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.

ATP

Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert seal a hard-fought win in decisive doubles match

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Ten-time Davis Cup champions France beat Japan 2-1 scoring the fifth win in as many Davis Cup matches against the Asian team.

 

French star Jo Wilfried Tsonga reeled off seven games from 4-2 in the first set to beat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2 6-1 in 58 minutes in his 12th Davis Cup season.

Tsonga saved two break points and converted four of the five break points. The Frenchman held four service games and broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to take a 6-2 lead.

Tsonga broke twice in the second and fourth games and closed out the match in the seventh game after saving two break points.

“It was very important for our team to start well. I am also happy about my game, what I did today, so I hope it continues like this”, said Tsonga.

 Yoshihito Nishioka claimed 9 of the last 11 games in his 7-5 6-2 win over Gael Monfils in 66 minutes to level the score at 1-1 sending the tie into a decisive doubles match. The Japanese player saved one break point and earned two breaks to seal the win in straight sets.

“I wanted to show to the whole world Japan are still strong. Of course, if Key was here we would be strong, but even when he is not here, we can play. Hopefully next time Kei is here and we can play better”, said Nishioka.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the first set and stayed neck and neck until the 11th game of the first set when Nishioka got the break at 5-5 to seal the first set. Nishioka broke twice to seal the second set 6-2.

Last week’s ATP Finals doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert fought back from losing the first set to beat Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchyama 6-7 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 40 minutes.

After losing the first set at the tie-break, Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Herbert and Mahut went up a break in the third set. Uchiyama and Nishioka got the break back in the 10th game, when Herbert and Mahut were serving for the match. Mahut and Herbert got another break at 5-5 and held at 15 to seal the decisive win for France.

“They played at a very high level. We know we have arrived late from London, but the captain had a lot of confidence in our team. We were 1-1, we really had to win to give France the win. There was a lot of intensity in the win but we are really happy today, this was a really difficult tie”, said Mahut.  

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Russia opens the Davis Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over Croazia

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Russia beat defending champions from Croatia 3-0 thanks to the two singles wins of Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov on Centre Court of the Caja Magica in Madrid.

 

Rublev cruised past Borna Gojo 6-3 6-3 in the opening match before Karen Khachanov came back from one set down to beat Borna Coric 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

Khachanov and Rublev returned to the court to beat specialists Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to give Russia a 3-0 win.

“It was important to start well. I had some opportunities and took them. I am really happy we won this tie”, said Khachanov.

Belgium (two-time finalists) beat Colombia 2-1 on Court 3. In the opening match Davis Cup specialist Steve Darcis cruised past Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-2. David Goffin came back from one set down to beat Daniel Elahi Galan 3-6 6-3 6-3. Last week’s ATP Finals semifinalists Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah won the doubles match for the Colombian team beating Sander Gillie and Joran Vliegen 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

“The challenge was to fight against myself. It was not easy. Sometimes you have to fight. I am happy the way I fought. I did not give up. That’s the most important thing because I am playing for my country”,said Goffin.

 

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ATP

Canada beats Italy 2-1 in the opening day of the Davis Cup in Madrid

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Denis Shapovalov battled past Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought second match of the round-robin Group F at the Davis Cup in Madrid to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Italy

 

Berrettini faced three break points in the third game of the opening set. Shapovalov earned two break points in the ninth game, but Berrettini held on his serve at deuce. Both players held on their service games. In the 10th game Berrettini earned three set points on return, but Shapovalov fended them off. Barrettini saved another break point to set up a tie-break. Shapovalov took a 6-3 lead earning three set points. Berrettini won two consecutive points to claw his way back to 5-6, but Shapovalov sealed the tie-break with a backhand passing shot.

Both players went on seve setting up a second tie-break. Berrettini got an early mini-break, but Shapovalov broke straight back. Berrettini took another mini-break to take a 3-2 when Shapovalov hit a volley into the net and sealed the second set 7-3 on his first set point.

Shapovalov earned a break point in the fifth game of the third set with a forehand winner. Berrettini held on his serve with his 11th ace. Both players went on serve in the next games setting up a third tie-break. Berrettini got the first mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Shapovalov. The young Canadian player broke straight back, when Berrettini made a forehand volley error. Shapovalov sealed the tie-break 7-5, when Berrettini fired his forehand long on his first match point after 2 hours.

“After making semifinals in the Madrid Mutua Open here, and winning the Junior Davis Cup in 2015, I feel like Madrid is a really good city for me. We will see how this week goes, but it’s a good step today”, said Shapovalov.

Fognini and Berrettini won the doubles match over beating Shapovalov and Pospisil 6-2 3-6 6-3. The Italian team got a double break to win the first set 6-2. Shapovalov and Pospisil drew level by winning the second set with a break in the eighth game. Italy saved two break points in the seventh game of the decisive set before breaking serve in the eighth game. Berrettini sealed the win for Italy with an ace.

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