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Murray Masters Nava In New York

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2022

Murray Masters Nava In New York

2012 champion to meet Berrettini next after Italian holds off Grenier to advance

Andy Murray had plenty of thinking to do early in his second-round clash against #NextGenATP American Emilio Nava at the US Open on Wednesday, but the former World No. 1 raised his level to prevail 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 and reach the third round in New York.

The 20-year-old Nava clinched a lung-busting 84-minute opening set with a stunning forehand pass to heap pressure on his experienced opponent, but Murray bided his time and began to unpick the Nava game with some consistent baseline hitting on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 2012 champion won 14 of the final 15 games to reach the third round in New York for the first time in six years.

“I think I started to take the ball on a little bit more,” said Murray in his on-court interview when asked how he had turned the match around. “He was dictating a lot of the points in the first set. Once I started to hit the ball a little bit bigger, a little bit deeper, I was then able to control the points more.

“He (Nava) also played a really long first-round match, a five-setter against John Millman. I think that’s the first five-setter that he’s played, so it’s not always that easy to recover and I think his level dropped a little bit in the third and fourth sets. But he’s a brilliant young player and he’s going to have a very bright future.”

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Murray had won just one of four matches in the North American hard-court swing coming into the US Open, but he downed 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in straight sets in the opening round and Wednesday’s win against Nava improved the 35-year-old’s record at Flushing Meadows to 48-14. Murray struck 11 fewer winners than World No. 203 Nava (22 to 33), but the Briton believes his trademark defence is just as much of a weapon as his ability to hit winners this fortnight in New York.

“Physcially this is the best I’ve felt in the last few years. My movement is by far the best it has been in a long time. That’s always been a really important part of my game, and nowadays especially with a lot of the guys now hitting a huge ball, you need to be able to defend well. I feel like I’m doing that just now, I’m getting closer to where I want to be and hopefully I can have a deep run here.”

With the win Murray rises to No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, his highest mark since May 2018. The Briton will next face 13th seed Matteo Berrettini, who also recovered from dropping the opening set in his second-round match, holding firm for a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), 7-6(7) win against Frenchman Hugo Grenier.

The 2019 semi-finalist Berrettini struck 74 winners to Grenier’s 30 in his three-hour, 25-minute triumph on Grandstand, and Murray is more than aware of the Italian’s power, having fallen to the seven-time Tour titlist on the grass in Stuttgart in June.

“He’s had a bit of an unlucky year, to be honest,” said Murray of Berrettini. “I know he got Covid at the beginning of Wimbledon having just won Stuttgart and Queens back-to-back… I think it was a wrist injury he had so he missed pretty much the whole of the clay season as well this year, but when he has been on the court he’s done really, really well.

“We played in the Stuttgart final, a tough three-set match, so I’m expecting it to be really difficult, but if I play well and my return is on point then I’ve got a good chance.”

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US Open Preview: Medvedev, Felix On Guard On Day 3

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2022

US Open Preview: Medvedev, Felix On Guard On Day 3

Paul and Korda meet in an all-American clash at their home Slam

After seeing fellow Top-10 seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz crash out of the top half on Day 1, top seed Daniil Medvedev and sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime won’t take anything for granted when they suit up for battle in the US Open second round Wednesday. looks at five things to watch on Day Three at Flushing Meadows, where Medvedev continues his title defense and Felix faces dangerous young Brit Jack Draper.

1) Felix Meets Draper For First Encounter:
Felix Auger-Aliassime, semi-finalist at the US Open last season, is at a career-high No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Canadian should expect a fierce challenge in his first meeting with fast-rising 20-year-old Jack Draper.

Felix, who boasts 37 wins this season including his maiden ATP Tour title in Rotterdam, has had success in New York dating back to his junior days. The Montreal native claimed the boys’ singles title at Flushing Meadows in 2016 and the boys’ doubles title with countryman Denis Shapovalov in 2015. Last year, the 22-year-old became the first Canadian men’s singles semi-finalist in tournament history.

#NextGenATP lefty Draper, who is making his US Open debut, is hungry for his second Top 10 win. After earning his first win over a Top 10 player earlier this month when he ousted Tsitsipas in Montreal, the Brit looks to strengthen his hold on a spot at the eight-player Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals with an upset over Auger-Aliassime Wednesday. The 2018 Wimbledon boys’ singles finalist has won four ATP Challenger Tour titles this year, a season record he shares with Argentine Pedro Cachin.

2) Defending Champ Medvedev Continues Quest For Second Slam:
After winning in convincing fashion on Monday, Medvedev, who boasts a 19-2 record in his last 21 matches at the Open, looks to carry his momentum into the second round against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech.

Rinderknech, a former Texas A&M University standout, reached his maiden Tour-level final earlier this season in Adelaide (l. Kokkinakis). The 27-year-old now looks to earn the biggest win of his career on Arthur Ashe Stadium Wednesday night.

3) Paul-Korda Clash Leads Home Favourites:
World No. 34 Tommy Paul is the highest-ranked American in action Wednesday. The 25-year-old seeks his first victory over countryman Sebastian Korda, who leads their ATP Head2Head 3-0.

Other home hopes in action Wednesday include J.J. Wolf, who cruised past 16th seed Roberto Bautista Agut on day one and now looks to return to the third round, which he reached in 2020. First, he has to get through Chilean Alejandro Tabilo. Brandon Holt and Emilio Nava also aim to advance in New York Wednesday.

4) #NextGenATP Star Nava Battles Former Champion Murray:
Wild card Nava, 20, aims to back up his maiden Grand Slam victory from Monday when he meets the 2012 champion Andy Murray, 15 years his senior, to open play on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Murray looks to claim back-to-back hard-court wins for the first time since January in Sydney. Should Nava advance, he would rise to 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan.

The four qualifiers still alive in the top half of the draw also look to build upon their success. Daniel Elahi Galan, who stunned Tsitsipas Monday, faces Australian Jordan Thompson. Holt, who upset Taylor Fritz, faces Argentine Pedro Cachin. In a matchup of two qualifiers, Portugal’s Nuno Borges and China’s Wu Yibing look to reach the third round of a major for the first time. On Monday, Wu became the first Chinese man to win a singles main-draw match at a Grand Slam in the Open Era.

5) 2022 Slam Finalists Ruud, Kyrgios In Action:
Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud and Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios look to continue their success this season. Ruud, seeded fifth, meets Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven, who narrowly escaped Monday’s first-round contest against Zhang Zhizhen, against whom he saved seven match points.

Kyrgios, 12-2 in his past 14 matches, faces Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, who survived in five sets in his opening match against countryman Ugo Humbert. Bonzi was a dominant force on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2021, when he collected a season-leading 50 wins. Kyrgios is seeded to meet Medvedev in the fourth round.

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Nadal Rallies Past Hijikata, Sets Fognini Showdown At US Open

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2022

Nadal Rallies Past Hijikata, Sets Fognini Showdown At US Open

Spaniard moves to 20-0 at majors this season

It took time for Rafael Nadal to discover his rhythm on Tuesday evening at the US Open, but the four-time champion found it to advance to the second round.

The Spaniard rallied past #NextGenATP Australian Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows, where he is competing for the first time since he won the 2019 title. The second seed has won 19 of his past 20 matches at the season’s final Grand Slam, and he has triumphed in all 20 of his matches at major championships this year.

“It’s been a long wait. For some time I thought I may not be able to be back, so I am super happy. Night sessions are the best,” Nadal said. “I just have to be humble and accept the process, day after day in practices and matches and stay positive.”

Nadal will next face a tough challenge against Italian Fabio Fognini, who rallied from two sets down against the 22-time Slam champion in New York in 2015. Nadal leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 13-4.

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Hijikata showed no fear of the stage or his opponent inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. The contender for a place at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals came out firing, playing aggressively to keep Nadal from dominating the action.

“I think I started not that bad the first couple of games, but then I had some opportunities that I was not able to make it,” Nadal said. “I think I didn’t play a good game with my serve. Then he had the break. Then I was a little bit nervous. First match here in New York after three years, night session, it’s always exciting. Yeah, I went through this tough moment.”

The Australian hit 11 winners to just six unforced errors in the first set, unleashing roars to the New York crowd to celebrate some of his best shots. The 21-year-old had gained experience in a big match earlier this month in Los Cabos, where he made World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev work hard for a straight-sets victory.

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But winning a set against a Nadal and claiming three are very different tasks, which is why Nadal has not lost his opening match at a major since the 2016 Australian Open. Nadal served well in the second set, landing 75 per cent of his first serves and winning 93 per cent of those points, which changed the momentum.

From there, the Spaniard was never in danger. Nadal broke early in the final three sets and never relinquished control from there.

“It’s always the same story: things are not perfect when you are not competing very often, when you come back from injury. You need to be humble enough to go through this process and accept that you need to fight and you need to accept that you going to suffer. That’s what I did today,” Nadal said. “I am able to play again in two days, and I hope to play better.”

This was just Nadal’s second match since Wimbledon, where he withdrew before the semi-finals due to an abdominal tear. The lefty lost his opening match at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati against eventual champion Borna Coric.

Nadal’s next opponent, Fognini, was also challenged. The Italian battled past Aslan Karatsev 1-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 after three hours and 34 minutes.

Did You Know?
Nadal is in pole position to leave New York as the No. 1 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud all must reach at least the final to have a chance of preventing the Spaniard from capturing the top spot.

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Tennis 101 & Why 7 Match Points Didn't Phase Van Rijthoven

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2022

Tennis 101 & Why 7 Match Points Didn’t Phase Van Rijthoven

Dutchman reflects on the injuries he has overcome

To some players, facing seven match points would be a daunting task. Tim van Rijthoven, however, has confronted much worse.

The Dutchman, who saved seven match points on Monday and rallied from two sets down to stun Zhang Zhizhen at the US Open, is enjoying the best year of his career. But it has been far from easy for the 25-year-old to get to this point.

Going through the list of injuries van Rijthoven has suffered since turning pro in 2015 takes almost as long as an interview itself.

“When I was 18, I had a golfer’s elbow. It hurt when I was hitting serves, forehand volleys and smashes, so I couldn’t play a match,” van Rijthoven said. “It took me about a year to recover from that and that was my first year as a pro.”

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Once van Rijthoven returned to the court, he was able to compete for a year and a half, but his elbow still hurt “a lot”. At the end of the year, he fell on his wrist and needed surgery. That was another eight months out.

Again, the Dutchman was able to return to competition for a year, but then hurt both his groins and was unable to move to his left or right. Each time van Rijthoven recovered physically, but he was never able to find his rhythm on the court. In February 2020, he underwent vein surgery on his right arm to deal with thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot causes a blockage.

“I’ve had moments when I’ve thought about quitting the sport altogether and just going back to studying,” van Rijthoven said. “Definitely not easy.”

It was tough for him to imagine a life without tennis. Van Rijthoven began golfing when he was very young, holding a club at the age of two. But tennis was in his blood.

“I think my first lessons were at five, six years old,” van Rijthoven said. “My parents were both tennis teachers, so it was only normal for me to play tennis.

“Both my parents were in that life, so it kind of became my life. I never thought of it as really my job, but just part of my life.”

Sometimes it became hard for him to differentiate between his professional career and his personal life. His family and friends, especially his girlfriend, urged him to continue working hard and eventually the effort would reap rewards. According to van Rijthoven, his biggest improvement came in his mind.

“For me it was really just turning a switch on in my head,” he said.

It all paid off for van Rijthoven earlier this year during the grass-court season. In front of his home fans at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Dutchman lifted the trophy as a wild card ranked World No. 205.

In the final, he upset then-World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev to become the first man to defeat a World No. 1 or No. 2 in his first ATP Tour final in the Tour’s history (since 1990). Van Rijthoven backed it up by advancing to the fourth round at Wimbledon as a wild card on his Grand Slam debut. In the Round of 16, he tested eventual champion Novak Djokovic before losing to the Serbian in four sets.

Tim Van Rijthoven
Photo Credit: Libema Open
Van Rijthoven did not let the success of the moment get to his head, though. Although he recognised “how precious those matches were”, he said he “definitely [had] both feet on the ground”.

Just weeks later, van Rijthoven went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. At No. 101 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, one place from checking off his major goal of cracking the Top 100, injury struck again. The Dutchman was hitting a serve at an ATP Challenger Tour event when he strained his back. “I couldn’t really move either side and was just stuck in one position,” van Rijthoven said.

“I thought about ‘Not again’, yeah. I also feel like whenever I feel a small pain coming up, I’m very careful, so I want to get a picture taken of it and everything and just know what it is, because I’ve had all those injuries before.”

Van Rijthoven did not play a tournament between that moment and the US Open. He seemed destined for a first-round exit when he trailed Zhang by two sets and 1/5 in the third-set tie-break. But like he has throughout his career, the Dutchman persevered.

With the World No. 117’s sights set on the Top 100 — a mark he is projected to eclipse with an upset win in the second round against Casper Ruud — van Rijthoven is ready to continue his surge.

“That’s one of the big goals for me and I was 101,” van Rijthoven said. “That really hurts to be 101 and finish the career 101, so I don’t want to finish 101.”

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