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Dominic Thiem Moves Into US Open Second Round

  • Posted: Sep 01, 2020

Dominic Thiem Moves Into US Open Second Round

Austrian star to play Nagal next

Dominic Thiem moved into the US Open second round on Tuesday after winning the first two sets, 7-6(6), 6-3, against Jaume Munar, who subsequently retired due to injury.

“I was happy with the way I was fighting, because it wasn’t easy to play him,” said Thiem in an on-court interview. “The courts are very different this year, the court seemed to be slow inside (on Louis Armstrong stadium). It was a little bit windy, but we had some good rallies. I felt I was playing good. I played a good tie-break, which was pretty comfortable, then I’m sorry for what has happened.”

Thiem, who suffered a shock first-round exit at the recent Western & Southern Open, can further strengthen his position at No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with a deep run, as he has just 10 points to defend. 

Thiem, who now has a 4-0 record against Munar in their ATP Head2Head series, took early control of the match, breaking in the fifth game. But Munar dug deep to take a 6-5 advantage, prior to Thiem playing superbly in the tie-break and taking a 2-0 lead in the second set. While Munar recovered, a slip on the baseline midway through the second set proved to be critical. From 3-3, Thiem won 12 of the next 15 points, and closed out a two sets lead with his ninth ace – one of 33 winners in the one-hour and 55-minute encounter.

World No. 3 Thiem, runner-up at three major championships (2018-19 Roland Garros and 2020 Australian Open), is now 10-5 on the season. He will now face Indian Sumit Nagal, who recorded his first match win at a Grand Slam with a 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Bradley Klahn.

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Jamie Murray's 'Funky, But Extremely Effective' Forehand Volley

  • Posted: Sep 01, 2020

Jamie Murray’s ‘Funky, But Extremely Effective’ Forehand Volley

The Ultimate Doubles Player: Forehand Volley

Jamie Murray’s net game appears simple on the surface. But the former World No. 1 has certainly done well with it, and his peers believe he has the best forehand volley in tennis.

“[It’s] a bit funky-looking, but extremely effective,” former World No. 3 Robert Lindstedt said. “I feel like he’s always in front. He has a lot of options with it.”

Murray is a traditional serve and volleyer. According to some of the best doubles players in the world, when the lefty makes his way up to net, he is difficult to beat.

“On the first volley he’s really solid and he’s also got that almost topspin drive volley when he’s crossing, which is really effective,” said Joe Salisbury, who won the Australian Open this year with Rajeev Ram. “It’s just the most solid and the best winning shot, as well.”

Forehand volleys must be well-rounded, as there are many variations to the shot: a low transition volley near the service line, a putaway poach and a reflex volley among them. Players agree that Murray’s forehand volley is complete, leaving little doubt that he tops this category in’s ‘Ultimate Doubles Player’ series. 

Doubles stars weigh in on Murray’s forehand volley as well as on others who do well with the stroke.

Jamie Murray
“Jamie for me is one of the best volleyers of our time. When he’s at the net, he’s always quite dangerous. He’s not missing much and he’s always putting the ball in the right spot.” – Filip Polasek

“I’ve played him many times in my career. He usually plays the deuce side and he’s quite effective from anywhere in the court — when he’s at the net, far away from the net, close to the net — really snapping off the forehand volley. He can win the point from positions that most people can’t. His first volley is also really good on that side.” – Rajeev Ram

“He’s a lefty, so they’re able to play a little bit differently with strategic positioning on court. But the thing that stands out the most is his range. He’s able to play good close to his body, away from his body, high and low, generates force and has great feel on that wing and when you’re playing him you certainly feel that any time he gets a good look at that ball he can turn the point in his favour. He actually is able to generate a lot of force at reach, so when you’re trying to get the ball around him, you have to be quite accurate because he punishes you severely off that wing.” – Raven Klaasen 

Nicolas Mahut
“Very accomplished at the net on both sides. Once he’s up there, he doesn’t miss much. He’s very clinical as well with a lot of stick on his volley. He’s not just there to put the ball back in play. Very few mistakes. You would expect that from a guy who has been a top singles player and the style he played with a lot of serve and volley, a lot of forehands coming forward. He’s a very accomplished net player.” – Jamie Murray

“He’s someone who has been on the doubles Tour and at the top of the game for a long time. I’ve found when I’ve played against him his forehand volley is very reliable. He’s just an astute doubles player… very crafty guy.” – Ken Skupski

Rajeev Ram
“Played singles for quite a few years and then moved onto the doubles tour… his first volleys are very good, especially on the forehand side. He gets very low, very similar to Pete Sampras. Some people say he’s ‘Rampras’.” -Neal Skupski

Marcelo Melo
“It looks like he’s always in position no matter where you get him. He somehow makes his first volley.” – Jurgen Melzer

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Johnson Withstands Isner's 52-Ace Barrage In US Open Thriller

  • Posted: Sep 01, 2020

Johnson Withstands Isner’s 52-Ace Barrage In US Open Thriller

Sock survives fifth-set tie-break, 19th seed Fritz battles through in four sets

Steve Johnson withstood a 52-ace barrage from close friend John Isner to beat the 16th seed 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(3) and advance to the second round of the US Open. Isner’s 52 aces are the second-most at the tournament since 1991, only trailing Ivo Karlovic’s 61 (2016 first round).

“You can’t get frustrated when John’s hitting aces. If that’s the case then you’re in for a long day. He’s got the best serve in the history of tennis. You know he’s going to hit a lot of aces,” Johnson said. “I guessed right a lot and they still got by me. It’s just the way it is. You just have to laugh it off. I’ve played John enough to know it’s just trying to get your racquet on it, any return you make is a good one and you move on.”

The World No. 64 was the only player to break serve in the match and he moved on after three hours and 50 minutes inside Louis Armstrong Stadium. In 10 ATP Head2Head meetings (Johnson leads 6-4), five of them have gone to a final-set tie-break. Johnson has won four of those five matches.

Most Aces In One Match, US Open (since 1991)

 Player  Aces  Year/Round  Result
 Ivo Karlovic  61  2016 First Round  def. Yen-Hsun Lu
 John Isner  52  2020 First Round  l. to Steve Johnson
 Richard Krajicek  49  1999 Quarter-finals  l. to Yevgeny Kafelnikov
 Ivo Karlovic  46  2017 First Round  l. to Bjorn Fratangelo
 Ivo Karlovic  43  2015 Second Round  l. to Jiri Vesely

The American had a strong service evening of his own, striking 22 aces and winning 85 per cent of his first-serve points. Johnson will next play Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, who beat Italian Federico Gaio 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Johnson will try to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2012.

<a href=Jack Sock” />

Former World No. 8 Jack Sock battled hard to win his first Grand Slam singles match since the 2018 US Open on Monday, defeating Uruguayan shotmaker Pablo Cuevas 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) to reach the second round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Entering this year’s Delray Beach Open by, Sock had lost 10 of 11 matches at all levels and he did not own a FedEx ATP Ranking. But in Florida he ousted defending champion Radu Albot in a final-set tie-break. Just weeks later he reached the final of the ATP Challenger Tour event held at Indian Wells.

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the 27-year-old’s momentum as play was suspended for more than five months. But World No. 389 Sock hit 51 winners in his three-hour, 15-minute victory against the Uruguayan.

Cuevas had won the pair’s two previous ATP Head2Head meetings, including a straight-sets win at last year’s US Open. But Sock capitalised on four of his six break points to advance. He will next play 32nd seed Adrian Mannarino, against whom he has won four of five matches.

<a href=Taylor Fritz” />

Another American who advanced on the first day of the year’s second Grand Slam was Taylor Fritz. The 19th seed rallied past German Dominik Koepfer, who made the fourth round at Flushing Meadows last year, 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Fritz has now won his opening match at seven of the past eight majors. He will try to reach the third round in New York for the second time when he faces former World No. 6 Gilles Simon. The Frenchman eased past Egyptian Mohamed Safwat 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

#NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima earned his first Grand Slam win on his major debut, eliminating 38-year-old Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(3). The newly-turned 19-year-old won his first ATP Tour matches earlier this year in Delray Beach, where he made the quarter-finals.

“It feels great. Definitely been waiting for this to happen,” Nakashima said. “I think I played a really good match today and it was great to get my first Grand Slam win.”

Pablo Carreno Busta, the 20th seed, rallied to beat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. He will next play American Mitchell Krueger, who eliminated Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.

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Djokovic Red-Hot Under The Lights

  • Posted: Sep 01, 2020

Djokovic Red-Hot Under The Lights

Top seed to face Edmund in second round

Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic? The top seed continued his flawless season on Monday night at the US Open, moving to 24-0 in 2020 with a speedy 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory against Damir Dzumhur.

“He’s one of the quickest players on the Tour. He played some really good shots and it was anybody’s game midway through the second set,” Djokovic said on court after the match. “I was pleased to close out the second set and then stepped it up [by] a couple of levels.

“I did struggle a bit [with] the semi-finals and final back to back [last week], but I had 48 hours. Not so much [time], but still enough time to recover. I felt good on the court today. The good thing about a Slam is that you only play every two days, so you have at least one day of rest and recovery. I’m going to try to use that as much as I can and gather all my energy and strength for the next one.”

Despite being in firm control throughout the match, Djokovic looked up to his team on numerous occasions. Without the typically full stadium of fans cheering him on that he’s accustomed to, the World No. 1 appeared to be looking for additional support from his entourage.

“Your team, your box, is always cheering you on. Regardless of whether you have an empty or full stadium, you always turn to them mostly. You look up to them, expect them to be with you and support you on the journey throughout the match,” Djokovic said. “Maybe you don’t want your box to clap when your opponent makes a mistake. Damir is a very good friend, so it’s a little bit awkward. But at the same time, it’s a Grand Slam, first round, biggest stadium in our sport [and] we want to start well.”

All of Djokovic’s wins this year have come on hard courts. He earned his 35th ATP Masters 1000 title last week at the Western & Southern Open (d. Raonic) and now shares the record with Rafael Nadal for most Masters 1000 titles. The Serbian also edged further clear of Nadal and Roger Federer in the ‘Big Titles’ battle with a 57th trophy at that level and could increase the gap even more if he wins his 18th Grand Slam title this fortnight. 

Awaiting the three-time US Open champion (2011, 2015, 2018) in the next round is Kyle Edmund, who defeated Alexander Bublik 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-0. Djokovic holds a 5-1 over Edmund in their ATP Head2Head, including a fourth-round win at the 2016 US Open. 

“He has a really good serve and forehand, two really big weapons. I had some really good matches against him in the past, tough four-setter at Wimbledon a few years ago,” Djokovic said. “He doesn’t feel so much pressure playing on a big court. He actually likes the challenge.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a really hard worker, puts a lot of hours on and off the court into perfecting his game. His results were up and down a little bit, but I think he does have the game and potential to be in the Top 20 without a doubt, where I expect him to be soon. So it’s going to be a tough one.”

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Djokovic Adds To ‘Big Titles’ Haul

Djokovic’s only blip in the first set came when he whiffed a backhand in the fourth point, but he quickly recovered and displayed his best form. The Serbian pushed Dzumhur well behind the baseline in their rallies and tossed in several crafty drop shots to end points, even throwing in a successful serve-and-volley play to close out the opening set.

Dzumhur continued to tirelessly chase down balls and mix up the pace on his shots in an effort to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm. His dogged determination was highlighted by saving six break points to hold serve at 3-3 in the second set. But Djokovic remained unfazed and broke Dzumhur at 4-4 before grabbing a commanding two-sets lead, letting out a roar after set point. 

The third set was one-way traffic for Djokovic and he fired a forehand passing shot on match point to advance in one hour and 58 minutes. He finished the night with 31 winners to 29 unforced errors.

Jan-Lennard Struff won the first seven games and last five games of his 6-0, 7-5, 6-4 win over Pedro Martinez. Awaiting the No. 28 seed in the second round is Michael Mmoh, who defeated Joao Sousa 6-2, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.

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