Dominic Thiem battles past Novak Djokovic to reach his second consecutive ATP Finals title match - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem battles past Novak Djokovic to reach his second consecutive ATP Finals title match

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Dominic Thiem battled past Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 54 minutes to reach his second consecutive title match at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London. Thiem scored his 300th match at tour level and his fifth against a world number 1 player.

The world No.3 scored the fifth win in his 12 head-to-head matches against Djokovic. The Austrian player came back from 0-4 down to win the decisive tie-break 7-5. 

Both players served well and Thiem got the only break of the match at 5-5 in the first set. 

The opening set went on serve in the first ten games. Djokovic won his first service game, when Thiem netted a forehand in the first game. Thiem hit a great volley at the net in the second game and won his service game after a backhand error from Djokovic. 

Djokovic moved ahead 2-1 with a service winner. Thiem held serve at love with a backhand winner to draw level to 2-2. Djokovic hit a forehand winner to take a 3-2 lead in the fifth game. 

Djokovic reached deuce in the sixth game, but Thiem held serve. Djokovic rallied from 0-30 down by winning four consecutive points on serve to win the seventh game. Thiem held serve at love to draw level to 4-4- Djokovic won the ninth game with a service winner and came two points away from winning the first set on return in the tenth game, but Thiem held serve at deuce to draw level to 5-5. Thiem earned his first break point in the 12th game with a forehand winner and converted it to take a 6-5 lead, when Djokovic made a volley error. Thiem converted his first set point with an ace after 51 minutes. 

Each player wasted a break point in the fifth and eighth games of the second set. After four holds of serve Thiem earned a break point at 2-2, but he wasted his chance, when he netted an easy forehand. Thiem saved a break point at 3-4 with an unreturned serve. 

Thiem saved two set points at 5-6 and held serve after two deuces to set up a tie-break. Thiem earned an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead with a service winner. Djokovic got the mini-break back to take a 4-2 lead after winning four consecutive points. Thiem hit a forehand drive-volley winner to draw level to 4-4 and hit two service winners to earn a match point at 6-5. Djokovic fended it off with his serve, but he faced a second match point at 6-7 after a volley error. Thiem wasted the second match point with a double fault. Djokovic earned a set point after a backhand error from Thiem. Djokovic did not convert it after a forehand error from Djokovic. Thiem earned his third match point with a forehand winner. 

Thiem earned his fourth match point with a smash winner, but Djokovic hit a forehand down the line winner and moved ahead 11-10 with a service winner. The Serbian player converted his second set point forcing the match to the third set, when Thiem hit a backhand into the net.

Both players dropped just two points in the first three service games to draw level to 3-3 in the third set. Thiem reached deuce at 4-3 on return at 4-3 but Djokovic hit two service winners. Thiem won the ninth game forcing Djokovic to serve to stay in the match. Djokovic held serve with a forehand winner. 

Thiem won the 11th game when Djokovic made a backhand error securing a tie-break. Djokovic held serve at 15 setting up a second tie-break. Thiem made a double fault in the first point. Djokovic hit two service winners to open up a 3-0 lead. Thiem rallied from 0-4 down by winning five consecutive points to take a 5-4 lead. Thiem earned two match points with a backhand crosscourt winner and converted his second chance and his sixth overall match point at 7-5 with a forehand shot to reach his second consecutive championships match. 

The last player to reach consecutive finals was Djokovic, who got through to the title match each year from 2012 to 2016.

Thiem has won five of his seven most recent head-to-head matches against Djokovic, including two wins at the ATP Finals. Thiem joins Andy Murray as the only players to beat each member of the Big Three on five or more occasions.

Thiem will take on either Daniil Medvedev or Rafael Nadal in tomorrow’s final.

“It was a mental battle. I got so tight in the second-set tie-break, because to play these legends is always going to be something special. Playing for the final at the Nitto ATP Finals is something very special and I thought about that after my first big title in New York. Maybe I am going to be a little bit more calm, but that was a mistake. I was tight and as nervous as before. It was so much on the edge that match, like every single match here. The best players in the world are facing off. So I am incredibly happy to be through and try to get ready for tomorrow”, said Thiem.   

Djokovic ends the year with a 41-5 record and four titles (Australian Open, Dubai, Western and Southern Open in New York and Rome).

The difference was that when you hit full power, sometimes it goes out. He did everything right from 0-4 in the third-set tie-break. I have to put my hats down and say, congratulations. I actually did not play bad any points after 4-0. I thought in every point. I was in it. I did hit the ball. I was not pushing the ball, but he just smashed it and he just played great”, said Djokovic.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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