ATP

Tiafoe to face Zverev in Vienna final after stunning Sinner

By Sports Desk October 30, 2021

Frances Tiafoe will face Alexander Zverev in the Vienna Open final after storming back from the brink of defeat to beat Jannik Sinner.

Sinner was on the cusp of another final after his triumph in Antwerp last weekend when he led 5-2 in the second set, but qualifier Tiafoe roared back to win 3-6 7-5 6-2 on Saturday.

Italian Sinner had moved into the last qualifying position for the ATP Finals by beating Casper Ruud to reach the semi-finals in the Austrian capital and appeared destined to extending his winning run.

The 49-ranked Tiafoe had other ideas, winning five games in a row to force a deciding set.

Tiafoe maintained his momentum, breaking twice in the final set to complete an astonishing comeback and leave seventh seed Sinner shellshocked.

Second seed Zverev earlier marched into his fifth tour-level championship match of the season with a 6-3 6-3 defeat of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

Zverev, who this week secured a 50th tour-level win of the season and a 300th of his career, needed only 68 minutes to knock Alcaraz out.

The German said: "I finally found my rhythm from the baseline because I was really struggling.

"I didn't feel the ball well and I spent some time on the court after the match yesterday and warmed up for an hour and a half before the match today and I finally got it."

Marin Cilic and Taylor Fritz will do battle in the St Petersburg Open final following contrasting wins over Botic Van de Zandschulp and Jan-Lennard Struff respectively.

Cilic did not face a break point in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Dutchman van de Zandschulp, while fought back to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 5-7 6-1 6-3.

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    Rafael Nadal almost pulled out of the Australian Open just days before heading to Melbourne, according to his uncle.

    The 35-year-old battled past Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for just the third time since 2016.

    Nadal, who is chasing a record 21st grand slam title to break the three-way tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, has only won the first major of the year once in his career – back in 2009 – and lost at the quarter-final stage in 2020 and 2021.

    Even with nine-time champion Djokovic not competing after being deported by border authorities over a visa dispute, few considered Nadal to be the favourite for the title this year given he went from August to December in 2021 without playing a match, having undergone surgery on a foot injury.

    Nadal has looked in strong form, though, even recovering from apparent stomach trouble and difficulty in the heat to beat Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 after more than four hours of action on Rod Laver Arena.

    Toni Nadal, his coach for most of his professional career, said his nephew nearly decided against competing at all in Australia as he did not feel ready.

    Asked if he were surprised by Nadal's form, he told Cadena SER: "Yes, I'm surprised, because I remember when three days before the start, Rafa called my youngest son to hit a few balls after being quarantined due to coronavirus.

    "At nine o'clock, we went to train and during training, he said, 'I don't know if I'm going to go or not because at the moment I'm not in condition for an Australian Open'. They only had three days to get a flight.

    "The following day, he perked up and said 'Okay, come on, I'm going'. I think it was more the excitement of competing and returning to competition than believing in himself."

    Speaking about the quarter-final, Toni Nadal said his brother in Australia told the family about the problems with the heat on court.

    "He looked good. In the first two sets, he played at quite a good level against a tough opponent," he said.

    "Everything changed as a result of heatstroke. We were watching the game with the family and at one point, after the second set, I said, 'well, I think this is done', and my brother in Australia said no, he's literally exhausted, and he'd told them he had had heatstroke."

    Shapovalov lost his temper with umpire Carlos Bernardes during the match for refusing to give Nadal a time violation during a change of ends, proclaiming "You guys are all corrupt" before claiming post-match that players such as Nadal receive preferential treatment on court.

     

    "I think he is totally wrong," said Toni. "When you have to change, you need time and the umpire normally looks at the players and sees the time and starts the clock later. He pressed too soon, realised it and that's why he gave Rafa more time.

    "Young people sometimes act without thinking. How could an umpire be corrupt?"

  • Australian Open: Berrettini makes Italian tennis history again to set up Nadal semi-final Australian Open: Berrettini makes Italian tennis history again to set up Nadal semi-final

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    An astonishing fourth game then left Monfils looking dejected as Berrettini somehow survived 10 deuces to hold serve after almost 20 minutes – the 25 points played here were almost half the first-set total (55).

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    DATA SLAM: Berrettini holds his nerve at the crucial moment

    Having lost the previous two sets heading into the decider, it could have been very tempting for Berrettini to completely change up his game, but he remained very focused on accuracy and essentially letting Monfils shoot himself in the foot.

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    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

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    Monfils – 48/51

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Berrettini – 12/2

    Monfils – 15/7

    BREAK POINTS WON

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    Monfils – 3/14

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    Nadal edged out Denis Shapovalov in a five-set epic on Tuesday to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

    The Spaniard has only won the season's opening grand slam once, back in 2009. However, the field has opened up for him this year, with reigning champion Djokovic unable to compete and 40-year-old Federer taking his time to return from knee surgery.

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    "The last six months there have been a lot of doubts if I would be able to keep going. But now I feel good. We are in a position that I won a tournament, I'm in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, so that's amazing for me.

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    Nadal lost to Djokovic in the Melbourne final in 2019. He has reached the showpiece match five times in total.

    The world number five had not played a competitive game since August last year before he returned to action earlier this month, winning the Melbourne Summer Set.

    Nadal had dropped just one set across the opening four rounds prior to his clash with Shapovalov, which finished 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3.

    "Yeah, I have been playing well," Nadal added. "To play at this level against a player like [Shapovalov], that he's one of the best players of the world, and see myself again competitive against these kinds of players, for me it's everything.

    "I'm just enjoying every single moment, try my best playing with the highest positive attitude possible and with the right spirit."

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