Master 1000 Rome: Djokovic withstood the charge of young upstart Raonic - UBITENNIS
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Master 1000 Rome: Djokovic withstood the charge of young upstart Raonic

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TENNIS Master 1000 Rome – In the battle of the ATP stars; Novak Djokovic (2) against Milos Raonic (8), it was the legitimate star, Djokovic who was able to withstand the barrage of shots from the raising star Raonic to get to another Roma final. Cordell Hackshaw

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

In the battle of the ATP stars; Novak Djokovic (2) against Milos Raonic (8), it was the legitimate star, Djokovic who was able to withstand the barrage of shots from the raising star Raonic to get to another Roma final 6-7 7-6 6-3. “It is a big win because it gives a lot of strength and belief that I can carry into tomorrow’s final and also to the continuation of the season” Djokovic said after the match. However, there many instances in the match where it looked as though Djokovic was not going to get to the final and Raonic was on the verge of one of the biggest wins of his young career. The Canadian threw everything he had at the Serbian including 17 aces for the match but in the end, Djokovic showed why he is at the top of the game.

The tension in the match was high from the very onset as both players were showing their A-games. Raonic was serving well in addition to his monster forehands and Djokovic had his trademark defensive skills and backhand on full display. All break point opportunities were quickly dismissed by the servers including the first set point Raonic had in the 10th game to take the set 6-4. A huge serve from the Serbian saw the Canadian pushing the backhand long. With such high quality tennis as both players won most of the points on their 1st serve (79% Raonic and 77% Djokovic), a tiebreaker seemed best to decide the matter of the first set. Djokovic raced out an early 3-0 lead but then Raonic showed why he is most definitely on track to be a future world’s number one. Raonic won the next 6 points earning himself three more set points. Djokovic was able save two but Raonic would not be denied a fourth time. He took the set 7-6(5) in just over 70 minutes.

Raonic was not about to rest on his laurels. He knew that if he wanted this match, he had to take it in straight sets. He became aggressive on the Djokovic serve and earned himself early break points but he was unable to capitalize as his opponent sensed the imminent danger of being down a set and a break in the match. Djokovic pressed the issue in the 4th game and earned himself a break point. Raonic missed the first serve for the first time on break point and Djokovic was all over the weaker 2nd serve and earned the break. However, he was unable to consolidate the break as Raonic broke back. Both players remained on serve avoiding any more break chances for the remainder of the set. Hence a tiebreaker would yet again decide the matter. The Serbian again took an early lead in the breaker but this time, he produced some of his best tennis of the match to maintain it and was able to take the set 7-6(4).

Raonic blinked and perhaps forgot that he was dealing with an opponent of the highest caliber in the form of Novak Djokovic. Opportunities for an upset of this magnitude are rare in these Master Series 1000 events and Raonic had his chances and he let them slipped. Djokovic wrest control of the decisive set with an early break going up 2-0. Raonic did all he could to maintain his serve and get the break back but Djokovic proved too strong. The world’s number 2 broke again in the 9th game to close out the set 6-3 and take the match 6-7 7-6 6-3.

“He played better than me and he deserves to win.” Raonic stated after the match. He added that his main game plan was to hold serve which would allowed him to be more aggressive on his return game. However, he acknowledged how difficult it is to do this against the current top players like Djokovic. It should be some consolidation for the Canadian that Djokovic had high praise for him in the press conference noting that he is definitely the future of the game singling out his serve and movement around the court. However, Djokovic will be concentrating on dealing with Rafael Nadal who he will face in yet another Master Series 1000 finals. Djokovic’s mind is also on the devastating floods taking place in his homeland of Serbia right now stating that his thoughts are ever with victims.

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David Goffin Slams Hostile French Open Crowd

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A fan at the French Open spat out their chewing gum at David Goffin during a tense first round clash at the tournament on Tuesday. 

Goffin, who is a former quarter-finalist in Paris, described the reception he received from the crowd as ‘total disrespect’ during his clash against home player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. A 20-year-old wild card who recently claimed his maiden Tour title in Lyon. The Belgian managed to oust the home player 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, after more than three-and-half hours of play. 

During one stage of the match, Goffin was seen holding his hand to his ear towards the rowdy crowd. A gesture he felt he had the right to do considering the atmosphere.

“When you are insulted for three and a half hours, you have to tease the public a little,” The I quoted Goffin as saying.
“Clearly, it goes too far, it’s total disrespect. It’s really too much. It’s becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and there will be fights in the stands.
“It’s starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.
“Someone spat out their chewing gum at me. It [the match] was getting complicated. That’s why I wanted to stay calm. IfI started to get angry about it, it could have destabilised me.”

The French Open crowd has a reputation for being highly animated during matches with there being numerous examples throughout the years. Nicolas Jarry received booing when he walked on the court to play Corentin Moutet after an incident between the two earlier this season. 

“This is repeated a lot in the locker room and among the ATP authorities. We’re going to have to do something about that,” Goffin continued.
“I think it only happens in France. At Wimbledon, obviously, there’s not that. Or in Australia either. And at the US Open, it’s still rather quiet. Here [at Roland Garros], it’s really an unhealthy atmosphere.”

However, former French Open junior doubles champion Mpetshi Perricard has praised the support he got from the fans during his match. It was only the second time in his career that the world No.66 has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

“It was really nice to have so much support,” he said.
“I had a lot in Lyon as well, but that was different because here the guys are really with you from first to the last point. It’sreally very pleasant to have such an audience.
“I like it that they encouraged me. It helped me when I was broken in the fourth [set], and I would like to thank them for it. It’s really fantastic to have these guys there.”

Goffin will be hoping to get more support in his second round match against Alexander Zverev on Thursday. He is making his 13th main draw appearance in Paris at the age of 33. 

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Holger Rune Beats Evans in Straight Sets and Moves into Round 2

Danish 13th seed praises improved mentality; aims to get back to the top five

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Thirteenth seed Holger Rune came through in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Dan Evans in cold indoor conditions under the roof on Suzanne-Lenglen and goes on to face Italian Flavio Cobolli in round two.

The defeat for Evans meant that there are now no British men left in the singles draw after disappointing first round losses for Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie.

Rune, who once shared a practice session with Evans, admitted it took time to figure out his opponent’s game style: “It’s not that I know his game inside and out. He likes the slice obviously, and he’s a very good grass court player as well so he plays pretty flat over the net. So, yeah, it took a lot of time to adjust.”

Rune, a two-time former quarter finalist at the French Open, broke serve with the score tied at 4-4 in the first set and then served out to take the opener. A single break of serve was enough again in the second, while he had to dig much deeper in the third set when he went 4-2 down but managed to maintain composure to win the last four games to seal victory. The 21-year-old was very satisfied with his first-round performance and was pleased his intense practice sessions had been paying off.

“It was a good start, I think. Very solid match from start to finish. We had a good preparation, I would say. We had obviously time after Rome to really prepare with my game and physically and mentally, as well. I think we used the time right. So now is just to perform and put everything together. We are working always on my game. I think my game is good. My physicality felt great today, so it’s a thing we have really been working on to be able to stay out there and not feel fatigued and feel explosive even after hours of playing, and I definitely felt that today.”

Rune finished the match with eight aces, and more than double the number of winners (44 to 21), while Evans struggled with his serve making less than 50% of first serves in play along with five double faults. Whilst approaching the net numerous times throughout the match, he was passed sixteen times by some wonderful strokes off both wings by his Danish opponent. Rune was impressed with his mentality afterwards: “Mentally I just had to stay composed. You know, there is always challenges in the matches. Today was a call here and there. I thought I stayed composed. Been working on that, as well.”

Rune, who won 75% of points on his first serve definitely felt like he is on the right path to get him back inside the top five of the rankings: “I feel like I’m kind of back on track, have stability in my team, which is nice in my life. So, it’s going in the right direction. I’m improving on court. Now it’s just about getting that few match wins under the belt, to get some rhythm and gain some confidence in the matches as well. Then, I believe, you know, I’m fitter than last year. I’m playing better and improved. I just need to put everything together.”

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Casper Ruud Downplays French Open Chances After ‘Best start’ To Season

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Casper Ruud says he doesn’t rank himself among the favourites for French Open glory despite a successful clay swing.

The Norwegian comes into Paris with two titles under his belt after winning the Barcelona Open in April followed by the Geneva Open last week. He also reached the final in Monte Carlo, the semi-finals in Estoril and the fourth round in Madrid. Ruud is without a doubt a threat on the surface, especially at the French Open where he has finished runner-up the past two years. 

Although the world No.7 is keen to distance himself from any talk about being a title contender despite his credentials. This year’s men’s draw is being described by some as the most open in recent years with Novak Djokovic yet to find his top level consistently. Meanwhile, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have both been troubled by injury issues.

This season has been the best start for me, the best kind of five months that I’ve ever had to begin the year,” Ruud told reporters on Sunday.
“Then Madrid and Rome were two disappointing results for me, and that’s also a little bit why I decided to go to Geneva. 
“I wanted to build up some momentum playing matches again. Obviously winning the tournament is a good feeling. It gives you confidence, but it feels like it’s anyone’s tournament and anyone’s game really. 
“If you look at it’s been several different winners on the clay this year, and in the three Masters 1000 alone there’s been three different winners.
“To me even though Novak hasn’t had the best year as he typically has or at the same level, I think he is still the favourite. He is the No. 1 seeded, and he has 24 slams under his belt, so if there’s anyone who knows when to find their peak and form, it’s probably him.”. 

As for his chances of claiming a maiden major title, Ruud says he doesn’t want to consider himself a favourite as it would put too much pressure on him to perform. He is the seventh seed in this year’s draw.

I wouldn’t put myself in the list (of title favourites) because I don’t want to kind of put pressure on myself, but I would put Novak up there definitely.” He said.
“It’s not a big if, but depending on how Carlos, Jannik, and Rafa feel, I feel like those three are also worth mentioning. If they are injury-free, I would consider them, well, four then. I would go with four guys. 
“It’s tough to kind of leave any of those out due to the fact that Rafa has won here 14 times and then Jannik and Carlos have been the sort of best of the younger generation in the past year or two. So I think that’s a good list of four.”

Ruud will begin his French Open campaign against Brazil’s Felipe Alves.

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