Federer v Monfils in the Open quarters - UBITENNIS
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Federer v Monfils in the Open quarters

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The last of the Round of 16 matchups were quite exciting as they provided a nice mix of styles and a lot of great tennis for fans. Roger Federer (2) continued his domination of Spanish players not named Rafael Nadal as he overcame the tough charge from Roberto Bautista-Agut (17) in straight sets 6-4 6-3 6-2. Gael Monfils (20) is again striking the balance between great tennis and mental stability on court as he upset Grigor Dimitrov (7) also in straight set 7-5 7-6 7-5.

 

Federer and Monfils will play each other for a 8th time with Federer leading the head-to-head 5-2 but they have been 2-2 in their last four meetings. Interestingly enough, the only major they have met is at the French Open where Federer has a 3-0 record. Federer described Monfils, “[H]e’s got easy top 10 potential, you know. He’s a great mover. He’s got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much, you know. His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he’s had because of injury. Then sometimes, you know, maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain.”

In order to face Monfils, Federer had to first get past Bautista-Agut who he was playing for the first time. Federer was aware of the challenges that the Spaniard provided as he noted that “He hasn’t got the biggest game but he’s consistent. He’s fast. He can adapt. So he’s got things that can make you feel uncomfortable, I must say. He can absorb pace well.” However, Federer seemed well adept to handling him as he raced out to a 5-2 lead. Things got complicated somewhat as Federer was broken serving for the set. He regained his focus and took it 6-4 in 43 minutes. In the 2nd set, Federer again broke early for a 3-1 lead. He saved break point on his serve as he continued to press the issue going for his shots particularly up at net. He closed out the set at 6-3. In the 3rd set, with both the crowd and momentum clearly in his favour, Federer broke Bautista-Agut twice to win the match 6-4 6-3 6-2 in near two hours.

What was most impressive about the match from Federer was his willingness to come forward. He was up at net 52 times and won the point on 32 of those occasions. His serving was not at its best but it was working well enough. He only got 57% of his first serves in, winning 78% of those points with a measly 51% on his 2nd serve. He had 36 winners and 25 errors which included 8 aces and 5 double faults.

Monfils too had a straight sets victory but it was far from routine against Dimitrov. Monfils has been playing spectacular tennis throughout this tournament particularly in the 3rd round when he defeated 12th seed Richard Gasquet in straight sets. Monfils took on Dimitrov for the 3rd time in their career, 2nd time at the US Open. From the beginning of the match it was clear that Monfils came out to play serious tennis. Always accused of being distracted on court, Monfils played a complete and focused match. He secured the crucial break in the 11th game of the 1st set and served it out for 7-5. Dimitrov was not making it easy for Monfils but in the big moments, the Bulgarian was unable to step up his game to gain the momentum. He broke for a 4-2 lead in the 2nd set but was broken in the 8th game to level the set. Things were pushed to a decisive tiebreaker where despite leading 6-3 points, Dimitrov allowed Monfils to fight his way back into it and take it 8-6 points and with it a 2-0 sets lead.

In the 3rd set, Dimitrov failed to convert on two break opportunities. They remained on serve until the 12th game when Dimitrov was serving to push the set into a tiebreaker. On match point, the only break point chance that Monfils saw in the set, Dimitrov double faulted to hand Monfils the win in straight sets, 7-5 7-6 7-5. “[I]t was a very poor match for me … Didn’t play as close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the center court and perform my best … Of course I have to give credit to Gaël that he played a really good match, but I also did a lot of unforced errors and that cost a lot. 6-3 in the tiebreak, I had all odds on me. And it was just poor shot selection. Eventually I didn’t execute at the right time.”

There was not much to separate the two in this match and as Monfils mentioned that it was partially luck that saw him through this match. “I’m happy I think because I played good. I think I played solid. I think I hit better the ball day after day; served better. I keep like simple thing in my head, so obviously is working. Then it’s luck. To be honest, look at set point. I hit one of the worst dropshots I ever hit and he hit a frame. It’s pure luck, you know, to haven’t drop a set. So you need to have it sometime, and I hope I will have more.”

Monfils went on to speak about playing Federer, “[H]e’s definitely the legend of the tennis, you know. I think right now he’s the greatest tennis player we ever had, and for me it’s always challenging to play against him … I think I play tennis for, to play against a big legend, big court, show time. That’s what I train for. That’s why every day I wake up and I wish I could play those matches” Monfils along with Djokovic are the only players in the men’s quarterfinals who have not dropped a set en route to this stage.

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Dominic Thiem rallies from one set down against Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the final at Thiem’s 7 in Kitzbuhel

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Dominic Thiem came back from losing the first set to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 en route to reaching the final at the Thiem’s 7 tournament. Thiem earned two breaks in the third and fifth games to race out to a 4-1 lead. Bautista Agut got both breaks back in the sixth and eighth games to draw level to 4-4 forcing the match to the tie-break. The Spanish player won the tie-break 7-5 to take the opening set.

 

Thiem slowly found his rhythm again in the second set and earned two break points in the fourth game but he was not able to convert them. The home star dropped only two points on his serve until the end of the second set and converted two of the three break points to clinch the second set 6-2.

Thiem earned a break in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead and held on his next service games. The tournament organizer sealed the third set 6-2 with his double break with a blistering return on the match point in the eighth game securing his spot in the final. Thiem will face either Andrey Rublev or Matteo Berrettini in the final.

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Former Roland Garros champions and five top 20 players to highlight a great edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo

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The Ladies Open WTA International in Palermo will be the first tournament to be held next August since last February.

 

The Italian tournament will feature a great line-up which includes two confirmed past Roland Garros champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Ostapenko and five top 20 players. There is a good chance that 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep could be added in the field.

“We are glad about Simona Halep’s great interest in Palermo Ladies Open. We will be waiting for her at the Country Club for an historic edition of the Palermo tournament. We have been in contact with Halep’s manager for some time. We have been talking for days about her potential participation in Palermo. She is one of the best players in the world and her presence would contribute to make an already high-level tournament extrahordinary. We will leave our doors open to her for as long as possible, as well as for other top ten players that will want to resume their season in Palermo”, said tournament’s CEO Oliviero Palma.

The other stars who have signed up to the Ladies Open are 2019 Roland Garros champion Marketa Vondrousova, two Grand Slam semifinalists Elise Mertens (2018 Australian Open) and Anastasija Sevastova (2018 US Open), Aryna Sabalenka (winner at the Wuhan Open in 2018 and 2019, WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and Doha in 2020) and Elina Rybakina (winner in Hobart and finalist in St. Petersburg and Dubai in 2020), Dayana Yastremska (winner of three tournaments in Hong Kong in 2018, Thailand and Strasbourg in 2019).

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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