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.
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
Coco Gauff reaches her maiden WTA final at the age of 15 in Linz
US 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff cruised past German former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4 after 91 minutes to reach her maiden WTA singles final at the Upper Austria Ladies Open in Linz.
Gauff lost in the final round of the qualifying tournament but she claimed her spot in the main draw as a lucky loser. After entering the main draw as a lucky loser Gauff scored three wins over Stefanie Voegele, Kateryna Kozlova, Kiki Bertens and Andrea Petkovic consolidating her spot in the top 100.
Gauff saved nine of the ten break points she faced and won 71 % of her second serve points.
Petkovic earned the first break of the match in Gauff’s opening game, but Gauff broke straight back in the second game with a passing shot down the line in the next game. After holding serve Gauff earned two break points. The US teenager broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead after a backhand error from Perkovic. Gauff earned three set points in the 10th game and converted her first chance after a netted return from Petkovic.
Gauff faced three break points at 2-1, but she held on her serve to draw level to 2-2. The US player converted her sixth break point chance to take a 3-2 lead after a double fault from Petkovic.
Gauff saved two break points with a volley and a drop-shot, when she served for the match at 5-4, and sealed the win on her second match point.
Gauff set up a final against 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, who came back from one set down to beat last year’s Linz finalist Ekaterina Alexandrova 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5. Ostapenko fended off one match points at 6-5 in the second set and two more match points at 5-4 in the third set of the 2-hour and 21-minute match.
Alexandrova broke serve twice in the second and sixth games to take the opening set 6-1. The Russian player fired an ace on her second set point to seal the first set after 30 minutes.
Alexandrova went up an early break to build up a 3-1 lead. Ostapenko broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Alexandrova fended off three break points to draw level to 4-4. Alexandrova broke serve at love to take a 5-4 lead earning the chance to serve for the match. Alexandrova hit an ace to earn her first match point, but she did not convert her chance, as she sent her backhand long. Ostapenko broke serve to draw level to 5-5 setting up a tie-break. Ostapenko earned her first set point at 5-5 in the tie-break, as Alexandrova missed a forehand wide. Ostapenko sealed the second set to force the match to the third set, as Ostapenko fired a service return wide.
Both players traded breaks in the first and second games of the decisive set. Alexandrova fired a forehand crosscourt winner in the 10th game to earn two match points, but she made unforced errors to miss both her chances. Ostapenko hit a forehand winner to draw level to 5-5. Alexandrova saved a match point at 6-5 with a return winner, but Ostapenko sealed the win on her second match point.
Alexander Zverev Boosts ATP Finals Chances After Reaching Shanghai Final
Alexander Zverev boosted his chances of reaching the ATP Finals after reaching the Shanghai final.
Alexander Zverev has boosted his chances of qualifying for the ATP Finals after defeating Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-4 in the Shanghai semi-finals.
It was a routine performance from the German as he only lost seven points on his serve to reach the Shanghai Rolex Masters final.
After losing in the semi-finals last year to Novak Djokovic, Zverev wasn’t going to make the same mistake in 2019 as he broke in each set to claim victory.
In his post-match interview with atptour.com, the 22 year-old admitted it was a great feeling to win today, “It feels great, obviously,” Zverev explained.
“I felt like I’ve played some decent tennis this week and being in a Masters 1000 final here in Shanghai is also something very special for me. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can play some good tennis tomorrow.”
The win now means that Zverev has opened up a 330 point lead between him and his opponent today, who is in eighth place in the race.
This is crucial for the German if he wants to defend the ATP Finals crown that he won last year when he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back-to-back.
Tomorrow, he will play in-form Daniil Medvedev in his sixth Masters 1000 final and although he leads their head-to-head 4-0, he is taking nothing for granted, “We’ve played some fantastic matches, all going my way until now,” Zverev said.
“I hope tomorrow that will not change. But he’s been playing some fantastic tennis, sixth final in a row, US Open finalist, won Cincinnati.
“He’s probably the best player in the world right now. I hope it’s just going to be a good match tomorrow.”
Both men are looking for their first Shanghai title as well as momentum heading into the season-finale in London next month.
Heather Watson sets up final against Rebecca Peterson in Tianjin
Unseeded players Rebecca Peterson and Heather Watson set up a final at the Tianjin Open WTA Tournament.
Rebecca Peterson came back from one set down to beat Ons Jabeur 0-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Jabeur won all the first five games, which went to deuce, and closed out the opening set with a bagel with a hold at 30 in the sixth game.
Peterson bounced back in the second set by breaking serve twice in the eighth and tenth game to clinch the second set 6-4.
Jabeur got an early break to open up a 3-1 lead. Peterson broke back in the sixth game and saved a break point in the ninth game. The Swedish player closed out the match with a break at 6-5.
“Today was a really tough match. She played well, I could not find my rhythm and I had to fight for every point, so I am happy that I got the win at the end. At the end of the season, everyone feels that their body is sore and they are tired. I am going to recover as well as I can and for sure I will be ready for tomorrow”,said Peterson.
World number 125 Heather Watson cruised past Veronika Kudemertova 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 14 minutes to reach her fourth WTA final and the first since Monterrey 2016. Watson dropped nine points in nine service games and saved all three break point chances she faced.
The British player broke serve twice in the second and sixth games to close out the first set 6-1 after 25 minutes. Kudemertova saved two break points in the third game of the second set before Watson got the break to take a 3-2 lead. Watson saved three break points in the sixth game to hold on her service game. Kudemertova fended off two match points on serve before Watson closed out the match with a hold at 30.
“Yesterday was a really tough match and I think all those hours on court helped me play well today, so it was a good thing. It’s my first time here in Tianjin, so it’s a great first experience for me. I am looking forward to playing the final and hopefully I can play as well as I managed today”,said Watson.
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