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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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.

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Francisco Cabral - Image via https://twitter.com/EstorilOpen/

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 

 

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur

The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.

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Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.

 

The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.

During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.

“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”

De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.

“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“

Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.

Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.

Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”

As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.

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Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal

The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.

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Novak Djokovic (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.

 

Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.

“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.

Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.

Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.

He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.

Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”

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