TENNIS ROLAND GARROS – Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils had only met five times prior to their 3rd round encounter at the French Open and already the rivalry between the two is notorious. It seems that whenever these two meet, the stars, the moon and the earth all aligns for this perfect synergy of madness, mischief, mayhem and mockery of the sport of tennis. This 6th meeting was no difference as Monfils came through in 5 sets 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2. Cordell Hackshaw
Italian Fabio Fognini (14) and Gael Monfils (23) of France had only met five times prior to their 3rd round encounter at the French Open and already the rivalry between the two is notorious. Its noteworthiness unfortunately is based on matters not specifically related to actual tennis play. Fognini leads the head to head 3-2. These two playing each other is nothing remarkable in light of the major rivalries at the top of the sport. Both players are struggling to live up to the huge promise that followed them from the junior tour particularly Monfils. However, it seems that whenever these two meet, the stars, the moon and the earth all aligns for this perfect synergy of madness, mischief, mayhem and mockery of the sport of tennis. This 6th meeting was no difference as Monfils came through in 5 sets 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2. Much would be said about this match but for certain it would not be for the quality and/or the outstanding play from either player.
For the first 3 games of the match, neither player held serve. Then Fognini consolidated the break to go up 3-1. Monfils then held serve and broke his opponent to get back on serve 3-3. This became the pattern of play for the set as both player broke and held serve only to be broken thereafter. Monfils denied Fognini early set points at 5-3 to prolong to the set. It was not until the 12th game when Fognini having broken Monfils for the 4th time in the set, held serve to take it 7-5. The overall pattern of play in the match was bizarre. Monfils, a physically more imposing specimen than Fognini, was the one being pushed behind the baseline and Fognini the one dominating in the forecourt. Monfils made very little attempt to construct points on court. He simply hit the ball back to wherever Fognini was standing and hoped the Italian would be the one to make the error.
The 2nd set saw both players on serve until the 6th game when Monfils went on a 4 game winning stretch taking 15 of the next 20 points. Fognini appeared to have lost interest in the match and lost it 2-6. It was not so much so he was making unforced errors as oppose to simply making “on purpose” errors. He had 18 errors in that set alone compared to 6 from Monfils who simply had to keep the ball in play to win points. The 3rd set was of a slightly better quality as each player was initially broken in his opening service game but then then held serve for 4-4. Fognini had 2 break points to serve for the set 5-4 but Monfils muscled through and was the one up 5-4. Again Fognini simply showed little interest in the set at the tail end stage of it as he almost wilfully gifted the 10th game and the 3rd set to Monfils 6-4.
Not to be outdone by this lack of sportsmanship, Monfils decided to give the 4th set to Fognini. Monfils put forth the minimum necessary to appear to just be trying as he dropped the set 0-6. He won 6 of the 30 points played in the set. He would later say quite unabashedly after the match that dropping the set at love was the only way he thought he could ensure that he would serve first in the decisive 5th set. This tactic proved to be “wise” as the Frenchman saved two break points in the opening game to then break Fognini at love and raced to a 3-0 lead. This was not before Fognini is given a point penalty for throwing his racquet that almost hit a ball boy. Fognini got back on serve at 2-3 but was again broken to go down 2-4. Like in the 2nd and 3rd set, Fognini simply could not have cared less about the set and he was broken at love with four wilful forehand “errors” to hand Monfils the match 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2. Nonetheless Fognini would say later of the match, “I play great. I play epic match there, and I feel great. I feel great…You know, I’m happy about my tennis. I’m not happy, of course, because I lost, but this is the sport.” His statements are rather difficult to comprehend considering everything within that match and the fact that he had 43 winners in the match to 81 errors.
What added an even more unfortunate element to this match beyond the fact that the players were calling out the trainers for no physical reason other than to upset the momentum shifts, was the fact that the crowd was very much a factor in this match. The French crowd obviously supporting their countryman showed Fognini no respect at all. After winning the opening set, the crowd barely registered all applause for his effort, which was unfortunate because Fognini was then, playing the better brand of tennis. Then things got progressively worst. Fognini was screaming at them and they were booing him and finally in the end, Fognini upon losing the match gave the crowd a middle finger salute. Not once they did get on either player for what was clearly “tanking” during the match. Chair Umpire, Carlos Bernades also failed to address this matter.
Also a weird security issue arose as a young fan came onto the court at the end of the match and was attempting to get Monfils’ attention. Monfils mostly ignored him and so did the security personnel. All this seemed difficult to do as the boy was within touching distance of Monfils. This level of nonsense hardly seems befitting a tournament of this caliber. One can only hope that the ITF noted these blaring issues that came to light during this match. These sorts of antics really turn away true fans from this wonderful sport.
Matteo Berrettini Frustrated By Curfew Delay At French Open
Due to French law Roland Garros had to remove spectators from the venue at 11pm which angered many fans in the crowd.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini said the pause in his match against Novak Djokovic at the French Open disrupted his momentum and hopes situations like this will ‘end soon.’
The world No.9 was taking on Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final in Paris on Wednesday evening. Trailing by two sets, Berrettini clinched the third in a tiebreaker as he was cheered on by the crowd. However, the atmosphere took a dramatic change during the fourth frame with fans having to be removed from the venue. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, France has a 11pm curfew in place which means any tennis matches after this time have to be held behind close doors.
The decision to stop the match at 11pm (when spectators were already breaking curfew) infuriated many with a series of booing coming from the stands. It is unclear as to why organisers didn’t evacuate the arena after the third set, which was 30 minutes before the curfew came into place.
“I’ll tell the truth. I think it’s a shame. It’s something that I didn’t like,” Berrettini commented on the situation afterwards. “But it’s (the law) bigger than us.
“It’s not that you can do something about it. You have to adjust. Hopefully this COVID and these bad situations are going to end soon. It’s not the worst thing that happened in the last year.”
The 25-year-old says the pause to the proceedings had a negative impact on his physicality, but didn’t go into the specifics as to why.
“I was feeling the momentum. I was playing good. Stopping wasn’t the best thing I think for my tennis, but I had to take it,” he continues. “Also physically I think didn’t help me. I got back on court and I wasn’t feeling great.
“But again, tennis players always say they have to adjust to everything. Next time I’m going to try to be better.”
Unlike his rival, Djokovic says the break was a blessing in disguise for him as he sealed a place in his 40th major semi-final. Becoming only the second player in history to reach that milestone after Roger Federer. He ended up winning the match 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 after converting his third match point.
“I didn’t mind actually leaving the court because I felt like I needed a little bit of a break and reset,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for the tournament, for the crowd, to have that curfew. But we knew it before the match.”
Despite losing, Berrettini has still made history at the tournament. He has become the first Italian man in history to have reached the fourth round of all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Curfew Drama Overshadows Novak Djokovic’s French Open Win
After being taken to five sets in his previous match against Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic was in fierce form throughout his latest encounter at Roland Garros.
Top seed Novak Djokovic battled his way into the last four of the French Open after overcoming some stern resistance from Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
The world No.1 produced some emphatic defensive skills throughout his roller-coaster 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5, win on Court Philippe Chatrier. Against the world No.9 he blasted 44 winners and broke four times en route to winning his 79th match at Roland Garros. The latest win has also secured another historic milestone for Djokovic with him being only the second man in the Open Era to have reached a 40th Grand Slam semi-final after Roger Federer.
“He was playing some really powerful tennis. Especially in the third and fourth he served tremendously strong and precise. It was just very difficult to read his serve and play someone like him,” Djokovic commented on Berrettini’s performance.
Although the talking point quarter-final concerned the controversial decision by organisers to start the match at 8pm local time which allowed just a three-hour gap before Paris went into curfew. Five games after Berrettini clinched the third set, fans were left furious after being evicted from the venue with players being taken off the court. Even more baffling was the decision by organisers to halt proceedings at 11pm when those attending had already broke curfew instead of stopping it 30 minutes or so before.
“I didn’t mind actually leaving the court because I felt like I needed a little bit of a break and reset,” said Djokovic. “It’s unfortunate for the tournament and for the crowd to have that curfew. But we knew before the match. Referee came up to us and said, If it comes close to 11:00, we’ll have to empty the stadium. That’s what happened.’
“I’m happy that I had that experience of playing in front of the crowd in the night session.” He added.
The Wednesday night showdown was a historic occasion at the French Open with it being the first time a night session had been played in front of a crowd following a relaxation of national restrictions on the same day. Taking to the court Djokovic looked determined from the onset as Berrettini provided him with plenty of challenges early on. In both of his opening service games the world No.1 fended off break points as he tamed a series of thunderous shots from the Italian with some sublime defensive play. Djokovic secured his first breakthrough four games in after a Berrettini forehand drifted wide which enabled him to break for a 3-1 lead. That single break was enough of a margin for him to close out the set, which he did with a love service game.
Gaining momentum, the 18-time Grand Slam champion continued to apply the pressure in the second frame as he won eight consecutive points behind his serve. Berrettini, who had the support of an animated crowd, was unable to find any answers. The former champion surged to a 5-2 lead with the help of a double break. Serving for a two-set lead, he sealed it with a forehand shot which prompted an unforced error from his rival.
It looked as if Djokovic was on course for a straight sets triumph but a resurgent Berrettini had other ideas. Edged on by an highly animated crowd, the Italian rediscovered the power of his serve as he matched him game-by-game until a nerve-stricken tiebreaker. Djokovic moved to just two points from victory with two serves at his disposal. However, a tight backhand crashed into the net handed Berrettini set point, which he converted with a blistering forehand down the line. Prompting an almighty roar from him.
The tussle between the two caused a headache for officials. The fourth frame started 30 minutes before the curfew was imposed, meaning fans would have to evacuate the venue before the match finished. Eventually the match was halted amid booing and jeering from fans angry they had to leave in what was one of the most unusual situations to ever occur at the tournament.
Returning to the court in almost silence after a 20-minute delay, both players continued to valiantly battle. A nasty fall failed to deter the Serbian as he edged closer towards the finish line. Leading 6-5 he had his first match point but failed to convert due to a Berrettini serve out wide. Then on his second failed attempt a furious Djokovic screamed at his team out of frustration and then kicked one of the boards at the side of the court. Two points after that mini meltdown he prevailed with the help of a Berrettini shot going into the net.
Djokovic will next lock horns with nemesis Rafael Nadal for a place in the final. The Spaniard has won more matches at Roland Garros than any other player in history and is bidding to win the men’s title for a record 14th time. He narrowly leads their head-to-head 29-28 but lost their most recent clash at the Italian Open earlier this year.
“The quality and the level of tennis that I’ve been playing in the last three, four weeks on clay – Rome, Belgrade and here – is giving me good sensations and feelings ahead of that match. I’m confident. I believe I can win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
It is the 11th time in Djokovic’s career that he has reached the semi-finals of the French Open.
Updated Entry Lists For Queen’s, Halle
Two ATP 500 tournaments will be played in London at the Queen’s Club and in Halle (Germany), as the grass-court season is set to continue.
Two of the most prestigious grass-court events on the ATP Tour will take place from the 14th to the 20th of June: the Cinch Championships in London (Queen’s Club) and the Noventi Open in Halle are going to be the crucial steps of the Wimbledon warm-up.
Matteo Berrettini, Diego Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic and Jannik Sinner will be some of the seeds at the Queen’s Club, where Andy Murray plans to come back with a Wild-Card. Spain’s Feliciano Lopez is the defending champion.
Four top-ten players are committed to play Halle: Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and the defending champion Roger Federer will start their grass-court season in Germany. Roberto Bautista-Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Kei Nishikori have entered the tournament as well, while the promising Swiss teenager Dominic Stephan Stricker has received a Wild-Card for the qualifying draw.
NEWS: Diego Schwartzman has withdrawn from Queen’s, he’s been replaced by Alexei Popyrin.
NEWS: Stefanos Tsitsipas has been awarded Wild-Card entry into Halle.
NEWS: Milos Raonic has pulled out from Queen’s, Frances Tiafoe takes his place.
ATP 500 Queen’s (GBR, Grass), entry list:
Berrettini, Matteo (ITA)
OUT Schwartzman, Diego (ARG)
Shapovalov, Denis (CAN)
OUT Raonic, Milos (CAN)
Sinner, Jannik (ITA)
OUT Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Evans, Daniel (GBR)
Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Fognini, Fabio (ITA)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
Mannarino, Adrian (FRA)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
Paire, Benoit (FRA)
Krajinovic, Filip (SRB)
Millman, John (AUS)
OUT Davidovich Fokina, Alejandro (ESP)
Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Cilic, Marin (CRO)
Djere, Laslo (SRB)
Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)
WC Murray, Andy (GBR)
WC Broady, Liam (GBR)
WC Draper, Jack (GBR)
OUT (WC) OUT (SE)
OUT Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
IN Chardy, Jeremy (FRA)
IN Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
IN Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
OUT Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
IN Lu, Yen-Hsun (TPE)
IN Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
IN Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)
Alt.1 Albot, Radu (MDA)
Alt.2 Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
ATP 500 Queen’s (GBR, Grass), qualifying:
OUT Popyrin, Alexei (AUS) OUT Moutet, Corentin (FRA) OUT Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
OUT Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA)
OUT Herbert, Pierre-Hugues (FRA)
Pouille, Lucas (FRA)
Zapata Miralles, Bernabe (ESP)
OUT Broady, Liam (GBR)
Van de Zandschulp, Botic (NED)
Huesler, Marc-Andrea (SUI)
Jung, Jason (TPE)
Marchenko, Illya (UKR)
Tabilo, Alejandro (CHI)
WC Peniston, Ryan (GBR)
WC Parker, Stuart (GBR)
WC Ward, James (GBR)
IN Ofner, Sebastian (AUT)
OUT Karlovic, Ivo (CRO) OUT Safiullin, Roman (RUS)
IN Rosol, Lukas (CZE)
OUT Gulbis, Ernests (LAT)
OUT Muller, Alexandre (FRA)
IN Marcora, Roberto (ITA)
IN Bemelmans, Ruben (BEL)
OUT Ito, Tatsuma (PR, JPN)
IN Troicki, Viktor (SRB)
OUT Krueger, Mitchell (USA)
IN Vukic, Aleksandar (AUS)
OUT Stakhovsky, Sergiy (UKR)
OUT Tomic, Bernard (AUS)
OUT Kwiatkowski, Thai-Son (USA)
OUT Ito, Tatsuma (JPN)
Alt.1 Copil, Marius (ROU)
Alt.2 Ebden, Matthew (AUS)
Alt.3 Gojo, Borna (CRO)
ATP 500 Halle (GER, Grass), entry list:
Medvedev, Daniil (RUS)
Zverev, Alexander (GER)
Rublev, Andrey (RUS)
Federer, Roger (SUI)
Bautista Agut, Roberto (ESP)
OUT Carreno Busta, Pablo (ESP)
Goffin, David (BEL)
OUT Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Hurkacz, Hubert (POL)
Auger-Aliassime, Felix (CAN)
OUT Garin, Cristian (CHI)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)
Nishikori, Kei (JPN)
Korda, Sebastian (USA)
Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
Pella, Guido (ARG)
Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)
WC Kohlschreiber, Philipp (GER)
WC Altmaier, Daniel (GER)
WC Monfils, Gael (FRA)
WC Tsitsipas, Stefanos (GRE)
IN Querrey, Sam (USA)
IN Simon, Gilles (FRA)
IN Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
OUT Lu, Yen-Hsun (TPE)
OUT Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)
Alt.1 Albot, Radu (MDA)
Alt.2 Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Alt.3 Giron, Marcos (USA)
ATP 500 Halle (GER, Grass), qualifying:
Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
OUT Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)
Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)
OUT Gombos, Norbert (SVK) OUT Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Giron, Marcos (USA)
Albot, Radu (MDA)
Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)
OUT Alcaraz, Carlos (ESP)
Duckworth, James (AUS)
Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
Novak, Dennis (AUT)
Sousa, Joao (POR)
Rinderknech, Arthur (FRA)
Barrere, Gregoire (FRA)
O’Connell, Christopher (AUS)
OUT Gojowczyk, Peter (GER)
Stebe, Cedrik-Marcel (GER)
OUT Karlovic, Ivo (CRO) OUT (RA)
WC Molleker, Rudolf (GER)
WC Stricker, Dominic Stephan (SUI)
IN Rodionov, Jurij (AUT)
IN Gulbis, Ernests (LAT)
IN Muller, Alexandre (FRA)
OUT Torpegaard, Mikael (DEN)
OUT Marcora, Roberto (ITA)
OUT Bemelmans, Ruben (BEL)
IN Maden, Yannick (GER)
IN Lacko, Lukas (PR, SVK)
IN Ito, Tatsuma (JPN)
OUT Krueger, Mitchell (USA)
IN Stakhovsky, Sergiy (UKR)
Alt.1 Masur, Daniel (GER)
OUT Kwiatkowski, Thai-Son (USA)
OUT Copil, Marius (ROU)
OUT Ebden, Matthew (AUS)
OUT Gojo, Borna (CRO)
Alt.2 Celikbilek, Altug (TUR)
Alt.3 Kuhn, Nicola (ESP)
Alt.4 Blanch, Ulises (USA)
OUT Kopriva, Vit (CZE)
Alt.5 Molleker, Rudolf (GER)
Alt.6 Choinski, Jan (GER)
Alt.7 Brown, Dustin (GER)
Alt.8 Sakamoto, Pedro (BRA)
Alt.9 King, Darian (BAR)
Alt.10 Vavassori, Andrea (ITA)
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