Category Archives: Tennis

Djokovic defeats Raonic to enter ATP World Tour semi-finals

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Novak Djokovic confirmed his place in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals after narrowly edging out Milos Raonic 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5).

The subject of much speculation during a relative slump in form since June, Djokovic produced a more convincing and formidable presence at the O2 Arena.

And despite a fine performance from Raonic, the defending champion made it 21 wins from his last 22 matches as he looks to regain his World No1 position on ATP rankings.

“Other than a couple of loose service games, I thought it was a good performance,” said Djokovic after the game. “This definitely can serve as a great wind in the back for the matches to come.”

Raonic had lost all seven of their previous matches, and won just one of 18 sets, but managed 42 winners to 11 as he made the running for much of the two hours and 14 minutes.

Djokovic served well to save three break points in the first set and edged through a gripping tie-break when Raonic double-faulted.

The Canadian fell behind early in the second but twice recovered breaks of serve, and while the 17,000 spectators roared with every punch and counter-punch, Djokovic began to leak errors.

Raonic had a chance to level the set but snatched at a forehand, and Djokovic came through a second tight tie-break to clinch victory.

“It’s just hanging in there mentally, staying strong and believing that the opportunities will arise,” said Djokovic.

“When they do you have to capitalise. I think one or two points separated us today. It could have gone either way, this match.”

The five-time champion will also the first to go through to the last four of the tournament, as Raonic goes on to face Dominic Thiem for the other semi-final place on Thursday.

Andy Murray celebrates world No.1 rank with Paris Masters

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Great Britain’s Andy Murray celebrated his ascension to world number one by beating American John Isner 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 6-4 to win his first Paris Masters title.

After double-faulting on the first point of the first game, Murray soon brought his a-game, breaking for a 4-2 lead, and showing watertight defence to close the door on Isner.

Murray managed only six points on his opponent’s serve in the set, but that was enough to take it in 35 minutes. The unseeded Isner continued to put pressure on Murray, showing an increasing deftness at the net to take the second set to a tie-break.

And the 31-year-old had too much for the Scot in the decider, serving imperiously to take the breaker 7-4.Twice in Isner’s first two service games of the third set Murray saw break points snatched away by his opponent’s huge serve.

But Murray was not to be denied, and he finally forced a break at 5-4, firing in a rapid backhand that Isner could only dig into the net, to take the third set and the match.

The victory brought Murray his sixth ATP title, in a memorable 2016 where he also added his second Olympic and Wimbledon titles on his way to the top of the rankings this year.

He will be officially confirmed as Britain’s first singles number one since computerised rankings were introduced in 1973.

Murray’s place as the new leader in men’s tennis had been confirmed by Milos Raonic’s withdrawal from Saturday’s semi-final with a leg injury, but the hype around his accomplishment did nothing to knock his concentration.

He now heads to the season-ending World Tour Finals as top seed for the first time.

However, should previous number one Novak Djokovic wins every match at the Finals he could reclaim the top ranking he held for 122 weeks.

Djokovic ready to defend World No1 rank as Murray closes in

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Novak Djokovic is ready to defend for his status as world number one even as second-placed Andy Murray prepares for next week’s Paris Masters looking to overtake the Serb.

Murray, 29, won his third title in as many weeks after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Vienna Open final on Sunday. He could top the ATP rankings next week if he wins the Paris Masters event and Djokovic fails to reach the final.

On the other hand, 12-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic collected his latest major title after completing the career Grand Slam with a first French Open title in June, but suffered a slump since.

He only managed to pick up just one more title in Toronto before losing early at both the Wimbledon and the Olympics, and missed the chance at collecting another Grand Slam title after a bruising defeat by Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.

“Winning the French Open this year has brought a lot of joy to me but on the other hand has taken away a lot from me, as well,” said Djokovic.

“I felt a little bit exhausted, I must say, and maybe less motivated. So I had to kind of rediscover that feeling of being on the court and keep pushing myself.”

“I guess it took a little bit of time, more time, and I’m in a better state of mind at the moment than I was some months ago. It makes me want to go on court and fight for every point because there is something to win at the end.”

For Murray, it was a remarkable year with seven titles – the most in a season in his career.

“I get a step closer with every win but it’s still a long way from here,” he said. “From two to one seems a small jump in a way but it’s the hardest one to make. To go from 100 to 50 is more spots but is a lot easier.”

“I was thinking more about how you are going to win the match rather than what it would mean if you did win it but it’s nice to win my seventh tournament. A lot of them have come in the last few months. After the Australian Open I struggled a little bit but the last few months have been very good.”

Sharapova ban sentence reduced after appeal

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Maria Sharapova’s two-year doping ban has been reduced to 15 months following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Sharapova, 29, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

Meldonium, a heart disease drug also known as mildronate, was listed as a banned substance on 1 January 2016.

Sharapova said she had been taking the drug since 2006 for health problems and had “not tried to use a performance-enhancing substance”, adding that she was unaware the drug had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) banned list.

The CAS panel that reviewed the case said it found Sharapova’s case “was not about an athlete who cheated.”

While the panel also added that she could be “under no circumstances… considered to be an ‘intentional doper’”, it asserted that Sharapova was at fault for not giving her agent “adequate instructions” in checking Wada’s prohibited list and “failing to supervise and control” her agent.

The tribunal ruling said Sharapova tested positive for meldonium after her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on 26 January and in an out-of-competition test on 2 February.

CAS treated both results as a single anti-doping violation.

After the appeal, the five-time Grand Slam winner will be able to return to the tennis court on 26 April next year, possibly in time for next year’s French Open.

Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) says that they will take steps so that players will not be able to plead ignorance should they be found guilty of doping.

“We have reviewed, and will continue to review, our processes for communicating changes to the prohibited list to players with the aim of ensuring that no player can claim that they had not been fully informed,” a statement from the organization added.