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Ram/Salisbury Dig Deep For US Open Quarter-Final Triumph

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

Ram/Salisbury Dig Deep For US Open Quarter-Final Triumph

Koolhof/Skupski reach maiden Grand Slam semi-final as a team

Defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury overcame fierce resistance from Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski on Tuesday to complete a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 quarter-final victory and maintain their push for back-to-back titles at the US Open in New York.

The top-seeded American-British pair let slip four match points at 5-4 in the second set as Nys and Zielinski rallied to clinch the second-set tie-break and force a decider on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Ram and Salisbury, who are chasing their third Grand Slam crown this fortnight at Flushing Meadows, responded by sealing a decisive break in the opening game of the third set, going on to wrap a two-hour, 34-minute triumph.

Ram and Salisbury, who have lifted ATP Masters 1000 trophies in Cincinnati and Monte Carlo this season, will next face 11th seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara or 2019 champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in New York.

Second seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski enjoyed a smoother passage to the semi-finals, easing past Marcelo Demoliner and Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-1 in just 63 minutes.

Koolhof and Skupski, who are currently No. 2 and No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Live Rankings, respectively, converted all four break point opportunities they created in a clinical quarter-final display. Dutchman Koolhof and Briton Skupski will now prepare for their maiden Grand Slam semi-final as a team, where there opponents will be third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer or sixth seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

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US Open Day 10 Preview: Alcaraz & Sinner Collide In New York

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

US Open Day 10 Preview: Alcaraz & Sinner Collide In New York

Home hope Tiafoe takes on Rublev

The growing #NextGenATP rivalry between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner arrives in New York on Wednesday, when two of the sport’s biggest young talents meet for a third tour-level meeting of the season in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

The last American in the draw, Frances Tiafoe, will attempt to back up his stunning fourth-round win over Rafael Nadal when he faces Andrey Rublev, as all four quarter-finalists in the bottom half of the draw bid to reach the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time. previews the quarter-final action on Day 10 at Flushing Meadows.

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[3] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. [11] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

In a year full of milestones for Alcaraz, the Spaniard is closing on his two biggest achievements to date: lifting his maiden Grand Slam trophy and becoming the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. To get there, however he must do something he has not managed in two previous attempts in 2022 — defeat Jannik Sinner.

The former Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champions met in an exhilarating fourth-round clash at Wimbledon in July, the Grand Slam curtain-raiser for a rivalry that is set to light up the majors for years to come. It was Sinner who triumphed in four sets on the grass in London and the Italian backed that up with an impressive three-set win on clay in the championship match in Umag in July to lift his sixth tour-level title.

“I played a couple of times against him. He’s a great player, a really, really tough one,” said Alcaraz, who now trails Sinner 1-2 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. “I lost twice in the past two months, so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik.”

Alcaraz held off Marin Cilic in five sets in the fourth round on Monday to match his quarter-final run in New York from a year ago. If he can get past Sinner and then go on to claim his maiden major crown, he is guaranteed to rise to World No. 1 on Monday. Reaching the final might also be enough for the 19-year-old to make history, so long as Casper Ruud does not also reach the championship match. Read More On The Battle For No. 1.

Sinner checked a box of his own with his five-set triumph against Ilya Ivashka on Monday. In advancing to the last eight in New York for the first time, the Italian became the youngest player since Novak Djokovic (20, in 2007-08) to complete a set of quarter-final appearances at all four Grand Slams.

Despite those appearances in the last eight, Sinner is yet to reach a major semi-final. Doing so in New York could be particularly significant for the 21-year-old, who needs a deep run to boost his chances of qualifying for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. Sinner currently lies in 14th place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin but could rise as high as fifth if he can lift the title in New York.

[9] Andrey Rublev vs. [22] Frances Tiafoe

Tiafoe’s stunning four-set triumph against Nadal in the fourth round on Monday highlighted the American’s show-stopping abilities on the court. Yet the 22nd seed believes some small off-court adjustments have been crucial to his strong showings this fortnight as he prepares for his maiden US Open quarter-final against Andrey Rublev.

“I’m starting to know how to really come to Slams and be ready,” said Tiafoe, who opened with three straight-sets victories this year in New York. “I think getting to the second week, not losing a set, helps. Things like that. Resting. I haven’t [gone] to dinner out once. Doing Uber Eats and stuff, just chilling.

”Yeah, I’m just kind of approaching this a lot different.”

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Tiafoe’s clash with Rublev represents a meeting of two big hitters who are particularly powerful off the forehand wing. As well as similarities in their playing styles, the 24-year-olds also share the spoils in their ATP Head2Head series — Tiafoe edged Rublev in a five-set epic in the third round in New York a year ago, but the World No. 11 avenged that loss with a straight sets victory against the American in Indian Wells in March.

“[He is] a tough player,” said Rublev of Tiafoe, who is the youngest American to reach the last eight in New York since Andy Roddick in 2006. “We played a couple of times. I lost to him last year here at the US Open.

“For sure he will try to use the energy, the crowd, to be more pumped, to play better tennis. I just, with him, I need to wait for my moment and use it.”

It will be a second major quarter-final for Tiafoe, while Rublev is 0-5 at this stage of Grand Slams, with three of those defeats coming in New York. Having already survived five-set battles against Laslo Djere and Denis Shapovalov this fortnight in New York, the 11-time tour-level titlist will hope his time has come to break that duck on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.

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Dialled-In Ruud Downs Berrettini For US Open SF Spot

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

Dialled-In Ruud Downs Berrettini For US Open SF Spot

Norwegian moves within two wins of World No. 1

Casper Ruud was bidding to reach his maiden US Open semi-final and fighting to keep his World No. 1 hopes alive on Tuesday in New York. Yet the Norwegian showed no signs of pressure in dismissing 13th seed Matteo Berrettini with a statement 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) quarter-final victory at Flushing Meadows.

Ruud was ruthless on return as he made a dream start on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where he surged to a 6-1, 5-1 lead by frequently cutting through Berrettini’s defences with some sublime clean hitting from the baseline. Although the Italian recovered from a wayward start to find his feet and break Ruud’s serve early in the third set, the fifth seed’s heavy forehand and tenacity around the court proved decisive as he rallied to dominate the third-set tie-break and wrap a two-hour, 35-minute win.

“That was a better start than I think I ever had before in a match,” said Ruud, who had not been past the third round in New York prior to this year. “Everything was going my way, I was hitting all the spots I needed to plus Matteo maybe didn’t serve as well as he usually does. I was able to take care of the chances that I got.

“I got a little bit nervous towards the end of the second set, because things were almost going too well. It’s good, but sometimes you can get over-excited and start to think you can walk on water… So I had to calm down a little bit, and luckily was able to serve out the second set, and the third set was very tough.”

Ruud will take on Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals in New York. Should he lift his maiden Grand Slam trophy in New York, the Norwegian will rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, while he can also take top spot if reaches the championship match and Carlos Alcaraz does not.

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Prior to the match, Ruud had spoken about the importance of countering Berrettini’s serve, and the 23-year-old made the perfect start by breaking twice immediately en route to an early 5-0 lead. The Norwegian stayed rock solid while Berrettini struggled, with the Italian making 13 unforced errors to just two from Ruud as the Norwegian cruised to the opening set.

The confidence was flowing through the fifth seed, who pulled off a stunning defensive tweener lob to stay in the point at 15/0 on the Berrettini serve in the third game of the second set, going on to win it after the Italian netted a forehand. Ruud followed that with a ripped forehand pass on the run to set up a break for 2-1, a lead which soon became 5-1 as Berrettini was unable to keep up with his inspired opponent.

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The Italian belatedly started to show some of the form that powered him to the semi-finals in New York in 2019, reeling off three games in a row as the momentum began to shift. It proved too late to rescue the second set as Ruud held on behind his serve to take it 6-4, but the Italian’s forehand began to find the corners and he charged to a 4-1 lead in the third set as the crowd sensed the beginnings of a revival.

Ruud, who finished the match having converted five from 14 break point opportunities, shut Berrettini’s hopes down in clinical style to seal the win. He stayed aggressive behind his forehand to reclaim the break before opening up an unassailable 6/2 lead in the tie-break to improve his ATP Head2Head series lead against Berrettini to 4-2.

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Late-Night US Open Win Keeps Alcaraz's World No. 1 Dreams Alive

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

Late-Night US Open Win Keeps Alcaraz’s World No. 1 Dreams Alive

Third seed outlasts Cilic in five-set thriller

Carlos Alcaraz continued his march towards becoming the youngest World No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when he clawed past 2014 champion Marin Cilic in the fourth round of the US Open.

Alcaraz outlasted the former World No. 3 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows for the second consecutive year. The match ended at 2:23 a.m., marking the fourth-latest finish in tournament history.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Alcaraz said of how he won the match. “It was pretty, pretty tough at the beginning of the fifth set [being a] break down. But Marin was playing unbelievable. I believe in myself all the time. Of course the support today in Arthur Ashe [Stadium] was crazy. Without you guys, it wouldn’t be possible to win this match tonight, so thank you very much for the support tonight, thank you.

“I would say 100 per cent of the energy I put in the fifth set was thanks to you. It was unbelievable.”

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For a moment, Alcaraz’s tournament hopes and dreams of reaching No. 1 on 12 September were slipping away. Cilic caught fire from the baseline and powered his way back into the match to force a decider and lead by a break early in the fifth set. But Alcaraz showed his competitive spirit and immediately struck back before surging to the finish after three hours and 53 minutes.

“After a fourth set [when] I had a lot of opportunities… it was tough for me to come back in the fifth set, to stay strong mentally,” Alcaraz said. “But as I said, the energy that I received today made me win.”

With Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal losing over the past two days, the stakes have been raised for Alcaraz in New York. Not only is the teen pursuing his maiden Grand Slam title — he is also trying to ascend to the pinnacle of men’s tennis.

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Nadal Loss Gives Alcaraz & Ruud Clear Path To World No. 1

If the Spaniard reaches the final and Casper Ruud does not, Alcaraz will climb to World No. 1 on the Monday after the US Open. If Ruud makes the final and Alcaraz does not, the Norwegian will ascend to the top spot. If both men make the championship match, the winner will depart with the trophy and World No. 1. Alcaraz is up to No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Alcaraz was focussed on the player in front of him in the fourth round, Cilic, and he needed to be. The Spaniard withstood a barrage of booming groundstrokes from the Croatian in the early hours of the morning and found some of his best tennis when it mattered most. Alcaraz dropped to his knees to celebrate his victory and both players shared special moments with the remaining crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, thanking the fans on their way off the court.

Early in the fourth set, the dynamics of the match changed when Alcaraz began to return Cilic’s serve from near the back wall, allowing the 33-year-old to take the first big strike in rallies. Alcaraz was left scrambling to avoid playing defence against his aggressive opponent.

When the 19-year-old missed a forehand to go down a break in the fifth set, Cilic appeared in control. The Croatian has plenty of experience in difficult moments and was the only Grand Slam champion remaining in the draw.

But Alcaraz’s resolve never waned. The third seed continued battling and that paid dividends when he found an incredible angle to get back on serve. He never looked back from there, finding a way through the clash in which he struck 28 winners and converted six of his 18 break points.

Next up for the Spaniard will be 11th seed Jannik Sinner, another former Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion. The Italian also needed five sets to win his fourth-round match.

“I played a couple of times against him. He’s a great player, a really, really tough one,” said Alcaraz, who trails their ATP Head2Head series 1-2. “I lost twice in the past two months, so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik.”

Did You Know?
The 19-year-old Alcaraz is the youngest man to make the last eight at the US Open in consecutive years since Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall in 1952-53, when the event was called the US Championships.

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Sinner Survives Service Yips & Five-Set Scare

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

Sinner Survives Service Yips & Five-Set Scare

Italian fired 14 double faults and was forced to rally from down a break in the decider

Jannik Sinner advanced to the US Open quarter-finals Monday night but will be looking to retool his game before continuing his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title.

The 21-year-old Italian had a difficult night on serve in a rollercoaster five-set win over Ilya Ivashka, throwing in 14 double faults and putting just 46 per cent of first serves into play. Seven double faults alone in the second set (among 22 unforced errors) unexpectedly cost Sinner the set when he appeared to be cruising to a routine victory leading by a set and 4-2.

Ultimately the former Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion had to rally from 1-3 in the fifth set to close out the win 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and become the youngest player since Novak Djokovic (20, in 2007-08) to complete a set of quarter-final appearances at all four Grand Slams.

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But if Sinner is to reach his first major semi-final, he will need to sharpen his game ahead of a meeting with third seed Carlos Alcaraz or 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.

“Today I was struggling, I was not playing my best,” Sinner said. “But in the fifth set I tried to dig deep and I’m very happy to be in the next round.”

Monday night’s stumble was a puzzling performance by the six-time Tour titlist, who in his first three matches served 44 aces to just 13 double faults.

Sinner is 14th in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, and like countryman Matteo Berrettini (13th), is in need of a big run at Flushing Meadows to work into contention to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, where last year he played two matches in front of home fans as an alternate. Sinner and Berrettini are the highest-positioned players outside the current Turin cut who are still alive in the tournament.

It is the first time in tournament history (since 1881) that two Italian men have reached the quarter-finals in the same year. Sinner and Berrettini also reached the Australian Open quarter-finals together in January.

Sinner dominated Ivashka early, converting all three break points in the first set and absorbing Ivashka’s pace with rock-solid defence as he claimed five of Ivashka’s first six service games. Ivashka’s forehand power troubled Sinner as the match progressed, and coupled with 55 unforced errors from the Italian, almost proved the undoing of the 11th seed.

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US Open Day 9 Preview: Can Ruud Blunt Berrettini?

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

US Open Day 9 Preview: Can Ruud Blunt Berrettini?

Red-hot Kyrgios takes on Khachanov as quarter-final action begins

Casper Ruud takes on Matteo Berrettini as the US Open quarter-final action kicks off on Tuesday in New York, where the Norwegian seeks to maintain his challenge for the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Nick Kyrgios and Karen Khachanov also meet in the last eight at the hard-court Grand Slam. The Australian is looking to back up his stunning fourth-round triumph against 2021 champion Daniil Medvedev. previews the quarter-final action on Day 9 at Flushing Meadows.

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[5] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. [13] Matteo Berrettini (ITA)

Fifth seed Ruud is exploring new territory in New York, and in more ways than one.

The Norwegian has advanced to the US Open quarter-finals for the first time with a series of battling performances this fortnight, while the fifth seed also knows that victory against 13th seed Berrettini on Tuesday will lift him two spots to No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

The 23-year-old could become the new World No. 1 if he reaches the championship match at Flushing Meadows, but he is wary of the threat posed by Berrettini. Ruud edged the Italian in three sets in Gstaad in July to lift his ninth tour-level title and believes that his ability to counter Berrettini’s huge serve will be key to his chances of a repeat success in Tuesday’s quarter-final.

”When we played in Gstaad it was really fast conditions even though it was on clay, and it was bouncing a lot,” said Ruud, who leads Berrettini 3-2 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. “So most of the times I stayed in and tried this strategy, which didn’t work for all the match, but in the end I was able to win some key moments on it.

“Let’s see. You need to obviously guess right sometimes, and sort of see if you can try to read where he’s going.”

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Ruud’s previous-best showing in New York, a third-round appearance in 2020, was ended by Berrettini in straight sets. The Italian demonstrated he can also tough things out if required in his fourth-round victory against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Sunday, when he prevailed in five sets after three hours, 45 minutes.

That win improved the 2019 semi-finalist’s record at the US Open to 16-4, and he spoke afterwards about the importance of staying on the front foot against Ruud as he seeks to avenge the loss in Gstaad.

“I think the key is to be aggressive before him,” said Berrettini. “I’m going to try to make him run and not gonna run too much. The key I think is to be aggressive, to use my weapons, my serve, obviously my forehand.”

The match is also significant for both players’ hopes of qualifying for November’s Nitto ATP Finals. Ruud currently sits in fourth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, while Berrettini is in 13th.

[23] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs. [27] Karen Khachanov

Kyrgios and Khachanov’s sole previous Grand Slam meeting was a memorable one. The Australian needed four hours and 26 minutes to overcome Khachanov in a remarkable 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 6-7(7), 7-6(8) victory at the 2020 Australian Open.

Despite producing what he later described as ‘probably the most boneheaded play of all time’ against Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round in New York on Sunday, Kyrgios delievered an otherwise sparkling performance on Arthur Ashe Stadium to down the World No. 1 and set a second meeting at the majors with 27th seed Khachanov.

Kyrgios has found his best level on Tour in recent months, posting 19-3 on the North American hard courts following his run to a maiden Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in July. The Australian says he is feeding off his strong run of results as he chases his first major title in New York.

“Obviously winning helps. I’ve been winning a lot this year,” said Kyrgios after his Medvedev win. “The motivation has been there. It’s easy to train. It’s easier to wake up obviously when things are going great. I was just really sick of letting people down. I don’t know, just feeling like that. I feel like I’m making people proud now.”

Like Kyrgios, the World No. 31 Khachanov has advanced to the quarter-finals in New York for the first time. The 26-year-old outlasted Pablo Carreno Busta in a fourth-round epic on Sunday and is hopeful that he has turned a corner at Flushing Meadows, where he held a 5-6 tournament record before this year’s tournament.

“To be honest, I had in 2018 a really great match against Rafa (a 2018 third-round clash) and good memories,” said Khachanov. “But then after that, not so good performances in New York, so I was a little bit nervous this year because I wanted to do well, and I feel like I’m playing good tennis.”

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LeBron James, Joel Embiid & Bradley Beal Pumped For Tiafoe

  • Posted: Sep 06, 2022

LeBron James, Joel Embiid & Bradley Beal Pumped For Tiafoe

NBA stars congratulate American, who stunned Nadal

Frances Tiafoe earned the biggest victory of his career on Monday against Rafael Nadal at the US Open. The thrilling moment became even more surreal when he returned to the locker room.

The American learned that NBA legend LeBron James had tweeted about his big win. That was huge considering Tiafoe has used James’ ‘Silencer’ celebration in the past.

“CONGRATS Young King!!! You earned it! @FTiafoe,” James tweeted, before following up with another tweet. “KEEP GOING!!!!! #StriveForGreatness”

“Man, I was losing it in the locker room. Bro, I was going crazy,” Tiafoe said, cracking a smile. “That’s my guy. So to see him post that, I was like, ‘Do I retweet it as soon as he sent it?’ I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to be cool and act like I didn’t see it and then retweet it three hours later.’

“Obviously he knows I’m a big fan of his. Got a text from Rich Paul as well. That’s super cool. The fact they’re watching right now. It’s a perfect time. US Open is always a perfect time because there’s no real sports really going on. People can focus on tennis, which is great.”

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That was not the only basketball player who tuned into Tiafoe’s victory. Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal was in the American’s player box. Cameras caught Beal getting fired up for the home favourite throughout the match. Tiafoe, who is from the Washington area, is a big Wizards fan.

“Obviously saw Bradley Beal in there. His first tennis match, that was super cool, talking to him after,” Tiafoe said. “He wants to come again. It was cool. Special day for me.”

One of the best players in the NBA, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, also tweeted about Tiafoe’s match. “FRANCES TIAFOE!!!!!” he wrote. Before the tournament, Tiafoe practised in an Embiid jersey.

As exciting as seeing all that is for Tiafoe, the best moment came on the court. He had never previously defeated a member of the ‘Big Three’: Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. His reward for doing so is a maiden trip to the US Open quarter-finals and a deafening reception from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

“I was telling my agent, I felt like the world stopped. I couldn’t hear anything for a minute. Even shaking his hand, I don’t even know what I said to him. It was such a blur,” Tiafoe said. “I was already tearing. I could barely see him and my team. Everyone was up. It was just wild. My heart is going a thousand miles an hour. I was so excited. I was like, ‘Let me sit down’.

“I’ve never felt something like that in my life, honestly.”

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