Goffin hopes for a “revenge of the French Open” in his rematch with Federer in the Swiss Indoors Basel final - UBITENNIS
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Goffin hopes for a “revenge of the French Open” in his rematch with Federer in the Swiss Indoors Basel final

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TENNIS SWISS INDOORS – On Sunday David Goffin and Roger Federer will face each other in the final of the ATP 500 Basel. The Swiss defeated Karlovic 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in his semifinal whilst the Belgian won against Croatian teenager Borna Coric 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. From Basel Andreen Soley

Federer progressed to his 123rd Tour-level final with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 win over Ivo Karlovic. It is Federer’s nine straight final in his hometown tournament and even as he acknowledged that “the streak is great” he is anticipating a difficult final because Goffin has won so “much this year. You almost tend to forget how to lose at one point.”

Even as Federer took the 1st set against Karlovic in a tense and nervy tiebreak that saw him come back from an early minibreak down, the end was not entirely certain for Federer nor the Basel crowd. In the second set, they were silent during Karlovic’s service games and jubilant whenever Federer successfully served out a game. They had cause to be worried as Karlovic remained stalwart on serve and it was Federer who faltered and gave up the break in the second set which allowed Karlovic to level the match. As he prepared for the decider, Federer admitted that “I didn’t expect a break in the third set, so I was very happy to get that and bring it home.”

That vital break came in the 4th game when Karlovic went down three breakpoints and double faulted. It was an uncharacteristic service game and one can’t help but wonder if the partisan crowd wasn’t a factor. Federer admitted that the “crowd support was amazing” and hopes for more of the same tomorrow. For a tournament that has been marred by grumblings about the lack of a contract for the hometown son, Federer, it would be gratifying for him to seal his 6th Swiss Indoors Basel title.

Standing in Federer’s way is David Goffin who clinched his first top ten win by defeating world no. 9 Milos Raonic to make the semifinals in his Basel debut. Goffin took out Rafael Nadal’s slayer and wild card, Borna Coric in three sets to set up his 2nd meeting with Federer and reach his third Tour-level final. Goffin sealed the 1st set against Coric in 44 minutes. From the start, there was little to separate the two within the first six games as neither faced a single breakpoint. Then in that vital seventh game, Goffin generated and converted his first breakpoint with a well – timed forehand down the line to yield an error in response from Coric. Though Goffin would consolidated for 5-3, it was a difficult service game as he served two double faults and only produced one first serve. Goffin did succeed in serving out the first set at 15, but Coric was not deterred and quickly capitalized on some loose play from Goffin to go up 3-0 in the second set. Coric would comfortably hold serve for the remainder of the set and take it 6-3.

In the third set, we were left to wonder who would falter first. Coric showed early signs of frustration as he netted a backhand to go down love-15 in the second game of the set. He would hold for 1-all after yielding two deuce games. Goffin then held to 15 for 2-1, putting the pressure right back on Coric. Coric seemed assured of holding at 40-15 but then he sent a forehand into the net and double faulted to send the game to deuce. This time around, he could not manufacture an escape as he squandered his earned advantage with a second double fault to take the game to deuce again. A forehand error along with an ill-fated net approach allowed Goffin to break with a backhand-down-the-line winner. Coric could only scream at himself in frustration as Goffin went up 3-1. Goffin would consolidate the break for 4-1 and play his most comfortable service game at 5-2; he held to love with serves that didn’t venture over 160 km/hour which Coric did not punish. By the two hour mark, Goffin had survived a circuitous route to the Swiss Indoors Basel final and had three match points. Though he would squander them all, Goffin held firm with one of his biggest serves of the match at 207 km at deuce to generate and take his 4th match point when Coric sent a lob long. He won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

In his post-match interview Goffin would blame the flubbed match points on nerves and offer a teasing jab at hoping for a “revenge of the French Open” if he did meet Federer. In 2012, Federer ended his run in the round of sixteen at the French Open with a 4-set win. It promises to be an intriguing final. Federer declared his hope that “I can win here at home in Basel. It will mean the world to me. I’m looking forward to the match. I think it’s going to be an exciting but a tough one.”

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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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