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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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem And Thomas Muster: A Comparison

They are the only Austrian Slam champions in men’s tennis, but how do they stack up against each other?

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Dominic Thiem - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

The original version of this article was published on loslalom.it.

 

On October 24, 2011, Dominic Thiem had just turned 18 and was in the very early stages of his professional career, so the organisers of the ATP tournament in Vienna rewarded him with a wild card. On October 24, 2011, Thomas Muster had been 44 for about three weeks and at the sunset of his career, so he was also given the wild card for Vienna tournament. What no one could predict, neither the players nor the tournament organizers, was that the draw would pit them against each other in the first round, for what would be their first encounter, and ultimately the only one – after conceding with a 6-2 6-3 score in an hour and four minutes, Muster retired forever. He was the only Austrian to have won a Grand Slam tournament, in 1995 at Roland Garros, at least until Sunday night, when the then teenager who ended his career equalled him.

In the first decade of his career, Thiem has earned almost twice as much as Munster did in 18 (22 million dollars against 12). Thiem is right-handed, Muster a southpaw. Both sport one-handed backhands. It took 10 years for Muster to win a Major, and by the eleventh he was the world N.1, albeit not for long. He was a bona fide drop-shot chaser. It took nine years as a professional for Thiem to win at Flushing Meadows, but he has not yet risen higher than third in the ATP Ranking. Thiem is two inches taller (6’1’’ versus 5’11’’), he has an edge for the number of aces (5.8 per game on average against 3) and for the effectiveness of his first serve (74.2% vs 69.1%). The two are essentially tied with their second serve (53.2% vs 53.7) and in the break-points-saved department (62.9% vs 63%), but Muster is more dominant in the return games (31.6% break vs 23.5%) and, despite earning a street rep as a marathon runner, his matches were 11 minutes shorter than Thiem’s (an hour and 30 minutes against an hour and 41). His winning points ended on average in 35 seconds, Thiem’s in 37,8 seconds.

In his career Thiem has met stronger opponents, ranked on average at 35 in the world, while Muster’s foes usually hovered around number 52. Despite this, the latter managed to beat opponents better placed than him in the standings in only 9.8% of cases, while Thiem’s ​​percentage is 12.3 %. On the contrary, Thiem was beaten in 21.4% of cases by tennis players ranked worse in the rankings, whereas this happened to Muster in 19% of cases, a percentage that drops to 13% when it comes to clay only. For a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2020, Muster coached Thiem.

The following chart summarises the numbers: 

Gianni Clerici, the Italian Hall-of-Famer journalist and writer, gave Thomas Muster the moniker of “Mr Muscolo” (Mr Muscle). This is the portrait he made of him: “He’s not very nice, seven out of ten people say about Muster. A couple of them find him downright unpleasant. The remaining, meagre ten percent all but worships him. It is probably the attitude that does not appeal. His face appears incredibly rapacious, reminding of a bird of prey, or, if not strictly of an eagle or a hawk, at the very least of a possessed personality, those wide-open eyes animated by a blue and sinister light. But, even more than the face, what repels many people is his technique, his relentlessness devoid of human breathing which is fully on display as he gets back bopping on his side of the court a ripe thirty seconds before the  established one minute and 25, while the unfortunate opponent is still splayed on his chair, trying to recover some breath and peace in the aftermath of the gruelling races that Muster locked him into. If the style is the man, well, the Austrian’s style does not capture the imagination. His serve is average at best, and he cautiously avoids volleying, but he has some great weapons, like that terrible loopy forehand and, in the last couple years, that no less terrible backhand slap. Come to think of it, even Muster’s ancestors, Borg and Vilas, were no less engulfing, less repetitive. But Borg had more athletic talent, his runs were very fluid, his sense of playing so high that he even managed to adapt to the Wimbledon lawns where he won five times and where Muster instead looks like a wretch. Muster has the athletic pedigree of champions but certainly not the charisma”.

Clerici also had the opportunity to write on Thiem for “la Repubblica” (an Italian daily newspaper), stating that “he was born with tennis in his blood, […] he has a refined hand, as can be seen with his drop shots and with his cross-court volleys,” then adding: “I have seen many times the Austrian go all-out on his backhand, as if he were holding an umbrella wide open, while his forehand is more akin to a machete.” Yesterday morning, he added that Thiem reminds him of “the tennis players of my time during the Fifties, when tennis was different from today, perhaps more beautiful to watch, a spectacles that intellectuals like Giorgio Bassani enjoyed, and that could have taken place in the genteel backyards sketched out in his novels.” 

Translation and graphics by Andrea Canella

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