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Nadal, Medvedev Locked In Fifth Set For US Open Crown

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2019

Nadal, Medvedev Locked In Fifth Set For US Open Crown

Spaniard seeks 19th Grand Slam crown, Russian targets first

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev are headed to a fifth set in the US Open final. The Russian is mounting a stunning comeback after the Spaniard took the first two sets 7-5, 6-3. Medvedev answered back 7-5, 6-4 in the third and fourth.

Another slice of history is in Nadal’s grasp in a Grand Slam final. The 33-year-old is bidding to become the first player to win five major titles after turning 30. He is also targeting a 19th overall crown, which would move him to within one of Roger Federer’s all-time haul.

The three-time US Open champion (2010, 2013, 2017) is on fire this fortnight, dropping just one set and extending his overall win streak to nine straight with a semi-final win over Matteo Berrettini. He is 26-1 in his past five events.

You May Also Like: US Open Final As It Happens: Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev

Meanwhile, Medvedev enters his first Grand Slam final on a career-best 12-match win streak. The 23-year-old is not only trying to become the first major singles champion born in the 1990s, but the youngest since Juan Martin del Potro in New York in 2009. He is also the first Russian to reach a Grand Slam final since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open title.

20% Off Medvedev's Gear at Tennis Warehouse

The lone previous encounter between Nadal and Medvedev went the way of the Spaniard in the Montreal final last month. He dominated the championship match for a 6-3, 6-0 victory.

It was his Russian opponent who drew first blood on a warm Sunday afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Engaging Nadal in long rallies, he outlasted the second seed from the baseline to earn the first break of the match. But, as Nadal made some adjustments as the set wore on, taking pace off his groundstrokes and charging the net (11/14 points won), he broke right back. And he would eventually grab the opener after exactly one hour as Medvedev struck his 20th unforced error.

The World No. 2 is 15-1 in major finals when winning the first set. With legend Rod Laver, actor Michael Douglas and fashion icons Anna Wintour and Ralph Lauren in attendance, Nadal would streak to a two-set lead. Medvedev escaped from a 0/40 hole at 1-2 in the second, saving four break points, but Nadal would finally edge ahead two games later. With his punishing groundstrokes taking a collective toll, he sprinted to a 6-3 set as a Medvedev forehand sailed long.

It was much of the same as the third set got underway, with Nadal breaking for 3-2 behind a barrage of penetrating forehands. But as quickly as the Spaniard seized what appeared to be the decisive lead, Medvedev answered in kind. The change in momentum was swift, as the Russian broke right back and fought off two more break points in the 10th game. A sudden injection of pace and aggression in his forehand saw him force a fourth set out of nowhere. His 18th winner of the set extended proceedings.

Medvedev continued to mount the stunning comeback as the championship clash entered a fourth set. Increasing his aggression by stepping into the court and blasting away on both wings, as well as effectively serve-and-volleying, the fifth seed eventually forced a fifth set. The crowd erupted as he snuck a return winner past Nadal on set point.

Nadal is 21-12 in career five-set matches, while Medvedev is 0-4.

Rafa Nadal Foundation

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How Rafael Nadal Beat Daniil Medvedev In The US Open Final

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2019

How Rafael Nadal Beat Daniil Medvedev In The US Open Final

Set-by-set updates of the championship match of the year’s final major

After a tremendous battle in the US Open final, Rafael Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 over four hours and 50 minutes to earn his fourth trophy in Flushing Meadows and his 19th Grand Slam title, moving to within one of Roger Federer’s record (20).

Nadal earned what appeared to be an insurmountable lead against Medvedev, going ahead by two sets and a break against the first-time major finalist. However, Medvedev made a spirited comeback against the second seed to force a fifth set. Nadal never stopped fighting, though, saving three break points in the second game of the decider en route to his 84th tour-level title. Relive the action in’s set-by-set report.

 Set 5 Stats  Winners  Unforced Errors  1st-Serve Pts Won  2nd-Serve Pts Won  Break Pts Converted
 Rafael Nadal  15 13  84%  29%  2/5
 Daniil Medvedev  12 11  56%  50%  1/5
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Rafa Nadal Foundation

Set 1
In Montreal, Nadal saved a break point in the first game of the match, and was rarely troubled after that. This time, however, Medvedev got off to a perfect start. Despite missing a backhand return into the net in the first game to let slip a break chance, the Russian maintained his pressure, breaking in his next return game when Nadal curled a neutral forehand into the bottom of the net.

Nadal, who entered the final having dropped only one set this fortnight, bounced back immediately, benefitting from back-to-back backhand errors off the Cincinnati champion’s racquet to get back on serve. It seemed the legendary lefty might seize control as Medvedev served to even the match at 4-4. Nadal earned three break points that game, but the Russian showed no fear, winning a rapid volley exchange, serve and volleying for the first time in the match and then leaping into a backhand approach shot that he struck for a winner.

After he got broken in his second service game, Nadal got into a rhythm, winning 14 consecutive service points, a streak that lasted until 5-5. And eventually Nadal’s unrelenting pressure paid dividends. After saving the first set point he faced when Nadal cut a backhand slice into the net, Medvedev could not stave off the second, reaching for a high backhand volley and sending it into the ground.

Both players have stood several meters behind the baseline to return first serves, and by doing so they have been able to get a lot of balls back into play. Nadal threw in a handful of no-pace loopy groundstrokes, seemingly to change the rhythm of the point against Medvedev. And at the end of the set, the Spaniard began to increase the aggression with his forehand. The 83-time tour-level titlist and the World No. 5 both chose good times to approach the net, winning more than 70 per cent of net points each in the opener.

 Set 1 Stats  Winners  Unforced Errors  1st-Serve Pts Won  2nd-Serve Pts Won  Break Pts Converted
 Rafael Nadal  10  10  80%  65%  2/6
 Daniil Medvedev  16  20  61%  44%  1/2

20% Off Medvedev's Gear at Tennis Warehouse

Set 2
Medvedev got off to another strong start in the second set, once again earning a break point in the first game. But the 23-year-old was unable to capitalise, hitting a backhand into the net. There was little drama in the next two games, but Nadal pressed hard to improve his advantage when he took a 0/40 lead on Medvedev’s serve at 2-1.

After a wild point in which the Spaniard missed a low forehand down the line long, Medvedev played to win by striking back-to-back winners to get back to deuce. He also showed his courage when facing a fourth break point in the game, serve and volleying to win the point. Interestingly, his first two serve-and-volley attempts of the match came while facing break point.’

Although Medvedev held that game, he could not gut out his next turn on serve. Nadal neared another 0/40 advantage at 3-2, but a tremendous forehand half volley drop shot for a winner kept it to 15/30. But on the fifth break point he faced in the set, Medvedev missed into the net, and the second seed never relinquished his lead. Nadal dug out of a 15/30 hole as he served for the set and finished it off when a forehand from his opponent sailed long.

Before the final, Former World No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov told that a key in the match for Medvedev would be to improve his first-serve percentage after landing only 47 per cent of his first deliveries in the semi-finals against Grigor Dimitrov. Even though he has improved that a lot, making 63 per cent of his first serves through two sets, Medvedev has won just 63 per cent of those points. And in the second set, he made just 54 per cent of his first serves compared to 67 per cent in the opener.

 Set  Stats  Winners  Unforced Errors  1st-Serve Pts Won  2nd-Serve Pts Won  Break Pts Converted
 Rafael Nadal  8  7  74%  62%  1/5
 Daniil Medvedev  14  9  69%  55%  0/1

Set 3
Much like in Nadal’s semi-final victory against Italian Matteo Berrettini, he found a way to get through the opening set and only got better from there. The Spaniard took advantage of his first break chance in the third set, at 2-2, hanging in a rally through early Medvedev aggression before the Russian missed a backhand into the net — his 25th backhand error (forced and unforced) of the match.

But there was a twist in the plot. In the next game, Nadal double faulted to give Medvedev two break points at 15/40. The second seed snuck into net to save the first one and then Rafa serve and volleyed to get back to deuce, winning his ninth serve-and-volley point from 10 tries up until that point. But Nadal missed a high forehand volley to give the five-time ATP Tour champion another chance, and Medvedev did not let it slip, as Nadal missed a loopy backhand just long.

At 5-5, Medvedev held to love to guarantee he would get to at least a tie-break, but he would not need it. The Russian crushed a massive forehand winner down the line to earn three consecutive break points at 0/40. After Nadal bravely saved one with a serve and volley, Medvedev pulled a backhand approach shot up and down for a winner on the next point — his 48th of the match — to extend this to a fourth set.

Once Medvedev went down a break, it seemed like Nadal was in a perfect rhythm, having pushed the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier back and coming to net plenty to finish points off. But Medvedev made an adjustment, moving closer to the baseline and working his way into the net himself — winning eight of 12 net points in the third set — thus keeping Nadal from exerting his will. 

And the player who will climb to World No. 4 on Monday also reversed what was a downward trend with his first serve. Not only did he land 65 per cent of them, but he won 77 per cent of those points, his best rate of the match by a large margin.

 Set 3 Stats  Winners  Unforced Errors  1st-Serve Pts Won  2nd-Serve Pts Won  Break Pts Converted
 Rafael Nadal  16  8  75%  42%  1/3
 Daniil Medvedev  18  8  77%  58%  2/5

Set 4
Not that long ago, Nadal appeared on his way to winning this match — and with it, his fourth US Open title — in straight sets. But Medvedev has dug deep and played sensational tennis to send this to a decider.

This set went longer than any of the first three without a break of serve. But at 5-4, the Russian kept plugging away despite Nadal taking a 30/0 lead. After the lefty missed a forehand to give Medvedev a break point, the fifth seed showed tremendous anticipation, taking a couple shuffle steps out wide, putting himself in perfect position to crush a laser of a backhand return perfectly inside the sideline and the baseline.

Medvedev increased his serve and volley output and continued to put pressure on Nadal, using down-the-line shots from the baseline to keep Nadal from playing too aggressively himself.

The 23-year-old is also closing in on Nadal in the 0-4 shot rally category. He is just two points behind the lefty through four sets (Nadal leads 77-75, showing how his offensive mindset has helped pull him back into this epic battle.

 Final Stats  Winners  Unforced Errors  1st-Serve Pts Won  2nd-Serve Pts Won  Break Pts Converted
 Rafael Nadal  62  46  77%  52%  6/21
 Daniil Medvedev  75  57  65%  54%  5/15

Set 5
Medvedev had reversed the momentum, putting himself within one set of his maiden Grand Slam crown. But one momentary slip made the difference in the fifth set.

After holding for a 1-0 advantage, Medvedev earned three break points. On the third of those chances, Nadal was assessed a time violation following an earlier warning, meaning the loss of his first serve. Nadal responded with a massive inside-out forehand and an even bigger fist pump, eventually holding.

The Russian took a 40/0 lead on his serve at 2-2. But a missed forehand allowed Nadal back in the game, and the Spaniard took full advantage. Medvedev saved one break point with a booming ace. But on Nadal’s next break point, the World No. 2 sliced a defensive backhand just over the net, forcing Medvedev to go for an awkward drop shot, which the Spaniard swatted away with a backhand winner. 

One of the changes Nadal made was increasing the use of his backhand slice to Medvedev’s backhand, forcing the Russian to hit up on the ball rather than hammering it cross-court or redirecting it down the line. That led to some unforced errors in key moments from the fifth seed.

Nadal broke for the second time in the set when Medvedev hit an overhead smash well long, giving himself a cushion as he served for the match at 5-2. That proved important, as Medvedev again increased his aggression. On break point, Nadal was assessed another time violation, forcing him to hit a second serve. The lefty then hit a double fault, giving Medvedev new life.

And like he did the entire match, Medvedev kept fighting. Nadal earned a championship point with a drop volley, but the Russian responded by cracking a winner. Nadal drilled a forehand pass off Medvedev’s racquet to earn another point for the trophy, and the 23-year-old showed guts by hitting a big second serve out wide to Nadal’s forehand, which went unreturned. 

Medvedev neared an improbable turnaround, earning a break point to get back on serve. But after Nadal hit his first serve into the net, he crushed a forehand approach shot that Medvedev could not put back into play. After the Russian made an error on another championship point, Nadal collapsed to the court in celebration

 Set 5 Stats  Winners  Unforced Errors  1st-Serve Pts Won  2nd-Serve Pts Won  Break Pts Converted
 Rafael Nadal  15 13  84%  29%  2/5
 Daniil Medvedev  12 11  56%  50%  1/5

Did You Know?
Both Nadal (144/178) and Medvedev (124/154) put 81 per cent of their returns back into play. The tournament average was 71 per cent.

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Mertens & Sabalenka win US Open women's doubles

  • Posted: Sep 08, 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.

Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka won their maiden Grand Slam title in the US Open women’s doubles.

The fourth seeds beat Australian Ashleigh Barty and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 7-5 7-5 in one hour and 36 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Belgian Mertens and Belarusian Sabalenka won the titles at Indian Wells and Miami earlier this year.

Barty, the French Open singles champion, won the US doubles title last year with American Coco Vandeweghe.

  • Nadal chases 19th Grand Slam title in men’s US Open final
  • Is it now ‘if’ rather than ‘when’ Williams will win another Grand Slam?
  • Live scores, schedule and results

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US Open 2019: Alfie Hewett and Andy Lapthorne win respective US Open titles

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2019

Alfie Hewett retained his US Open wheelchair singles title as fellow Briton Andy Lapthorne won the quad singles title.

Hewett, 21, beat Frenchman Stephane Houdet 7-6 (11-9) 7-6 (7-5).

Earlier, Lapthorne, 28, beat Australian Dylan Alcott 6-1 6-0 to win in New York for the first time since 2014.

In winning, he ended Alcott’s unbeaten record for the season – having lost to him in the Wimbledon final – and his quest for the calendar Grand Slam.

Later on Sunday, Lapthorne and Alcott will team up in the quads doubles final against Americans David Wagner and Bryan Barten.

Hewett will also play again in the wheelchair doubles alongside Gordon Reid. They take on Japan’s Shingo Kunieda and Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez as they attempt to win the title for the third successive year.

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Lauren Jones: Wheelchair tennis player on how 'sport changed her life after accident'

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2019

“I knew I was disabled, but I never wanted to live what I thought was a disabled life.”

On 13 June 2009, a young Lauren Jones was climbing a tree with a friend when she slipped, fell 20 feet to the ground hitting a branch on the way and breaking her spine.

Aged 13 and a promising footballer, Jones was on the books of Brighton & Hove Albion when she was told she would never walk again.

A decade since the accident, Jones is now a professional GB wheelchair tennis player on the road to the Paralympics.

The Worthing-born teenager was initially airlifted to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester where doctors quickly learned her injuries were too severe. She needed to be transferred to Southampton General Hospital.

“I was in a room of about 20 other people, a couple of my surgeons who had flown in from America to operate on me and the rest were nurses and my parents,” Jones recalls to BBC Sport.

“I was laying there in a neck cast and everyone was crying. They told me I would never walk again.

“I laughed. It was a shock reaction, I thought it wasn’t real.

“It wasn’t until I looked at all these professionals completely heartbroken and the look on my parents’ faces, that for me is when it hit home.”

Today, Jones is former junior world number one in her sport and has been ranked as high as 24 in her senior singles career.

But her career has not been easy. She has faced multiple injury setbacks, including missing out on the Paralympics in Rio 2016 and has recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Despite setbacks, Jones continues to work towards her goal of competing in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, and talks to BBC Sport about:

  • Life before the accident
  • Finding tennis through her accident
  • Success as a junior
  • Missing out on Rio 2016
  • Recent setbacks including being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease
  • Road to the Paralympics

‘I was a young girl whose dreams had been shattered’

Before her accident at Chichester Boat Marina in 2009, Jones was a promising footballer. She played for her local team in Worthing and had just started playing for Brighton & Hove Albion Girls Centre of Excellence.

She had previously played for the Seagulls as a nine-year-old, but was told to return once she had a growth spurt in her teenage years.

But that return would unfortunately coincide with her accident and Jones found it hard to adjust to the news she would never walk again.

“I used to lay in my hospital bed trying to move my legs,” she said. “It was a completely life-changing experience and really tough to take.”

But when she finally began to understand the severity of her accident, she started asking questions.

“I wanted to know what I couldn’t do anymore,” she said. “One of the first things I asked is ‘could I travel?’ which is ironic considering now I travel the world every month competing.”

The football lover was a season ticket holder at Reading. Just several hours after finding out about her future, she was asking whether her new disability meant she would be able to get better seats at the Madejski Stadium.

“It was the end of my footballing career, but I knew I wanted to be involved in sport.”

‘The best decision my parents ever made’

As Jones regained the strength to move her arms, she started to become a bit of a character on her ward at Southampton General Hospital.

“I was known for being a bit of a joker, making skid marks as I raced around in a wheelchair and creating a basketball hoop out of a sick bucket,” she recalls.

“I told doctors I wanted to be involved in sport.”

But they were concerned the initial surgery would not cater for the sporting lifestyle Jones wanted.

“There was a chance the rods and screws that realigned my spine from the first surgery would bend and potentially break,” she said.

“My parents had the choice of putting me into major surgery so I could have a better quality of life, but with the risk I may not survive.

“I always say it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. They had to collapse both my lungs and put me on life support.

“They removed one of my ribs, blended it and put the mashed up bone inside my vertebra, surrounded by a metal cage.”

The surgery was a success and enabled Jones to go on and immerse herself in sport.

‘Sport really did change my life after my accident’

Due to her strong desire to play sport and just over two years since her major surgery, Jones was selected for a Paralympic training day at the age of 16.

“I think I was the only one there that wasn’t over 25 with massive muscles,” she said.

After trying a variety, Jones was selected to progress in four sports, eventually deciding to pursue tennis.

“I liked the technical side of tennis and how the professional level of the game ran alongside the able-bodied game such as Grand Slams and Wimbledon,” she added.

“Before my accident, I didn’t know disabled people could play sport, so I didn’t go into tennis with any expectations of becoming professional.

“But, within two years of starting to play, I was junior world number one.”

Jones went on to win doubles with the boys’ junior number one at the time, Alfie Hewett, who has since won three Wimbledon titles and two silver medals at Rio 2016, and is now ranked world number four.

Soon realising she had natural ability in the sport, Jones decided to move away from education to focus on her new goal of becoming a professional tennis player.

Pushing on through setback after setback

Jones has competed all over the world as a professional athlete since taking up wheelchair tennis.

Sadly, following automatic qualification, she was ruled out of the 2016 Rio Paralympics because of injury.

“That was four years of work where I wanted to compete in Rio that was taken away from me,” she said.

The blow has spurred Jones on to work towards Tokyo 2020, but that too has had its setbacks, including being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease last year.

Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease, its symptoms including fatigue, malnourishment and stomach pain.

“It can have serious effects on your body, I was falling asleep by seven o’clock every night,” she added.

“I just assumed that’s what it was like to be a professional athlete with Crohn’s.”

Jones’ pain and exhaustion worried doctors and after multiple tests, they found the then 23-year-old had two abscesses the size of tennis balls attached to her ovaries and bowel.

She was rushed to hospital in March this year needing surgery, and has had to spend three months out of training in the run up to Tokyo.

“It was a very upsetting and tough time for me, they told me I might not be able to have children. It was just the wrong timing following not being able to qualify for Rio,” she said.

“I didn’t want it to get the better of me so I focused on my career off court.

“I created a really great network of businesses and people around me and turned it into a positive.”

Jones’ profile has grown rapidly this year, noticed by Worthing’s local anonymous street artist Horace, who creates portraits of the town’s icons, including rock singer Billy Idol.

‘I’ve been fully focused on Tokyo’

Coming back from injury in May, Jones has to now climb the ranks to earn automatic qualification for Tokyo.

Once 24th in the world, recent injuries have seen her drop to 61st. To be in with the chance of competing in the Paralympics, she needs to reach the top 25.

Since her return, Jones has had five tournaments, winning two doubles, two singles and a career highlight beating world number 21 Macarena Cabrillana from Chile in February.

Her progress has been promising and she beams by the tennis court she trains at in Southampton as she looks ahead to the Paralympics.

“I’m playing the best I’ve ever played, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I feel like I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in my career.”

Those recent performances have seen Jones climb back into the world’s top 50 and she will surely leave no stone unturned in her bid to reach the top 25 in time for Tokyo.

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Is it now if, rather than when, she will do it? Williams stutters again in search of record

  • Posted: Sep 08, 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.

“The bigger the occasion, the bigger she hits,” Bianca Andreescu’s coach said before the Canadian’s US Open final victory.

Sylvain Bruneau was talking about the 19-year-old, but it could have equally applied to Serena Williams, her opponent, at pretty much any point over the past 20 years.

But something has changed in Grand Slam finals of late.

For Williams to reach the 2018 Wimbledon final, just 10 months after her traumatic experience in labour, was nothing short of miraculous. And for the American to do the same at last year’s US Open, with very few matches in between, was another phenomenal feat.

Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka played extremely well to win those finals, Simona Halep was exceptional in this year’s Wimbledon final, and the poise, belief and skill of Andreescu at Flushing Meadows on Saturday was quite something to watch.

A growing group of players now believe they have what it takes to beat the 23-time Grand Slam champion – who is one short of Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record – when a trophy is on the line.

Williams, 37, may think she has the beating of them, but it does not appear that way, and she did not play nearly as well in the final as she had done in earlier rounds.

Her movement, so impressive in the semi-finals against Elina Svitolina, was much more laboured. And her serve was much diminished.

Williams was broken three times in six matches before the final. On Saturday, she was broken six times in two sets.

She made just 44% of first serves. She won only 30% of her second-serve points. And she sent down eight double faults.

Her serve recovered, briefly, as she won four games in a row to level the second set to thunderous encouragement from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

Andreescu put her fingers in her ears to block out the noise but then, at 5-5 and with the Canadian only too aware a championship point had come and gone, the confident and clinical Williams disappeared.

Her serve and her groundstrokes became edgy and tentative, as Andreescu regained the composure which would earn her a richly deserved first Grand Slam title.

“Serena…,” Williams said, addressing herself in a post match news conference. “You didn’t miss a serve, you lost serve maybe twice in the whole tournament, and you didn’t hit a first serve in today.

“That was obviously on my mind. How do I play at a level like this in a final?”

  • ‘I could have been more Serena’ – Williams criticises ‘inexcusable’ performance
  • Andreescu beats Williams – as it happened

The 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, a close friend of Williams, thinks the American puts extra pressure on herself, and cannot rid that from her mind when she steps on to court.

“She just feels she has to win this one, and it has to be that one that she’s going to get to 24, and then to 25 [Grand Slam titles],” Bartoli told BBC Radio 5 Live last week.

Williams’ next opportunity to draw level with Court’s record will come at the Australian Open in Melbourne in January.

Winning a final on the WTA Tour between now and then might do Williams a power of good, but will she want to compete in Asia in the final stretch of the year?

She has not played any tournaments after the US Open for five years. In 2014, when she last played and won the WTA Finals, she went on to win the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon the following year.

After 22 years on tour – and with a two-year-old child to consider – another spell away from home may not remotely appeal. But surely a few more tournaments, and the chance to play at least three matches against top-eight opponents at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, would be an excellent springboard into 2020?

Williams, of course, has absolutely nothing to prove. To most, she is already considered the greatest of all time – in the women’s game at the very least. She has been in Grand Slam finals 20 years apart, and has won all of her major titles in the Open era.

But she so desperately wants to equal, and then surpass, Court’s tally.

Further opportunities may well arise, but it is now entirely reasonable to ask if, rather than when, she will do it.

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Sinner Visit, Sold-Out Crowds Highlight Genova Challenger

  • Posted: Sep 08, 2019

Sinner Visit, Sold-Out Crowds Highlight Genova Challenger

The AON Open Challenger welcomes players and fans for a 17th edition

The Italian port city of Genova has been long known for its vibrant culture and picturesque location. Nestled along the Mediterranean Sea, it is one of the busiest ports in all of Europe and boasts a rich history of art and music.

While tourists flock year-round to Genova and the greater Italian Riviera region, it’s the city’s premier sporting event that takes centre stage during the first week of September. For 17 years, the AON Open Challenger has welcomed the ATP Challenger Tour’s best to the Valletta Cambiaso Park.

Sergio Palmieri, tournament director at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, also runs the show in Genova. He has seen his tournament blossom over the years, becoming an elite event on the Challenger circuit. Thousands of fans pack Center Court each day, including a sold-out crowd for Wednesday’s night session featuring former World No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber and Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti.

It is a sight to behold year after year. Akin to the Foro Italico in Rome, the venue features large trees surrounding the main stadium and ampitheater-style seating. Fans feel like they are a part of the action as they tower over the court.

This week, a star-studded field descended on Genova, including seven players inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings. Defending champion and top seed Lorenzo Sonego is joined by Kohlschreiber, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Marco Cecchinato and Italian teens Musetti and Giulio Zeppieri.

Another Italian #NextGenATP also made an appearance this week, albeit without his racquets. Jannik Sinner, the 18-year-old whole stole the headlines at the US Open after storming through qualifying, paid a visit to his country’s standout Challenger. Projected to rise to a career-high No. 128 on Monday, he is already the youngest inside the Top 200.

“I’m very happy at the moment and I hope to continue in this way,” said Sinner. “Let’s wait until the end of the season to look back on the work done so far.”


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Genova has an impressive list of champions, with Fabio Fognini lifting the trophy in both 2008 and 2010, Dustin Brown in 2013, Nicolas Almagro in 2015 and most recently Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2017. It was the Greek’s lone Challenger crown.

The tournament is a champion itself, having taken home Challenger of the Year honours in 2014. The event takes pride in not only its great fan experience, but also its various community initiatives. Two years ago, they went green with many projects focusing on healthy living and a clean environment. And the tournament has provided a source of comfort in the face of tragedy. In 2016, they donated all proceeds to the victims of a nearby 6.2 magnitude earthquake, and last year they provided a source of inspiration after the partial collapse of the iconic Ponte Morandi bridge.

On Sunday, the 17th champion will be crowned at the AON Open Challenger when Sonego battles Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The reigning champion and home hope is one of three Italian stars in the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings, sitting at No. 49. Meanwhile, his #NextGenATP opponent is bidding for a first Challenger crown. The 20-year-old Davidovich Fokina is guaranteed to crack the Top 100 with the title.

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From fake cheque to cashing £3.1m – Andreescu on 'crazy' reality of winning US Open

  • Posted: Sep 08, 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.

Three years ago, a 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu wrote herself a fake cheque.

That cheque was a mock-up of the one given to the US Open champion.

Now, after beating the great Serena Williams 6-3 7-5 in Saturday’s compelling final, the composed Canadian is ready to cash a real one worth about £3.1m.

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment for the longest time,” the 19-year-old said of winning her first Grand Slam title, wiping away tears as the magnitude of what she had just achieved finally hit.

“For it to become a reality is crazy.”

  • Teenager Andreescu stuns Williams to win US Open
  • ‘I could have been more Serena’ – Williams criticises ‘inexcusable’ performance

Crazy is a word which Andreescu, like most teenagers, readily uses to describe unexpected situations and one which has cropped up regularly in her chats with the media over the past few days.

Not without good reason.

Twelve months ago and struggling with injury, she lost in the first round of qualifying at Flushing Meadows and was ranked outside of the top 200 in the world.

But she has become one of the most talked-about young players on the planet following a remarkable rise this year.

Andreescu, whose Romanian parents Nicu and Maria emigrated to Canada in the 1990s, had only played six tour-level matches at the turn of the year.

Since then she has won prestigious WTA Premier titles at Indian Wells and Toronto, rising to 15th in the world as a result and raking in £1.79m of her £1.97m career prize money.

Now the gains are even higher after becoming a Grand Slam champion: she will climb to fifth in the world, take home a winning prize of £3.13m and, surely, become a face recognised by many outside of the parameters of Canada and tennis.

  • Andreescu beats Williams – as it happened

“I never really thought about being famous. I’m not complaining though,” she smiled.

“My goals have been to just win as many Grand Slams as possible, become number one in the world. But the idea of fame never really crossed my mind.

“It’s been a crazy ride this year. I can definitely get used to this feeling.”

And the prize money? “Don’t ask me that because I have no clue. I’ve never held that much money in my life!”

Succumbing to the trappings of fame and wealth at a young age looks unlikely for the warm teenager, who has been nurtured by father Nicu, an engineer, and mother Maria, a chief compliance officer for a finance firm.

Maria herself has become a popular figure, particularly among social media users, thanks to her striking look, bold fashion statements and as she brings Coco, Andreescu’s pet dog, to sit on her lap during matches.

Andreescu, an only child, describes her as “the coolest person I know and my role model”.

She also has her mum to thank for helping develop the mental resilience which she needed to block out a passionate home crowd at Flushing Meadows as Williams threatened to derail her hopes.

“I started meditating and visualising ever since I was 12 or 13 when my mum introduced it to me, and I know it wasn’t such a big thing back then, but now it’s getting more popular because I think if you can control your mind, then you can control a lot of things,” she said.

“I think that’s what’s been working really well for me. I just kept doing that.

“When I’m on the court in front of these big stages, I’m really good at just blocking everything and staying in the zone.”

Belief is not something Andreescu has in short supply, illustrated by the way she struts around the court – even on the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium, even in her first Grand Slam final – with her head always up.

And that confidence exudes in a marvellous all-round game which has the variety to pull opponents apart, as well as having a killer forehand already rated as one of the best in the game.

Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion rated as the greatest female player ever, could not cope with the teenager’s consistent depth as she was hustled out of a record-equalling major.

“I feel like Bianca plays well under pressure. She goes out and she plays hard,” the 37-year-old said.

“She does what she does best, and that’s move up to the ball, that’s hit winners, that’s play with a ton of intensity.”

Andreescu had already earned six wins over top-10 players this year – Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, Angelique Kerber (twice), Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova – going into Saturday’s final.

And Williams, who she led against in their Rogers Cup final in Toronto last month before the American retired with a back injury, became the latest victim.

This run to the US Open title means Andreescu has won 14 straight matches and an extraordinary 45 of her 49 matches this season.

She is the first teenager to lift a Grand Slam singles title since Maria Sharapova won the 2006 US Open aged 19 and matched Monica Seles’ record of winning a major in the Open era on only her fourth appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

While Andreescu’s rise has been rapid, a dream-like year has also not been without its challenges.

She missed a large chunk of the season after suffering a shoulder injury at the Miami Open in March which, after an ill-judged attempt to play the French Open, forced her to miss the entire grass-court swing, making her swift ascent and formidable winning record even more remarkable.

“It’s definitely a process of life. You’re never going to have ups all the time,” she said.

“So I think in those moments, you just have to deal with it the best that you can, which is to just keep fighting for your dreams and just stay as persistent and persevere as much as you can.

“I know in those moments you feel like you can’t.

“But if you believe that there are good times ahead, then those tough moments are definitely worth it. I think it builds you as a character.

“I think everyone should go through it because it just makes you stronger.”

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