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Millman On Djokovic: 'He’s One Of The Greatest Players To Have Played This Sport'

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Millman On Djokovic: ‘He’s One Of The Greatest Players To Have Played This Sport’

World No. 80 owns 20 tour-level victories this year

Aussie John Millman hopes that when his career comes to an end, he’ll have snapshots to look back on, moments from his career that he’ll never be able to forget. Whether a big win or a special opportunity, the Aussie cherishes those as much as anything.

The Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships final on Sunday will be one of those memorable moments. The 30-year-old will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the 9,500-seat Colosseum at Ariake Tennis Park with his first ATP Tour title on the line.

The World No. 80 just hopes that when he looks back on this snapshot years from now, the image he remembers will be of him lifting the Tokyo trophy.

“Moments like these, battling your way and getting through to the final of an ATP 500, they’re moments that you’ll remember and they’re the ones that people ask you about when you’re away from tennis and for me, that’s why you work hard,” Millman said. “From the very start you’re just a little kid that has a dream to play tennis in the biggest cities in the world. I’m lucky to have done that, but I’m not done yet and hopefully I can create a few more moments at the back end of my career.”

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The challenge will be a difficult one. Djokovic is going for his 76th tour-level title, whereas this is only Millman’s second final. Last year, the Aussie reached the championship match in Budapest.

One of Millman’s career highlights came at last year’s US Open, where he defeated Roger Federer en route to the quarter-finals. But standing in the way in the last eight was Djokovic, who leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0.

“Novak is really tough. He’s obviously one of the greatest players to have played this sport, in my opinion, in the history of the game. He’s racked up so many titles, so many victories, and he’s just an incredibly tough player,” Millman said. “But I’m in the final, I’ve had to go through qualies, I’ve had to play many matches to get here. I really do feel as if I’m deserving of my spot. I hope to bring my best tennis, a physical brand of tennis, and really just give it all just for one more match.”

In terms of style of play, Millman believes he won’t be uncomfortable. Djokovic excels from the baseline, grinding opponents down and seizing every opportunity he finds to attack. That’s very similar to the way Millman enjoys playing.

“I’m preparing myself for a very physical encounter, and that’s the type of match I like. I like to engage in physical baseline tennis. I probably feel a little bit more comfortable in that type of match than a match like today where it’s just serve and first ball,” Millman said after defeating big-serving American Reilly Opelka. “But it’s going to be incredibly difficult.”

Millman had a weight lifted off his shoulders following the first round of qualifying. In a second-set tie-break against American Bradley Klahn, the Aussie saved three match points, and he has only been getting better since.

“I think it goes to show just how strong men’s tennis is right now. It’s ultra competitive. Every single match has been a bit of a battle, and it’s special,” Millman said. “Sometimes you’ve got to ride your luck a little bit and take those chances. It’s opened up for me and I think every match I’ve gotten better and better. I’ve gotten more used to the conditions out there and it really helps when you’re very comfortable in a country. I’m very comfortable here.

“[Japan has] always been a country where I’ve felt very much at ease coming here. The people make it a really special place and it’s pretty cool that I get to play one more match, and that’s the final.”

Millman’s “love affair” with Japan began nearly a decade ago in Kyoto, where he advanced to the quarter-finals of an ATP Challenger Tour event in March of 2010 with a victory against home favourite Takao Suzuki. Reminiscing on that memory drew a loud “ooh” from the local news media.

“That was a good win to play in the Challenger against Suzuki-san,” said Millman, who has won four Challenger titles in Japan. “I’ve played very good tennis here. I’ve won a fair few titles here, so it’s really sweet to come back and do [this] at the biggest tournament they have.”

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Last October, Millman reached a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 33. But entering the Winston-Salem Open the week before the US Open, he owned only 14 tour-level wins on the year. There was plenty of pressure on him to defend the 360 points he earned by making the last eight at Flushing Meadows last year.

But he made the quarter-finals in Winston-Salem to gain some momentum. And despite losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in his New York opener, Millman kept it going with his 12th Challenger crown in Kaohsiung, and he has not looked back, pointing to that victory as a key moment. Now, he is in position to potentially earn his biggest win yet.

“The one thing I have done is I’ve stuck at it. I’ve kept my head up. It hasn’t been overly easy and there’s times when you get a little bit flustered with yourself. But if you stick at it, I’ve been through tougher times than that,” said Millman, who has undergone three surgeries during his career. “It wasn’t the be all and end all. I knew that I could create some pretty good opportunities for myself, and I’ve managed to do so… to come here and get all these matches, I’m really happy.”

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Facts & Figures: 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Facts & Figures: 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters

Essential information about the #ATPMasters1000 tournament in Shanghai

The Rolex Shanghai Masters is the eighth of nine ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournaments on the 2019 ATP Tour calendar, and caps off the three-week Asian Swing. 

Nikolay Davydenko won the 2009 Rolex Shanghai Masters with victory over Rafael Nadal in the final, but since that inaugural edition, only three players — Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer — have hoisted the trophy at this Masters 1000 tournament. Djokovic, the defending champion, leads the way with four titles, followed by Murray with three and Federer with two. 

The trio will aim to continue the trend as they return for the 2019 edition. Djokovic and Federer, the top two seeds in Shanghai, are each looking to win their second Masters 1000 title of the season.

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<a href=''>Rolex Shanghai Masters</a>, an ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Shanghai, featuring <a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a>, <a href=''>Roger Federer</a>, <a href=''>Andy Murray</a>

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Tsitsipas Plays 'Smart' To Overcome Zverev In Beijing

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Tsitsipas Plays ‘Smart’ To Overcome Zverev In Beijing

Greek to meet Thiem in final

Stefanos Tsitsipas needed all his mental strength to overcome Alexander Zverev 7-6(6), 6-4 in a dramatic semi-final at the China Open on Saturday.

The 21-year-old was forced to save three consecutive set points at 3/6 in the first-set tie-break and almost let a 5-1 lead slip in the second set, before converting his sixth match point. Tsitsipas, who improves to 42-20 at tour-level this season, is now through to his fifth tour-level championship match of the year (2-2) following his one-hour, 51-minute victory.

“I didn’t play phenomenal, but I played smart. Smart is more important than phenomenal,” said Tsitsipas. “I did things right when I had to do them… I didn’t go for crazy shots or crazy targets. I just mixed the game. I was hanging in there and trying to suffer, trying to give it my all on the court, to play another five hours. That was the mindset I was on.”

Tsitsipas arrived in Beijing with just one win in his previous six tour-level matches, but the Greek can now add a third FedEx ATP Head2Head triumph in four matches against Zverev to his earlier wins against Dusan Lajovic, defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili and John Isner. The Marseille and Estoril titlist adds 120 points to his ATP Race To London total after securing the win, boosting his chances of becoming the sixth man to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in London. Tsitsipas increases his Race total to 3,370 points, which places him 1,135 points ahead of ninth-placed David Goffin (2,235 points).

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His final opponent, Dominic Thiem, became the fifth man to book his spot at The O2 in London with his semi-final win against Karen Khachanov. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev will also feature at The 02 in London from 10-17 November.

“Thiem will be playing with a lot of intensity,” said Tsitsipas. “I’ve played him many times. I know his game consists of a lot of intensity, the power and the speed he puts in every single shot.

“He’s in a good form. He’s playing well. I just have to be serving well, playing well from behind, coming in. It’s important for me to stay focused in the crucial moments, in the moments where things are going to be decided in a few points.”

Zverev began the match quickly, stepping inside the court and firing flat shots to rush Tsitsipas into errors. The German came within a point of a 3-0 double-break lead, before Tsitsipas charged back with rapid court coverage skills to level the set at 3-3.

After trading breaks late in the set, Tsitsipas faced three consecutive set points at 3/6. But the Greek tightened his game and soaked up the pressure from Zverev to turn the tables on his rival. After levelling the score at 6/6, Tsitsipas fired an unreturned serve out wide and forced a volley error from Zverev to claim a gripping opener after 64 minutes.

“[At 3/6 down in the tie-break I wanted to] make every ball back. If the ball falls short, attack a bit more. Never let him feel comfortable with his shots, never feel like he can have options when playing,” said Tsitsipas. “That worked at that given moment. I just suffered to win those points.”

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Tsitsipas rode the momentum into the second set, claiming back-to-back service breaks from 1-1 to move within two games of victory. The 21-year-old continued to play with consistency from behind the baseline and denied Zverev with successful passing shots when the German attempted to shorten points with trips to the net. Tsitsipas failed to convert five match-point opportunities as Zverev made a late comeback bid, but the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion claimed victory on his sixth match-point opportunity as Zverev’s backhand return landed beyond the baseline.

Zverev was also aiming to boost his chances of returning to the Nitto ATP Finals. The German, who lifted the trophy at The O2 last year, currently sits 20 points clear of Goffin with 2,255 points in the eighth and final qualification position.

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Tsitsipas into China Open final against top seed Thiem

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to his fifth final of the year after a straight-set victory over Alexander Zverev at the China Open.

Tsitsipas – ranked seventh in the world – beat his German opponent 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in one hour 51 minutes.

The Greek booked his place in the final on his sixth match point to defeat the world number six in Beijing.

He will face Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem, who beat Karen Khachanov, in Sunday’s decider.

Thiem battled back from a set down to beat the Russian 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 earlier on Saturday.

This year, Tsitsipas reached the finals of the Madrid Open, Millennium Estoril Open, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and in the men’s doubles at the Miami Open.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Jamie Murray and partner Neal Skupski missed out on a place in the men’s doubles final, losing 6-4 6-4 in 76 minutes to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek of Slovakia.

  • Osaka to face Barty in China Open final

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China Open: Naomi Osaka sets up Ashleigh Barty final

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Naomi Osaka will face world number one Ashleigh Barty in the China Open final after surging past defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.

Australia Open winner Osaka hit 30 winners in beating Wozniacki 6-4 6-2 in one hour 24 minutes in Beijing.

Barty, who won the French Open, earlier battled past Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7) in their semi-final on Saturday.

Sunday’s final will be the fourth meeting between Japan’s Osaka and Barty, with the Australian leading 2-1.

Osaka, 21, started strongly but Wozniacki held on until the ninth game, when Osaka broke and served out to claim the set.

The world number four, who hit five aces and saved all seven break points against her, broke the 29-year-old Dane twice in the second set as she raced to victory.

Osaka said she barely slept before the semi-final after ending US Open champion Bianca Andreescu’s 17-match winning streak in the quarter-finals late on Friday.

“I went to sleep at 4:00 am, I woke up at 6:00 am, so solid two hours, I can’t really sleep after my matches,” she said.

“I just feel like my adrenaline’s up more during the tougher matches so it makes it harder to sleep.”

Barty, 23, had to save match point in a thrilling tie-break decider against the Netherlands’ Bertens, also committing 52 unforced errors in a nervy showing.

The top seed dominated the first set only for Bertens, 27, win the second by the same score.

Bertens broke in the fifth game of the decider but could not serve out for the match as Barty hit back to take it to a tie-break.

The Australian trailed 3-0 in the tie-break but rallied to set up match point at 6-5, before Bertens won the next two to get a match point of her own.

But Barty drew level and reeled off the next two points to wrap up victory in two hours 20 minutes.

Barty credited a “massive growth” in her mental strength in playing decisive points.

“It’s gone hand-in-hand with adding some new people to my team, trying to work with them behind the scenes,” she said.

“Not just for my tennis – it’s for my life, my health and wellbeing, as well, which has been the best thing.

“I have never been happier off the court, never been happier on the court.”

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How 'Mastering Every Day' Helps Djokovic Overcome 'Mind Games'

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

How ‘Mastering Every Day’ Helps Djokovic Overcome ‘Mind Games’

World No. 1 to face Millman in Tokyo final

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to his 110th tour-level final on Saturday in Tokyo. And when the Serbian plays Aussie John Millman on Sunday, it will be for his 76th trophy.

Djokovic has not lost a set en route to the championship match, and because of all the success he has enjoyed over the years, he was heavily favoured to make it this far. But that doesn’t mean it was easy.

“It’s also a mind game in a way because when you have so much success behind you, there is always an expectation from yourself and from others,” Djokovic said. “Everyone asks you questions and sees you already fighting for the trophy, but you still have to master every day. And that’s why you have to create your own bubble in a way, where you just focus on the present moment.”

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That does not mean that Djokovic does not approach tournaments focussed on capturing the trophy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“It’s individual, so everybody goes through their own unique path and journey and whatever suits them in their approach to a tournament,” Djokovic said. “For me, obviously I do visualise myself being there and fighting for the trophy, because that’s every tournament’s goal where I participate. I try to get the trophy. I don’t have any ambition that is less than that.”

But to advance through the draw is not as simple as a champion’s scorelines might indicate. The debutant at this week’s ATP 500 event says that those results would not happen without hard work on and off the court every day, which puts himself in a position to execute those performances.

“I understand that every day is different and I have to try to focus my attention and my energy to every day: starting it off well, respecting my routines, respecting the warm-up, the preparation, the recovery after that,” Djokovic said. “Really being able to feel comfortable on the court and off the court, that allows you to peak when you want the most and to perform well.”

Djokovic has also enjoyed competing in Japan. Before the tournament, he went sumo wrestling at Ryogoku Edo-Noren, a facility with restaurants that features a dohyo, a sumo wrestling ring. The Serbian hit with a superfan, Iori Yoshida of Japan, who moved to Serbia for four years after watching Djokovic rise to the top of the ATP Rankings in 2011. Djokovic even visited a digital art museum.

The 32-year-old has also been happy to see plenty of fans flying Serbian flags around Ariake Tennis Park, including Japanese fans.

“I do feel I get a lot of support, especially here,” Djokovic said. “I’ve seen a lot of flags, actually Japanese people holding Serbian flags, which is something that makes me very happy and I am very thankful for that.”

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Although Djokovic has one match to go, he is happy with his effort thus far. The top seed needed only two hours and 19 minutes combined to dismiss fifth seed Lucas Pouille and third seed David Goffin in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.

“I’m very satisfied with the way I’ve been playing the whole week,” Djokovic said. “It’s been a very positive week on the court, off the court as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to crown it tomorrow with a trophy.”

Djokovic will now try to make his debut in Tokyo perfect with a title. And having played Millman twice — including in the quarter-finals of last year’s US Open — he knows it will be a tough match, especially considering the Aussie saved three match points in the first round of qualifying, and has only been improving since.

“He’s a very solid player,” Djokovic said. “I saw today that he had a very good, solid win against Opelka, who was in form and is never easy to play against because he has such a big serve. And Millman is someone that is fighting hard, he’s a real fighter on the court. He never gives up. He has a positive attitude, he runs for every ball and he makes you play. So it’s going to be again a baseline battle and I’m hoping I can serve as well as I did throughout the week because that’s something that is going to be needed.”

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Thiem Survives Khachanov Scare, Books London Spot

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Thiem Survives Khachanov Scare, Books London Spot

Austrian will face Zverev or Tsitsipas in final

Dominic Thiem recovered from 2-6, 3-5 down to beat Karen Khachanov 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 at the China Open on Saturday and book his place at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

The top seed was overpowered in the early stages by the Russian, but fought back impressively to claim victory after two hours and 41 minutes. Thiem’s success confirms his spot alongside Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev at The O2 in London. Three spots remain up for grabs at the elite eight-man event, which takes place from 10-17 November.

“[Qualifying for London] was one big goal when I started the season,” said Thiem. “I’m very, very happy that I made it again. But it’s not because of today’s win, it’s because of all the season.

“It’s a big honour for me to be again a part of that big event in London. It also shows that I played another very good and consistent season. I’m looking forward a lot to it.”

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Thiem improves to 2-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Khachanov. The Austrian also defeated Khachanov en route to his second straight Roland Garros final in June. Thiem will attempt to lift his fourth tour-level crown of the season, having already hoisted trophies in Indian Wells, Barcelona and Kitzbuhel.

Thiem will meet second seed Alexander Zverev or third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. The 14-time tour-level titlist leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Zverev 5-2 and owns a 3-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Tsitsipas.

Thiem entered the contest with an impeccable record on serve in Beijing, dropping just one of his 28 service games en route to the semi-finals. But Khachanov found regular success on return in the opening set.

The World No. 9 pushed his opponent behind the baseline with his forehand and moved up the court with success to seize an early advantage. After dropping his own serve, Khachanov continued to punish short balls and ripped a powerful forehand return to the laces of Thiem to earn his third service break and a one-set advantage.

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After committing back-to-back unforced errors to hand Khachanov an opportunity to serve for the match at 5-3, Thiem attacked the Russian’s backhand with added power on his forehand. The Austrian then claimed the 63-minute second set in a tie-break with aggressive play on his backhand to level the match.

Thiem and Khachanov traded early breaks in the deciding set, but the BNP Paribas Open titlist found the crucial breakthrough late in the decider as Khachanov served to reach a final-set tie-break. The World No. 5 drilled a backhand down the line early in the game and moved Khachanov off the court with a series of powerful forehands to claim the win.

“I’m really proud that I was fighting like crazy throughout the whole match because Karen was playing exceptionally well today,” said Thiem. “Quality-wise it was the best of our three matches we had so far.

“I have the feeling that until maybe one and a half sets or until 6-2, 5-3 for him, he was the little bit better player. I only came back into the match because I was fighting, because I was always believing that I can still turn it around. That feels great now.”

Khachanov was bidding to reach his first championship match of the season. The 23-year-old’s most recent title run came at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters, where he defeated Thiem and Djokovic in back-to-back matches to lift the trophy.

Did You Know?
This is the first time in China Open history that the top four seeds have contested the semi-finals. Through 58 tournaments this season, this is just the second event — alongside Roland Garros — that has featured the top four seeds in the semi-finals.

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Thiem Becomes Fifth Player To Qualify For Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Thiem Becomes Fifth Player To Qualify For Nitto ATP Finals

Austrian star set for London return

Dominic Thiem has become the fifth singles player to qualify for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, after beating Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals on Saturday at the China Open in Beijing. He joins Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.

The 26-year-old Thiem has secured his place at the season finale for the fourth consecutive year (2016-2019), matching the record of fellow Austrian and former World No. 1 Thomas Muster, who participated at the tournament in 1990, 1995-97.

Thiem, who has been a permanent fixture in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings since 6 June 2016, captured the biggest title of his career in 2019 with his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Federer) in March. He did not drop a set in also lifting clay-court silverware at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he beat Nadal and Medvedev in the last two rounds, and at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel (d. Ramos-Vinolas), his first title on home soil. Thiem has won at least three ATP Tour titles in for of the past five years (except 2017).

The Austrian went 23-7 on clay courts this year, which included a run to his fourth straight Roland Garros semi-final and his second successive final (l. to Nadal). He broke Djokovic’s 26-match winning streak at Grand Slam championships with victory in the Paris semi-finals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, is currently in sixth position in the 2019 ATP Race To London, followed by Roberto Bautista Agut and defending champion Alexander Zverev. David Goffin, Matteo Berrettini, Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils are also pushing hard with six weeks to go until the prestigious tournament.

The ATP’s crown jewel event is to be held at The O2 in London through to 2020, where it has been staged to wide acclaim since 2009. The event has successfully established itself as one of the major annual sporting events worldwide, broadcast in more than 180 territories with global viewership figures reaching an average of 95 million each year.

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Mektic/Skugor Battle To Tokyo Doubles Final

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Mektic/Skugor Battle To Tokyo Doubles Final

Dodig/Polasek reach Beijing final

Croats Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor ousted top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in the first round of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, and they have not looked back since.

Mektic and Skugor defeated Frenchman Lucas Pouille and defending champion Jan-Lennard Struff (w/McLachlan) 7-6(5), 7-6(3) on Saturday after one hour and 33 minutes to reach the Tokyo final. It is their second ATP Tour final as a team after winning this year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

“It was a tough match, a really tough match,” Skugor said. “Maybe it wasn’t the best level, but it was really tough to get into the points and we tried our best. Maybe we were a little bit also lucky because we managed to come back [in the first set] and in the second set we were a little bit more solid on the serve.”

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The Croats earned 10 break points, and were only able to convert once. But Mektic and Skugor were the better team on serve, winning 75 per cent of their service points compared to 65 per cent for Pouille and Struff.

After their victory, Mektic and Skugor were delighted to hit balls into the Colosseum crowd, pose for numerous selfies and sign autographs for every fan who asked.

“It’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever been. I’m really surprised positively with how nice the people are,” Mektic said. “It’s really one of the best places for me to play. We managed to get flowers from fans, pictures from fans, so it’s never too hard to stay and sign some autographs and make pictures because they’re really the nicest people ever.”

Mektic and Skugor will face second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final. The Croats have never played the Frenchmen, but they lost to Mahut and another Frenchman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, in Cincinnati.

“I just hope we do a good match and keep the level we are having right now,” Skugor said. “It’s going to be an interesting final.”

Dodig/Polasek Advance To Beijing Final
Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek booked their place in the China Open final on Saturday, defeating Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski 6-4, 6-4.

The unseeded duo saved all six break points it faced and claimed 88 per cent of first-serve points (30/34) to overcome the British pairing after 76 minutes. The Western & Southern Open champions will attempt to lift their second ATP Tour trophy of the season in the championship match.

Dodig and Polasek will meet defending champions Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo for the title. Kubot and Melo own a seven-match winning streak in Beijing and are yet to drop a set in the Chinese capital this week.

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Djokovic Powers Into Tokyo Final

  • Posted: Oct 05, 2019

Djokovic Powers Into Tokyo Final

World No. 1 to face Millman in championship match

Ten players who have held the No. 1 ATP Ranking have triumphed at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. And on Sunday, Novak Djokovic will have an opportunity to become the 11th.

Djokovic defeated 2017 Tokyo champion David Goffin 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes on Saturday to reach the final of this ATP 500 event, marking his fifth tour-level championship match of the season. The Serbian is competing in the Japanese capital for the first time, and he is trying to capture a 10th title on a tournament main draw debut, with the last instance coming in Eastbourne two years ago.

It has been a clean run through the draw for Djokovic, who has not dropped a set through four matches. None of Djokovic’s eight sets have gone to a tie-break, and he has been broken just twice in the tournament, losing an average of 3.5 games per set.

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Djokovic’s first set against Goffin lasted 46 minutes, just four minutes short of the length of his quarter-final victory against Lucas Pouille. But the Serbian appeared in control throughout, saving the four break points he faced to improve his FedEx ATP Head2Head series advantage over Goffin to 7-1.

For the second consecutive match against a seeded opponent, the 75-time tour-level titlist got off to a quick start. Djokovic broke Goffin in his first return game and he never relinquished that lead. And he wasted no time in the second set, either, playing unfathomable defence near the back wall before sprinting forward to slide an angled winner past Goffin off of a drop shot, earning a break to start the second set.

Goffin said before the match that a key for him would be to serve as well as he has throughout the week, earning as many free points as he can. But it was Djokovic who yielded better results off his first delivery, winning 87 per cent (34/39) of his first-serve points.

Djokovic will face Aussie John Millman — who will compete in his maiden ATP 500 final — for the trophy. It’s not the first time they have faced one another on a big stage, with the Serbian triumphing last year in the US Open quarter-finals. Djokovic leads Millman 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Goffin, who reached the Cincinnati final less than two months ago, is making a push in the ATP Race To London to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, leaving Tokyo in ninth place. In 2017, he reached the championship match at The O2.

The Belgian falls to 12-2 in the Japanese capital, where he has advanced to at least the semi-finals in each of his three appearances.

Did You Know?
Djokovic is now tied with Roger Federer for the most tour-level wins this season with 45. Daniil Medvedev, the 2018 Tokyo champion, leads the ATP Tour with 54 victories.

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