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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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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