Djokovic finally beat Nadal in Paris! - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic finally beat Nadal in Paris!

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TENNIS -Novak Djokovic beat 9-time French Open Rafa Nadal 7-5 6-3 6-1 in two hours and 26 minutes on Nadal’s 29th birthday in the eagerly awaited quarterfinal at the Roland Garros putting an end to the Spaniard’s winning streak of 39 consecutive matches in Paris  Diego Sampaolo

Djokovic is still in contention to become the 8th man to complete the Career Grand Slam. The Serbian player has scored his first win over Nadal at Grand Slam level since his triumph at the 2012 Australian Open. It was also the first time Djokovic has beaten Nadal in 7 meetings here in Paris.

Djokovic won eight of the first nine points to get an early break and then pulled away for 4-0. The crowd was in complete shock at Djokovic’s superior level of play and the sheer flatfootedness of Nadal at the beginning of the match. However, facing the possibility of 0-5, the Spanish legend converted on his 4th break point chance to claw his way back into the match for 5-5. It near appeared as though Djokovic had lost the momentum but he held serve comfortably for 6-5 and force Nadal to come up with spectacular plays to stay in the set. Nadal was able to save 5 set point but Djokovic remained determined and clinched the opening set on his 6th set point, 7-5 in 67 minutes. Djokovic had 19 winners alone in the set.

The second set went on serve until the 8th game when Djokovic broke serve for 5-3 before earning a fourth set point with a half-volley drop-shot which he converted for 6-3. It appeared as though all that energy that Nadal spent attempting the comeback in the first set proved critical as he was a touch slow. From the onset of the 3rd set, it was clear that Nadal was not up to the challenge that was Djokovic on the day. The Serbian again raced out to a 4-0 lead and this time, he remained steadfast in the task at hand. Down 1-5 and serving to stay in the match, Nadal double faulted on match point handing Djokovic the win 7-5 6-3 6-1 after 2 hours and 26 minutes.

Djokovic converted on four of his 11 break points and won 70 percent of his net points. This was his 27th consecutive victory this year. This win for Djokovic is historic as it was only the second defeat in 72 matches for Nadal in the Roland Garros. Before Djokovic the only other player able to beat Nadal in Paris was Robin Soderling in 2009. Nadal’s dominance stretched back to 2005 when he won the first of his 9 titles.

“It started already before the match. You go through more emotions than for any other match. Playing against Rafa at Roland Garros is a special thing. It’s a special mach. Tomorrow is a new day. I have to move on. It’s only the quarter finals and I want to fight for the title. Celebration can wait. I have to direct my thought to the semis”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic will face Andy Murray who became the first British player to reach three semifinals at the Roland Garros after beating David Ferrer in four sets with 7-6(4) 6-2 5-7 6-1 after three hours and 21 minutes. Murray clinched his 15th consecutive match on clay. He won his first two titles on this surface in Munich and Madrid. Djokovic leads 18-8 in their 26 encounters against Murray. It will be the fourth time they clash this year with Djokovic winning the three matches at Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami.

In the first set where both players got three breaks of serve Murray fended off two set points as he was serving to stay in the set at 5-6 before winning the tie-break on his fourth set point. In the second set Murray broke twice and fended off all the three break points he faced to win 6-2. Ferrer bounced back from an early break down before fending off a match point while serving to stay in the set at 4-5. Ferrer, finalist in Paris in 2013, got the break in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead before serving out for the third set for 7-5. Murray converted his third match point to cruise to 6-1 in the fourth set

“I was frustrated to lose the third set but I got off to a good start in the fourth set, so my frustration didn’t last long”, said Murray.

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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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