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US Open 2019: Naomi Osaka loses to Belinda Bencic in last 16

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2019
US Open 2019
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 26 Aug – 8 Sep
Coverage: Live text and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka has been knocked out of the US Open, losing 7-5 6-4 to Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in the last 16.

Osaka, 21, was broken late in the opening set and then again in the fifth game of the second under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof at Flushing Meadows.

Japan’s Osaka will lose her world number one ranking, with Ashleigh Barty of Australia to return to the top spot.

Bencic, the 13th seed, will play Donna Vekic in the quarter-finals.

  • ‘I need a break after losing to Konta – but there won’t be time for fishing’
  • Djokovic booed as he pulls out of US Open injured

The Croat, seeded 23rd, saved a match point as she beat Germany’s 26th seed Julia Gorges 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

For Bencic, 22, it is her second appearance in the quarter-finals after also making the last eight in 2014 as a 17-year-old.

She has now beaten Osaka three times this year after previous victories in Indian Wells and Madrid.

“I was so excited to come on the court, the challenge cannot be bigger – Naomi Osaka is a great player and won the US Open last year,” said Bencic. “I had to be on top of my game and am really pleased with how I played.

“She has a lot of power, I was just trying to play it a little bit like chess, anticipate and make a tactic on the court.”

Osaka, who beat Serena Williams in last year’s final for her maiden Grand Slam title, started off badly as she lost her serve at the first opportunity and had to save two break points to avoid going 3-0 down.

She then fought back with a break before Bencic took the decisive break in the 11th game and then served out the set.

In the second set, Osaka, who later said she had been struggling with a knee injury, double-faulted to gift Bencic another break and the Swiss player took the final game of the match with a service hold to love.

After winning the Australian Open in January for her second Grand Slam, Osaka became the world number one, a position she held until June when Barty took over.

Osaka returned to the top eight weeks later but Barty will become number one again, despite losing in the last 16 to China’s Qiang Wang on Sunday.

“For me, right now I have this feeling of sadness, but I also feel like I have learned so much during this tournament,” said Osaka, who received wide praise for comforting 15-year-old Coco Gauff, with both players crying after their third-round match.

“I feel like the steps I’ve taken as a person have been much greater than I would imagine at this point, so I hope I can keep growing. I know if I keep working hard, then I’ll have better results.”

Vekic comes back from brink to beat Gorges

Bencic’s quarter-final opponent will be 23-year-old Vekic, who is through to the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time after a superb recovery against Gorges.

Germany’s Gorges served for the match when leading 5-4 in the second set but appeared overcome with nerves, coughing up three double faults among a series of errors.

She did have a match point but netted a forehand and when a serve-volley went long, Vekic was back at 5-5. The Croat then broke again in Gorges’ next service game to take the second set.

A single break in the decider left Vekic serving for the match at 5-3 and she had to save two break points before a Gorges smash went over the baseline to give her the victory.

“She was serving for the match, had match points but I just kept fighting and believing I could win,” said Vekic.

“I was just trying to get a return in the court, she was serving amazing, but I felt confident in the rallies.”

On facing Bencic, Vekic added: “She is a really good friend of mine, we practise together often and know each other’s game pretty well. She’s one of the best players this year.”

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Andujar's Wife Details His Love, Faith And Perseverance

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2019

Andujar’s Wife Details His Love, Faith And Perseverance

Spaniard faces Monfils on Monday for US Open quarter-final spot

Editor’s Note: This essay was written by Pablo Andujar’s wife, Cristena Moreta, ahead of his fourth-round match on Monday against Gael Monfils at the US Open.

I must admit I don’t remember every detail about the seasons, the matches or even the outcomes. I can recall just bits and pieces of my husband’s career. But one moment that does stick with me, one that’s engraved in my memory, is of Pablo Andujar, standing under a tent at Winston-Salem in 2015, completely desolate and sobbing uncontrollably. Still in his tennis attire, he was clutching his elbow in a lot of pain. That’s when I knew for sure this injury was serious.

A month before the loss at Winston-Salem, Pablo was in Switzerland to defend his title in Gstaad. During his quarter-final match against Thomaz Bellucci, Pablo turned to the stands and told us something was wrong; he had heard a “crack” in his elbow. A trip to a clinic in Barcelona confirmed he had sustained an injury.

Still, Pablo did his best to play through the pain. It was difficult to watch him suffer. We endured the episode at Winston-Salem a few weeks later, and the breaking point came at the 2015 US Open one week after, when he was forced to retire in the first round.

After more than 10 years as a couple, Pablo and I have been through a lot together. I even remember thinking early in 2015 that it was going to be an outstanding year. He was a finalist at Barcelona [l. to Nishikori] and reached the third round at Roland Garros a few months later — his best result at a Grand Slam up to that point. He matched that success by making the third round at Wimbledon, despite never winning a tour-level match on grass prior to that.

It was around this time that Pablo’s elbow became an ongoing issue. As the condition worsened, we tried every possible solution: different doctors, physiotherapy, electrotherapy, even stem cells. We were willing to try anything to avoid surgery, but things just kept getting worse. By the time Pablo petitioned for a protected ranking, it was too late and he eventually dropped to No. 104 in the ATP Rankings — 72 places below his career-high standing of No. 32.

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Pablo’s life changed. Our lives changed. We lived what most would consider “normal” lives — regularly attending family functions, going to weddings together, even doing things as simple as shopping as a couple at the supermarket or hanging out at home. As strange as it sounds, that stage of our lives suited us very well. Whereas before we spent chunks of time apart, we were learning to live together. No longer was Pablo living on the road. We were always around each other and we became immersed in that routine.

Pablo barely competed in 2016. He underwent his first surgery in February of that year and a second operation in November. We were married that same month. A few days before our wedding, Pablo told me we wouldn’t be going anywhere for our honeymoon as he’d be spending that time in the operating room instead. Imagine my face when he broke that bit of news!

In the end, we wound up going on a honeymoon. Days later he had the operation and, not long after that, we learned we were going to be parents. It was a joyous time for us and I hold a special place in my heart for that chapter of our lives.

Throughout this time, Pablo never halted his training routine. He altered his approach instead to compensate for the injury by working closely with his physical therapist. All this, while he was also preparing to become a father.

On 26 July 2017, Pablo Jr. was born. If the span when he wasn’t competing had altered his life, becoming a father transformed his perspective. Our bond became closer and his role as a father took precedence over everything. Even though he’s into the fourth round at the US Open, I still scold him for my lack of rest as his oldest son has no interest in taking his naps!

After the birth of ‘Pablete’, my husband underwent a third operation on his elbow. His ATP Ranking plummeted, but dare I say he was happy and in a good place. Refocussed on his career, Pablo was determined not to let the injury define him or destroy him. The rebuilding process would not be easy as by 1 January 2018, he was ranked No. 1690.

Still, he was full of positive energy. His level of play began to rise and he captured an ATP Challenger Tour title in Spain that April. That was a major turning point and Pablo will always be grateful to Juan Carlos Ferrero and the Equelite Sport Academy for the invitation. 

Buy 2019 <a href=''>US Open</a> Tennis Tickets

His luck began to change. Pablo won an ATP Tour event in Marrakech by defeating Kyle Edmund, then followed that up by lifting Challenger titles in Florence and Buenos Aires later in the year. Those wins launched him back into the Top 100 at No. 83 and he began this season with even higher hopes.

During the South American swing, Pablo was competing in Cordoba. I just remember thinking, ’Please don’t let me go into labour with our second child while he’s away.’ After his match, he returned home [to Spain] and on 10 February, Alex was born.

Since then, Pablo has found the right treatment to ensure his health. While this year hasn’t been all roses, he’s managed to win titles at Challenger events at Marbella, Alicante and Prostejov. He also reached another ATP Tour final in Marrakech.

The elbow injury, however, is always in the back of his mind. These days, he normally competes with a support sleeve and uses a therapeutic machine on his elbow an hour before bed.

In July, Pablo competed in Umag, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel. He lost to Dominic Thiem in Kitzbuhel after his face swelled due to an allergic reaction. He then returned to Barcelona to spend time with family. We were on the Costa Brava for a few days, where Pablo practised on a worn hard court. We joked as we wondered what the future might hold. Today, he’s playing for a spot in the quarter-finals at the US Open!

So, what have we gained from this entire experience? For Pablo, he understands tennis is his profession, but it isn’t everything. At another stage in his life, Pablo might not have cut training short to return to his family. These days, his priorities extend outside of tennis to include our children and me. His life is his family and children, and as it turns out, shifting priorities wasn’t a bad idea. This doesn’t mean, however, that he isn’t a true professional. 

Pablo views his family as a team. Of course, it isn’t easy for us to stay back at home while he’s on the road. Pablo Jr., Alex and I miss him very much and sometimes it means he misses events like birthdays, a first tooth, a first day of school or a weekend of play. But we understand tennis doesn’t last forever. Life is long and when the time comes one day, he just might miss being on Tour!

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Karolina Pliskova column: 'Konta played best match but Williams & Osaka tough to beat'

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2019
US Open 2019
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 26 Aug – 8 Sep
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app

Karolina Pliskova was one of the favourites to win the US Open title, but was beaten by Britain’s Johanna Konta in a compelling last-16 match.

In her final BBC Sport column from New York, the Czech third seed talks about her exit at Flushing Meadows, why it has not changed her belief she can win a Grand Slam – and her love for fishing.

Losing to Johanna Konta was disappointing but I would not say this was another golden opportunity missed to finally win my first Grand Slam.

I played an opponent who has been fourth in the world, so it was always going to be very hard, and then she played the best I’ve seen her play.

And even if I had won, I would have played Elina Svitolina, and possibly Serena Williams in the semi-finals, so there would not be an easy match between now and the final.

Maybe the first couple of matches were a little easier than they sometimes they can be, but this was not a dream draw for me. The standard is so high in the women’s game but I’m still sure I have the game to win a Grand Slam – that remains the goal.

Overall, I played solid in the tournament – it was not a disaster and it was nothing super. I could do much better.

Leading by a set and a break against Johanna meant it was, of course, a big chance but it is not like I missed match points – it was very close all the way through the match.

Immediately after losing a match like that, I don’t feel angry. You have a lot of emotion and stress during a tournament so once you lose it is like all those emotions are suddenly lifted.

‘She said she had improved since Rome – she was 50 times better!’

It is tough to talk about positives because I don’t see any.

Maybe it was my best match of the tournament but sometimes it is not enough when somebody plays as well as Johanna did. I had beaten Johanna in six of our seven previous meetings at tour level, but she played more aggressive than our other matches.

She said before she thought she had improved since I beat her in the Italian Open final in Rome – and I think she was 50 times better!

What impressed me the most was the way she went for her shots a little bit more, because normally I think she waits more for mistakes from her opponent, or plays more crosscourt, but she went for every shot and a lot of times she hit the line. She was brave and it paid off.

She also served very well, especially in the third set when she was behind on serve and I was always one game up. She did a great job by serving under pressure and putting the pressure back on to me.

Overall I’d say it was her best match of the tournament so far, but it is tough to say how far she can go.

She has reached this part of a Grand Slam a few times now, and semi-finals, but I’m not sure if she can go on to win it because Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka are still in the draw, while Elina is going to be tough in the next round.

‘A chance to catch up with family – but no time for fishing’

I will not watch the rest of the tournament because of the time difference – I am flying back to Prague straight away – and there is nobody who I would be interested in staying up to watch.

When I get to Prague I will take some time off because the month has been long and I haven’t had many days off. Then I will think about my plan, and then the Asia swing which starts later this month.

My twin sister Kristyna is already back in the Czech Republic so we will spend time with our family because we are away a lot, and maybe I will go home to Monte Carlo for a couple of days too.

I will also get to see our little sister – she is six and starts school this week. She is very excited about that. She is very clever, I think more than most six-year-olds, so she should do very well at school and enjoy it.

Obviously I wish I was still going to be here in New York all week, but at least it will be nice to see her going to school on her first week there.

Other than that, I will be sleeping, shopping and doing all the normal stuff – although I doubt I’ll have time for fishing, which is one of my favourite hobbies!

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I like fresh water fishing a lot. The Czech Republic has no coast so I fish in rivers, ponds or lakes.

You need a licence to fish so I have one of those and I know more about the waters there, although I went deep-sea fishing in the Seychelles and Miami last year to try different things.

My father is a big fan of fishing – that’s where I get my love from – and he tries to teach me how to fish when we go. But I never catch any big fish!

If you want to catch smaller fish then it is easier because you could possibly catch one every 20 or 30 minutes, but if you want to go for bigger weights then you need to be sitting there for hours and hours – maybe all night.

It is a relaxing hobby. I don’t have my phone on when I’m fishing because you need to be focused and quiet, so it can be helpful for the mental part.

Once my tennis career is over I want to go fishing more, but for the moment I only have one or two days off every now and then so I don’t get the chance.

Karolina Pliskova was talking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko at Flushing Meadows

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Defending champion Djokovic booed as he pulls out of US Open injured

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2019

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is out of the US Open after quitting because of injury against Swiss 23rd seed Stan Wawrinka as defeat loomed in an electrifying fourth-round match.

Djokovic, 32, retired with a shoulder problem seconds after a double fault left him two sets and a break down.

Loud boos greeted the Serb’s decision, with more heard as he walked off court.

“I’m sorry for the crowd. They came to see a full match but it wasn’t to be,” said world number one Djokovic.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka had dominated the last-16 contest in a boisterous atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium, producing a powerful display reminiscent of his best to lead 6-4 7-5 2-0, when Djokovic decided he could not continue.

Wawrinka, 34, will play Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.

‘You know when you’re not able to hit the shot any more’

Djokovic was the hot favourite to retain his title at Flushing Meadows and win a 17th Grand Slam, which would move him closer to Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (18) in the race to be deemed the greatest men’s player of all time.

But he had been hampered throughout the tournament with a left shoulder injury, which he says has left him in “constant pain for a few weeks”.

Djokovic particularly struggled during his second-round match against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero on Wednesday, needing intense treatment three times before coming through in straight sets.

Before his next match against American Denis Kudla, there had been speculation he might withdraw because of the problem, only to show few signs of the issue in a comfortable win on Friday.

But Djokovic said the intensity of the pain returned against Wawrinka.

“It is very frustrating. Of course it hurts that I had to retire,” said the Serb.

“Some days the pain has been higher, some days with less intensity. Obviously I was taking different stuff to kill the pain instantly. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“You just know when you know, when you feel like you’re not able to hit the shot any more.”

The Serb did not want to discuss the near 24,000 crowd’s reaction to his early exit, while Wawrinka said he was surprised by negativity.

“He’s an amazing champion,” added the Swiss. “If he has to retire, it’s not the best for a tennis player to have to leave the court like that.”

Djokovic suggested he hopes to regain fitness for the Asia leg of the ATP Tour and the final months of the season.

“It’s no secret that I have desire and a goal to reach the most Grand Slams, and reach Roger’s record,” he added.

“At the same time, it’s a long road ahead hopefully for me. I hope I can play for many more years. I’m planning to. I don’t see an end behind the corner at all.”

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Wawrinka delighted with impressive performance

Djokovic’s withdrawal failed to take the shine off a breathtaking performance from Wawrinka, who earned his biggest victory since beating Britain’s Andy Murray, then world number one, in the 2017 French Open semi-finals.

Shortly after that run, Wawrinka’s career stalled because of a left knee injury, which left him needing two operations.

It has been a slow climb back up the rankings for the former world number three, but proved he could still cause problems for the best – whatever their physical state – in a powerful display.

Wawrinka came out firing from the start, piercing Djokovic’s famed defence with blistering groundstrokes as he broke for 3-2 and producing thumping aces to stave off a break point in the next game on his way to clinching the opener.

Wawrinka had beaten Djokovic three times at a Grand Slam – including their last meeting in the 2016 final at Flushing Meadows – having lost the opening set in each of them.

This proved different, despite Djokovic coming out fighting by holding to love in the first game of the second set, and then breaking to gain an early advantage.

Wawrinka, backed by a vociferous New York crowd, was soon level after breaking back in a pivotal seventh game in which Djokovic coughed up two double faults serving for a 5-2 lead, and the Swiss landed a beautiful one-handed backhand down the line which left some fans climbing to their feet in admiration.

Djokovic started to look rattled by the injury and the atmosphere, coming up with poor shots as he tried to respond, allowing Wawrinka another break and the chance to serve out for a two-set advantage.

Treatment at the changeover was a last-ditch attempt by Djokovic to improve his physical – and perhaps mental – state, but it did not prove successful and he quit a few minutes later.

“I’m sorry he had to retire to finish the game like that, but for me, most important is the way I’m playing, the way I’m moving,” Wawrinka said.

“The more the match was going, the better I was playing. I was hitting the ball really hard. I was feeling great on court.”

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Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

Wawrinka had been in rampant form. He was pummelling the ball and reminding us of the man who, before knee surgery, had won three Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic was, however, very subdued. He seemed to be observing events, rather than influencing them.

Only he knows whether he could have finished the match, but to leave the court with boos ringing in his ears was a very harsh send-off for a 16-time Grand Slam champion.

The odds on Nadal and Federer will now shorten further. But perhaps we do need to look outside the top three for a potential champion.

Wawrinka might be 34, but when he reaches the second week of a Grand Slam in this kind of mood he can be very difficult to stop.

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Day 8 Preview: Nadal & Cilic Face Off In Battle Of Former US Open Champions

  • Posted: Sep 02, 2019

Day 8 Preview: Nadal & Cilic Face Off In Battle Of Former US Open Champions

Zverev battles Schwartzman on Monday

Second seed Rafael Nadal and No. 22 seed Marin Cilic have enjoyed career-defining moments at the US Open. Nadal is a three-time champion at this event, while Cilic captured his maiden Grand Slam title here in 2014. They’ll both look to create more New York magic when they headline Monday’s night session in fourth-round action.

“I am happy to be where I am. I’m in the fourth round and that’s the main thing,” Nadal said. “Now is the moment to push, to make a step forward if I want to give me a chance to fight for the important things. That’s what I’m going to try [to do].”

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Nadal has been in blistering form this fortnight, powering into the second week without dropping a set or his serve. Most importantly, the Spaniard is healthy. Nadal has sported tape or bandages in other US Open appearances, but the Spaniard is tape-free and pain-free this year, ensuring he has no worries about leaning into his shots to control the baseline rallies.

Cilic arrived in New York with a 15-13 record this year and admitted his season has not met his expectations. However, he’s been rounding into top form. The Croatian scored his first Top 15 win of the year on Friday by surviving 40 aces to defeat No. 14 seed John Isner. When his serve and forehand are firing, Cilic is still capable of beating anyone on Tour.

“I’m going to have to create chances with Rafa. He’s definitely having a great season and playing really well,” Cilic said. “We played quite a few times already. We know each other really well. I’m going to have to be ready for a tough battle.”

Sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev headlines the day session against No. 20 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina as they each look to take the lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry (1-1). Both men took radically different paths in reaching Week 2. While Zverev has played 14 sets and spent just under 10 hours on court so far this fortnight, Schwartzman dropped a mere 23 games in his three rounds. But after enduring a challenging season by his lofty standards, playing without extra attention has been beneficial for the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion and he’s already achieved his best result at this event.

“It’s about going match by match for me. It’s about doing the best I can for now,” Zverev said before the tournament started. “It’s the first time in probably a few years where I’m not a favorite in any way at a Grand Slam and it takes some pressure off, as well. It’s a different mindset for me now.”

Buy 2019 <a href=''>US Open</a> Tennis Tickets

Gael Monfils, the No. 13 seed, takes on Spaniard Pablo Andujar in a battle of veterans on Tour. The Frenchman leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 3-0, but they haven’t faced off in six years. Andujar is through to the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time at age 33, but this is familiar territory for Monfils, who looks for his fourth quarter-final in New York. He outlasted Denis Shapovalov in a five-set thriller on Friday that saw the crowd give him a long standing ovation after match point.

“I think people love me because I play with my heart. I fight. It’s always something special with me,” Monfils said. “You never know how and what I can do on the court. I think that’s why the people like that, a little bit [of] mystery part of me.”

Italian Matteo Berrettini, the No. 24 seed, meets Russian Andrey Rublev in a battle of rising stars. Berrettini has won ATP Tour titles this season in Budapest (d. Krajinovic) and Stuttgart (d. Auger-Aliassime), while Rublev beat Roger Federer en route to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati, then took out Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening round last week. The Italian seeks his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final, while Rublev aims for his first since the 2017 US Open.

ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, 2 September 2019

Arthur Ashe Stadium start 12:00
WTA match
[6] Alexander Zverev vs [20] Diego Schwartzman

NB 7:00 pm
[2] Rafael Nadal vs [22] Marin Cilic
WTA match

Louis Armstrong Stadium start 11:00
WTA match
[24] Matteo Berrettini vs Andrey Rublev
WTA match

NB 5:00 pm
[13] Gael Monfils vs Pablo Andujar

Grandstand start 11:00
[16] Oliver Marach/Jurgen Melzer vs Miomir Kecmanovic/Casper Ruud
WTA match
[7] Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan vs Jack Sock/Jackson Withrow
WTA match and mixed doubles match

Court No. 17 start 11:00
Two WTA matches
[1] Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah vs [13] Robin Haase/Wesley Koolhof
Mixed doubles match

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