Tennis News

From around the world

From Early-Round Scares To The Semis: Pavic/Soares Advance At US Open

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2020

From Early-Round Scares To The Semis: Pavic/Soares Advance At US Open

Croatian-Brazilian duo into first major semi-final as a team

Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares have faced a difficult road to the US Open semi-finals. That has made their success in Flushing Meadows even more rewarding.

The Croatian-Brazilian team defeated Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, last week’s Western & Southern Open finalists, 6-2, 7-6(4) on Monday in the quarter-finals. It is the first time they have reached a Grand Slam semi-final as a team.

In the first round, Pavic and Soares rallied from a break down in the third set against 2019 US Open finalists Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos. In the second round, Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow served for the match against them. But the 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters champions have persevered.

“We came back from all of those tough situations. Tough match on paper today. They didn’t play a great first set, but then they started playing much better in the second,” Pavic said. “We won three tough matches. We’re playing well. We’re playing better and better each match, so we’re happy from everything.”

The Croatian believes that overcoming those deficits only helped them raise their level. Pavic and Soares went unbroken in their one-hour, 26-minute quarter-final victory.

“It helps a lot, especially when you get back from those situations when people are serving for the match and stuff like that,” Pavic said. “You build confidence after those wins. With a break for six months, nobody played for six months… we didn’t play a lot of matches, so it’s good that we’re here.”

Source link

Shapovalov's US Open Breakthrough Took A Village

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2020

Shapovalov’s US Open Breakthrough Took A Village

Canadian advances to first Grand Slam quarter-final

Ask any player about how they made it onto the ATP Tour and they’ll name at least one person who played a key role in achieving their dreams.

Denis Shapovalov is quick to credit the members of his team, both lifelong and recent, who helped guide him to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open. But their work hasn’t only been about forehands and backhands.

At the recommendation of one of his coaches, former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny, Shapovalov began working with a sports psychologist this year. He credited their off-court work with playing a pivotal part in his on-court success.

“He’s helped me tremendously. I’ve been working with him the past five, six months. Mischa recommended to bring him onboard. I’m really glad that they’re part of my team,” Shapovalov said. “He’s been helping me with not just tennis stuff, but life stuff, too. Definitely helped me so much in these matches… I was definitely doing the exercises we work on to calm down, regroup [after the first set]. Surely enough, it helped me once again today.”

Youzhny has been the man behind Shapovalov’s on-court growth over the past 12 months. Shapovalov was prone to follow flashy winners with wild unforced errors when he first came on tour, but Youzhny has helped him become more stable from the baseline and added more variety to his game. He rushed the net an average of 37 times in his first four matches this fortnight and is more willing to mix in slices or drop shots when appropriate.

“I feel like Mischa has helped me a lot with that, just not going out there and trying to blast balls left and right, but actually playing smarter and playing more crafty,” Shapovalov said. “He’s such a crafty player. I’m thankful he’s been able to teach me some of that, help me implement that in my game.”

His mother, Tessa, is his other coach and an unwavering supporter throughout his life. Shapovalov also gained inspiration to change his on-court behaviour from his girlfriend, professional tennis player Mirjam Bjorklund.

“As soon as we started dating, it’s kind of a reason for someone to want to man up. I feel like she’s definitely inspired me to become a better person, a better tennis player,” Shapovalov said. “But I didn’t mean to take anything away from my parents or my team. I feel like everybody’s inspiring me. They’re staying up at night watching my matches. Everybody is supporting me. Throughout the start of my life, my parents have always been there for me. I think it’s everybody.”

You May Also Like:

Daniel Nestor On Canadian Tennis: ‘Things Are Booming’

Shapovalov is part of a Canadian trio making history in New York. He joined Felix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil in marking the first time that three Canadian men reached the second week of a major championship. The 20-year-old is now the first man from his country to reach the US Open quarter-finals in the Open Era.

His dream for this fortnight is a championship showdown with Auger-Aliassime. After defeating him via retirement in their first-round match at the 2018 US Open, Shapovalov embraced his close friend and told him, “We’ll be back and we’ll be playing the finals.” That bold statement is now becoming more realistic.

“If I didn’t think it could happen, I wouldn’t say it. It’s definitely [possible] that it could happen this year,” Shapovalov said. “It’s still very far away. There’s so many great players in the draw for both of us. It’s going to be extremely difficult to get that far.

“But I’m sure at some point in our careers, we’re hopefully going to be playing finals against each other. That would just be amazing. To grow up with a really close friend, a guy that you’ve been battling against for years from juniors, to go through Futures, Challengers, everything together, all the way to Grand Slam finals… It would be a movie.”

Source link

Shapovalov Charges Into First Grand Slam Quarter-final

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2020

Shapovalov Charges Into First Grand Slam Quarter-final

#NextGenATP Canadian upsets Goffin on Sunday at the US Open

If Denis Shapovalov wanted to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open, he needed to move forward in every sense.

The No. 12 seed left the memories of his only previous ATP Head2Head match with seventh seed David Goffin, a straight-sets defeat last October in Tokyo, in the rearview mirror as he rushed to the net 47 times. Shapovalov was rewarded for his high-octane strategy with a 6-7(0), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Goffin and became the first Canadian man to reach the US Open quarter-finals in the Open Era.

The #NextGenATP Canadian has already established himself as someone who thrives on facing top players in big stadiums. Shapovalov opened the year with a pair of wins against players inside the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, taking out Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup, and completed a hat trick for this season against No. 10 Goffin.

Shapovalov is part of a Canadian trio making history this fortnight in New York. He joined Felix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil in marking the first time that three Canadian men reached the second week of a major championship.

Awaiting the 20-year-old in the last eight is No. 20 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who advanced when top seed Novak Djokovic was defaulted in their match earlier in the day. Carreno Busta leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-1, triumphing in their first meeting at the 2017 US Open and winning their two most recent clashes last year in Chengdu and Vienna.

You May Also Like:

Coric Cracks Quarter-final Milestone At US Open

Goffin went toe-to-toe with Shapovalov in the opening set, matching his power from the baseline and pouncing on any short balls he received. Neither player dropped serve, but Shapovalov grew frustrated at not converting the four break points he held across four of the Belgian’s service games. He bravely saved a set point on his serve at 5-6, but surprisingly imploded in the tie-break and handed Goffin the early lead with a stream of errors.

Although Shapovalov charged the net numerous times in the opening set, he used the strategy even more frequently in the second set, moving forward behind aggressive groundstrokes in a bid to shorten points. The added pressure contributed to Goffin hitting a double at 2-1 and giving Shapovalov the first break of the night. The slight advantage was all the Canadian needed and he continued to hold serve comfortably to level the mach.

He continued to pour it on with an immediate break in the third set as Goffin appeared to grow weary from their grueling baseline exchanges. Although the Belgian continued to battle, he received few opportunities to get involved in his opponent’s serve games. Shapovalov dropped just five points on serve in the third set to take a commanding advantage.

Shapovalov raced to the finish line with a five-game run in the fourth set. Although he showed nerves while serving for the match at 5-2 and was broken, he quickly regrouped and fittingly hit a backhand volley winner in the next game to advance in three hours and 29 minutes. He finished the night with 51 winners.

Source link

Tiafoe Ahead Of Medvedev Showdown: 'I Have A Chance Against Anybody'

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2020

Tiafoe Ahead Of Medvedev Showdown: ‘I Have A Chance Against Anybody’

The American will try to oust the 2019 US Open finalist on Monday

Frances Tiafoe’s smile is contagious. His friendliness lights up every room he steps in. On the court, the American’s athleticism and shotmaking abilities are undeniable.

But when the 22-year-old walks into Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday evening for his fourth-round US Open match against third seed Daniil Medvedev, another one of his assets will perhaps be more important: his confidence.

“When I’m playing the way I’m playing right now, I feel like I have a chance against anybody in the world,” Tiafoe said. “I felt that way for years. I’m starting to finally put it together again.”

Last January, Tiafoe broke through to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. That helped him climb to a career-high World No. 29. Now No. 82, the American still has the same self-belief.

“For me it’s an absolute key for any player,” said Tiafoe’s coach, former World No. 6 Wayne Ferreira. “Confidence takes [players] so much further than if they didn’t have it. We’ve seen it with so many different players. The fact that he is very, very confident is great.”

Ferreira began working with Tiafoe just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States. The South African knew his charge was a confident person, but sensed he was “a little bit down” about recent results.

“Since I’ve been with him now the confidence is good, he’s starting to play well and it’s certainly going to help him. Going into a match against Medvedev, even though he’s lost to him before, he still thinks he has a chance to win,” Ferreira said. “Honestly, you don’t really have a chance to win unless you believe that you can. I think it’s going to help him a lot. Hopefully it will be good enough to make him win. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Another attribute Tiafoe will bring to the court is a high tennis IQ. Sometimes that gets lost in Tiafoe’s flashiness and general energy on the court. But according to Martin Blackman, the USTA’s General Manager, Player Development, Tiafoe has had that from a young age.

Blackman remembers when he was the director of tennis at Junior Tennis Champions Center in Maryland from 2004 through 2008. There was always a little boy with a smile on his face watching from just off the court as some of the oldest high-level juniors trained. The boy’s father, who immigrated from Sierra Leone, was a janitor at the facility. He would spend his free time hitting against a wall or seeking anyone who was willing to knock around a few balls.

That boy was Tiafoe.

“He almost always had a smile on his face and loved talking to people, but he also was very attentive in watching all the coaching that was going on at the JTCC. You can tell that he was really taking it in,” Blackman said. “The programme started at eight in the morning and it went until eight in the evening. In the afternoon after Frances had done his homework, if he wasn’t actively playing tennis, he liked to watch the coaching.”

Tiafoe was eight when the JTCC invited him into its Junior Champions Programme for which the minimum age was typically 10. He was always eager to learn and remains that way today.

“I have had discussions with him about lots of different things and so far he’s been open-minded to it,” Ferreira said. “I have no stories or issues of anything that I’ve told him that he’s said no to.”

Tiafoe might not like everything he has to do to improve his game, but he does it anyway. Ferreira believes a key area for the American is focus. He has made Tiafoe go for 30-minute runs on a treadmill with no focus or anybody around him to force him to concentrate.

“I’m a very loosey-goosey guy. He’s kind of getting me to dial it all in. [We’re] working and talking for hours on end trying to get me in uncomfortable positions and focus, things that I don’t want to do and focus. Do it to a high level,” Tiafoe said. “Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes with no music was horrible, looking at a wall, absolutely horrible. Hitting up the middle and cross-courts, 30 balls in a row, only counting my 30. If I miss, start again. Things that are so simple, but you miss a couple balls, you get [upset]… you don’t want to do it, but you’ve got to get it done.”

That has paid dividends during his career-best US Open run. Tiafoe has faced tough veterans in his first three matches: Andreas Seppi, John Millman and Marton Fucsovics. Against all of those players, he needed to maintain his focus. The 2018 Delray Beach champion’s best performance came in the third round against Fucsovics, who defeated him in their previous two ATP Head2Head meetings. Tiafoe won 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

“Anybody who was able to watch the match against Fucsovics or Seppi, you really see the tactical execution where Frances used all of his tools. He used his slice, did a great job of varying his pace, height and spin to keep those guys uncomfortable,” Blackman said. “I think that’s something that will be on display tomorrow when he plays Medvedev. You’re going to see that tactical awareness and the tennis IQ.”

Tiafoe said that Medvedev is, “playing the best tennis of his life.” The Russian beat his younger opponent in four sets at this year’s Australian Open, so Tiafoe understands first-hand that reaching a second Grand Slam quarter-final won’t be easy. But those who know him believe he will not be defeated before the last ball is hit.

“He’s so driven and he’s got so much self-belief that when he goes on the court tomorrow he’s not going to be nervous, he’s not going to be intimidated,” Blackman said. “He’s going to embrace it.”

Source link