Jo Wilfred Tsonga overcame Rafa Nadal to reach the final in Shanghai - UBITENNIS
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Jo Wilfred Tsonga overcame Rafa Nadal to reach the final in Shanghai

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Jo Wilfred Tsonga overcame a second-set loss to battle past Rafael Nadal in three sets with 6-4 0-6 7-5 in a spectacular match reaching his first Master 1000 Final since August 2014 when he beat Roger Federer at the Roger’s Cup in Montreal.

Nadal had to save two break points in the first game. Tsonga got the first break point of the match on his fourth opportunity in the fifth game of the opening set with a down-the line backhand pass to take a 3-2 lead. Nadal earned two break-back points in the 8th game but Tsonga saved them. The Frenchman served out the first set with 6-4 after 45 minutes.

Nadal bounced back in the second set where he broke serve three times to win with a bagel. Nadal lost just two matches after winning a set with 6-0 in Buenos Aires in 2005 against Gaston Gaudio and in Doha 2010 against Nikolay Davydenko

In the third game of the third set Tsonga brought up three break point chances at 1-1 but Nadal saved them. The third set went on serve but was marked by spectacular rallies. When the match looked to be decided by the tie-break Nadal committed his first bouble fault and faced a break point. Tsonga got the decisive break in the 11th game of the third set with a topspin forehand to take a 6-5 lead. Tsonga earned the match point with a spectacular dive volley and converted it to seal the win after two hours and 15 minutes.

Tsonga and Nadal met for the first time since 2013 when the Spaniard beat the Frenchman on the Monte-Carlo clay. With hi straight set win over Stan Wawrinka in the semifinal Nadal won his 300th match at Master 1000 level (only Roger Federer won more matches in the series with 326). He has not reached a Master 1000 final on hard-court since Miami 2014

Tsonga has moved up to Number 9 in the Race to London gaining groun on Number 9 Ferrer. Nadal has boosted his chance to qualify for the ATP Finals as he overtook Tomas Berdych for fifth place in the ATP Race to London

Tsonga converted two of his 10 break point chances, hit 40 winners and won 17 of his 25 net points.

Tsonga has reached his fourth Master 1000 Final and his 22nd Final. He has a 2-1 record in his three previous finals. He has extended his post-US Open record to 8-1, including his first title of the year in Metz.

Nadal still leads 8-4 in his twelve head-to-head matches against Tsonga who beat the Mallorcan 14-time Grand Slam champion for the last time in 2011 at the ATP World Finals.

“Alla long the season, I worked hard to be able to play these matches. When it happens, I am really happy to have worked hard because I know I can count on my body. It’s something great for me because it was not always like this. I am a lot stronger than I was maybe few years ago. The season was difficult with a lot of ups and downs. The surface is one of my favourites. I know I am able to play good tennis”, said Tsonga

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Elena Rybakina Looking To Adapt To Clay, Reaches Stuttgart Semi-Finals

Elena Rybakina has admitted it takes time to adapt to clay as she prepares for the semi-finals in Stuttgart.

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Elena Rybakina is into the semi-finals in Stuttgart after a 6-3 5-7 6-3 win over Jasmine Paolini.

After surviving a three set match against Veronika Kudermetova in her first round, Rybakina continued to struggle on the clay against the Italian.

However the former Wimbledon champion produced some big tennis in vital moments in order to reach the last four in Germany.

Although she has had success in the past on the clay, Rybakina knows that it will take time for her to adapt on the surface.

Speaking after her win over Kudermetova Rybakina explained the reasons why it is difficult to have immediate success on clay, “Well, I always believed that I can play good on clay. My first win on the WTA was on clay,” Rybakina was quoted by tennis365 as saying.

“It’s just the season is quite short, and of course me, for example, I need a bit more time to get used, to adapt, to play some matches. But overall I think that I can play well on all the surfaces. Last year it was a great tournament in Rome, and then the French Open, I actually feel also well there.

“I like the courts. It’s just I was unlucky with sickness, so I think I’m doing pretty well for now. I like a faster surface, and I think in Madrid it’s quite fast. For now I was not successful there, but I think that’s a great tournament for me.

“Rome was nice. As I said, French Open, I like the courts. It’s just the question of good preparation and being healthy. And then it all depends on you and of course on the opponent.”

Last year Rybakina claimed the title in Rome and was one of the favourites for Roland Garros.

However the Kazakh had to withdraw in the third round due to illness which hampered her progress throughout the season.

Now Rybakina will look to make amends for that as she is into the semi-finals in Stuttgart where she will play either defending champion Iga Swiatek or Emma Raducanu.

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Iga Swiatek On Dominating Women’s Tennis – ‘There Is Still So Much Work To Do’

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Iga Swiatek believes she and some of her peers have proven that there is consistency in women’s tennis despite criticism from some.

The world No.1 is currently playing at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix which she is bidding to win for a third consecutive year. Since February 2022, Swiatek has won 16 WTA titles with three of them being at Grand Slam tournaments. During this period, she has only spent eight weeks not at the top of the WTA rankings after briefly getting overtaken by Aryna Sabalenka. Two years ago she won 37 matches in a row before her run ended at Wimbledon. 

Given her success, Swiatek says she already feels like a dominant force on the Tour when recently asked by a reporter if she was ready to do so. However, she admits that there is still room for improvement in her game. 

“Well, the question is if I already did that for the past two years,” the Pole said after beating Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-4, in Stuttgart.
“Because I feel like I have been pretty dominant, and also Aryna [Sabalenka] has been, so we both kind of have shown that there is consistency on WTA.
“I remember when I was playing in 2020, 2021, I also got many questions about consistency, and I felt like some players, you know, have proven that it’s possible. So I already feel like I have been pretty dominant.
“But we’ll see what next years are going to bring. There have been players that have been dominating throughout their whole careers, you know, and I’m still at the beginning.
“There is still so much work to do.”

Swiatek is currently 23-3 on the Tour this season with her losses being to Ekaterina Alexandrova, Anna Kalinskaya and Linda Nosková. In Stuttgart, she will play a resurgent Emma Raducanu in the quarter-finals on Friday. The Brit has dropped just eight games in her two previous matches against Angelique Kerber and Noskova. 

“She seems like she’s getting her game back together, so it’s great to see that because for sure she has potential,” Swiatek said of Raducanu.
“It’s not going to be easy. She knows how to spin the ball and how to move on clay, as well.”

Swiatek is bidding to become the first player since Maria Sharapova to win the Stuttgart title three years in a row. Regardless of whether she manages to achieve the milestone, on Monday she will start her 100th week as world No.1. 

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Two-Time Finalist Casper Ruud Plays Down French Open Title Chances

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Casper Ruud says he is playing at a higher level compared to 12 months ago but doesn’t intend to head into the French Open believing he can win. 

The world No.6 has experienced a strong start to the clay swing by reaching the semi-finals of the Estoril Open and then the final of the Monte Carlo Masters when he was denied the title by Stefanos Tsitsipas. Ruud is currently playing at the Barcelona Open where he is through to the quarter-finals after beating Alexandre Müller and Jordan Thompson. 

“I don’t think I’m a better player than in Monte Carlo, it’s only been a few days, but I can say that I’m playing better compared to last year,he told reporters on Thursday.

Ruud has enjoyed various successes on the clay throughout his career with nine out of his 10 Tour-level titles being won on the surface. He has also reached the final of the French Open in 2022 and 2023. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has won 100 matches on the clay which is more than any other player on the ATP Tour during this period. 

However, the 25-year-old is keeping grounded heading into this year’s French Open which will get underway next month. Despite being a former world No.2 player, he is still yet to win an event of any kind above the ATP 250 level. 

“I would love for that great moment to come for me, but I can’t go to Roland Garros thinking I’m going to win it, tennis doesn’t work like that.” He explains.
“You can dream about it, you can be convinced and try, but I’m not going to go there thinking it’s going to happen. I have played in two finals in the last two years, a fantastic experience that made me want the title even more, but I will not land in Paris expecting to win the trophy.”

Ruud currently leads the ATP Tour in wins this season with 26 to his name. Although only eight of those victories occurred on the clay. 

Should he go on to win the Barcelona Open title this week, it would be the most prestigious title he has won in his career so far. 

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