Saturday, 15 October 2016

Novak and Andy on track - Nick off rails

The Shanghai Masters has seen the return of world number one Novak Djokovic to the court for his first outing since his loss to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final last month.

First, the disappointment of the tournament, and evidence that reputation is hard to build but can be lost in an instant if you are Nick Kyrgios.  After carving out a terrific year on the court with three titles, the most recent last week in Japan, and seemingly applying a more mature attitude to the game,  Kyrgios took a massive step backwards in his second round match against qualifier Mischa Zverev.

Childish, unsportsmanlike, completely unprofessional, and embarrassing his supporters and Australia,  it would have been better to concede the match before walking onto the court.  The fine handed to him was a joke.  This performance deserved a suspension.  Nick cannot choose his moments of maturity - he either commits to it or quits the sport.  I have been a strong supporter this year, but clearly there remain underlying unresolved issues. 

Fortunately, tennis eventually wins out, and Djokovic and Murray won their respective ways into the semi finals.  Murray has not dropped a set in disposing of Steve Johnson, Lucas Pouille and David Goffin, while Djokovic hasn't had to face a seeded player.
His expected third round opponent, Richard Gasquet, lost in the opening round, while both Berdych and Kyrgios left in the second round.
The top seed has beaten Fabio Fognini and Vasek Pospisil in straight sets, but had trouble with Mischa Zverev, losing the opening set, and forced to a tie break in the second, before finally prevailing.

Rafa Nadal, the fourth seed, fell in the second round (his first match) to unseeded veteran Viktor Troicki, while third seed Stan Wawrinka and fifth seed Milos Raonic disappeared in the third round, thanks to Gilles Simon and Jack Sock respectively.

Joining Pouille in the French exodus were sixth seed Gael Monfils and ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, leaving Simon to fly the flag against Murray in one semi final.  The other semi final will feature 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut against Djokovic, the Spaniard yet to surrender a set in the tournament.

In Linz it appeared for awhile that the top four women's seeds would contest the semi finals, but top seed Garbine Muguruza was forced to retire from her quarter final against Swiss player and 62 world ranked Viktorija Golubic.  The match was 4-4 in the deciding third set when Garbine quit.

Golubic will face third seed Madison Keys in one semi final after the American breezed through her quarter final against unseeded Oceane Dodin of France.
Second seed Dominika Cibulkova defeated fifth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the final four, and will play fourth seed Carla Suarez Navarro for a spot in the final.  Carla took three sets to overcome the Czech Republic's Denisa Allertova.

Hong Kong has a semi final lineup excluding all top four seeds - fourth seed Samantha Stosur lost her first round match and second seed Venus Williams her second round encounter.  Third seed Johanna Konta handed her second round opponent a walkover, and in one of the biggest upsets of the year, eighth seed Daria Gavrilova knocked out top seed and world number one Angie Kerber in their quarter final.  And in straight sets too.

Gavrilova will play unseeded Kristina Mladenovic in one semi final, and the other will be a crowd pleaser between two former world number ones, both also former US Open finalists, fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki and seventh seed Jelena Jankovic.

The third WTA tournament this week is in Tianjin, China, and with top seed Aga Radwanska withdrawing from her quarter final match with China's Shuai Peng, Svetlana Kuznetsova (2) remains the only seed standing at the semi final stage. Third seed Elena Vesnina was ousted in the first round, as was fourth seed Timea Babos.

Unseeded Danka Kovinic from Montenegro defeated fifth seed Monica Puig and will be Peng's semi final opponent.
American Alison Riske, the conqueror of Babos, continued her success in the next two matches to end up securing a semi final spot against Kuznetsova.
Svetlana was tested in reaching the semi, dropping the opening set in her quarter final to Naomi Osaka, and having to win the decider in a tie break.

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