Jo Wilfried Tsonga wins in four against Jack Sock for fourth-round place in Australia - UBITENNIS
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Jo Wilfried Tsonga wins in four against Jack Sock for fourth-round place in Australia

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Tsonga is into the fourth round at the one slam he has reached the final of in the past. (Zimbio.com)

Jo Wilfried Tsonga played a largely composed match against the in-form Jack Sock to progress into the fourth round of the Australian Open, winning 76 75 76. Tsonga edged the first two sets, before a bad error cost him the third. The twelfth seed quickly recovered, breaking early in the fourth, and winning to earn a meeting with either Dan Evans or Bernard Tomic.

 

Sock had won the Auckland title the week before the tournament began, and had not dropped a set in defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Karen Khachanov. Tsonga had dropped a set against Thiago Monteiro in round one, before a rather more comfortable win in the second against Dusan Lajovic.

The first set went comfortably with serve, as neither man faced break point. Tsonga came closest by forcing a deuce game at four-five, but Sock pulled through without major difficulty.

The inevitable tiebreak saw Tsonga face adversity on the first point. Sock followed an aggressive return into the net, before Tsonga played a perfect lob. Tsonga’s finishing volley then caught a section of the line, despite a challenge from Sock. It proved key as Tsonga then struck a forehand winner on his second shot of the next point, going behind Sock for the mini-break. Tsonga handed the mini-break back when he found the net with a big forehand. Tsonga retrieved the lead with a backhand cross-court passing shot. A forehand error on a net approach from Sock then handed the first set to the Frenchman.

Sock was the first to force pressure in the second set, earning a break point in the first service game. It was to be the only such opportunity that Tsonga offered, though the set was more open than the first, with Tsonga forcing his own break point chances shortly after. It would not be until the penultimate game of the set that fans on Margaret Court Arena would see the first break, as a Tsonga forehand caught Sock off-balance, and another forehand sealed the break. Tsonga gave an exhibition in serving to close out the set to love to leave the American down two sets.

Sock again tried to make headway early in the third, only to be continually denied by the 2008 runner-up. Sock faced a tough deuce game at four-all, but held, as did Tsonga through the rest of the set to force another tiebreak.

Tsonga again took the lead, racing into an early four-love lead with the American’s trademark forehand breaking down. However, Tsonga is known for inconsistencies himself, and allowed Sock back in. The American saved a match point with an ace at five-six, and earned a set point when Tsonga dumped a backhand into the net. Tsonga saved though, and a beautiful touch at the net earned him another match point again against the Sock serve, but could only miss into the tramlines.

Sock then won the set, with a great defensive shot, hoisting the ball up after a attacking Tsonga forehand. Tsonga played the smash a little deeper than the service line, but missed into the net to give the American a lifeline.

Tsonga quickly atoned for the aberrational smash however, breaking Sock immediately in the fourth when the American ripped a forehand into the net. The two parts of Sock’s game that he relied on had broken down in the serve and the forehand. Sock nearly went down a second break, but instead held. He improved his game to really challenge as Tsonga served the match out, forcing a deuce game, but it was ultimately the Frenchman who held firm to reach the fourth round.

In the other early men’s match, Andreas Seppi continued his fine form by knocking out Belgium’s Steve Darcis 46 64 76 76.

 

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova lift the titles in Perugia

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Lorenzo Sonego and Liudmila Samsonova won the Zzz Quill Tennis Tour in Perugia. Sonego followed up his Italian title won the previous week in Todi with a 3-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 win over Croatia’s Viktor Galovic (world number 269 and number 7 seed) in the final of the Perugia tournament.

 

“Galovic started very well. It was difficult to adjust to his game and improve during the match. I maintained the right attitude and I managed to win the title. I enjoyed two fantastic weeks in Todi and Perugia. This confirmed my good work in training in the past two weeks. I gave my best and I am confident for the rest of the season”, said Sonego.

World number 117 Liudmila Samsonova won the women’s title came back from one set down to beat world number 307 Stefania Rubini 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in the women’s final after saving two match points.

“I won a very tough final with a lot of ups and downs. I am happy that I played many matches. It was one of my goals on the eve of the tournament. I showed that I am able to keep the level of my tennis high, when I play focused”, said Samsonova.   

 

 

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ATP

Next Gen Star Alexei Popyrin Fears He May Be Forced To Play US Open Despite Health Concerns

Like many other lower ranked players on the Tour, the 20-year-old finds himself in a tough situation.

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One of Australia’s rising stars has said he is worried that he may have to play at the US Open against his will or risk losing a chunk of ranking points.

 

Alexei Popryin has raised his concerns about travelling to the New York major in August amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in some areas of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 52,228 New Cases of the virus on July 5th compared to 24 hours before. Furthermore, the governor of New York recently announced that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population.

Despite the concerns, the organisers of the US Open have insisted they will be able to hold the tournament in a safe manner and will be implementing various restrictions. Including holding the event without fans for the first time and conducting frequent testing of players. However world No.103 Popryin admits that he still has his concerns about attending.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

Popryin has a considerable amount of points to defend in New York after reaching the third round there last year. Therefore, if he skips the event he faces dropping further down the rankings. Something which will then impact on his chances of entering the bigger tournaments later in the year. Usually the cut off for Grand Slam tournaments is around 105.

It is still to be announced as to what will happen with the ranking points system at the US Open and if there will be any adjustments made due to the pandemic. Although organisers will likely be against any idea to remove them from the event as it is a key factor to attract players to take part.

Another player to voice their concerns about the US Open is France’s Benoit Paire, who has said he would not attend the event if it was taking place today. Speaking to RMC Sport the world No.22 said he would rather not go to the event if he meant that he would be ‘taking a risk’ with his health.

“Going to the United States would be at risk of catching it. I am a great professional and I am one of those who would always like to play tennis, but your health is the most important thing,” he said.
“If going there is taking the risk of catching the disease and staying quarantined when I return, I prefer not to go, really.’
“It looks like if we play the US Open, we will have to sacrifice not to play the Mutua Madrid Open or the Masters 1000 in Rome.”

Meanwhile, world No.3 Dominic Thiem recently told Austrian media that he believes a final decision regarding the Grand Slam will be made within a week. Something that is yet to be confirmed by officials.

Should it go ahead, the US Open will start on August 31st.

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Grand Slam

French Open Chief Hoping To Ease COVID-19 Related Restrictions In Coming Weeks

Former world No.4 Guy Forget says he hopes to learn from the controversy caused by the recently cancelled Adria Tour.

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The man in charge of organising this year’s French Open has said he is optimistic that there will be more flexibility in the restrictions placed upon his event as it nears its launch.

 

Guy Forget has told Reuters News Agency that he believes the clay-court major will be nowhere as strict as the US Open, which will take place a couple weeks prior. The US Open is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in history and players will be subjected to various measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including regular temperature checks and being limited to how many members of their team they can bring with them. It comes as parts of America reports a rapid rise in cases of the virus.

However, Forget believes that the COVID-19 restrictions set to be implemented in New York will not apply to his tournament because the current situation in his country is not as bad. According to the BBC, more than 29,000 people have died from COVID-19 in France compared to an estimated 132,000 in America.

“Luckily things are a bit more flexible in Europe and in France, especially,” Forget told Reuters. “Hopefully, what we’re going to announce will probably be even more flexible than what we did.”

Despite Forget’s optimism, there is also a lot of caution given recent events that have happened in the sport. The Adria Tour, which was founded by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, was cancelled after an outbreak of the virus among players. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric all tested positive, as well as some coaching staff. The event was criticised for a lack of social distancing with players attending parties, however it all took place in accordance with local government rules. Meanwhile, at the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atalanta Frances Tiafoe withdrew due to testing positive for the virus, but the event continued.

“Maybe some people were overconfident there,” Forget commented on the Adria Tour.
“Luckily no one got hurt really bad but even a few cases is too much and we want to avoid that as much as we can.
“We want to reassure everyone that having people getting ill will be terrible for us. Let’s be really careful, really cautious.”

At present, the French Tennis Federation plans to allow up to 20,000 people to attend the French Open daily with 10,000 on the final day. Equating to roughly 60% of its maximum capacity which is a figure based on ‘health-related information and the projected guidelines.’ Those attending will be required to wear masks whilst walking around the venue but not when sitting courtside.

“We all see soccer on television, it’s wonderful but something is missing without the crowds,” Forget said about the importance of a crowd.
“We are working closely with the administration, the government, to make sure we can provide some crowd while still following very strict security measures.”

The French Open is set to get underway on September 27th. Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal are the defending champions.

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