US Open: Berdych and Dimitrov get past testy 1st round opponents - UBITENNIS
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US Open: Berdych and Dimitrov get past testy 1st round opponents

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TENNIS US OPEN – Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov were amongst the few remaining men who had yet to play their first round match at the US Open despite it being Day 3 at the championships. None of the other big names have been upset so far in the tournament and neither Berdych nor Dimitrov wanted to be the one to change this status. From New York, Cordell Hackshaw

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

Tomas Berdych (6) and Grigor Dimitrov (7) were amongst the few remaining men who had yet to play their first round match at the US Open despite it being Day 3 at the championships. None of the other big names have been upset so far in the tournament and neither Berdych nor Dimitrov wanted to be the one to change this status. They faced tough opponents in the form of Lleyton Hewitt and Ryan Harrison respectively. However, despite Hewitt and Harrison doing their level best to cause trouble for Berdych and Dimitrov, in the end their efforts were in vain as they lost in straight sets. Berdych took out Hewitt 6-3 6-4 6-3 and Dimitrov dispatched Harrison 6-2 7-64 6-2.

Hewitt knew the importance of holding serve against the likes of Berdych and was battling hard to avoid going down an early break. He was able to fight off the early break opportunities against him but a mighty backhand return winner from Berdych secured him the break and the lead at 3-1. Berdych was able to maintain this break advantage to close out the set 6-3. In the 2nd set, Hewitt was able to turn things around as he got up 4-1. Berdych then turned up his intensity to take the next 7 games and extend his lead to 2-0 sets and a break in the 3rd. Hewitt later stated, “[T]hat was my obviously my small chance out there if I could have tried to keep that lead … Yeah, if I had broken again and then given myself a chance to serve for the 2nd set, at least put … more doubt in his mind”

Hewitt was able to level the 3rd set at 3-3 breaking the Berdych serve in the 6th game. However, Berdych broke back immediately and did so again to take the match 6-3 6-4 6-3. “It was a tough opponent, a big challenge. The conditions were extremely tough today. The heat, the wind and facing Lleyton for the first round … I’m happy with the way I handled it.” Berdych was simply the better player. He had 9 aces whereas Hewitt had 9 double faults. The Czech had seemingly horrible numbers on his winners to errors sheet with 43 winners to 51 errors. This hardly mattered as Hewitt had only 19 winners along with 36 errors. Berdych will have to clean up his game if he wishes to have another good run at these championships. He will play in the 2nd round Martin Klizan who rallied from 0-2 sets down against Steve Darcis to win it in 5 sets.

This is the second consecutive major where Dimitrov and Harrison are meeting in the first round. At Wimbledon, Dimitrov beat Harrison in straight sets on his way to his first major semifinal appearance. In this match, Dimitrov was a lot more alert from the beginning than he was in London. The Bulgarian broke the American in the 4th game to lead 3-1. He broke Harrison again in the 8th game to close out the set 6-2 in just over half an hour. Similar to the Berdych match, the lower ranked opponent made a serious bid in the 2nd set to even the match. Harrison broke an erratic Dimitrov for 3-2. He maintained this break and served for the set at 5-4. However, he could not close it out. Harrison had soon gone from leading 5-3 in the set to trail 5-6. He held serve to force the breaker but again on the big points, he either made an error or allowed Dimitrov to control the point. Dimitrov won the tiebreak to lead 6-2 7-64.

There was very little Harrison could do in the 3rd set to stop Dimitrov as he was broken in his opening service game. A second break of serve in the 5th game sealed his faith as Dimitrov serve out the match 6-2 7-6 6-2 in just over two hours. Harrison was simply outclassed by a superior player. He had 37 unforced errors to 25 winners whereas Dimitrov had only 19 errors and 37 winners. Dimitrov was winning 84% of the points behind his 1st serves and 66% on his 2nd serves along with 8 aces and faced only two break points the entire match. Harrison could only muster up 62% on his 1st serves and 45% on 2nd serves with 6 double faults and 3 aces. The American was broken 5 times in the match. Dimitrov faces Dudi Sela in the 2nd round. Sela beat Carlos Berlocq in 4 sets.

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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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