Nadal cruises to the fourth round in Miami - UBITENNIS
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Nadal cruises to the fourth round in Miami

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TENNIS – World Number 1 Rafael Nadal swept aside Denis Istomin drooping just one game for 6-1 6-0 at the Sony Open in Miami to qualify for the round of 16 where he will play against Italian top player Fabio Fognini who beat Roberto Bautista Agut. Nadal will be looking to reach the quarter final for the seventh time in a row in Miami. Diego Sampaolo

Rafa Nadal played a perfect match in which he converted six of his seven break point chances. It’s the second time in 2014 that Nadal dropped just one game after defeating Sousa in Rio de Janeiro.

Nadal is bidding to clinch his elusive Miami title after losing three finals in 2005, 2008 and 2011. It’s one of the three Master 1000 Tournaments together with Shanghai and Paris Bercy that he never won.

Nadal broke serve in the opening game of the first set to cruise to a easy 4-0. He saved a break point in the sixth game to wrap up the first set with 6-1 in just 25 minutes. He won 63 percent of his first serve points.

The only time he faced some stiff challenge occurred in the first game of the second set when he fended off three break point chances before cruising to a bagel win in the second set.

Nadal’s next rival in the Round of 16 will be World number 14 Fabio Fognini who fought back from a set down to edge Roberto Bautista Agut with 4-6 6-3 6-3. The Italian reached the fourth round in a Master 1000 for the second consecutive time. Fognini equalled his best result in Miami.

The first set went on serve until 4-4. Bautista Agut held to take a 5-4 lead before closing out the opening set following two costly mistakes by Fognini.

Fognini broke serve in the third game of the second set but he made a double fault to face a break back point chance after a double fault. Fognini broke in the final game to win the second set 6-3.

Fognini broke in the early stage of the third set to take a 3-0 lead before closing out the third set 6-3 on his first match point. Fognini improved his best result in Miami of 2013 when he lost to David Ferrer in the third round. He lost all his previous three matches against Nadal but he came close to beat him last year in Beijing where he led 6-2 4-1 in the second set before losing in the third set.

World Number 3 and 2014 Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka also reached the fourth round after beating Frenchman Roger Vasselin 7-5 6-4. The Lausanne player converted his fourth break point chance at 6-5 to close out the first set after 45 minutes. He build up a 4-1 lead in the second set bt Roger Vasselin clawed his way back to draw level to 4-4. The Swiss got his third break of serve to close out the second set 6-4.

Wawrinka clinched his 15th win in 16 matches this year. He will face a very tough round of 16 match against in-form Aleksander Dolgopolov who had to di deep to overcome lucky loser Dusan Lajovic. Dolgopolov, semifinalist in Indian Wells, fought back after losing the first set.

Wawrinka faced two break points at 4-4 in the opening set before closing out the first set in the 12th game with a forehand winner. The Swiss broke serve in the opening game of the second set and got a chance to take a 3-0 lead but he made a double fault enabling Roger Vasselin to break back. Wawrinka closed out the second set on the second match point in one hour and 44 minutes.

After the match was interrupted by rain at 5-5 in the third set, Lajovic built up a 4-2 lead in the tie-break but Dolgopolov managed to clinch the breaker with 7-5 to book his berth in the round of 16. The Ukrainian player equalled his best result in Miami by reaching the fourth round.

Milos Raonic, who lost against Dolgopolov in Indian Wells, dropped just three games and did not face a single break point to ease past Guillermo Garcia Lopez in straight sets with 6-2 6-1 to set up a fourth round match against Benjamin Becker who has become the first lucky-loser to reach the round of 16 in Key Biscayne after Ivan Ljubicic who qualified for the quarter final in 2001.

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

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Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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