ATP Monte Carlo Masters: Djokovic to face Nadal in the semis - UBITENNIS
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ATP Monte Carlo Masters: Djokovic to face Nadal in the semis

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TENNIS-  Rafael Nadal edged past David Ferrer with 6-4 5-7 6-2 in two hours and 45 minutes taking a re-match for last year’s quarter final where Ferrer knocked out the eight-time “Prince of Monte-Carlo”. Nadal set up a blockbuster semifinal against Novak Djokovic  who eased past Marin Cilic 6-0 6-3 to improve his winning streak in their head-to-head matches to 12-0. Diego Sampaolo

Eight-time “Prince of Monte-Carlo” Rafael Nadal battled past David Ferrer in a hard-fought match with 6-4 5-7 6-2 setting up a blockbuster semifinal against 2013 Monte-Carlo champion Novak Djokovic.

Nadal built up a 5-2 lead with a double break in the opening set but Ferrer recovered one of the two breaks. However, Nadal closed out the first set with 6-4 before getting a double break to take a 3-0 in the second set. Nadal looked to be in control of the match. Ferrer needed treatment to cure a blister when he was down a break but he recovered one of the two breaks. Nadal served out for the match at 5-4 but Ferrer broke back for 5-5 by sending a backhand down the line followed by a forehand. Ferrer reeled off three consecutive games and clinched the second set with another break in the 12th game.

Nadal broke early in the third set before getting a double break in the seventh game en route to clinching his 23rd win over Ferrer.

“I think I played at the highest level for a long time, almost three hours. The way I played in the third set after losing after losing a disappointing second set. It was a great third set in terms of tennis, in terms of physical performance, in terms of mentality. In the important points I have been able to play the way that I wanted to play”, said Nadal.

Nadal and Djokovic will square off against for the 43rd time in their careers. Nadal leads 23-19 in their head-to-head matches. They will meet for the fourth time in Monte-Carlo. Nadal beat Djokovic in two finals in 2009 and 2012. Djokovic clinched his first title in the Principality in 2013 breaking Nadal’s winning streak of 46 consecutive matches in the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

Novak Djokovic has extended his winning streak to 28-2 this year with his win over last year’s US Open champion Marin Cilic with 6-0 6-3. Djokovic is bidding to become the first player to win the first three Master 1000 Tournaments of the year after lifting the first two titles at Indian Wells and Miami. He would complete a unique collection which also ncludes his fifth Australian Open last February. Considering that he won the last Master 1000 title in 2014, he could win four Master 1000 in a row.

Djokovic, who has dropped just 12 games in the whole tournament this week, reeled off his first eight games of the match to cruise to 8-0 before Cilic held his serve in the third game of the second set. Cilic fended off two match points at 3-5 in a tight final game of the second set but he did not manage to hold his serve Djokovic closed out the second set with 6-3

Djokovic won 91 percent of his first service points in the first set

“It was probably the best match I’have played so far in the tournament”, said Djokovic.

Gael Monfils dismissed Grigor Dimitrov with 6-1 6-3 following up his biggest win of the season against Roger Federer. Monfils converted all his break point chances

Monfils cruised past Dimitrov after just 22 minutes. The Frenchman  took advantage of 22 unforced errors made by Dimitrov. Monfils broke serve three times in the first set to close out the first set after 24 minutes before saving two break points in the third game of the second set with consecutive winning serves. He held serve with a cross court winner before breaking serve in the fourth game for 3-1. “La Monf” pulled away to a 5-2 lead in the second set before clinching the second set with 6-2 after just 58 minutes when Dimitrov was not able to return a forehand attack.

Monfils, who received a wild-card from the organizers after recovering from a right hip injury, will be bidding to reach his second final this year after finishing runner-up to Giles Simon in Marseille and to qualify for his third Master 1000 final after playing two consecutive titles matches in Paris Bercy. He also reached the semifinals in Rome in 2006. This is the best result achieved by La Monf in Monte-Carlo who had not advanced to the quarter finals in his nine previous appearances in Monte-Carlo

Monfils will take on Tomas Berdych who qualified for his third Monte-Carlo semifinal after his quarter final rival Milos Raonic was forced to withdraw because of a foot injury after the Canadiad player was broken for the second time to go down 2-5. Raonic decided to call it a day after a short discussion with the doctor who had a close look at his righr foot.

Berdych reached his previous two semifinals in the Country Club in 2007 (losing to Rafa Nadal) and in 2012 (losing to Novak Djokovic). He has already reached the final in Doha and Rotterdam and the semifinal at the Australian Open this year.

Monfils won just once in his six head-to-head matches against Berdych at the 2013 Roland Garros on clay. The Czech player won their previous two matches played this year in Rotterdam and Miami in two sets.

Doubles tournament:

US twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who won four doubles titles in Monte-Carlo battled past Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez with 6-4 2-6 10-4 after a tough match. Bob and Mike could not fend off any of the three break point chances they faced. They will take on Marcin Markowski and Nenad Zimonjic who beat Benoit Paire and Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-3

Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli, who won the Australian Open doubles title this year, fought off 8 of his 10 break points to edge Nicholas Mahut and Edouard Roger Vasselin with 7-6 (7-4) 6-2. The Italian team will take on Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo who defeated Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-3 6-4.

 

 

 

 

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Novak Djokovic Starts Rehab Ahead Of Ambitious Wimbledon Return

Novak Djokovic could make an ambitious return to Wimbledon.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Novak Djokovic has started his rehab after having surgery on a meniscus injury he suffered at Roland Garros.

The Serb suffered the injury during his fourth round clash with Francisco Cerundolo where Djokovic came back from two sets to one down to claim victory.

However Djokovic played no further part at Roland Garros as he suffered a bad meniscus injury and had to withdraw from the tournament.

It resulted in Djokovic having to have surgery the following day in Paris as he gave up his world number one ranking to Jannik Sinner.

Now the road to recovery starts for Djokovic as he posted on Instagram the start of his rehabilitation programme.

Usually the programme takes three weeks to six months to recover from but Djokovic’s injury wasn’t as bad as first reported.

It remains to be seen as to whether Djokovic will make his return at Wimbledon or whether he will wait until the Olympic Games to make his return.

Last year Djokovic reached the final at Wimbledon before losing to Carlos Alcaraz in a five set epic.

However it would be no surprise to see Djokovic withdraw as the one thing the Serb is yet to achieve is to win Olympic Gold.

A fully healed Djokovic could be tough to stop in Paris as he looks to achieve a lifetime goal.

Wimbledon starts on the 1st of July while the Olympics starts on the 27th of July.

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Determined Andreescu Ready To Maintain Consistency After Defeating Osaka

Bianca Andreescu is back to her best after defeating Naomi Osaka in s-Hertogenbosch.

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Bianca Andreescu is ready to maintain consistency as her form continues to improve with her latest victory coming against Naomi Osaka in S-Hertogenbosch.

In a battle of the former US Open champions, Andreescu defeated Osaka 6-4 3-6 7-6(3) to move into the semi-finals.

The Canadian is only playing her second tournament this year after her run to the third round at Roland Garros, losing to eventual finalist Jasmine Paolini.

However that hasn’t stopped Andreescu from producing incredible performances as has gone back to the variety that earned her the US Open title five years ago.

Speaking about the match Andreescu praised her consistency on return as she admitted that she really wanted to the victory, “So the key for. me was to stay as consistent as possible,” Andreescu told the WTA website.

“My return today, the goal was to just bunt it back and then take control of the second serve. At 5-2, I might have let up a little bit on my serve. I was saying to myself ‘Go for it’ but the other side of myself said ‘Calm down’. So I got a bit conflicted with that.

“But really could have gone either way. It was two points difference maybe, in the whole match. I never give up. I ran a lot today. More than her for sure. I really wanted it. I really wanted it today and I think that made the big difference.”

Since that US Open title win five years ago, Andreescu has failed to live up to her potential as she has gained the reputation of being one of the most injury prone players on the tour.

Now the Canadian is aiming to find some consistent playing time as she aims to rebuild her ranking.

Speaking ahead of the semi-finals in Holland, Andreescu is not getting to far ahead of herself, “These are the reason we play this sport,” Andreescu commented after beating former world number one Osaka.

“Winning against players like this, at least for me, it really shows me where my level is at. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because every day is different. I just want to take it in and use it to my advantage.”

Next for Andreescu will be Dalma Galfi in the semi-finals as she plays her first WTA semi-final since January 2023.

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Jack Draper Stuns Tiafoe in Stuttgart; Becomes New British Number One

The Brit serves up astonishing 31 aces in just 17 service games

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Britain’s Jack Draper was pushed all the way before beating defending champion Frances Tiafoe in a third set tie-breaker to reach the semi-finals of the Boss Open in Stuttgart today – a result which also makes him the new British number one.

Draper’s biggest wins of his career came when he defeated world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal last year as a qualifier, and also beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in reaching the US Open third round. However, today’s victory over Tiafoe confirms his ascent to the top spot in the British rankings, something which is extremely proud of.

“It’s an incredible privilege, an honour to be in that position,” he said afterwards. “I’ve been so lucky to have guys like Andy Murray, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans ahead of me all these years and they’re still in the mix pushing me, so it’s a real honour, a big milestone.”

Games went with serve in the opening set until Tiafoe broke when the scores were even at five games all. Tiafoe, whose three ATP titles have come on all three surfaces, survived a break back point in the next game to take the set with 15 winners and an impressive 71% of first serves in. The payers stopped briefly for a rain delay at the start of the second set.

“It was difficult, it wasn’t easy after the first set, I thought Frances played a really good game, just the one break.” Said Draper. “Going off, I was very frustrated, but then I came back really strong, I knew I had my opportunities and I knew I would have some more. I’m really happy with the way I served and competed and how brave I was at the end.”

As the second set continued, Draper missed two breakpoints when 4-3 ahead including a huge chance when he pushed his opponent out wide and approached the net – but put too much on his drop volley which Tiafoe punished. Draper had been serving unbelievably throughout the set with 11 aces overall, and blitzed through another love service game to go 5-4 up and apply some scoreboard pressure.

In the next game he hit a strong forehand up the line to win the crucial first point and then chased down a drop shot to hit another flashy winner to go 0-30 ahead. Tiafoe won the next point but then double faulted to give Draper set points – and he converted with yet another superb forehand up the line to level the contest at a set all.

Both players held serve easily at the start of the third but then tested each other out as the set progressed. Tiafoe fought through a deuce game and got to 30 all on Draper’s serve but the Brit averted the danger. Draper missed a match point when 5-4 up with a missed return but entered the tie-break in good shape – his first serve was almost unplayable winning over 85% when in.

“I’m incredibly happy with the win. I’ve lost all my last three third set tie-breakers so to come through today was really amazing, I’m really proud of my effort. I’m really happy with the way I served and the way I played; it was a really high-quality match. Frances was serving very well himself so to serve the way I did; it was a really big positive for me.”

Draper now goes on to face another American Brandon Nakashima who progressed after Jan-Lennard Struff withdrew with sickness. Speaking about his next opponent who was born in the same year as Draper, he said: “He’s someone who is an incredibly good young player, a really exciting talent, I think he had a lot of injuries last year like myself but he’s been rising this year and playing a lot of matches. Like everyone here, they’re all amazing players and it will be a tough battle.”

After the match, Draper spoke to Sky Sports and elaborated further about the positive influence of the other British top five, and about the Euro 2024 tournament beginning this evening.

“Those guys have all inspired me to be better. Obviously, Andy is a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion and has achieved so much in the game. For me he’s one of the greatest players. I’ve learned so much from those guys, the professionalism, the discipline and they’ve always been really good for me, just as a young player looking up to them and copying what they do so I’m very grateful for that.”

“[In the football]: Hopefully England can do one better than three years ago because we did well to get to the final. We have an incredibly strong team. It’s going to be a lot of tough matches but hopefully they can pull through.

On the other side of the draw, former champion Matteo Berrettini faced qualifier James Duckworth.  The Australian, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2021, could only manage 64% of first serve points won and committed 16 unforced errors while also facing eight breakpoints. A single break of serve in both sets was enough for the Italian to move forward into the semis, as he won 6-4, 7-5 with another strong serving display.

“It was a really solid match, especially on my serve, I didn’t give him any breakpoints,” said Berrettini afterwards. “I felt like the rhythm on the serve was really good, on grass it’s really important and in the right moments I stepped in and was more aggressive. It’s really important to put a lot of returns in and that’s what I tried to do and it worked out, and so I’m happy for that.

When asked why he was so hard to beat on the faster surface he replied, “you should ask my opponents that! I think obviously for my weapons, my serve, it pays off on grass to play aggressively and that’s what I like to do. I’m using the slice as well on the backhand side and it’s important to play good in the important moments and being able to put pressure on your opponent when you’re serving is really important, and I think that’s the key. And when I step on grass, I feel like I want to play for hours and hours so here I am”

The 28-year-old is a big football fan, and was also asked about whether he would watch the opening match of the tournament. “Germany is playing tonight so I will watch tomorrow’s match. I love Germany but to supporting Germany is a little bit too much! Tomorrow is the start [for Italy] so good luck to the guys. Three years ago, we had really good memories during this time, so let’s see!”

Following Struff’s earlier withdrawal against Nakashima, it meant there was only one other quarter final today where Lorenzo Musetti progressed despite dropping the first set 4-6 to Hungarian Alexander Bublik. The Italian raced through the second set 6-1, and when he broke serve to go 1-0 ahead in the decider, Bublik retired.

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