A potential shock run to the final for Angelique Kerber remains a distinct possibility with the German in a wide open top…
A potential shock run to the final for Angelique Kerber remains a distinct possibility with the German in a wide open top…
Alexander Zverev looks likely to make his first US Open quarter final on Sunday, taking on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina…
Novak Djokovic continues his charge towards the US Open title, taking on Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the quarter-finals.…
Naomi Osaka will look to further establish her credentials as a tournament favourite when she faces Anett Kontaveit in…
De Minaur rallies to beat Khachanov
Vasek Pospisil added a second upset to his US Open tally on Saturday, recovering from two-sets-to-one down to shock Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The World No. 94 struck 70 winners and came to the net on 45 occasions to break through Bautista Agut’s defence and reach the Round of 16 in New York for the first time. The victory comes five years after Pospisil’s maiden run to the fourth round at a major championship, when he advanced to the 2015 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“[I am] thrilled. I was playing great tennis all the way through,” said Pospisil. “I had a little bit of a physical dip in the second and third sets and then the shade came in, which really helped me… I played solid all the way through. I was very relaxed, going for my shots and sticking to my game plan, my strengths. It worked out really well.”
Pospisil has now defeated two of the most in-form players since the resumption of the ATP Tour on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Two days ago, the 30-year-old came from a set down to defeat Western & Southern Open runner up Milos Raonic in four sets.
Pospisil entered his fourth ATP Head2Head match against Bautista Agut without a win to his name, but the Canadian raised his game in the final two sets to overpower his opponent. Pospisil improves to 11-5 this year, building on a strong start to the season prior to the suspension of the ATP Tour in March. More than five years after reaching his maiden ATP Tour final in 2014, Pospisil advanced to his second ATP Tour championship match at the Open Sud de France in February.
Pospisil will face Alex de Minaur for a spot in the quarter-finals. De Minaur also rallied from two-sets-to-one down to overcome 11th seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. The Aussie broke serve on six occasions to book his place in the US Open fourth round for the second straight year after three hours and two minutes.
De Minaur is unbeaten in two ATP Head2Head meetings against Pospisil. The Sydney native claimed hard-court victories against Pospisil in 2018 at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
After nine games without a break point, Bautista Agut attacked Pospisil’s forehand to survive two set points at 4-5. But the Canadian, who won 10 of 13 net points in the first set, quickly created another opportunity in his next return game. Pospisil ripped his three consecutive forehand winners to break to love at 5-6 and snatch the opening set.
Pospisil survived seven break points in his opening service game of the second set, before Bautista Agut charged back into the match. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist attacked his opponent’s backhand and moved to the net to earn his first break of the match and quickly doubled his advantage en route to the second set.
Bautista Agut made a quick start to the third set, playing with consistency from the back of the court to extract errors in in the opening game. The World No. 11 held his advantage with confidence on serve, winning 87 per cent of points behind his first delivery to move one set from victory.
Pospisil landed 20 winners in the fourth set, including a backhand return winner at 4-3, to force a decider and charge to the finish line. The Canadian moved up the court in crucial moments in the fifth set and showcased composure at the net to gain two service breaks. Serving for the match at 5-2, Pospisil converted his first match point with a pinpoint backhand passing shot up the line.
Top seed Novak Djokovic moves comfortably into the US Open fourth round, beating Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets.
Naomi Osaka is given a test by Marta Kostyuk but eventually wins in three sets to reach the US Open fourth round.
As the old adage goes, a match isn’t over until the last point has been played. Neither Borna Coric or Stefanos Tsitsipas will likely forget that again after their captivating and dramatic third-round match on Friday at the US Open.
Coric, the No. 27 seed, saved six match points, including three in a row with Tsitsipas serving at 5-4 in the fourth set, en route to producing a jaw-dropping 6-7(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) win over the fourth seed. He moved to 6-4 in five-set matches, while Tsitsipas dropped to 1-3 after suffering one of the most heartbreaking losses of his career.
“I have to be honest and say that I was really lucky. I made some unbelievable returns and I was a little bit lucky at the end,” Coric said. “In the third and fourth set, he was playing unbelievable tennis and I felt like I had no chance. In the fifth-set tie-break, I knew it was not going to be easy for him, so I tried to just keep the ball in court and make him play as many balls as possible.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 5, 2020
The 23-year-old Croatian produced another great escape 48 hours earlier in rallying from two-sets-to-one down to defeat Juan Ignacio Londero. Although Coric’s results have been inconsistent and he came to the match with a 7-6 record this year, his win against Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup reaffirmed that he has the game to beat anyone when he’s at his best.
Next up for Coric is Jordan Thompson, who defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time. Coric has matched his best result at a Grand Slam and now seeks his first quarter-final at a major championship.
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There was little separating Tsitsipas and Coric in the opening set, eventually leading to a tie-break. With Coric serving at 2/3, Tsitsipas adjusted his strategy and began moving forward behind high-octane groundstrokes. The strategy rattled Coric and the Greek grabbed the last four points for an early lead.
Coric took a medical timeout after the tie-break and received treatment on his neck and right shoulder. The medical attention appeared to help his serve and he held with ease throughout the second set, winning 80 per cent of serve points (20/25) compared to 66 per cent (23/35) in the opening set. He stayed with Tsitsipas and took advantage of a brief dip in form from the fourth seed at 4-5, breaking serve and leveling the score after the Greek fired a forehand well long.
Although both players traded comfortable service holds throughout the third set, the physically punishing baseline rallies appeared to take a toll on Coric. Tsitsipas continued to apply pressure and attack any short balls that came his way. He was rewarded for his persistence and let out his biggest roar of the night after breaking Coric to love at 4-4, then won six of the next seven games to grab the third set and build a 5-1 lead in the fourth set.
But with victory in sight, the fourth seed let slip his first chance to serve out the match and squandered two match points on Coric’s serve at 5-3. Four more match points came and went at 5-4, including three in a row at 40/0. Tsitsipas pointed at his head in disbelief, then looked at his team with a wry smile after finally handing another break to the Croatian with a backhand error.
Energised by the miraculous comeback, the 23-year-old began swinging freely from the baseline and dominating their exchanges. With Tsitsipas serving at 5-6, Coric cracked a forehand return winner on set point and pumped his fist after leveling the match.
Even when the Greek broke for a 3-2 lead in the final set, Coric remained calm knowing he had experienced much worse. He immediately broke back in the next game with a forehand passing shot, then saved three break points for a gutsy hold at 4-4.
Tsitsipas only hit one double fault across 29 service games, but hit two in the final-set tie-break. The costly errors helped give Coric a 6/3 lead and he converted on his second match point after a forehand error from the fourth seed wrapped up play after four hours and 36 minutes.
Novak Djokovic has alternated between night and day sessions throughout the first week of the US Open. But regardless of what time he steps on court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, his best tennis has accompanied him.
The top seed wasted little time imposing his game on Friday against No. 28 seed Jan-Lennard Struff, tracking down Struff’s powerful forehands to coax errors out of the German and pouncing on any short balls he received. One hour and 42 minutes later, the Serbian eased into the fourth round and improved to 26-0 this season with a dominant 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 victory, marking his 600th career hard-court win.
”It was a very good performance from my side. I managed to read his serve well,” Djokovic said. “I found my way, especially after the first set. The second and third sets were a really great feeling on the court.
“I’ve been playing well the past couple of weeks, training well, focussing on the right things, maintaining that level of performance and hoping for the best. I’m feeling confident about my game and taking that to every match I play.”
Celebrating with the fam 🤗
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 5, 2020
Djokovic improved to 75-11 at the US Open and has reached the second week in his past 13 appearances at this event. He maintained his flawless (5-0) record against Struff in their ATP Head2Head series, including a straight-sets win last week in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals and a four-set triumph in January at the Australian Open.
Awaiting him in the next round is No. 20 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who breezed past Ricardas Berankis 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. The Spaniard thrives at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, having reached the 2017 US Open semi-finals and clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 doubles title last week (w/De Minaur, but trails 0-3 in his ATP Head2head rivalry with Djokovic.
“He’s a very solid player, maybe doesn’t possess any big weapons, but every shot is very good,” Djokovic said. “He returns a lot of balls, so I’ve got to be ready for a lot of exchanges. It’s going to be a demanding match physically and mentally. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue the good performance that I had tonight.”
Struff took a fearless approach in the first set against Djokovic, striking his serves with authority and flattening out his forehand in a bid to take control of rallies. But as the World No. 1 so often does, he raised his level in the closing stages of the set and grabbed the last six points for an early advantage.
Djokovic uncorked a down-the-line forehand to break Struff in the opening game of the second set and continued to apply pressure. Although the German attempted to change tactics and move forward when it became clear he couldn’t hit through his opponent, the grueling effort it takes to win points against Djokovic often led to Struff overcooking shots on key points. The top seed broke Struff again at 5-3 for a commanding two-sets lead.
He maintained his one-way dominance in the final set, breaking Struff twice more and firing a service winner to close out the match. Djokovic finished the night with 34 winners to 23 unforced errors.
The 21-year-old from Ohio faces 2019 finalist Daniil Medvedev in the US Open third round
At first glance, J.J. Wolf doesn’t look like your typical tennis player.
Long, flowing locks with streaks of blonde descend to his shoulders. Diamond studs dot both ears. And, with a bold attitude that exudes confidence, the Ohio native is in his opponents’ heads before they even enter the court.
Sound familiar? The 21-year-old isn’t fully embracing the Andre Agassi comparisons, but he isn’t rejecting them either.
“I wouldn’t say the hair is totally based off of him. It’s a tribute to him, I’m fine with that,” said Wolf. “I think he had fun with his style. I always enjoy watching his highlights. Such a talented player.”
Wolf is taking the US Open by storm this week, reaching the third round in his Grand Slam debut. He has dropped just one set thus far, setting up a blockbuster encounter with 2019 finalist and third seed Daniil Medvedev on Saturday.
The swagger he displays on the court is not just for show. Wolf’s confidence and unyielding self-belief is one of his greatest assets and it’s something he’s carried with him since he first arrived at Ohio State University.
Very little, if anything, intimidates him. He wasn’t fazed against the best college players, earning All-American honours in 2019. And he immediately made a seamless transition to the pros, lifting four trophies on the ATP Challenger Tour in the span of just 13 months. His 14-2 record (.875) is second-best on the circuit in 2020.
Wolf will need to call on that bold and assertive mentality on Saturday afternoon, when he battles Medvedev on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Having previously never won a match at the tour-level, this is a moment he relishes.
“I work my butt off every day to try to get to matches like these. I’m going to try to make the most of it, see if I can play my best tennis.”
Wolf was born to play a sport at the highest level. It wasn’t a question of if, but rather which one he’d choose. When your entire family has found success in sports, J.J.’s fate was already sealed.
When we say ‘entire family’, that is not hyperbole. The Wolf clan’s sporting heritage goes back to his grandfather Charley, who played professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds and coached in the National Basketball Association for the Detroit Pistons and Cincinnati Royals. In total, 26 of Wolf’s relatives have taken up a sport at either the collegiate or professional level, from basketball to baseball, volleyball, soccer, boxing, track & field and tennis.
“If you go anywhere in Cincinnati, someone is going to know one of us. My grandfather is a pretty big deal. When I played Cincy qualifying [Western & Southern Open] for the first time, all the questions from the local news sites were about my grandfather coming out to watch. All of us got our starts because of him.”
His sister Danielle also played tennis at Ohio State, while his mother Brooke did so at Miami University and father Jeff competed professionally in the early 90s.
The Wolf Sporting Family Tree
Safe to say, things get very competitive in the Wolf household.
“My family are my biggest fans,” Wolf added. “My sister was also my first practise partner and my mom was my first doubles partner. We used to have some mixed matches when I was growing up. My sister and my father versus my mom and I. That was probably what sparked my competitive personality. My mom would not want to lose. She’d say, ‘your father is going to tease us if we lose this’.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, that’s for sure. They’re very important people in my life and always will be.”
J.J. with his mom and sister
Wolf also played baseball, soccer and basketball until he was 16, all of which he believes contributed to his development on the tennis court.
“Soccer helped develop my footwork and quickness, playing basketball was good for my lateral movement and jumping ability, and baseball was great for keeping a live arm while serving and also strong hip rotation. That definitely helped my transition to the pros, not playing tennis since age five, and having the opportunity to grow all my skills competing in other sports.
“Tennis started out as a family activity, while we were on vacation, but I started playing a little more often as I got older. I probably would have burned out if I played only tennis growing up. My family never pressured me to pick a sport. I chose tennis because it came down to what I could control. On the court it’s all about you every point. It’s like boxing. It’s you versus the other guy and you only have to be better than him on that day.”
During the COVID-19 hiatus, Wolf dedicated countless hours to bulking up in the gym and making sure his stamina and durability are at an elite level. He believes he’s ready to go five sets with any opponent and is already no stranger taking the court with the world’s best. In 2014, Wolf hit with Stan Wawrinka at his hometown Western & Southern Open and practised with Roger Federer while competing in qualifying in 2018.
Wolf points to the experience with Federer as one that made a big difference.
“I got to practice with one of my idols. I was so nervous, but we hit for an hour or so and then afterwards we sat down and spoke for about 30-40 minutes. It was small talk and advice about anything. That meant the world to me. I got to have a normal conversation with a definitely extraordinary human being. It just made me look up to him more. He’s just a regular guy who has unbelievable accomplishments. He’s so down to earth. It made me want to keep working hard and be someone with influence like him.”
Wolf graduated high school early and attended Ohio State for three years, before turning pro in 2019. He says his competitive drive not only comes from his family, but also the college experience. Bringing the energy came natural for Wolf in Columbus and he has translated that to the professional level.
While still attending Ohio State, he won his first Challenger title on his home campus of Columbus in January last year. He would cap the season with a second crown in nearby Champaign and proceeded to open 2020 with his first victory outside the U.S., prevailing in Noumea. And the following month he would successfully defend his crown in Columbus, soaring to a career-high No. 138 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Following a pair of wins in his US Open debut, it won’t be long before Wolf can call himself a Top 100 player. The American understands that this whole experience is a process. In order to arrive at this moment, he had to cut his teeth on the Challenger circuit.
“It’s been a pretty whirlwind experience. I struggled my first few months on tour, but then I got comfortable with it. Opening 2020 with a title in Noumea was a big one. It was the first one out of the states that I won. That was important.
“My coach is big on having a developmental mindset, rather than it being results based. That is, judging yourself on improvements rather than whether you win or lose a match. First, you have to respect the Challenger level and not just try to get by. Before you can compete at a Grand Slam, that’s what you have to do. I’ve been putting in the time so I can get there.”
Wolf after winning the title in Noumea to open his 2020 season
Wolf will look to extend his dream run in New York when he faces Medvedev first on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday. A spot in the Round of 16 is on the line.