Andreas Seppi eases past Thiemo De Bakker to reach the quarter finals in Sofia - UBITENNIS
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Andreas Seppi eases past Thiemo De Bakker to reach the quarter finals in Sofia

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Andreas Seppi has reached his first ATP quarter final since Hamburg in July 2015 after beating Thiemo De Bakker 6-2 6-1 in just 57 minutes at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open. De Bakker dropped his serve in the first game of the match after going up 40-0. Seppi got a double break to 15 to open up a 5-1 lead. The Italian held his service games en route to cruising to 6-2 in the first set.

Seppi went up a break to love at the start of the second set. The Italian had to save a break point on his service game. After two games on serve Seppi got the double break in the fifth game with a lob, a return winner and a forehand passing shot to open up a 4-1 lead. Seppi broke for the third time in the third set to seal the second set 6-1 setting up a quarter final against Martin Klizan. Seppi leads 2-0 in his previous head-to-head matches against Klizan.

Viktor Troicki reached the quarter finals after beating Daniel Brands 6-4 6-3. The Serbian player, who won teh Sydney ATP 250 title and has a 8-2 win-loss record so far this year, will face either Phillip Kohlschreiber. Troicki was solid on serve and never faced a break point in the whole match. Troicki broke serve once in each set. The Serbian player dropped just one point on serve in the first set and broke serve in the 10th game. Troicki broke serve in the 6th game en route to winning the second set 6-3.

“He has a very aggressive game, which I usually like to play against and that’s maybe why I played really well. I have played Kohlschreiber a few times and he is a very good player. To me, he should be always top 20. He has beaten me the last few times. I will have to play my best. If I play against him, I have never played Dzumhur, but I know him”, said Troicki.

Kohlschreiber overcame a second-set loss to edge past Damir Dzumhur 6-1 4-6 6-3. Kohlschreiber broke serve three times to cruise to 6-1 in the first set. The German dropped just four points on serve in the opening set. Dzumhur bounced back in the second set when he saved five break points. The Bosnian player converted his break point chance in the first game after four deuces. He saved two break points in the fourth game to build a 3-1 lead.

Kohlschreiber went up 0-40 but wasted his chances to break back in the 6th game, as Dzumur won five consecutive points to hold his serve en route to taking the second set 6-4. Kohlschreiber got an early break in the second game of the decider and dropped just six points on serve en route to winning the third set 6-3.

Top seed Roberto Bautista Agut has reached the quarter final as Filip Krajinovic retired before the match because of a right shoulder injury. The Spanish player will take on Adrian Mannarino, who rallied from losing the second set at the tie.break to overcome Marius Copil 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 in the longest match of the day. Mannarino did not face any break points and got two breaks of serve in the whole match (one in the first set and one in the third set). Mannarino broke serve in the seventh game and dropped only five points on serve to clinch the first set 6-4. Copil took the second set 7-5 forcing the second set to the third set. The decider went on serve until the 8th game when Mannarino got the decisive break before serving out the match in the next game.

Gilles Mueller edged past Ricardas Berankis 7-5 7-6. Berankis saved 10 of the 12 break points he faced. There were no chances to break for both players until 4-4. Mueller broke for the first time in the 12th game to clinch the first set

Beranking broke serve in the fifth game. The Latvian saved two break points at 5-3 but Mueller broke back to love as Berankis made a double fault when he was serving for the second set. Mueller missed his match point on return in the 12th game but prevailed 7-4 in the tie-break.

 

 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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