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.

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‘He Needs To Bulk Up’ – Tennis Great Cast Doubt On Alex De Minaur’s French Open Chances

John Newcombe believes it will be a few more years before the world No.27 reaches his peak.

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One of Australia’s most decorated Grand Slam champions of all time believes compatriot Alex de Minaur still has a way to go before he poses a threat at the French Open.

 

Former world No.1 John Newcombe believes the 21-year-old needs to improve on his physicality before reaching his peak on the surface. De Minaur comes into the Grand Slam high in confidence after reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open in what was his best performance at a major so far in his career. He was knocked out of the tournament by eventual winner Dominic Thiem.

Although De Minaur’s preparations for the clay took a blow last week after he lost the first round of the Italian Open to German qualifier Dominik Koepfer. The world No.27 had a set and 3-0 lead over Koepfer before losing. He is not playing in any tournament this week leading up to Roland Garros.

“I’d have to see the draw, how it comes out, but it will be hard work for him,” Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press about de Minaur’s chances in Paris.
“He’s going to have to do a hell of a lot of work. If he got to the quarters, it would be a terrific effort.
“He’s not going to be physically where he needs to be, just bulking up a bit, until he’s 25, 26.
“But he’s got a good all-court game and he understands the game well, so there’s no reason he can’t be a pretty good late maturer (on clay).”

This year’s clay-court major will be the fourth time the Australian has played in the main draw. In his three previous appearances, de Minaur has only won one match which was against Bradley Klahn last year.

During a recent interview with atptour.com, the Next Gen star gave little away about his expectations for the clay this year given the revised schedule. The French Open is taking place just two weeks after New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the sport to a five-month standstill earlier this year.

“Realistically, you never know until you step out and play matches. It’s a very quick turnaround, something that has never happened to play such an important event after a slam. I’m taking it all in, doing as best as I can and we will have to see,” he said.

De Minaur has won three ATP titles and has scored four wins over top 10 players so far in his career. He is currently the only player from his country ranked in the world’s top 40 on the ATP Tour.

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Novak Djokovic claims his 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome

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Novak Djokovic came back from 0-3 down in the first set to beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 53 minutes in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Djokovic claimed his fifth title in the Eternal City and his 36th Masters 1000 trophy and his 81st career title. Djokovic has become the oldest Rome champion. 

 

The World number 1 player extended his record in 2020 to an impressive record of 31 wins in 32 matches, including four titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, the Western and Southern Open in New York and Rome. 

Djokovic dropped his serve three times and earned five breaks of serve. 

Djokovic wasted a game point and dropped his serve, when he netted his backhand. Schwartzman hit four service winners in the second game to consolidate the break for 2-0. 

Djokovic made a backhand error to face a break point in the third game. Schwartzman earned his second break to open up a 3-0 after 18 minutes, as Djokovic netted another backhand.  Djokovic earned a break point chance and conveted it after a double fault from Schwartzman. 

Djokovic held serve at 15 with an ace in the fifth game to claw his way back to 2-3. The Serbian star forced an error from Schwarzman to earn a breka point in the sixth game and got the break, when the Argentine netted a forehand. Djokovic held serve at 15 to take a 4-3 in the seventh game. Schwartzman hit a forehand down the line winner at 30-15 in the eighth game and held serve with a service winner to draw level to 4-4. 

Djokovic saved a break point in the ninth game with a volley winner and held serve to take a 5-4 lead. Schwartzman saved a set point with a forehand winner and drew level to 5-5 after two deuces with a backhand the line winner. 

Djokovic held serve after a deuce to take a 6-5 lead forcing Schwartzman to serve to stay in the set for the second time. Djokovic converted his third set point to win the opening set 7-5 after 70 minutes. 

Schwartzman earned an early break at the start of the second set. Djokovic got the break back to draw level to 1-1 when Schwartzman sent a forehand wide. 

Djokovic hit a winner at the net to hold serve in the third game. Schwartzman hit four winners in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2.

Djokovic saved two break points in the fifth game and held serve with a service winner to take a 3-2 lead. Schwartman held serve with a drop shot. Djokovic won his service game at love to take a 4-3 lead and broke serve at love in the eighth game with a backhand down the line winner. Djokovic held serve at love to close out the final. 

“”It was a great week. A very challenging week. I don’t think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most in the decisive moments today, yesterday and in every match. That definitely makes me very satisfied and proud that I managed to find that fifth gear when it was most needed. Turning to Paris, I could not ask for a better tournament here in Rome. Another big title and i super pleased with it”, said Djokovic. 

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Stan Wawrinka Parts Way With Long-Time Coach Norman

Stan the man is on the look out for a new coach for the first time in almost a decade.

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It is the end of an era for three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka after he announced his split from coach Magnus Norman.

 

The former world No.3 confirmed on Monday that the two have decided to end their collaboration with ‘mutual consent’ following eight years working together on the Tour. Norman was last with Wawrinka at the Italian Open last week where the Swiss player lost his opening match to rising star Lorenzo Musetti. It is unclear as to exactly when the decision was made.

“After 8 great years together Magnus Norman and I have decided to part ways by mutual consent. We have had an amazingly strong, enjoyable and hugely successful partnership. We reached the height of this sport together and I want to thank him for helping me win everything that I could ever dream of winning,” Wawrinka said in a statement posted on Instagram.

44-year-old Norman is a former world No.2 player himself who reached the final of the French Open back in 2000. During his coaching career, he guided Wawrinka to various milestones in his career that includes 13 ATP titles with three of those being at Grand Slam level. The Swede has also been recognized by the ATP for his work with Wawrinka after winning the inaugural Coach of the Year award back in 2016.

“He’s been a great coach, friend and mentor and will always be a dear friend,” Wawrinka said in a tribute.
“I want to publicly thank him for all his hard work, dedication and commitment in making me a better player over the years. Winning three grand slams have been a life changing experience for me and I could not have done that without him. I wish him all the best in his next chapter in his life.”

The announcement from the world No.17 comes a week before the French Open starts. Wawrinka has been training on the clay for the past few weeks after deciding against travelling to North America to play in the US Open. Instead, he played in a couple Challenger events and won a trophy in Prague last month. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-3 so far in 2020.

It is unclear as to who will be replacing Norman in Wawrinka’s team.

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