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Which Candy Bar Is Isner’s Lucky Charm At Wimbledon?

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2018

Which Candy Bar Is Isner’s Lucky Charm At Wimbledon?

The American will try to reach his first major final on Friday

John Isner, the reigning Miami Open presented by Itau champion, has made the best Grand Slam run of his career by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, where he will face eighth seed Kevin Anderson. And while winning all 95 of his service games has certainly helped at the All England Club, one sweet treat might be the secret to his success, and it’s not an amino acid, a power bar, or anything you might guess.

“I just had a Kit Kat before I came in here. That’s the truth,” Isner told reporters with a smile after his quarter-final victory against Milos Raonic on Wednesday. “I had a little bit of a sugar craving. That’s not a normal occurrence for me. I think after each win throughout these 10 days, I’ve had a Kit Kat. I’m not going to change that now.”

The American hopes that on Friday he’ll be able to continue that streak. And while he has been indulging himself this fortnight, the 33-year-old says he has generally been careful with his diet.

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“Especially when I started learning more and more about how important nutrition and diet is, I’ve always eaten very well,” Isner said. “I still eat a lot. I have such a big frame. But for the most part I know what to eat. I don’t eat much pasta. I never eat pizza. I don’t eat much unhealthy stuff. For me, in large part, I’m putting really good fuel in my body.”

The one irony of this story is that Kit Kat’s slogan is, “Have a break, have a Kit Kat’. Isner will be doing his best to ensure that, for the sixth consecutive match this fortnight, there won’t be any breaks – of his serve – against Anderson.

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Big Servers Collide For Spot In Wimbledon Final

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2018

Big Servers Collide For Spot In Wimbledon Final

Familiar foes Anderson & Isner meet for first time since 2015

There may not be many people who predicted a Kevin Anderson-John Isner semi-final ahead of this Wimbledon fortnight. But now two of the tallest players in the sport, standing at 6’8” and 6’10”, respectively, have an opportunity to reach arguably the biggest final of their careers at the All England Club.

Perhaps Anderson’s appearance in the semi-final is more surprising, considering the South African was down match point against eight-time champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals before becoming the fifth player to defeat the Swiss from two sets down. But Isner is not thinking about Federer being out. Instead, he’s focusing on the opponent in front of him.

“Whether it was Kevin or Roger, that didn’t enter my mind at all, which I think is very good,” Isner said. “It’s not like I have a huge opportunity now. Look how well Kevin is playing. It’s going to be extra tough.”

Players To Beat Roger Federer From Two Sets Down

 Player Event Result
 Lleyton Hewitt  2003 Davis Cup SF  5-7, 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-1
 David Nalbandian  2005 Nitto ATP Finals  6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(3)
 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  2011 Wimbledon  3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
 Novak Djokovic  2011 US Open  6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5
 Kevin Anderson  2018 Wimbledon  2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11

In fact, both players are in the best form of their lives. Anderson has a chance to reach his second Grand Slam final, and he can break into the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings with a victory against Isner. The American is guaranteed to climb to at least No. 8, which will be a career-best.

And while Isner leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 8-3, they knew one another long before they began playing on the ATP World Tour. The American competed for the University of Georgia, while the South African played at the University of Illinois. Just more than 11 years ago, they battled at the No. 1 singles spot in the NCAA Finals between the two schools, with Isner triumphing in straight sets.

“There could be a little mental aspect in our match,” Isner said. “We’ve been lined up against each other for about 14 years now, because he left Illinois when I left Georgia. We’ve been doing it ever since.

“For me this match-up, and I think for him as well, is especially cool. It’s a very nice spotlight on college tennis, that one of us, no matter what, is going to be playing in the Wimbledon final… I never could have imagined this. I don’t know if you asked him that question [what he would say]. [I would have said] there’s no shot. [I couldn’t] imagine us playing each other in the semi-finals of the most prestigious tennis tournament we have.”

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The key will be perhaps how well Anderson, who seeks his 300th tour-level win Friday and has been broken nine times across five matches, holds onto his serve. Isner has not been broken in 95 service games this tournament. So if the American is able to get a beat on his opponent’s serve, that might spell trouble for the 2017 US Open runner-up.

“John I think has got arguably one of the best serves of all-time on the Tour. Especially in the past few months, what’s really impressive is just his first-serve percentage as well, never mind how accurate and big the serve is. But he’s very consistent with the two. Definitely, the first challenge is the serve.”

Isner has landed 75.9 per cent of first serves throughout the fortnight, allowing him to play on his terms from the start of rallies, if the ball comes back at all. Unbelievably, the 33-year-old has hit an ace on 39.7 per cent (161/406) of his first-serve points.

Most Attempts Before Reaching Maiden Grand Slam Final (Open Era)

 Player  Attempts
 David Ferrer 42
 John Isner 41???
 Stan Wawrinka 36
 Kevin Anderson 34
 Kim Warwick 32 
 Marin Cilic 29 

Anderson knows that Isner, who lifted his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Miami Open presented by Itau, is high on confidence, allowing him to swing freely at his groundstrokes, especially given his strong serving. So he will be focused on not giving the No. 9 seed any cheap breaks. The American, who is into his first Grand Slam semi-final, has broken serve 15 times in five matches, whereas he arrived on the hallowed grass having broken just 30 times in 25 matches this season.

“In the matches I’ve played him, obviously taking care of your serve is the first priority. It’s a match that’s often won on just a couple points here and there. I feel confident in baseline exchanges I’d say quite a lot [of the time] with John,” said Anderson, who is trying to become the first South African since Brian Norton in 1921 to reach the Wimbledon final. “At the same time, because he’s such a big player, has so much firepower, you just can’t be too patient. You have to still be aggressive, put him on the back foot.”

This year’s New York Open champion uses more topspin from the baseline, allowing him to work points more patiently and play better defensive tennis if need be. This is their first meeting since the 2015 BNP Paribas Open, so it will be interesting to see how they adjust to one another, with both competitors in good form.

“It’s always close, always very close,” said Isner, who can become the 12th American man in the Open Era to make the Wimbledon final.. “When you match up with two big servers, inevitably the matches are going to be close. I’m going to expect a very tough match on Friday. I think he will expect that as well.”

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'I was expecting baby steps – but I want giant steps' – Williams ready for Wimbledon final

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

Serena Williams was expecting to take “baby steps” on her return to tennis as a mum but after reaching the Wimbledon final wants to make giant strides.

The former world number one will be seeking a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title when she faces Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s showpiece.

Despite being only four tournaments into her return, she has been many people’s favourite for an eighth title.

“This is not inevitable for me,” said Williams, who gave birth in September.

“It’s no secret I had a super tough delivery. I lost count after, like, four surgeries because I was in so many surgeries. There was a time I could barely walk to my mailbox.

“It’s like, come on guys, this is pretty awesome. To hear people say, ‘Oh, she’s a favourite’ – the last 16 months, I’ve played four tournaments, and was carrying another human half that time. It’s interesting.”

  • Williams to face Kerber in Wimbledon final
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Williams, 36, arrived at the All England Club ranked 181 in the world and seeded 25th but these numbers have been fooling no-one.

Although her 6-2 6-4 victory over German 13th seed Julia Gorges on Thursday was her first match against a top-50 player at these championships, she has shown enough power, desire and stamina here to answer any questions over the shape she is in.

Against Gorges she appeared to conserve energy by not running for the balls she was unlikely to make but then occasionally charged forward to the net to finish off a point and show she could still move around the court well.

She has dropped just one set at this Wimbledon, against Camila Giorgi in the quarter-finals, and has served the second fastest serve at 122mph – just behind sister Venus’ 123mph delivery.

It has all meant that Williams, who will be watched on Saturday from the Royal Box on Centre Court by her good friend the Duchess of Sussex, is the favourite for a title that will make her the fourth Grand Slam-winning mum of the Open era.

It will be a rematch of the 2016 final, which Williams won, and the American says she will need to be at her best to beat the German 11th seed again.

“She’s playing so well. I think she’s incredibly confident,” she said. “I have to be ready for the match of my life.”

It seems her progress since her return – which included reaching the fourth round at the French Open last month but withdrawing through injury – has surprised her.

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“I was expecting a few more baby steps myself,” she said. “Again, I’ve said it all week, this is only my fourth tournament back.

“[But] Every time I go out there, I want to I guess take a giant step forward, keep taking giant steps, but keep improving.”

Williams, seems to have taken the lead from her 10-month daughter in her approach to her comeback that has taken her to a 10th Wimbledon final.

“She’s walking, maybe a little too fast,” she said. “She’s trying to go faster than her body will allow her to go. She’s moving those feet. She kicks her little feet really hard. I’ve been learning a lot from her.”

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Coaches' Corner: Stine Reflects On Relationship With In-Form Anderson

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2018

Coaches’ Corner: Stine Reflects On Relationship With In-Form Anderson

Anderson will play in his second major semi-final on Friday at Wimbledon

Brad Stine has coached a variety of players throughout his career, from two stints with former World No. 1 Jim Courier to Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean. He had been working with the USTA for three and a half years last December when he got a call that led to him joining Kevin Anderson’s team fresh off the best year of the South African’s career. sat down with Stine earlier in the season to learn what getting to know the Wimbledon semi-finalist has been like, how he approached their relationship and more.

What made you join Kevin’s team this year? How did that come about?
I wasn’t planning on leaving the USTA, but when the opportunity came up, I really thought it was a great opportunity and obviously Kevin making the final of the US Open last year put him in a pretty elite group and it’s not every day that you get an offer to work with a player who is Top 15 in the world.

I was interested and excited by the opportunity to work with him and he wants to play for another five years or so, and that was important to me. I didn’t want to do it if he’d just be playing for another year or something like that.

What’s been the biggest surprise with Kevin?
I wouldn’t say it’s been surprising, but I would say it’s been enjoyable to be with someone like him. Kevin is probably the most focused, intense professional person I’ve been around since Jim Courier.

What he demands from himself and what he expects from his team when he’s at the office, inside the fences and training is very high.I’ve really enjoyed that, that intensity level and demand. It’s great. It makes me really focused on what’s going on, so to me that’s been the best part of everything.

When guys climb up the ATP Rankings or earn a major milestone in their career, you might not expect them to be looking for a new coach. So how did you approach the situation?
Kevin’s very involved with Jay Bosworth in Delray and they’ve had a long-term relationship around the same length Kevin was with Neville [Godwin], and Jay is still involved, so I’m working closely with Jay. Jay has a very good understanding of Kevin as a person and obviously his game and everything.

But I also wanted to come into the situation with a bit of a fresh eye. I know Neville… I certainly could have reached out to Neville to get some information. But I wanted to come into it a little more fresh and have a little bit more of a beginner’s mindset. I was beginning with Kevin. I wanted to learn and see what was going on. Jay’s made that happen really, really quickly because Jay knows Kevin so well.

Kevin was arguably playing the best tennis of his life toward the end of last summer. So as a coach, how do you approach working with him knowing he’s competing at such a high level right off the bat?
Jay [Bosworth] gave me some good insights as far as some things that they had consistently been looking to improve. Since I’ve been on board there have been a few little technical things and a few little tactical things that we’ve made adjustments in. I’m certainly not going to come on board with Kevin or anyone else in his situation and try and reorganise their game somehow.

Kevin’s obviously been extremely successful and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some top players in the past and recognise that it’s small adjustments that are the difference between winning and losing when you get deeper into tournaments. Kevin’s been lucky enough to pretty consistently get deeper into tournaments.

So when you get deeper into tournaments and you’re playing better and better and stronger and stronger, the margins between winning and losing become really small.So if we could find some small adjustments that help him execute a little bit better in certain situations or create better opportunities for him and be able to stay in points or be able to take advantage of things that he’s created in points, those could be the difference between winning and losing.

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Kevin had a tough loss at the Australian Open in your first major together in the first round losing to Kyle Edmund. But then Edmund went on to reach the semi-finals. So how do you deal with a tough match like that so early in a relationship? 
It was obviously disappointing to go to the Australian Open and lose first round. Expectations were pretty high that he could go there and do some damage. The match against Kyle in the first round could have easily been a third-round match or a fourth-round match. And it was a great match regardless of where it happened in the draw. It was disappointing to lose, Kevin was up a break early in the fifth set, it felt like he had a good opportunity.

We had been to two events prior to that and had been on the court for a week of training in Melbourne and a week or so in Delray prior to that so we hadn’t been together for long. I felt like we really clicked quickly. We get along well. The level of communication has been very good between Kevin and I and between Jay, myself and Kevin. We have an open chat between the three of us all the time with the phone. But I was really impressed both in Pune when he lost to Simon in the final and then again when he lost to Kyle in Australia with his level of maturity.

Of course, Kevin is a more mature guy for the Tour, but his level of maturity with how he dealt with those losses and kind of sitting down and analysing the situation [was impressive]. What were the positives? What were the negatives? What were the things we need to take from those things to improve on? We talked about those things and we’ve tried to address some of the things that I saw when he played Kyle in Australia as things that may have presented themselves against that particular opponent as things that I think he can apply in matches day in and day out so it’s an educational process.

Kevin’s got a very good outlook. I’d say he’s very good with his growth mindset of getting better and I have found him to be very open about discussions in relationship to making the adjustments that we’re talking about and applying different things and the willingness to do that and that’s made it really enjoyable so far from where I’m at.

You have a lot of experience with a variety of players, so how do you go into a coaching relationship? How do you balance adapting to the player versus bringing your own ideas to the table?
I think it’s a combination of both. I think at this point in my career, coaching wise, there are certain things and philosophies I’m set with. But I think part of being a good coach is actually being able to look at the strength and weaknesses of each individual player you’re working with and being able to get the most out of them. Working with Kevin is going to be different than working with Sebastien Grosjean or with Jim [Courier]. It’s what Kevin brings to the table and then what I can bring to try to improve where he’s at because that’s the goal.

And again, that’s been one of the refreshing things with Kevin, who at 31 years of age and being ranked where he’s ranked, he still feels that he has definite room to improve and get better and that’s what he’s looking for. He wants to improve. He wants to be ranked higher than where he’s at. He wants to continue to be going deep in big tournaments and giving all kinds of trouble to the guys who are in front of him as well as the guys who are behind him. So it’s been really refreshing from that standpoint. I think what I have to do is make sure that I’m getting my message across with the things that I see and the things that I recognise that are things that I’ve learned over the years from all the guys that I’ve coached and then apply to him, but within the context of what he does also. I think that’s important.

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Wimbledon 2018: Alfie Hewett into wheelchair singles semi-finals

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

Britain’s Alfie Hewett has reached the semi-finals of the men’s wheelchair singles at Wimbledon for the second successive year.

Second seed Hewett, 20, beat 47-year-old Frenchman Stephane Houdet 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to match his 2017 performance.

Hewett will meet Sweden’s defending champion Stefan Olsson, 31, next.

The Briton is aiming for his third Grand Slam final after winning the French Open in 2017 and then losing in the US Open final later that same year.

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But there was disappointment for 2016 champion Gordon Reid, 26, as he fell to a 6-3 6-3 loss to Belgium’s Joachim Gerard, 29, in their quarter-final.

In the women’s competition, Britain’s Lucy Shuker, 38, was comfortably beaten 6-2 6-2 by 27-year-old Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands.

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Wimbledon 2018: Keep out! Why aren't young male players breaking through?

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

There are unfamiliar names in the Wimbledon men’s semi-final line-up, but there remains a familiar theme – an absence of young players.

The wait for a Grand Slam winner born in the 1990s goes on, with Rafael Nadal, 32, Novak Djokovic, 31, Kevin Anderson, 32 and John Isner, 33 flying the flag for the old brigade on Friday.

Looking at the record books, Swiss player Stan Wawrinka is the only player since 2001 who was older than 25 when he won his first Grand Slam. Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were under 22 when they won their first majors. World number seven Dominic Thiem, 24, came close in May when he lost to ‘King of Clay’ Nadal in the French Open final.

Kyrgios got all the talent in the world, but has to improve the other things

2003 Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis

So why have the next generation not broken through? Do they apply themselves like the more experienced players? Are we experiencing a freak period in men’s tennis?

‘Zverev could be the one’

Richard Krajicek was a promising young talent who did realise his potential, winning Wimbledon in 1996 at the age of 24.

The 6ft 5in Dutchman, who fired down serves over 120mph, told BBC Sport that top 20 players like German Alexander Zverev, Austrian Thiem and Australian Nick Kyrgios might have to wait until the dominant pack lay down their racquets.

“The top dogs still play great tennis,” said the 46-year-old, who won 17 ATP titles during a 14-year career.

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“I hope for the sake of Zverev and Kyrgios that they give up – the old guys are playing amazing tennis, especially in the Slams.

“After he reached this year’s Rome Masters final, I thought that Zverev could do it at the French Open, but sadly three five-set matches took it out of him at Roland Garros.

“That experience will help him in the future though. Zverev could win a Slam, but in the near future it’s the current three or four regular winners who will continue to rule.”

‘Kyrgios has to step up’

ATP’s 2015 Star of Tomorrow, Zverev, is its big young star of today, now third in the world rankings. Aside from Krajicek, former players Mark Philippoussis and Fabrice Santoro also told BBC Sport that they think the German is the most likely to break past the old guard.

Australian Philippoussis was less sanguine about the prospects of his compatriot Kyrgios.

The 23-year-old world number 18 was recently labelled as “pathetic” by former Wimbledon women’s singles champion Marion Bartoli, who added that he had not grown up. In response, Kyrgios told the Frenchwoman to “stop assuming”.

Kyrgios has won four senior titles, but also has a catalogue of misdemeanours – last month he was fined 15,000 euros (£13,278) for making a lewd gesture while sat courtside at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club. He was knocked out at the last-32 stage at Wimbledon, and has yet to go further than the last eight at a Grand Slam.

Philippoussis, 41, said: “He’s part of the next generation, but he’ll have to step up.

“He’s got all the talent in the world, but has to improve the other things. Someone like Zverev has the whole package.

“The mind is very important – he has to be strong mentally and physically and then get on the pathway.”

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‘The level above is just a lot better’

Could it be the case that the next generation do not apply themselves in the same way as the multiple Grand Slam winners?

“The youngsters are coming but it’ll take a while,” said former top-20 player Santoro, who has coached two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Richard Gasquet.

“We have some good young players – but they are yet to win a big title. There is no specific explanation, it’s just that the best four or five players are too good.

“Players like Thiem and Zverev, they want to win Slams. It’s not a question of their mentality and ambition, it’s just the level above is a lot better.”

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