Rafael Nadal Remains Perfect Against Grigor Dimitrov With Win in Basel
Rafa Nadal now has a 7-0 record against the talented 24 year-old Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria with a tight three set win at the Swiss Indoors Basel tournament. Each player was trying to end the year on a positive note after disappointing results in 2015. The Spaniard missed much of the second half of 2014 due to injuries and ailments. In 2015, for the first time since 2004, Nadal did not win a grand slam title. In tournaments throughout the year, he has lost to much lower ranked opponents. The Bulgarian likewise has not played to expectations in 2015. Dimitrov’s ranking has slipped from a high of 8 in August 2014 to 28 currently; he has no titles in 2015. Both have been regaining form lately. Nadal was victorious over big servers Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, and Ivo Karlovic in the Shanghai Masters to reach the semifinals. Earlier in October, the former world number one lost to Novak Djokovic in the Beijing finals. Recently, Dimitrov made it to the quarterfinals in Kuala Lumpur and Stockholm.
The young Bulgarian started the match strongly breaking Nadal’s first service game. However, The Spaniard, after a confident hold of serve in the seventh game, broke back in the eighth game with smart shot selection and aggressive returns, especially on second serves to level the set at 4 apiece. Nadal held comfortably at love the next game turning the set around. Despite getting off to a 30-0 start, Dimitrov lost serve to drop the first set 6-4. After beginning the set well, the Bulgarian’s level of play dipped, while Nadal’s game remained steady. Dimitrov’s first serve percentage was a paltry 34% in the set compared to 62% for Nadal. Dimitrov was hampered by many forehand errors and missing his signature backhand on key points (16 unforced errors compared to 11 for Nadal).
The second set began exactly like the first with Nadal dropping serve in the first game. The Spaniard tested Dimitrov’s serve in the next game, but Dimitrov confirmed the break. In this set, however, Dimitrov did not take his foot off the gas and won the third game to get a second break, he then held his serve easily to go up 4-0. Nadal began to play more aggressively keeping Dimitrov off balance and won the next three games (aided also by backhand errors from Dimitrov). The Bulgarian went up 5-3 with the help of two free points donated by Nadal followed by a timely ace. Dimitrov closed the set out 6-4 to force a decider. Dimitrov improved his first service percentage to 73% in the second set vs. 67% for Nadal.
Yet again, Nadal failed to hold his first service game and Dimitrov got off to a 2-0 start in the third set. Nadal had an important hold at love punctuated by an ace in the third game and got the break back in the fourth game to get back on serve. The Spaniard held at love again in the fifth game. He pressured Dimitrov’s next service game, but the Bulgarian held for 3-3. Nadal won the next two games comfortably to serve for the match. The last game had some fantastic points with Nadal coming out on top to win the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
This is the second good win for Nadal in this tournament on a surface that does not play into Nadal’s game. The ball stays low and does not allow for him to set up his big swing. He competed exceptionally well after falling behind in each set. In the first round, Nadal lost the first set 1-6, before getting past Lukas Rosal of the Czech Republic; 1-6, 7-5, 7-6. Nadal will face Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.
Casper Ruud Topples Rune To Reach French Open Semis
Casper Ruud came out on top in his all-Scandinavian clash with Holger Rune to seal his place in the semi-finals of the French Open.
Ruud, who is seeded fourth in the draw, battled to a 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, win over his Danish opponent in what was a topsy-turvy encounter on the Philippe Chatrier Court. It is the second year in a row that the Norwegian has defeated Rune in the last eight of Roland Garros and he now leads their head-to-head 6-1. He is through to the last four of a major for only the third time in his career.
“I’m very relieved. I came into this match trying to not play with pressure but it is not easy when you’re playing a big match against Holger who is never easy,” Rune said during his post-match interview. “He is very aggressive. Luckily for me the first two sets he wasn’t feeling it too well. He made a lot of errors and I got a lot of points for free.’
“That helped settle my nerves but he fought back in the third set. In the fourth set, I was lucky to keep that break.”
The highly anticipated nighttime clash began in one-way fashion with Ruud claiming 12 out of the first 15 games with relative ease as an erratic Rune struggled to find his game on the court, hitting a total of 40 unforced errors during the first two sets.
It wasn’t until the third frame that Ruud finally faced some resistance on the court as his opponent orchestrated the crowd to get behind him. Prompting the 20-year-old to hit a series of impressive shots to revive his hopes.
However, Rune’s comeback was short-lived as Ruud broke once more midway through the fourth set as he moved to a game away from victory. He earned his first match point at 5-2 following a double fault from his rival but failed to convert. Two more opportunities then came and went for Ruud before he managed to serve the match out in the following game.
“I think I did well,” he replied when asked about how he handled his nerves. “I kind of looked at it (the match) as if he was the favourite. He won the last time we played and he has had a better year than me so far.’
“He was hoping to get into his first (Grand Slam) semi-final and I was hungry to get into another semi-final. Luckily it worked out well for me.”
Awaiting the 24-year-old in the semi-finals on Friday will be Alexander Zverev who defeated Tomás Martín Etcheverry in four sets. He trails their head-to-head 1-2 but they have never faced each other on clay.
“Ruud has been there before. He was in the final here last year, so he knows exactly what it means and what it takes,” Zverev told reporters.
Ruud is now 16-5 this season when it comes to playing matches on the clay. Since the start of 2020, he has registered 86 wins on the surface which is more than any other player on the ATP Tour.
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Coco Gauff in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final
The quarterfinals conclude on Wednesday in Paris.
A year ago in the women’s singles championship match, Iga Swiatek defeated Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to win her second Roland Garros title. Swiatek leads their head-to-head 6-0, having claimed all 12 sets they’ve contested. Can Coco provide any real resistance on Wednesday?
In the other WTA quarterfinal, Ons Jabeur and Beatriz Haddad Maia vie to reach their first French Open semifinal.
On the men’s side, we have another prominent rematch from last year’s tournament. A year ago in this same round, Casper Ruud eliminated Holger Rune in a contentious Scandinavian battle. Yet in 2023, Rune has been the better player. Who will prevail this time around?
And one year after the serious ankle injury Sascha Zverev suffered in the semifinals of this event, he looks to return to that round, and faces a surprising quarterfinalist in Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) vs. Ons Jabeur (7) – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier
Jabeur is only 15-6 on the year, after missing time this season due to multiple leg injuries. But she has rounded into strong form at a good time, dropping only one set to this stage. This is the farthest Ons has ever advanced in Paris, as she plays for her third Major semifinal, all within the past year.
Haddad Maia had never previously advanced beyond the second round of a Slam, with an 0-7 record in that round. Yet here she is in her first Major quarterfinal, on the surface where the least amount of previous success had come. Beatriz has survived three consecutive three-setters, including an over three-and-half-hour one in the last round against Sara Sorribes Tormo.
These players met just two months ago in the same round on the same surface, with Jabeur easily prevailing 6-3, 6-0 in Stuttgart. Ons will surely be the fresher player, and has an obviously huge edge in experience. I like Jabeur’s chances of achieving her first Roland Garros semifinal.
Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Not Before 12:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier
In their 12 aforementioned previous sets, most have not even been close. Only one, their very first, has gone to a tiebreak, and Gauff has averaged just 2.4 games per set.
Coco is also yet to play her best this year. While her record of 23-8 is far from embarrassing, she had not reached a quarterfinal in three months before this fortnight. She continues to tinker with her forehand and serve, and has made recent changes to her coaching team.
Swiatek is 32-6 this season, and has lost only nine games through four rounds, though she did receive an unfortunate retirement in the last round from an ill Lesia Tsurenko. So while Gauff always remains a threat, a Coco upset on Wednesday would be a bit of a shock.
Sascha Zverev (22) vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier
Zverev arrived in Paris with little form, and even admitted to feeling emotional returning to the scene where such a devastating injury happened a year ago. But he has played excellently through four rounds, dropping just one set against his only opponent seeded higher than him (Tiafoe). Sascha is playing for his third straight semifinal in Paris.
Before this year, Etcheverry had never won a match at a Major, and only owned four career victories at ATP level. But the 23-year-old has won 19 tour-level matches this season, and reached two clay court finals (Santiago, Houston). Tomas Martin is yet to drop a set this tournament, defeating three seeded players (de Minaur, Coric, Nishioka).
But in their first career meeting, Zverev is a huge favorite. His power and experience should allow him to comfortably dictate matters on Wednesday.
Holger Rune (6) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier
Ruud got off to a modest start in 2023 after achieving his first two Major finals in 2022, and accumulating 51 match wins. But he’s now 15-5 on clay this season, and took three tight sets from Nicolas Jarry in a straight-set fourth round match that lasted nearly four hours. Casper is 2-0 in his previous Slam quarterfinals.
Rune has been on a tear since last fall, reaching seven ATP finals, and winning three of them. That includes three clay finals within the last two months (Monte Carlo, Munich, Rome). He survived a grueling round of 16 contest against Francisco Cerundolo, decided by a fifth-set tiebreak. This is Holger’s second Slam quarterfinal, after losing in four sets here a year ago to this same opponent.
These two men exchanged words both at the net and in the locker room after that quarterfinal. Casper, like many players, has voiced how immature he finds Holger’s on-court behavior to be. Ruud won their first four meetings, but just two weeks ago in the semifinals of Rome, Rune came from behind to win in three. All five of those matches took place on clay.
Holger appeared physically fatigued during much of his match on Monday against Cerundolo. The outcome on Wednesday may heavily depend on his physical condition. But if he’s feeling close to 100%, I give Rune the slight edge to achieve his first Major semifinal.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Argentina’s Tomas Etcheverry Pays Tribute To Sister After Milestone French Open Win
Moments after booking his place in the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time, Tomas Etcheverry paid tribute to his sister who passed away last year.
The world No.49 overcame a tough opening set before storming past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6(8), 6-0, 6-1, on Monday night. His win continues what has been a fairytale run for the 23-year-old who is yet to drop a set in Paris. Prior to the tournament, he had only ever won one main draw match at a Grand Slam in his career.
Speaking to ESPN after his victory, Etcheverry mentioned his sister Magui who died in 2022 at the age of 32 following a two-year battle with breast cancer. She had two children called Galo and Juana.
“The truth is that lately I’ve been asking my sister for strength a lot… Today, before a serve, I asked her: ‘Magui, please help me’. And she helped me. I hit an ace,” Etcheverry said.
Etcheverry has already shown his credentials on the clay this season by reaching the final of ATP tournaments in Houston and Santiago. However, he has at times struggled for consistency. Coming into this year’s French Open, he had failed to win back-to-back matches at four consecutive tournaments before reaching the final of a Challenger event in Bordeaux.
Besides Nishioka, the Argentine has also recorded convincing wins over Alex de Minaur and Borna Coric at the French Open. Making it the first time in his career that he has defeated players currently ranked in the world’s top 20. His next opponent will be Alexander Zverev who he has never played before on the Tour.
“In the next round it’s going to be tough,” Etcheverry said in his press conference. “Sascha Zverev, I think he has a lot more experience than me, but I feel really good to play against him.’
“I am playing incredible tennis this week, and just I have to focus on my game and try to do the same.”
Should Etcheverry upset Zverev, he will become the first Argentine to reach the last four at Roland Garros since Diego Schwartzman in 2020.
Casper Ruud Topples Rune To Reach French Open Semis
Alexander Zverev Reaches French Open Semis 12 Months After Horrific Injury
Ons Jabeur Admits Rushing Back From Injury After Roland Garros Exit
Iga Swiatek Downs Gauff To Set Haddad Maia Semi-Final At Roland Garros
Beatriz Haddad Maia Produces Stunning Comeback Over Jabeur To Reach Roland Garros Semi-Finals
France’s Hugo Gaston Hit With Huge Fine For Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Novak Djokovic Denies Being Roland Garros Favourite, Praises Alcaraz
(EXCLUSIVE) Ukrainian Journalist Reacts To Controversial Booing Of Marta Kostyuk At French Open
Holger Rune Says Djokovic Still The Man To Beat At French Open
Sara Sorribes Tormo Responds To Allegations Of Poor Sportsmanship At French Open
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink Talks Djokovic’s Fitness, Nearest Rivals And Future Of American Tennis
EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime’s Coach Fredric Fontang – ‘Felix Can Win Wimbledon This Year’
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink On Sabalenka’s Rise, Swiatek’s Tough Year Ahead
EXCLUSIVE: Meet Shane Liyanage – The Data Analyst Behind Aryna Sabalenka’s Breakthrough
(VIDEO) Ubaldo Scanagatta On A Week To Remember For Canada At The Davis Cup
Latest news2 days ago
Sara Sorribes Tormo Responds To Allegations Of Poor Sportsmanship At French Open
Hot Topics2 days ago
Alexander Zverev Clashes With French Open Officials Over Rules Regarding Insulin Injections
ATP2 days ago
Holger Rune Capable Of Winning Multiple Grand Slam Titles, Says Former No.1
Focus1 day ago
Aryna Sabalenka Denies Supporting War After Reaching Roland Garros Semi-Finals
Latest news3 days ago
Jessica Pegula Backs Sabalenka’s Decision To Skip French Open Press Conferences
Focus3 days ago
Yoshihito Nishioka Aims To Emulate Nishikori At French Open
Hot Topics1 day ago
“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best” says Carlos Alcaraz, anticipating a historic semifinal
Focus3 days ago
Casper Ruud Battles Past Jarry To Reach Roland Garros Quarter-Finals