Wilander: Federer can't beat Djokovic in Grand Slams, but Nadal can

Former World No 1 Mats Wilander believes Roger Federer's days of beating Novak Djokovic in the Grand Slama are officially over.

Speaking to Eurosport in his role as a TV analyst, Wilander reckons Rafael Nadal is the only player on the ATP Tour capable of defeating Djokovic in the upcoming US Open, though he also challenged the crop of young talents to finally step up.

“Rafael Nadal is the only player who can beat Novak Djokovic in a five-set Grand Slam game,” Wilander said.

“We need to have two boys in the semi-finals who don’t call themselves Roger, Rafa or Stan or Novak.”

Wilander went on to suggest that Federer’s Grand Slam winning days may be over, questioning whether or not he still has it in the legs to stand up to the sheer physical challenge.

“I think the biggest obstacle for someone like Federer is that he is going to play seven hard games,” he added.

“No matter what the style is, you may have a problem against a great server or a bottom player."

Djokovic is the defending champion at the US Open after he beat Juan Martin del Potro in last year’s final. He has also won two of the three Grand Slams so far this year.

Federer, meanwhile, hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the Australian open over 18 months ago, and lost to Djokovic in the final of Wimbledon earlier this summer.

Stephens reunites with former coach in bid to recapture form

Sloane Stephens has joined up with former coach Kamau Murray ahead of the US Open – the scene of their greatest triumph together.

The pair have worked together for most of Stephens’ professional career, but went ‘on a break’ at the end of last season.

Stephens then sought the help of Sven Groenveld just before this year’s French Open, but earlier this week she revealed they had opted to call time on their partnership early.

She has acted quickly to fill the void, though, and it’s a familiar name that she has turned to.

“Happy to be back with Kamau,” Stephens wrote on social media. ”Excited for the next couple of weeks [at the] US Open.”

Stephens has struggled badly in the lead up to the last Grand Slam of the year, winning just one match in the US Open series that included hardcourt tournaments in Washington, Toronto, and Cincinnati.

However, she is a former champion in New York, where she won the US Open title under Murray’s tutelage in 2017.

After splitting with Groenveld, Stephens said: “After much thought, Sven Groeneveld and I have decided to go our separate ways.

“Change is never easy, but I’m so appreciative of our time together. Onward!”

US Open draw: Serena draws Sharapova in opening round

The women's singles draw at the US Open has served up some mouth-watering first-round ties, with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova the tastiest of them all.

The two former world No 1s will meet at Flushing Meadows for the first time in their careers, with 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams leading their head-to-head 19-2.

The pair are in the bottom half of the draw along with second seed and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty, who will face Kazakh Zarina Diyas first up.

Barty could potentially meet 2016 champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round while Williams or Sharapova could be quarter-final opponents.

Third seed Karolina Pliskova is also in the bottom half of the draw and faces a qualifier first up, with British No 1 and 16th seed Johanna Konta, who faces Daria Kasatkina of Russia, also in her section.

World No 1 and top seed Naomi Osaka, who heads into the tournament under an injury cloud, leads the top half and will kick off the defence of her title against Russian Anna Blinkova, while 13th seed Belinda Bencic and Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff are also in her section.

Teenager Gauff, who received a wildcard into the main draw, faces a qualifier in her opener.

Another good first-round encounter will see ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka up against fellow Belarusian and two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka in section two.

US Open draw: Djokovic and Federer headed for semi-final showdown

Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the US Open, while Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios are on a third-round collision course.

Djokovic will open his 2019 campaign against world No 72 Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain and could face either 2017 US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson or former champion Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round.

Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, the man who beat Djokovic en route to winning his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the Cincinnati Masters, could be the Serb’s quarter-final rival.

Five-time champion Federer will meet a qualifier in his opening match and seventh seed Kei Nishikori from Japan is a projected quarter-final opponent.

And if Djokovic and Federer come through their quarter-final clashes, they will meet in the semi-final.

Rafael Nadal is the big name player in the bottom half of the draw, and the 18-time Grand Slam winner faces Australian John Millman in the first round with Marin Cilic, John Isner and Fernando Verdasco also in his section.

The out-of-sorts Alexander Zverev could be Nadal’s quarter-final opponent, while fourth seed Dominic Thiem is a possible semi-final rival.

French Open runner-up Thiem opens up against Thomas Fabbiano from Italy while British No 1 Kyle Edmund is a possible third-round opponent.

That section of the draw has also served up a mouth-watering all-Canadian first-round affair as 18th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime takes on Denis Shapovalov.

Eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has a tough opener against Andrey Rublev from Russia and the Greek star could meet Nick Kyrgios in round three.

Murray adds another singles tournament to his schedule

Andy Murray has penciled in another stop on his singles comeback tour after signing up for the European Open in Antwerp in October.

The three-time Grand Slam winner has only played in two singles events since undergoing hip surgery at the start of the year as he tries to ease himself back into action.

He made first-round exits at the Cincinnati Open - his first singles tournament since the Australian Open at the start of the year - and the Winston-Salem Open earlier this week.

And the 32-year-old, who will not feature at next week’s US Open after rejecting a wildcard entry, has now decided to add the European Open to his schedule.

The Antwerp hard-court event runs from October 14-20, while Murray also previously confirmed he will participate in the Zhuhai Championships, which starts on September 23, and the China Open the following week (September 30).

Defending champs Djokovic and Osaka named top seeds for 2019 US Open

Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka have been named top seeds for the 2019 US Open, but will start the defence of their titles in contrasting form.

World No 1 Djokovic will head to Flushing Meadows having won two Grand Slams already this year following successes at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

The Serb is followed in the men’s seedings by 2017 US Open winner Rafael Nadal and five-time champion Roger Federer, followed by French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev.

The 2014 champion Marin Cilic is seeded 22nd while Stan Wawrinka, who won in 2016, is seeded one spot below the Croatian and five spots ahead of Nick Kyrgios.

On the women’s side, Osaka is seeded first after just about hanging on to the top spot in the world rankings when Ashleigh Barty failed to make the final in Cincinnati.

As a result, the two-time Grand Slam winner, who has struggled for form since winning the Australian Open at the start of the year, is seeded ahead of Barty, World No 3 Karolina Pliskova and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

Last year’s finalist Serena Williams, who is looking for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, is seeded eighth while former champions Sloane Stephens (11th) and Angelique Kerber (14th) are also in the top 20.

Great Britain’s Johanna Konta finds herself seeded 16th for the final Grand Slam of the year.

Murray ponders Challenger-event participation

Andy Murray has hinted at potentially participating in Challenger events over the next month, as he looks to get back to title-winning form.

The former world number one has lost his two singles matches since hip surgery, against Richard Gasquet in Washington and then Tennys Sandgren in Cincinnati.

However, Murray is far from discouraged, and believes that playing more matches, and getting more wins, is the key to reconstructing his game - whatever level they may come at.

"I think for my body it would be a good thing because I do feel at that level I will be winning matches each week," Murray, who may play the upcoming Challenger event in Mallorca, said.

"And I think it would be good for my game as well because I'm not quite seeing the points as I used to.

"And if I can get more matches, I'll start to work that out a little bit quicker, and see it faster.

"I would probably rather stay playing outdoors because the next couple of tour events I'm playing are outdoors in Asia, but I haven't given it tonnes of thought."

Serena's 'intimidation factor slowly disappearing'

Serena Williams has struggled to replicate her dominant form of the past because "her intimidation factor is slowly disappearing", according to Mats Wilander.

Williams has not won a Grand Slam since returning the game in 2018 after becoming a mother.

During that time she has reached - and lost - three major finals, but has also played a significantly reduced schedule on the WTA Tour.

And that, according to Eurosport analyst Wilander, has cost her the old "intimidation factor" that gave her an advantage over opponents before she even stepped out onto court.

"Her intimidation factor is slowly disappearing, compared to the youngest ones," Wilander told Eurosport.

"She has not been consistent in the last four or five years on the regular tour and has not played enough tournaments and won enough victories.

"The dressing room probably thinks that there is a small chance that they can win because the consistency – both physical and in their tennis – has not been there.

"The intimidation factor is not as strong with Serena, as it is with someone like Roger or Rafa."

Wilander urges Kyrgios to show more professionalism

Mats Wilander has urged Nick Kyrgios to deal with his frustrations "in a professional way" after yet another meltdown at the US Open in Cincinnati.

Kyrgios caused an even bigger storm than he usually does at the Cincinnati Masters last week, where his unruly behaviour got him fines from the ATP totaling nearly £100,000 – the biggest on record.

Former world number one Wilander has little doubt that Kyrgios' short temper is borne of only positive intentions, but he has urged him to channel it a lot more professionally.

"I hope he doesn't behave like he did in Cincinnati," Wilander said.

"I think that every week that passes is showing more and more interest in wanting to win tennis matches and wanting to improve everything around him.

"I think when he did what he did in Cincinnati, of course it looks bad and, of course, there are children in the stands and the language is bad, but at least the way he is now in the last weeks, he is showing that he cares.

"Nick wants to win, he hates losing and he wants to play well, he wants to entertain and he simply hasn't been able to deal with it in a professional way."

Murray right to resist US Open, says former coach

Andy Murray has made a smart decision in opting out of the US Open, according to one top TV tennis analyst who also used to coach the British star.

Murray rejected the offer of a wildcard for the tournament before also deciding to step back from the doubles in New York too.

That decision was based upon a desire to turn his focus upon his attempts to return to his former level in singles – and Eurosport pundit Alex Corretja believes it is the correct one.

“It is not going to make any difference for him and he can hurt himself or damage himself so I think it’s a good idea not to go to the US Open,” former world number two Corretja said.

“Playing at the US Open is very demanding, all of a sudden to go there and play best-of-five, what’s the point?

“If you win one match and then you go … okay, let’s say he wins two matches best-of-five and then he has to play the third round, nothing is going to change for him.

“Once he gets the rhythm, maybe in Asia playing tournaments there or maybe at the end of the year, then he might be ready for next season. But going to the US Open, best of five and he needs to play these kind of guys [Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer etc.] where it’s very difficult.”

Corretja knows Murray well having been part of his coaching team between 2009 and 2011.

Serena quashes retirement talk as she confirms 2020 plans

Serena Williams has dispelled speculation that this may be her last season by signing up to play at the 2020 ASB Classic in New Zealand.

The former World No 1 has only played the Auckland tournament once before, losing in the second round to Madison Brengle in 2017.

She will have a chance to put that right in 2020, though, as her participation confirmed her presence on the WTA Tour next season.

“I want to win that title so bad,” Williams said of the ASB Classic.

“Last time I was there I had so much going on and although I fought through to win my first match, I know I didn’t play to my level.

“I have such amazing memories that are really special to me from Auckland.

“I would really like to add some on court memories to that list.”

Tournament director Karl Budge, meanwhile, couldn’t hide his delight at getting Williams signed up.

“We know she has some unfinished business here and we have desperately wanted to show the New Zealand public just what the greatest player of all time can do here," said Budge.

“Serena is chasing history and Auckland will play a key role in helping her achieve it. I can’t wait to see her back out on court.”

Murray admits ‘legs were a little heavy’ in Winston-Salem defeat

He may have lost his first-round clash at the Winston-Salem Open on Monday, but Andy Murray was at least happy to get another ATP Tour singles match under his belt.

The three-time Grand Slam winner went down 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 to American Tennys Sandgren in just over two hours.

The first set alone took one hour and 14 minutes to complete, but that was hardly a surprise when the opening game of the match lasted 23 points, as World No 73 Sandgren just managed to hold onto his serve.

The opening game contained the only break point of the set, but Sandgren held firm and then took the tie-breaker with his fourth set point after also being forced to save a set point against him.

Murray then fell away early in the second set as he lost his opening two service games, but he managed to get back on level terms after breaking in games four and 10.

However, the comeback was brief as Sandgren got the decisive break in game 11 before serving it out.

“I think there was some good stuff in there,” Murray told BBC Sport after the defeat.

“I think my ball striking was better than last week. I hit quite a few more winners, came to the net quite a lot. Obviously I didn’t win but I do feel I was a bit more in control of what was happening out there.

“Physically I felt OK in the rallies, but I did notice in the second set that my first serve wasn’t as good, and I think maybe my legs were a little bit heavy at the end there.”

Murray done with doubles as he steps up singles comeback

Andy Murray has confirmed he is done with doubles tennis as he gives his full attention to trying to rebuild his singles career.

Murray opted not to take an available wildcard for the US Open singles draw, but will continue his comeback at Winston-Salem this week, where he will meet Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

Murray also decided to turn his back on the doubles at the US Open, and has now given a full explanation of that decision, describing his recent flirtation with doubles tennis firmly in the past tense.

“Doubles was really helpful and beneficial for me to get back on the court and feel what my body was going to be like,” Murray explained.

“But once I started thinking about singles, it was just slowing things down a bit.

“The opportunity came up to play [in Winston-Salem] and from everyone I chatted to, they said it’s a nice tournament. Very convenient, lots of practice courts.

“It felt like a smart move to come and play here before heading home.

“Hopefully I can get more than one match here and try to win my first singles match since coming back from the surgery."

Murray insists he is managing his expectations following his hip surgery.

“My expectations are very low. I’m not thinking about winning events like this just yet. I’m just trying to get matches," he added.

“I’m hoping that by the end of this year, I can start getting back to the best that I’ll be. I just want to get through some matches and hopefully my body holds up well.”

Keys back in world's top 10 with Cincinnati crown

Madison Keys came from behind in both sets to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and capture the Cincinnati title on Sunday.

Keys came into the tournament searching for form after losing in the first rounds of both of her last two tournaments.

However, with the US Open looming – a tournament she finished runner-up in back in two years ago – she gave everyone a reminder of her ability with a fine 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) triumph.

Keys actually trailed 5-3 in both sets but, aided by 13 aces and 43 winners, she found a way to clinch one of her biggest career victories.

It caps an impressive week for the American, who beat Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, and Venus Williams en-route to the final.

“If you told me a week ago this is where I would be, I would have laughed in your face!” she said.

The victory will also return Keys to the top ten in the world when the WTA release their new rankings on Monday.

Medvedev exhausted but happy after Cincinnati triumph

Daniil Medvedev has been declared ‘ready for New York’ after beating David Goffin in straight sets to win the Cincinnati Masters title.

The Russian capped a brilliant three-week period in which he has reached three consecutive finals, by defeating Goffin 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 and claiming his biggest ever career title.

Medvedev has been in brilliant form of late. On the way to the title in Cincinnati, he ousted Andrey Rublev, who had knocked out Roger Federer in the previous round, and then defeated World No 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-final.

He also reached the finals of the Citi Open and the Rogers Cup in the two weeks prior to Cincinnati, although he lost to Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal respectively.

“I’ve had so much support these three weeks,” Medvedev said. “To finally lift a trophy is just an amazing feeling.”

“I’m so exhausted, I almost can’t talk now. But the crowd gave me amazing energy.”

The win leaves Medvedev with an ATP-leading 31 wins on hardcourts this year and 43 on all surfaces – more than any other player – to mark him as a man in form heading into the US Open in New York.

And, according to Goffin, Medvedev is capable of making a big impact at Flushing Meadows.

“Congratulations to your team,” Goffin told Medvedev, “Once again, an unbelievable week for you, fantastic.

“I think you are ready for New York.”

Osaka concerned about injury, but pledges to defend US Open titile

Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says she is ready to defy her doctor's orders and play at the US Open despite a leg injury.

The current world No 1 was forced to retire from her Cincinnati Masters quarter-final clash against Sofia Kenin on Friday due to a problem with her left leg.

American Kenin was leading 6-4, 1-6, 2-0 when the Japanese player threw in the towel.

Osaka seemed to injure her knee during the second game of the decider and called for the trainer, but eventually decided to retire.

"I really don't know what's going on with my leg right now," she said. "It sucks, especially since I didn't want to get injured this close to the Open, and now I'm kind of worried a little bit.

"The thing is, my pain tolerance is really high, so that's usually why I play through things that apparently I shouldn't.

"I was asking the physio if it was safe to play, because I really hate withdrawing. I feel like we were playing such a great match, too. It's not fair to her to just withdraw, because I feel like I'm bowing out.

"Then I was asking the physio if she thinks it's safe to play. Then I went out there. I wanted to finish the set. But I felt it wasn't safe."

With the US Open under a fortnight away, it raises doubts about her fitness ahead of the defence of her title.

However, the 21-year-old insists she will defend her trophy at Flushing Meadows.

"I feel like this might have that one percent chance of me not being able to play, and that's what's concerning me," she said.

"In the end, I'm going to play even if the doctor says no, probably."

Medvedev stunned by his own performance against Djokovic

Daniil Medvedev shocked the world, and himself, by comfortably beating Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters, making it two wins for the Russian over the world number one this year.

Medvedev, the ninth seed who was also a finalist in Washington last week, came into the match without dropping a set in tournament so far – a record that Djokovic shared.

He lost that record in a Djokovic-dominated first set, but roared back in impressive style to win the match to make his third final in three weeks.

"I was so tired in the first set and playing Novak, I thought I'm not going to be able to keep the intensity," Medvedev said after his 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win.

"Then there was one momentum change in the second and I just started playing unbelievable."

That change in momentum was when Medvedev opted to adopt a much more aggressive approach, especially with second serves, due to Djokovic's brilliance on the return.

"I do it all the time when my second serve doesn't work," Medvedev explained.

"Novak, he was destroying me on the second serve so at one moment, at three-all, love-30, I'm like 'okay, what's the matter.'"

Medvedev will face David Goffin in the final after the Belgian beat Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

"I'm really happy," said Goffin. "I've played the best tennis here in the past few years. It's a great moment for me."

Djokovic admits he was outplayed in Medvedev defeat

Novak Djokovic magnanimously admitted that Daniil Medvedev deserved to win their Cincinnati semi-final, adding that the Russian played amazing tennis.

Medvedev has also reached the final of both the Canadian Masters and the Citi Open in the last three weeks, as his assault on the upper-echelons of the ATP rankings continues.

He is up to number eight in the world now, and is likely to make further gains regardless of what happens in the Cincinnati final against David Goffin.

And Djokovic was in no mood for excuses, simply explaining that Medvedev was too good – especially on an uber-aggressive second serve.

"I thought I played a really good match," Djokovic said after his 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss.

"Maybe in the third set when I was broken at one-all I could have done a little bit better, but when someone serves a 128 miles-per-hour second serve and doesn't make too many double faults and goes for every shot, you just have to put your hat down and congratulate him.

"He played amazing tennis from 4-3 in the second set. Not much that I could really do.

"I tried to return his serve. And when I had my racket on the ball I was returning his serves, but you can't really predict someone or prepare yourself for someone serving that big a second serve consistently.

"He definitely has a lot of confidence. When you have so much confidence, then obviously you allow yourself to go for these kind of shots.

"I congratulate him. He deserved to win the match."

Murray won’t feature in doubles or mixed doubles at US Open

Andy Murray has confirmed he won’t take part in this year's US Open in any capacity, as playing in the doubles and mixed doubles would have slowed down his progress.

The three-time Grand Slam winner made his long-awaited singles comeback at the Cincinnati Masters this week, but went down in the opening round against Richard Gasquet.

He admitted after the exit that he regretted the decision not to accept a wildcard for the US Open singles, but indicated that he was likely to play doubles and mixed doubles.

However, he has now had a change of heart about playing at Flushing Meadows.

“I’m not going to play doubles at the US Open,” the former world No 1, who reached the doubles quarter-finals alongside Feliciano Lopez in Cincinnati, told BBC Sport.

He added: “My goal is to get back playing at the level that I want to on the singles court, and I’ve decided that I need to focus all my energies on that right now.

“The US Open, doubles and mixed, can be another couple of weeks that you are slowing things down.”

Murray has already switched focus to next week’s Winston-Salem Open, where he has accepted a wildcard into the main draw, while he will also compete in two ATP Tour events in China in September.

“Because I want matches, and that’s what I need right now,” he said.

“It doesn’t feel like I need to play the main draw of every single tour event. I’ve hardly played the last couple of years and, having discussed with my team, after this week I think doubles is done for me for the time being.

“I need to focus my mind on getting matches on the singles court. There aren’t many tournaments between now and the end of the year.”

Djokovic steamrolls into Cincinnati Masters semi-finals

World No 1 Novak Djokovic remains on course to defend his Cincinnati Masters title after downing Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals.

The Serb was tested by Pouille in the first set, but then ran away with proceedings as he secured a 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 victory in one hour and 26 minutes to reach the last four for the fifth consecutive year.

“I thought he played really well throughout the first set. We both held our service games quite comfortably until the tie-break and then I just stayed in there, very focussed, didn’t drop my level. He did,” Djokovic told ATPTour.com. “[He] double faulted and missed a couple of forehands and obviously that cost him the tie-break.”

Next up for the 16-time Grand Slam winner is Daniil Medvedev after the ninth seed won his all-Russian duel with Andrey Rublev.

Medvedev is on a roll as he reached his maiden Masters 1000 final in Canada last week, but Rublev came into the match on the back of an upset win over Roger Federer.

However, it was Medvedev who came out on top with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

The other semi-final will see Richard Gasquet take on David Goffin.

Frenchman Gasquet is in a Masters 1000 semi-final for the first time in six years as he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-2.

“It’s crazy for me to reach my first semi-final at this age,” the 33-year-old said after reaching the last-four in Cincinnati for the first time in 13 attempts.

The 16th seeded Goffin advanced after Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka had to withdraw from the clash due to illness.