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The Key Stat Fuelling Dimitrov's Resurgence

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2019

The Key Stat Fuelling Dimitrov’s Resurgence

Why being ‘best on second’ doesn’t mean being second best

Grigor Dimitrov has spectacularly flipped the switch with his second serve.

An area that the Bulgarian has struggled with in the past year has come roaring back to form at the 2019 US Open, helping power him through to the semi-finals, where he will meet Daniil Medvedev on Friday.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers breakdown of Dimitrov’s second serve identifies a substantial improvement the past two weeks in New York. The Infosys ATP Stats Serve LEADERBOARD currently finds Dimitrov sitting at 77th best on tour with overall serve performance in the past 52 weeks, with only 46.8 per cent points won behind his second serve.

That’s yesterday’s news…

Of the eight players who reached the quarter-finals at the US Open this year, Dimitrov leads the pack with second-serve points won at 59 per cent (99/168). It’s actually the highest win percentage of anyone who reached the third round and beyond.

Dimitrov scored one of the biggest wins of his career Tuesday night against Roger Federer in the US Open quarter-finals, winning 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Trailing two sets to one, Dimitrov’s second serve was a rock as he moved towards the finish line. He won 57 per cent (8/14) in the last two sets. In the fifth set against Federer, Dimitrov closed out service games with a second serve at 3-0 and 4-1, which were both pivotal moments that stopped Federer making inroads to find a much-needed break of serve to get back into the match.

You May Also Like: Dimitrov On His Renewed Perspective: ‘This Is What I Was Meant To Do’

In the fourth round, Dimitrov defeated Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, winning 59 per cent (23/39) of second-serve points overall, and 63 per cent (15/24) in the last two sets. The more Dimitrov needs his second serve to help seal victory, the more it is stepping up in the big moments.

Dimitrov won 63 per cent (26/41) of second-serve points in his third-round match against Kamil Majchrzak of Poland. He faced two break points on second serve and won them both.

An interesting strategic element of Dimitrov’s improved performance is that he is not hitting it bigger, attempting to force return errors. Opponents have only missed putting into play 12 per cent (18/150) of Dimitrov’s second serves, which is considerably lower than Medvedev’s 23 per cent (45/193) – the player he will face in the semi-finals.

The player that wins north of 50 per cent of his second-serve points for the match will most likely be playing in his first Grand Slam final.

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Berrettini, Zverev & Co. Locked In Fierce Fight For Nitto ATP Finals Berths

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2019

Berrettini, Zverev & Co. Locked In Fierce Fight For Nitto ATP Finals Berths

Four players within 100 points of eighth-placed Nishikori

At the tail end of an unpredictable US Open, where seven of the top 10 seeds lost prior to the quarter-finals, the battle for seventh and eighth positions at the Nitto ATP Finals is wide open.

With a little over two months to go until the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev have already clinched their berths. Fifth and sixth-placed Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas are in strong positions to qualify, but it is the quest for the final two spots that is eye-catching.

Early losses in the Big Apple for London contenders Thiem, Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut (all first round), and a fourth-round exit for defending champion Alexander Zverev that boosted his chances, have dramatically shaken up the 2019 Race, paving the way for a fascinating culmination to the 2019 ATP Tour season.

Incredibly, four players — Matteo Berrettini (2,160 points), defending champion Alexander Zverev (2,120), David Goffin (2,080) and Gael Monfils (2,080) — are all within 100 points of eighth-placed Kei Nishikori (2,180), who is just 170 points behind Roberto Bautista Agut in seventh position (2,350).

Berrettini and Grigor Dimitrov are preparing to compete in the US Open semi-finals on Friday, against Nadal and Medvedev respectively, and both can continue to soar up the Race standings. If one of them lifted their first major championship title on Sunday at Flushing Meadows, then they would automatically qualify for London under the Grand Slam rule*.

Berrettini, a winner of two ATP Tour titles this year, started the final major championship of the year in 17th position in the Race, and has since soared up to ninth place on 2,160 points. Should he beat Nadal on Friday, the Italian would jump two further places to seventh with 2,640 points.

Meanwhile Dimitrov, who won the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals title, started last week in 75th position and is now in 25th place, with the possibility of moving up to 15th on 1,777 points with a final appearance in New York City.

While Medvedev is London-bound for the first time, 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas, Berrettini and Bautista Agut are all pushing hard to be new faces under the lights at The O2 in south-east London.

Additionally, the battle for year-end No. 1 has also come under the spotlight with Djokovic’s fourth-round loss at the US Open. Nadal continues to extend his lead over the Serbian in the 2019 ATP Race To London. Nadal led Djokovic (7,265) by 140 points coming into the tournament, but the Spaniard has since pushed the gap to 680 points. Should Nadal win his fourth US Open crown on Sunday, he would have 9,225 points – 1,960 points ahead of Djokovic – and a clearer path to adding to his 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017 year-end No. 1 finishes.

*The top seven players in the ATP Race To London on Monday, 4 November 2019 (the day after the final tournament of the regular season, the Rolex Paris Masters) qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. If there is one current-year Grand Slam champion positioned between eighth and 20th in the Race, he qualifies in eighth place. If there are two current-year Grand Slam champions positioned between eighth and 20th, the highest-ranked of those players becomes the eighth and final qualifier; the lower-ranked Grand Slam champion will serve as the alternate. If there are no current-year Grand Slam champions positioned between eighth and 20th, then the player in eighth place in the Race will claim the eighth and final berth.

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Cabal/Farah To Face Granollers/Zeballos In US Open Doubles Final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2019

Cabal/Farah To Face Granollers/Zeballos In US Open Doubles Final

Spanish/Argentine team now 10-0 as a team

Top-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will play eighth seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos on Friday in the US Open doubles final.

Cabal and Farah advanced to their third Grand Slam championship title match by ending the run of British No. 15 seeds Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski 7-6(5), 7-6(8) in two hours on Friday at Flushing Meadows. The pair saved two set points at 5/6 and 7/8 in the second set tie-break.

Two months ago, the Colombians captured their first major crown at Wimbledon, rising to joint No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings. The Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers are now 44-13 on the 2019 season.

“We’re super happy to be here in the final of the US Open,” said Farah. “We had a great match today, a great battle against Jamie and Neal. We’re very grateful to be in one more final of a Slam.”

Cabal and Farah failed to convert match points at 5-4 in the second set, then at 7/6 in the second tie-break, prior to Murray and Skupski making a forehand error on their third match point. Murray partnered Brazil’s Bruno Soares to the 2016 US Open doubles title.

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Earlier in the day, Granollers and Zeballos extended their winning streak to 10 matches to reach their first Grand Slam doubles championship final.

The Spanish/Argentine tandem earned a hard-fought 7-6(2), 7-6(5) victory over the all-German team of Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, this year’s Roland Garros titlists, in one hour and 40 minutes. The duo won 84 per cent of their first service points and struck 39 winners.

“We’re in the final in a Grand Slam. That’s one of the things you always dream,” said Zeballos. “I don’t want to wake up.”

Eighth seed Granollers and Zeballos saved the lone break point of the first set with a forehand volley winner at 3-3, 30/40, prior to the pair breaking clear at 2/2 in the tie-break with five straight points. The 45-minute opener, featuring 34 winners, ended with consecutive groundstroke errors from No. 12 seeds Krawietz and Mies.

There were no opportunities to break en route to a tense second tie-break. Granollers and Zeballos won the first two points, but Krawietz and Mies responded to lead 5/3 only for errors to cost the German team. Granollers and Zeballos booked their place in the final with a forehand volley winner.

“It was a crazy match. It was so tight. The difference was only two or three points, so I’m really happy,” said Zeballos. “It was a really tense match. I’m going to enjoy this win today.”

Last month, Granollers and Zeballos captured their first crown on their team debut at the Coupe Rogers, an ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal. Granollers will now look to go one better than in 2014, when he finished runner-up at the US Open with Marc Lopez.

Prior to arriving at the US Open, Krawietz and Mies had lost eight of their 10 matches since becoming the first all-German team to clinch the Roland Garros crown (d. Chardy/Martin) in May. The team, who is bidding to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, is now 21-14 on the season – including the New York Open trophy.

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The Secret To Matteo Berrettini's US Open Success

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2019

The Secret To Matteo Berrettini’s US Open Success

Italian has used his aggressive game to great effect in New York

Matteo Berrettini and his team have not hidden their belief that the Italian’s work on his mental game has helped him enjoy the best season of his career, cracking the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings for the first time and now reaching his first major semi-final at the US Open. But behind that is a massive game with weaponry that can trouble anybody.

It all starts with one shot for the 23-year-old.

“For sure, my forehand is my best weapon,” Berrettini said.

The No. 24 seed has finished nine per cent of his points (111/1282) this tournament with a forehand winner, ranking 12th among the 128 players who competed in the main draw. No player placed ahead of him in that department is still alive at the US Open, and more than 44 per cent of his winners and 77 per cent of his baseline winners at the season’s final Grand Slam (111/250) have come off the forehand wing.

Berrettini began working with coach Vincenzo Santopadre about nine years ago, and he says that he has tinkered with Berrettini’s forehand technique less than any other stroke, and it’s not particularly close.

“I think sometimes he can play [his forehand] like this,” Santopadre said, putting his left hand over his eyes as if to say Berrettini can crush forehands with his eyes closed.

“It’s so natural,” Santopadre said. “But if you see a video of him playing when he was 15 or 16 on the forehand you can say, ‘Okay, this is Berrettini’ if you don’t see the face. But the serve and the backhand you say, ‘No, it was somebody else.’”


Berrettini’s toughest match of the tournament thus far was his five-set epic against Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. Berrettini let slip his first of four match points he lost with a double fault. And in crunch time, he missed a few key backhands into the net. But at 5/4 in the fifth-set tie-break the Italian’s greatest strength rose to the occasion. Berrettini relentlessly attacked ball after ball with his forehand, which even the speedy Frenchman couldn’t handle, eventually allowing him to sprint into net to put away a forehand volley.

Another tough one for the Italian came against #NextGenATP Aussie Alexei Popyrin — a player with a similar game — in the third round, which went to a fourth-set tie-break.

“His forehand is good. When he’s got his position, he can hit it to both sides of the court and you can’t really read it. Usually, I can sort of read where the person is hitting, but with him I had difficulty reading it at the start of the match. And his serve is also a weapon,” Popyrin said. “When he comes in, he comes in well. He’s got a big presence at the net, so it’s not that easy to pass him. You see him coming in and you want to pass him from the first shot, so that’s why you do those mistakes that I did… his forehand is a weapon. His forehand is one of the best forehands I’ve played.

“That forehand was heavy. Even the forehands he hit in the middle of the court, they were forehands I could attack off, but I couldn’t. Usually, I could attack those forehands that came into the middle of the court, but with his I couldn’t. They were just really, really heavy forehands. It had so much spin on it and so much pace on it.”

What Santopadre believes makes it a special shot is that it’s multi-faceted. Berrettini doesn’t rely on one type of forehand — an inside-in blast, for example — to finish or dominate points. He can pose a threat from everywhere on the court.

“It’s good because he can put so much power and [make it] so much heavy and so much spin to the ball that it’s really a tough ball to hit for the player who has to hit the ball. It’s complex [for them],” Santopadre said. “He has a very good forehand from every part of the court. There isn’t just one forehand. There’s a forehand on the right side, on the left side, from back, from behind. I think it’s really an unbelievable stroke because he could play from wherever and how he likes and he can hit winners everywhere.”

You May Also Like: Find Out What Has Spurred Matteo Berrettini’s 2019 Surge

As strong as his forehand is, Berrettini has anything but a one-dimensional game. Berrettini and his head coach note that his serve is his next biggest weapon. The three-time ATP Tour titlist — who has won two trophies in 2019 — has hit 66 aces, good for seventh at this year’s US Open.

Berrettini has won 78 per cent of his first-serve points, better than anyone who has played more than three matches at this event except for Rafael Nadal (79%), his semi-final opponent.

“I think I did also a great job with my backhand today. With the slice I was mixing well. I’m really proud of my tennis today,” Berrettini said after his victory against Monfils.

A power game and a devastating backhand slice don’t always go together. But when Berrettini was 17, he hurt his left wrist. So, for three months, all he was able to do was slice.

“Vincenzo, my coach, he used to play just slice, no spin at all, no topspin at all. I guess he knows how to teach slice,” Berrettini said, cracking a smile, after his fourth-round win against Andrey Rublev. “I’ve been working [on it] a lot. I’m practising a lot with Flavio Cipolla, a good friend of mine [who is] playing with unbelievable slice. I called him and said, ‘I was playing the slice like you today’, because I was feeling really well. Yeah, that’s the secret.”

More From Flushing Meadows
How Does Rafa Describe His Fighting Spirit?
Grigor: ‘It Was That Low I Don’t Even Want To Go There’
Monfils: ‘I Gave My Heart’ In New York Defeat

Craig O’Shannessy, who has been a part of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s coaching team, began working on analytics with Berrettini and the Italian’s team this year. And he also believes that is an important part of Berrettini’s game.

“The forehand is the big weapon,” O’Shannessy said. “I really like his backhand slice. It neutralises the opponent’s backhand really well. When I see him hit it, I rarely see opponents do something with it. I don’t see them hitting winners off his backhand slice. I don’t see them coming to the net off it. But ultimately, it’s a neutralising play and the forehand is what he does the most damage with.”

Overall, Berrettini, whose upper body isn’t all that different in build from Stan Wawrinka, is never going to back away from his own game plan. At Wimbledon, he played Roger Federer in the fourth round.

“I think I have the weapons to play my match and see what’s going to happen,” Berrettini said at the time.

Although he lost in straight sets, that mindset and those tools have helped Berrettini to enjoy the biggest tournament run of his career at Flushing Meadows.

“I’m going to use my weapons, for sure,” Berrettini said. “Normally I don’t adjust my tennis for others. I just think about myself, my serve, my forehand, then I start to think about others.”

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A Battle Of Generations: Nadal, Berrettini Ready For US Open Semi-final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2019

A Battle Of Generations: Nadal, Berrettini Ready For US Open Semi-final previews the second semi-final

Such is the nature of tennis that different generations regularly clash and Friday’s second semi-final at the US Open is no different, when Rafael Nadal meets Matteo Berrettini for the first time under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Nadal, who won his first ATP Tour match as a 15-year-old in his hometown of Mallorca in 2002, has been a long-term inspiration to Berrettini, who, at 23 years of age, contests his first Grand Slam championship semi-final at Flushing Meadows.

After his epic quarter-final win over Gael Monfils on Thursday, Berrettini recalled watching Nadal beat Guillermo Coria in the 2005 Internazionali BNL d’Italia final, as an eight-year-old, because one of the sport’s greatest clay-court matches happened to be on a television channel that normally screened cartoons.

“I remember the final in Rome against Coria,” remembered Berrettini. “It was on a channel that was about cartoons. I was young. ‘These guys, I mean, six hours. Come on! I want to catch my cartoons’. I remember that it was unbelievable.

“I think also, I was going to school and a lot of my classmates, they actually started to follow tennis more, to watch tennis more because the match was free. They were, ‘Oh, you’re playing this sport then?’ I was, like, ‘Yeah. I’m dreaming about playing these matches.’ And now I’m here. So I’m happy.”

The 2005 Rome final came a few weeks before Nadal’s life changed forever with his first major championship crown at Roland Garros. Fast forward 14 years and the Spaniard has won 18 Grand Slam championship trophies, and Friday’s match against Berrettini will be Nadal’s 33rd major semi-final (26-6 record).

Looking ahead to meeting the Italian, Nadal said, “Berrettini is having a great year. He’s in the semi-finals, winning a lot of good matches… I need to play my best, and I think today [against Diego Schwartzman] I took a step forward.”

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With a crushing forehand (111 winners) and big serve (66 aces in five matches), Berrettini can match Nadal’s firepower on Friday, so may be able to dictate, but recovering from his draining four-hour win over Monfils – the biggest Grand Slam win of his career – could be a determining factor.

Berrettini has spent 15 hours and 23 minutes on court in five victories at the US Open, while Nadal has played four matches totalling nine hours and 43 minutes. He got a walkover against Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round.

Berrettini, who lost to Denis Kudla in the 2018 US Open first round, has enjoyed a stellar season, which includes two ATP Tour crowns at the Hungarian Open in Budapest (d. Krajinovic) and at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart (d. Auger-Aliassime). He also finished runner-up at the BMW Open by FWU in Munich (l. to Garin) and has a 34-15 match record this season.

As a result of his US Open performance, Berrettini has jumped from 14th to ninth position in the 2019 ATP Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.

More About Berrettini
Quarter-final Match Report: Berrettini Beats Monfils In Fifth Set Epic
Feature: What Has Inspired Matteo To His 2019 Surge?

Over the past 10 days, Nadal, who in July became the first player to clinch a spot at this year’s elite season finale, remains on course to add to his 2010, 2013, 2017 US Open titles haul and further improve his chances of finishing year-end No. 1 for a fifth time.

The 33-year-old Spaniard has a 45-6 match record in 2019, which includes a record-extending 12th title at Roland Garros (d. Thiem), plus two ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Rome (his ninth) and the Coupe Rogers In Montreal. He also finished runner-up at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic) at the start of the year.

Big-match experience may be the deciding factor on Friday night, but Berrettini will be sure to do his best against Nadal, a player he considers “the greatest fighter ever in this sport. It’s unbelievable [what] he’s doing. I admire him, the way he’s on the court. His attitude is something that, I think, it’s close to the perfection.”

More About Nadal
Feature: Rapid Rafa – Serve, Play & Win Faster
Quarter-final Match Report: Nadal Battles Past Schwartzman
Quarter-final Reaction: How Does Nadal Describe His Fighting Spirit?


66 Aces 26
24 Double Faults 11
34% Unreturned Serves 32%
57% 1st Serve % 57%
78% 1st Serve Points 79%
54% 2nd Serve Points 56%
12 Broken 6
44 Break Points Faced 16
99 Games Served 59
88% Service Games Held 90%
123 mph Average 1st Serve 117 mph
96 mph Average 2nd Serve 97 mph
138 mph Fastest Serve 128 mph
74% Returns in Play 78%
7 Return Winners 3
29% 1st Return Points Won 41%
54% 2nd Return Points Won 52%
22 Breaks of Serve 23
60 Break Points 48
37% Pct. Converted 48%
97 Return Games Played 56
23% Return Games Won % 41%
111 Forehand Winners 55
124 Forehand Unforced Errors 67
33 Backhand Winners 18
94 Backhand Unforced Errors 42
30 Winners at Net 14
250 Total Winners 124
248 Total Unforced Errors 122
98 of 135 Net Points Won 38 of 48
73% Net Points Won 79%
47% Baseline Points Won 54%
88 Games Lost 39
5 Sets lost 1
15:23 Time on Court 09:43

Statistics courtesy: Leo Levin/SMT

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US Open 2019: Rafael Nadal beats Diego Schwartzman to reach semi-finals

  • Posted: Sep 05, 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.

Rafael Nadal remains the favourite to win the US Open – and move within one of Roger Federer’s tally of 20 Grand Slams – after a hard-fought quarter-final win over Diego Schwartzman.

Spanish second seed Nadal won 6-4 7-5 6-2 against the Argentine 20th seed.

But he was made to work as Schwartzman twice rallied from four-game deficits in a stuffy Arthur Ashe stadium.

Nadal, 33, will next play Italy’s 24th seed Matteo Berrettini, who beat Gael Monfils in their last-eight match.

Three of the men’s semi-finalists – Berrettini, Grigor Dimitrov and Daniil Medvedev – have never played in a Grand Slam final.

“To see myself in the situation to lose both breaks in a row was tough, but I’m super happy with the way I accepted the challenge,” Nadal said.

“Here I am, semi-finals, it means everything to me.

“Physically I’m fine. Today was a heavy day, big humidity, and I sweat a lot. I had some big moments at the end of the second set and beginning of the third, but the last few games I felt good again.”

Of his opponent in the semi-finals, Nadal added: “I saw him play. He has big serves, big forehands, and is super confident. He makes big steps forward every week so it will be a big challenge but now is the moment to keep going.”

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Nadal’s golden opportunity to close on Federer

Nadal, who won his 18th Grand Slam with a 12th title at Roland Garros in June, has been considered one of the favourites in New York from the start of tournament, with the other two members of the ‘Big Three’ – Serbia’s world number one Novak Djokovic and Swiss great Federer – also tipped as the men to beat.

That has been a familiar pattern over the past decade such has been the trio’s dominance, which shows no signs of changing despite all three men entering their 30s.

The past 11 Grand Slams have been won by Nadal, 32-year-old Djokovic or 38-year-old Federer.

But the departure of 2018 champion Djokovic, who retired from his last-16 match against Stan Wawrinka with a shoulder injury, and Federer’s quarter-final exit to Bulgarian world number 78 Dimitrov, has given the opportunity for Nadal to make a serious move in the race to be considered the greatest player of all time.

If Nadal lifts his fourth title at Flushing Meadows he will move within one of Federer’s tally for the first time.

Schwartzman falls short in late-night thriller

Before thinking that far ahead, Nadal had to see off a courageous challenge from Schwartzman, who levelled from a double break down in each of the first two sets.

A strange start saw Nadal race 4-0 ahead before the diminutive Schwartzman, backed by vociferous Argentine support on an atmospheric Ashe, hit back with four straight games of his own.

Momentum continued with Schwartzman, who created two break points for a 5-4 lead before the Spaniard dug deep to hold and clinch the opener with another break.

Remarkably the same pattern continued in the second set, Nadal moving a double break up before Schwartzman fought back from 5-1 – with a forehand winner after a desperate scramble leaving even his opponent clapping – to level at 5-5.

Again Nadal’s nous proved the difference at the crucial moment, taking Schwartzman’s serve in the 12th game with his third set point.

With the clock ticking past midnight, swathes of seats became empty in the early part of the third set as some spectators left for home.

Luckily for those left Nadal wrapped things up quickly, breaking twice without reply to clinch victory in two hours and 46 minutes before embracing Schwartzman at the net.

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US Open 2019: Serena Williams wary of 'fighter' Elina Svitolina before semi-final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 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.

Serena Williams says she “has to do everything well” to win her US Open semi-final against Elina Svitolina and stay on course for a 24th Grand Slam.

American Williams, 37, is aiming to match Australian Margaret Court’s record of Grand Slam singles titles.

Fifth seed Svitolina is the highest ranked player left in the women’s event and beat Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4 6-4 in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

“Elina is obviously a fighter, she gets a lot of balls back,” said Williams.

“She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. She’s one of those players that does everything really well so I have to do everything well, too.”

Seeded eighth, Williams is looking for her seventh US Open title but her first since 2014.

She has won four of her previous five matches against the 24-year-old Ukrainian but Svitolina’s victory came in their most recent meeting – a last 16 match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I played actually a great match,” said Svitolina. “I was kind of young and didn’t have big wins at that time.

“It gave me the confidence to actually let me believe I can play consistent against the top players.”

Williams’ victories at Flushing Meadows in 2019 have included wins against former world number one Maria Sharapova, 22nd seed Petra Martic and the American needed only 44 minutes to thrash China’s 16th seed Qiang Wang 6-1 6-0 in the quarter-finals.

However, Svitolina, who also reached the final four at Wimbledon earlier this year but has never played in a Grand Slam final, has also been in impressive form and has not dropped a set in five matches.

She beat Serena’s sister Venus, herself a two-time US Open champion, in round two, American 10th seed Madison Keys and then Konta in the last eight.

“I have to react quickly and try to take my chances when I have them,” Svitolina added.

“I have played some big hitters in this tournament and I have to react quickly with my feet and with my shots. Then when I have the opportunity, go for it.”

‘I was dreaming about this day coming’

In the other semi-final, 13th seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland takes on 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

Bencic knocked out 2018 champion and world number one Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-4 on Tuesday and backed that up with a win over Croatia’s Donna Vekic, the 23rd seed, on Wednesday.

That victory took Bencic into a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time in her career.

“Semi-final feels great right now,” she said. “I was dreaming about this day coming but you never know. I worked hard for this.”

Bencic sank as low as 328th in the world rankings after numerous injuries and surgery on her left wrist two years ago but is guaranteed to return to the top 10 for the first time since June 2016.

Andreescu, meanwhile, will also enter the top 10 after coming from behind to beat Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the quarter-finals.

The Canadian, who has won two WTA titles this year, is also making her first appearance in the last four at a Grand Slam.

Murray aims for another doubles final

In the men’s doubles semi-finals, British pair Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski take on top-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who won the doubles title at Wimbledon in July.

Murray and Skupski won a thrilling final-set tie-break against Americans Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow, while Cabral and Farah eliminated the pairing of Britain’s Luke Bambridge and Japan’s Ben McLachlan.

Murray is on course for two doubles titles as he is also in Saturday’s mixed doubles final, partnering American Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Last year’s champions will play either the top-seeded duo of Chan Hao-ching and Michael Venus or fourth seeds Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig.

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How Does Nadal Describe His Fighting Spirit?

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2019

How Does Nadal Describe His Fighting Spirit?

Spaniard advances to US Open semi-finals on Wednesday

Rafael Nadal’s fighting spirit is one of his trademark qualities. It’s played a crucial role in pulling himself up from the brink of defeat on numerous occasions throughout his career, as well as bouncing back from several serious injuries.

But for the Spaniard, it’s not the biggest key to his success.

“I think my success is not only because of the spirit of the fight,” Nadal said after his US Open quarter-final win on Wednesday over Argentine Diego Schwartzman. “There is lots of things after this.”

You May Also Like: Nadal Battles Past Schwartzman To Reach US Open Semi-finals

Nadal believes that fighting spirit is common on the ATP Tour and his less overt characteristics have played a bigger role in his achievements. The second seed treats every player across the net as though they’re the toughest opponent he’ll face and remains unflappably positive in the bleakest of moments.

A humble attitude doesn’t necessarily make for a headline-grabbing image, but it does lead to 18 Grand Slam crowns and 83 tour-level singles titles.

“I think I had stable character during all my life, all my career. That helps to be…mentally focussed, mentally relaxed and mentally always ready to respect every opponent, to play every point, to play every game, to play every set and every match until the end,” Nadal said. “But of course the stories say that I have been a good fighter on court with good character, positive character, and I am not the only one. There is a lot of ones that fight a lot.”

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Nadal will need all of his positive attributes for his semi-final against Italian Matteo Berrettini, the No. 24 seed. The Spaniard is two matches away from a fourth crown in New York and his 19th Grand Slam title, which would put him one shy of all-time leader Roger Federer (20). But as usual, he is only looking ahead to Friday’s showdown.

“I need to be ready to play my best tennis,” Nadal said. “Today I made a step forward, in my opinion. That match gave me confidence. Two matches in a row against two tough opponents. [This is] a moment to increase the level a little bit more and I really believe that I can do it.”

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'Is this real life?' – Teenager Andreescu wins to set up Bencic semi-final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 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.

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic will meet Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu for a place in the US Open final after both reached their first Grand Slam semis.

Andreescu, 19, recovered from a set down to defeat Belgian 25th seed Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3.

“I’m honestly speechless,” Andreescu said. “I need someone to pinch me right now. Is this real life?”

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Bencic put friendship aside to beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

Serena Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, plays Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the other semi-final in New York on Thursday.

  • Berrettini wins five-set thriller against Monfils to reach semis
  • Live scores, schedule and results
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Bencic gets revenge but ‘still friends’

Eliminated from the French Open by Vekic in May, 13th seed Bencic got the better of her hitting partner this time round in a match full of baseline rallies.

Vekic, 23, failed to serve out the first set after breaking in the ninth game, with it eventually going to a tie-break which Bencic took charge of.

The Swiss, who knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round, broke twice in the second set, sealing victory on her third match point when Vekic hit a forehand wide.

The pair shared a warm embrace at the net and Bencic was confident their friendship would survive.

“We’re both professional enough to be friends off the court and competitive on the court,” Bencic said. “I think we did well. I’m sure off the court we are friends still.”

Bencic will now return to the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in more than three years.

She reached a career-high seventh in February 2016 before injuries and wrist surgery left her as low as 328th.

“I dreamed of this like a little kid so now that I’m here I’m really enjoying it,” said the Swiss, who ended a five-year wait to improve on her previous best Grand Slam showing of a US Open quarter-final.

Andreescu’s dream debut continues

Later on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Mertens made a quick start against promising youngster Andreescu as she raced into a 4-1 lead to move the opening set beyond the reach of the Canadian.

A rapidly improving Andreescu responded with an early break to go 2-0 up in the second set, only to be pegged back by Mertens in her following service game.

That was a temporary set-back, however, as the teenager broke twice more, claiming four successive games to level the match.

With Andreescu threatening to pull away, Mertens saved two crucial break points to draw level at the start of the third set – and was then forced to save two more when trailing 3-2.

The relentless Canadian eventually made a decisive breakthrough with her third break point opportunity of the eighth game, before serving out to complete an impressive turnaround.

Andreescu, who is making her US Open debut, has won 11 matches in a row after winning the title in Toronto in August when Serena Williams retired during the final.

That was her second title of the year after victory in the prestigious Indian Wells event in March.

“I think it’s just the experience from playing these huge events this past year,” she said. “All that experience is just catching up.”

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