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Murray and Skupski lose Cincinnati Masters semi

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Britain’s Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski lost their Cincinnati Masters semi-final in straight sets.

Murray and Skupski were defeated 6-1 6-4 by Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the rain-hit match.

A torrential downpour stopped the game for around an hour at 4-3 in the second set, but the delay did not effect the winning duo’s dominance.

Murray, 33, and his partner reached the semis by beating his brother Andy and Feliciano Lopez in the previous round.

Bosnia’s Dodig and his Slovakian Polasek will play Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in Sunday’s final, after they defeated Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic 6-3 6-2.

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David's Dream: Goffin Surges Into First Masters 1000 Final

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

David’s Dream: Goffin Surges Into First Masters 1000 Final

Belgian tops Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati

For seven years, David Goffin has battled at the ATP Masters 1000 level, seeking a breakthrough on one of the game’s biggest stages. On Saturday, that moment arrived.

Goffin reached his first Masters 1000 final, producing a clinical display to defeat Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 at the Western & Southern Open. The Belgian is playing some of the best tennis of his career in Cincinnati, outdueling his opponents from the baseline and dropping just one set en route to the championship. There, he will face either Novak Djokovic or Daniil Medvedev on Sunday.

Under the tutelage of Thomas Johansson, Goffin has been building towards this moment following a final appearance on the grass of Halle and first Wimbledon quarter-final. But despite having dropped a pair of hard-court openers in Washington and Montreal, the World No. 19 is seizing the initiative in Cincinnati.

It will be a 13th ATP Tour final in total for Goffin and second of the year, having finished runner-up to Federer in Halle two months ago.

A battle of two former World No. 7s, Goffin sprinted out of the gates on an overcast Saturday afternoon, producing two straight holds to love and pouncing on Gasquet’s second service game. A quick break saw the Belgian surge to a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

The 28-year-old was firing away on the front foot throughout the encounter, maintaining an aggressive gameplan to rattle his French opponent. He converted seven winners to zero unforced errors in the first four games and continued to vary pace and spins from the baseline.

Goffin’s movement opened the angles on his forehand side, which saw nine winners in the opening set and five-of-five net points won. As the second set got underway, a momentary dip in focus saw the Belgian concede the early lead for 2-0, but he would reel off five of the next six games with aplomb. Goffin would cross the finish line after one hour and 16 minutes as a Gasquet backhand sailed long.

A semi-finalist in Cincinnati a year ago, Goffin retired due to an arm injury against Roger Federer. Now, he has gone one step further at the hard-court event. He is into his first final on the surface since 2017, when he finished runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Goffin edges ahead 2-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Gasquet. They previously met in Tokyo in 2017, won by the Belgian, and last year on the indoor hard courts of Montpellier.

Meanwhile, Gasquet was bidding to make his first Masters 1000 final since Toronto in 2012. He did well to reach the last four in Cincinnati, in his return from groin surgery. Playing with a protected ranking, he had missed the first four months of the season and had fallen outside the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since 2010. But the Frenchman is on the rise once again and is projected to rise to No. 34 on Monday.

Did You Know?
Goffin entered the week with an 0-4 record in ATP Masters 1000 finals. He previously fell to Milos Raonic in Indian Wells in 2016, to Djokovic in Miami in 2016, to Rafael Nadal in Monte-Carlo in 2017 and to Federer in Cincinnati last year.

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Preview: Djokovic Looks For Revenge Against Medvedev

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Preview: Djokovic Looks For Revenge Against Medvedev

Gasquet battles Goffin on Saturday in Cincinnati

Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic has 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles to his name. Eighth seed Daniil Medvedev, No. 16 seed David Goffin and Richard Gasquet all seek their first. They’ll all have the chance to move closer to hardware on Saturday at the Western & Southern Open, with Djokovic renewing his rivalry with Medvedev and Goffin squaring off against Gasquet. 

Djokovic picked up right where he left off in his first tournament since capturing a fifth Wimbledon title last month (d. Federer). The World No. 1 powered into the semi-finals without dropping a set and has continued to improve his form each time he stepped onto Stadium Court in Cincinnati.

But the Serbian faces his biggest test of the tournament against a red-hot Medvedev, who has gone 12-2 in his past three events. The Russian finished runner-up at the Citi Open (l. to Kyrgios) and scored his first ATP Masters 1000 final in last week’s Coupe Rogers (l. to Nadal). But if Medvedev is tired from the backlog of matches, he isn’t showing it. He also hasn’t dropped a set this week and lost a combined eight games in his past two matches.

“He’s in form. He has a lot of confidence, not missing the ball from the back of the court. He doesn’t seem tired from that amount of matches. On the contrary, it’s serving him well,” said Djokovic. “When you’re winning so many matches in a row, your confidence is high and you’re going for your shots. It’s going to be a tough one and I think it’s also going to be physical. I’m hoping for the best.”

Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, but Medvedev won their most recent encounter this April at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Big matches against top players are no longer intimidating to the 23-year-old, who has proven this season that he belongs with the world’s best.

“I think it’s [the] experience of playing these big matches, big tournaments, The first year I was on the ATP Tour, I couldn’t win one match in a Masters [1000] event,” said Medvedev. “I was gaining this experience of playing these huge tournaments, obligatory tournaments where if you lose, you lose a lot of [ATP Rankings] points. And I think I’m ready.”

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Goffin and Gasquet take to Stadium Court court first on Saturday as they face off for a chance at one of the biggest moments of their careers. Goffin is 0-4 in his previous Masters 1000 semi-finals, while Gasquet hasn’t reached a championship match at this level since 2012 Toronto. They’re tied 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with both meetings coming on hard courts.

Gasquet is back in full flight after undergoing groin surgery in January. The Frenchman returned to action in May and gradually rounded into form, scoring the first Top 10 win of his comeback against Kei Nishikori last week in Montreal, Building on that momentum, Gasquet started his week by beating Andy Murray in the Brit’s return to singles, then scored more Stadium Court wins over Diego Schwartzman and Roberto Bautista Agut to secure his eighth Masters 1000 semi-final.

“You never know what can happen when you have surgery. You never know if you’re going to play again. Sometimes it was tough to even walk after a hit,” said Gasquet. “Day after day, I felt better. I felt I could play on this level and it made the difference.”

See where to watch the Western & Southern Open

Goffin has found a new gear over the past two months, going 11-3 in his past four events that also include a runner-up finish in Halle (l. to Federer) and maiden Wimbledon quarter-final. The Belgian is through to the last four in Cincinnati without dropping a set, marking the first time he has reached the semi-finals twice at a Masters 1000 event.

Unlike his previous matches at this juncture of a Masters 1000, which have seen him face the likes of Djokovc, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Goffin will arrive on Stadium Court as the higher-ranked player. But the Belgian is far too experienced to take Gasquet lightly and knows he will need to bring his best tennis.

It’s a bigger opportunity on paper when you see the [opponents] I’ve had in the past, but it’s also tough mentally when you see there is an opportunity. It’s also an opportunity for him,” said Goffin. “I’ll try to play my best tennis and try to be aggressive. The key will be to go for it and have no regrets.”

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Djokovic Earns Lifetime Fan In Cancer Survivor In Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Djokovic Earns Lifetime Fan In Cancer Survivor In Cincinnati

Serbian reflects on special moment from before Thursday’s match

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic reached the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open Thursday by defeating Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets. But the Serbian was not the biggest winner on the court. That honour went to the boy who escorted him to his bench before his victory.

Djokovic held a boy named Joel’s hand walking onto to the court. And before the usual pre-match meeting with the chair umpire, the top seed invited Joel to sit on his bench, and even opened up a water bottle for him. According to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s social media pages, Joel is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma before he was born.

“I met him just before we walked onto the court. He was actually holding my hand, I was walking with him on the court and I actually heard after the first set the speaker said he survived a neuroblastoma cancer when he was a 10-day-old baby and he was wearing a shirt [that said], ‘I Am A Champion’,” Djokovic said on Friday after advancing to the semi-finals. “Those kinds of moments stay with him for a long time and I wanted to make him feel comfortable. I know what it means to him to be on the court and for me it was just a little bit of attention and a gesture to make him feel good.”

This kid is an absolute champion 🤗@DjokerNole #CincyTennis

— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 16, 2019

The 33-time ATP Masters 1000 champion has long supported children through charity, as his Novak Djokovic Foundation focusses on efforts to improve early childhood education. The foundation aids children by giving them a chance to enjoy a quality preschool education, helping build a foundation for future success.

More On Djokovic’s Charity Work
Novak Helps Raise More Than $100,000 In ‘Season Of Giving’ Campaign
Djokovic: ‘Children Are Our Everything’
Novak Partners With Harvard To Defeat ‘Toxic Effects Of Child Poverty’

No matter whether Djokovic goes on to claim his second Cincinnati crown or not, he will leave Ohio with at least one new lifetime fan. Joel received an experience he will never forget, and Djokovic summarised his feelings about the moment perfectly on his own social media accounts.

“He survived and now he rightfully wears the t-shirt that says CHAMPION.”

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Djokovic Leaps Over Pouille Hurdle To Reach Cincinnati Semis

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Djokovic Leaps Over Pouille Hurdle To Reach Cincinnati Semis

Serbian to face Medvedev in the last four

In the Australian Open semi-finals, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic lost just four games across three sets against Frenchman Lucas Pouille in just 83 minutes. It was clear from just minutes into their Western & Southern Open quarter-final Friday evening that this would be a much closer match. But still, the result remained the same.

Defending champion Djokovic defeated Pouille 7-6(2), 6-1 in one hour and 26 minutes to reach the semi-finals in Cincinnati. The Serbian has made at least the last four in five consecutive tournaments he has played, and the top seed is into the semi-finals at this ATP Masters 1000 event for the seventh time.

“I thought he played really well throughout the first set. We both held our service games quite comfortably until the tie-break and then I just stayed in there, very focussed, didn’t drop my level. He did,” Djokovic said. “[He] double faulted and missed a couple of forehands and obviously that cost him the tie-break.”

Djokovic is now 63-14 in quarter-finals at this level, and he is two victories away from lifting his 34th Masters 1000 trophy, which would move him to within one crown of Rafael Nadal’s record 35. A year ago, Djokovic completed his Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati.

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Pouille was sharp from the baseline from the early moments of this match, showing no fear of going after his shots, even with Djokovic’s relentless defence. But even though he saved the only break point he faced to get to a tie-break in the first set, Pouille was unable to sustain all parts of his game

The Frenchman played a loose tie-break, making mistakes he had not throughout the majority of the set. Pouille was then broken in his first service game of the second set. And although he earned three break points to get back on serve in the next game, Djokovic held his serve and never looked back. 

“The beginning of the second set I knew it was very important to try to break his serve right away and get into an advantage, which I did,” Djokovic said. “I managed to finish off the match really well.”

The key was Pouille’s declining first-serve percentage during the match, falling from 68 per cent in the opener to 43 per cent in the second set. That made playing aggressively from the baseline more and more difficult, as Djokovic pressured the World No. 31 immediately.

Djokovic will next face red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev, who will try to make his second Masters 1000 final in as many weeks. The World No. 1 leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, but Medvedev won their most recent meeting at this year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Did You Know?
Djokovic is pushing to retake the lead in the ATP Race To London. Nadal seized the top spot on Monday after winning the Coupe Rogers. But if Djokovic advances to Sunday’s final, he will regain the advantage in the battle for the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking.

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Murray Could Face Shapovalov In Second-Round Winston-Salem Blockbuster

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Murray Could Face Shapovalov In Second-Round Winston-Salem Blockbuster

Frenchman Paire is the top seed

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray accepted a wild card into the singles draw at the Winston-Salem Open. But the 45-time tour-level titlist will have his work cut out for him if he is going to lift his first ATP Tour singles trophy since 2017 Dubai.

The Scot will open against reigning Auckland titlist and 2018 Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren in Murray’s second singles match since undergoing hip resurfacing surgery after the Australian Open. The 32-year-old lost against Richard Gasquet in straight sets in his return to the discipline this week at the Western & Southern Open.

If Murray advanced, he will likely face a series of #NextGenATP challenges. His second-round opponent would be 20-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who is the second seed. It would be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

Also in their section is in-form #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, the No. 13 seed. Kecmanovic beat Felix Auger-Aliassime and reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati. The Antalya finalist could play fellow #NextGenATP star Alexei Popyrin of Australia in the second round.

You May Also Like: Murray Accepts Wild Card Into Winston-Salem Open

Besides Murray, there is another former Top 5 player in the field: former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych, who received a wild card. The Czech, a 13-time ATP Tour champion, will be competing for just the second time since the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March.

Frenchman Benoit Paire is the top seed at this ATP 250 tournament, where he will try to win his third ATP Tour title of the season. The 30-year-old will play Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran or German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in the second round.

The only former champion in the singles draw is Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who won the title in 2016. He is in Paire’s quarter of the draw and will play Romanian Marius Copil or Slovak Martin Klizan in his second-round match.

Did You Know?
Five of the Top 8 players in the ATP Race To Milan are seeded in Winston-Salem.

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Dominant Daniil: Medvedev Marches Into Cincinnati Semis

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Dominant Daniil: Medvedev Marches Into Cincinnati Semis

Russian has not lost a set this week

Qualifier Andrey Rublev put together an impressive run at the Western & Southern Open, defeating the man who beat him in last month’s Hamburg final (Nikoloz Basilashvili), a former World No. 3 (Stan Wawrinka) and a seven-time Cincinnati champion (Roger Federer). But on Friday evening, the two-time Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier ran into a wall. A Daniil Medvedev wall, that is.

The red-hot Medvedev ousted his compatriot 6-2, 6-3 after 61 minutes to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in as many weeks after reaching his first championship match at this level at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Medvedev, playing at a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings in Ohio, is projected to climb to at least No. 7 on Monday pending his results the rest of the tournament.

“I played great. I think I managed to [pressure him] straight away as [I have] every match I played here. In both sets I was breaking him early, giving me a lot of confidence,” Medvedev said. “I was not serving that good today, but in the crucial moments I was able to do it and that was the most important.””

Medvedev, who is now a perfect 3-0 in Masters 1000 quarter-finals, has not lost a set en route to the last four. This time last season, Medvedev was the World No. 56, and he lost in the first round of the main draw in Cincinnati after having to go through qualifying.

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Medvedev will face defending champion and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Saturday for a spot in the final. If the Russian advances, he will battle for a trophy for the third consecutive week after falling just short in Washington, D.C. and Montreal.

“Novak is Novak,” Medvedev said. “There is actually nothing to say about him. Just huge respect.”

In stunning Federer on Thursday, Rublev played lights-out tennis to earn his second consecutive victory when facing a Top 5 opponent (Thiem in Hamburg). But he struggled on serve against his countryman, losing serve four times.

Rublev was not able to find the level he did earlier in the tournament, but Medvedev also acted like a backboard, allowing his 21-year-old opponent to make the mistakes he did. The 2017 Umag champion won just 65 per cent of his first-serve points, and was unable to elicit many short balls to get in a rhythm with his offence.

Medvedev was strong on serve himself, striking nine aces and facing only one break point in the match. Although the ninth seed did give up a break with a 4-0 lead in the first set, he was already up two breaks, so it did not have a major impact on the match.

The four-time ATP Tour titlist has now played 14 singles matches in less than three weeks. But what has helped is that all 12 of his wins have come in straight sets, as have his two losses during this stretch.

“I’m getting a little bit tired, of course, step by step with all the matches. [It] helps that I win in straight sets, or [that I am] losing in straight sets also,” Medvedev said. “Otherwise, I think one match 7-6 in the third could be tough for me. But so far, I [am] feeling great, feeling good about my tennis.”

Did You Know?
Medvedev is currently placed sixth in the ATP Race To London as he tries to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time (Buy Tickets). View Standings

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Andy Murray loses to brother Jamie in Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Andy Murray will switch attention back to his singles comeback after losing to older brother Jamie in the Cincinnati Masters quarter-finals.

In the second meeting of the Scottish brothers’ careers, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski beat Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez won 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 10-4.

A tight match went the way of the doubles specialists when Lopez, 35, lost his way on serve.

Murray and Skupski face Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the semi-finals.

“It was tough, not the most enjoyable match. The atmosphere kind of felt a bit flat on the court which I think is in some ways normal in those sorts of matches,” said Andy Murray.

“But it was fine, and I’m happy Jamie got through. You want to go out there and compete and play as well as you can, but you’re not getting the same enjoyment out of serving an ace or hitting a great return as you might be in other matches.

“Obviously we tried to do our best but it wasn’t enough today.”

Both Andy and Jamie, who played together in Washington earlier this month, said it would be a “weird” feeling playing against each other in a competitive scenario and the match ended up lacking intensity.

A double fault from Lopez swung a second set, which saw just one receiving point won in the opening seven games, in the favour of Jamie Murray and Skupski and the Spaniard produced two more in a one-sided first-to-10 match tie-break.

Andy Murray will play singles at next week’s ATP event in Winston-Salem before considering entering a tournament on the Challenger Tour during the US Open.

The former world number one, who had career-saving hip surgery in January and made his singles comeback on Monday, will not play at Flushing Meadows later this month.

The 2012 champion had intended to play doubles in New York but said “doubles is done for me for the time being”.

The 32-year-old has taken the final wildcard for next week’s event in Winston-Salem.

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Jamie Beats Andy In Murray Doubles Clash

  • Posted: Aug 17, 2019

Jamie Beats Andy In Murray Doubles Clash

Murray/Skupski defeat Lopez/Murray in Cincinnati

The older sibling prevailed once again in an all-Murray doubles showdown. Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski reached the doubles semi-finals on Friday at the Western & Southern Open by defeating Feliciano Lopez and Andy Murray 6-7(5), 7-5, 10-4.

Jamie has won both times he’s faced his younger brother in ATP Tour doubles action. He and John Peers defeated Andy and Leander Paes in the 2015 Coupe Rogers.

“We’re happy to win today. It’s always a difficult situation, probably more so for him than me,” said Jamie. “I think we both did a good job and it was a pretty good level. It was packed for most of the match, so it was good fun.”

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Murray/Skupski served to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second set, then broke in the next game and cruised the rest of the way to advance in one hour and 46 minutes. This is the first ATP Tour doubles semi-final the British pair have reached as a team since joining forces this June in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Murray/Skupski will now face Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek, who upset second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 3-6, 6-4, 10-5. Dodig/Polasek are 10-3 since joining forces in June, advancing to the semi-finals at Wimbledon and finishing runner-up in Antalya (l. to Erlich/Sitak).

See where to watch the Western & Southern Open

Top seeds and Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah needed only 67 minutes to dispatch seventh seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers 6-4, 6-2. Cabal/Farah’s second-round win on Thursday made them the first team to qualify for this year’s Nitto ATP Finals, held at the O2 in London from 10-17 November.

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Awaiting Cabal/Farah in the semi-finals will be sixth seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares, who ousted third seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 6-1, 6-3 in 53 minutes. The Croatian-Brazilian team lost just two first-serve points and did not face a break point.

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