Confident Wawrinka Beats Shapovalov In Rotterdam

Stan Wawrinka overcame a second-set comeback on Friday to beat 10th-seeded #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 7-6(4) for a place in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament semi-finals.

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Wawrinka, the 2015 Rotterdam champion (d. Berdych), will meet top-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori, who beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-3, 6-2 in convincing style.

"Physically I feel really good, and I'm moving and feeling better match after match," Wawrinka said. "Tonight was a tough match. I had to really fight... I was a bit nervous at the end of the match. We had some long rallies. It's good to see that I can keep being there, mentally, physically."

Nishikori broke Fucsovics twice in the opener but faced some adversity in the second set, falling behind 2-0. But it was as if Nishikori, the winner of the Brisbane International last month, flipped a switch. He won the next six games, and at one point, had won 19 of the past 22 points, returning aggressively and wearing down Fucsovics. Wawrinka leads Nishikori 5-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

"I feel like every match I've improved... In the second set, I think I was playing almost perfect. I was playing very solid, good first serves, playing aggressive and I was making almost every ball," Nishikori said. "Hopefully (against Stan) we can have a good match... He's a great player. I'm happy to see him back playing great tennis." 

Shapovalov recovered from 15/40 in his second service game, but Wawrinka finally gained the break with a trademark backhand winner to take a 5-4 advantage. Shapovalov struck a backhand into the net to end the 31-minute first set.

Two double faults from Shapovalov handed Wawrinka the first game of the second set and at 1-3 another double fault — one of seven in the match — put the Canadian on the back foot. But a clever drop shot in the sixth game signalled a resurgence and terrific power off the ground at 4-5 resulted in a second break of serve. Shapovalov withstood the pressure once more to recover from 15/40 at 5-5. But Wawrinka pulled away in the tie-break and celebrated the win with a boastful "Allez!"

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Isner Aces Break Points Like No One Else

Bang. Bang. Ace. The pressure cooker moment of saving break points is when John Isner blows the ball right by you like no other.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Isner serving at break point from 2015 through the 2018 season uncovers that one out of every three break points he saves (33.6%) when serving is an ace, putting him in a league of his own in this specific moment in a match.

For context, the rest of the current Top 20 average an ace 8.6 per cent (1166/13511) of the time they save a break point. Impressively, Isner is almost at four times that average, at 33.6 per cent.

The leading five players out of the current Top 20 who average the most amount of aces saving break points:
John Isner = 33.6% (187/557)
Kevin Anderson = 21.2% (154/725)
Marin Cilic = 18.8% (148/789)
Milos Raonic = 16.1% (87/541)
Roger Federer = 14.5% (74/509)

When you look at the bigger picture of all break points Isner faces, not only the break points he saves, the 6’10” American serves an ace 23.9 per cent (187/783) of the time. The rest of the Top 20 average an ace just 5.9 per cent (1275/21662) of the time they face a break point.

The only other player who comes close to Isner is the all-time ATP Tour aces leader, Ivo Karlovic, who is currently No. 81 in the ATP Rankings. Isner has hit an ace on 33.6 per cent of break points saved since 2015, while Karlovic has hit an ace 31 per cent of the time.

The new Infosys ATP Serve & Return Tracker identifies which direction Isner has hit his aces on break point since the 2011 season. This data is sourced from 2011-2018 ATP Masters 1000s and Nitto ATP Finals.

2011 - 2019: Isner Serve Direction / Aces On Break Point

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Ram & Salisbury Edge Dutch Wild Cards In Rotterdam

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury saved a set point in the first set on Friday en route to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over Dutch wild cards Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop in 73 minutes at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. Ram and Salisbury, runners up at the Brisbane International (l. to Daniell/Koolhof) in January, saved one set point on a deciding point at 5-6, before putting together a strong performance in the tie-break.

They will next play Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, the 2015 titlists, who won 86 per cent of their first-service points to defeat Wesley Koolhof and Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-2 in 62 minutes. Rojer and Tecau have an 18-5 team record in tour-level finals.

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Monfils First Into Rotterdam Semi-finals

Gael Monfils extended his run of form by reaching an ATP Tour semi-final for the second consecutive week on Friday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 70 minutes at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

“It was a good one,” said former World No. 6 Monfils. “I stuck to my game plan and I am satisfied how I executed. I prepared well in the off-season and I am starting to believe that I can get back to the top of the game.”

The Frenchman will next challenge fifth-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, the player he lost to in last week’s Sofia Open semi-finals, or Sunday’s Open Sud de France champion and 2017 Rotterdam titlist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

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Dictating with his forehand, 2016 Rotterdam finalist Monfils upped the ante on Dzumhur's serve in the fourth game of the first set, and the Frenchman earned a second break for a 5-1 lead when Dzumhur mis-timed a drop shot. Monfils wrapped up the 38-minute opener when Dzumhur struck a backhand volley wide.

A lapse in concentration, on a forehand volley, cost Dzumhur the first game of the second set, as Monfils ripped a forehand winner past him. Dzumhur’s level improved and a wild fourth game saw Monfils lose his advantage, but the World No. 33 immediately regrouped at 2-2 and went on to complete his seventh win in nine matches in 2019. Monfils also beat Dzumhur 6-0, 6-4, 6-0 in the Australian Open first round last month.

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