ATP Rome: Djokovic is King of Rome for the third time - UBITENNIS
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ATP Rome: Djokovic is King of Rome for the third time

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TENNIS ATP Rome – Novak Djokovic triumphed at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome for the third time in his career after beating seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal in three sets with 4-6 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes. Diego Sampaolo

Interviews, results, order of play, draws of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome 

The Serbian super-star, who will turn 27 on 22 May, earned his third Rome Trophy after the wins in 2008 against Stan Wawrinka and in 2011 against Rafa Nadal. It was an anticipated birthday present for the World Number 2 player who has earned 1000 points increasing his chance to return to the World Number 1 spot.

Djokovic clinched his third Master 1000 Trophy of the year after Indian Wells and Miami.

Nadal played his ninth final in the Foro Italico and his 40th final at Master 1000 level.

Djokovic and Nadal met for the 41st time in their career. Nadal led 22-18 in their previous head-to-head matches.

The two players contested their second head-to-head match in a Master 1000 final. They met last March in Miami where Djokovic won in straight sets with a double 6-3.

In the third game of the opening set Djokovic committed three unforced errors and faced a triple break point at 1-1 0-40. Nadal converted his third break point with a drop shot.

Nadal got a double break to pull away to 4-1

Djokovic made seven unforced errors with his backhand in the first five games. He broke straight back in the sixth game to close the gap to 2-4 and went up 0-40 on Nadal’s serve but the Mallorcan star saved the break point.

Nadal earned a set point at 5-4 with a service winner and wrapped up the first set after 46 minutes as Djokovic sent a return wide. Nadal won 75 percent of second serve points.

Djokovic fought back in the second set turning around the match. He got a break in the second game to go up 2-0 with a cross-court forehand passing shot. and backed it up in the next game to pull away to 3-0.

Nadal earned his first break point of the second set after Djokovic made forehand errors when he was serving at 3-1. The Spaniard converted on the break point to close the gap to 2-3.

Djokovic broke straight back for 4-2 and held serve in the next game to love to extend his lead to 5-2. Djokovic hit an ace to close out the second set with 6-3 to force the match to the decider

In the second set Djokovic won 69 percent of his second serve points and hit 18 winners.

Djokovic picked up where he left off at the end of the second set by breaking at the start of the decider. Djokovic earned a break point which could have given him a double break but Nadal managed to save it and held serve for 1-2 keeping his hopes alive.

Djokovic dictated the match from the baseline. Djokovic got another break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 edge. He won nine points to take a 5-3 30-0 lead with a series of down-the.line winner and converted on his second match point for 6-3 when Nadal hit his forehand long.

Djokovic hit 46 winners and six aces

Djokovic won his fourth consecutive match against Nadal

The match was attended by tennis legends Boris Becker (coach of Djokovic), John Newcombe, Manolo Santana, Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli.

“I want to dedicate this title to Serbia. I have been following what’s going on with the catastrophic flood during the last 2 or 3 days. It’s something that has taken away a lot of hope and homes and not being present makes me sad because I cannot physically contribute. If I was there I would help definitely.

It’s been a great week considering where I have been few weeks ago with the wrist injury. Luckily I played with no pain and increased the level of tennis as the week went on. I have had some tough matches. Four of five matches were three-setters and I had to come back from a set down yesterday against Raonic and today against Nadal. This gives me a lot of confidence. Winning against Rafa in the final of a big tournament on clay, his preferred surface, is a confidence booster. The crowd support was amazing. It’s something that I don’t take for granted. I try to show love as much as I can. It helps that I speak Italian. I feel at home here and close to these people. I am glad that I could this title in front of them”, said Djokovic

Nadal could not win two back-to-back Master 1000 Tournaments but he finished the tournament with a renewed confidence ahead of the Roland Garros.

“I felt that Novak was pushing me and has a great talent to play inside the lines. I think that this week is important for me. I have won 600 points. I was able to play in another final here. I was able to compete well against one of the best players at the moment. I arrive to the Roland Garros more encouraged now”, said Nadal

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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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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