Gael Monfils: The Artist Of The Court, But Not Of His Mind - UBITENNIS
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Gael Monfils: The Artist Of The Court, But Not Of His Mind

A generous Gael Monfils provides a good show to the London crowds in his match with Dominc Thiem, but falters on the final straight as he (almost) ends his ATP Finals run

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The Day 3 match between a recovering Gael Monfils and a Dominic Thiem running on fumes after his 28-tournament freshmen season in the Top 10 was supposed to be one of the least attractive in the schedule of the 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. So much so that on the previous day it was possible to scoop a lower bowl ticket for less than 20 pounds on the secondary online market. However both players put on a decent display for the predictably not-numerous crowd showing up at the O2 Arena in Greenwich for the workday afternoon event, even if, as games went by, it became increasingly apparent that Monfils could not find within himself the stamina to face his opponent with his usual running game, therefore being forced to go for the winner much earlier than expected: his first serves pushing 140 mph, repeated serve-and-volley openly challenging Thiem’s deadly backhand and explosive winners attempted from far behind the baseline certainly made the eager crowd’s day, but exemplified Monfils lack of physical condition due to the chest muscle tear that kept him out of last month’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. Nonetheless, the Parisian honored the match and pushed the match to the wire, when he totally crumbled under pressure gifting his opponent of the victory with three double faults in the final game.

 

The first set was decided by a single break of serve on the sixth game, when a single winning return was enough for Thiem to gain the decisive advantage thanks to three unforced errors by Monfils, who could not do much on his opponent’s serve, almost untouchable with his 76% of first serves and 89% of first serve conversion. Twenty-six minutes were enough for the Austrian to secure a one set lead but certainly not enough to dismantle Monfils’ resistance. The Frenchman intensified the frequency of his attacks and his serve-and-volleys, forcing Thiem to rush his shots and increase his error count. The 23-year old conceded his first break of the match on his opening service game of the second set, wasting a 30-0 lead and after Monfils had the crowd on their feet for a winning forehand down-the-line returning from a lob. Clearly rattled by his opponent’s intention to shorten the rallies and take the initiative from his own hands, the Austrian produced three horrible mishits also in his following service game, conceding a commanding 4-0 lead to his opponent, who went on to bring the match to the decider after only 51 minutes of play.

With their chances to advance to the semifinals on the line, the two players started the third set taking care of business on their own respective serves, with the only partial hiccup coming from an easy backhand volley missed by Thiem in the third game forcing him to handle a deuce situation. Even if there was no shortage of errors, Monfils and Thiem kept trying to take control of the game by increasing their number of net approaches, displaying some very entertaining shot-making: from a short half-volley by the Austrian to a one-handed backhand passing shot by Monfils. The Frenchman survived three break points at 3-4 with some good serves, but two games later three double faults sealed his fate and left his chances of continuing his adventure here in London in the hands of his group mates and arithmetic.

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Australian Open: Stefanos Tsitsipas Battles Back To Beat Fritz In Five

The Greek fourth seed prevailed in a marathon encounter which lasted almost three-and-a-half hours at Melbourne Park.

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Image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/

World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a major scare to down American Taylor Fritz to book his place in the quarter finals.

 

Fritz was two sets to one up and looked to be cruising, only for Tsitsipas to steal the fourth before motoring away in the fifth; 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The result will be a bitter pill for the 20th seed to swallow, but he can take heart from taking Tsitsipas all the way.

The fourth round is the furthest Fritz has gone in a Grand Slam and it was the big match experience that gave the Greek the vital edge in best of five sets.

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The first set began with both players holding serve. 

Fritz and Tsitsipas know each other’s game well having grown up as juniors together, and the mutual respect was on show for all to see.

The Rod Laver Arena crowd saw the first glimpse of the world number 22’s skills, as he lobbed Tsitsipas at 2-2 in the opening set, much to their delight.

Fritz got the decisive break in game seven, to surge 4-3 ahead.

He held his next two service games to claim the set 6-4.

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But the fourth seed was not going away, and produced some powerful groundstrokes to steam through his service games.

The Greek ace pounced towards the end of the second set, stealing the break of serve, to level the match.

At the beginning of the third, 30-love down, Tsitsipas won a 23-shot rally with a rasping backhand winner down the line, one of his signature shots.

This was crucial in the Greek holding serve.

But with exact symmetry of the first set, Fritz broke at 3-3, then held serve to take a 5-3 lead.

Tsitsipas looked to be cruising through his service game at 40-30, but Fritz battled back to deuce and saw three set points saved by the Greek.

It mattered not, like the first set, Fritz won his next service game and went up two sets to one.

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An upset was brewing out on Rod Laver Arena and the crowd strapped back, almost sensing it would go the distance.

It did. Tsitsipas blasted his way back into the match, breaking the American at 4-3 with some sublime hitting, and took the set 6-3.

Tsitsipas now had all the momentum and it was a final set shoot out.

Fritz held serve to keep his nose in front, but at 4-4 Tsitsipas struck and broke the American at deuce with his first break point.

Tsitsipas made no mistake in serving out a five-set classic and sealed his place, yet again, in the Australian Open quarter finals.

The winner had this to say afterwards.

“An epic match. I gave everything on the court,” he said.

“I’m proud of the way I fought and the way I stayed consistent in the crucial moments. I am overwhelmed, the stadium was on fire.”

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Felix Auger Aliassime Overcomes Slow Start To Reach Australian Open Quarters

The Montreal native became the second Canadian to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open after winning in four sets.

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Felix Auger Aliassime booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open after beating the number 27 seed Marin Cilic 2-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 in three hours and 35 minutes.

 

The Canadian battled on court for more than three-and-a-half hours as he produced a total of 37 winners and 22 aces. Meanwhile, Cilic leaked a costly 60 unforced errors. It is the first time the 21-year-old has reached the last eight at Melbourne Park and also the first time he has beaten his Croatian oponent on the Tour after suffering three losses to him.

It’s amazing. It puts my belief even higher, I lost three times to Marin in the past, this is my first win against him and in an important moment like this,” said Auger-Aliassime.
“I told him at the end of the match he’s a champion, the way he handles himself and the way he plays and I knew he was going to come out with his best level and test me and make me earn my win.
“So I’m really relieved and happy to get through, especially the way I did it.”

To begin with Cilic got off to a better start in the match by getting the early break to take a 2-1 lead. He then turned his lead into a double break before serving out the first set.

The second set was a much tighter affair with the Canadian getting more chances to break but being unable to convert which paved way for a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker was even closer and at 8-7, it was the world number nine with a huge forehand winner to seal the set and even the match at one set apiece.

Three games into the third set the Montreal native had six chances to break before he was finally able to convert and take a 2-1 lead. At 4-2, he managed to go up a double break which was enough of a margin for him to restore his lead in the match to two sets to one.

The fourth set was yet again a battle of the two big servers who were doing a good job of holding serve and again the set was decided by a crucial tiebreaker.

Auger-Aliassime jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the breaker and that quick start was enough for him to serve out the match and reach his first-ever quarterfinal down under.

The ninth seed will face world number two Danil Medvedev in the quarterfinals on Wednesday after the Russian beat the American Maxime Cressy in four sets.

Auger-Aliassime is the second Canadian man through to the quarter-finals after Denis Shapovalov. It is the first time in history two players from the country have reached the last eight of the Australian Open during the same year.

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Daniil Medvedev Holds Off Cressy To Reach Australian Open Quarters

The Russian was heard describing the game of his rival as ‘boring’ before later explaining that it was a tactic of his.

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Daniil Medvedev is through to the last eight of the Australian Open for a second year in a row after defeating America’s Maxime Cressy in a tight four-set encounter.

 

The world No.2 was put through his paces throughout his 6-2, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-5, win over the world No.70 who has made a stellar start to the season. Prior to the Grand Slam Cressy reached his maiden Tour final at the Melbourne Summer Set which he lost to Rafael Nadal. Despite the talents of the underdog, Medvedev was still the dominant force as he fired 13 aces and won 85% of his first service points. The Russian also produced a total of 58 winners against 11 unforced errors.

“I’m ok with it, he really did it well but I don’t see anybody on the Tour who really loves and say ‘do it again,” Medvedev said of Cressy’s serve and volley game during an intervierw with Eurosport.
When I lost the third (set) and had eight break points in the fourth and I didn’t make them, I was like ‘come on, do something!.’ Some of those I could have won but he (Cressy) also played good.

Earlier on in the fourth round encounter Medvedev looked to have full control as he raced through the opener in less than 40 minutes by breaking Cressy twice. However, he began to face some stern resistance from the American during the second frame who used the serve and volley to effective use. 11 games went by with no break point opportunity before it was Cressy, who had a set point chance at 6-5. However, Medvedev saved the point with a spotless drop shot to keep him alive before going on to prevail in the tiebreak.

Both players started to suffer physical issues during the third set. First, it was Medvedev who took a medical time out to have work done on his glute. Around 10 minutes later it was his opponent who then had treatment for what appeared to be the same issue. It was also visible that Cressy was suffering some minor discomfort in one of his calves.

With all to play for, Medvedev was on the verge of victory after securing a mini-break midway through the third set tiebreak before Cressy conducted an emphatic fight back. Cressy’s tactic of continuously coming to the net to apply pressure drew errors from his opponent as he worked his way to a 6-4 lead before snatching the set after a Medvedev forehand slammed into the net.

It was evident that the underdog started to frustrate Medvedev who shouted ‘this is so boring’ during the early stages of the fourth set which appeared to be in reference to his opponent’s serve and volley game. During another outburst, he was heard saying ‘It’s simply unbelievable how lucky he is getting. I’ve never seen anything like this my whole life!’

Following those outbursts and failing to convert eight break point chances, Medvedev broke at the most critical time. Tied at 5-5 a winning forehand passing shot moved him to a game away from victory. He then sealed the win on his first match point by hitting another blistering forehand winner.

It was a great match. During the match I got a little bit crazy with myself. I tried to say something out loud to try and get into his mind a little bit. Maybe, he’s going to start thinking ‘what the hell is Medvedev saying?” Medvedev replied when questioned about his outbursts.
“I am not happy with what I said today, but the most important (thing) is that I continued fighting.”
He added.

Medvedev has become the fifth Russian man in the Open Era to have reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on multiple occasions. This year he is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win his second major title at the next Grand Slam event. Furthermore, should he triumph in Melbourne he will topple Novak Djokovic to become world No.1.

Medvedev will play Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in the next round.

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