WTA

'I'm pretty sure I deserved it' – Halep accepts Cahill's 'disgrace' verdict

By Sports Desk November 01, 2019

Simona Halep believes she deserved the blunt criticism after coach Darren Cahill labelled the Wimbledon champion a "disgrace" during her WTA Finals defeat to Karolina Pliskova.

World number five Halep slipped to a 6-0 2-6 6-4 loss on Friday, as her season came to an end in disappointing fashion.

During a courtside discussion with her coach, midway through the deciding set, Cahill condemned the 28-year-old's performance by saying: "The last three games you have been an absolute disgrace on court."

Cahill's tough words did not have the desired effect, with Pliskova going on to progress to the semi-finals where world number one Ashleigh Barty awaits her.

Halep, however, has conceded her coach was right to be so harsh on her.

"I'm pretty sure that I deserved it because I was not calm," Halep said in a news conference, according to WTA Insider.

"I changed something in my attitude.

"Everyone knows that I'm working on that. I was a little bit p***** at myself that I did that. I'm sure that I made him p***** also."

Since her superb run to Wimbledon glory, former world number one Halep has failed to find her best form, only making it into the last eight in one of the five tournaments she has participated in since July.

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    Dominic Thiem says he or Alexander Zverev must win the Australian Open to "break a barrier" at Melbourne Park after he dumped Rafael Nadal out at the quarter-final stage.

    Thiem had lost all five grand slam encounters with Nadal before coming out on top in a thriller on Wednesday, winning 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) at Rod Laver Arena.

    The Austrian, twice a runner-up to Nadal at the French Open, and Zverev will do battle on Friday for the right to face Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in the final.

    Zverev said he felt he had overcome one major obstacle by reaching his maiden major semi-final this week, but Thiem says the younger players still have a long way to go before there can be any talk of a changing of the guard.

    "I don't feel really like that I broke a barrier. It was just an unbelievable match, like an epic one, four hours 10 [minutes]," the 26-year-old said of his titanic tussle with 19-time major winner Nadal.

    "That's what I'm most happy about. Also, of course, that I'm for the first time in the semis of the Australian Open. That's for me a barrier. But to really break a barrier, one young player has to win a slam.

    "Yes, one of us going to be in the finals. But it's still a very long way to go. I mean, the other semi-final is still two of the big three.

    "I think we are a pretty long way from overtaking or from breaking this kind of barrier."

    Thiem is relishing the opportunity to face Zverev, 22, with so much on the line and is expecting a tight contest against the seventh seed, who has won just two of their eight ATP Tour matches.

    The fifth seed added: "We know each other. For me, it's funny because it's first time in a grand slam semi-final I face a younger guy. We're good friends, I'm happy for him, as well, that he's playing so good here.

    "He made his breakthrough at a grand slam. We have no secrets from each other. We played so many times, also on very special occasions already, at the ATP Finals, semis, French Open quarters.

    "It's a nice rivalry we have. It's great that we add an Australian Open semi-finals to this one and it's going to be a close match again.

    "If two top-10 players play each other in the semis of a slam, the deciding moments are very small, small margins. I'm looking forward to it. I try to regenerate as good as possible and then try to be 100 per cent ready for Friday."

  • Australian Open 2020: Nadal says he did not play badly in defeat to Thiem Australian Open 2020: Nadal says he did not play badly in defeat to Thiem

    Rafael Nadal was sad to suffer defeat to Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open, but insisted he was satisfied with his performance, as well as his attitude, in the quarter-final clash.

    Thiem beat Nadal for the first time in six attempts at a grand slam with a tense 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) win in four hours and 10 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

    The Austrian progresses to meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-final on Friday, while the world number one is left to reflect on a missed opportunity to draw level with Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

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    "He's playing great," the 33-year-old said of Thiem. "He's playing with a lot of energy, aggression, determination. So just well done to him.

    "I honestly didn't play a bad match, no, no. My attitude was great during the whole match. 

    "Of course, I am sad. I lost an opportunity to be in the semi-finals of another grand slam. But I lost against a great opponent and he deserved it too.

    "[I was] good, positive, fighting spirit all the time, giving myself more chances. That's what I tried. I did not give up in one moment during the whole match and gave myself an opportunity until the last point.

    "Happy for that because my level of concentration and tennis was better. I think the concentration was even better than the tennis, but the tennis was not bad at all."

    Nadal, who had 49 winners to 33 unforced errors and converted four of his nine break points, found the conditions difficult at times.

    The Spaniard added: "It was difficult to play against him. [I'm] happy, but I need a little bit more determination in some moments - it's true that in some moments conditions have been a little bit heavy.

    "Honestly, when the ball was new for me, I was better. I had two breaks and I felt more comfortable with the new balls.

    "Then the ball became so heavy. He's younger, he's very quick. With these heavy balls, it's difficult to produce winners sometimes. He has a lot of power, so he's able to produce these amazing shots from a very difficult position."

    Nadal, who only lost five fewer points than Thiem across the match, was asked if he felt there was any more he could have done to find a way to win.

    "Yes - win any tie-break!" he said. "But that's how it works. Sometimes things are not going the way that you would like. It has been a very good match with a good level of tennis.

    "I had a big chance with 5-3 in the first. I had set point serving. That was a very important moment of the match, for sure. Then I didn't play a good tie-break. I was back in the second set, but he played with the right determination.

    "He played great matches against me in the past too, great quality tennis. We like each other in terms of character - I like his attitude and probably he likes mine too! 

    "We have things that we can compare with each other in some ways and I wish him all the very best for the rest of the tournament."

  • Australian Open 2020: Five Federer-Djokovic classics ahead of 50th encounter Australian Open 2020: Five Federer-Djokovic classics ahead of 50th encounter

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    Djokovic leads their head-to-head 26-23 and that stands at 10-6 when the all-time greats have met at grand slams.

    It is also 3-1 at the Australian Open and the Serbian, whose 16 grand slam titles are four shy of Federer's 20, will head into Thursday's semi-final in Melbourne as favourite.

    Ahead of their meeting, we look at five of the classics they have delivered.

    2010 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [3] bt Federer [2] 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5

    Flushing Meadows was Federer's playground for five straight years until 2009, when he was stunned by Juan Martin del Potro in the final. To this point, he had dominated Djokovic, too. But the Serbian managed to save two match points in a thrilling five-setter to win in almost four hours in a victory that would – even with Federer only 29 years of age – bring suggestions the Swiss maestro was on the decline.

    2011 French Open semi-final: Federer [3] bt Djokovic [2] 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5)

    By the time they met at Roland Garros the following year, Djokovic was a heavy favourite after incredibly winning his first 41 matches of 2011, including a second major title at the Australian Open. But Federer would end that run, wagging his finger after his stunning four-set victory. The year would still belong to Djokovic, and not before more drama against Federer.

    2011 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [3] 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5

    Having recovered from two sets down to force a decider, Djokovic reeled off the final four games and saved two match points to shock Federer, and the way he saved the first lives long in the memory. Djokovic crushed a forehand cross-court return winner that John McEnroe would describe as "one of the all-time great shots", one which even Federer struggled to accept. Djokovic would go on to win his third major of 2011.

    2014 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [4] 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

    Djokovic. Federer. All England Club. Wimbledon final. They are words sports fans dream of. Federer was in his first major decider since 2012, while Djokovic had lost his previous three grand slam finals – one to Andy Murray and two to Rafael Nadal. Federer would produce the comeback this time, coming from 5-2 down and saving a match point in the fourth to force a decider. But just as Federer looked the more likely winner, Djokovic stepped up to win a seventh major crown. The pair combined for 143 winners and just 56 unforced errors in a match Djokovic labelled the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

    2019 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [2] 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)

    Fast forward five years and they met again, and they delivered once more on the biggest stage. Federer would be left to rue missed chances after a battle lasting four hours, 57 minutes – the longest singles final in Wimbledon history. Djokovic saved two match points at 8-7 in the fifth set before a match tie-break followed, the first in singles in the tournament's history. Djokovic would go on to win a 16th grand slam title, moving a little closer to Federer's all-time men's record total of 20.

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