Kyrgios, Dimitrov, Raonic and Bouchard, the next stars on tour? - UBITENNIS
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Kyrgios, Dimitrov, Raonic and Bouchard, the next stars on tour?

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TENNIS – Wimbledon 2014 has launched the career of 18-year-old Australian sensation Nick Kyrgios who impressively stunned Rafa Nadal to reach the quarter finals. The Championships also confirmed the great prospect of Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. On the women’s side Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard reached her first Grand Slam final after two consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. Diego Sampaolo

Nick Kyrgios was born in Canberra on 27th April 1995. His father is a self-employed house painter. His mother is a computer engineer. He is the third of three children. He was a promising basketball player in the early teens before taking the decision to focus entirely on tennis at the age of 14.

Kyrgios emerged in January 2013 when he he beat his compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in the Australian Open Junior final with 7-6 6-3 to win his first Grand Slam Junior title. He scored his first ATP Tour match at the 2013 Roland Garros when he knocked out Radek Stepanek in three sets which ended each in a tie-break before losing against Marin Cilic in the next round. Later in the summer he qualified for the US Open where he lost against David Ferrer in the first round.

He has been considered as the new Australian star with a potential to continue the proud tennis tradition of this country which produced some tennis legends like Pat Cash Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis. Kyrgios, the son of a Greek father and a Malaysian mother, played an impressive Wimbledon tournament in which he recovered from two sets down and fended off nine match points against Richard Gasquet in the second round before sensationally knocking out this year’s Roland Garros Rafa Nadal in the fourth round to qualify for his first ever Grand Slam quarter final. He became the first male debutant to reach the quarter finals since Florian Mayer in 2004. He lost against Milos Raonic in four sets in the quarter final.

Kyrgios hit 312 winners and 128 aces in the five matches he played at the All-England Club. He entered Wimbledon but he has moved up 78 spots to a career best 66th after the third Grand Slam Tournament.

Mark Philippoussis, who beat former World Number 1 Pete Sampras in the 1996 Australian Open when he was a teenager, praised Kyrgios and the other Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis.

I watched Nick a couple of times and he has got a big serve and a big forehand. He had an amazing tournament. He should get a lot confidence from this and hopefully learn from it”, said Philippoussis

He is a big guy. He has to be careful and has to be careful the way he trains because he could be prone to injuries. When you beat Nadal the way he did, you can beat anyone in the world. He has to grow as a tennis player, and get more experienced and work a little more on the volleys and he is gong to get better. He has got a big game. What I really love is that he has a big heart. He doesn’t give up until the end that’s beautiful to watch and something that I enjoy. I think Australia should be excited. He is the best prospect since it was myself, Pat and Lleyton”, continued Philippoussis

Philippoussis also criticized another Australian young star Bernard Tomic who reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon in 2011 but he did not live up to his huge talent since then.

When you hear that he loses a match against Jarkko Nieminen in 28 minutes, I don’t even see it’s possible to lose a match in 28 minutes. It’s impossible to lose that fast and it’s a shame. He can turn it around but it’s got to be now”, said Philippoussis

Grigor Dimitrov by Fabrizio Maccani

Grigor Dimitrov by Fabrizio Maccani

Wimbledon 2014 also confirmed the huge prospects of Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. Dimitrov has continued his impressive period of form of 2014 in which he collected titles on all surfaces in Acapulco (hard-court), Bucharest (clay) and Queen’s (grass) and reached the semifinals in Rome and at Wimbledon.

At the All England Club Dimitrov showed that he fully deserves his reputation as the heir of Roger Federer when he upset defending champion and local hero Andy Murray playing great tennis in the quarter final. He pushed hard Novak Djokovic in four hard-fought sets but he was knocked out by the Serb with 6-4 3-6 7-6 7-6 in the semifinal where the young Bulgarian squandered three consecutive set points in the tie-break of the fourth set. The merit of this outstanding breakthrough goes to his coach Roger Rasheed who has contributed to his outstanding year in which he has moved to World Number 9 and has a good chance to qualify for the ATP World Finals in London for the first time in his career.

Milos Raonic by Art Seitz

Milos Raonic by Art Seitz

Milos Raonic has also made outstanding breakthrough this year thanks to the advice of former World Number 3 Ivan Ljubicic and Riccardo Piatti. He reached the semifinals in Rome and Wimbledon and the quarter finals at the Roland Garros. He beat only a seed Kei Nishikori to reach the quarter final where he beat Nadal’s conqueror Kyrgios. The young Canadian was beaten by Roger Federer in the semifinal. Thanks to these results he has reached the World Number 6.

Eugenie Bouchard by Art Seitz

Eugenie Bouchard by Art Seitz

Last but not least, we have a look at the new generation of women who made a major breakthrough this season and confirmed this reputation at Wimbledon. The most prominent rising star is young Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who has reached at least the semifinal in all three Grand Slam tournaments this year. Eugenie played an outstanding Wimbledon semifinal in which she did not drop a set in the whole tournament until the final where she lost against Wimbledon queen Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-0 in just 55 minutes. She beat two top-10 Angelique Kerber and World Number 3 and Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep in the semifinal. She showed the potential to win her first Grand Slam crown after winning Wimbledon at junior level in 2011. After Wimbledon she has broken the top-10 for the first time in his career reaching the World Number 7 spot for the first time in her young career.

Bouchard received a strong support of British tennis fans during the tournament. “I don’t know if I deserve all your love today during the final I lost against Kvitova but I really appreciate it”, said Bouchard.

Among her fans there was Princess and namesake Eugenie (the daughter of the Duke and the Duchess of York) who attended the women’s final in the Royal Box.

I am very happy that she came out. Unfortunately I could not put on a better show for her”, said Bouchard

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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