RG15 Day 4: Federer advances as Halep is upset again by Lucic-Baroni - UBITENNIS
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RG15 Day 4: Federer advances as Halep is upset again by Lucic-Baroni

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Roger Federer (2) beat Marcel Granollers 6-2 7-6 6-3 to get through to the 3rd round. Federer broke twice to win the 1st set with 6-2 but he dropped his serve and had to recover from 2-4 down in the 2nd set before clinching the second set at tie-break with 7-1 points. Diego Sampaolo

 

Federer recovered from a 0-2 deficit to start the 3rd set by converting his third break point chance in the very long 7th game, which featured 12 points.  Federer reeled off five consecutive games before closing out the match with 6-3 after one hour and 47 minutes. Federer hit 38 winners and three aces.

“I was actually playing very well. I wasn’t nervous really. Even though I was down a break in the second set, I still felt the match was in my raquet. When you feel that way, you are always going to feel more confident”, said Federer.

Federer will take on Damir Dzumhur who beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-2. Federer’s compatriot, Stan Wawrinka (8) did not have all it all his way against Serbian Dusan Lajovic as he dropped the 3rd set and had to close the match out in four sets with a 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-3 scoreline after 2 hours and 37 minutes.

Wawrinka (8) played a solid match until 6-3 5-1 when he dropped his serve for the first time but he wrapped up the second set with 6-4. Wawrinka played a solid match until 6-3 5-1 when he dropped his serve for the first time in the match. However he wrapped up the second set 6-4. In the 3rd set, both players traded breaks for four consecutive games but it was Lajovic who took advantage of the many errors being made by Wawrinka to win the set 7-5. Wawrinka recovered to clinch the match in the fourth set with 6-3.

Wawrinka will face American Steve Johnson who recovered from a set down to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky with 2-6 6-3 7-6(5) 7-6(6). This was a solid battle between the two unseeded players and though Stakhovsky had opportunities to take the 3rd and 4th sets, Johnson hung tough and battled through for the win.

Kei Nishikori (5) had to battle hard to get past Thomaz Bellucci 7-5 6-4 6-4. The World Number 5 saved a break point in the sixth game before wasting a chance to get the break at 4-4. Nishikori broke in the 11th game to clinch the first set with 7-5. Bellucci was not deterred as he fought admirably in the 2nd and 3rd set but unfortunately for him, Nishikori raised his level of play in the key moments to get the win. Nishikori will play Benjamin Becker who battled past Fernando Verdasco (32) with 6-4 0-6 1-6 7-5 10-8. Verdasco served for the match up 5-3 in the 4th set but his game collapsed as Becker started to reassert himself in the match.

Tomas Berdych (4) won the all-Czech match against Radek Stepanek with 6-3 6-7 6-3 6-3. Berdych went up a break en route to winning the first set with 6-3. Stepanek earned a set point at 5-4 in the 2nd set but he could not convert but he later seized another opportunity to take the set in the tiebreaker. Berdych sensing that his upset was possible raised his level of play to take the 3rd and 4th sets comfortably and hence the match.

Pablo Cuevas (21) battled past Dominic Thiem 7-6 7-5 6-7 7-5. Thiem fought hard but it appeared as though exhaustion set in and he was unable to give more. He recently won his first ATP title last Saturday. Meanwhile, Frenchmen have been having a great tournament thus far as a number of them made it through to the 3rd round. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14) easily knocked out Dudi Sela in straight sets 6-4 6-1 6-1, Gilles Simon (12) got past Martin Klizan 7-5 6-2 6-3 and Gael Monfils (13) bad to battle it out in 5 sets to secure the win over Diego Schwartzman 4-6 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3. Both Nicholas Mahut and Benoit Paire secured upset wins over their opponents. Mahut edged out Ernests Gulbis (24) 6-3 3-6 7-5 6-3 and Paire upset Fabio Fognini (28) 6-1 6-3 7-5. As a result of this loss, Gulbis’ ranking will drop to the 80s. He has won roughly around 6 matches all year.

Lucic Baroni upsets Halep

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni upset Simona Halep (3) for the second time in a Grand Slam tournament having done so the first time at the US Open last year. Lucic-Baroni clinched a very tight first set in which Halep twice recovered from being a break down to get to 5-5. However, Lucic-Baroni found her A-game again was able to serve out the set 7-5. Her confidence increased as she raced out to a 5-0 lead. Halep struggled mightily in the set as nothing appeared to work in her favour.  Halep won the sixth game but Lucic-Baroni closed out the match with an ace for 7-5 6-1.

“It’s incredible. Simona is such a great champion and I respect her so much and to play her on such a big stadium makes me so happy. I am so proud of myself. It’s such a huge win for me. It’s just amazing”, said Lucic Baroni.

French Open defending champion Maria Sharapova (2) cruised past Vitalia Diatchenko with 6-3 6-1 setting up a third round match against Samanta Stosur (26) who who cruised past French wild-card Amandine Hesse 6-0 6-1.

Sharapova leads 14-2 in the head-to-head against Stosur but last year the Russian star was just six points from losing against the Australian player when she went down a set and break before winning nine consecutive games to clinch a hard-fought victory.

Ana Ivanovic (7) fought back from losing the first set to edge past Misaki Doi with 3-6 6-3 6-4. Ivanovic will face Donna Vekic who followed up a first round win against Caroline Garcia with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Bojana Jovanovski

Angelique Kerber (11) winner in Charleston and Stuttgart, continued her good form on clay with an easy win over Alja Tomljanovic with 6-3 6-2. The German will take on Garbine Muguruza (21) who beat Camila Giorgi 6-1 6-4. Giorgi fought back from 1-5 in the second set by reeling off three consecutive games  and saved a match point at 4-5 but Muguruza was able to fend off the Italian. Giorgi committed 35 unforced errors.

Flavia Pennetta (28) cruised past Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 6-0 setting up a third round match against Carla Suarez Navarro (8). Pennetta leads 4-2 in their head-to head matches but lost her previous match at the French Open in 2008. Other winners on the day include Sabine Lisicki (20), Ekaterina Makarova (9), Lucie Safarova (13) Alize Cornet (29) and Elena Svitolina (19) who beat Yulia Putinseva 1-6 7-5 9-7.

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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid’ – Nick Kyrgios Offers Support To Those Struggling During Covid-19 Pandemic

The bad boy of tennis says he will support those in need by delivering essential supplies.

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Former top 20 player Nick Kyrgios has urged members of the public to reach out to him if they require any help during the covid-19 pandemic in a social media post.

 

The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has offered to deliver food to those who are struggling during the current crises, which has suspended the ATP and WTA Tours until at least July. It is estimated by economists that more than 500,000 people in Kyrgios’ home country of Australia will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. There have been more than one million cases of the coronavirus worldwide with many countries currently placed in a lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

‘If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,’ Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.
‘Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or some milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked.’

In Australia there have been 5687 cases of Coronavirus as of Sunday which has resulted in 34 deaths. This is according to figures provided by chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

It is not the first time Kyrgios has offered to support those in need. Earlier this year he was an instrumental figure in helping raising money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Donating AUS$200 for every ace produced during the first month of the season and participating in a series of exhibition matches. According to 7 News, Kyrgios raised in the region of AUS$100,000 for the bushfire fund.

Kyrgios is currently ranked 40th in the world and has won six out of his nine matches played earlier this season. At the Australian Open he reached the fourth round before falling in four sets to Rafael Nadal.

 

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Diego Schwartzman On Playing The Big Three And Who He Believes Is The Best

The top-20 player pays tribute to the three tennis legends as he cast his vote in the greatest of all time debate.

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When it comes to taking on the Big Three in tennis, Diego Schwartzman is perhaps one of the best players to provide an insight into how frustrating it can be.

 

The Argentine world No.13 has played a member of the illustrious trio no less than 18 times in his career, but is yet to gain a single victory to his name. Consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big three have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. Between them, they have won the last 13 grand slams and at least one of them has featured in 58 out of the past 60 major finals. Since February 2004, Andy Murray is the only player outside of the group to have held the No.1 position.

Schwzrtman’s record against the big guns has seen him lose to Nadal nine times as well as succumbing to both Djokovic and Federer on four occasions. Nevertheless, the three-time grand slam quarter-finalist isn’t bitter as he hails their achievements in the sport.

“Against Nadal you always come in hope of giving him a fight on any day and on any surface, but you quickly realize that it is almost impossible to defeat him.” Schwartzman said during an Instagram live chat with journalist Danny Miche.
“Djokovic makes me feel that in the second game of service I no longer have lungs. It’s unbelievable.’
“Federer gives you more air (time), but you don’t seem to know how to play tennis. It’s amazing how he hits the ball.’
“The three are unbelievable, in different ways.”

There is also the ongoing debate as to who should be named the greatest of all time. Each player has their own credentials. Federer currently has the all-time lead for most grand slam titles at 20. Nadal has won more ATP tournaments on the clay than any other player in history. Meanwhile, current world No.1 Djokovic has won more prize money in the sport than any other player – male or female.

Weighing on the debate, Schwartzman has given the edge to Djokovic. Prior to the suspension of the tour due to covid-19, Djokovic started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. Claiming titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“At his best, Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal many times on the clay and Roger Federer many times on the grass. So maybe I would say that he is slightly above the other two.” He explained.
“Let’s see if you can reach the records, now it was packed and saw that pace being broken. But Djokovic knows that he has to keep the level, because if he doesn’t win he will win the other two.”

Schwartzman started the year by winning nine out of 14 matches played. His best performance of the season so far took place on home territory when he reached the final of the Cordoba Open before losing to Christian Garin.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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