Ruthless Novak Djokovic Hails Latest Win In Tokyo As 'One Of His Best' Of 2019 - UBITENNIS
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Ruthless Novak Djokovic Hails Latest Win In Tokyo As ‘One Of His Best’ Of 2019

The 16-time grand slam champion was in top form during his latest clash in Japan.

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Top seed Novak Djokovic produced a clinical 50-minute display to book a place in the semi-finals of the Japan Open on his debut.

 

The world No.1 dropped just three games during his comprehensive 6-1, 6-2, win over fifth seed Lucas Pouille. A former top 10 player who is currently ranked 24th in the world rankings. During the match, Djokovic won 82% of his first service points and 72% of his second. Hitting 22 winners to only eight unforced errors. It is his most dominant win in terms of games dropped since his victory over Phillip Kohlschriber at the Italian Open in May. In Rome Djokovic defeated the German 6-3, 6-0.

“It was definitely one of the best matches I’ve played this year. Best one of this week [and it] came at the right time. I thought Lucas was playing really well the first couple of matches in this tournament,” Djokovic told rakutenopen.com. “I saw him play a couple of days ago against Nishioka and he was playing really well. I took away the time from him. I served well, served many aces, returned a lot of his serves back and just used every opportunity to come in. Just overall, a really flawless performance.”

Djokovic’s only minor blip during what was mainly a one-sided encounter occurred towards the end of the second set. When he dropped serve whilst leading 4-1. Nevertheless, it failed to derail the Serbian who rallied towards the finish line. In total he won 53 out of the 76 points played against Pouille.

Playing in his first tournament since withdrawing from the US Open with a shoulder injury, Djokovic is aiming to win his fourth ATP title of the season and 76th overall. Earlier this year, he triumphed at the Australian Open, Madrid Masters and Wimbledon. He has now reached the semi-finals in six out of his past seven events played.

Djokovic will take on either David Goffin or Hyeon Chung in the next round. He leads Goffin 6-1 in their head-to-head and is currently level at 1-1 with Chung.

“[Chung has] struggled with injury and is building his [ATP] Ranking. He’s a great guy, a hard worker, he’s got a very solid game, very strong legs, moves very well, quick,” the world No.1 previewed. “Goffin on the other hand is someone that is in form. Played the finals in Cincinnati and has been coming closer and closer to Top 15, Top 10 of the world. So I’m looking forward to a great challenge tomorrow.”

Millman set for battle of the underdogs

In the other half of the draw, Australian qualifier John Millman continued his dream run with a straightforward 6-4, 6-0, win over home player Taro Daniel. The world No.80, who is yet to play a seeded player in the draw, broke his opponent six times during the match. It is the first time Millman has reached the last four of an ATP Tour event since the Bucharest Open in April 2018.

“It’s tricky. The conditions aren’t that easy. It was pretty gusty out there, but really essential to keep good footwork. [I] just had to focus a little more mentally,” Millman said. “But I’m really happy with how I played, how I executed throughout that match, and happy to be through to a semi-final here in Tokyo.”

Next for Millman will be America’s Reiley Opelka, who dismissed Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 6-3. Blasting 16 aces past the world No.136. The 22-year-old, who stunned seventh seed Taylor Fritz in the first round, is through to his third semi-final of 2019 on the ATP Tour.

“I’m stoked. I’m happy. Today was tough, I felt some pressure. I was the favourite in that match. He was playing inspired tennis in his hometown with the home crowd,” Opelka said. “I thought I did a great job of dealing with all those different factors and variables. I played really well. The way I played that match is how I see myself playing, how I hope I play in the future. I had a lot of clarity on the court.”

Millman is yet to play Opelka on the tour.

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Loss Meaningless To Dominic Thiem In Hunt For ‘Most Difficult’ Title At ATP Finals

The world No.5 explains why the key to his latest match was keeping it short, but not necessarily winning.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem isn’t going to be losing any sleep over his latest loss at the ATP Finals with the ultimate prize still in his sight.

 

Thiem, who qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament of Tuesday, was far from his best as he slumped to a straight-sets loss to Matteo Berrettini. Who has become the first Italian in history to win a match at the event. It is hard to read too much into Thiem’s latest performance with him openly admitting that his focus was on his upcoming semi-final clash. Highlighting one of the drawbacks of having a round-robin tournament with some matches providing irrelevant to the overall standings.

“Of course I was still trying to win that match, but also, at the same time, I knew in my head that I have to take care (of my body) for Saturday because obviously, it’s the way more important match,” Thiem explained during his press conference.
“I’m really trying to get the body going 100% for Saturday, and it wouldn’t be that smart if I would have another three-hour match today.”

The comments do not mean that Berrettini just had a walkover win and he was made to work for the victory. Which levels the head-to-head between the two players to 2-2. However, both would admit that with not much on the line there was a lack of intensity.

“I think that today was maybe even the weakest compared to those three (matches).” Thiem states.
“We had a great one in Shanghai. We had a great one in Vienna and also here. Of course, it affected a little bit that both of us, we couldn’t do anything about the standings in the group anymore.”

The 26-year-old has certainly illustrated his worthy candidacy to lift the title on Sunday in London following his previous triumphs. Earlier this week he scored back-to-back wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Should he end up playing Nadal over the weekend and win, he would become the first player to defeat all members of the Big Three in the same tournament since David Nalbandian at the 2007 Madrid Masters.

There is still a way to go for Thiem to clinch the biggest title of his career to date. The Austrian believes he if he does manage to win the tournament, any other title is not off-limits for him.

“I think that maybe this tournament is the most difficult to win because you have to beat five top 10 guys in a row. Okay, you can afford to lose one match maybe, but still, I’m 100% sure that if you win this title you can win, as well, any other title.” He explains.
“I haven’t done it yet, but I think that if you win this title, it gives you a lot of confidence for Australia (Open) because it’s the closest, but for the full next year as well.”

Few can dispute the fighting spirit of the Austrian on the court in London. However, after a long season, he admits that he isn’t fully healthy. A situation his rivals also find themselves in. Although some are struggling more than others at present.

“I’m not 100%, but it didn’t affect me in these three matches,” Thiem admits. “That’s why I also really need to be careful because I really hope I have two more matches so I can give all that I have and my own 100% in the remaining two matches.”

Thiem could play one of three players in the semi-finals depending on the outcome of Friday’s matches. Awaiting him will be either Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev or Daniil Medvedev. The only way he can play Nadal is if they both progress to the final.

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Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo secure their semifinal spot in the ATP Finals in London

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Former ATP Finals runners-up Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo battled past Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 10-7 after 1 hour and 44 minutes to finish the Group Jonas Bjorkman with a 2-1 round robin record.

 

Kubot and Melo came back from an early break down and fended off four set points before Ram and Salisbury converted their fifth chance to win the opening set 6-4.

Kubot and Melo fended off a break point in the seventh game with a great serve, before they converted their first break point in the 10th game.

Kubot and Melo won five consecutive points in the Match Tie-Break to open up a 6-2 lead. The Polish and Brazilian players converted their fourth match point to secure their spot in the semifinal.

 

 

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Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals

The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.

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LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.

 

The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.

“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.

The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.

A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.

Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“

Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.

“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.

Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.

Italian men in the ATP Finals

-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses

 

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