Cincinnati Open Tuesday Preview: Novak Djokovic Is Back! - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Open Tuesday Preview: Novak Djokovic Is Back!

It is set to be a blockbuster day of action at the Western and Southern Open.

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Today’s schedule is jam-packed, with 71 Major singles titles on Center Court alone.

 

That’s assuming Serena Williams has recovered from the back spasms that caused her to retire from the Rogers Cup final just 48 hours ago.  If so, she’ll headline the evening session alongside Roger Federer, who will play his first match since his devastating loss in the gentlemen’s championship match at Wimbledon.  The man who defeated him on that day, Novak Djokovic, will also see his first singles action since the final at The Championships. He’s joined in the day session by five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, who will play the defending champion, Kiki Bertens.  And to start the day, Stan Wawrinka takes on Grigor Dimitrov for the fifth time within the past 14 months. And all that only covers the Center Court schedule on Tuesday. There will be great action all over the grounds throughout the day and evening in Cincinnati.

Belinda Bencic (12) vs. Victoria Azarenka

This is a match between two players who have endured a few turbulent years in their careers, and are fighting to return to the top of the sport.  Bencic is in the midst of a stellar season. It started by defending her Hopman Cup title alongside Roger Federer. Since that time, she’s accumulated 38 match wins, putting her on the brink of breaking back into the top 10 for the first time in over three years.  Azarenka’s climb has been a bit more of a struggle. She’s played some very competitive matches against some stiff competition in 2019, but is still only 21-16, and ranked 40th in the world.  Her inability to get her ranking higher continues to leave her with tough draws early in tournaments such as this.  Vika won their only previous meeting, but that was over four years ago on the grass of The All England Club, so that’s likely not indicative of the outcome today.  But the fast-playing hard courts in Cincinnati should play to Azarenka’s advantage. With her flat, powerful hitting, I like her chances to prevail. And Vika knows how to win in Cincy: she was the champion here back in 2013.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Sam Querrey (WC)

This is their first time playing since Querrey upset Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2016.  Novak had arrived at SW19 that year holding all four Major titles, but the Querrey loss would be the beginning of a two-year draught at Grand Slam events.  Sam only prevailed in one of their other seven matches, at the 2012 Paris Indoors. That was on a fast hard court that plays similar to Cincinnati. Novak returned to competitive action yesterday in doubles with Janko Tipsarevic, and frankly looked a bit cranky on the court in a 6-2, 6-3 loss to the second seeds.  After missing the entire European clay court swing due to an abdominal injury, Sam returned on the grass and quickly racked up eight wins within three weeks. That included a run to the final in Eastbourne, and a return to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the third time in four years. So Querrey is playing with confidence, and an upset here is not unfathomable.  But Sam is just 12-12 lifetime at this tournament, while Novak is the defending champion and six-time finalist. I think this will be interesting, but it’s hard to pick against Djokovic on a hard court regardless the court speed.

Other notable matches on Tuesday:

Serena Williams (10) vs. Zarina Diyas (Q).  All eyes will be on Serena and how her back feels.

Roger Federer (3) vs. Juan Ignacio Londero (WC).  Londero’s win yesterday over Matteo Berrettini was only his second victory on a hard court this year.

Kiki Bertens (5) vs. Venus Williams.  They’ve split their two previous meetings, both of which occurred last year, and both of which went deep into a third set.

Stan Wawrinka vs. Grigor Dimitrov.  Stan has claimed all four of their latest encounters, but Grigor has positive memories in Cincy: he was the champion here in 2017.

Madison Keys (16) vs. Garbine Muguruza.  Keys is 3-1 against Muguruza, but Garbine took their most recent meeting, which was here in Cincinnati two years ago.

Gael Monfils vs. Frances Tiafoe.  Monfils retired from the semifinals in Montreal on Saturday with a sore left ankle.  Tiafoe is just 10-16 since his Australian Open breakthrough in January. This will be their first meeting.

Petra Kvitova (6) vs. Maria Sakkari.  This is Kvitova’s first match since Wimbledon, as she continues to deal with a forearm injury.

Washington and Montreal finalist Daniil Medvedev vs. Kyle Edmund.  They played just six days ago, with Medvedev prevailing 6-3, 6-0.

In a battle between two top 20 players, Angelique Kerber (13) vs. Anett Kontaveit.  Anett owns a 2-1 edge in their head-to-head.

Roberto Bautista Agut (11) vs. Hubert Hurkacz.  The Spaniard is just 150 points away from making his top 10 debut.  Meanwhile the 22-year-old from Poland is having a breakout season, and just debuted inside the top 40.

Moving to the loaded men’s doubles draw, Two-time Major champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau (4) vs. Queens Club champions Feliciano Lopez and Andy Murray (PR).

Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  These teams played just two weeks ago in Washington, with Cabal and Farah winning in a deciding set 10-point tiebreak 10-5.

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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ATP

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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ATP

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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