Category Archives: Tennis

Stan Wawrinka could stand amongst big five – Djokovic

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Stan Wawrinka was victorious in the 2016 US Open final after defeating World No.1 Novak Djokovic in the grand final.

Wawrinka won 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 to add the US title under his belt; it was his third grand slam victory after his triumphs at the 2014 Australia Open and the 2015 French Open.

At 31, Wawrinka was also the oldest male winner of the US Open since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall’s triumph in 1970, and the fifth man in the Open era to win more than one major tournament after turning 30, following Rosewall, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors.

He also managed to hit 46 winners in a brilliant display of confident shot-making while Djokovic started strongly but struggled physically later on in the match that spanned four hours.

But Wawrinka’s confident performance was contradictory towards his pre-match nerves, when he broke down in tears while speaking to his coach Magnus Norman.

“Before the final I was really nervous like never before. I was shaking in the locker-room,” said the Swiss. “When we start talking five minutes before the match, last few things with Magnus, I start to cry. I was completely shaking.”

Physically I was there. My game was there. Just put the fight on the court and you will have a chance to win. And that’s what happened, after a few games when I start to believe in myself, I start to be in the match.”

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Djokovic (left) believes that tennis now has a “big five” after Wawrinka’s US Open triumph.

Novak Djokovic says tennis now has a ‘big five’ following Stan Wawrinka’s US Open triumph.

“He plays best in the big matches and definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players,” he said.

But world number three Wawrinka insisted that he was “really far” from the ‘big four’ of Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The four of them have won 42 of the past 47 Grand Slams, although Wawrinka now has the same number of major titles as Murray.

“Just look at the tournaments they have won, how many years they’ve been there,” Wawrinka said. “If you look, yes, I have three Grand Slams. How many Masters 1000 has Murray?”

“They have been there 10 years. They have not only been winning, but being in semi-finals, final every time. That’s why I’m not there.”

Kei Nishikori ousts Andy Murray to reach US Open semi-finals

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Japan’s Kei Nishikori fought back to defeat world No.2 Andy Murray in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

Murray had claimed two sets to one but eventually lost 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the space of three hours 57 minutes.

Nishikori will now face either Juan Martin Del Portro or No.3 Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals.

“It was too exciting on the court, but I tried to stay calm,” said Nishikori, whose best finish in New York was as the runner-up in 2014.

“In the beginning I didn’t start well – he has a great return – but I finished well. The rain delay helped me to change tactics. I tried to hit a few more drop-shots than usual today and it worked really well.”

He began with a near-bagel as he overpowered Nishikori in just 35 minutes, but Nishikori managed to level the game soon after with a number of drop shots.

The third set featured five breaks of serve, and the most crucial came at 4-all to Nishikori.

The 26 year old was serving 30/40, 4-4, when he tried another drop shot but floated it wide to give Murray the break.

After a hold to start the fourth, it looked like Murray would, at last, seize control of the quarter-final contest and continue his stellar stretch into the semi-finals. Since losing in the Roland Garros final, the Brit had gone 26-1 and reached seven consecutive finals.

But Nishikori held on. At 1-0, during a break-point opportunity for Murray, a loud noise in Arthur Ashe Stadium caused a halt to a point.

Murray emerged flustered after the disturbance, and Nishikori took advantage, firing off six straight games to even the match and force a deciding fifth set.

In the decider, “Clutch Kei” showed how he has achieved a higher winning percentage in matches that go to a decider than anyone in the Open Era.

Calm even after he broke Murray for a 6-5 lead in the fifth, he merely walked to his chair and prepared to hold, and reach the semi-finals at the US Open.

Djokovic heads into US Open semi-finals as Tsonga retires

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Novak Djokovic eases into the semi-finals of the US Open after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became his third opponent who was unable to complete a match.

Djokovic was leading, 6-3, 6-2, when Tsonga retired.

The Serb has been struggling with wrist and arm injuries, and benefited from a walkover and an early retirement from two opponents in New York, but there were few signs of vulnerability against Tsonga.

The Serb had won 13 of their last 14 matches, stretching back five years.

Tsonga had fleeting chances in the first set, missing a backhand on break point in game five and clinching a break when Djokovic snatched at a volley in game seven.

But with three double faults and an awkward backhand the Frenchman looked feeble in his serve, going three breaks in a row and fell 5-3 behind.

The Frenchman then committed 19 unforced errors and failed to win a point on his second serve, as a calmed Djokovic took the opening set in 35 minutes. Tsonga’s predicament then took a turn for the worse when he requested medical attention to his left knee after falling a double break down in the second set.

Djokovic sealed the second set with an ace and with Tsonga unable to push up when serving, the ninth seed approached the net and held out his hand to bring an end to the action after just 81 minutes.

This meant that Djokovic is into the semis after having completed just two out of five matches in New York, benefiting from a walkover and two retirements. He will be up against another Frenchman in the last four, after Gael Monfils won against fellow compatriot Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

France’s Lucas Pouille upsets Rafael Nadal in US Open

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France’s Lucas Pouille claimed the biggest win of his career yet as he defeated two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal in an intense five-set fourth round match.

The 22-year-old outfought Nadal in a match lasting four hours and seven minutes to end the game by 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.

Nadal had several perfect opportunities to get match point in the fifth set, including one he squandered by playing his forehand into the net with the court wide open.

Tournament 24-seed Pouille pulled off a winner down the line the next point to seal victory.

“I was very aggressive all the match and at 6-6 I didn’t want to miss,” he said after the match. He will face compatriot Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals.

For Nadal, it was the first year since 2004 that the 30-year old failed to reach a Grand Slam quarter final. His best achievements since his 2014 French Open Grand Slam victory had been two quarter-final spots at the 2015 Australian and French Opens.

However, it was clear that this was not the end for the Spaniard.

“There were things I could do better. Had the right attitude. I fought right up to the last ball,” he explained after the match “But I need something else. I need something more that was not there today.”

Nadal also played down fears for his fitness. “My wrist is improving a lot. The injury is at the end of the process. I am ready to keep playing. That’s what my body is asking me now.”

Meanwhile, tournament ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also reached the quarter-finals, beating Jack Sock in four sets to make it three Frenchmen in the quarter-final of a grand slam for the first time in the Open era.