Wawrinka and Tsonga score upsets to play French semis - UBITENNIS
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Wawrinka and Tsonga score upsets to play French semis

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TENNIS – Stan Wawrinka (8) beat Roger Federer (2) 6-4 6-3 7-6(4) on the Suzanne Langlen Court on a sunny but windy afternoon in Paris to qualify for the semifinals of the Roland Garros. The Lausanne player has reached the semifinals of the French Open for the first time in his career and his second semifinal of the year after the Australian Open last January. Diego Sampaolo

 

“Stan the Man” as he is commonly known amongst his fans, had won just 2 of his previous 18 head-to-head matches with his countryman. Most recently, he lost their last match in the Rome semifinal in May and had never beaten his compatriot in their previous three Grand Slam matches including the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year.

This time Wawrinka took control of the match from the start and never relinquished until the end. Wawrinka earned a break point in the opening game of the match but Federer managed to save it as it took him near 7 minutes to hold serve. Federer again had to face break points in the 3rd game. This time around Wawrinka broke serve to love in the third game and pulled away for a 4-2 lead. Federer never recovered from this early deficit. Federer saved the first set point with a serve-and volley but Wawrinka converted the second set point to take it 6-4.

Wawrinka won four consecutive games from 2-3 in the second set with a break at 3-3. The 2014 Australian Open champion got a double break to clinch the second set with 6-3. Through 2 sets, Federer had yet to break serve. The third set went on serve with Federer serving to stay in the match down 4-5 and 5-6. The decider came down to the tie-break where Federer took a 2-1 lead. This is about as much of a lead Federer would get as Wawrinka was on a roll and raced out to a 6-3 lead. The end was drawing near for Federer who only save one of the match points. Wawrinka converted on his second opportunity to score a rare straight sets victory over Federer at a major.

Federer, who fought back from two sets down nine times in his career, never broke Wawrinka for the entire match. He was 0/4 on break points whereas Wawrinka broke Federer 3 times for the match. This was the first time Federer has failed to break serve in a Grand Slam match since his defeat in the fourth round of the 2002 US Open; near 13 years ago. It was the first time that Wawrinka beat Federer in a Grand Slam tournament. Federer now leads 4-1 in their Grand Slam matches.

Stan made it tough. When you lose there is always a bunch of things, the opponent, the conditions, the court and it’s the same for both guys. I am looking forward to what’s coming ahead now.There is nothing positive about losing today because I don’t need the extra days but I will use them with my family and have a great time with them and recover my body. I am looking forward to Halle and Wimbledon. I want to win it and I feel like my game is good. It’s been solid. I have just got to keep it up now”, said Federer

In the semifinal Wawrinka will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who edged past Kei Nishikori in five sets with 6-1 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3. Nishikori fought back from two sets down to draw level and force the match to the fifth set. Wawrinka and Tsonga are tied 3-3 in their head-to-head matches. It will be the third time that Wawrinka and Tsonga played at the Roland Garros. In both matches they played the fifth set. Wawrinka won in 2011, while Tsonga prevailed one year later.

Tsonga held his serve to 15 on his opening service game before breaking serve in the next game. The Frenchman got his second break to open up a 4-0 lead. Nishikori won his first game but was broken again to lose the first set 6-1.

Tsonga broke again at the start of the second set. The Frenchman got the double break en route to winning three consecutive games to serve for the set at 5-2.  However, the match was interrupted for near 30 minutes at this point when piece of metal sheeting from an advertisement board fell down into a section of the crowd. There were a few minor injuries. Upon resumption of the match, Nishikori recovered one of the breaks and held serve to be down 4-5. Tsonga had another chance to close out the set and he recovered from a 0-30 hole by winning 4 consecutive points and took the set 6-4.

The third set went on serve until the ninth game. After saving three break points Nishikori held his serve in a hard-fought ninth game which lasted 13 minutes and featured 18 points for 5-4. He then went on to break Tsonga in the 10th game as he served to stay in the set. The match was now 2-1 sets Tsonga. Finally it looked like Nishikori was ready to play a match as for most of it, he looked lethargic and uninterested as he committed error and error. In the 4th set, Nishikori continued building the momentum as he broke Tsonga early for 3-1. Tsonga earned a break point chance at 5-3 but Nishikori saved it. Nishikori hit an inside-in forehand to force the match to the fifth set. Tsonga recovered from 15-40 to get the break for 3-1 in the fifth set, At 5-3 Tsonga clinched the win with an inside-out forehand

Tsonga, who beat Tomas Berdych in four sets in the fourth round, beat two top-5 players in a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. Tsonga will play his second semifinal here two years after losing to David Ferrer in 2013.

Tomorrow Novak Djokovic will take on Rafa Nadal in a blockbuster quarter final. The other quarter final match will be played between David Ferrer and Andy Murray

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Nikoloz Basilashvili survives scare in Sardinia

The third day of the Italian 250 event saw a trio of seeded players secure their places in the quarter-finals.

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A strong Mediterranean wind was not enough to blow away Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Sardegna Open as he came through a tense 3-setter against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.

 

The fourth seed’s typically aggressive style at times threatened to prove his undoing in Cagliari. A topsy-turvy encounter in blustery conditions was ultimately defined by the marathon tenth game in the deciding set, Kovalik missing five match points as his opponent’s serve just about held firm. Basilashvili then immediately broke himself, going on to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory.

He will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed overpowered Britain’s Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, a much-improved performance from the German after his nervy first-round slugfest with Joao Sousa.

Qualifier Broady, whose strong start to the year has seen him reach a career-high ranking of 152, started well. He broke the fifth seed in the second game, but Struff was able to respond immediately before going on to take the first set 6-4. The Brit faded in the second set, Struff’s superior ranking showing as he overpowered his opponent with some brutal forehands and booming serves. If both men bring their best form, his match-up with Basilashvili on Friday should be an entertaining encounter.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1379725700949770242

Elsewhere, Aljaz Bedene defeated Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 7-6(5). Fresh from an impressive win over Guido Pella in round one, qualifier Gerasimov would have had high hopes to progress further, facing an opponent ranked only 22 places higher. It looked good for the Belarussian as he edged a break ahead early on, but the ever-reliable Bedene reeled off three games in a row to take the first set. A similarly tight second set looked to be going Gerasimov’s way when he stormed to a 4-0 lead in the tie break, but Bedene once again took charge, winning 7 of the next 8 points to book a spot in the next round.

His opponent there will be second seed Taylor Fritz, who enjoyed a relatively easy ride in the final match of the day. He breezed through the opening set against Andrej Martin 6-2, looking strong in his first outing on clay in 2021. The players traded two breaks each in the second set before Fritz took the tie break 7-4. This week is the first tournament Fritz is playing as American No.1 after recently overtaking John Isner.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1379857536912924675

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Roger Federer Set To Start Clay Campaign In Madrid

The world No.7 will be back on the Tour shortly as he seeks his first title since the 2019 Swiss Indoors.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is set to return to competitive tennis later this month after being included in the entry list for a key Masters 1000 tournament.

 

The former world No.1 is currently down to play the Madrid Open which will start on April 30th and takes place over 10 days. Federer returned to the Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month in what was his first tournament in over a year due to a knee injury which required two operations. In Dubai he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili who went on to win the title.

Since then the Swiss maestro has returned to the practice courts to “work his way back out on tour,” according to his agent Tony Godsick. Federer has already confirmed that he will play on the clay this season but admits that it is because he has little choice. The 39-year-old has already stated that his goal is to be in top shape in time for the grass-court swing which starts after the French Open.

“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer told reporters on March 11th. “So I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“The clay could be good or bad for me. I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad. I assume I will play some clay.”

It isn’t the first time Federer has started his return to the clay in Madrid. In 2019 he played his first match on the surface in almost three years at the tournament after skipping the clay-court season the two previous years.

Also on the Madrid entry list is Federer’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who both missed the Miami Open. Dominic Thiem is also set to play in the tournament after he recently announced a delay to his return to professional tennis because he isn’t ready to compete yet.

The Madrid Open has been largely dominated by the Big Four (including Andy Murray) for more than a decade. Since 2008 only one player outside of the quartet has won the title which was Alexander Zverev back in 2018. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Rafael Nadal Will Be Ready For Start Of Clay Season, Says Doctor

A member of Nadal’s team has issued some encouraging news.

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Rafael Nadal (image via twitter.com)

It appears that Rafael Nadal’s recent woes are behind him as he looks to get back on track at next week’s Monte Carlo Masters.

 

The 34-year-old hasn’t played a tournament since his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Throughout the first quarter of the season Nadal has been troubled by a back problem which he first picked up in Melbourne. The injury forced him to pull out of both the Rotterdam Open and Miami Masters. Overall, he has played just five matches so far in 2021.

Nadal will be looking to regain momentum on his beloved clay. A surface which he has won 60 ATP titles on, including a record 13 French Open trophies. According to his doctor, Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, the world No.3 is ‘training well’ at present.

“He is training well, he is training hard. His goal is clay. First is Monte Carlo and his final goal is Roland Garros. It is clear,” Cotorro told RTVE.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking his 12th title in Monte Carlo in what is a tournament record. He has won three out of the four past editions with the only exception being Fabio Fognini who won the title in 2019. Last year’s tournament was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking further on in the calendar, Nadal is expected to play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before the French Open which is set to start in May. Although it is possible that his commitments could change. A member of the French government has also admitted that it is possible that Roland Garros could be delayed for a second year in a row due to the pandemic but no such change has been formally announced.

So far in his career Nadal has won 86 ATP titles and earned more then $123 million in prize money. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to have won 1000 or more matches on the men’s Tour.

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