Bouchard wins two matches in a row after five months - UBITENNIS
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Bouchard wins two matches in a row after five months

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Genie Bouchard is through the third round after a two hours and fifty-three minutes fight against Polona Hercog, winning 63 67 63

The crowd expected a fight between Eugenie Bouchard and Polona Hercog and that’s exactly what the two players gave to the fans sitting on the Grandstand at Flushing Meadows. The Canadian is having a terrible year after her breakthrough in 2014; she has not won two matches in a row since the Indian Wells tournament in March and half the points she gained in the whole year comes from the quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January. She’s still number twenty-five in the world, although she’s now 52 in the race and was heavily defeated last week in New Haven by Roberta Vinci (61 60). She is now working with Jimmy Connors in an attempt to regain her past status as the next big thing in WTA.
Hercog has had a better season than Bouchard, especially considering the different expectations levels, reaching the semifinal in Budapest and the quarters in Bad Gastein. She has defeated Zarina Dyas in straight sets in the first round and is trying to reach the third round a Grand Slam tournament for the second time in her career.
Hercog takes the lead in the first set going up 3-1 and playing a peculiar game for WTA standards, often slicing the backhand and playing a strong topspin forehand. She also hits a pretty consistent first serve and moves well around the court. Bouchard initially looks bothered by the her opponent’s style, in some ways similar to Vinci’s one that gave her nightmares last week, particularly when she is forced to respond to a sliced backhand two feet inside the court. She manages however to make some quick adjustments to her game and, after hitting 8 unforced errors in the first 5 games, she commits only four more in the next 5, winning all of them and conquering the first set six games to three.
The second set follows the exact same path as the first one: Hercog goes up three to one, only to be immediately reached at 3-all. From then on the two players manage to hold their serve only once in the set ending up to the breaker, where Hercog takes straight up the lead and holds it till the end, winning the tiebreak seven points to two.
The match now seems to be in Hercog’s favor. The stats from the second set show how Bouchard level dropped dramatically: 22 unforced errors to only 12 winners, and 47% of points won on serve. Eugenie, however, makes a strong start in the third set taking an early break and then consolidating the lead to 4-0. She hits more cleanly and accurately and, although she hands back a break, she looks determined to not let all of her advantage slip away, closing out the match after a deuce game and a long rally at 6-3, hitting eleven winners in the final set and coming to the net an astonishing number of times, 37 in the whole match, even though she was often forced to do so by the slices of her opponent.
Bouchard will now face Cibulkova in a match that will probably be hard fought and not easy to call. Anyway, the tournament has already been positive for the Canadian player who has managed to have back-to-back wins after five months and that, most importantly, has regained some of that confidence she lost during the year.

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Matteo Berrettini Beats Shapavolov to Reach Last Eight in Stuttgart, but Shelton Falls

Qualifier James Duckworth upset the second seed and now faces Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

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Matteo Berrettini - Wimbledon 2023 (foto Ubitennis)

In the shock of the day, Australian qualifier James Duckworth took out second seed Ben Shelton in three sets to advance to the quarter finals where he plays Matteo Berrettini, who won comfortably against Denis Shapavalov.

In the first meeting between the two, Duckworth completed a 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 win in just over two hours against the American, who was playing his first match on grass this season and is still short of match play on the surface. Despite blasting 21 aces, he could not win enough points behind his second serve and lost the match – although he had won more marginally more points in total. 

The 32-year-old Duckworth was formerly ranked inside the top 50 after claiming a personal-best 22 tour-level wins in 2021. However, he has been plagued by injuries since and has undergone nine different surgeries. He squeezed through the first set tie-break and despite a blip in the second set, refocussed in the decider and managed to break serve for the first time and make it count. 

In the headline match of the day featuring powerful serving along with brilliant sliced backhands from two former top tenners battling their way back from injury, Matteo Berrettini overcame Denis Shapavalov 6-4, 6-4.

The head-to-head showed Shapavolov with a 2-0 record but both matches were over five years ago and both on hard courts. Interestingly, while both matches went to three sets, it was the Canadian who had won all four tie-breaks played. 

I knew that I hadn’t beaten him before,” said Berrettini aftrewards. “They were two tough matches although a long time ago. I knew I had to play my best tennis to beat him today. I know that in my career I have been pretty successful on grass, especially here and now let’s see if I can reach the semi-finals. I have to rest a little bit and think tomorrow about the next match. It was a perfect test for me to see my level, after a long time on grass, especially after the battle I had on Tuesday, I’m really happy to be through to the quarter finals.”

Both players played a high quality first set where once again serve dominated proceedings; Berrettini winning 82% and Shapavalov 83% behind first serves while both saved a breakpoint each. But in the game of tennis, double faults can be costly, especially if you do it at the wrong time. And it was the Canadian who threw in his one and only double fault when at breakpoint down to lose serve and go 4-5 down.

Berrettini took three hours to defeat Roman Safiullin on Tuesday but fortunately had a day off before today’s encounter, while Shapavalov fought from 2-4 down in the first set to win 7-6, 7-5 over qualifier Matteo Martineau despite ten double faults.

Shapavalov, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon three years ago before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, was rattled midway through the second set when serving and heard some computer bleeps between his first and second serve to lose concentration and concede the break. 

Berrettini was the first Italian man to reach the quarter finals of all four Grand Slams, and the only two-time winner of this event since it switched to grass in 2015, a place he clearly enjoys playing.

I put a lot of emphasis on my serve, especially on the grass,” he explained. “It’s important to make him feel the pressure that when he is serving, he better not get broken, otherwise he will be in trouble. I like using the slice to come in on the grass, especially against the one handed backhand, it’s something that’s very useful. We practised a little bit together yesterday and this morning so I’m happy that it worked.”

Shapavalov was the second Canadian after Milos Raonic to break the top ten of the rankings in 2020, but has now dropped outside of the top 100. The Italian offered some words of comfort to his beaten opponent: “Due to our conditions, we both got injured, and that’s why I think he’s probably going to be in the top 50, 30, 20 really soon, we know his potential, and for me as well. I know how tough it is to come back after many injuries, so good luck to him.”

In the first match of the day, America’s Brandon Nakashima flashed winners from across the court and defeated French veteran Richard Gasquet in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his second grass court quarter final in just 71 minutes.

Both players traded breaks of serve early in the first set before 70th ranked Nakashima took the decisive break to lead 5-3. He served out a love game to take the opener. He then broke again right at the start of the second set to take full control of the match. 

Gasquet, in the draw as the highest lucky loser after top seed Alexander Zverev withdrew with fatigue after reaching the Roland Garros final, struggled to make much impact on his return games as Nakashima regularly ramped up the speed on his first serve. Still, he showed flashes of his trademark backhand late on with a couple of flourishing winners as the match neared the end. But even when the Frenchman had break back chances in the second set, the American saved them with huge aces. 

“It’s never easy against a player like Richard, he has so much experience on the tour,” said 22-year-old Nakashima on court afterwards. “I’m just happy to win and with the way I played today. I served and volleyed at the important moments and happy to be in the quarter finals. I served well during the big points; it was very crucial to get the confidence. I was returning well and capitalising on the breakpoints I had was also very important.”

It was Nakashima’s first time in Stuttgart, and he also paid tribute to the crowd: “It’s a beautiful tournament, I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far and I’m happy to play again here tomorrow. Thank you all for coming out and I appreciate the support.”

The next match on Centre was a first tour-level meeting between another Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and home hope Jan-Lennard Struff – who did not disappoint the home fans with a straight sets victory. 

Games went with serve in the first set and neither player came close to a breakpoint – until the 28-year-old Rinderknech served at 4-5 down and Struff hit a forehand winner at 30-30 to bring up a set point. But though Rinderknech saved four set points in all, the scoreboard pressure finally told as Stuff converted on his fifth when approaching the net forcing an error from his opponent. 

Rinderknech, who broke into the top 50 for the first time in January 2022, rallied well in the second set and took it to a tie-break but capitulated without winning a point as Struff completed a 6-4, 7-6 win.

The German has now reached his third Stuttgart quarter final in his last four appearances, missing a match point against Frances Tiafoe in last year’s final. “I was serving pretty good today, all match,” he said after the match. “That can put a bit of pressure on his service games if he doesn’t get a look on mine, I’m very happy with the result today. It’s very nice to play in Germany and amazing support always, so I really enjoy it.”

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Rafael Nadal Announces Wimbledon Withdrawal, Will Play Bastad Ahead Of Olympics

Rafael Nadal has announced his schedule ahead of the Olympic Games.

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Rafael Nadal has announced that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad ahead of the Olympic Games as he will once again withdraws from Wimbledon.

The Spaniard is set for a massive summer as he competes in singles and doubles at the Olympic Games.

It was announced yesterday that he and Carlos Alcaraz will team up in the doubles event in Paris as Nadal searches for his third gold medal.

However Nadal’s big summer before the Olympics has been slightly altered in order to have the best preparations possible for the big event.

This is as Nadal has announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon with the Spaniard not playing the event since withdrawing from his 2022 semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

In more surprising news though Nadal announced on social media that he will be playing the ATP 250 event in Bastad, Sweden ahead of the Olympic Games, “During my post match press conference at Roland Garros I was asked about my summer calendar and since then I have been practising on clay. It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics,” Nadal explained on X.

“With this goal, we believe that the best for my body is not to change surface and keep playing on clay until then. It’s for this reason that I will miss playing at The Championships this year at Wimbledon.

“I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all.

“In order to prepare for the Olympic Games, I will play the tournament in Bastad, Sweden, a tournament that I played earlier in my career and where I had a great time both on and off the court. Looking forward to seeing you all there. Thank you.”

Nadal last competed at Bastad in 2005, where he won the title defeating Tomas Berdych in the final.

The tournament will take place the week after Wimbledon on the 15th of July with world number one Jannik Sinner scheduled to participate there as well.

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Holger Rune: ‘I Play Twice As Better Now Compared To When I Was No.4’

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Holger Rune is confident his tennis is heading in the right direction despite slipping to his lowest ranking since October 2022 this week. 

The Dane has dropped two places in the PIF ATP rankings to 15th in the world following his run to the fourth round of the French Open where he was beaten by Alexander Zverev. So far this season, Rune has compiled a win-loss record of 22-12 with his best result being a run to the final in Brisbane, as well as the semi-finals of three other ATP events. Against top 10 opposition he has won one out of four matches which was against Grigor Dimitrov in Monte Carlo. 

“I don’t think about it, and it’s not a problem. Of course I won’t be the top seed for the grand slams, but I won’t run into someone like Alcaraz in the opening rounds either,” Rune recently told Danish media about his current ranking. 

Elaborating further about his game on the court, the 21-year-old believes he is playing at a better level than before. He is currently coached on the Tour by Patrick Mouratoglou who he reunited with earlier this year. The duo also worked together on the Tour between October 2022 and March 2023. He has also spent brief periods with Boris Becker and Severin Luthi but both of those collaborations failed to materialise into something long-term.  

“I feel that I play twice as well now compared to when I was ranked number four last year,” he said.
“Back then I had a bit of difficulty winning some matches over the summer, but now I feel that I am in a good flow. I play good tennis, work hard and structured and am more stable in my game.”

Rune says the key for him is to keep ‘trusting the process’ as he aims to return back into the world’s top 10. He is one of three men currently in the top 20 aged 21 or under. The other two are Carlos Alcaraz (No.3) and Ben Shelton (No.14). 

“I can’t see it 100 percent on the results yet, but there is nothing else to do but trust the process. Both mentally, physically and tennis-wise, I am on the right track,” Rune commented.
“I can never say that it is satisfactory to lose in the fourth round at the French Open, but there were clearly some better strokes in my game, says Rune.”

Rune’s next tournament will be at the Cinch championships in London which will get underway on Monday. He is currently the fifth highest-ranked player entered into the draw. 

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