Novak Djokovic Unsurprised By Wawrinka’s French Open Run - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Unsurprised By Wawrinka’s French Open Run

The top seed shares his opinion of the three-time grand slam winner at Roland Garros.

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Novak Djokovic (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has praised rival Stan Wawrinka after reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open on Monday. The day after the Swiss No.2 did.

 

Djokovic, who is bidding to claim a fourth consecutive grand slam title at Roland Garros, has hailed Wawrinka as a ‘big-match’ player. Wawrinka is currently relishing in his best run at a major tournament for two years. Highlighted by his marathon five-hour win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round.

“Stan is a big-match player.” Said Djokovic. “He’s one of these players that throughout his career just managed to find their best game when it was most needed.”
“He’s mentally very strong. I’m not surprised that he’s back at his best. I have seen some parts of yesterday’s match (against Tsitsipas), especially the end. I mean, both of them were winners.”

Djokovic is more than familiar with the game style of the 34-year-old. He first played Wawrinka at the age of 17 at the 2004 Aachen Open. A Challenger event in Germany. Since then, the Serbian has dominated their head-to-head with a 19-5 winning advantage.

“Stan is showing why he’s “the man.” Djokovic joked. “He’s a three-time Grand Slam winner. We cannot forget that. He’s a top guy, and he loves to play big matches. It’s great to see him back.”

The only chance of the two clashing in Paris this year is if they both reach the final. Djokovic will play Alexander Zverev next, whilst Wawrinka faces compatriot Roger Federer. The top seed is yet to drop a set in the tournament and has been backed to win by tennis legend Rod Laver.

“‘I don’t know. I’m probably favouring Novak at the moment and then Rafa and then it goes down the line. Then it’s who’s going to play who.” The 80-year-old told reporters in Paris.

Laver won two calendar grand slams in 1962 and 1969 and is the only person to do that. Djokovic could join him if he triumphs at the French Open later this week.

“‘I marvel at someone like Novak with his ability and his consistency,’ Laver said. “When you look at, you know, the way he plays the game, he doesn’t go bang, bang, bang, ace, volleys. He wins every individual point, you know, from the baseline.’
“So, you know, he’s quite an individual on his own ability. Well, yes, he’s won all four at one time or defending champion at all times, so he’s already done that portion of it.”

Djokovic will play his quarter-final match on Wednesday.

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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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