Andy Murray Drifts Past Thiem In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray Drifts Past Thiem In Madrid

The battle of the former Grand Slam champions lived up to expectations early on but Thiem’s lack of match play in recent weeks paved way for Murray to claim a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, win.

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Image via https://twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen

by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Just a few years ago Murray vs Thiem would have been a match of the final stages of any tournament.

If you consider the players’ pedigree here in Madrid, Murray a winner in 2008 and 2015 and finalist in 2016, Thiem a finalist in 2017 and 2018, and semi-finalist 2019 and 2021, just one year ago. It seems incredible that this was just the glamour match of the first evening session here at the Mutua Open. 

 

Injuries may affect rankings, but not tennis fans’ devotion to their champions and not the players’ commitment to the game. The crammed stands and the spectacle displayed at times by Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem, in their yearning to get back to their highest, was the best testimonial of the expectations and emotions tennis can generate.

Murray got off to an excellent start, holding serve comfortably and appearing immediately to be nicely hitting through.

Such a stride earned him an early break point in the second game, which he failed to convert by dumping a seemingly easy return into the net. The match rose to expectations with enthralling and battled points which got the public on their feet. Eventually Thiem hammered a backhand down the line to close in on 1-1.

Both players led the dance on their following service games. But in the fourth Murray slightly retreated and playing from further behind the baseline allowed Thiem to dictate pace and set up an array of aggressive winners: a flying forehand, a cat and mouse moment, moving Murray to and fro and finally opening up the court with a drop shot.

In game 5 Murray faced a first hardship on serve and was down 0-30 after a double fault but here the match took a turn. A streak of 13 points won to 3, Thiem conceding his serve with three unforced forehand errors, and Murray flew to a 5-2 lead, hitting two aces.

In game nine, serving for the set, the Scot started by losing the first point after a feeble volley, but dashed back to clutch the first set with an ace and another forehand error by Thiem.    

The start of the second set mirrored the first. After a first comfortable service game for Thiem, the second game turned into a battle.

A double fault brought Murray to face the first break point of the match, resolutely erased with an ace. A second break point was wasted by Thiem with an unforced error. Sensing the opportunity to level the match, the Austrian earned a third break point with a forehand down the line. Murray brilliantly saved it with serve and volley, moved ahead with yet another ace and in the next point, though under pressure, he forced Thiem to try and dig a low volley that didn’t make it over the net.

Disappointment may have seeped in for the missed opportunity. In the following game the Austrian committed three forehand errors and lost his service.

The match went on with serve. Murray delighted the public with an exquisite forehand half-volley in the sixth game, followed by an ace to rise 4-2. 

In the eighth game Murray faced what would be the last threat, finding himself swamped at deuce after leading 40-love, but again the Austrian lost his bearings, and with two unforced forehands lagged 5-3.

One of the points of the match was staged at 15-15 in game 9: Thiem served a service out wide and followed it up with an inside out forehand which set up a low sliced volley. Amazing scurrying by Murray who stretched at his utmost to place a forehand lob on the line, retrieved the smash, finally ran down the Thiem’s drop shot, ending the point with a counter drop shot with his forehand. That was some panache.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Murray didn’t falter. He earned two match points and put it away with a last winning serve out wide

A victory for Murray which reminds of all those years when he used to drift through rounds with ease, seldom troubled by his opponents, never failing to show up against his great rivals in the ultimate duels for the crowns.

Murray was strategically impeccable, varying pace continuously: from hitting through and moving his opponent from side to side, then lofting balls, not to allow Thiem, already not fully confident, to get on a roll.

The higher number of matches played by Murray in 2022 surely contributed to making a difference. Thiem was often struggling to find his pace, power and regularity, unable to put constant pressure, to find that intensity that distinguished him and drove him to a Major crown.

Thiem still in quest, still a paler shade of himself. But as Andy told him, over the net: “Keep going. It takes time but you will be fine.”

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Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist Cristian Garin loves The Event But Not So much The Surface

The South American reacts to reaching his first major quarter-final.

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Cristian Garin (CHI) - Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Just over a week ago, Cristian Gain admitted that he was ‘upset’ when he saw his draw for Wimbledon this year. 

 

The world No.43 was set to take on the formidable Matteo Berrettini in the first round who has won two grass-court titles in a row in recent weeks. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead, his opponent was the much lower-ranked Elias Ymer from Sweden who he defeated in straight sets. Since then, Garin hasn’t looked back.

On Monday at The All England Club, he staged an audacious comeback to defeat Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-6). Not only did Garin bounce back from two sets down, he also saved two match points in the process. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last eight of the tournament since Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 and only the fourth in history to do so. 

“It is something very special for me. Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. Every time that I play this tournament is something special I feel,” said Garin.
“To be in the quarterfinals is a dream. I will try to enjoy it. I will try to give my best in the next round.”

Ironically Garin comes from a country where there are no grass courts. This year is his fifth appearance at Wimbledon and it was at the event where he made his Grand Slam debut back in 2017. However, like many other South Americans, clay is still his preferred surface.

“I said Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, not my favorite surface,” he jokes. 
“I think the grass is very fun for me. I have to change a little bit the way that I play. I think here on this surface you have to be aggressive.

Garin is one of only five ATP players from Chile currently ranked in the world’s top 500. Since April he has been coached by Pepe Vendrell who previously worked as a mentor to Roberto Bautista Agut and served as Spain’s captain in the ATP Cup. 

The next test for Garin will be a showdown against the formidable Nick Kyrgios who defeated Brandon Nakashima in his fourth round match.

“He is for me one of the guys that I like to watch. He’s very good for tennis,” he said of Kyrgios.
“In these rounds, you play the best. For me, Nick is obviously one of the best on grass.”

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Last Brit Standing Cameron Norrie Urges Fans ‘To Get Behind Him’ At Wimbledon

The Brit says he is feeling more comfortable on the Tour.

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Cameron Norrie had the pressure of being the British No.1 at Wimbledon this year and now even more eyes will be on him following his milestone win. 

 

The world No.12 defeated Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, in his fourth round match on Sunday to reach the last eight of a major for the first time at the age of 26. In doing so he remains the only home player left in the singles draw of either men’s or women’s draws. Heather Watson lost her last 16 match earlier in the day to Jule Niemeier 6-2, 6-4.

“To play the way I did and to handle the occasion, I felt really comfortable the way I was hitting the ball this morning. Definitely more comfortable than my other matches.” Said Norrie.
“It was good to get through that one in the fashion that I did. I was up the whole match, which definitely helped.”

Norrie’s run is the best by a British man at The All England Club since Andy Murray back in 2017. He is coached on the Tour by Facundo Lugones who first got acquainted with him at college in America. The two were teammates with Lugones being a senior and Norrie a freshman. Last year he achieved a win-loss record of 52-25 and won the biggest title of his career in Indian Wells.

A solid top 20 player on the Tour, Norrie’s popularity back home is steadily increasing. Even more so in recent days due to Wimbledon. Now he is the last Brit standing there is added pressure but he is taking it all in his stride.

“I’m the last one standing. But I think it’s even more reason for everyone to get behind me,” he said. “Even the atmosphere was great today and definitely helped me get over the line there. Especially on that last game, I was obviously pretty nervous. I was serving for my first quarterfinal of a slam. I wanted to get it done there. They definitely helped me a lot.”

Norrie will be hoping the crowd will out in full force for his upcoming clash with former top 10 player David Goffin who defeated Francis Tiafoe in five sets. Goffin has reached the quarter-finals of a major on three previous occasions, including Wimbledon three years ago.

“He’s a very experienced player. He really likes the grass. He’s played a lot of big matches. It’s going to be tough,” Norrie previewed.
“He’s a great competitor, a really good athlete. He’s got a very complete game. He must be playing very well, so it’s going to be a tricky one.’
“One thing for sure, I know that I’m going to get into a lot of rallies with him. He’s not going to come and serve me off the court, which is good. It’s going to be another physical match, which is great for me.”
“I’m looking forward to competing. It’s going to be another huge challenge.”

The only time Norrie played Goffin was last year in Barcelona when Goffin was forced to retire from their match in the second set. 

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Roger Federer Hopes To Play One Last Wimbledon As Icons Mark Center Court Anniversary

The Swiss Maestro said it is ‘great to be back’ after attending a special centenary event alongside other greats of the sport.

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/

On the 100th anniversary of Center Court, a special celebration took place on Sunday that saw the return of Roger Federer.

Past and present champions congregated on the premier court during a special 30-minute presentation with a couple of notable absences. Nine-time winner Martina Navratilova and Pete Sampras were absent. Each walking on one by one, the biggest cheer occurred when it was Federer’s turn to take to the stage.

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a professional match since his quarter-final loss at SW19 12 months ago due to knee surgery. He has already outlined his plans to return to action later this season at the Laver Cup and Swiss indoors. Speaking on court, Federer said he hopes to play at Wimbledon again as he unexpectedly hints at retiring in the near future. 

 

“I’ve been lucky to play a lot of matches here. Different type of role, but it’s great to be here. This court has given me my biggest moments,” said Federer.
“I hope I can come back one more time.”
“I’ve missed it here. I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn’t think it was going to take this long to come back – the knee has been rough on me.
“It’s been a good year regardless of tennis. We’re happy at home. I didn’t know if I should make the trip but I’m happy standing here right now.”


Federer is the only man in history to have ever won the Wimbledon title eight times and was undefeated between 2003-2007. 

One player closing in on that record is Novak Djokovic who is seeking to win his seventh title this year. Speaking about Center Court, the Serbian said the venue has a special place in his heart that dates back to his childhood.

“This court has been truly special from my childhood and the first image of tennis I’ve seen when I was four or five-years-old I saw Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon,” said Djokovic.
“This is where dreams come true and I was blessed in 2011, probably the highlight of my career, to win the tournament and so when I step out on this court I relive these memories. Truly an honor.”

As for the female champions of the tournament, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Margaret Court were all in attendance. So was Billie Jean King who is the co-founder of the WTA Tour and has won all three Wimbledon events on multiple occasions (singles – 6, doubles – 10, and mixed doubles – 4). 

“I played my very first match at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. We started late so I had two days on this court. It was magical and wonderful and I knew I belonged here,” said King.
“I love history and I love the fact we have so many people here. Martina [Navratilova] could not be with us and she won nine women’s singles so I’d just like to say I’m sorry she can’t be here.”

In 1922 Center court was officially opened for the first time after taking just nine months to construct. At the time it was the largest-ever reinforced concrete structure. The addition of a roof didn’t occur until 2009.

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