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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Alexander Zverev edged past Hugo Dellien to reach the semifinal in Geneva

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World number 5 and 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev battled past Bolivian player Hugo Dellien 7-5 3-6 6-3 to reach the semifinal at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. Zverev is still seeking his first title of the year.

 

Dellien earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Zverev converted his fourth break-back chance in the fifth game and held his serve to draw level to 3-3. Zverev saved a set point at 3-5 at 3-5, while Dellien was serving at 40-30.

Dellien needed one break in the fourth game to win the second set 6-3. Zverev held serve in the third game at the seventh deuce after seven deuces to take a 2-1 lead. The German player got the decisive break in the fourth game and held his serve at love to build up a 4-1 lead. Zverev never looked back to win the third set 6-3.

“I played very aggressive in the important moments. I was very aggressive also in break points down, This is finally something I was looking for in the last few weeks. I think today I showed it”, said Zverev.

Radu Albot came back from 2-4 down to beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5. Albot went up a double break in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Dzumhur pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Albot broke for the third time on her third break point chance to win the first set 6-3.

Dzumhur went up an early break in the first game of the second set. Albot broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and sealed the win with his second break in the 10th game.

Albot will take on Nicolas Jarry, who dropped just four of his first service points to defeat Taro Daniel 6-1 7-5.

 

 

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Nikoloz Basilashvili sets up Lyon semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime

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Four-time ATP Tour finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili secured his spot in the semifinal where he will face Felix Auger Aliassime in Lyon

 

Basilashvili came back from an early break down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-4 in the quarter final of the Parc Auvergne Rhone Alpes Lyon.

Tsonga got an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead, but Basilashvili recovered from the early start by breaking serve twice in the third and seventh games to take a 4-3 lead. The Georgian player held his final two service games at 30 to close out the opening set 6-4.

Basilashvili needed only a break in the third game of the second set to clinch the second set 6-4 to reach his first semifinal since winning the China Open in 2018.

Basilashvili set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Rio de Janeiro finalist and Miami Open champion Felix Auger Aliassime, who edged Steve Johnson 6-4 2-6 6-4. Auger Aliassime got a break of serve in the third game to clinch the opening set 6-4. Johnson bounced back by breaking twice in the second and eighth game to claim the second set 6-2. Auger Aliassime went up a double break in the third and fifth games to build up a 5-2 lead, but Johnson pulled one break back in the eighth game, when the 18-year-old player was serving for the match. Auger Aliassime served out for the match 6-4 in the 10th game.

Benoit Paire battled past Denis Shapovalov 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Paire broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to seal the opening set 6-3. Shapovalov claimed his only break in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Paire saved a total of three break points in the first and third games. Both players held on their service games en route to the tie-break. Paire reeled off the final three points from 4-4 to claim the tie-break 7-4.

Taylor Fritz fought back from one set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4 after two hours and five minutes. Bautista Agut fended off one set point at 5-6 to take the tie-break of the opening set. Fritz fought back to open up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game to claim the second set 6-4. The US player earned the decisive break in he ninth game to secure his spot in his first semifinal since the 2018 Chengdu Open.

 

 

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Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003

It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.

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Tomas Berdych (photo by chryslène caillaud)

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.

 

The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.

“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.

The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.

Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.

As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.

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