Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and John Isner advance to the next round in Paris Bercy - UBITENNIS
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Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and John Isner advance to the next round in Paris Bercy



Tomas Berdych overcame a tough second-round match against Joao Sousa to win in three sets 6-3 3-6 7-5 at the BNP Paribas at the Accorhotel in Paris Bercy to keep his chance alive to qualify for the ATP Finals in London. Milos Raonic hit 17 aces to beat Pablo Carreno Busta, while John Isner saved two set points to overcome Misha Zverev. Richard Gasquet had to save seven set points to beat Steve Johnson in straight sets.

Berdych, who won the Paris Bercy title in 2005, got one break in the sixth game for 4-2 with a down the line backhand. He faced a break point after committing a break point in the ninth game but saved it with a backhand down the line en route to winning the first set 6-3. Sousa also needed only one break at love in the eighth game to clinch the second set forcing the match to the decider.

In the third set Berdych went down 0-30 at 4-4 with a double fault and faced two break points. The Czech player saved the first opportunity with his forehand and the second with his serve.

Both players went on serve until the 12th game, when Berdych got the decisive break on the first of his two break points to win the third set 7-5. Berdych will face either Gilles Simon or Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.

Berdych is currently ninth with 2880 points in the ATP Race to London and is in contention for the final two spots for the ATP Finals in London with Dominic Thiem (seventh with 3205 points) and Marin Cilic (eighth with 3090 points). The Czech player needs to reach at least the semifinal to keep his chance of qualifying for the end-of-season tournament alive, although he may face a very tough quarter final against Andy Murray.

Berdych won in Shenzhen Open but lost in the first round in Tokyo and Vienna and in the second round in Shanghai. He is out of the top 10 for the first time since 2010.

“If you don’t play your best, you don’t really deserve to be there. Luckily, I am healthy. Who would have said that Iwould be answering questions about London when I was in the hospital in Cincinnati (due to appendicitis) ? This is a nice bonus. I am hopeful that working with Goran Ivanisevic will help improve my game. I like his approach and how he tries to simplify things for me. Hopefully I can get to the point where I can start to use his experience in all the big matches he’s played”, said Berdych.

Milos Raonic beat Moscow Kremlin Cup winner Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. A tight first set came down to the tie-break without break points. At 5-5 Raonic got his only break point with with only one mini-break, as Carreno Busta netted his return. Raonic sealed the first set with his 10th ace. Raonic, who was sidelined by an injury problem ahead of his semifinal at the China Open in Beijing, sealed the second set 6-4 with the only break of the match in the fifth game for 3-2, as Carreno Busta hit a low shot into the net from the vaseline.

The Canadian player, who finished runner-up to Roger Federer in Paris Bercy in 2014, fired 17 aces and won 98 percent of his first-serve points He did not face any break points in the whole match. He will take on either Pablo Cuevas or Paolo Lorenzi in the third round.

“The ankle is improving. I still have it wrapped up for safety but it’s not really causing any nuisance”, said Raonic.

Former Paris Bercy semifinalist John Isner overcame Misha Zverev 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to set up a second round match against 2012 champion David Ferrer. The US player fended off two set points at 6-7 and at 8-9 in the tie-break of the first set before sealing the win with a break with a break in the third game of the second set. Isner hit 14 aces and dropped just six of his first service points.

Ferrer has beaten isner in seven of their head-to-head matches

Zverev earned the firts break point with a backhand return in the 12th game but failed to convert it. Isner got the decisive mini-break, as Zverev sent a forehand volley. The US player got the only break in the third game of the second set and never looked back to close out the match 6-3.

Nicolas Mahut came back from one set down to beat Martin Klizan 4-6 6-4 6-3 setting up a second round match against David Goffin.

Jack Sock, who beat Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-2 7-6 (7-3). Sock went up a double break to win the first set 6-2. In a tighter second set without break points the US player clinched the win on his second match point in the tie-break. Sock, finalist in Stockolm two weeks ago, will face Dominic Thiem in the second round.

Feliciano Lopez converted his third match point to prevail over Pierre Hugues Herbert 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 setting up a second round match against another French player Lukas Pouiille.

Richard Gasquet beat Steve Johnson 6-4 7-6 (13-11) after saving seven set points in the second set. Gasquet got a double break in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Johnson got one of the two breaks back in the eighth game to trail 3-5 and held his serve in the next game. Gasquet served out for the first set at love. The second set went on serve until the tie-break, but Johnson had to save eight break points (four in the third game, one in the fifth game and three more in the ninth game).

The French player had to save a set point at 6-5 before the match came down to the tie-break. The US player earned four set points at 6-2 in the tie-break but Gasquet saved them by winning five consecutive points for 7-6. Johnson created two more opportunities at 8-9 and 10-11 but Gasquet fended them off by winning the final three points to win the tie-break 13-11.

Grigor Dimitrov won the first set 6-3 before Marcos Baghdatis withdrew from the match due to a hip injury. The Cypriot got the first break of the match in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Dimitrov broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. The Bulgarian broke again at 15 in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead before holding his next two service games to clinch the first set 6-3. Dimitrov will face either Novak Djokovic or Gilles Muller in the third round.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro



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One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro



Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?



Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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