Challenger Tour: Dallas highlighted by Sam Groth and Kyle Edmund, trio of American teenagers make for exciting draw - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Dallas highlighted by Sam Groth and Kyle Edmund, trio of American teenagers make for exciting draw

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There is a lot at stake for defending champion Tim Smyczek in Dallas (Image via Zimbio.com)

The Dallas Challenger is one of the most lucrative of the year, with one hundred ATP points up for grabs. To highlight just how important winning one hundred points can be, more points can be earned by winning the Dallas Challenger than by reaching the semi-finals of the ATP 250 events this week in Montpellier, Quito, and Sofia.

 

Unsurprising then that some Top 100 players are in the draw, with Sam Groth and Kyle Edmund the top two seeds. Former top 70 player Tim Smyczek is under significant pressure to retain the title, as an early defeat could see him fall down the rankings. Young Americans Frances Tiafoe, and Ernesto Escobedo are also going to be worth watching. Jared Donaldson will be looking to arrest a poor start to the year, and Taylor Fritz is surprisingly absent.

Draw:

Sam Groth (2) vs Frances Tiafoe

Qualifier vs Connor Smith

Henri Laaksonen vs (alt) Marek Michalicka

Denys Molchanov vs (6) Tatsumo Ito

Benjamin Becker (3) vs (wc) Jean Anderson

Qualifier vs (wc) Ernesto Escobedo

Andrey Rublev vs Dan Evans

Jared Donaldson vs (8) Bjorn Fratangelo

Radu Albot (5) vs Qualifier

Qualifier vs Marco Trungelliti

Alex Kuznetsov (wc) vs Ryan Harrison

Mitchell Krueger (alt) vs (4) Tim Smyczek

John-Patrick Smith (7) vs Qualifier

Grega Zemlja vs Jason Jung

James McGee vs Dennis Novikov

Sekou Bangoura (wc) vs  (2) Kyle Edmund

Highlight first-round matches and picks (in bold).

Sam Groth vs Frances Tiafoe: The player with the fastest recorded serve in history takes on a rising American star. Tiafoe enjoyed a great run in American Challengers last year, earning the USTA wildcard for the French Open. Groth has a fast serve but can struggle to back it up at times, and if Tiafoe can return enough serves and remain consistent from the back of the court he could spring an upset. Predicted winner: Groth in three sets.

Andrey Rublev vs Dan Evans: Russia’s upcoming next generation star Andrey Rublev takes on Britain’s talented but unpredictable Dan Evans. This match is likely to hinge on Evans’ form on the day, as his best is likely to be enough to beat Rublev. However, Rublev displays a higher level of consistency overall, and if Evans fails to produce a good level Rublev will surely win. Predicted winner: Rublev in three sets.

Qualifier vs Ernesto Escobedo: Ok, so Escobedo’s opponent has not yet been determined, but the young American has displayed enough talent to warrant his wildcard for this event with good results in recent Challengers and Futures. This could be for the first time for many to view another teenage American. Predicted winner: Escobedo

Mitchell Krueger vs Tim Smyczek: Last year’s defending champion Smyczek has seen his ranking fall after failing to translate his Challenger success to the main tour. Smyczek still remains an intimidating prospect on the Challenger Tour though. Krueger is the proverbial joker in the pack though, capable of completely defying ranking and form to produce shock results. He proved it last week by defeating fourth seed Bjorn Fratangelo in Maui last week. Winner: Smyczek in straight sets

 

 

 

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Alexander Zverev reaches the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fifth consecutive year

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Alexander Zverev edged past Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought match on Court Suzanne Lenglen to reach the fourth round for the fifth consecutive year at Roland Garros. 

 

Zverev had reached the quarter finals in 2018 and 2019 and the semifinals in 2021. 

Zverev had saved a match point and came back from two sets down to beat Sebastian Baez in the second round. 

The match between Zverev and Nakashima featured just three breaks of serve, including a trade of breaks in the third set. Zverev fended off two break points in each of the first two sets. 

Zverev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead with a backhand winner and held serve to take a two-set lead. Zverev earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Nakashima broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Seven of the 12 points went against serve in the tie-break. Zverev came back from 2-4 down in the tie-break and closed out the tie-break 7-5 with a backhand winner after 2 hours and 48 minutes.

“I think I raised my level today. I prefer this compared to the second round thriller. This is much better for me. I don’t lose too much hair. I can still grow old”, said Zverev. 

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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.

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Francisco Cabral - Image via https://twitter.com/EstorilOpen/

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 

 

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.

 

A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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