ATP

Norrie downs Kyrgios, Isner moves on at Atlanta Open

By Sports Desk July 29, 2021

Cameron Norrie breezed past Nick Kyrgios and John Isner downed countryman Jack Sock to advance to the quarter-finals at the Atlanta Open on Thursday. 

The third-seeded Norrie defeated Kyrgios 6-1 6-4 in less than an hour as he tries for a second consecutive title after collecting his first ATP Tour championship at Los Cabos last week. 

The former University of Georgia star Isner, a five-time champion in Atlanta, beat Sock 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 despite serving only 13 aces after hitting 36 in his previous match. 

Second-seeded Jannik Sinner fell 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to Australian qualifier Christopher O'Connell, leaving the tournament without its top two seeds after Milos Raonic was upset by Brandon Nakashima on Wednesday. 

O'Connell, ranked 132 in the world to Sinner's 23, had not won a main-draw match this year before defeating Denis Kudla in the opening round and will now face Isner in the quarters.

Norrie will meet Emil Ruusuvuori, who advanced when Benoit Paire retired down 3-0 in the third set after the pair had split the first two sets 4-6 6-4. 

Ruusuvuori is into his second career ATP quarter-final after making it to the semis at Nur-Sultan last year. 

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    From 2002 to 2010, Mourinho-coached sides appeared in two Champions League finals and one UEFA Cup showdown. On each occasion, 'The Special One' triumphed.

    He had to wait seven years for his next appearance in a continental showpiece, but he kept up his 100 per cent record – Manchester United beating Ajax to lift the 2016-17 Europa League trophy.

    But that was an early peak in Mourinho's United tenure. His stock has since fallen. He was sacked in 2018 and then lasted just 18 months at Tottenham, the only club he has managed so far where he has not won a trophy.

    He might have had the opportunity to win the EFL Cup with Spurs, though he was sacked before that rescheduled match could take place. Hard lines.

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    Not that Roma, three-time champions of Italy, are by any means a small club. They were in the Champions League semi-finals as recently as 2018.

    Yet, their last title came in 2001 and their last trophy of any description came in 2008 when they won the Coppa Italia for the ninth time. Ironically, Mourinho's Inter then beat Roma in the Supercoppa Italiana at the start of the following season, the last time the Giallorossi had a chance to win a piece of silverware.

    But Mourinho is a winner, and now he has the chance to remind everyone of that. He is back in a European final as Roma get the opportunity to win their first major European trophy. No other coach has reached the final of a major European competition with four different clubs.

    "I am a coach with a certain history and Roma are a big club," he told UEFA's Italian website. "I did feel a little bit of responsibility to make this a big competition.

    "The Conference League is our Champions League. This is the level we are at, the competition we are playing for. The club has not reached a game like this for a very long time."

    The Europa Conference League may have been scoffed at when it was introduced but for fans of Roma, and their opponents Feyenoord, continental glory that would otherwise have evaded them is now within their grasp.

    With a record-breaking striker leading the line in the form of Tammy Abraham, Mourinho might just have a fifth European title under his belt.

    Life in the old dog?

    Mourinho has overseen 54 games so far at Roma, triumphing in 28 of them to give him a win percentage of 52.

    That is a slight dip from the 55 per cent in 2020-21, though that was over three fewer matches, but an improvement on the 46 per cent (from 35 games) and 42 per cent (from 24 fixtures) in 2019-20 and 2018-19 respectively.

    Roma won 18 Serie A games this season, ensuring a place in the Europa League through a sixth-placed finish.

    His 47 per cent win ratio in the league ranks him 10th out of Roma coaches to have overseen at least 10 games, while his 52 per cent in all competitions puts him joint-sixth, alongside predecessor Paulo Fonseca, of those bosses to have taken charge of at least 20 matches.

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    Abraham the key?

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    Abraham called Mourinho "the best manager in the world" in an interview with talkSPORT in April, and he has certainly thrived under the Portuguese's guidance.

    He has scored 27 goals across all competitions this season, one better than the previous best tally he had managed, which was 26 goals for both Bristol City (in 2016-17) and Aston Villa (2018-19), albeit both of those campaigns were in the Championship.

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    The only Roma player to score more than the England international's haul of 17 in a debut Serie A season with the club was Rodolfo Volk, who registered 21 in the 1929-30 campaign. 

    He has featured in all but one of Roma's league games, starting 36 times and averaging a goal every 182 minutes, converting 17.8 per cent of his 95 shots, which ranks better than two of his seasons in the Premier League (13.33 per cent in 2017-18 and 16.22 in 2019-20).

    Abraham has scored nine times from 13 Conference League appearances and he has proved many doubters wrong this season.

    With a place in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad later this year potentially up for grabs, playing a pivotal role in Roma's maiden European success would be some way to cap a fine campaign and seal his name in Giallorossi folklore.

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    "I have to be pleased with the match," he said. "I struggled to adapt in the first set. 

    "He is a very quick player. The first set was close, but I cruised through the second and third.

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    In the second round, Djokovic will play the winner between Alex Molcan and Federia Coria.

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    He added: "I got injured, and that's it. What happened is past, and here we are. We are in Roland Garros. I am here to try my best.

    "And how is my level of confidence, how the things would be or if I didn't get injured, I don't know. We will never know.

    "I'm not a big fan of think about the things that could happen if – 'if' is a dangerous word.  You have to accept the moment to accept the moment, to accept the situation and to have the confidence to put all my effort in every single day, to get better and better. Let's see how far I can keep going."

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