Cincinnati Open Saturday Preview: The Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Open Saturday Preview: The Semifinals

Both the men’s and women’s top seeds have advanced this far, but just how favored should they be to win this event?

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Novak Djokovic remains the heavy favorite on the men’s side, but faces a stiff test in the winningest player in the US Open Series.  And the other semifinal is quite an unlikely one. While David Goffin was a semifinalist here a year ago, this is Richard Gasquet’s first Masters 1,000 semifinal since Miami in 2013, as highlighted by Ravi Ubha on Twitter.  On the women’s side, the 2009 French Open champion faces the 2019 French Open champion. And in the other semifinal, two Americans will battle to represent the US in the championship match at one of their country’s biggest tournaments.

 

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Daniil Medvedev (9)

These are easily the two men who have played at the highest level this week in Cincinnati.  Neither has dropped a set or been challenged at all by their opposition. Djokovic owns a 3-1 record against the 23-year-old Russian, but Medvedev claimed their most recent match in Monte Carlo earlier this year.  That was at a time when Novak was struggling with his form, which has not been the case of late. Since that loss in Monte Carlo, Djokovic is a stellar 23-2, with his only losses coming on clay at the hands of Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.  Medvedev though is on a similarly impressive tear, with 12 wins within the past three weeks alone. Daniil now leads the ATP with 42 match wins this year. He’s playing today to reach his third final in as many weeks. But taking out Novak Djokovic on a hard court is a tall task nowadays, and all the tennis Medvedev has played these last few weeks has to catch up with him eventually.  As excellently as Daniil has been playing against lesser competition, he’s struggled when facing bigger names, such as last week’s Rogers Cup final against Rafael Nadal where he won just three games. I expect Medvedev will be a bit more successful today, but Djokovic remains the favorite.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Both of these players were forced to come back from a set down yesterday.  Barty did so emphatically, winning 12 of the last 14 games. Kuznetsova’s comeback was a bit more complicated, as Karolina Pliskova served for the match in the second set.  That was the 34-year-old’s third victory this week over a player ranked 11th or higher.  This surprising run follows a rough period in her career where she even considered retirement, as outlined here in a great WTA piece by Courtney Nguyen.  This will be Kuznetsova’s first match against Barty, who has fought her way to this semifinal despite not playing her best tennis this week.  With Pliskova as well as Naomi Osaka losing yesterday, Barty is guaranteed to regain the No.1 ranking after this tournament. That may free her up and help her up her level.  Her all-court game will be a lot for Kuznetsova to handle, especially considering this is the most tennis Svetlana has played in a long time. Barty is the favorite here, but judging by the way Kuznetsova has competed this week, another Sveta upset would not be a total shock.

Other notable matches on Saturday:

Madison Keys (16) vs. Sofia Kenin.  Kenin took their only previous meeting 6-4 in the third, which was earlier this year on the clay of Rome.

David Goffin (16) vs. Richard Gasquet (PR).  They’ve split their two encounters, both played within the last two years on hard courts.

In the women’s double final, Rogers Cup finalists Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs (5) vs. Lucie Hradecka and Andreja Klepac (8), who were on a four-match losing streak prior to this week.

ATP

Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claim their first ATP Finals title in London

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The French team formed by Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claimed their first men’s doubles title with a 6-3 6-4 win over Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in 70 minutes at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London ending the 2019 ATP season on a high note with back-to-back titles in Paris Bercy and London. They remained unbeaten during the whole week at the ATP Finals in London winning all five matches in straight sets.

 

Herbert and Mahut fended off all four break points they faced scoring their ninth consecutive match win. The French doubles specialists have become the first team to win the doubles ATP Finals title without dropping a set since Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 2015.

Herbert and Mahut fended off break points in the third game of the match before earning the only break of the opening set in the next game. The Frenchmen saved a break point in the sixth game before breaking serve in the seventh game.

They have become the French team to win the ATP Finals doubles title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro, who triumphed in Shanghai in 2005.

Herbert and Mahut have won 15 doubles titles as a team during their career. This year they became the eighth men’s doubles team to complete the career Grand Slam at last January’s Australian Open and also won the Rolex Paris Masters in front of their home fans.

Last year they came within one point of winning the ATP Finals title against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock after holding a match point.

“Thank you Nicolas for sharing the court, for having so much enjoyable moments and giving me so much joy, when I am with you on the court. You played an unbelievable final, so thank you for that”, said Pierre Hugues Herbert.

 

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Jannik Sinner wins his third ATP Challenger in Ortisei

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Jannik Sinner won the ATP Challenger in Ortisei adding another title to his impressive collection of trophies he lifted during a memorable 2019 season.

 

The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion beat world number 173 Sebastian Ofner from Austria 6-2 6-4 in 1 hour and 6 minutes in the final of the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena Sudtirol at the Tennis Center in Ortisei.

Sinner won his third ATP Challenger title in 2019 after his previous wins in Bergamo and Lexington. He also reached the final in Ostrava. During the tournament the 18-year-old player from San Candido beat Lucas Miedler in the first round, Roberto Marcora in the second round, Federico gaio in the quarter final and Antoine Hoang in the semifinal without dropping a set.

Sinner will improve his ranking to his career-high at world number 78 in the ATP Ranking becoming the sixth best ranked Italian player after Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego, Marco Cecchinato and Andreas Seppi.

Sinner broke serve in the fifth game of the opening set to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner missed two game points in the seventh game. The Austrian player faced another break point after his third double fault. In the next game Sinner saved the first break point he faced. Sinner closed out the first set 6-2 after two backhand errors from Ofner in the eighth game.

Sinner went up a break to open up a 2-0 lead, but Ofner broke back in the fourth game and held on his serve to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner saved three break points in the seventh game to take a 4-3. Sinner converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the win with two consecutive aces.

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Tomas Berdych: It Is Up To Others To Decide My Legacy

The former top-10 player spoke with reporters for the first time since officially retiring from the sport

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Tomer Berdych (far left) among group of recently retired player's attending special presentation at The 2019 ATP Finals

LONDON: Tomas Berdych has said his future plans is ‘to not have a plan’ after officially retiring from tennis on Saturday at the age of 34.

 

The former Wimbledon runner-up joined a series of other former players to celebrate their careers in a special on-court presentation at the ATP Finals. Also present was Radek Stepanek and David Ferrer. News of Berdych’s decision to walk away from the sport surfaced earlier this week after a Czech newspaper spoke with his father Martin.

Speculation has mounted in recent months about Berdych’s future in the sport after struggles with injury issues concerning his back and hip. He hasn’t played on the tour since the US Open. Overall, he has only managed to play 22 matches this season. Winning 13 of them.

“I was able to train, practice, prepare, and then you get to the tournament, and then I play three games, the problem came back.” Berdych explained during a press conference about his decision.
“You put all the negative stuff on the one side, and then the positive is to go on court, fight, win the match, and there was no chance to achieve that. There is really no point to continue.”

Playing in the shadows on the Big Four contingent, the Czech still managed to establish himself as a household name. Albeit on a smaller scale. As of this week, he is ranked as the 11th highest-earning player on the ATP Tour in history with more than $29 million in prize money. His achievements include winning 13 ATP titles and spending 794 consecutive weeks in the top 100. At his peak, he was fourth in the world rankings and finished seven seasons inside the top 10.

Like any other player, it hasn’t always been a smooth journey for Berdych. One example was during the 2012 Australian Open where he was booed off the court after defeating Nicolas Almagro during what was a bad-tempered encounter. However, fortunately, most of his career has been free from controversy.

“Do I have any regrets? No, I think even the bad things or the negative experience that I went through or I experienced or I have done, I think they were there for the reason. I think without them, I wouldn’t be as good as I was.” Berdych stated.
“I think even the bad ones were there for a reason.”

Now he has stepped away from the sport for good, what does the future have in store? According to the Czech, he is in no intention of rushing into anything else soon. Although he admits that it may not be tennis-related.

“The plan is actually not to have any plans. The last 15, 20 years was so hectic and so demanding that I just need to just to breathe out easily after all those years.”

As the chapter closes on the career of one of the Czech Republic’s most successful male players in the Open Era, he leaves the sport with high respect from both his fans and fellow rivals. As for his legacy, he says that it is not for him to decide.

“I think I’m not the correct one to judge that. I was trying to do the best I possibly can, and I think this is something that you created with your achievement and with your behavior.” He concludes.

Berdych’s career in numbers

2 – number of Davis Cup titles won
4 – highest ATP ranking achieved
13– number of ATP titles
53 – number of wins over top 10 players
342 – number of losses on the ATP Tour
640 – number of wins on the ATP Tour
2002 – the year he turned pro
2019 – the year he retired
29,491,328 – career prize money (in US dollars)

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