ATP A&E

The last major of the year approaches. On the men’s side of the draw it is looking an episode of casualty. The injuries keep on pilling up and speculation grows day by day on who will be taking part at Flushing Meadows.

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka who both participated in last year’s final will not feature again this season and it is looking unlikely that Andy Murray will be taking part. The Brit has been suffering from a hip issue for quite some time which was evident in his loss at Wimbledon and since then has recently pulled out of Rogers Cup this week and just pulled out of Cincinnati next week.

There are also concerns over Nick Kyrgios who didn’t seem to be moving well in his defeat to Alex Zverev in Montreal last night as well as Cilic and Berdych but all are down to play next week in Cincinnati.

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Stan’s ‘battling hard’ but will he be back to defend his title in New York?

By the time the US Open begins on the 28th of August it would have been 80 days since Stan Wawrinka won a tennis match a wait of almost three months since he defeated Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the French Open.

The defending US Open champion has withdrawn from the two Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that lead up to the final major of the year in New York but it is looking unlikely at the moment that Stan will participate in the tournament.

In a statement he said he is battling hard to be back fit in time for the US Open with this injury bothering him for at least 6 weeks now.

The news opens up the draw even more as there will be no Novak Djokovic in New York in a few weeks time and the race is on for the defending champion to be fit for Flushing Meadows.

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How Medvedev saw off Stan by going after his backhand slice

Stan Wawrinka was one of the early casualties at Queens Club just a few weeks ago and was the standout casualty in round one at Wimbledon but what went wrong?

Stan has never been able to master grass so this year he brought in Paul Annacone to boost his chances, two first round exits later it couldn’t have gone worse. Stan did seem to be struggling with a knee issue at Queens and did receive treatment in the loss to Medvedev but you can’t put it all down to that.

Stan’s game is quite defensive. He is one of the big defenders on court and this is where his game doesn’t work well on grass.

These grass courts around the world are a fast surface especially on the first week or so of the tournaments as no-one has played on them for almost 12 months so they are slippy and for players who have big ground strokes and a big serve it skids through the court making them dangerous hence why on the women’s side Karolina Pliskova is one of the favourites as the surface suits her style of play.

I watched Daniil Medvedev play against Novak Djokovic for the first time in Eastbourne last weekend and I was incredibly impressed, his game suited the surface and he played very well but was desperately unlucky in the match not to win.

Watching Stan against Daniil I’d say only one did their homework and that was Daniil. Time and time again we saw him go for that serve out-wide into the Wawrinka backhand which is a threat on the front foot but on the back foot it’s not a shot that will extend and keep yourself in rallies.

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This still is first set at set point and Daniil plays it perfectly. You couldn’t have played a better point. He went for that serve out-wide into the BH slice of Stan and a backhand slice is a good weapon to have on tour but returning a serve on grass against a big baseline player means you have to keep the BH low but time and time again it came back to the Russian and it basically said hit me on it.

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The height and lack of speed that Stan got on that in particular return compared to a forehand return gave Medvedev countless options. Stan is about 2 metres behind the baseline and Daniil could go cross court, inside out down the line or if he fancies it a cheeky drop shot.

After watching Daniil in Eastbourne I wouldn’t call this a shock, when I heard he would be playing Wawrinka I thought this could get tricky, all credit to the young man!

Feliciano brings flair and craft to see of Stan

Feliciano Lopez has kept his good form going with a very solid and creative performance to see off what looked like an injured Stan Wawrinka following the Spaniard’s title win last week in Stuttgart on the grass and with this form it does make him a dangerous player.

From the beginning of the match the whole feeling seemed a bit flat with if anything too comfortable for Feliciano in particular to hold serve with that big lefty serve, variety and that crafty play he brings to the court.

Towards the end of the match we saw more and more brilliance from the Spaniard who took advantage of the situation Stan was in with the recent French Open finalist seeming to have some issues with his knee and struggling to respond and react quickly enough to have a chance but one moment where Stan looked to have got the better of Lopez with a lob the Spaniard replied in style.

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Chasing down the lob his shot placement was perfect running around to go for that forehand down the line which he found!

On the other side it is a worrying time for Stan who after a long couple of weeks in Paris still doesn’t look ready for the grass being knocked out in the first round for the second year running at Queen’s and with this knee injury it puts chances of doing well at Wimbledon (a tournament he’s never been past the quarter finals in) in doubt.

Wawrinka falls short in Dubai!

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka’s run in Dubai ended before it got going. The Swiss number one fell short to Damir Dzumhur with a lack lustre performance ahead of Indian Wells.

Anywhere but there!

How many times do you watch a tennis match and see a player approach the net and think hit the ball anywhere but right at your opponent?

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Annoyingly you can’t actually see Dzumhur which shows as well how deep he is on the court but up until this point it was a perfectly constructed point by Stan until he approached the net, anyway but down the middle and he wins the point but there seemed to be a lack of composure from Stan.

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The other aspect of the match which Stan never got into was the push in the rallies. It was like watching a training session from his end but credit to Damir who did open up the court and had to work hard as well but Stan didn’t press him.

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This isn’t 100% accurate to what happened in the match but it set the tone to be honest. Majority of rallies from Stan were landing here in the court as shown above. You can’t put a performance together that would win a match with literally no depth on the court.

It was inviting from Stan and like all good invitations Damir expected and despite the faults of Wawrinka deserved his win to advance in Dubai.

Stan or Kei, Milos or Grigor… who progresses to Brisbane final?

Sunday is final day but first we have semi-finals to deal with in Brisbane. With just four remaining only two and progress but who will end up fighting for one of the first titles of the season?

Stan Wawrinka v Kei Nishikori

This one is a good match-up. Both have gone about their business quite well in Brisbane so far with Stan’s only test being against Kyle Edmund in the previous round but came through in three sets. The Swiss number one leads the head to head at 4-3 but Nishikori won their last meeting which was one to forget for the three time Grand Slam champion who in all honesty played a very poor match at the O2 Arena which I wrote about (link below)

Clinical Kei breezes past Stan at the O2

Stan just didn’t get any depth on the court and Kei used that serve out-wide and the volley at the net well to stop him from finding rhythm on the backhand which is what he will be aiming for when they meet tomorrow on the fast hard courts in Brisbane.

Milos Raonic v Grigor Dimitrov

Both recorded very big wins in the last round. Raonic got the better of Nadal for the second time in his career over three sets and for Dimitrov his good week in Brisbane continues as he saw off Dominic Thiem for a place in the semi-final after some good performances against some top players throughout the whole week.

After his win against Raonic the Canadian was asked if he could play better and his response was it would definitely be difficult. As defending champion there is some added pressure on him to win against Dimitrov and then the final and he needs to deal with that pressure on him this year.

This is the fifth time they have met with Dimitrov winning their last three meetings and Raonic hasn’t been victorious against the Bulgarian since 2011…

 

ATP World Tour Finals Day 4 – Stan strikes back & Murray wins marathon match!

Stan still in contention!

After the shambles of his first match of the tournament against Kei Nishikori many would have thought that it may be tough to come back but the Swiss number one has kept himself in contention to qualify for the semi-finals which looks like being a shootout with Kei Nishikori with Andy Murray all but qualified.

For Marin Cilic his nightmare is over at the O2. Having played 5 matches now at the world tour finals without a win to his name and just one set won in these wins as he was downed 7-6 7-6 by Stan Wawrinka.

Marathon man wins again!

22 wins in a row. Andy Murray won a 200 minute battle with Kei Nishikori yesterday afternoon coming from a set down to win 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 6-4 against the Japanese number one who looked so strong after his first round match but now faces a fight to get to the semi-finals, how things can change!

To win from a set down in the style he did was another big achievement for the world number one winning the longest three set match at the World Tour Finals in 25 years which is quite remarkable!