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US Open 2019: Johanna Konta loses to Elina Svitolina in quarter-finals

  • Posted: Sep 03, 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.

British number one Johanna Konta missed out on the US Open semi-finals after she was worn down by Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

Konta, 28, was unable to impose herself in a 6-4 6-4 defeat on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 16th seed, aiming to complete the set of major semi-final appearances, was forced into errors by 24-year-old Svitolina’s impressive retrieving.

She saved two match points before rock-solid Svitolina served out the win.

Svitolina, the highest seed left in the draw, will play American 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams or China’s Wang Qiang in the last four.

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Konta unable to solve Svitolina problem – but plenty of positives

Despite being outclassed by a superior opponent at the final Grand Slam of the season, Konta can reflect on a successful year at the majors after reaching the French Open semi-finals – on a clay surface on which she had previously struggled – and another run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Former world number four Konta was on the verge of dropping out of the top 50 earlier this year before a change of fortunes under new coach Dimitri Zavialoff – who enjoyed success with Swiss pair Stan Wawrinka and Timea Bacsinszky – has lifted her back to the cusp of the world’s top 10.

The Frenchman has given Konta more “autonomy” to solve the problems put forward by her opponents, although her valiant attempts to play with variation could not unsettle Svitolina.

Konta was the first British woman to reach the US Open quarter-finals since Jo Durie in 1983, but could not match her feat by going one step further as Svitolina maintained her record of not dropping a set during the tournament.

The Ukrainian, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals and also won the WTA Tour Finals last year, is one of the most consistent ball-strikers in the women’s game and her ability to keep putting the ball back into play proved Konta’s downfall.

It led to Konta trying to force the points with her aggressive returns, leading to 35 unforced errors – and 20 more forced by her opponent – outweighing 24 winners.

By contrast, Svitolina only made 13 unforced errors in a high-quality performance.

“I do feel that was the best I’ve felt her play against me,” Konta said.

“I didn’t play badly at all, I was doing a lot of bright things. She just made me play that extra ball, it’s frustrating.”

Svitolina’s time? Serena might have something to say…

Konta had come into this meeting having lost all four of her previous meetings with Svitolina – and the world number five once again showed she had the tools to blunt the Briton.

The Ukrainian, coached by Englishman Andy Bettles and formerly based in London, broke first for a 3-2 lead before allowing Konta to instantly level, leaving the world number five hammering a ball into the court in anger at letting the advantage disappear.

That soon subsided, however, as three backhand winners snatched the momentum straight back, to the frustration of Konta’s box, which again included British actor Tom Hiddleston.

Konta saved a set point with a stunning volley but a long return gave Svitolina another chance which was taken when the Briton pushed a backhand past the baseline.

Konta’s service game has been the bedrock of her success in New York, yet she was let down by a second serve which yielded just 48% of winning points.

Remarkably, the second set followed exactly the same pattern as the opener as the pair again traded three break in Svitolina’s favour for a 4-3 lead.

Konta’s first double fault of the match indicated her growing anxiety as Svitolina threatened to end the match on the Briton’s serve, a mis-hit forehand bringing up a match point which the Ukrainian hit long.

Another overcooked backhand from Konta brought up a second opportunity, but the Briton dug deep to prolong the match with three accurate serves which Svitolina had no answer to.

Konta had already proved she could damage Svitolina’s serve, but could not break again when it mattered most.

A superb cross-court winner from Svitolina, greeted with a massive roar and a raise of both arms to urge more noise from the crowd, brought up a third match point and she sealed victory when Konta went long.

That brought another wild celebration from Svitolina towards her team and boyfriend Gael Monfils, who will aim to reach the last four of the men’s singles on Wednesday.

“Konta’s shots are very strong so you have to expect that,” Svitolina said.

“You have to react really quickly with your feet to get behind the ball, you know, try to make her hit one more shot.

“Today I did it very good to get lots of balls back and try to get my opportunity.”


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Johanna Konta had the chance to complete a full set of Grand Slam semi-final appearances, but this was not the crushing disappointment of her Wimbledon quarter-final defeat by Barbora Strycova.

Konta was beaten by a world number five who is yet to drop a set in the championships. Svitolina was just a little sharper, and a little more consistent throughout the match.

She made only 13 unforced errors, and is gradually putting the pieces in place to make her a Grand Slam champion. Svitolina’s serve is much improved, and her confidence buoyed by winning last year’s WTA Championships.

That season-ending event is now Konta’s target. She is likely to rise to 11 in the world rankings and will probably also be in 11th place in the annual race to qualify for the eight-woman field in Shenzhen.

So, she is within striking distance, but will need to play exceptionally well in Wuhan and Beijing – the two big-money WTA events coming up in China over the next month.

Tennis coach Judy Murray on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra commentary

That was a masterclass in consistency, court coverage, resilience.

Svitolina served well, she fought quietly. I don’t think Jo played badly, she just didn’t have the consistency to break Svitolina down.

Svitolina was just that bit better overall.

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Updates: Medvedev Leads Wawrinka In US Open Quarter-final

  • Posted: Sep 03, 2019

Updates: Medvedev Leads Wawrinka In US Open Quarter-final

Russian gets early edge

Daniil Medvedev has saved one set point to lead 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6(6) at the US Open on Tuesday afternoon. The fifth-seeded Russian, who has compiled an 18-2 record on the 2019 North American summer hard-court swing, is bidding to reach his first Grand Slam championship semi-final.

Medvedev broke No. 23 seed Wawrinka in the first game, but brutal rallies and seven double faults eventually proved to be costly for a player who initially had tape on his right thigh, before having it cut off. Wawrinka got back into the match with a break at 4-5, but Medvedev regrouped and won the first three points of the tie-break courtesy of net approaches and drop shots — far from the 23-year-old’s normal baseline-dominated game. Wawrinka worked his way to 6/5, but with time on a forehand struck it wide.

Medvedev has won an ATP Tour-best 48 matches this season (48-16), which includes two ATP Tour titles from six finals. By contrast, Wawrinka has played a total of 43 matches (27-16), highlighted by a runner-up finish at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (l. to Monfils) in February.

Monte Carlo resident Medvedev captured his first ATP Masters 1000 crown last month at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which propelled him into the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.

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Nadal's Mutual Admiration Society: Laver, Tiger & US Open Crowds

  • Posted: Sep 03, 2019

Nadal’s Mutual Admiration Society: Laver, Tiger & US Open Crowds

Second seed advances to quarter-finals on Monday

Rafael Nadal has earned respect among the legends of the game with on-court talent and off-court class. Rod Laver is among those who consider themselves a fan of the Spaniard.

The Aussie is at the US Open for the final leg of his Grand Slam tour this year, with each event holding special ceremonies to commemorate his second Calendar Grand Slam 50 years ago. Laver presented Nadal with his 12th Roland Garros title in June and they reunited again before main draw action started in New York, with the Spaniard praising Laver as fully deserving of his global celebration.

“[It] means a lot that he’s still around our sport. When we see him following our events, it makes the events more special and more important,” Nadal said after his fourth-round win on Monday over Marin Cilic. “[It’s] so important that our Tour pay the right tribute to all these legends. Rod is one of them, of course, one of the best of our sport ever. Probably if he will not turn professional during all these years, maybe he would win more Grand Slams than anyone playing today.

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“Just for that case he can be considered top of the history of this sport. Having him him around means a lot for the fans, means a lot for the tournaments, for the players. What makes the sport bigger and more important is the combinations of new great things with the tradition and with past legends.

But it’s not just tennis legends who support Nadal. Golf superstar Tiger Woods was in the stands for his match against Cilic and, at times, fist pumped just as intensely as the World No. 2. Nadal was also present for Woods’ golf comeback in the Bahamas in December 2017 and they remain in touch throughout the year.

“It means a lot to me to have him supporting. He’s an amazing inspiration, all the things that he accomplish on the sport, the way that he managed to keep fighting that hard,” Nadal said. “To have him supporting and be able to be in touch with him very often for me is something that I am super happy [about]. I hope one day we can play golf and tennis together.”

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The second seed now turns his attention to a quarter-final battle against No. 20 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. Nadal has been feeding off the vibes inside Arthur Ashe Stadium this fortnight and said the energy of New York crowds still haven’t gotten old after 15 US Open appearances.”

“Difficult to describe the feelings, honestly. So special to see this amazing crowd supporting,” Nadal said. “I always had a great connection with the crowd here in New York. They are very energetic, very passionate. I consider myself like this, especially on court.

Matches like this, you come back to the hotel with plenty of energy because I really enjoyed a lot playing in front of the full crowd. Arthur Ashe Stadium here in New York, night session. It’s difficult to be better.”

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Why Nadal Won't Show Tiger Woods His Golf Swing

  • Posted: Sep 03, 2019

Why Nadal Won’t Show Tiger Woods His Golf Swing

Spaniard says some things are best left unseen

After wowing New York fans with a scintillating final two sets to reach the US Open quarter-finals, Rafael Nadal was equally entertaining in his on-court interview, which centered in large part on high-profile spectator Tiger Woods.

Asked by ESPN personality Tom Rinaldi if he and Woods had ever teed it up together, the three-time US Open champion quipped, “Honestly, it’s much better if Tiger doesn’t see my swing. Maybe he would lose a little bit of rhythm after that.” Truth be told, Nadal is a very accomplished (right-handed) golfer with a handicap in the low single digits.

Nadal, who defeated Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, heaped praise on Woods, who in the past has also attended the US Open to cheer on Roger Federer.

“It’s a huge honour to play in front of all of [New York fans] but to play in front of Tiger is a very special thing,” Nadal told Rinaldi, who produced arguably his finest on-court interview of the tournament to date. “I’ve always said that I don’t have idols, but if I did I would have to say that one idol is him.

“I always try to follow him, every single shot through the whole year. For me it’s a pleasure to have him here supporting me. It means a lot. He’s a big legend of sport, one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. I want to congratulate him for one of the most amazing comebacks of the sport ever when he won The Masters this year.”

Should New York fans finally get their wish to see Nadal and Federer meet for the first time at Flushing Meadows – which can only happen if both men reach the final – Woods is likely to again want to be courtside. Who he would support is less certain.

In the quarter-finals Nadal will meet Argentine Diego Schwartzman. In the top half of the draw, Federer will play Grigor Dimitrov in their quarter-final match Tuesday.

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Schwartzman comes back to beat frustrated Zverev

  • Posted: Sep 03, 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.

Argentine Diego Schwartzman came from a set down to beat German sixth seed Alexander Zverev and reach the US Open quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows.

Schwartzman, the 20th seed, won 3-6 6-2 6-4 6-3 and will next face Rafael Nadal who overcame Marin Cilic in four sets.

A frustrated Zverev was docked a point for an obscenity in the final set after earlier hitting a ball into the crowd.

French 13th seed Gael Monfils cruised past unseeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-2 6-2 to make the last eight.

Monfils, 33, broke serve six times and did not face a break point as he won in one hour and 26 minutes to set up a meeting with Matteo Berrettini.

Italian Berrettini, seeded 24th, saw off Russian Andrey Rublev 6-1 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time.

Berrettini, 23, had failed to progress beyond the first round in two previous attempts in New York.

He served for the match at 6-5 in the third set and, though unseeded Rublev was able to break him for the first time, the Italian secured victory in the resulting tie-break.

  • Defending champion Osaka out of US Open

Frustrated Zverev falls short again

After three lengthy sets featuring 10 breaks of serve, Schwartzman, 27, stormed into a 4-0 lead in the fourth against an out-of-sorts Zverev, who served 17 double faults and made 65 unforced errors.

Zverev clawed a break back but, following a previous code violation for hitting the ball into the crowd, he was then docked a point for an audible obscenity on game point, which gave Schwartzman a 5-2 lead.

The 22-year-old remonstrated with umpire James Keothavong, saying he had not heard the earlier violation because of the noise of the rain falling on the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof.

Zverev found some composure to win his next service game but Schwartzman was able to convert the second of two match points with a forehand winner.

The defeat means Zverev, the winner of last year’s ATP Finals and seen by many as the leader of the next generation in the men’s game, has still only made two Grand Slam quarter-finals – at the French Open in 2018 and 2019.

“Alex today had many problems with the serve, I am a big returner and I took many chances with that. I think I played great tennis,” said Schwartzman.

The Argentine, who has lost all seven previous meetings with Nadal, added: “Rafa is my friend. It’s always great to play against him in a quarter-final of a Grand Slam.”


GB Davis Cup captain Leon Smith on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

I’m absolutely thrilled for Schwartzman, he is a hugely popular guy and has a huge heart and high skill levels.

At 5ft 7in people thought it would be too difficult for him but he has proven everyone wrong.

It’s another Grand Slam where Zverev will leave with much disappointment and there will be a lot of soul-searching with him and his team after that loss

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Nadal powers past Cilic into US Open last eight

  • Posted: Sep 03, 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.

Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal responded to the challenge thrown down by 2014 champion Marin Cilic as he battled to reach the US Open quarter-finals with a four-set win.

Nadal, 33, ultimately had too much quality for the Croatian 22nd seed in a 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory in New York.

Cilic, 30, briefly rediscovered his best form to level before wilting.

Nadal, the 18-time Grand Slam champion, will play Argentine 20th seed Diego Schwartzman in the last eight.

“For some moments in the second set I felt there were too many points in his hands, he was pushing me back, more aggression than me and he hit every ball very strong,” said Nadal.

“After that second set I thought something needs to change or I would be in his hands. I started to return the second serve inside the court and that created a different perspective.”

  • Konta hoping for ‘big court’ inspiration as she aims for last-four place
  • Schwartzman knocks out frustrated Zverev

After 2018 champion Novak Djokovic retired injured from his last-16 match against Stan Wawrinka on Sunday, Nadal is considered the joint favourite for the men’s title alongside Swiss great Roger Federer.

Nadal is aiming to close the gap to 20-time major winner Federer with his fourth title at Flushing Meadows.

The illustrious pair remain on course to meet in Sunday’s final which, remarkably, would be the first meeting in New York of their enduring rivalry.

First Nadal must see off Schwartzman, who reached the last eight for the second time by beating German sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

Federer, 38, plays his quarter-final against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov at about 02:00 BST on Wednesday.

  • Defending champion Osaka out of US Open
  • Murray & Mattek-Sands into mixed doubles semis

Nadal’s resilience – and brilliance – leaves even Tiger impressed

Nadal encountered few problems in a straightforward opening set, only to see the powerful Cilic find his range in the second as he cut down on the unforced errors and pinned the Spaniard back.

Cilic has recently looked a shadow of the player who was a constant fixture inside the world’s top 10, a knee injury in 2018 contributing to him sliding to his lowest ranking in more than five years.

That previous form returned as he pushed Nadal back with heavy groundstrokes and backed them up with pinpoint winners to level the match.

Yet the momentum was suddenly dragged away from him by some remarkable returning from Nadal in an exhilarating fourth game of the third set.

Nadal scurried forward to reach a drop shot and then produced a twirling overhead for 0-30, topping that by somehow returning a smash which Cilic should have buried before swatting away a cross-court backhand winner for three break points.

Golf great Tiger Woods, who was animatedly supporting Nadal throughout, leapt to his feet as Ashe rose to acclaim the sheer brilliance of the Spaniard.

A deflated Cilic limply handed over the break with a double fault, producing another as Nadal broke again for a 5-1 lead on his way to a two-set lead.

That familiar problem returned on break point in the first game of the fourth set, giving Nadal a crucial break which he doubled for a 4-0 lead after seeing off a break point.

All hope was lost for Cilic by that point, Nadal teeing up match point with a stretching forehand winner around the net post which left Ashe incredulous again before he wrapped up victory in two hours and 49 minutes.

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Murray & Mattek-Sands into mixed doubles semi-finals

  • Posted: Sep 03, 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 champions Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands are through to the US Open mixed doubles semi-finals having beaten Mate Pavic and Gabriela Dabrowski in a match tie-break.

Murray and Mattek-Sands defeated the second seeds 2-6 7-5 10-4.

The British-American pairing will face Rajeev Ram and Sam Stosur or Henri Kontinen and Demi Schuurs next.

Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally lost to Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty in the women’s doubles third round.

Americans Gauff, 15, and McNally, 17, were blown away 6-0 6-1 in just 48 minutes by Belarusian Azarenka and Australia’s Barty.

In the men’s doubles, Murray and fellow Briton Neal Skupski will face Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow in the quarter-finals after the American pairing defeated Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 7-5.

Colombian top seeds Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal beat Dutch 13th seeds Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof 6-4 6-4 and will play Briton Luke Bambridge and Japan’s Ben McLachlan in the last eight.

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