Wimbledon

Taylor Fritz Still One of America’s Great Hopes

Taylor Fritz is one of the most promising tennis players that America has to offer, although he has endured a difficult period since his emergence on the ATP World Tour. His struggles continued on the grass of Stuttgart, with the young American failing to make it past the first qualifying round. Fritz has spent a few months away from the game, but on his return has lost in the first round of the Surbiton Challenger in addition to Stuttgart in matches which he entered as heavy favourite. The 19-year-old has time on his side, but he will be keen to prove that his breakout season in the sport was not an anomaly.

Fritz’s best career performance came in just his third ATP tournament, with his run in Memphis the first appearance in a final for eight years by an 18-year-old. He ultimately lost to Kei Nishikori, a mainstay of the top ten in the rankings, but Fritz’s youthful exuberance impressed the tennis world. Fritz consolidated this showing with a quarter-final run in Acapulco, eventually succumbing to compatriot Sam Querrey, and a slightly weaker end to the year could not take the shine of a remarkable season.

Fritz stormed to a career-high ranking of 53 as an 18-year-old, prompting inevitable assertions that he was the next great American hope and a future Grand Slam winner. Of course, few would have expected him to be challenging for those titles while still at a very young age, but the latest tennis odds of Fritz being 250/1 to win Wimbledon accurately reflect how his development has slightly stagnated. Incidentally, the leading American players that Fritz was expected to sit alongside sooner rather than later, Jack Sock and John Isner, are odds of 100/1 to triumph on the grass in London.

American Slam success, in the men’s game at least, does not appear to be on the immediate horizon. However, Jelena Ostapenko’s remarkable run to take the French Open singles title as an unseeded player highlights how a great couple of weeks can change everything. Fritz is a great couple of weeks away from shooting up the rankings. It was his adventures in Memphis that propelled him up the rankings, and it was never really expected that Fritz would consolidate all of those ranking points the following year. He made the last sixteen in 2017’s iteration of the tournament at Memphis, which is still a commendable showing.

Fritz’s success in Memphis and Acapulco, combined with his scope for growth, means that expectations are high of the young American. Pressure can be telling, with perhaps the relative grass-court experience of veteran Marco Chiudinelli the difference in Stuttgart between success and failure. However, the emergence of other young Americans will take the spotlight off Fritz, and this could be a constructive development in his progress.

Frances Tiafoe has soared up the rankings and has held his own against Roger Federer. The big-serving Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals of the grass-court challenger in Surbiton and his game should suit the green surface. Opelka looks on course to break the top 100 soon, where other young Americans Jared Donaldson and Ernesto Escobedo already reside with Tiafoe. The future is bright for American tennis, and Fritz will inevitably work his way back up the ranks. With such a deep source of talent for American fans to root for, Fritz should be able to play with less pressure and recapture the heights of 2016.

“Old School” Hollywood Meets “Old School” Tennis In “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” Book

Incredible stories connected the Hollywood lives of such stars as Grace Kelly, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx and others to the world of international tennis are featured in the writings of 1931 Wimbledon champion Sidney Wood in the new book “THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS…AND OTHER TENNIS TALES FROM A BYGONE ERA.”

THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS ($15.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com), which will be published June, 2011, details the life and times of Wood with a focus on one of the most unusual episodes ever in sport when he won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in a default – the only time in the history of The Championships that the men’s singles final was not played. Wood, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 97, tells the story of how he won the title over Frank Shields, his school buddy, doubles partner, roommate and Davis Cup teammate – and the grandfather of actress and model Brooke Shields – when Shields was ordered by the U.S. Tennis Association to withdraw from the final to rest his injured knee in preparation for an upcoming Davis Cup match for the United States. He then discusses his “private understanding playoff” that saw his match with Shields at the Queen’s Club tournament final in London three years later be played for the Wimbledon trophy.

Wood, who could be called the greatest story teller tennis ever had, also relates fascinating anecdotes and stories that involve famous personalities from Hollywood and across the globe. Stories include his romance with Grace Kelly, his qualifying for the modern day US Open doubles championship with Errol Flynn, his on-court tennis joking with Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx among many others.

David Wood of Queens, N.Y., the youngest son of Wood, serves as contributor to the volume.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of Tennis Made Easy by Kelly Gunterman, Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda  (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson among others.

Andy Murray Beats Milos Raonic In Straight Sets To Win Second Wimbledon Title

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Andy Murray won his third major title on Sunday at Wimbledon as he defeated Milos Raonic in straightforward fashion, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).

“This is obviously the most important tournament for me every year. I’m proud to have my hands on the trophy again,” said Murray, who shed tears of joy on the court after his win.

The title was Murray’s second at Wimbledon as he was able to give the home crowd their wish, just as he did in 2013, as well as at the 2012 Summer Olympics when he won the gold medal with the event being hosted at the All England Club.

“I’ve had some great moments here, but also some tough losses. The win feels extra special because of the tough losses,” said Murray.

It was a true master-class performance from Murray that earned him his third major title as he was simply able to negate Raonic’s weapons. While Raonic had been able to serve and hit powerful ground strokes through all of his opponents up to the final, Murray is a completely different match-up as his best assets are his return and defense, leaving the Canadian in a world of uncertainty on Centre Court.

“He moves incredibly well. He returns well. Those are his two biggest strengths,” said Raonic of Murray’s play. “Every time you play him, you know he’s going to get more returns back than anyone else.”

Both players looked confident from the onset as Murray, who hit just 12 unforced errors throughout the match, was able to breeze through his service games while Raonic dealt with some early nerves playing in his first major final, fighting off a break point in just his second service game of the match. Murray, though, quickly earned two more break points just a few games later and didn’t miss out again, capitalizing for a 4-3 lead. Two easy holds later and the Brit had taken the first set without facing a break point.

Raonic was again able to fight off a break point early in the second set, but he was still unable to make any inroads on the Murray serve. The Brit only lost more than one point in a service game in the second set twice and was never taken to deuce, allowing him to continuously pressure the Canadian’s biggest weapon, his serve. More break points came at 3-3 and 4-4, but once again Raonic fought those off and eventually forced a tiebreak, a point of the match in which he would have expected to excel.

That was far from the case, though, as Murray raced out to a 3-0 lead before leading 5-1 at the change of ends. The No. 2 seed didn’t look back before sealing the breaker 7-3, placing himself just one set away from more British glory.

Raonic’s level clearly rose in the third set as he was the one that didn’t get taken to deuce a single time. His only real chance in the set, though, came at 2-2 when he had a 15-40 lead on Murray’s serve. The Brit was able to reel off four points in a row from that moment to fight for the hold as Raonic missed out on the only two break points he had in the match, and it was only the second time that the Canadian even managed to take Murray to deuce.

While Raonic still dominated on serve throughout the set, Murray had essentially killed off any real threat from the first time major finalist. When the tiebreak arrived in the third set, it was Murray who, once again, raced out to a big lead of 5-0.

After falling in the final of the first two majors of 2016, there would be no denying Murray this time as he was able to close out the tiebreak at 7-2, earning him his third major title with a stellar performance in front of his home nation.

“Last time, I was so relieved. I felt so much stress and pressure and didn’t really get the chance to enjoy it as much,” said Murray. “So I’ll make sure I enjoy this one tonight, for sure.”

Serena Williams Ties Steffi Graf 22-Major Open-Era Record With Wimbledon Win

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Serena Williams captured her 22nd major championship on Saturday as she was able to defend her Wimbledon title, beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.

Williams, who has been the No. 1 player in the world for well over the past three years, had been attempting to tie Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 major titles since she won the Wimbledon title in 2015, but a semifinal appearance at the US Open followed by two runner-up performances delayed her efforts. Now that the American has grabbed No. 22, though, she currently sits just two major titles behind the record holder Margaret Court, who won 24 in her career.

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. I had a couple of tries this year…but it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it,” said Williams of her 22nd major title.

In a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which Kerber won in three sets, the 34-year old Williams looked to be the one to get off to a fast start as she had three break chances in the second game of the match. The German, though, was able to fight each of those off, and actually looked like the more comfortable player on serve from that point on.

That quickly changed in the 12th game, though, as Kerber, the 28-year old who was playing in just her second major final, served to take the set into a tiebreak. Williams was able to crush a few returns when it mattered most, opening up a 15-40 lead which gave her a look at two set points. After missing out on the first, Williams, who hit 39 winners compared to Kerber’s 12, capitalized on the second with an un-returnable backhand to take the set.

The second set was completely dominated by the servers as there was only one break point in the first seven games. Williams, though, has always been able to turn her level of play up a notch or two when she needs to the most, and, just like in the first set, that is what she did in the second.

With Kerber serving at 3-4, Williams fought back from a 40-15 deficit and won four points in a row to break and set up an opportunity to serve for the title. Three unreturned serves later, Williams, who hit 13 aces, found herself at championship point.

A brief rally ensued before Williams was able to come to the net and put away an easy forehand volley for the win. Falling to the court in joy, the American had just placed herself in the record books again as she earned her seventh Wimbledon title.

“It’s an honor to play on Centre Court and a great feeling,” said Williams, who faced just one break point in the match. “This court definitely feels like home.”

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Milos Raonic Has Best Mental Match In Wimbledon Semifinal Win Over Roger Federer

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Milos Raonic earned a spot in his first major final as he pulled off an impressive comeback win on Friday over 17-time major champion Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

“It’s an incredible comeback for me…it’s a great feeling,” said Raonic, who became the first Canadian to reach a major singles final. “I showed a lot of emotion out there, always positive, and I think that’s what got me through. Mentally, I had one of my best matches in my history and my career.”

The Canadian, who tallied 75 winners in the match, including 23 aces, got off to a quick start against Federer, breaking the seven-time Wimbledon champ in just his second service game of the match for a 3-1 lead. A few more straightforward games on serve concluded the set and the No. 6 seed was able to take the first step forward to the final.

Each player impressed on serve in the second set as the majority of the games saw the returners struggling to win even just one point. In a crucial tenth game, though, Federer opened up a 0-40 lead on Raonic’s serve at 5-4, but the Canadian was up to the task and used his big serves and ground strokes to save those three set points, plus a fourth a few points later, displaying that he might actually be able to pull this off.

Federer, who hit just 14 unforced errors in the match, didn’t let the disappointment of missing out on those four set points, though, as the set went to a tiebreak. From 3-3, the Suisse was able to reel off four points in a row to level the match at one-set all, putting a minor dent in that confidence that Raonic had boosted up.

The former No. 1 player in the world kept his level up and looked to have taken complete control of the match in the third set as he was able to break Raonic in the latter stages for a 4-3 lead. Two holds at love for Federer closed out the set and allowed him to come within one set of his 11th Wimbledon final.

“I was struggling there through the third and fourth sets. He was playing some really good tennis,” said Raonic.

Federer, who beat Raonic in the 2014 Wimbledon semifinals, looked like he would pounce first in the fourth set, as well, as he had a look at two break chances at 2-2. Once again, though, the 6’5” Canadian was up to the task and saved both of them, plus one more in the 4-4 game. The confidence boost received from escaping those big moments allowed Raonic to bounce back from a 40-0 hole on Federer’s service game at 5-6, as he eventually won a 14-point game and converted his third break chance to steal the fourth set and force a decider.

The Canadian carried that momentum into the fifth set, breaking Federer in his second service game for a 3-1 lead, before having two more break chances in Federer’s next service game for a double break lead. He was unable to convert but he didn’t need that extra cushion as there was no way back for the Suisse. Raonic’s big serve, which reached speeds of 144mph and averaged 129mph on the day, proved to be too hot to handle for Federer as Raonic lost just five points on serve in the set, including a hold at love to seal the deal.

“I sort of persevered. I was sort of plugging away…He gave me a little opening towards the end of the fourth. I made the most of it,” said Raonic.

The Canadian now awaits the home favorite Andy Murray in the final after the Brit defeated Tomas Berdych comfortably in straights, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Raonic and Murray just played three weeks ago in the final at Queen’s Club with Murray winning, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.

“Am I worried about recovering? No…my matches tend to be quite quick,” said Raonic. “I feel pretty good after. I know I’ll feel much better in 48 hours…It’s a slam final. A lot of adrenaline. All this kind of stuff takes over and you keep fighting through.”

“I’ve by no means done what I want to be here to do,” said Raonic, who hopes to become the first Canadian to win a major singles title. “The impact of being Canada’s first-ever finalist will be bigger if I can win the title. I have to focus on that, put all my energy into that.”

 

 

Angelique Kerber Prevents All-Williams Sister Wimbledon Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Angelique Kerber of Germany was able to prevent an all-Williams sister final from happening at Wimbledon as she defeated Venus Williams on Thursday, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the final.

“It’s just amazing…to beat Venus in the semis. It’s always tough. I’m so excited to be in the final here,” said Kerber. “I’m just happy to be playing my best and to be in my second grand slam final.”

The match got off to a very unexpected and topsy-turvy start as each of the first five games were breaks, as well as seven of the first eight. It was Kerber, though, who was able to get that crucial extra break and first hold of the match for 4-2, before eventually snatching the first set.

“I don’t know what was the problem. I think we both were returning very well at the beginning of the first set. I mean I was a little bit nervous when I go out there because I was trying to play my best tennis,” said Kerber.

The second set looked like it could be similar to the first as the German was able to break in the opening game, but that was that. The No. 4 seed felt little pressure from that point as she lost just five points in her five service games of the set, setting up a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which she was able to defeat the 21-time major champion Serena Williams, who needed just 48 minutes to win her semifinal against Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-0.

“I know that she played long matches, in the first week especially. I was trying to move her. That was the plan,” said Kerber of her strategy against the 36-year old Venus, who made 10 more unforced errors than her opponent.

“I played against a lot of great opponents. I had a lot of tough matches. It’s not easy out there,” said Venus. “There is no such thing as impossible. It’s always possible. That’s what you feel as an athlete.”

Venus did manage to show signs of life halfway through the second set as she was able to fend off three break points while down 1-3 to hold before earning a 0-30 lead on Kerber’s serve in the next game. The German was too good though and managed to hold on, making her eager for another shot at arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time.

“I know she will go out and try everything to beat me right now,” said Kerber of her matchup with Serena which will take place on Saturday at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer Adds To Wimbledon Legacy With Comeback Win Over Marin Cilic

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Roger Federer added to his legacy with one of the most entertaining and astounding wins of his career on Wednesday at Wimbledon as he came back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic, 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3.

“Today was epic,” said the former No. 1 player in the world.

Federer, who is in search of a record eighth Wimbledon title and first major title since 2012, not only was down two sets, but also down 0-40 midway through the third set, as well as being down three match points at various times throughout the fourth set.

“I fought. I tried. I believed…At the end I got it done,” said Federer, who turns 35 in just over a month. “For me the dream continues. I couldn’t be happier.”

The 17-time major champion made it sound simple, but the comeback was one for the history books as he earned his 10th win from a two set deficit.

A straightforward first set that saw no breaks and just two break points, both on Cilic’s serve, required a tiebreak to separate the two. It was the 2014 US Open champion who capitalized, racing out to a 5-0 lead on Centre Court before eventually taking it 7-4.

The second set was slightly less straightforward, as Cilic, who had been 52-0 in matches where he was able to take a two sets lead, was able to earn the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead before fighting off a break point in the next game to consolidate. There were no issues from there for the Croat as he lost just two points in his next three service games to close out the set and put himself just one set away from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Once again, the servers dominated in the third set as only five points went against serve in the first six games of the set. It was in that always crucial seventh game, though, that Cilic looked to be just a few points away from the finish line. At 3-3, the No. 9 seed earned a 0-40 lead on Federer’s serve before the Suisse, who hit 27 aces and zero double faults in the match, somehow worked out of that hole and used the momentum to break in the next game for a 5-3 lead. A comfortable hold in the next game signaled to Cilic and the tennis world that Federer wouldn’t go down that easily.

“That switched the momentum,” said Cilic, discussing his missed opportunities at 3-3.

The fourth set, like the first, saw no breaks, but there was a multitude of chances for both players throughout. Each had to fight out of a 15-40 hole early in the set to hold before Cilic had a 30-40 lead in consecutive Federer service games, one at 5-4 and one at 6-5, meaning both opportunities were match points. The Croat again was unable to convert on the big points, leaving the door open for Federer to stage an epic comeback.

The tiebreak was full of breathtaking and tense moments as the players were never separated by more than two points and it required 20 points to be decided. After fending off another match point at 6-7 in the tiebreak, Federer rattled off four of the next six points to shock the Croat and force a deciding fifth set.

After an early challenge in the decider from Cilic, Federer settled in and looked like the potential greatest player of all time that so many have grown to love over the course of his career. After pressuring Cilic’s serve to no avail at 3-2, he repeated the act at 4-3 and was successful this time, setting up an opportunity to serve for the match. No mistakes were made as Federer held to 15, thanks to two aces, for the win and set up a date with Milos Raonic in the semifinals.

“To be out there again fighting, being in a physical battle and winning it is an unbelievable feeling…it was an emotional win,” said Federer, who is hoping to become the oldest major title winner since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open at the age of 37 in 1972.

“It’s great winning matches like these, coming back from two sets to love. It’s rare. When it happens, you really enjoy them.”

Williams Sisters Each One Win Away From Wimbledon Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Sisters Serena and Venus Williams both won quarterfinal matches Tuesday at Wimbledon, meaning they are both just one win away from setting up an all-Williams Wimbledon final, the first since 2009.

“I’m so happy we’re both in the semifinals…Obviously, she’s such a tough opponent. I want her to win. But not the final, if I’m there,” said Serena.

Serena, who has won six Wimbledon titles, defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4, while Venus, who has won five Wimbledon titles, defeated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Serena, who is defending the Wimbledon title she won in 2015, got off to a slower start than she would’ve liked on Tuesday as she was unable to work her way into any of Pavlyuchenkova’s service games. The 21-time major champion persisted, though, and stood strong on her serve, allowing her to capitalize on the one weak service game of the set from the Russian. It came at a costly time too, as Serena, who won 90 percent of her first serve points in the match, earned a 0-40 lead at 4-4, converting on the first break chance before holding at love to close out the first set.

The second set was not any easier for the American, though, as Pavlyuchenkova refused to go away. After fighting through a long game on serve to open up the second set, the Russian appeared to have the momentum on her side. Pavlyuchenkova became the aggressor, forcing Serena to work for her service games.

That time of the match was short lived, though, as once again at 4-4, the Russian played a poor service game and Serena capitalized on her first break chance. The break earned the No. 1 player in the world a 5-4 lead, a carbon copy of the first set, before holding comfortably to close out the match and reach her 10th semifinal at Wimbledon.

“I am excited to be able to win and get through, it felt really good,” said Serena. “I am just trying to win my match…one thing I have learned this year is just to focus on the match.”

Venus, who is the oldest player in the Top 200, looked like she would have a tough day at the office from the get go. The American found herself down break point four times total in her first two service games of the match before being broken in her third game, giving Shvedova a 3-2 lead. The seven-time major champion was able to break right back, though, settling things down in the set.

Venus earned a set point on Shvedova’s serve at 5-4, but the Kazakh was able to fight it off and eventually force a tiebreak. Shvedova, the No. 96 player in the world who was playing in her third major quarterfinal, raced out to a 5-2 lead and looked to be in charge. No pressure was felt by Venus, though, as she was able rattle off five points in a row to steal the set.

“She was on fire…somehow I walked out with the set,” said Venus.

Shvedova wasn’t able to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping the first set in a tiebreak, as Venus broke in each of her first three service games, grabbing a 4-1 lead. It was straightforward from there for the American as she closed out the match to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009.

“What a tough day on court…I love playing the game, I always have. The wins and losses all lead to this big moment,” said Venus. “This is an awesome day. I would love to be walking towards the final.”

Serena will take on Elena Vesnina in the semifinals, while Venus have the more difficult task of battling the 2016 Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber on Thursday.

Not only is a potential matchup in the final on their minds. The sisters are playing doubles together at Wimbledon for the first time since 2014 and have reached the quarterfinals as they look to snag their sixth Wimbledon doubles title and 14th major title overall.

 

Cibulkova Beats Radwanska In Best Women’s Match So Far At Wimbledon

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova won what was arguably the match of the tournament on Monday at Wimbledon as she took down the No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3, 5-7, 9-7.

“I’m just really happy right now with my tennis and with my private life…you can see it on the court,” said Cibulkova, who has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the second time in her career and is planning to get married on the same day as the women’s singles final.

The Slovakian, seeded 19th at Wimbledon, came into the event in good form as she had won 22 of her last 25 matches, including a win on grass at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon began.

Cibulkova, who has been ranked as high as No. 10 in the world, was able to feed off that good form and got off to an impressive start with her aggressive style of play and it looked like she was up to the task of playing the No. 3 player in the world, losing just one point in each of her first two service games before breaking Radwanska for a 3-1 lead. The Slovakian felt no pressure in closing out the first set after earning the break as she wasn’t taken to deuce in any of her service games and managed to win 14 points on return throughout.

The second set looked like it would be a replay of the first as Cibulkova, who hit 56 winners in the match, pressured Radwanska’s serve early, allowing her to earn a break for a 2-1 lead. The lead was short lived though as the Pole broke right back in the next game to get on serve again before the two exchanged breaks twice more in the latter stages of the set, including four breaks in a row from the 3-3 game to the 5-4 game.

The last of those four consecutive breaks came when Cibulkova served for the match the first time, allowing Radwanska to get back on serve and turn the tables. After a hold to grab a 6-5 lead, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist was able to break again in the 12th game, stealing the second set and forcing a decider.

“After I didn’t make the first match point the momentum changed and then she was up…today she was playing really, really good,” said Cibulkova.

The feisty spirit of Cibulkova kept her going in the third set despite the disappointment of failing to convert that match point opportunity at 5-4 in the second set. After fighting off a break point in her first service game of the third, the Slovakian was the one in charge for the majority of the decider.

An exchange of breaks came in the middle of the set before Cibulkova earned another break for a 7-6 lead and had the opportunity to close out the match again. It was not meant to be this time either, though, as Radwanksa was able to break back again and prolong the match.

To Cibulkova’s pleasure, the match was only prolonged two more games as she broke for the seventh time, allowing her to serve for the match again. The third time was the charm for Cibulkova as she finally closed out the match with a forehand winner before falling to the ground in joy.

“It was just…so tough to go through. Especially when you have an opponent that doesn’t give you any free gifts, you just know that you have to earn every single point. It takes so much energy. It’s even tougher mentally, so today was just an amazing match,” said Cibulkova, the 2014 Australian Open finalist. “I would say it was the toughest match in my career so far, physically and also mentally…Against Aga today I felt like I have to put six, seven, eight winners to earn the point.”

Cibulkova’s run at this year’s Wimbledon has already given her enough to be happy about as she has reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011, but she also has her wedding to look forward to once the tournament ends. The 27-year old will be marrying long-time significant other Miso Navara on a date that will also be occupied by the women’s singles final.

The date was chosen “because I never saw myself as such a great grass court player,” said Cibulkova, who admitted that the date would change if she continued her run in London.

“We can postpone it…If we would really have to postpone it, then it will be like dream come true because nothing better could happen to me in my tennis career,” said Cibulkova.

Her next opponent will be the 29-year old from Russia, Elena Vesnina, who has made her first major quarterfinal.

Tsonga Outlasts Marathon Man Isner at Wimbledon

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Jo -Wilfried Tsonga outlasted marathon man John Isner on Sunday at Wimbledon, coming back from two sets to love down to win 6-7(3), 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 19-17.

The Frenchman, who is the No. 12 seed in the event, not only battled back from a two sets deficit, but also saved a match point at 15-16 in the fifth set, making his win even more impressive.

“I’m happy to win today one more match. It’s good to be alive,” said Tsonga, the former No. 5 player in the world and 2008 Australian Open finalist.

Three of the four previous meetings between Isner and Tsonga were decided by final set tiebreaks, so this tight affair on Middle Sunday at Wimbledon was hardly unexpected.

When their match began on Saturday, Tsonga lost only two points on serve in the first set, but the latter proved to be costly. A double fault from the No. 12 seed in the tiebreak gave Isner the small opportunity he needed, and he capitalized.

A break for Isner, the only one he earned in the match, came midway through the second set, all but guaranteeing a two sets lead for the American. The big serve was too difficult to break through for Tsonga and he found himself shockingly down two sets to the No. 18 seed.

Before darkness set in on Saturday, Isner had a look to close out the match in straight sets in a third set tiebreak, but the Frenchman proved to be too good, finally able to win the bigger points, setting up a resumption of play on Sunday.

When the players returned to action on the first Middle Sunday that had seen play since 2004, it was Tsonga who took advantage of it being a new day, racing out to a 4-0 lead and winning the set in just 25 minutes.

“I was focused on the game and not really on the other things. But to be honest, once I said ‘maybe it’s going to be long like Nicolas,” said Tsonga of Isner’s epic battle with his compatriot Nicolas Mahut in 2010 that went 70-68 in the fifth set.

This fifth set between Isner and Tsonga didn’t go quite that far, but it did last over two hours and went as so many Isner matches have gone before as opportunities to break were few and far between. The American did fend off a break point in the 5-5 game before having a look at his first break chance of the set 21 games later at 15-16. Isner was unable to convert, though, leaving the door open for Tsonga.

After saving that match point, Tsonga, who hit 88 winners and 21 aces in the match, proceeded to hold at love in his next service game before breaking Isner on his second chance in the 17-17 game thanks to a forehand error. There was no mistake from the Frenchman in closing out the match, holding to 15 to set up a date with Richard Gasuqet in the round of 16 on Manic Monday.

“Hope I will have a good recovery from this one and tomorrow be fit to play,” said Tsonga of his match tomorrow with Gasquet. The two have played eight times with each player winning four.

“He’s a good friend, so of course it’s different to play against him…We know each other well, so it will be a tough match,” said Gasquet.

Both Frenchmen have had a lot of success at Wimbledon as Tsonga reached the quarterfinals in 2010 before having two consecutive semifinal appearances in 2011 and 2012, while Gasquet has also reached the semifinals twice, coming in 2007 and 2015.