Struff Finally Scores A Win At Halle - UBITENNIS
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Struff Finally Scores A Win At Halle

The seventh time was a charm for Jan-Lennard Struff. He came out on top in Halle today.

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Jan-Lennard Struff (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

By Cheryl Jones

 

Jan-Lennard Struff did something he has never done before. No, he didn’t swim the English Channel or climb Mt. Everest, both of which he likely will never do. He pulled out a win in the first match on Center Court in Halle early this afternoon.

The twenty-nine year old German player had not managed to win in Halle in the previous six times he has competed here. Evidently, seven is now his lucky number. He defeated Laslo Djere of Serbia 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and eight minutes. His ranking has climbed in recent months and he has topped out in the ATP rankings at 35 after having a reasonably successful year – at least so far. Earlier this month he reached the fourth round for the first time ever at Roland Garros. Unfortunately, in that round, he met Novak Djokovic and the number one player hastened Struff’s journey home to the German countryside.

Even before his successes in Paris, he made a great showing at Indian Wells when he defeated his countryman, the German wunderkind, Alexander Zverev in the third round. The next round saw him losing to Milos Raonic. To quote Frank Sinatra, “It’s been a very good year”. Struff seems to agree, as he was beaming at his after-match interview.

It felt like someone had turned up the heat in Halle today. The weather has become like summer, even though it is still a few days away. Even though the match began just a bit after noon, it was more than just warm. The sun also was casting eerie shadows on parts of the court, making it difficult to get a clear view of what was happening with the bouncing yellow balls. That seemed contrary to what Struff said, “I had no problem in the sun. Maybe he (his opponent) had trouble focusing, but I didn’t.” It certainly didn’t appear to be an issue for either one of them.

It really seemed like it was PDQ tennis, as the first set lasted 35 minutes and the second 33 minutes. That all can be averages to about three minutes per game – very quick, indeed.

Struff proceeded to praise his training staff, saying “It’s hard work we do with the team that is paying off a bit now. We have been working very well for the last few years and now it is finally bringing some fruit. There are very many aspects. It is not all at once, but it is a process that is now going in the right direction.” It seemed to be working quite well from my observation point high in the stands.

Djere looked sluggish, even with what seems to be a fairly slow court. Struff offered an explanation for the slowness. He said that the courts that aren’t covered seemed faster and he thought it might be that they had more chance for the sun to evaporate the moisture trapped in the sod. But that is neither here nor there. Struff won today, and he will be facing a very tough opponent next time out – Russian, Karen Khachanov.

Khachanov is ranked just inside the top ten at 9. He turned 23 about a month ago and he’s a big lad, at 6’6” tall. Despite his youth, Khachanov was married in 2016 and he and his wife are expecting their first child in September. Struff will have to call in all his assets to pull off a win against the Russian. His victory today should buoy his spirits, and hopefully ramp up his game. Time will tell.

The Noventi Open is a new name for the tournament that is by now old hat for Halle. It remains to be seen if it’s merely a change of the guard or that the guard will change. Time will provide the answer to that question, too.

Tomorrow is another day, and all concerned are asking for sunshine. But a few raindrops have never been a problem in Halle since the roof was installed twenty-five years ago. Just a minute or two if it rains and the court is back to business as usual.

 

 

 

ATP

ATP Newport Draw: Last Chapter Of Grass Season

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After Wimbledon, the grass court season moves to Newport (Rhode Island, USA), for the historic tournament taking place at the International Tennis Hall Of Fame. 

 

The Newport’s grass tennis courts have hosted the legends of the sport since 1881, when the first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championship was played.  The Hall Of Fame Open, an ATP 250 event, has been part of the calendar since 1976; Vijay Amritraj, Greg Rusedski, Taylor Dent, Mark Philippoussis and Lleyton Hewitt are some of the past singles champions.

Because of its location and its low-bouncing courts, Newport is not an ordinary tournament: unlike the other grass tournaments, it still suits the old-school game well, as some of the recent winners witness (Rajeev Ram, Ivo Karlovic, Nicolas Mahut). The atypical conditions of play also supported some surprising runs to the final of low-ranked players, like those of Leander Paes (1998), Prakash Amritraj (2008), Matthew Ebden (2017) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (2018).

Three-time champion John Isner is the top seed, USA’s Steve Johnson is the defending champion, while the runner-up is the serve and volley specialist Ramkumar Ramanathan, who will start his run from qualifying. Adrian Mannarino, Ugo Humbert, Mischa Zverev and Sergiy Stakhovsky will compete as well.

 

ATP NEWPORT (USA, RI, Grass), main draw:
Isner, John [1 WC, USA] bye
Gray, Alastair (WC, GBR) vs Majchrzak, Kamil (POL)
Ebden, Matthew (AUS) vs Schnur, Brayden (CAN)
Kudla, Denis (USA) vs Klahn, Bradley [8, USA]
Humbert, Ugo [4, FRA] bye
Qualifier vs Stakhovsky, Sergiy (UKR)
Tomic, Bernard (AUS) vs Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Eubanks, Christopher (WC, USA) vs Johnson, Steve [5, USA]
Karlovic, Ivo [6, CRO] vs Andreozzi, Guido (ARG)
Zverev, Mischa (GER) vs Qualifier
Granollers, Marcel (ESP) vs Gunneswaran, Prajnesh (IND)
Thompson, Jordan [3, AUS] bye
Bublik, Alexander [7, UZB] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs Jung, Jason (TPE)
Istomin, Denis (UZB) vs Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Mannarino, Adrian [2, FRA] bye

 

ATP NEWPORT (RI, USA, Grass), qualifying draw:
Fratangelo, Bjorn [1, USA] vs Kwiatkowski, Thai-Son (USA)
Poling, Karl (WC, USA) vs Troicki, Viktor [6, SRB]
Bolt, Alex [2, AUS] vs Karlovskiy, Evgeny (RUS)
Weintraub, Amir (ISR) vs Rubin, Noah [7, USA]
Ramanathan, Ramkumar [3, IND] vs Cressy, Maxime (WC, USA)
Sugita, Yuichi (JPN) vs Halys, Quentin [5, FRA]
Ito, Tatsuma [4, JPN] vs Smith, John-Patrick (AUS)
Smyczek, Tim (USA) vs Krueger, Mitchell [8, USA]

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Novak Djokovic Ready To Face Federer And The Tricky Wimbledon Crowd

The world No.1 is prepared to take part in two fights on Sunday.

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WIMBLEDON: A player with a record 20 grand slam titles to his name is something Novak Djokovic admires, but he is by no means scared of him.

 

The world No.1 will face Roger Federer on Sunday for a chance to win his fifth Wimbledon title and second in a row. It will be the first time the two have clashed this season. In 2018 Djokovic won both of their meetings, which took place on a hard court. On the grass, they have already locked horns at Wimbledon on three previous occasions with the Serbian winning their two most recent matches in 2014 and 2015.

“We all know how good he is anywhere, but especially here (in Wimbledon).” Said Djokovic.
“This surface complements his game very much. He loves to play very fast. Takes away the time from his opponent. Just doesn’t give you any same looks. He just rushes you to everything.’
“So for players, maybe like Nadal or myself that like to have a little more time, it’s a constant pressure that you have to deal with.”

Djokovic has reached the final in four out of the past five grand slam tournaments. The only player to have defeated him so far within that time period was Dominic Thiem at the French Open. An impressive resume for the 32-year-old who currently has 15 major trophies to his name.

Sunday’s final will be the 48th time the two have faced each other on the tour with Djokovic winning 25 of those. Speaking about their rivalry following his win over Rafael Nadal, Federer said he was ‘excited’ for the showdown. The Swiss could achieve two milestones if he wins the Wimbledon title. He would become the first man in history to win the tournament for a ninth time and it will return him back to No.2 in the world rankings.

“I’m excited about the game against Novak.” He previewed. “We’ve played each other so, so much. I don’t mind that, I think it’s more of a clear game plan. Especially we had a great match against each other in Paris (2018 Bercy Masters) recently. I hope we can back it up from there.”

It remains to be seen how the reception will be for Djokovic. During his semi-final match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, it appeared at times that there was more support for the underdog. Something that isn’t too unusual when it comes to the world of sport. Although he does have a mixed experience when it comes to the crowd. In 2018 he said he ‘didn’t deserve to be treated’ the way he was during his clash with home player Kyle Edmund. An encounter marred by a bad call that cost him a break, before he went on to win.

Some may perceive the final as a battle of which player is the most popular at The All England Club. An intriguing idea, but not one Djokovic has any time for.

“I’m going to go out there and fight and give it all. It’s finals of Wimbledon. This is the kind of a match that I always dreamt of as a young boy with the tennis racquet, dreamt of being part of. This is what I worked for. I wanted to be in this position.” He stated.
“I have a chance to fight for a trophy. Regardless of who’s across the net or what is happening around, I’ll definitely give it all.”
“I’ve played with Roger in some epic finals here a couple of years in a row, so I know what to expect,” Djokovic added.

Since 2015, Djokovic has won eight out of the 10 grand slam finals he has contested. His only loss to Federer in a major final was at the 2007 US Open final.

The Wimbledon final will get underway at 14:00 GMT on Sunday.

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Roger Federer Topples Nadal In First Wimbledon Meeting For Over A Decade To Reach Final

The 37-year-old now has a shot of becoming the first man in history to win the Wimbledon title for a ninth time on Sunday.

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WIMBLEDON: Roger Federer is through to his 12th Wimbledon final after downing Spanish nemesis Rafael Nadal 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, in their semi-final showdown on Friday.

 

11 years have passed since the two giants of the sport last clashed on the grass. On that occasion, it was Nadal who prevailed in the Wimbledon final after coming through a five-set marathon. This time around it was Federer who came out on top during the roller-coaster encounter. Blasting 14 aces and 51 winners past the world No.2. Crucially saving six out of the eight break points he faced.

“I’m exhausted. It was tough at the end, Rafa played some unbelievable shots to stay in the match and I thought the match was played at a high level.” Federer told BBC TV.
“I enjoyed it, the crowd was amazing. The battles with Rafa are always special.”

It was a serving masterclass from both players that kick-off their 40th meeting on the tour. During the opening 12 games of the match, the only break point opportunity to occur was for Federer during the eighth game. However, he failed to convert after Nadal prevailed during a gut-busting 22-shot exchange between the two.

It would be a tiebreak that would separate the two former world No.1 players. After trading mini-breaks, it would be Federer who would draw first blood. A Federer forehand winner moved him to a 4-3 lead as he went on told hold serve and earn two set points. He prevailed on his first with the help of another trusted forehand winner being fired down the line.

In their 13 previous meetings at grand slam level, only twice has the match been won by the player who dropped the opener. On both of those occasions, it was Nadal (French open 2006 and Australian Open 2012). Gunning for the hat-trick, the world No.2 bounced back emphatically by taking the second 6-1. Making it the most one-sided set he has ever achieved against the Swiss maestro on a surface other than clay.

After the beatdown, it was the turn of the 20-time grand slam champion to inflict damage. Spurred on by an animated crowd, it was a forehand volley that revived Federer’s match hopes as he broke for a 3-1 lead in the third. Triggering a huge cheer around Center Court. Gaining in momentum, the second seed maneuvered himself to the two-set-to-one lead. Sealing it with a love service game that concluded with a Nadal forehand slamming into the net.

As the Nadal unforced error count and frustration rose, Federer edged closer and closer to the finish line. Breaking halfway through the fourth set, the 37-year-old continued to tame the threat that he faced. Dampening the mood surrounding Nadal’s camp in the crowd watching. Admirably the fiery Spaniard continued to fight like a warrior as he emphatically saved a quartet of match points. Still, it would not be enough to deny Federer, who clinched victory after three hours with the help of a backhand from his arch-rival drifting beyond the baseline.

“I had spells where I was serving really well and I think on the biggest points in the match went my way.” Federer reflected on his latest performance.

Awaiting the Swiss player in the final will be world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets. He currently trails their head-to-head 22-25.

“He played great against Bautista Agut, who I thought played a phenomenal tournament.” Said Federer. “He’s the defending champion and has shown why this week. He has been rock solid from start to finish. I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him. But it is not going to be easy.”

Federer is the third oldest man in the Open Era to reach a grand slam final at the age of 37 years and 340 days.

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