The Roland Garros Report Card: Who impressed and who disappointed in Paris - UBITENNIS
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The Roland Garros Report Card: Who impressed and who disappointed in Paris

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TENNIS – The 2014 Roland Garros crowned Rafa Nadal for the ninth time and Maria Sharapova for the second time. The French Open was also been highlighted by Ernests Gulbis who reached the semifinal after beating Roger Federer in the third round and revealed rising stars like Eugenie Bouchard, Garbine Muguruza, Ajla Tomljanovic, Ajla Tomljanovic. It’s time to look back at the most successful players and those who disappointed more in the two exciting weeks in the French capital. Diego Sampaolo

The King and the Queen of Clay

Rafa Nadal: Rafa has been crowned as the King of the Roland Garros for the ninth time becoming the first player to win so many titles in a Major. He won the last five editions with 66 match wins and just one defeat in ten years against Robin Soderling in 2009. With 14 Majors the Mallorcan legend has tied Pete Sampras as the the second most successful Grand Slam winner. Only Roger Federer was more successful with 17 Grand Slams. Only Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer won a Grand Slam tournament for five consecutive editions. Moreover he has extended his winning streak at the Roland Garros to 35 victories and improved his winning record to 23-19 in head-to-head matches against Djokovic

He did not enjoy a particularly successful build-up to the Roland Garros on his favourite clay surface to his traditional extraordinary standards. He suffered quarter final exits in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona before winning his only European clay tournament in Madrid (he was on the verge of defeat against Kei Nishikori who suffered an unlucky back injury in the most crucial stage of the match). He lost in three sets against Novak Djokovic in a close three-set match in Rome in the final tournament before Paris. In the French capital he recovered from a set down in the final against Djokovic but he edged the Serb in four sets with 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4. He lifted his ninth Roland Garros Trophy after dropping just sets in the whole tournament

Maria Sharapova: The Siberian Queen of Clay faced three very hard battles in which she recovered from a set down in three consecutive matches to reach the final. She again had to fend off a tough match in the match against Romanian 22-year-old Simona Halep in which she was forced to third set for the fourth time in the tournament. This year Masha has enjoyed a successful clay campaign on clay winning three tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and the Roland Garros.

Sharapova did not played her best tennis during the tournament. She was two games from losing against Sam Stosur. She was one game from dropping the quarter final match against Garbine Muguruza in the quarter final and one game from losing against Eugenie Bouchard in the semifinal but she raised the game in the most crucial moments of the tournament and celebrated her second triumph at Porte d’Auteuil two years after beating Sara Errani in 2012. Sharapova has moved from 8th to 5th in the WTA Ranking.

“This was the toughest Grand Slam final I have ever played. All the respect to Simona. She played an unbelievable match”She had an amazing two weeks and this is just the first step. Simona will have an incredible career”, said Sharapova.

The runners-up:

Novak Djokovic: The Serb missed the chance to win the only elusive Grand Slam time of his career and complete the Career Grand Slam. He dropped his first set of the tournament in the semifinal against Ernests Gulbis in the semifinal before losing a four-set battle in the final against Nadal. In the final Djokovic made a crucial double fault handing the win to Nadal. In the final he won the first set but Nadal bounced back to clinch his third match against Djokovic in three consecutive editions of the Roland Garros after the final in 2012 and the epic semifinal in 2013.

Simona Halep: The 22-year-old Romanian player has completed her rise from the 57th spot in the Ranking in 2013 to her career-high Number 3 overtaking Agniewska Radwanska after her incredible Roland Garros in which she won three consecutive matches in straight sets against Sloane Stephens in the fourth round, Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter final and Andrea Petkovic in the semifinal. In the final she forced Sharapova to the third set and give the Siberìan star a run for her money

“This is my first Grand Slam speech, but I wish to have many more in the future”, said Halep after the Roland Garros final. She will certainly have the chance to celebrate her first Grand Slam in the future if she continues to play so well.

The come-back of the tournament:

Andy Murray: Clay is not the favourite surface for Murray but the Scotsman has showed encouraging improvement reaching the quarter final in Rome and the semifinal in Paris losing on both occasions to Nadal. In Rome he played a great match against King Rafa losing a hard-fought match in the third set. In Paris Nadal was simply too strong but Murray is gradually reaching top form and his coach relationship with Amelie Mauresmo could boost his confidence ahead of his title defence at Wimbledon.

Gael Monfils: The Frenchman pleased the local crowd with an impressive win in a roller-coaster third round match against Fabio Fognini 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2. He went on to reach the quarter final where he lost 4-6 1-6 6-4 0-6 against Andy Murray.

Ana Petkovic: The German player beat 2012 finalist Sara Errani 6-2 6-2 in the quarter final achieving a great result especially considering that the Italian clay specialist beat Jelena Jankovic in the quarter final two weeks after reaching the final in Rome. Her dream ended in the semifinal where she lost to Halep in three sets. . She faced rivals who are ranked Number 71 or lowerin the early rounds but the semifinal is a well-deserved prize after so many injury problems. She has showed the same form which propelled to a career high World Number 9 in 2011.

Svetlana Kuznetsova: The 2009 Roland Garros champion played one of the best matches of the tournament against Petra Kvitova in the third round. The Russian player edged the 2011 Wimbledon champion in three sets with 6-7 6-1 9-7.

Other good notes go to:

Carla Suarez Navarro: The Spanish player reached the quarter finals without dropping a single set before losing against Eugenie Bouchard in the round of eight.

Sara Errani: The Italian player reached her third consecutive quarter final after a great win in the fourth round against Jelena Jankovic but she lost in round of 8 against Petkovic. Errani also reached the final in the doubles with her close friend Roberta Vinci but the Italians lost against Peng Shuai and Hsieh We who won 11 of the final 13 points

Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger Vasselin: French crowd had something to celebrate as Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger Vasselin became the first French doubles winners at the Roland Garros in 23 years after beating Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-3 7-6. It was just their third Grand Slam tournament together.

The major surprises:

Milos Raonic: The young Canadian is continuing to make big progress on clay. He followed the semifinal in Rome (where he lost against Djokovic in three sets) with a quarter final in Paris (losing again to Djokovic in straight sets). He has become the first ever player from Canada to reach the quarter final at the Roland Garros and has moved a step closer to reaching the ATP Finals in London at the end of the season.

Ernests Gulbis: He followed up his win win in Nice in the warm-up to Paris with a remarkable semifinal in the French capital where he knocked out Roger Federer in the fourth round after a five-set epic match and Tomas Berdych in the quarter final. He reached his first Grand Slam semifinal where he forced Novak Djokovic to the fourth set. He jas joined the Top-10 for the first time in his career.

Garbine Muguruza: The young Spanish player produced the major upset of the tournament knocking out defending champion Serena Williams in the second round and advanced to the quarter final where she lost a hard-fought battle against Sharapova.

Taylor Townsend: She was the sensation of the first week when she reached the third round in her Grand Slam debut. She beat Alizè Cornet in the second round before losing against Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round.

Eugenie Bouchard: At the age of 19 she has already reached two Grand Slam semifinals after reaching this stage at this year’s Australian Open. Sharapova had to dig deep to beat the young Canadian. It’s a matter a time before Bouchard could join Sharapova in the list of Grand Slam champions.

Ana Tomljanovic: The 21-year-old player beat 2010 Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Elena Vesnina in the second round and Agniewska Radwanska in the third round before losing to Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round

The major disappointments:

Roger Federer: The Swiss Maestro, Roland Garros winner in 2009, played just one match in the five weeks between the end of the Monte-Carlo and the start of the French Open following the birth of twin sons Lenny and Leo and this had an impact on his preparation for the Roland Garros. He lost in five sets in the fourth round against Gulbis but he will have the chance to bounce back on his favourite green surface in Halle and Wimbledon in the coming weeks

Stan Wawrinka: The Lausanne player came to Paris with the dream to win a back-back Grand Slam tournament after clinching the Australian Open last January. He won his first Master 1000 in Monte-Carlo on clay which boosted his hopes to lift the Roland Garros crown but he suffered a major upset losing to Guillermo Garcia Lopez in the first round. The Spaniard, who won in Marrakesh and reached the quarter final in Monte-Carlo on clay earlier this year, inflicted a bagel in the fourth and final set.

Grigor Dimitrov: He travelled to Paris with high hopes following his semifinal in Rome (where he lost to Nadal in straight sets) but he suffered a first-round defeat against Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic in the first round. The young Bulgarian could find some consolation when his girlfriend Maria Sharapova lifted her second Roland Garros Trophy.

Serena Williams: Serena was looking to score her second consecutive Rome-Paris double but she suffered the major upset of the tournament against Garbine Muguruza, who went on to reach the quarter final.

Li Na: The reigning Australian Open champion and World Number 2 could not replicate her triumph in 2011 as she lost in the first round against Kristina Mladenovic.

Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pole started well with Zhang and Pliskova in the first two rounds but she lost in the third round against Tomljanovic

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Andy Murray Battles Past Basilashvili In Three Hour Marathon At Australian Open

Andy Murray produced a resilient performance to reach the second round at the Australian Open.

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Andy Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Andy Murray battled past 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

 

It was another typical Andy Murray grand slam match as a three hour marathon was won by the Brit to reach round two.

The three-time grand slam champion has beaten Basilashvili twice in the space of seven days and will now face Taro Daniel on Thursday.

Murray dominated the opening set against an error-prone Basilashvili as his defence was already peaking.

Three consecutive breaks gave Murray the set lead after taking the first set 6-1.

Basilashvili would return the favour in the second set as the Georgian continued to hammer his shots off of both wings.

A 4-1 double break lead was established as we would get the first frustrated mutterings from Murray.

The former world number one would get one of the breaks back but Basilashvili’s consistent firepower would prove too much for Murray’s stubborn defence as another break sealed the second set 6-3.

Into the third set, Murray would control the dynamic of the set on serve as he made bold patterns of play on big points.

An exchange of three breaks in a row saw Murray come out on top as he looked to use a mixture of power and defensive solidity to outmanoeuvre Basilashvili.

The Georgian saved three set points to force Murray to serve out the set but that didn’t matter as the Brit closed out the set comfortably for a 2 sets to 1 lead.

Nothing was easy for Andy Murray in grand slam tennis though and although he recovered a break deficit and saved set point, a poor start to the tiebreak saw Murray playing catch-up.

Basilashvili held his nerve and closed out the tiebreak 7-5 to force a deciding set.

In the final set Murray set a fast tempo winning the first eight points and being the aggressor taking 3-0 and 4-1 leads.

Once the Brit took his foot off the gas that allowed Basilashvili to get back into the match and continue to hit winners that would outpower Murray’s defence.

4-1 was 4-4 and Murray had to rely on his good returning skills when it really mattered to come through.

A 99th unforced error from the Georgian sealed Murray’s emotional delight in clinching another five set triumph at a grand slam.

After the match a delighted Murray reflected on his journey, “It’s been a tough three or four years but I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here,” Murray said in his on-court interview.

“I’ve played on this court many times and the atmosphere is always incredible. It is where I thought I had potentially played my last match but to win a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t have asked any more.”

Murray will now return on Thursday to play Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.

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Casper Ruud Withdraws From Australian Open Due To Ankle Injury

Casper Ruud has had to withdraw from the first grand slam of the season.

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Casper Ruud has withdrawn from the Australian Open after rolling his ankle in practice a couple of days ago.

 

The eighth seeded Norwegian announced the news in a press conference ahead of his scheduled match with Alex Molcan.

In a statement Ruud explained the injury and told journalists that it was very disappointing to not play the opening grand slam of the season, “I had to pull out of this year’s Australian Open due to an ankle injury,” Ruud said in his press conference.

“Two days ago in practice I rolled or twisted my ankle. I hoped that I would be able to recover and be able to step on court today with the two days that I had, but rolling an ankle usually maybe needs some more time. I tried everything I could to be ready, but unfortunately I’ve decided that I’m not a hundred percent ready and I will not be able to play a hundred percent like I have to compete at this level. That’s the final decision.

“Disappointing. I had a great time here last year, reaching the fourth round, the best result I had in a Grand Slam. Was hoping I could try to do the same this year obviously, maybe a step further.

“This year the Grand Slams will be a big goal for me because last year, except for this one, I felt like I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in a Grand Slam. My game relies a lot on having good footwork. When you’re ankle is not responding, cannot take your explosive movements, take the stopping/starting movements, then it’s tough to perform well.”

Despite the injury Ruud is optimistic that he can still make the golden swing in South America next month and revealed it was more a tendon issue.

Ruud will lose 180 ranking points after reaching the second week here last week and hopes to recover in order to make a deep run at Roland Garros in May.

Lucky loser and ATP Cup hero Roman Safiullin has now taken his spot in the draw.

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Australian Open: I’m feeling great’, says Gaël Monfils after straight sets win

Gael Monfils is feeling good ahead of the second round at the Australian Open

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Gael Monfils (https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

17th seed Gaël Monfils cruised through to the second round of the Australian Open seeing off Federico Coria 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

 

The Argentine was no match for the former world number six who goes on to face Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, who beat America’s Ernesto Escobedo in four sets.

Monfils started the match quickly taking the opening game in just 42 seconds.

Coria held his opening service game before a hold of serve and a double break allowed Monfils to serve out the opening set 6-1.

The second set was almost a carbon copy of the first. Coria began well with a comfortable hold of serve but then it was all Monfils.

The Frenchman delivered a strong hold to love, before three breaks of serve gave him the second set by the same scoreline.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1482920325499486209?s=20

Coria, the younger brother of 2004 French Open finalist Guillermo Coria, improved in the third set, going toe-to-toe with the Frenchman at two games all.

However, Monfils quickly turned the screw to hold serve and a backhand long from the Argentine gifted the Frenchman a critical break.

Monfils never looked back and saw out the match to cement a 15th Australian Open second round appearance.

After winning the title in Adelaide, the 35-year-old was forced to withdraw from its second version of the event last week due to a neck injury, but was quick to play down the issue.

“I’m feeling great. Great match. I think I played very solid tennis. Can’t complain when you start a slam like that,” said Monfils.

“I was just worried about my neck because I blocked my neck last week. Obviously, it’s better and today was good. I’m happy.”

The world number 19 continued: “I’m just happy to have another opportunity to win another match and maybe go to another third round in the Australian Open.”

Today’s performance was even more spectacular following a recent interview where the Frenchman admitted to having doubts about his future in the sport.

He credited his wife and fellow player Elina Svitolina in helping him persist.

“I want to thank my wife, Elina. “It was a really tough last year for me, almost wanting to quit,” he said.I lost the faith a little bit for tennis but she was there and always caring.”

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