Nadal Shines Into The US Open Final, Outlasts Berrettini - UBITENNIS
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Nadal Shines Into The US Open Final, Outlasts Berrettini

After a challenging first set, Rafael Nadal found his pace and disposed of Italian Matteo Berrettini in straight set. He will play Daniil Medvedev for the title

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Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open (photo Twitter @USOpen)

Rafael Nadal walked through to the 2019 US Open final with a straight-set victory against no. 24 seed Italian Matteo Berrettini with a comprehensive 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-1 victory, but almost an hour and a half the match looked a lot less one-sided than it was expected.

 

The newbie Berrettini was not fazed by the deafening roar the crowd tribute to his 18-time Major winner opponent during the warm-up rallies: he started with a good attitude, sticking to his game that is based on his monster first serve and powerful forehand. Nadal is with his back to the LED wall while he is returning, and Berrettini takes advantage of it with some surgically precise drop shots. But still the Italian was the only one who had to face break points during the first set, five of them (one of which was a set point), all canceled with courageous winners. It took a tie-break to decide who was to get ahead after the first set, and it was a hell of a tie-break: Berrettini sprinted ahead 4-0 capitalizing on an early double fault by Nadal and doubling down with a cross-court backhand return winner. But the Spaniard little by little, point by point inched back to the tail of his opponent, who squandered two set points on 6-4, one of which with a drop shot that died into the net, and ended up conceding the set with an open court forehand unforced error.

The loss of that mammoth 74-minute set would have killed a rhino, but Berrettini shook off the disappointment with nonchalance, canceled two break points in the first two service games of the second set and kept his head down to keep his hopes to level the match alive. But at 3-3, a couple of stunning passing shots by Nadal set up the break that secured the second set for the Spaniard, much more effective than his opponent on his second serve (74% against 45% at the end of the match) and still without a break point faced on his service games. Berrettini’s energy during baseline rallies dropped slightly after the first set, but enough to allow Nadal to get his grip on the match and not letting it go.

Similarly to what happened during the first semifinal between Medvedev and Dimitrov, the third set was completely one-sided: Berrettini could not maintain the intensity of the first two hours of play and ended up giving way to Nadal who closed the match after 2 hours, 34 minutes to clinch his 27th Major final in his career.

Regardless of this match’s result, it has been a dream fortnight for Italian Matteo Berrettini, the first Italian to reach this stage of the competition since Corrado Barazzutti in 1977 (defeated by Jimmy Connors in a controversial match on the Forest Hill’s har-tru): the standing ovation that the Arthur Ashe crowd dedicated to him while exiting the court will certainly be one of his lifetime memories and will spur him to work for even better results starting from the sparkling new no.13 that will be next to his name in next Monday’s ATP ranking.

As to Rafael Nadal, his quest for the 19th Major title will find its last obstacle on Sunday, when he will face Daniil Medvedev, whom he defeated 6-3, 6-0 in Montreal a few weeks ago in the Rogers Cup final.

 

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Jannik Sinner beats Norbert Gombos to set up second round clash against Danil Medvedev in Marseille

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Last year’s Next Gen Finals champion and world number 68 Jannik Sinner beat Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos 6-4 7-6 (7-5) at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Sinner went down 1-4 in the tie-break of the second set. The Italian player saved all six break points he faced and did not face any break points in the 2-hour and nine-minute match.

Last week Sinner scored his first top 10 win against David Goffin in Rotterdam to reach his maiden ATP 500 quarter final.

The first set went on serve until the 10th game, when Sinner earned three consecutive set points with a backhand lob and sealed the opening set 6-4 with a break at love.

Sinner saved a break point in the first game of the second set with an ace. He saved another break point with an ace. Gombos earned two two more break points, but Sinner saved them with a forehand and and an ace. Sinner saved two break points to force to set up a tie-break. Gombos went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Sinner came back by winning six of the next seven games to win the tie-break 7-5.

Sinner set up a second round match against 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev, who reached the quarter finals on his tournament debut in 2017.

Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz cruised past France’s Antoine Hoang 6-4 6-1 in just 64 minutes. Hurkacz dropped just points on his first serve to set up a second round match against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.

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Mikael Ymer overcomes Richard Gasquet to advance to the second round in Marseille

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Swedish 21-year-old Next Gen player Mikael Ymer edged past Richard Gasquet 6-3 3-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach the second round at the Open 13 in Marseille.

 

Ymer fended off 7 of the 10  break points he faced and broke serve in the third match point in a marathon third game setting up a second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ymer raced out to a 4-0 lead with two consecutive breaks. Gasquet pulled back one break in the seventh game to close the gap to 2-5, but Ymer served out the first set in the ninth game with an ace.

Ymer saved three break points in the sixth game, but Gasquet earned the break on his third chance in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3.

Ymer got an early break in the second game of the third set to open up a 3-0 lead. Gasquet broke back in the ninth game and held serve to draw level to 5-5. Ymer converted his third break point at deuce to seal the third set 7-5 in the 12th game.

Benoit Paire beat Gregoire Barrere 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in the all-French match. Paire earned his only break of the match in the third game of the opening set. He saved two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break, where Paire cruised through to a 7-1 win.

Ilya Ivashka overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-1 3-6 6-4. Ivashka broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Popyrin earned one break in the fourth game to clinch the second set 6-3. Popyrin got an early break at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Ivashka broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players went on serve until the 10th game when Ivashka sealed the win with a break.

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Alexander Zverev Going In The Right Direction, Says Becker

The German tennis legend gives his verdict on Zverev’s current form following his grand slam breakthrough.

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Former world No.1 Boris Becker believes Alexander Zverev’s recent run at the Australian Open was confirmation that he belongs at the top of men’s tennis.

 

Last month the 22-year-old achieved his best ever grand slam performance by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne Park before losing to Dominic Thiem. At the tournament he scored wins over Andrey Rublev, who won two consecutive titles prior to the event, and former champion Stan Wawrinka. Zverev has been tipped as a future world No.1 in recent years and remains the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three or more Masters trophies. Although he has previously struggled to shine in the biggest events of the sport.

“Alexander Zverev has made a great step forward with his first participation in a grand slam semi-final.” Becker told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. “Although he had difficult weeks before, for which there were reasons.”

At the start of the year it looked as if the world No.7 was in trouble. At the ATP Cup he lost all three of his matches played. A performance Becker blames on his off-season training. During November and December Zverev played a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer across South America and China.

“He didn’t train enough during the winter break and came to Brisbane unprepared.” He said.
“We exchanged some serious words off the court and he took them to heart.’
“Of course I’m happy he had such success. This is also a confirmation for him that he belongs at the top of the world (in tennis).”
“But the competitors never sleep, that’s a never ending story. He has to confirm this again and again.”

So far in his career, Zverev has won 11 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as third in the world. His biggest triumph occurred towards the end of 2018 when he won the ATP Finals in London.

Reflecting on his Melbourne run last month, Zverev believes he managed to achieve the milestone thanks to a new approach he took to the event. Instead of looking at the whole tournament, he narrowed his focus to match-by-match.

“I went here in a different way. I went match by match. Didn’t look very far. I just knew I had opponents in front of me. I had to play well to beat them. That was it.” He said last month. “Whenever I won, I’d sit down in the locker room and somebody told me who I’m playing next.’
“I went step by step, match by match. Usually I [haven’t done] that in Grand Slams.”

Zverev will return to action next week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. A tournament where he finished runner-up 12 months ago. Becker believes his compatriot could do some damage on the hard courts over the coming weeks with two prestigious North American events taking place next month in Indian Wells and Miami.

“The next tournaments are on hard courts in America. He will play there as well. There he can take a lot of points.” Becker concluded.

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