Tag Archive | "Monfils"

Kyrgios Joins Nishikori in the Miami Open Semifinals

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Kyrgios Joins Nishikori in the Miami Open Semifinals

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Kei Nishikori saved five match points before outlasting Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) in a semifinal thriller at the Miami Open on Thursday afternoon. Nishikori withstood 14 aces by his opponent and overcame six double-faults off his own racket to prevail after two hours and 29 minutes.

The high-quality roller-coaster ride saw Monfils recover from a break deficit in the deciding set. With momentum in hand, the world No. 16 put himself within one point of victory on five different occasions. He came close to converting his fourth chance when he tracked down a drop-shot and flicked it cross-court, but Nishikori answered with a winning volley.

“I felt good,” Monfils said when asked about the physical struggle of the third set. “I think I had to raise a bit my level to [hold] my serve at 1-3. Then I think at 3-4 I really raised my level. I think I [started] to be very aggressive, [started] to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it. At the end, I think I pushed very hard. Then definitely I [had] opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well. I think in the ‘breaker he was just better than me.”

It almost, of course, never got to a tiebreaker. Of Monfils’ five match points, four came with Nishikori serving at 4-5 and the last one at 5-6.

“Well, the first one [was] a good serve,” the Frenchman reflected. “Then the second one I [stepped] in, second serve. I [went] aggressive wide and I [missed] maybe (by) 30 or 40 centimeters. Then the third one; second serve. I didn’t go for it so much. I [went] in between, and then he had a very good forehand behind me. Then I think the last one is the one I thought I had…the drop-shot. I think actually this one was the closest one I had.”

“The match could [have gone] both ways,” Nishikori assured. “I was up a break and I had many [chances] to break again. I just [trired] to focus when I lost the game for 4-all. The tiebreak I was [trying] to be [focused] again. Yeah, did pretty good in (the) tiebreak.”

Next up for the world No. 6 is a second career meeting with Kyrgios, whom Nishikori defeated 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 last fall in Shanghai. It will be another contrast in temperaments for Kyrgios after he faced the mentally solid Milos Raonic on Thursday night.

Although the 20-year-old Australian is nothing short of combustible, himself, his trek through the Miami draw has mostly no-nonsense aside from a brief spat with the chair umpire during a fourth-round win over Andrey Kuznetsov. He has also refused to surrender a single set in four victories.

Kyrgios booked a spot in his first-ever Masters 1000 semifinal by upsetting Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 44 minutes. The 24th seed fired eight aces and saved all five of the break points he faced.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Kyrgios commented. “Milos has played great the last couple of weeks; the only person he’s lost to is (Novak) Djokovic. I played really well out here. The crowd was a lot of fun; the atmosphere was really good. I thought the level of tennis was pretty good, as well.”

Ricky Dimon is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Goffin Books Semifinal Spot Against Djokovic at the Miami Open

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Goffin Books Semifinal Spot Against Djokovic at the Miami Open

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Open, David Goffin had never been past the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event. There was no reason to think anything different would transpire when Goffin faced match points against Frances Tiafoe in the Indian Wells second round earlier this month. But he saved both match points, ended up winning in a third-set tiebreaker, and the rest is history.

The red-hot Belgian reached the semifinals in the desert, upsetting Stan Wawrinka in the process before succumbing to Milos Raonic. With momentum in hand, Goffin has accomplished the same feat at the Miami Open. Benefiting from Roger Federer’s withdrawal in what became a wide-open section of the bracket, Goffin capitalized on the opportunity to cruise into the last eight with straight-set defeats of Marcel Granollers, Viktor Troicki, and Horacio Zeballos.

With the competition level ratcheted up in the form of Gilles Simon on Wednesday, Goffin came up with all the answers and recovered from a set deficit to prevail 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 57 minutes. The world No. 15 converted five of six break chances in the final two sets after missing all six of his opportunities in the opener.

“The first set it was tough because it was a good set with a good level,” Goffin reflected. “Gilles was really solid on his baseline, but I didn’t serve really well in the first set. I didn’t have any free points with my serve, so it was tough.

“I knew that the level was there and I had to keep going like this, just to stay more focused on some shots just to finish the points…. Then game after game I was feeling much better. The serve was there in the third set. Yeah, I think with the serve it was the key to win the third.”

Goffin will obviously have to do everything well in his semifinal showdown against Novak Djokovic on Friday. Djokovic, who has not lost this season by anything other than retirement (to Feliciano Lopez in Dubai), cruised past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday night.


The top-seeded Serb got broken only once, just as he did against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday. But this time around it was far more straightforward; Djokovic had to fight off a slew of break points (14 of 15 was the final tally) in the fourth round before facing only three with Berdych on the other side of the net.

“The opening three or four games went over 20 minutes,” Djokovic commented. “We both started with great intensity and concentration. I think we made each other play a lot…. I just managed to keep my composure and play the right shots at the right time.”

On the other side of the draw, Milos Raonic will battle Nick Kyrgios on Thursday while Kei Nishikori squares off against Gael Monfils.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor to MiamiTennisNews and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Djokovic Escapes Thiem to Advance to Miami Open Quarterfinals

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Djokovic Escapes Thiem to Advance to Miami Open Quarterfinals

Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

The record will indicate that Novak Djokovic made routine work of Dominic Thiem during fourth-round action at the Miami Open on Wednesday afternoon. A more accurate picture, however, is painted by both the statistics and the eye test. Anyone who was in attendance surely appreciated the entertaining affair to which they were treated, even though Djokovic got the job done in seemingly dominant 6-3, 6-4 fashion.

A much different story could have unfolded if Thiem had been able to come up with the goods at the critical junctures. Instead, the 22-year-old Austrian squandered 14 of 15 break points and the only one he converted came courtesy of a Djokovic double-fault.

In the opening set, Thiem survived a three-deuce game and saved one set point to hold for 3-5. He then had four break points to get back on serve, but Djokovic battled trough a four-deuce game to seal the deal. With the top-seeded Serb serving for the match at 5-4 in the second, he fought off four more break points, navigated seven deuces, and finally converted a fourth match point to triumph after one hour and 49 minutes.

“It [was] going to end sooner or later,” Djokovic commented. “Generally I don’t face that many break points, but conversion of break points from my opponent today was only one out of [15], so that’s a positive in a way. But I’ll try not to get myself in those positions too much…. It was a straight-set win, but far from easy. It was a tough match.”

“Today (there) were positive and negative things,” Thiem posted on Facebook. “I can take advantage of (them) in the future…. I couldn’t take advantage of my [break points]; I only converted one out of 15; that’s [not enough], especially when your opponent is the No. 1 in the world.

“Nevertheless, I am happy about my performance here in Miami; I was able to gain some new experience and now I am heading, of course a little bit disappointed, back home. Next up, clay-court season!”

The hard-court proceedings will continue at least one more one more round for Djokovic, and for Gael Monfils. Joining Djokovic in the quarterfinals by also prevailing on Tuesday were Monfils, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios, Tomas Berdych, Gilles Simon, and David Goffin. Monfils recovered from a set deficit to outlast Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in a day-session match that went well into the night.

After going down an immediate break in the third set, the Frenchman broke right back and earned another scalp of the Dimitrov serve at 4-3 before closing the door at love in emphatic fashion. By lasting exactly two and a half hours, it forced the Kei Nishikori vs. Roberto Bautista Agut showdown to be moved from the stadium to the Grandstand.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @Dimonator by clicking here.

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Dimitrov Destroys Pospisil to Advance at the Miami Open, Tsonga and Isner Advance

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Dimitrov Destroys Pospisil to Advance at the Miami Open, Tsonga and Isner Advance

Tennis - 2015 ATP World Tour 1000 - Miami Open - Key Biscayne, USA - Day 6 - Saturday 28 March 2015One of the star matches on Stadium Court at the Miami Open featured 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov against promising prospect, Vasek Pospisil. For the Canadian who ousted Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round, it was a miserable day at the office. Dimitrov required only 59 minutes to dismantle his opponent 6-2, 6-2.

The ninth seed came out of the block blazing converting on double break point in the opening game. Dimitrov went on to cash in on another break point in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead. The Bulgarian closed out the first set with ease with a love hold.

Unfortunately for Popisil, the second set offered more of the same. Leveled at 2 all, the Canadian surrendered his serve by double faulting. After Dimitrov consolidated, Pospisil dropped serve his next game. Without fanfare, Dimitrov sealed the match on his first match point.

In the third round, Dimitrov will battle John Isner. The American had a comfortable 6-3,6-4 victory against reigning junior world number one, 17 year old Andrey Rublev.

Earlier in the afternoon, in a hold over from last evening rained out session, the affable Frenchman Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga tussled with American Tim Smyczek for a spot in the third round. The 2008 Australian Open finalist who was on forced sabbatical due to an arm injury held off Smyczek 6-4,3-6,6-3.

Tsonga was satisfied with his performance considering this was his first match in few months “I didn’t expect to play my best tennis today ever. I’m happy the way I managed. . .I played pretty solid. I just had a little hole in the second set, it’s normal when you haven’t played since couple of months”.

Regarding the injury itself, Tsonga reflected “my arm is feeling better today. I hope it’s going to be better and better, but for first match was already something good for me.”

Next for the world number eleven is compatriot Gael Monfils who skipped Indian Wells this year due to a knee issue. Monfils dug deep against Filip Krajinovic in the tiebreaker after wasting a few match points to win 3-6,6-2,7-6.

On Grandstand court, 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori routed Mikail Youzhny 6-2, 6-1. Fifth seed Milos Raonic and 2013 Miami finalist David Ferrer also crushed their opponents to book their safe passage into the third round. Other winners today include young American Jack Sock, Juan Monaco, Belge David Goffin who schooled 18 year old talent Borna Coric and Fernando Verdasco.

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Roddick Halts Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Roddick Halts Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open

With a record of 21-2 against Andy Roddick, Roger Federer who has been in superb form this season should have taken care of his rival in the third round. Instead, Roddick upended Federer 7-6,1-6,6-4 to advance to the fourth round at the Sony Ericsson Open.

The last time Roddick was victorious over Federer was a night session also at the Miami Masters in 2008. Since then, Federer has won their six meetings including a heartbreaker in the final of Wimbledon in 2009.

In the third game of the opening set, Federer had double break point. But, Roddick did not flinch and eventually held. With no further break chances for either player, the first set went to a tiebreaker.
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Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington

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Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington

For the second day in a row, rain disrupted the proceedings at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. But this afternoon, even that was insufficient for top seed and wildcard Gael Monfils to prevail. Unseeded Radek Stepanek bested Monfils 6-4,6-4 to win this ATP 500 tournament, the biggest prize of his career.

With a record of 5-2 against Stepanek, Monfils seemed in good stead to become the first Frenchman to triumph in the nation’s capital since Arnaud Clement beat Andy Murray in 2006.

For his part, Stepanek was on a quest to end his nation’s 29 year drought at this venue. Petr Korda, Stepanek’s coach, was the last victorious Czech in 1992.

The preamble to a disastrous afternoon for Monfils came in his initial service game. Monfils had two successive double faults despite holding.

Subsequent to guarding serve, Stepanek struck a backhand crosscourt winner for break point. When Monfils dumped a forehand into the net, Stepanek took a 2-1 lead.

In trying to consolidate, Stepanek went down 0-30. However, Monfils obliged with a sleuth of errors to allow the Czech to consolidate for a 3-1 advantage.

Later with Stepanek serving, the skies opened up and a thunderous downpour followed. Once Stepanek returned and completed the game for 4-2, showers came anew.

When play resumed, Monfils appeared more willing to fight and comfortably maintained serve. Yet despite Stepanek’s horrendous 30 percent first serve, Monfils could not capitalize on his second serve.

With Monfils stuck ten feet beyond the baseline and his returns falling short, an aggressive Stepanek proficient at volleying thrived at the net. Consequently, Stepanek easily bedded the first set.

For Monfils, the following set was a duplicate of the previous one. With a backhand volley winner, Stepanek had break point in the initial game. With Monfils’ forehand crosscourt pass finding the net, Stepanek converted.

Next, with an emphatic love game punctuated by his maiden ace, Stepanek raced to a 2-0 lead.

At times, Monfils uncorked his frustration on his racket. The crowd did it’s utmost to lift the Frenchman, however, without success. Despite losing solely two points his subsequent four service games, Monfils could not fabricate a single break point.

Stepanek’s first serve percentage picked up slightly this set at 46, winning 12 out of 12 points. With Monfils’ return not clearing the net, Stepanek had triple championship points.

When Monfils flubbed a backhand, Stepanek claimed his first title since San Jose in 2009. He also became the second oldest titlist. Jimmy Connors hoisted the trophy in 1988 at age 35.

With yesterday’s semifinals completed in the wee hours of the morning, Monfils did not go to sleep until four. Thus, the Frenchman felt the lack of rest made him “a fraction of a step slower. . . [so I] caught the returns late”.

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Monfils Skirts by Isner for a Place in the D.C. Final

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Monfils Skirts by Isner for a Place in the D.C. Final

Although this semifinal was scheduled for Saturday night, it’s conclusion came after one in the morning Sunday. Following a couple of shower intermissions, top seed Gael Monfils edged local favorite John Isner 6-4,3-6,7-6 to reach his initial final at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Four years ago, Isner surprisingly advanced to the final in Washington. Along the way, in their first encounter, Isner prevailed over Monfils, a top 50 player, in a thrilling semifinal third set tiebreaker.

Tonight, subsequent to Isner carrying the opening game, Monfils’ turn was halted by rain. Ultimately when play resumed, the points went along quickly.

After Monfils erased a break point to hold, Isner’s did the same with a 135 mph serve. Despite further difficulties, Isner maintained serve for 3-2.

Later though, when Isner misfired on a forehand, Monfils had his second break point of the ninth game. The Frenchman converted courtesy of an errant forehand by Isner to ascend 5-4. Soon, with a strong service game, Monfils closed out the first set.

Isner and Monfils had tussled five times prior, with each meeting decided by a third set. Apparently, Monfils did not feel like deviating from the script.

By hitting a forehand wide, Monfils handed Isner double break point. The Frenchman compounded that mistake with a ill advised dropshot to gift the break. Promptly with a love game, Isner consolidated for a 3-0 lead.

In the fifth game, a dreadful incident occurred whereby one of Isner’s serving bullets struck a spectator in the eye. After the injured person was attended to and a horrified Isner gathered himself, play resumed.

With Isner leading 5-2, another rain stoppage came. With Monfils incapable of a break point, Isner captured the second set.

At 3-2 in the decisive set, Monfils forced Isner into a forehand mistake for break point. By taking out his big gun, Isner salvaged the game to level the set at 3 all.

The next time Isner served, Monfils was again at 0-30. Yet, he could not fabricate a break point. However, ahead 5-4, Monfils arrived at his first match point when Isner committed a forehand error.

But with a crisp volley, Isner got to deuce. A second match point by Monfils was dismissed with a second serve ace. Not certain of the umpire’s call, Monfils challenged. With the review system malfunctioning, the call stood. Monfils shrugged it off; the two even exchanged a knuckle high five.

Eventually, the tiebreaker settled the winner. As each competitor guarded serve, Isner thumped an ace to get to his first match point. Monfils replicated to square the breaker at 6 a piece.

Then, with a courageous lob winner, Monfils secured his third match point. When Isner dumped his forehand into the net. Monfils booked a place in the final of a U.S. tournament for the first time.

It’s conspicuous that these two share a mutual respect as they embraced at the net. Monfils said as much after the match “I have great respect for John. I like his mentality and it’s always a pleasure for me to play him”.

Monfils expressed that he was relieved to finish the match. During the breaks, he had his coach to distract him and did not get too anxious.

With the momentum after the first set, Monfils lost his way early on in the second. MiamiTennisNews.com asked him to evaluate that part of the match “he played two solid points and I played two fancy shots”.

Monfils admitted that his judgment was flawed “instead of the dropshot, I could have hit another forehand . . . because from the baseline I’m a bit stronger than him. I did not play with my weapon. Once you lose serve against John, you know it’s three sets”.

Although it’s less than twenty-four hours before the final, Monfils stated that fatigue will not be a factor. The shear adrenaline from being in his first final of the season will squelch any physical or mental tiredness.

Isner was attempting to reach his third consecutive final after bagging the title in Newport and runner up status in Atlanta. Isner was also glad to resolve the semifinal tonight. Now, he can move on to his next stop, the Rogers Cup.

In tomorrow’s final, Monfils will collide with Radek Stepanek. They last clashed in Hamburg a few weeks ago with Monfils victorious.

Monfils is at a career high ranking of seven while Stepanek is world number 54. Although Monfils has been a finalist the last two years at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris, his three ATP titles have been at the 250 level.

Both men have a losing mark in finals with Monfils at 3-10 and Stepanek 4-7. However, Monfils has a 5-2 record over his opponent. For both men it will be their maiden ATP 500 trophy.

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Federer on Track for Seventh Title at Wimbledon

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Federer on Track for Seventh Title at Wimbledon

For the second year in a row, Roger Federer is on course to equalize Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles. Defending champion Rafael Nadal is also through to the second week as he goes for his third French Open-Wimbledon duo. While Novak Djokovic, the hottest player this season, is in great form through three matches.

The world’s top three players are still the ones to beat heading into the round of 16 while world number four and hometown pick Andy Murray is also alive with an outside chance. Here’s a review of the past few days and a look at the rest of the tournament.

Federer has looked superb through the first three rounds of play. The Swiss dominated his third round match against a less than 100% David Nalbandian who’s had his number previously.

In the fourth round, Federer takes on Mikhail Youzhny. Federer has won all ten of their prior meetings and the Russian has never been beyond the round of 16 at this event.

David Ferrer tied his best showing at the All England Club by reaching the round of 16 and will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who was a quarterfinalist last year. The winner of that contest will probably battle Federer in the quarterfinals.

After straight sets triumphs his initial two matches, Djokovic had to bear down against Marcos Baghdatis to move on in four in the third round. On Monday, Djokovic meets Michael Llodra in the fourth round. Although Llodra is sensational on grass, he should be no match for Djokovic.

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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field

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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field

For the first time at the All England Club, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds. Defending champion Nadal will fight to collect his third hardware at this venue and his third French Open-Wimbledon combo. Djokovic who registered his maiden loss of the year at the previous major after a forty-one match unbeaten run will attempt to reach his first final at SW 19.

Two other competitors are also hoping to make history. Third seed Roger Federer tries to equalize Pete Sampras’ all time record of seven titles while fourth seed Andy Murray carries the aspirations of an isle on his shoulders. This fortnight, Murray aims to terminate his nation’s 75 year drought at its home major. Here’s the breakdown of the 2011 Wimbledon draw.

For world number one Nadal, it should be smooth sailing until the third round. In that session, the defending champion could be bothered by phenom Milos Raonic. Again in the round of 16, Nadal will be on crash alert with Juan Martin Del Potro his likely opponent. Consequently, there are various rocks along the road early on for the top seed.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal could face a rematch of last year’s final with Tomas Berdych. Considering Berdych’s average performance this season, the Spaniard should have the advantage. However, a semifinal against either Andy Roddick, a three time finalist, or Murray will be a harder challenge.

Having won the Queen’s Club trophy for the second time, Murray has once more found his mojo. Murray’s potential third round counterpart is Marin Cilic and either Stanislas Wawrinka or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. While these are all worthy adversaries, Murray should have the upper hand.

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray Still In the Hunt at Australian Open

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray Still In the Hunt at Australian Open

Seven days of competition have passed at the Australian Open.  While Rafael Nadal has breezed through his matches to get to the round of 16, defending champion Roger Federer had a hiccup in the second round.  As usual, there were a few unexpected departures in the first week.  Here’s a summary of what has taken place this initial week.

It’s been smooth sailing for Nadal in getting through to the round of 16.  The world number one’s excellent form will come in handy as he faces 2010 semifinalist Marin Cilic.  After two easy matches, Cilic edged out John Isner 9-7 in the fifth to earn a crack at Nadal.

After a thrilling first round five setter against Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian called it quit in the second round, four games away from being handed a straight set loss.  Mikhail Youzhny also departed earlier than expected.  The tenth seed was sent packing in the third round by Milos Raonic.  The 20 year old Canadian qualifier with the humongous serve also ousted Michael Llodra, the 22nd seed in the second round.  Next up for Raonic will be David Ferrer who is a relentless competitor.  Ferrer’s experience may prove too much for the youngster.  Thus, a Ferrer-Nadal quarterfinal showdown is the likely scenario.

Without much fuss, both Robyn Soderling and Andy Murray have been taking care of business.  Soderling’s fourth round match will be against Alexandr Dolgopolov.  The Ukrainian upset 13th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.  Following an impressive second round match versus Juan Martin Del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis was forced to retire down two sets to one with a hand injury in his third round match against Jurgen Melzer.  As such, Murray will battle Melzer for a quarterfinal berth.

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