Novak Djokovic scored a statement win against an exhausted Kevin Anderson to lift his 4th Wimbledon title and show the entire world he’s fully back from the injury woes that have dogged him since last season. Djokovic has moved into a solo 4th on the all time Grand Slam singles record for men, with 13 slams overall.
In the final it was all Djokovic, in just 30 minutes he raced to the opening set 6-2 breaking Anderson twice, and ensuring he got off to the best possible start. Anderson, normally reliant on his serve and needing to win almost all of his service games to notch the upset, couldn’t raise his level in the second set. Djokovic secured another double break to take it 6-2 and go up 2 sets to 0 in a brisk manner.
The third set was the only competitive one of the contest, Anderson raised his level on serve and got sniffs at set point in two different Djokovic service games (4-5 and 5-6). Djokovic erased them and then raced to a tiebreak win 7-6(3) in the third and final set for a 6-2 6-2 7-6 victory. It wasn’t a classic final, but for Djokovic, it’s a memorable one as he’ll return to the ATP 10.
Anderson, despite suffering another disappointing Grand Slam final defeat, has secured his first ever top 5 ranking (moving to the 5th spot) as the 32 year old defeated Gael Monfils, Roger Federer, and John Isner in a marathon second week to reach the final. He upset Federer from 2 sets to love down as Federer withered away against Anderson’s clutch, aggressive tennis that resulted in a 13-11 5th set. Against Isner it was a classic battle of great servers as Anderson finally prevailed 26-24 in the 5th set, a match that was the second longest in Wimbledon history.
Isner had previously beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas and Milos Raonic to reach the semis, his best ever result at Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal, the other losing semifinalist defeated Jiri Vesely and Juan Martin Del Potro to reach the semis, with Del Potro finally succumbing in 5 sets. It was Nadal’s best Wimbledon in years and over two days he gave Djokovic all he could handle in the semifinal, with Novak prevailing on Saturday 10-8 in the 5th set.
Djokovic also paced himself to wins against Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori in the second week, and now looks set to take the US Open Series by storm.
Mike Bryan and Jack Sock, who is struggling mightily in singles, combined to win the doubles title, defeating Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in 5 sets of tremendous doubles action.
Zverev Makes Masters 1000 Breakthrough in Rome Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Key breaks and a spine of steel allowed 20 year old Alexander Zverev to defeat Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 in the 2017 Rome Masters final. Djokovic’s serve was relatively poor, while Zverev moved well, keeping Djokovic on his back foot. Zverev is the first player of his generation to win a Masters 1000 title, and he joins the ATP top 10 for the first time, setting him up for a potential deep run in Paris after winning two clay court titles this Spring (Munich and Rome). It was a great tournament overall for young guns, and is another indication that the changing of the guard from the current big 4 may be coming sooner rather than later.
Zverev’s stiffest tests en route to the biggest title of his career came against big servers Kevin Anderson and John Isner, who both notched sets against him only to succumb in the third. Zverev also beat Viktor Troicki and Milos Raonic, who fell apart in the second set, with another key win coming against Fabio Fognini, who a fortnight prior had dismantled world #1 Andy Murray and sent him packing for Paris in poor form. The American Isner had one of his best ever showings on clay and scored wins over Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to reach the semis.
Djokovic, reaching his first Masters title of the season, will be disappointed with the loss, but he’s adding the legendary Andre Agassi to his new coaching team and had a relatively dominant week in the Italian capital defeating Aljaz Bedene, Roberto Bautista Agut, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Dominic Thiem, who stunned Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semifinals and has had a solid clay court season as well.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Ivan Dodig/Marcel Granollers in three sets to take home the doubles title.
Novak Djokovic won his 11th Grand Slam, his 6th Australian Open, and captured his third straight Grand Slam in a row with a straight set drubbing of world #2 Andy Murray 6-1 7-5 7-6(3) in the final. The world #1 has now doubled his ranking points compared to his two closest rivals Murray, and Roger Federer, who he defeated in the semifinals in 4 sets 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3.
Djokovic was masterclass in all of his matches, though he stared down a five setter against Gilles Simon in the fourth round. The Serbian has been far and above his rivals since last Summer, and his 12-0 record in 2016, shows no signs of incurring a loss anytime soon. He’s the player to beat in 2016.
Both Murray and Federer are great talents who consistently performed well all tournament, but they were unable to crack the code of Djokovic’s physicality, counter punching, and court coverage. It takes a super human effort to defeat him, something Simon put up, but wasn’t able to maintain over five sets, though the Frenchman for a time was getting to every ball put into play.
Djokovic also comfortably dealt with Hyeon Chung, Quentin Halys, and Andreas Seppi, without dropping a set, but needing a couple of tiebreaks, in the early rounds. In the quarterfinals he crushed Kei Nishikori, another top player who simply had no footing against the world #1. The tennis we are seeing from Djokovic is out of this world right now.
Murray rolled past Alexander Zverev, and Sam Groth, then needed four sets against Joao Sousa to reach the second week. Home Australian Bernard Tomic also failed to grab a set, and David Ferrer took him to four sets in the quarterfinals. Murray’s triumph to reach the final came against Milos Raonic, who was bidding for his first Grand Slam final. The Canadian #1 has shown major improvements this season by playing more aggressively, and coming to net. Raonic had a two set to one lead, but failed to close out the match, as the great returner Murray ended up winning in five sets 4-6 7-5 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2. Murray has had great success in Melbourne, but once more he failed to come home with the Champion’s trophy. The British #1 is rushing home now to be present for the birth of his first child.
Raonic beat Stan Wawrinka by clinching the fifth set and staving off a great comeback from 2 sets to love up, and in the semifinals after that, he dealt with Gael Monfils, who played well, but could only manage to capture a set. Raonic’s great serving took his game to the next level, as he looks capable of challenging for a top five ranking, if he can continue good results on fast surfaces.
Federer scored notable wins in the second week over Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, and Tomas Berdych, as his path was somewhat easier compared to the other semifinalists. Still at his age he continues to perform as an elite player, and remains a threat to win the big tournaments. His game is still working like it has for years.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, a new pairing, won the men’s doubles title in three sets over Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek, a pair of grizzled veterans. Jamie Murray won his first major, as his brother Andy cheered him on. It was a great tournament for British tennis.
Novak Djokovic saw his winning streak since the US Open snapped just before he won 25 straight, in round robin play by Roger Federer, but he rebounded to win two straight matches over Rafael Nadal and Federer to capture his fifth overall and fourth straight World Tour Finals trophy. Djokovic has had a career best season with three Grand Slam titles, six Masters 1000 titles, and now another WTF’s trophy, finishing the season with an 81-6 record, and five of those six losses coming against top 5 players.
Novak rolled over Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych in his first two group matches, as they showed little belief they could overcome the world #1, Federer then shocked him 7-5 6-2, but Djokovic then beat Nadal and Federer without giving up more than four games in any one set, maximizing his game to finish strong.
Federer finishes the year as world #3, behind Andy Murray at #2, though at times he’s shown himself to be the clear #2 player even at 34. The Swiss maestro needed three sets against Nishikori but scored straight set wins over Berdych, and rival Stan Wawrinka along with the 1-1 record against Djokovic. A 63-11 record for the Swiss #1.
Wawrinka beat Andy Murray, and David Ferrer without dropping a set, but was beaten handily by Rafael Nadal along with Federer. He finishes 55-18 with a Grand Slam title and three additional ATP titles to his name, as he continues to perform near his best level at world #4.
Nadal finished the year strong with a 60-20 record overall (16-5 post US Open), and performed well on indoor hard, which is normally a weaker surface for him. It was a tough year at times for Rafa but the Spanish lefty took three titles and beat David Ferrer in three sets, along with Wawrinka, and Murray in the World Tour Finals, three quality wins. Next season Nadal should have every chance to get himself back into the top four after seeing his ranking slip to #5 now.
Rojer/Tecau takes doubles title without dropping a set
In the doubles season finale, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau finish as the world #1 team after they ran a murders row of doubles competitors without dropping a set to win the title. Rojer/Tecau beat Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo, Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, and Marcin Matkowski/Nenad Zimonjic before rolling past the Bryan Brothers and Florin Mergea/Rohan Bopanna in the final. Rojer and Tecau illustrate a changing in the guard with world class doubles as the Bryans are beginning to slip with age. Rojer/Tecau finish with three titles on the season.
Novak Djokovic dominated the China Open once more, as the world #1 didn’t drop more than 3 games in a set and thumped his rival Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 in the final. The Serbian superstar was simply untouchable on the week in the Chinese capital as he handled Simone Bolelli, Ze Zhang, John Isner, David Ferrer, never surrendering more than 5 games total in any match. Going into the final tournaments of the season, Djokovic will be a clear favorite everywhere he participates.
Rafael Nadal also has to be pleased with his week in Beijing, it wasn’t as smooth as Djokovic, but he posted a solid hard court effort with straight sets wins over Di Wu and Vasek Pospisil, a three set win over Jack Sock, and a straight set win over rival Fabio Fognini, as Fognini’s winning streak against Rafa was snapped. It’s been a rough season for the popular Spanish lefty, but perhaps he can stay in-form for the rest of his Fall tournaments.
Pospisil and Sock won the doubles title together over the veteran pairing of Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Stan Wawrinka was the top seed, and took advantage of that in Tokyo, as the draw opened up, and the Yonex sponsored Swiss posted a far better result than last seasons early round exit. Wawrinka beat his best friend Benoit Paire 6-2 6-4, as the Frenchman with a magical backhand continues his career year with yet another ATP final.
Stan was the man against Radek Stepanek in round 1, then he avenged his loss last year in Tokyo to Tatsuma Ito in three sets, sent American Austin Krajicek home 6-3 6-4, and scraped past Gilles Muller in two sets and a tiebreak to reach the final, surviving inconsistent play at times, as he was clutch when it mattered.
Paire upset the seeded Grigor Dimitrov with a third set breadstick, then got past Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios in three with his trademark effortless style. In the semifinals he stunned home hero Kei Nishikori, coming back from an opening set breadstick, and winning in three, after three previous third set wins. The win over Nishikori, with an injured ankle no less, is perhaps the biggest of Paire’s career, and if he can keep this up mentally, he certainly has the talent to reach the top 15 and be a threat in the bigger tournaments.
Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo beat Colombian’s Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal to go home with the doubles trophy.
Novak Djokovic closed out the 2015 Grand Slam calendar on the men’s side with a resounding four set victory over world #2 Roger Federer 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4. The victory gave the world #1 his second career US Open title, and his 10th Grand Slam overall, three of them coming this season at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, along with the title in New York. Djokovic has had an incredible season that saw him finish just a French Open final loss away from claiming the calendar year Grand Slam, as he silenced all of the critics about who the world’s best player is right now.
In the final, both players had their chances, and neither played up to the level they had in previous matches at the tournament, including their semifinal blowouts. Djokovic put the pressure on the 34 year old Federer in the very first game, but failed to convert the three break point chances he generated. Federer would later be broken to go down 3-4, and fail to convert a break point chance he had to get the match back on even terms. Though he would save a set point on his own serve, Djokovic served the opening frame out at love.
In set 2 it was Novak who dropped his level and faced pressure from Federer, he had to save five break points from 0-40 down in his opening service game of set #2, and then had to save two break point/set points on his own serve at 4-5. Federer finally got a break when he needed it, as Djokovic couldn’t force a tiebreak and the match went to 1 set each after a Federer break for 7-5.
In the third set Federer had a chance to take a resounding lead, as after a pair of early breaks, he had two break point chances to go up 5-3 in the set and serve for it. Instead, Djokovic would hold, then break, and save a pair of break points to take the decisive 2 sets to 1 lead. At this point Federer was frustrated and Djokovic started to roll, breaking twice for a 5-2 lead. Federer gave it one final fight with pride, and with nothing to lose, broke and held to get it 4-5 but he once more failed to convert his break point chances in the final game of the match, and on his first match point, Djokovic secured Grand Slam #10.
Federer was aggressive and generated plenty of return chances, as he won just two fewer points than Djokovic in the 4 set match (147-145). However he was just 4/23 on break point chances, and when it mattered he became defensive and nervous in the clutch, a far cry from his formerly lethal status as Darth Federer, the #1 player in the game, and perhaps the greatest of all time. It is still incredible can compete at such a high level at his age, and his play this summer is a remarkable feat, but Djokovic had the mental edge and was rock solid when it mattered, earning him a well deserved victory with his 6/13 break point conversion result. Judging from his reaction at the end of the match, losing meant a lot to Federer and he was emotionally invested in the result.
Djokovic and Federer were deserving finalists and by the far best two men’s performers in the second week. Djokovic needed 4 sets to get past Roberto Bautista Agut and Feliciano Lopez, but put any doubts about his form to bed with a thumping of defending champion Marin Cilic in the semifinals, as the Serbian superstar dropped just 3 games in three sets.
Federer used two tiebreak victories and a break to send American #1 John Isner packing on Labor Day, and then totally controlled play against both Richard Gasquet, and his countryman Stan Wawrinka without dropping a set. Wawrinka couldn’t conjure up the same level of play that earned him a victory over Federer in Paris at the French Open, and before losing to Djokovic, Federer hadn’t dropped a set, not to mention lost a match, since Cincinnati. Credit should also go to Kevin Anderson, who reached the quarterfinals with a four set win over world #3 Andy Murray, in the best performance of the big serving South African’s career. Overall the US Open featured career performances from both top players, and names like Anderson and Fabio Fognini.
It will be interesting to see if both Djokovic and Federer can maintain their fantastic form throughout the rest of the season and continue to battle in the remaining big tournaments on the calendar.
In doubles Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won their first Grand Slam title together, 6-4 6-4 over Jamie Murray/John Peers. The veteran Mahut tastes Grand Slam glory after two previous final losses in doubles (Australian Open 2015 and French Open 2013).
Roger Federer failed to put together consecutive top class performances, and it was Novak Djokovic who once again walked away with the Wimbledon title. The 2015 trophy is his third at the All-England club, and he’s the first repeat winner at Wimbledon on the men’s side since Federer in the mid 2000’s. Djokovic has now won two slams this year, and continues to be secure in the world #1 ranking spot, as he’s the best player in the men’s game right now by some margin.
Djokovic beat Federer in three hours, and four sets 7-6(1) 6-7(10) 6-4 6-3, as Federer fought hard to try and get the first two sets, but his quality declined over the final two frames. In set 1 Federer went up a break 4-2, but lost his serve the next game, he would later have two set point chances on Djokovic’s serve at 5-6, but Novak saved them both in a long service game, and then rolled through the tiebreak as Federer’s chances disappeared.
The Swiss would fight back in the second, even after failing to convert two more break point chances at 2-2. He staved off a set point serving 4-5, and then in the second set tiebreak saved an incredible six set points, including three consecutive down 3-6 in the tiebreak, before finally converting his second set point serving 11-10 in the tiebreak.
At this point Djokovic was angry, but he used that anger to fuel his game to another gear, a gear that Federer lacked. After dealing with an assault of winners from Fed, and some sloppy errors on his part in the first two sets, Djokovic buckled down and broke for 2-1 in the third, after failing to convert two break points in the opening service game of set 3. There would be a rain delay a couple of games later, but Federer didn’t look any better coming out of it, as Djokovic held the rest of the way and took the third 6-4, forcing Federer into a difficult position.
In set 4, Federer appeared to struggle with the wind and his error count went up considerably, he lost his serve at 2-3, and never recovered, failing to generate a break point on the Djokovic serve. At 3-5 he was broken again, gifting Djokovic the match on his first match point. Statistically, both men served at a similar level, but Djokovic was more efficient facing break point, as he saved 6 out of 7, while Fed saved 6 of 10, after previously only being broken once all tournament. Djokovic was also cleaner from the baseline as he slapped 46 winners compared to 16 errors, while Federer had a 58/35 spread. Simply put, Djokovic’s superior returning was enough to win the day against his elder rival as the Serbian sporting legend demonstrated he has shaken off any mental cobwebs from his shocking French Open final defeat to Wawrinka.
Surely Djokovic will enter the summer Masters tournaments, and the US Open as the favorite as he bids to win 3 out of 4 slams on the season. Federer meanwhile demonstrated he still has more good matches left in him, as his play at times this week was fantastic, even compared to his level of play in his prime. Winning a five set match against a physical opponent will likely continue to be a tough ask in a slam final, but Federer remains as the world #2 for good reason, and his longevity and grace is something to behold, as we truly are in a great era for men’s tennis.
In the second week, it was infact Djokovic that had to fight harder to reach the final, he shockingly went down 2-0 against Kevin Anderson, as the South African won a pair of tough tiebreaks 8-6 and was serving at a peak level, a level Djokovic was dazed by. The world #1 would do what world #1’s do however, as he found the spirit within himself to wake up, and remind Anderson beating the best in the world doesn’t come easy. He won the third set 6-1, and the fourth 6-4 as Anderson collapsed under the pressure of trying to pull off what would have been a massive upset. At this point, darkness suspended the match, and the next day Djokovic came out and won the fifth set 7-5. Anderson fought harder than expected to try to recover and finish the upset, but Djokovic had that extra gear that Kev couldn’t reach, in what was the biggest test for Novak of the 2015 tournament.
He went on to roll past a fatigued Marin Cilic in straights 6-4 6-4 6-4, and then outplayed, and outworked Richard Gasquet, a surprise semifinalist 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4. Gasquet played some of the best tennis of his career, as he upset Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals 11-9 in the 5th set. Wawrinka played well overall, as grass isn’t his best fit as a surface, and his first four wins were great, but Gasquet’s backhand befuddled him and he couldn’t get over the hump. It was an accomplishment for the classy French veteran to reach a grand slam semifinal as a 21 seed regardless, in round 4 Gasquet beat Nick Kyrgios in a close fourth set tiebreak, erasing the awful memory of his defeat last year against the volatile young Aussie.
As for Federer, he had little trouble against Roberto Bautista Agut, who was hampered by a sprained ankle and fell in straights, and then he beat Gilles Simon, another Frenchman who had a successful tournament, but had little to threaten the world #2. Simon beat Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych on the week, but lost to Federer in 3 sets. In the semis, it was Andy Murray, who was also playing great tennis at Wimbledon. Murray came into the match as a slight favorite after a pair of week two wins over the big serving Ivo Karlovic in four sets, and surprise quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil in three sets. Pospisil was the player who took advantage of the soft section in the draw, and reached his first ever slam quarterfinal, as he continues to occasionally show he still is a player with promise, especially on fast surfaces that suit his underrated serve.
Murray didn’t play poorly at all against Federer as he kept his first serve % high, and his error count relatively low, but Federer was simply stunning, putting up one of the serving performances of his career. The world #3 and UK number #1 often failed to generate even half chances against the Federer serve, and the Swiss broke when needed with his controlled aggression, world-class forehand and crisp volleys to take the match 7-5 7-5 6-4. His home fan base was certainly disappointed, but Murray really did all he could this tournament, and Federer on the day was just too good for anyone, as Murray again came up short in his quest to win another Wimbledon. All the same he’s had a good, and consistently top-tier year as he appears healthy, and happy with his tennis.
In the men’s doubles a surprise final took place as the #4 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer, and Horia Tecau beat Jamie Murray, the brother of Andy, and his partner John Peers the #13 seeds 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4. Tecau had previously come up short in Wimbledon finals, so finally taking the championship was a major career highlight for him. A qualifying team of Jonathan Erlich and Philipp Petzschner reached the semifinals, beating #2 seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the process, while the Bryan brothers lost in the quarterfinals to Florin Mergea and Rohan Bopanna.
The (primarily) North American hard court summer will begin in earnest for many of the worlds top players now as the focus shifts towards the US Open Series, on the road to the 2015 US Open, as many great matches have yet to be played in 2015.
Novak Djokovic repeated as champion in Rome, and certified himself as the favorite to take the Roland Garros crown with a 6-4 6-3 drubbing of Roger Federer, who failed yet again in his elusive search for a title in Rome, one of the few titles he has failed to win in his illustrious career. Djokovic, the world #1 has won all but one major tournament this year (Madrid) as he claimed his fifth title of the season (4 Masters+the Australian Open). Federer cracked under the pressure of Djokovic’s wallball defense, and had little chance, as he was a set and a break down rapidly, and Djokovic never looked back, putting on a clinic in the match between the world #1 and world #2.
Djokovic progressively improved as he advanced through the tournament this week, as he surprisingly showed signs of struggle early, dropping sets to Nicolas Almagro, Thomaz Bellucci, and Kei Nishikori before recording routine wins over David Ferrer, and Federer. Almagro, Bellucci and Nishikori all had their chances, while Ferrer was able to hold Djokovic close to the vest, but they were all unable to raise their level when it mattered, as Djokovic has the ability to slam the door even when struggling against opponents these days, and has cemented himself, going into Roland Garros as the favorite, though he has never won the title there, the only Slam he hasn’t won in his career.
Federer continued to impress given his age, and recovered from prior struggles this clay court season to record routine wins over Pablo Cuevas, Kevin Anderson, Tomas Berdych, and Stan Wawrinka, who shocked an abysmal Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Nadal has serious question marks going into RG, while Wawrinka found his form, but wilted against his countryman Federer. Berdych once again struggled against a top tier opponent, after doing well against others.
Cuevas and David Marrero took the doubles title over Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, as three Spaniards were represented in the doubles final in Rome this year.
Djokovic completes Miami/Indian Wells Double yet again, beats Murray in 2015 Miami Open Final Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
Photo Credit: Esam Taha
Novak Djokovic won his fifth Miami title, and completed his third career IW/Miami spring masters sweep with a 3 set win over Andy Murray on Sunday. Djokovic continues to be the world’s best player, and he has swept all of the elite level events thus far this season, the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami, as it seems that he is just about untouchable on hard courts at the moment.
Novak Djokovic d. Andy Murray 7-6(3) 4-6 6-0
After a couple of weeks of non-stop tennis action down in Miami, everyone was ready for the much-anticipated final between heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The pair have already clashed twice this year, as recent as in Indian Wells in a one-sided affair in favor of the world #1. Murray was looking to put in a better fight against an opponent he has not been able to figure out in recent times, losing 9 of their last 10 meetings. Meanwhile Novak was aiming to become the first player ever to win the Indian Wells – Miami combo 3 different times. Coming off a good performance vs Isner in the semifinal the Serb felt like he was peaking at the right time.
Murray came to play. The crowd barely settled in their seats as the world #4 went to work early, coming out with aggression on Novak’s serve forcing him to deuce right off the bat. It would end up being a tough hold for Novak but Andy had sent a clear message, he had come to play. Murray would hold at ease and once again the Serb would find himself in trouble on his service game. Murray was taking the initiative, stepping in whenever he saw an opportunity. It would pay off as Murray would be the first to draw blood as he broke to go up 2-1 early in the first. Djokovic despite looking a tad sloppy to start would not lose focus, but rather elevate his game to break right back the very following game. Novak realized this wasn’t going to be a repeat of Indian Wells, he needed to bring his A game. At 2-3 Murray would win a couple of incredible points to engaging the crowd early on, there was a lot of positive language from the Andy. He was locked in, somehow, ripping a backhand winner off a tough return from Novak to hold and square things up at 3-3. Just when it seemed both players were kicking it into top gear Novak would make 4 UEs on the trot to gift Murray his 2nd break of the set.
Murray would politely exchange gifts with Novak as he committed a few unforced of his own to give away his service game and tie things up at 4-4. It seemed like there was one side of the court affecting both players, the sun appeared to be right in their line of sight. It would be more apparent as Novak easily held while serving from the other side to go up 5-4. Murray would show little nerves to return the favor and take the set to 5-5. Despite a brilliant cross-court return winner from Andy to start the game Novak would keep his calm and hold to put the pressure back on Murray at 5-6. Murray serving with the sun in his eye would feel the pressure falling in a 0-30 hole. A splendid drop shot, a beautiful cross court backhand winner to win a long rally and Murray gets it right back to 30-30 as the crowd roared him on. As he looked set to force the tiebreak a brutal net cord would send it to deuce. Murray would survive the mini-battle as Novak left the drop shot short to force the tiebreak. Murray would not have his best tiebreak, committing a couple of bad errors to gift Novak a couple of minibreaks. Novak would get one of them back thanks to a Novak DF but he’d end the tiebreak with 3 balls straight into the net to lose the tiebreak and 1st set 6-7 (3). It was a tough way to lose the set considering Andy had slightly outplayed Novak for most of it.
Murray needed to reset and put that 1st behind him, and that would be exactly what he would do to start off the 2nd as he held with ease. At 1-1 Andy would find himself in a 0-30 hole as he tried the drop shot lob combo with Novak underestimating the Serb’s speed. A sloppy overhead from Murray, which would prove to be the first of many for both players, would set up a couple of breakpoints for Novak. The Scot would battle back and save the breakpoint with an ace as he let out a big fist pump. Novak stared at his racket as he knew he let Murray off the hook with an unforced error on a return off a weak Murray 2nd serve, that was the 4th BP Murray saved that game. “COME ON!” Murray shouted and motioned to the crowd as he fired two big serves to hold and escape a dangerous game. The pendulum would quickly swing the other way as a DF from Novak set up a break point for Murray. However Andy would bail out the defending champion with a couple of UE to level things up at 2-2. The finalists would trade holds, Novak sealing his with a difficult DTL backhand winner, to which the “Nole, Nole” chants broke out in the crowd. A somewhat sloppy set would continue with more and more UEs from both players, including an awful display of overhead misses. Still there were no breaks as Novak came out to serve to stay in the set at 4-5 in the 2nd. The sloppiness would continue from the Serb quickly falling behind 0-30 with the pressure mounting. Andy 2 point away from claiming the 2nd, hit a winner off a Novak overhead, a shot he has been particularly struggling with all afternoon, to set up 3 set points. Murray would claim the 2nd in emphatic fashion as he punished a weak Novak 2nd serve with a cross court backhand winner. The frustration would visibly get to Novak as he snatched a towel from a flinching ball boy while yelling at his box, invoking a code violation warning. It wasn’t a good look for the Serb but he would later apologize for the incident on his facebook page.
The crowd was excited, the 2015 Miami Open final was going the distance. Despite Murray having the mental edge given how things ended the previous set, he didn’t start off the 3rd like he had it. Murray would have not 1, not 2, but 3 chances to put away an overhead but Novak would deny him to set up break points. Andy would save one but then stick the backhand right into the net to go down a break right off the bat in the decider. He would look to make amends quickly pushing the Serb to deuce with aggressive play. Novak would have to pull off an incredible play to consolidate as he flicked a ball that was practically behind him to take the point. It seemed like Andy put all he had into that game, what would follow would not be pretty. The Scot showed plenty of negative body language and moving gingerly between points, summing it up with a double fault to face triple break point. Out of nowhere the Scot would bring himself back into it saving all 3 breakpoints including a perfectly placed DTL backhand winner, bringing the crowd out of their seats. Another Murray missed overhead, the theme of the match, would setup a 6th break chance for Novak in that game. Novak would not let 6 opportunities pass him by, converting the 6th to put one hand on the trophy as he went up 2 breaks, 3-0 in the decider.
There wasn’t much fight left in Murray following that, he was broken again to give the Serb a chance to serve out the bagel. The world #1 would make no mistake as he closed out the 3rd set to claim his 5th Miami Open title 7-6(3) 4-6 6-0. It was an anticlimactic finish to a final which was dramatic yet subpar in terms of quality. Djokovic became the first player ever to win the Indian Wells – Miami duo 3 separate times.
It was a pleasure to provide complete coverage of the 2015 Miami Open here at Tennis Atlantic, we greatly enjoyed having our guest writer Esam Taha on site in Miami covering all the action, and want to congratulate him on the awesome job he did, we look forward to bringing you credentialed on-site coverage from Miami next year-The Editors
Tsonga wins comeback match, Dolgopolov, Djokovic thrill in Miami (Saturday Day 5 Miami OpenRecap) Esam Taha for Tennis Atlantic
Photo Credit: Esam Taha
The ATP side of the draw provided the primary highlights on an action packed Saturday at the 2015 Miami Open. Most of the top players advanced, as upsets were few and far between, meaning the fans will get the big name tennis that they wanted in the later rounds. With so many matches around the grounds, here is a handy synopsis.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Tim Smyczek 6-4 3-6 6-3
The crowd gathered in anticipation in the main stadium to witness the return of the always entertaining Tsonga to the courts following his injury lay-off. This would be his first match in 2015, his last match was back in November of 2014 in the Davis Cup final when he lost to Stan Wawrinka in 4 sets. Tim Smyczek became a popular player this year after the amazing fight he put up against Rafael Nadal back in the Australian Open, especially related to the incredible moment of sportsmanship he displayed in a pivotal point during that match. Regardless it’s an opponent Jo would expect to beat, but of course after 4 months of not playing competitive tennis anything could happen, as the two fan favorite players met on Stadium court.
The Frenchman didn’t look rusty at all as he held with ease at the start, backed by an impressive serve that flummoxed Smyczek. Tim on the other hand didn’t look like he was dealing with pace of Tsonga’s groundstrokes very well, but regardless he would be able to hold serve the first few games. The first break would come at 3-3 in the 1st. Tim failed to keep up with the powerful Tsonga who was overpowering him in the rallies, and would get broken at 3-3. The Frenchman would continue his excellent serving as he consolidated the break to go up 5-4. A funny moment would present itself when Jo was serving for the set. the Frenchman would completely whiff a forehand on a short ball. Tsonga would then joke with the crowd as he pretended to not be able to catch the ball handed to him by the ballboy, he was in good spirits out there. The world # 13 would close out the set in style blasting a DTL backhand which Tim can only watch fly past him. The set was Tsonga’s 6-4.
Tsonga moved well in his return (Photo Credit Esam Taha)
The crowd would start to sense that Jo would continue to steamroll past the American in the 2nd, and with the way the Frenchman was serving it seemed so. The 2nd set began with both players holding serve, but Tim still didn’t look comfortable out there, as errors were flying off his racquet. He would appear to threaten Jo’s serve with a brilliant backhand pass only to follow it up with a silly unforced error, the story of the match for him at this point, all square at 2-2 in the second. Tim despite his inconsistent play was holding serve rather comfortably, he was hanging around and you could sense he just needed Jo to blink to turn things around. That’s exactly what would happen as Jo was serving at 3-2, the Frenchman would make a couple of unforced errors and just like that American would go up 4-2. At this point the pendulum was truly swinging as Tsonga was starting to lose focus and miss routine shots. Tim would hold at ease and go up 5-2, Jo was now serving to stay in the 2nd. The two players were starting to play some incredible points putting on a show in the main stadium, Tim’s lob would sail long forcing him to serve out the set himself. Jo would get a little help from the net-cord to generate a break point but Tim would save it. Jo was now uncharacteristically slicing everything back waiting for the American to make the mistake, however Tim would keep his composure and take the set at 6-3.
Photo Credit: Esam Taha
Tsonga would come out in the 3rd with a more intensity right off the bat, beautifully mixing up a cheeky drop shot with a forehand winner to the delight of the Miami crowd. The condition were unusual for Miami this time of year, relatively cold temperatures with a little bit of wind to spice things up. Both players would hold, 1-2 3rd set. Jo was definitely back to his 1st set form, playing a beauty of a cross court pass ending a marathon of a game to draw blood first in the 3rd, Tim meanwhile would let the wall behind him know how frustrated he was. Tsonga would continue serving efficiently to consolidate and go up 4-1 in the decider. At this point you got the feeling that it was all going to happen on the Frenchman’s racket, there was little Tim could do about it. Brimming with confidence, Tsonga would break again to get to just one game away from his first win in 2015. Jo would show no nerves as he serves out the match. The Frenchman was elated, jumping around waving to the crowd as the winner was announced. Even with rust, Tsonga had more raw talent than Smyczek and his serve, mixed with variety from the ground, were very effective weapons on the day.
Alexandr Dolgopolov d. Tommy Robredo 6-7(1) 6-3 7-5
Last year’s quarterfinalist in Miami, Alex Dolgopolov put on a spectacular showcase in his second round match with baselining, veteran Spaniard Tommy Robredo. Dolgo’s speed, shotmaking, and variation was on full display as he fired 33 winners and broke Robredo 6 times over the course of three long, and competitive sets. Dolgo got off to a fast start, breaking 2-0, but he couldn’t maintain the break, and likewise, Robredo failed to serve out the set 5-4 in the first, as he was broken back himself. At 6-5 Dolgo had a lone set point that he failed to convert, and then Robredo rose up, battling hard from the ground to take the first set tiebreak 7-1.
In the second, Dolgopolov recovered, securing a double break to take it 6-3, as he closed out the set with a break, something he had failed to do in the third set. The match was incredibly high quality, and positively intense throughout, as both players delighted spectators both in person, and in front of their video screens. The third set however, was something else, as both players rose to a level that made this match, the match of the tournament thus far. Similar to the previous two sets, an early break was found, as Robredo generated it and converted, but again, Dolgo would break back, and they would hold serve all the way to 4-4, as Robredo saved a lone break point to hold. The tennis from 4-4 in the third was magical, and defined everything great about the ATP game, and the sport itself. Dolgopolov committed himself to using athleticism to overcome the crafty Robredo, showing off his wheels, and his ability to create shots from all variety of court positions, as the highlight video below demonstrates. The tennis in this match was jaw dropping, and Dolgopolov broke in the final game for a 7-5 third set. It took him three match points, and on the final one, he drilled the ball from the whipping forehand side directly at Robredo who was approaching the net, drawing the error, and a match victory. These two fan favorite players were a delight to watch, and it was a must witness match.
Fans were treated to all shades of both Novak Djokovic and Martin Klizan, in their stadium court, night session clash. Djokovic got off to a fast start with the bagel, though Klizan was still showing signs of life, as none of the games within the set were love games, and he was hitting his forehand crisply. Even still, given the bakery products, it seemed Klizan might have thrown in the towel going into set 2, however, that was not the case as the Slovak recommitted himself. Klizan broke in the opening game to show he had his head in the game, and though Novak would break twice to go up 6-0 5-3, Kizan hit an amazing drop shot, and utillized power to break back at 15 against the world number 1. This sent the crowd into a frenzy, as they wanted to get more bang their buck, and though they appreciated Novak, it was clear most in the stadium wanted to see a third set.
Klizan, and Novak would give the crowd what they paid to see, as Klizan broke late, and then held, after saving two break points, for a 7-5 second set. It seemed Novak had gotten tense late in the second, and had taken his foot off the throat of his streaky opponent, who previously had beaten Rafael Nadal last fall in Beijing. Klian couldn’t conjure up that magic though, as Novak righted the ship, and was simply too firm from the baseline, redirecting the shots that Klizan wacked his way. Djokovic notched his second bakery product of the evening, taking the third 6-1, and he was pleased to have avoided a crisis in his opening match from Crandon Park.
Grigor Dimitrov d. Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-2
Dimitrov won easily (Photo Credit: Esam Taha)
Dimitrov was coming off a rather disappointing early exit in Indian Wells, and clearly had the desire to make a deep run down in Miami. He would play the Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who has presently failed to matriculate into the player that many thought he could be. The 24 year olds would clash on the Stadium court, and Grigor would not waste anytime breaking the Canadian right out the gate, the Bulgarian looked like he was on a mission. He would jump to a 2-1 lead in the 1st, Pospisil meanwhile looked shaken up. Dimitov would continue putting in an efficient display of tennis with a stunning DTL backhand winner to get the 2nd break going up 4-1. As good as the Dimitrov was today Vasek looked completely out of sorts, his timing seemed to be off. Grigor would have a minor hiccup after sloppy start to the next game but would eventually string 4 points in a row to save double break point and consolidate the 2nd break. The world #11 would comfortably continue on to take the 1st set 6-2. The crowd was in a bit of lull, due to the lack of competitiveness in the match.
Photo Credit: Esam Taha
Vasek would start off the 2nd set looking just as shaky but eventually regain his composure to avoid getting broken right away. Pospisil was starting to play a bit better now but still not putting any sort of pressure on Grigor’s serve. Dimitrov was in the zone today, he was simply too good for the Canadian breaking him at 2-2 to take a 3-2 lead. That seemed to be the one that finally knocke all the fight out of Pospisil. It was one way traffic from there-on, with the Bulgarian winning all the remaining games to wrap up a convincing 6-2, 6-2 domination of VasekPospisil. He will be facing the big serving John Isner in the 3rd round which should prove to be a tougher test for him.
We caught up with Grigor after the match, he would speak about facing Isner the next round and talk candidly about the constant pressure he faces on tour.
Kei Nishikori d. Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 6-1
Kei blitzed the Colonel (Photo Credit: Esam Taha)
Day 6, in fact kicked off with a matchup between two players with quite contrasting career trajectories. Fans gathered in the Grandstand to watch the Japanese shotmaker Kei Nishikoti take on the veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Nishikori is coming off an underwhelming performance in Indian Wells and looking to at least replicate the deep run he made here in Miami in 2014 which included beating Roger Federer before withdrawing due to injury. Meanwhile, the wheels on Youzhny’s career were rusting, as he only had two wins in 2015 coming into this one.
The very first game was a sign of things to come in this encounter as Youzhny struggled to hold serve right off the bat. He would face a break point before winning 3 straight points to get avoid the early break. In contrast, Nishikori would hold easily as the Russian was struggling to hit his spots sailing a couple of forehands long. Kei would pounce quickly. Youzhny’s groundstrokes weren’t on the same level as the Japanese, he would find himself facing triple break point. The veteran would stick a volley into the net to give Kei his first break as he stared up into the bright, Miami, sun. Nishikori would once again hold easily to consolidate and go up 3-1. Mikhail would finally start serving better, to hold, and keep the lead at a single break. Nishikori’s groundstrokes were looking as good as ever, bringing back memories of the match he played against Dimitrov in this same stadium a year ago. Youzhny still wouldn’t be able to find his rhythm as he continued making silly mistakes. This time it was an ill-advised poorly executed drop shot that would open up a double break opportunity for Kei. The Japanese was in unforgiving form as he converted the break points to take a 2 break lead 5-2. Youzhny with his back to the wall would take Kei to deuce but it would prove to be a futile attempt, the latter would hold his nerve, and take the set 6-2.
The match so far has been one-sided and even though the crowd was trying to urge Mikhail on, the Russian wasn’t responding. In fact he would kick off the 2nd set with back to back double faults. Mikhail would continue making unforced errors to give Kei 2 break points, causing him to yell something to himself in Russian, seeminly not of the positive sort. Kei on the other hand would fist pump as he converted the break point to take the lead right away. Youzhny would follow that game with probably his best tennis of the match, pushing Nishikori to 4 deuces on his service game. However even that effort wouldn’t be enough to break through.
Mikhail would eventually commit a couple of unforced errors as Kei hed and consolidated the break to go up 2-0. The crowd wanted to see a more competitive match but they were starting to feel this was going to be one way traffic. Nishikori would win 4 straight points on Youzhny’s serve to take go up 2 breaks, 4-1 in the 2nd set. The outcome was inevitable when Kei hit a couple of aces to consolidate the 2nd break and go up 5-1. The final game would actually prove to be entertaining marathon of 6 deuces but just like the rest of the match the Japanese would come out on top as he break for a 3rd time and claim the victory. Nishikori won it in straight sets in just over an hour.
We caught up with Kei after the match to give his insight on how he deals with the increasing number of defensive player on tour.
Americans Sock, and Isner, Frenchmen Simon, Monfils, and Chardy score successes in ATP singles, Bellucci wins late night thriller
American and French players both had good results in second round singles action on Saturday. Jack Sock continued his good form, winning a competitive first set over slumping Italian Fabio Fognini, before, as is almost expected at this point, Fognini tanked hard in the second, as the match ended 7-6 6-1 in anti-climatic fashion. John Isner dominated the Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-4, as Rublev had zero familiarity with Big John’s serve. He struggled to even get a racquet on the second serve of the American #1, and thus the result was never in question. Gilles Simon played graceful tennis in the third set and took out Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-7 6-0, Kukushkin lost momentum early in the third, but Simon was brilliant from both the baseline, and the net, having lulled his opponent into a poor course of play. Jeremy Chardy won all but two games from 0-4 down in his match against Jurgen Melzer, as the Austrian may have injured himself, the final scoreline 6-4 6-1. Gael Monfils won a thriller against underdog Filip Krajinovic, 3-6 6-2 7-6. Monfils failed to convert four match point chances in the third set, but finally won the tiebreak to take out the pesky Serb.
After the match Monfils was asked about having to play his good friend Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round 3.
Thomaz Bellucci won a late night thriller over Pablo Cuevas 2-6 6-2 7-5. The grandstand court was packed with fans of the Brazilian veteran, and though he got off to a slow start, 1-4 down in a short span of time, his passion showed as he battled back to make it a match against the higher ranked Cuevas. Bellucci took a nasty fall early in the second set, twisting his ankle, and was visibly grimacing in pain as he received a medical timeout and treatment for his fall, which primarily involved stretching and testing his ankle. However, instead of retiring, he was capable of continuing, and rather than merely dragging himself the rest of the way through, he rose up and broke Cuevas to go 2-1 up. This outraged a frustrated Cuevas, who yelled at him when they were crossing sides during the changeover, with some harsh words (in Spanish or Portuguese I’m not certain). As a result of this outburst, the fans really got behind Bellucci, and started to get into Cuevas head. Bellucci broke twice more in the second to force a third as things got messy for Cuevas.
In the third set, both players battled on serve to 5-5, and then Bellucci would score a crucial break, as his heavy hitting, primarily from the forehand side with spin, was pushing Cuevas back and putting him into an uncomfortable position to generate angles with his one-handed backhand. Serving for the match at 6-5, Bellucci got tight and went 0-30 down, but he played amazingly from that point, with two go for broke forehands that just about broke the sound barrier, and two untouchable serves to convert his lone match point opportunity of the long battle. The hitting was heavy, and though both players got tight and weren’t the most accurate, Bellucci was hitting the ball, perhaps the hardest I’ve ever seen from him, as the fans danced and cheered in the stands, having traveled to Crandon Park to see their national hero play against a fellow South American.
Other mens second round winners on the day, in straight sets, included David Ferrer, who didn’t mess around today, winning 6-1 6-1 over Federico Delbonis, Lukas Rosol, who continued his uptick in recent form with a 7-6 6-3 win over Alex Zverev, Alejandro Falla, who upset Ivo Karlovic 6-4 6-2 as the Croat didn’t have much game on the day, Milos Raonic, who comfortably rode his serve to a 6-1 6-4 win over Teymuraz Gabashvili, David Goffin, who shellacked Borna Coric 6-0 6-4, in a surprising scoreline, the Croat having a poor tournament this time out, and Juan Monaco, who extended the terrible form of Ernests Gulbis 6-2 6-4.
The winners in three sets in mens singles were Fernando Verdasco, who eased past James Duckworth 4-6 6-2 6-1, Adrian Mannarino, who won the continuation match with Albert Ramos 6-4 3-6 6-2, Viktor Troicki, who grinded past Simone Bolelli 7-5 3-6 6-4, Steve Darcis, who upset Gilles Muller 6-4 6-7 6-3, and Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut and his injured eye, 6-1 1-6 6-4. The win is the best for Janowicz in quite some time as he was in poor form coming into Miami but is now into the third round.
Wozniacki, Radwanska and Williams sisters win, Bouchard upset
Caroline Wozniacki survived Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-1 6-3, Aga Radwanska fended off a challenge from Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2 4-6 6-2, and the Williams sisters scored routine wins, Serena beat the junkballer Monica Niculescu 6-3 6-1, and Venus beat Sam Stosur 6-4 7-6. Fan favorite Eugenie Bouchard was not as lucky, she was listless in a shocking upset loss to German qualifier Tatjana Maria, who is ranked outside of the top 100, as Bouchard had a disappointing third round exit.
Ekaterina Makarova beat Elina Svitolina 6-0 6-4 in just over an hour, Carla Suarez Navarro beat Alize Cornet by the same 6-0 6-4 scoreline, Karolina Pliskova beat Paula Bedosa Gibert 7-5 6-1, Andrea Petkovic, who was enjoying the Cuevas-Bellucci match on twitter last night, earlier in the day had beaten Kristina Mladenovic in a 6-0 6-2 blowout. Angelique Kerber won the most competitive WTA match of the day over Heather Watson 7-5 3-6 6-4, Sara Errani beat Ana Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 7-6, and Daria Gavrilova followed up her massive win over Sharapova with a 6-0 7-6 win over Kurumi Nara.
Doubles specialists score victories
The Bryans beat Becker/Lipsky 6-2 7-6 in men’s doubles, and two other doubles specialists pairings on the men side also won. Rojer/Tecau 6-4 6-2 over Inglot/Mergea, and Cabal/Farah 7-6 6-3 over Lopez/Mirnyi. Bolelli/Fognini continued their remarkable form in doubles with a 6-4 6-2 win over the quality pairing of Klaasen/Paes, and Americans Harrison/Ram beat Mahut/Roger-Vasselin 7-5 7-6.
Chan/Jankovic beat Parra-Santonja/Soler-Espinosa 7-5 6-4, Dushevina/Martinez Sanchez beat Goerges/Groenefeld 7-6 3-6 10-7 in a battle, Hantuchova/Knapp beat Dulgheru/Halep 7-5 6-3, Niculescu/Panova beat the veteran pairing of Lisa Raymond/Sam Stosur 6-2 6-3. Hsieh/Pennetta won 6-1 6-3 over Cornet/Svitolina, Garcia/Srebotnik beat Puig/Watson 6-3 6-3, Jans-Ignacik/Klepac beat Bertens/Maria 7-5 6-4, and Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro beat Savchuk/Torro-flor 6-3 6-2.
Monfils-Tsonga headlines Miami Sunday
With action already underway in Miami on Sunday, Gael Monfils will take on good buddy Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco and Rafa Nadal will renew their rivalry, 15 year old Cici Bellis will take on Serena, and Sabine Lisicki will battle against Ana Ivanovic in some of the big matches on the day.