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Terrific Tiafoe Takes Down Rublev For US Open SF Spot

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2022

Terrific Tiafoe Takes Down Rublev For US Open SF Spot

24-year-old American to meet Alcaraz or Sinner in final four

Frances Tiafoe delivered a stunning all-around display to take down ninth seed Andrey Rublev on Wednesday at the US Open, where a combination of brutal groundstrokes, impeccable serving and delicate net play earned the American a 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4 quarter-final victory.

Seeking to back up his thrilling four-set win against Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, Tiafoe expertly channelled the support of an ecstatic home crowd under a closed Arthur Ashe Stadium roof in New York. The American’s confidence was most evident when he reeled off seven unanswered points in a flawless second-set tie-break, but Tiafoe’s level rarely dropped as he closed out a two-hour, 35-minute triumph to charge to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in style in New York.

“This is wild. This is crazy,” said Tiafoe in his on-court interview. “I had the biggest win of my life 24 hours ago and coming out and getting another big win… Andrey’s a hell of a player, and to back it up, that’s huge. It’s tough to turn the page, but I did and now I’m in the semis.

“I feel so at home on courts like this. This court is unbelievable. [The crowd] gets so far behind me, I want to play, I want to give my best. I always find a way somehow on this court, I always play some great tennis and I have been. Let’s enjoy this, we’ve got two more.”

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Tiafoe took control of his third tour-level meeting with Rublev by raising his game in a pair of tie-breaks to claim an opening two sets in which he did not carve out a break point opportunity. The American’s strategy of moving forward to pressure the ninth seed on the baseline was particularly effective, and he ended the match having won 76 per cent (31/41) of points at the net.

Tiafoe is the first American man to reach the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows since 2006, when Andy Roddick advanced to the championship match. A former World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Roddick was in the stands cheering on his countryman as Tiafoe advanced to play the winner of Wednesday night’s heavyweight #NextGenATP battle between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.

“I’ll sit back and watch them battle and I’m keeping my feet up, so let them battle all night hopefully,” joked Tiafoe when asked if he would watch Alcaraz and Sinner’s quarter-final clash. “But [they are] two great players, and it’s going to be tough come Friday, but I’m here for all they’ve got.”

Rublev’s defeat marks another quarter-final disappointment for the 24-year-old, who is now 0-6 in last-eight matches at Grand Slams. His latest run in New York nonetheless lifts him back into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, with Rublev currently rising two spots to No. 9 as a result of his exploits this fortnight.

Although Tiafoe was visibly keen to stay on the front foot during rallies, it was Rublev who had all three of the break point chances in the first set. The American stayed aggressive behind his forehand to save break point at 5-6, 30/40, however, and he cruised to the first set-tie break despite letting slip his first set point at 6/2 by leaving a Rublev lob he mistakenly thought was heading out.

Four holds of serve to love in the first five games set the tone for a second set which featured no break points as both players were incisive with their serving. It set the scene for Tiafoe’s outstanding seven-point blitz. The 22nd seed was imperious to move into a two-sets-to-one lead, with highlights including a delicate drop volley for 6/0 and a rasping backhand return winner to convert set point.

Despite some nerves beginning to show after he moved within two games of victory in the third set, Tiafoe rallied from 30/40 to hold for 5-3 and held convincingly to love in his next service game to complete the win. The result moves Tiafoe into a 2-1 lead in his ATP Head2Head series with Rublev.

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New York Heartbreak Hard To Take For ‘Devastated’ Kyrgios

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2022

New York Heartbreak Hard To Take For ‘Devastated’ Kyrgios

Australian rues last eight defeat to Khachanov at the US Open

The disappointment of US Open defeat to Karen Khachanov shone through for Nick Kyrgios in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite adding a maiden quarter-final appearance in New York to his impressive list of achievements in recent months, the Australian’s desire to go deeper in the draw made it hard for him to take positives from his five-set loss.

“I feel like I’ve let so many people down,” said Kyrgios, who was seeking to back up his run to his maiden major final at Wimbledon in July. “It’s just devastating. Like, it’s heartbreaking. Not just for me, but for everyone that I know that wants me to win.”

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Khachanov Takes Out Kyrgios To Reach US Open SFs

Kyrgios fired 31 aces and battled for three hours, 39 minutes against Khachanov inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, but he felt a slow start had cost him dear as the 27th seed outlasted the Australian to reach his maiden Grand Slam semi-final.

“[I] just came out flat,” said Kyrgios. “Physically didn’t feel great. Then I ended up feeling great towards the end of the match.

“I’m obviously devastated. But all credit to Karen. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. I thought he served really good today. Honestly probably the best server I played this tournament, to be honest, the way he was hitting his spots under pressure.”

Kyrgios impressed in the opening week in New York, moving past close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, Benjamin Bonzi and J.J. Wolf before delivering a stunning fourth-round performance to end Daniil Medvedev’s title defence. The 23rd seed came within a set of reaching his maiden semi-final at Flushing Meadows but admitted Khachanov was too good in the key moments.

“He just played the big points well,” said Kyrgios. “[There] really wasn’t anything in it. I’m just devastated obviously. Just feel like it was either winning it all or nothing at all, to be honest. I feel like I’ve just failed at this event right now. That’s what it feels like.”

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Having been outside the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as recently as March, Kyrgios’ run this fortnight has lifted him to No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, making him the No. 1 Australian. The physical commitment shown by the 27-year-old as he has racked up 26 wins since the start of the grass season in June has been high and he played down fears surrounding his knee after aggravating it during Tuesday night’s match.

“Just [my] knee [is] sore,” said Kyrgios. “Obviously I’ve been playing a lot of tennis the last couple months. Just came out… I just split-stepped and just tweaked it a little bit. Ended up feeling fine. I got some Deep Heat on it. Everyone is carrying a bit of a niggle right now. Nothing major.”

With plans to now return home to Australia for a break from tournament play, Kyrgios can reflect on a highly successful few months on Tour during which he lifted his seventh tour-level singles trophy at the Citi Open ATP 500 event in Washington. He also lifted the doubles title in the U.S. capital alongside Kokkinakis, and the Australian Open-winning pair is still in with a strong chance of qualifying for November’s Nitto ATP Finals. Kokkinakis and Kyrgios currently sit sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings.

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Khachanov Takes Out Kyrgios To Reach US Open SFs

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2022

Khachanov Takes Out Kyrgios To Reach US Open SFs

27th seed to meet Ruud in semi-finals

Karen Khachanov has edged Nick Kyrgios in a big-serving battle in the early hours of Wednesday morning to charge into the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career at the US Open.

In a match devoid of atmosphere in the first half and overflowing with electricity in the second half, the 27th seed withstood 31 aces and vocal crowd support for his opponent en route to a 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4 win in three hours, 39 minutes after earlier coming within two points of victory in the fourth set.

Khachanov, who fired 30 aces himself, advances to play Norway’s Casper Ruud, who has the opportunity to finish the tournament at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

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“I did it! I did it!,” Khachanov said. “I’m really proud of myself, I was focussed from the beginning to the end.

“It was a crazy match but I came ready to fight and to play five sets.”

A man in the second row of <a href=''>Arthur Ashe</a> Stadium receives a haircut during Khachanov-Kyrgios Tuesday night.
A man in the second row of Arthur Ashe Stadium receives a haircut during the match.
Big serving dominated the first two sets with short points and an unusually subdued Kyrgios giving the crowd little energy to feed off. But as the players began to play more extended rallies beginning in the third set the New York crowd found its voice, especially when Kyrgios dominated the fourth-set tie-break to force a decider.

But the Australian dropped serve at the beginning of the fifth and Khachanov held firm all the way to the finish line. Khachanov converted four of his first six break point opportunities (4/8 for the match), while Kyrgios converted just two of nine break chances.

“From the beginning until the end, great performance – at least I will talk about myself, from my side,” Khachanov said in his post-match press conference. “I stayed there. I waited for my chances. I created them as well. I’m super happy, super proud that I could finish the match, I could take it. Serving for the match [is] never easy. [I am] just super happy to do this step forward to make my first semi-final.”

Khachanov, who needed five sets to ousts Montreal champion Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round, has survived a gruelling path to the semi-finals. He also need four sets to beat Denis Kudla in the first round, and Thiago Monteiro in the second round. He was also headed for another four or five setter with Jack Draper in the third round before the young Brit retired injured.

Comedian Trevor Noah (right) was in attendance for the <a href=''>US Open</a> quarter-finals Tuesday night.
Comedian Trevor Noah (right) was in attendance for the US Open quarter-finals Tuesday night.
Khachanov has surged 13 places during the tournament to No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. Depending on other results, he could crack the Top 10 if he wins the tournament.

Kyrgios, who finished the tournament with 116 aces and a tour-leading 27 wins since the beginning of the grass season, climbed to No. 19 in the live standings during the tournament to pass Alex de Minaur as the highest-ranked Australian.

“I’m obviously devastated. But all credit to Karen. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. I thought he served really good today,” Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference. “Honestly probably the best server I played this tournament. The way he was hitting his spots under pressure. He just played the big points well.

“Really wasn’t anything in it. I’m just devastated obviously. Just feel like it was either winning it all or nothing at all. I feel like I’ve just failed at this event right now. That’s what it feels like.”

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Sinner: 'I Dont Want To Rush Myself'

  • Posted: Sep 07, 2022

Sinner: ‘I Dont Want To Rush Myself’

Italian reflects on his rise and the lessons he has learned

Jannik Sinner is one of the brightest young talents in recent memory. The Italian, who turned 21 last month, has already triumphed at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, competed in the Nitto ATP Finals, lifted six tour-level trophies and cracked the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Do not tell him about his accomplishments, though. According to Sinner, this is just the beginning, which is a scary thought for his colleagues on the ATP Tour.

“I know already what I have in my game, so I try to stay confident with that, but also humble because at the end of the day I didn’t win basically nothing or for sure no important matches,” Sinner told “It’s all part of the process. I don’t want to rush myself, but I think I can be proud of what I am doing, so hopefully I keep this up.”

For Sinner, this is not about rushing to lift a particular trophy or defeating a particular opponent. From a young age, he has had lofty ambitions. On Wednesday, he will play Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open quarter-finals. But just three years ago, he was a qualifier who spoke to the media in a small cubicle inside the media centre at Flushing Meadows.

“I want to be the best player not only in Italy,” Sinner said that day. “But maybe once I can say that I’m the best player in the world.”

<a href=''>Jannik Sinner</a>
Sinner competing in US Open qualifying in 2019 aged 18.
That is not something Sinner has ever expected to happen overnight. In fact, he constantly speaks about the “long road” of his career and how there is always something to improve on. The San Candido-native often heads to the practice court after matches, even long, gruelling battles, in order to make even the smallest refinement to move closer to his ultimate potential.

That mentality stems from Sinner’s childhood.

“I’ve always had this because my parents, they gave me this kind of mentality, so I have it with me. I’m proud to have this kind of mentality,” Sinner said. “I like the way my mom and my dad are, so I like to be very similar to them. I think also my brother is quite the same. I think I’ve always had it.”

Sinner’s father, Johann, is a chef at the Talschlusshutte restaurant in Sesto-Val-Fiscalina, right near the Austrian border in Italy’s northeast. His mother, Siglinde, was a server in the same restaurant.

“Now because we also have some apartments at home, my mom is helping to clean the apartments and everything because the apartments are in the same house as my grandma and grandpa. They are getting a little bit older, so now she helps them,” Sinner said. “Sometimes I remember that I helped my mom, grandma and grandpa to clean the apartments. Saturday usually was the day where people were going and coming, so I was there to help them a little bit.”

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The restaurant was about a 45-minute walk from Sinner’s home. He remembers making that trek to see his parents in action.

“I always liked to pick up my dad at the restaurant where he works,” Sinner said. “Then I can see a little bit how he cooks and how he works. It’s funny.”

Ironically, Sinner has made the analogy comparing his budding career to that of an aspiring chef’s. In 2020, he was outside the kitchen. Last year, he was peeling vegetables. The Italian has seen progress in 222.

“It’s for sure getting a little bit bigger,” Sinner said of the ‘salad’ that is his game. “I know that I can add something more, but if you have more, you also have more options, so it can be good, but sometimes it can also be a little bit tough because sometimes you have to choose from more ingredients.

“Sometimes you can get not distracted, but [you can feel] a little bit of chaos in your mind of what shot to play. That’s sometimes happened to me. But I think the salad is growing and that’s the most important.”

Sinner plays in front of his home fans in Turin in 2021.
Sinner has been unafraid of making whatever change he has deemed necessary to continue adding to that salad. In February, he announced the end of his longterm partnership with Riccardo Piatti, who is widely considered one of the best coaches in the sport. Sinner hired Italian Simone Vignozzi and more recently Darren Cahill, the former coach of Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt.

“When you change everything, it is a little bit different. It’s another method how to work. It was something new. I was still getting used to it a little bit, but now I’m getting used to it,” Sinner said. “I know Darren good, I know Simone good and also Umberto and Jerome. It’s a good feeling because I know their personalities much better and they know me better and how I feel better every day. I think it’s good, but for sure in the beginning it was not easy.”

It took until July for Sinner to advance past the quarter-finals of a tournament. But he did far more in Umag, where he lifted the title with a dominant final two sets against Alcaraz in the championship match.

Sinner is currently 14th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he tries to compete at the Nitto ATP Finals for the second year in a row, after replacing Matteo Berrettini as an alternate in 2021. A win against Alcaraz will send him soaring into ninth place.

“The year is still young. It’s still long. If I want to get there I have to play good from now on for sure. But I know that. I will try my best to do that,” Sinner said. “This year, it’s not one of the main goals. It’s more about trying to improve everything and then we’ll see how I evolve in the next couple of months.”

It has always been about the “process” for Sinner, and in three years that has taken him from unknown to star. Why stop now?

“I think it’s just [about] working hard and to believe. That’s the only thing I can say. Especially in the tough times… and maybe when you have a tough loss or [something], the day after you are going on court and practising. I think these are the kind of things that make sometimes the difference,” Sinner said. “I go on court because I like to play tennis. It’s not because I have to play. I go because I really love to play tennis.”

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