Rolex Master Monte-Carlo: Federer and Nadal stroll to the third round - UBITENNIS
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Rolex Master Monte-Carlo: Federer and Nadal stroll to the third round

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TENNIS – Roger Federer swept aside Radek Stepanek 6-1 6-2 to advance easily into the third round of the Rolex Master Monte-Carlo, the first European Master 1000 Tournament on clay of the year. Rafa Nadal also opened with a straight set win over Teymuraz Gabashvili with 6-4 6-1 but he faced a double break point in the first set. Diego Sampaolo

Federer, who received a wild-card last week to play for the first time in Monte-Carlo since 2011, won his only 2014 match against Stepanek in Dubai with the scoreline of 6-2 6-7 6-3. .

Federer stormed to 3-0. Stepanek failed to convert two break point chances before Federer cruised to 5-0 in just 17 minutes. Stepanek avoided the bagel winning the first game before Federer closed out the first set with 6-1 in just 22 minutes. Federer was very solid on serve winning 90 percent of his first serve points.

Federer capitalized on his first break point of the second set with a forehand pass down the line before holding serve with a overhead backhand smash. Stepanek posed a more serious threat to Federer in the second set but Federer was in full control of the match and took a 3-2 lead.

Federer faced two break points in the sixth game of the second set at 15-40 but he got out of trouble saving them by winning four consecutive points including two winners for 4-2 before closing it out with 6-2 in just 52 minutes to improve his record against the Czech Davis Cup hero to 14-2. The Basel native scored his 25th win this year leading the list of players with most winning matches this year.

The World Number 4 converted all four of his break point chances and hit 14 winners to 9 unforced errors.

Federer is looking to win his first Monte-Carlo title, one of the three Master 1000 Tournaments missing from his trophy cabinet (the other two are Rome and Shanghai). He lost three consecutive finals against Rafa Nadal in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Federer will face another Czech player Lukas Rosol who beat Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4 6-4.Rosol is teaming up with Stepanek for the doubles where they will face Mike and Bob Bryan.

I am a bit surprised how well it went. I had a good start to both sets. I was solid on my service games. It was a good start to my clay campaign”, said Federer.

I am very happy now that I am doing well. I am just trying to keep up my rhythm. I feel free physically and in my mind. I am no longer afraid that the rally will last long. This was getting in the way of my game last year, whereas now I can really enjoy myself”.

Rafa Nadal faced a tougher test against Teymuraz Gabashvili especially in the first set when he dropped his opening service game and faced a double break point when the Russian player led 3-1 30-40 on Nadal’s serve. but he managed to break back to love in the sixth game. He won nine of his next ten games.to clinch the first set and build up a 4-0 lead in the second set

Nadal faced four consecutive break points in the second set before breaking serve for 5-1. Nadal closed out the match with a forehand winner with 6-1 after one hour and 13 minutes.

It was very important the break point for him at 3-1. I saved it with one good shot and one good volley. After that I felt that was the time to try to push a little bit more and increase the rhythm and the intensity. I played a good game to break back. I felt that I had the match a bit more under control.

Nadal clinched the 680th match of his career which ranks him 12th in the list of players with most match wins ahead of US Brian Gottfried.

Nadal clinched his 49th victory in Monte-Carlo where he won eight consecutive titles between 2005 to 2012.

Nadal will face Italian Andreas Seppi who won a marathon match against another Spanish player Pablo Andujar in three sets with 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 48 minutes. Seppi has reached the third round in Monte-Carlo for the first time in his career. Seppi rallied from 2-5 to 5-5 without facing a single set point. In the tie-break the Italian took a 4-1 lead but Andujar rallied by winning 4 consecutive points for 5-4. Seppi won the next three points to win the tie-break 7-5. Seppi got two chances to serve out for the match but he failed to convert them. Andujar clinched the second set in the 12th game with 7-5 to force the match to the third set. Seppi wasted two match points but he closed out the match with 6-4 after two hours and 48 minutes.

Nadal leads 4-1 in his head-to-head matches against Seppi but they have not met since 2009.

Seed Number 10 and last year’s Monte-Carlo semifinalist Fabio Fognini won a hard-fought two-set match against Roberto Bautista Agut with 7-6 (8-6) 6-4. Fognini went down 3-5 but he fought back from 15-30 to break back with a backhand pass before drawing level to 5-5 on the fourth deuce. Fognini broke serve to take a 6-5 lead. He failed to convert two set points. In the tie-break Fognini rallied from 2-4 and 4-5 to clinch the first set with 8-6 on the fourth set point.

Fognini built up a 2-0 lead in the second set and looked to be cruising to a easy win but he dropped his serve. The Italian managed to win 12 points to 2 to open up a 5-2 lead but he made too many mistakes enabling Bautista Agut to claw his way back to 4-5. The Spaniard got a point to draw level to 5-5 but Fognini saved it with a couple of forehands before closing out the match with 6-4 after one hour and 43 minutes to claim his 22nd of the year. Fognini has improved his seasonal record to 22-6 and ranks third in the list of most match winners behind Federer (25-4) and Marin Cilic (23-6)

Milos Raonic rallied from a set down to beat Taiwan’s Lu Yen Hun 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-1.

The other young star of the circuit Grigor Dimitrov also dropped the first set but he managed to rally for the second consecutive match to edge Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos with 4-6 6-3 6-4 in just over two hours.

No less than 14600 fans attended the third day filling both the Centre Court and the Court de Princes on a cool and windy day. The Centre Court will remain sold out for the rest of the week.

ATP

Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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