Novak Djokovic Downs Federer Conqueror Thiem To Reach Madrid Final - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Downs Federer Conqueror Thiem To Reach Madrid Final

The world No.1 is closing in on his second title of 2019.

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novak Djokovic (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: Novak Djokovic withstood a stellar test from Dominic Thiem to prevail 7-6(2), 7-6(4), and reach his first Madrid Open final since 2016.

 

Djokovic, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament, undoubtedly faced his toughest test yet in the Spanish capital this week. Fighting continuously throughout the 142-minute clash, he claimed 75% of the points behind his first serve and blasted 17 winners. What was even more telling in the match was Thiem’s unforced error count, which amounted to 39.

“I played the best match of the clay court season so far for me against arguably the best tennis player in the world on this surface,” Djokovic said afterward. 
“He had an amazing tournament in Barcelona, he beat Roger here yesterday in a thrilling match so he was in form.”

The opening singles match at the Caja Magica on Saturday had all the aspects to become a classic. World no.1 Djokovic was eager to seek revenge for the two losses to his opponent in their most recent meetings on the tour. Targeting his 199th win over a top 10 player. As for Thiem, he has been billed as one of the men to beat on the clay this year. The Austrian was on an eight-match winning streak and recently scored wins over both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the European dirt.

The highly anticipated clash between the two lived up to expectations from the onset. Thiem’s blistering shot-making towards the baseline was matched equally by Djokovic’s sublime defensive abilities. Early on, it was the Austrian who had the early advantage after a Djokovic shot into the net allowed him to break for 2-1. However, the world No.1 soon regrouped as he battled hard to draw level a couple of games later with the help of some mistakes made across the court.

Besides the high level of play, there was also drama. Two time violations against Djokovic within three points towards the end of the opener proved to be a new mental test for him. Then in the same game, he was also forced to fend off two break points to the frustration of Thiem. In the end, it would be a one-sided tiebreaker that would decide the outcome of the first set. A series of errors from Thiem lead to his downfall with one of those granting the top seed the 7-6 lead.

Opportunities continued to come and go for Thiem, but he failed to capitalize on those chances. Meanwhile, Djokovic looked undeterred despite receiving a third time violation during the early stages of the second frame. Recovering from a 2-4 deficit, the Serbian tamed the threat he was facing on the court. Much to the displeasure of Thiem and his entourage in the crowd.

On the verge of a place in his 48th Masters 1000 final, Djokovic continued to face stern resistance. After being in a prime position to serve for the match, Thiem responded once again to force the second tiebreaker in the match. Fighting towards the finish line, Djokovic finally triumphed with the help of a shank from Thiem on his first match point.

“[It] was very tough conditions, very fast, ball bouncing very high. Thiem next to Rafa probably plays with the most spin on the tennis tour right now.” The top seed reflected.
“It’s very difficult to stay close to the line and try to dictate the play but I just managed to play the best when it was most needed.”

The latest victory is Djokovic’s first over a top 10 player on a clay court since May 2017. He will play either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Rafael Nadal in the final.

 

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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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.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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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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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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