Novak Djokovic edges past Thomaz Bellucci to reach the third round in Paris Bercy - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic edges past Thomaz Bellucci to reach the third round in Paris Bercy



World Number 1 Novak Djokovic beat Thomaz Bellucci 7-5 6-3 to advance to the third round of the BNP Paribas at the Accorhotel Arena in Paris Bercy. Djokovic has scored his 18th consecutive win since losing to Roger Federer in the Cincinnati final last August.


Djokovic won their previous five head-to-head matches. Last May Djokovic had to rally from a set down to beat Bellucci 5-7 6-2 6-3 to reach the quarter finals in Rome. In their last match Djokovic beat Bellucci 6-3 7-6 (7-4)

Djokovic and Bellucci traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games. Bellucci was the first to break serve in the fifth game for 3-2 with a forehand attack down the line which Djokovic could not return. Djokovic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. The three-time Paris Bercy champion held his serving game to back up his break for 4-3. Bellucci saved a break point in the 8th game.

As Bellucci was serving to stay in the set at 5-6 Djokovic broke serve to love in the 12th game after hitting a passing shot, a forehand down the line and a backhand drop shot volley  after 57 minutes.

Djokovic broke serve in the eighth game of second set for 5-3 as Bellucci made two consecutive mistakes. The Serbian star served out on his first match point after 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Djokovic won 77 percent of his first serve points and fired two aces.

Djokovic is bidding to become the first player to win six Master 1000 in one season.

“It was a good test. With new facilities and new colour of the court, it took a little bit of time to get used to it and adjust. I have had a few things that I could have done better tonight. Bellucci is someone who likes these particular conditions. He likes to create spin, especially from forehand side and plays pretty well. It wasn’t easy to make a lot of winners. He was reaching out and covering the court well. So it was a good test in my first indoor match”., said Djokovic

Djokovic will take on Giles Simon who beat his compatriot Benoit Paire 6-4 4-6 6-1 in one hour and 37 minutes.

Djokovic leads 8-1 in his head-to-head matches against Simon.



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Daniil Medvedev Reaches China Open Semis Despite Frustration With ‘Very Slow’ Balls



This week’s China Open is taking place on a hard court but Daniil Medvedev says he feels like he is playing on clay due to the types of balls being used.


The former US Open champion continued his quest for a 21st ATP title in Beijing on Monday with a roller-coaster 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, win over Ugo Humbert in the quarter-finals. Medvedev at times struggled to hold serve with him getting broken twice in the first set and then once in each of the next two sets. It was a somewhat unusual match with the world No.3 later claiming that he would not have won if it was played on ‘any other normal hard court with normal balls.’

“With these balls, it’s kind of like playing on clay,’ Medvedev told reporters after beating Humbert. “The only big difference is the bounce, which is not like on clay, so it’s still different, but it’s very slow.’
“I lost two times my serve in the first set. I won it. I lost my serve in the third, I won it 6-1. Any other normal hard court with normal balls, no chance I win a match like this. Also, no chance I lose so much of my serve. To make an ace is tough.”

It is not the first time that Medvedev has criticized the quality of balls being used and the constant changes between tournaments. He previously described the balls in Beijing as turning into a ‘grapefruit’ after they have been used for a couple of shots and says it can be impossible to hit a winner. Furthermore, he is among a series of players to raise concerns that these changes are resulting in a rise in player injuries.

Medvedev is a formidable force on hardcourt’s with him winning 41 ATP Tour matches so far this season on the surface which is more than any other player. After beating Humbert, he has now reached the semi-final or better at every current hardcourt event that is classed as an ATP 500 or above.

Despite his success and trophy tally of 20, he has yet to win the same tournament twice.

“It’s a fun story,” he commented on his record. “This week I’m here in Beijing, so I hope to make it 21 in 21 different cities. It’s going to be pretty special because I’m not sure anyone has done something like this before.”
“At the same time I hope to, in Shanghai, maybe break this story, try to win a second title in the same city, same tournament.”

Medvedev will next take on Alexander Zverev who defeated Nicolas Jarry 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3. It will be their 17th Tour meeting and their fifth this season. Medvedev currently leads their head-to-head 9-7.

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Iga Swiatek Reacts To Row Over Use Of Performance Byes At China Open



Iga Swiatek says the implementation of performance byes in tournaments makes no difference to her after some of the Pole’s peers have criticized the rule.


A debate over the use of the rule was recently sparked by Elena Rybakina who voiced her frustration about missing out on getting a first round bye at last week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo which she ended up withdrawing from. Instead, they were rewarded to Maria Sakkari and Caroline Garcia based on their results at the Guadalajara Open. Both of those players are ranked lower than Rybakina.

The use of performance bye’s is nothing new in the sport and they have been in the official rulebook since 2009 when WTA Premier events (now called WTA 1000’s) were introduced.

Speaking about the topic following her 6-4, 6-3, win over Sara Sorribes Tormo at the China Open, Swiatek says she has no issue with the rule. This week is the first time she has played a WTA event without being the top seed for over a year. During the US Open, she lost her No.1 ranking to Aryna Sabalenka.

I didn’t really dig into this rule so much because these are the first tournaments that I’m playing where it’s possible to get this kind of thing. But it’s been on tour for a long time,” Swiatek explained during her press conference.
“I think it’s smart because usually when I had tournaments that I played till the end, I know how it is to rush to another tournament and not have time to rest and prepare. So I think that rule is fine. I think that rule makes sense.’
“I just want to focus on myself. For me, doesn’t matter if I’m going to play one more match. It’s another opportunity for me to kind of win and to play. So it doesn’t matter to me if I play another match or not.”

Swiatek’s latest win is the first time she has won a WTA match on Chinese soil. Over the past couple of years, women’s tennis events were suspended in the country amid fears that former player Peng Shuai was being censored by authorities. Shuai accused a former political official of sexual abuse and has rarely been in public ever since.

“I love playing on the court. I thought the court was really nice,” she said.

Swiatek is only the second player from her country to record 125 Tour-level victories during a two-year span. The first to do so was Agnieszka Radwanska between 2012-2013.

She will play Varvara Gracheva in her next match at the China Open.

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Carlos Alcaraz Weighs In On Debate Over Grapefruit-Like Tennis Balls At China Open



Carlos Alcaraz says tennis players need to adapt to the changing of tennis balls at tournaments after admitting he noticed a difference with the ones being used at the China Open.


The two-time Grand Slam champion says he agrees with recent remarks made by Daniil Medvedev about the balls used in Beijing which the Russian links to his mixed performance against Alex de Minaur on Saturday. He has also claimed that these changes have contributed to an increase in injuries occurring. A comment that has been supported by Taylor Fritz who wrote of X (formerly known as Twitter) that he has been dealing with wrist issues since the start of the North American hardcourt swing due to ball changes.

“As soon as you play some shots with them, they go very big, much (fluffier)… it becomes like a grapefruit,” Medvedev told AFP news.
“We’re basically playing 30-shot rallies because it’s almost impossible to hit a winner.’
“With these balls, you have to be 100 per cent on every point, until the last point of the match. I managed to do it well so this, I’m happy about.”

Quizzed about Medvedev’s comment following his 6-2, 6-2, win over Lorenzo Musetti on Sunday, world No.2 Alcaraz said he has also noticed a change with the tennis balls being used. Although he did not comment on its alleged link with player injuries.

“I felt it since the first practice that I did here in Beijing. It is something tough but the tennis player has to used to that,” he told reporters.
“They change balls in every tournament or almost in every tournament is a different ball. You have to get used to that.’
“It’s kind of different feeling when you are coming into a tournament, is like: What is going to be the ball? It’s a question that I think every player is asking themself about the balls. Here (at the China Open) in just one game, two games, the ball becomes different from the new ones. It’s kind of different play, and you have to get used to that.”

Alcaraz’s win over Musetti on Sunday is his 60th of the season which is more than any other player on the ATP Tour. He has also won a Tour-leading six titles so far in 2023.

The Spaniard will next play Casper Ruud in what will be their first clash since the 2022 US Open final. Ruud outlasted Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(7), in his Sunday match.

“Casper is a really tough, tough player. So I have to show my best,” said Alcaraz.
“I have to be focused on the match, try not let him dominate, and don’t let him feel comfortable hitting the balls, moving.’
“It is going to be a really tough match, but at the same time fun to play and for the fans to watch, as well.”

Alcaraz is bidding to become the first player to win an ATP 500 trophy on three different surfaces within the same season since the category was introduced in 2009.

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