 7-5. Krajinovic broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games to cruise to a 6-1 win in the third set.

Feliciano Lopez edged Pablo Andujar 6-4 1-6 7-5 in just over two hours. Lopez dropped just three points and got the first break in the third game to win the first set 6-4. Andujar broke twice in a row to win the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set. Both players traded breaks in the second and third games. Lopez sealed the win with a break in the 12th game.

Hubert Hurkacz came back from one set down to beat Duckhee Lee 4-6 6-0 6-3. Lee became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour match.

Sam Querrey toppled beat Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3 7-5 after 1 hour and 29 minutes. Baena converted the only break point but Querrey converted three of his ten break points. Querrey reeled off the final eight points from 5-5 with a break at love to seal the second set 7-5.

John Millman came back from one set down to beat Marco Cecchinato 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Cecchinato saved the first break point of the match in the 12th game to set up a tie-break. Millman went up a mini-break, but Cecchinato broke straight back. Cecchinato got another break earning a set point and sealed the tie-break 7-5. Millman did not convert two break points in the fifth game, but he broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held his next service games to win the second set 6-4. Both players held their serve until 3-3 before Millman got the decisive break in the seventh game. The Australian player sealed the win with a double break in the ninth game.

Lorenzo Sonego beat Damir Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 setting up a match against Pablo Carreno Busta. Sonego converted his fourth break point chance at deuce in the second game and sealed the first set with a double break. Dzumhur led 4-3 in the second set, but Sonego reeled off the final 12 points and broke serve at love in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4.

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