Internazionali d'Italia: Dimitrov beats Berdych. Nadal v Murray in the quarter finals - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d'Italia: Dimitrov beats Berdych. Nadal v Murray in the quarter finals

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TENNIS Internazionali d’Italia – Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a set down to edge Tomas Berdych 5-7 6-2 6-3 on a cool and windy afternoon on the famous Pietrangeli Court to set up a quarter final against Tommy Haas. Andy Murray beat Jurgen Murray 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 on his 27th birthday and will face Rafael Nadal who fought back from a set down against Mikhail Youzhny to clinch a hard-fought win in three sets. Diego Sampaolo

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

Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a set down to edge Tomas Berdych 5-7 6-2 6-3 on a cool and windy afternoon on the famous Pietrangeli Court to set up a quarter final against Tommy Haas.

Dimitrov took his re-match against Berdych who beat last week in the Madrid third round. The young Bulgarian was broken only once and converted on 5 of his 13 break point chances.

Dimitrov took a 3-1 lead and held serve until 5-4 when Berdych broke back. The first set came down to the tie-break. Dimitrov went up 3-1 but Berdych reeled off six consecutive points to clinch the first set.

Dimitrov got a early break in the second set to take a 3-1 lead and pulled away to 5-1 closing out the second set with 6-2. Dimitrov got an early break in the third set and saved a break point at 3-2 in the longest game of the match. He got the match point at 5-2 with a spectacular volley cross dip which delighted the crowd who attended the match on the Nicola Pietrangeli Court and closed out the match with an ace.

Tommy Haas fought back from a set and a break down to upset Stanislas Wawrinka in three sets with 5-7 6-2 6-3. Haas reached the quarter final at the Internazionali d’Italia for the first time since 2002. Haas scored his first win against a top-10 player since his win against Novak Djokovic in Miami in March 2013.

Wawrinka converted on his break point chance to take a 3-2 lead. Haas broke straight back but Wawrinka got another break to clinch the first set with 7-5. Wawrinka broke serve in the third game of the second set for 2-1 but Haas turned around the match by winning five consecutive games to win the second set with 6-2 Haas got a decisive break in the eighth game of the third set and wrapped up the match in two hours. Wawrinka lost in the third round for the second consecutive week after his upset defeat against Dominic Thiem in Madrid.

I had some back problems because of the cold temperature but I have time to be ready for the Roland Garros. I could not move too well. It’s really nothing serious. It’s just painful and I need some rest”, said Wawrinka

Andy Murray vs Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (7-1) 6-4

Andy Murray beat Jurgen Murray 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 on his 27th birthday to reach his best result at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome since his semifinal defeat against Novak Djokovic in 2011.

Murray converted on three of his five break chances to seal a convincing win over the World Number 67 player from Austria.

Murray dropped serve in the first game of the opening set but he fought back from a break down to draw level to 3-3. He saved four break points to hold serve for 5-4. The first set was decided by the tie-break. He clinched the tie-break with a comfortable 7.1. He won 15 points from 16 en route to building up a 2.0 lead in the second set.

Murray broke early in the second set but Melzer broke back for 3-3. Murray got his second break to love in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held serve for the match closing out the match after 1 hour and 42 minutes.

Last week I was not good at all in Madrid. I was very inconsistent. This week I wanted to play solid tennis as much as possible. Without the wind it was easier to build the points and have a specific game plan”, said Murray.

During the press conference after the match Murray was presented by the organizers with a cake to celebrate his 27th birthday.

Rafa Nadal vs Michail Youzhny 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-1

Murray will meet again seven-time Rome champion Rafa Nadal for the first time since the 2011 final in Tokyo. Nadal fought back from a set down against Mikhail Youzhny to clinch a hard-fought win in three sets with 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-1.

Youzhny dropped serve at 3-all when he sent a backhand wide. The Russian player rallied from a 3-5 deficit in the opening set. Nadal earned a set point but Youzhny saved it. Rafa committed two double faults and Youzhny broke serve with his backhand winner

In the tie-break Nadal went down 0-3 but he won two consecutive points clawing his way back to 2-3. Youzhny pulled away to clinch the opening set with 7-4 at the tie-break. Nadal went down a set and a break but he bounced back to draw level from 0-2 to 2-2. He saved a break point in the following game before winning 10 of the next 11 games to wrap up the match in two hours and 44 minutes.

I get used to my recent struggles. With the years, that’s the normal thing. That’s part of the sport. It’s not possible to win for 10 years with easy scores and easy matches. At the same time I can do much better than I ma doing.

Nadal leads 13-5 in his previous head-to-head matches against Murray and won their last match on clay in the 2011 Roland Garros semifinal.

In the other matches of the third round Milos Raonic fended off all the five break points he faced and hit seven aces when he beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in one hour and 48 minutes. Raonic will play against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who beat Ivan Dodig 6-3 6-2.

David Ferrer took his second consecutive win over Ernests Gulbis with 6-2 6-3 one week after beating the Latvian player in the Madrid quarter finals.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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