US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays for the Grand Slam Against Daniil Medvedev - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays for the Grand Slam Against Daniil Medvedev

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Novak Djokovic after his semifinal win on Friday (twitter.com/usopen)

Novak Djokovic is just one match away from achieving what no player has done since 1988 (Steffi Graf) and no man has done since 1969 (Rod Laver): completing the Grand Slam.  It’s a term often misused to describe a Major tournament, but the Grand Slam is specifically winning all four Majors in the same calendar year.  Incredibly, it would also be his 21st Major overall, surpassing both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most all-time in the men’s game.  This could be one of the most monumental days in tennis history.

 

But Daniil Medvedev is keen to play spoiler.  This is the third Major final for the 25-year-old Russian, which have all come on hard courts, his signature surface.  Two years ago at this event, he pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets in a thrilling championship match, winning over the same New York crowd that had booed him throughout the tournament.  Seven month ago in Australia, he was dominated by Djokovic by a score of 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.  However, it seems the Russian is ready to provide much more resistance on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Daniil Medvedev (2) – 4:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Overall Djokovic leads their head-to-head- 5-3, with the Australian Open final serving as their last encounter.  Novak leads 4-2 on hard courts, and 2-0 at Majors, with both matches occurring in Melbourne.  Medvedev’s three victories have come at Masters 1000 events and the ATP Finals.  And that’s the crucial point here: Daniil has never defeated Novak in best-of-five, nor been able to push him to a fifth set. 

Djokovic has become a master of this format, as evidenced by his run this fortnight.  He has dropped the first set in his last four matches, yet remarkably won them all rather comfortably.  Even when Sascha Zverev forced a fifth set in Friday’s semfiinals, Novak took that set 6-2.  Medvedev’s run in New York has been much more straightforward, dropping only one set.  He’s been clinical in dismissing opponents, and I found his complete lack of celebration after defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semifinals quite revealing.  Daniil fully expected to win that match, and will not be satisfied unless he takes the title.

This should be a stellar final, with so much on the line.  I do not anticipate another straight-set victory for Djokovic like earlier this year.  We really haven’t seen Novak tighten up at a crucial moment while chasing the Grand Slam at either Wimbledon or the US Open, but that must happen at some point, right?  And this is not Rod Laver Arena, where Djokovic has never lost in the championship match.  The Serbian is surprisingly only 3-5 in finals on Arthur Ashe Stadium.  I think Medvedev truly believes he can win this match, and would revel in going down in history as the player who prevented Novak from completing the Grand Slam.  However, I cannot get the words Novak said in his post-match interview on Friday out of my head: “I am going to treat my next match like it is the last match of my career.”  Djokovic realizes what a unique opportunity this is to secure two of tennis’ greatest feats on the same day, and is ready to give absolutely everything he has to make that happen.  Echoing the famous sentiment of Billie Jean King, Novak has treated the pressure of this moment as a privilege.  He has fully embraced it, and I do not see him being denied.


Also on Sunday, the women’s doubles championship will be decided, as Coco Gauff and Katy McNally play their first Major final against 2019 Australian Open champions Sam Stosur and Shuai Zhang at 1:00pm local time on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Looking For Experience After Splitting With Coach

Emma Raducanu revealed her post-US Open plans as she prepares for life on the main WTA tour.

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Emma Raducanu (@CambridgeAwe - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu is looking for more experience in her team after splitting from her short-term coach Andrew Richardson.

 

The US Open champion revealed the news at the ‘homecoming party’ set up at the National Tennis Centre in London where the Duchess of Cambridge was present.

Speaking at the event Raducanu said that she needed more experience as she will now play on the main tour on a regular basis, “At this stage of my career I really need someone that has had that WTA Tour experience at that high level,” Raducanu was quoted as saying by the BBC website.

“Especially right now as I’m so new to it, I think I really need someone just to guide me who has already been through that themselves. “Never did I even dream of winning the US Open and now I’m ranked 22 in the world, which is pretty crazy to me.”

Richardson was always a short-term arrangement with him now committed to improving his 10 year-old son.

As for Raducanu she is now 22 in the world and faces unfamiliar territory in playing a full-time schedule.

After winning the US Open as a qualifier, Raducanu has received unlimited amount of attention and expectation which is something she will need guidance with.

Now Raducanu will set out a schedule in the next few days with the Brit set to return as early as Indian Wells which starts on the 6th of October, “I got back on court a few days ago, and yesterday I did a full training day,” she explained.

“I was feeling pretty good about myself and my game, and I am very excited to compete again. All the opportunities I am getting have been very fun, but where I really want to be is on the tennis court, as I’m just thriving out there.

“I haven’t decided on my schedule yet – I will decide in the next few days where I am going to go to – but wherever I play next, I’m going to make sure I’m ready. I don’t want to jump into things too early.”

Should the 18 year-old make a strong end to the season then she could make the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

Although she is 14th in the race, players such as Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka could miss the event and it’s something that is on the back of the mind of Raducanu, “The WTA Finals I would never even dream of before, because it was just so far out of reach and out of sight, but coming reasonably close to it now, I think it would be great if I qualified,” she admitted.

“But if not, it’s a complete bonus, because my priority is just putting in the best possible pre-season that I can, so I can start strong next year and next season.”

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Berrettini pulls off comeback win over Auger Aliassime at Laver Cup

Matteo Berrettini contributed to a 3-1 overall scoreline for Team Europe over Team World after day one of the Laver Cup.

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Matteo Berrettini (@LaverCup - Twitter)

The Italian fought back from a set down to beat the Canadian and give team Europe a commanding lead.

 

In the longest match in Laver Cup history so far Matteo Berrettini needed a match tiebreak to beat the world number 11 and good friend Felix Auger Aliassime 6-7, 7-5, 10-8 in a match that lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

The Italian hit 15 winners and served seven aces while the Montreal native hit 37 unforced errors in the loss.

“I was fighting and I felt the match was really hard and Felix (Auger-Aliassime) was playing well and he didn’t give me anything and he made no mistakes and he was serving really well and I felt a different energy because we are playing for a team, not just myself and they helped me a lot”.

The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Italian with the first two breakpoints of the match but the Canadian was able to save both and hold serve.

The next game was a rollercoaster and the Montreal native responded by earning four chances to break and after 13 minutes finally made the breakthrough to take a 4-2 lead.

At 5-3, the world number 11 found himself with two set points but failed to convert and the Italian fought back and got the break back and at 6-5 the Canadian had five more set points but again the Italian saved all five and the set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Auger Aliassime got the early break to take a 2-0 lead and that break was enough for him to finally serve out the first set and take a 1-0 set lead. The world number seven was keen to bounce back and had two early chances to break at 1-1 but the Canadian saved both and held serve once again.

The very next game it was the Montreal native turn to apply the pressure on the Berrettini serve but the Italian managed to save both breakpoints he faced and held serve.

At 5-5, the Canadian kept pushing earning two more break points but couldn’t get the breakthrough, and the very next game the Rome native pounced and managed to get the crucial break to win the second set and force a match tiebreak.

The breaker was extremely tight until 3-3 when the Canadian managed to get the break and jumped out to a 5-3 lead before losing two straight points and the breaker was even at five.

Once again the world number 11 got the break again and was up 7-5 but again lost two straight points and we were even at seven and then at 9-8 Berrettini with the rally of the match sealed the win with a great passing shot.

After the match in his post-match interview, the Italian was asked about being selected to play doubles in the night session.

“I am going to be honest when they told me I would be playing singles and doubles I didn’t expect to play a match that long so I spoke with the captain and we will see but I am still young”.

Day 1 results

Casper Ruud got the ball rolling for Team Europe as he beat the American Rielly Opelka in the first match of the day in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 to give his team the first point of the tournament.

In the first match of the night session Andrey Rublev gave Team Europe a convincing 3-0 lead as he came back to beat the Argentine Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 in the match tiebreaker.

Finally in the last match of the day Team World got their first point as the duo of John Isner and Denis Shapovalov came back from a set down to beat the doubles pairing of Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev 4-6, 7-6, 10-1.

Day 2 preview:

Day 2 features some amazing matchups in both the day and night session with Stefanos Tsitsipas starting the day against the Aussie Nick Krygios before John Isner takes on Alexander Zverev.

In the night session Denis Shapovalov takes on the US Open champion from Russia Danil Medvedev with another doubles match wrapping things up as the team of Andrey Rublev and Tsitispas will take on John Isner and Nick Kyrgios.

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ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval

Changes are coming to the men’s Tour which includes a brand new ‘profit-sharing formular’ for players.

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Masters tournaments in North America, Europe and Asia are set to be expanded over the coming months after the ATP Board recently approved some ‘key aspects’ of their strategic plan.

 

In a letter issued to players, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said an agreement has been reached concerning a variety of topics, which include the expansion of various Masters 1000 events. It is understood that the plan is for Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati and Shanghai to be increased to 12-day events instead of just one week. Putting them more in line with Indian Wells and Miami. Tennis.com reports that under the new structure, ATP 250 events will also take place during the second week of those tournaments and they could receive a subsidy from the ATP Tour, provided by extra fees paid by the Masters tournaments.

Masters 1000 events are the third highest-ranked category events in men’s tennis after Grand Slams and the ATP Finals in terms of prize money and ranking points on offer. The series was first introduced back in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the name ‘Masters 1000’ was born. The number represents how many ranking points the winner receives.

Besides the proposed changes to the Masters series, the Board has also given a green light to “a new Profit-Sharing formula” and “long-term prize money levels.” The prize money increase is reportedly said to be 2.5 percent of a base level, plus a bonus pool with a 50 percent share of the collective profit of the Masters events.

“This represents significant progress for our sport and the way our player and tournament members operate under the equal partnership of the ATP Tour. It is only through the spirit of this partnership, transparency, and alignment of interests that we can truly maximise your potential and switch our focus to the competition we face in the border sports and entertainment landscape,” Gaudenzi wrote in his letter to players.

Part of the plan also include making changes to ATP Media, who are in charge of broadcasting the events. At present it is currently jointly owned by the Tour and each of the Masters 1000 events. However, in the future it has been proposed that those tournaments trade in their ownership rights for shares in ATP media. Exact details about this process have not been publicly disclosed and it is unclear if all of the tournaments would agree to such a move.

The ATP also wants to create a ‘Tennis Data Innovations’ which will be an independent entity.

All of these proposed changes are still subject to further agreement around additional matters. The ATP have been working on details of their strategic plan for the past 18 months.

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