Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic's Big Four reunion in Cincy - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic’s Big Four reunion in Cincy

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Photo Credit: Western and Southern Open Twitter

A few years before, there existed a quartet called Big Four in men’s tennis. At certain points in their time-line of dominance, injuries plagued each member of this four-member group. However, the severity of their affliction in one player, Andy Murray, saw his name erased from this elite pocket. Thus, the Big Four was reduced to the Big Three with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer making up the troika.

 

At the 2019 Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, three of the erstwhile Big Four troupe reunited as they re-entered the circuit’s circus. And each player had a different path leading up to the event, too, underlining how divergent their careers had become despite overlapping scheduling.

The 2016 season was the common catalyst leading to this divergence. From Federer’s injury to him pausing his season to focus on rehab after Wimbledon, to Djokovic pushing his boundary as a marauder and completing the non-calendar Slam, and to Murray ending the season as the world no. 1. The year in consideration also threw up other names – Nadal’s season ended in an agony of injury, while Stan Wawrinka won his third Major at the US Open. In its bounty of giving and taking, 2016 changed how we looked at these players – especially the first four – and the irrevocability of assumption that these guys could get past any hurdles stopping their way.

Juxtaposing with Cincinnati, in the three years since 2016, Federer and Djokovic have vaulted past their share of physical problems. Yet, in the Ohioan city, they have different motivations guiding them. This is the first time that Djokovic has entered the Cincinnati draw as the defending champion. Meanwhile, after having been drawn in the same half as the Serbian, Federer has the proverbial score to settle against him. “I can’t wait for my next rematch with Novak or my next time I can step on a match court and show what I can do,” the 20-time Slam champion said in one of his pre-tournament media interactions in Cincinnati.

There are a few opponents to get past before their slated semi-final meeting occurs. Nonetheless, their sustained competitiveness adds its fervour to the already-hefty top-half of the men’s draw. In the midst of their respectively successful opening rounds, Murray’s first-round defeat to Richard Gasquet in straight sets became a contextual misnomer for comebacks.

Yet, Murray’s was the most stirring return. This was not because of the emotional crossroads that had sprung up at the 2019 Australian Open regarding his retirement. But on account of how farther Murray had leapt to put his physical frailties behind and re-join the singles Tour. And, the Briton’s determination to do so is reminiscent of 2016, all over again. It’s the completion of the circle of how Murray had pushed hard to become the world’s best player and now, he is trying just as much to regain his footing back.

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Year-End No.1 Not A Priority For Rafael Nadal, Says Murray

Murray spoke about his rival as he gives a update on his current form.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray believes rival Rafael Nadal is not focusing on the prospect of ending the season as world No.1.

 

Murray spoke about the big three during an extensive interview with The Times. A group compromising of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. The Brit is currently on the comeback from hip resurfacing surgery and recently reached the quarter-finals of the China Open. His best run on the ATP Tour so far this season. Currently ranked 289th in the world, Murray admits that he still has a way to go to the top. However, the 32-year-old is drawing inspiration from some of his rivals.

“If I do get up there, I’m not going to be focusing on ranking targets. You look at what Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and I guess Novak [Djokovic], to a certain extent, are doing to give themselves a chance to play longer.” Murray told The Times.
“Right now, Rafa could be fighting to finish number one in the world and it’s not a priority for him. I would like to be competitive in the big events against the best players. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was a month ago, and much closer than a couple of months ago,” he said.

Nadal is currently closing in on the world No.1 spot despite not playing since winning the US Open. On Monday Djokovic’s lead over him will be reduced to 320 points after the Serbian lost in the third round of the Shanghai Masters. Then on November 4th he is guaranteed to return to the top spot before the ATP Finals. Even more significant is that Nadal has no ranking points to defend for the rest of the season compared to 1600 for Djokovic.

Murray’s comments on Nadal echoes what the Spaniard has previously said. During the US Open in September, the king of clay stated that returning to the top was ‘not his main goal’ with his health being top priority.

“I don’t compete for it. I just do my way. If I am able to be No.1 doing it my way, great. But I always say the same: today is not my main goal.” He explained.
“Of course, it’s great to be in that fight. But for me personally, it’s not really a fight. I just try be competitive the weeks that I need to compete, or the weeks that I want to compete.’
“With my age and with my goals, I cannot lose energy or time to follow the No.1. I need to think about my career in a different way.
‘For me, my main goal is play as long as possible and compete, being competitive. Sometimes if you need to follow the No.1, you are going to lose years of your career.”

Nadal is set to return to action in November at the Paris Masters. Meanwhile, Murray returns to the court tomorrow at the European Open where he will play Kimmer Coppejans in the first round.

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Danil Medvedev beats Stefanos Tsitsipas in Shanghai semifinal to reach his sixth consecutive final

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Danil Medvedev reached his ninth final this year and his sixth consecutive title match after beating Greek Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 38 minutes in the semifinal of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

 

The 23-year-old Russian player has now beaten his 21-year-old Greek rival in all their five head-to-head matches. Medvedev has reached his third Masters 1000 final after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal and winning the Cincinnati final last August. In an impressive hard-court season Medvedev lost the US Open final in five sets against Rafael Nadal and won the indoor tournament in St. Petersburg. Since losing to David Goffin the Moscow player has won 28 of his last 31 matches. He has become the 16th player in the Open Era to reach six consecutive finals.

Medvedev hit 25 winners to 18 unforced errors and saved four of the five break points.

Tsitsipas earned three break points at 4-4 in the opening set. Medvedev saved them with two serves and a forced error from Tsitsipas. The first set came down to the tie-break where both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5. The first 10 points of the tie-break went on serve. Medvedev got the decisive mini-break in the 11th game, when Tsitsipas made a forehand error. Medvedev closed out the first set after a backhand error from Tsitsipas.

In the second set Tsitsipas wasted game points at 1-1. Medvedev got the break in the third game of the second set with a backhand down the line winner. He consolidated the break by holding his serve with three service winners. Tsitsipas broke back at 15, when Medvedev was serving for the match. Medvedev broke for the second time in the 11th game with a forehand return before sealing the win in the 12th game with three service winners. Medvedev has become the 13th player since 1990 to reach three consecutive Masters 1000 finals.

“I think it’s a great achievement. I am proud of myself. Hopefully I can get the win tomorrow. It’s actually quite crazy. Here I had a lot of opportunities. to lose sets. I was close to losing a lot of them, especially with Vasek Pospisil with five set points. I think that’s also the confidence and the dynamic I am going through”, said Medvedev.

Tsitsipas was bidding to reach his second consecutive final after finishing runner-up to Dominic Thiem in Beijing.

 

 

 

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Alexander Zverev beats Roger Federer in Shanghai to reach his eighth Masters 1000 semifinal

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Alexander Zverev battled past Roger Federer 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 in 2 hours and 4 minutes to reach his eighth Masters 1000 semifinal and the first since Shanghai last year.

 

The German star has moved up to seventh in the ATP Race to London after reaching two consecutive semifinals in Beijing and Shanghai and has a good chance to qualify for his third consecutive ATP Finals.

Zverev hit 43 winners (including 17 aces) to 23 unforced errors and faced three just three break points in the entire match. He dropped his serve twice and broke four times.

Zverev did not convert five match points in the final stages of the second set.

Zverev dropped three points in his service games and hit 11 winners to 6 unforced errors. The Hamburg native earned a break at 3-2 and held his next service games to close out the first set with four service winners in the ninth game after 27 minutes.

Both Federer and Zverev traded breaks in the second and third games of the second set and held their serve in the next seven games to draw level to 5-5. Zverev broke serve in the 11th game with a forehand winner, when Federer was serving in the 11th game. Zverev wasted three match points on serve in the 12th game and was broken by Federer, who drew level to 6-6 to set up a tie-break.

Federer saved match points at 5-6 and 6-7 in the tie-break and closed out the second set with an ace.

Zverev held at 15 in the first game with a service winner in the first game and broke serve in the second game after a forehand error from Federer.

Zverev held serve at love in the third game to build up a 3-0 lead. He earned two break points in the fourth game, but Federer saved them. The Swiss player fended off another break point at 1-4 with a forehand winner. Zverev held serve at love to build up a 5-2 lead.

Zverev closed out the match with a hold at 15, as he was serving for the match in the ninth game, to set up a semifinal against either Dominic Thiem or Matteo Berrettini.

Zverev adds to his ATP Race to London ranking with 2615 points to take seventh place ahead of  Roberto Bautista Agut.

“Finally starting to kind of play the way I should play, I was really playing really defensive the whole year, and I was not with a lot of confidence. He will always find a way. He will always make it tricky for you like he did today with me, and always got to play your best tennis to have a chance. I knew if I am going to keep playing the way I played the first two sets, I am going to have a chance in the third set as well”, said Zverev after the match.

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