Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille Move Past Tricky Openers - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille Move Past Tricky Openers

6th seed Dominic Thiem opened his Roland Garros campaign on Suzanne Lenglen Court with a 6-4 6-0 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic. Simultaneously on Philippe-Chartier Court, 16th seed Lucas Pouille battled past his fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau 7-6(6) 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Jakub Bobro

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Dominic Thiem has been red hot through the clay season, reaching finals in Barcelona and Madrid. This makes the 23 year-old Austrian one of the top contenders for the title in Paris. Thiem’s opening round against Tomic would be very closely followed a couple of years ago, but with Tomic’s performance this year, it was pretty much a forlorn conclusion. Tomic seemed to be really trying in the first set, finding odd angles and pushing Thiem to the edge of his abilities. There is a nice contrast in styles between the two, with Thiem’s power+spin game facing off.  Despite that, Thiem managed to get a break and overcame Tomic 6-4 in the first set. After that, Tomic basically gave up and perhaps “tanked” the rest of the match. Thiem was winning points easily, where Tomic could have pushed him further, but didn’t. Thiem won the match 6-4 6-0 6-2 in just 80 minutes, and will face Simone Bolelli or Nicolas Mahut in the second round.

 

“The confidence is there also. I played a very good clay-court season but everyone starts from zero here.” Said Thiem

In a far more competitive and entertaining match, 16th seed Lucas Pouille faced Julien Benneteau. Pouille arrived in Paris with question marks about his form. Early in the clay season, Pouille made the semifinals in Monte Carlo and won Budapest, but then followed two first round losses in Madrid and Rome, to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Sam Querrey respectively. Pouille was the favorite in both matches, so there were questions about his fitness and form. Julien Benneteau started a comeback at the beginning of 2016 from outside the Top 500 after missing the majority of 2015. In the past two seasons, the 35 year-old veteran clawed his way through Challengers and is now back to Top 100, currently at No. 98. In the lead-up, Benneteau opted to play French challengers instead if qualifying for the European Masters events. The Frenchman lost in quarterfinals of both Aix En Provence and Bordeaux, beating players like Lukas Rosol, Gastao Elias, or Jurgen Melzer. Benneteau retired from the Bordeaux quarterfinal two weeks ago, but definitely seemed ready for this match.

The first set was a great battle which cumulated into a tiebreak won 8-6 by Pouille. Benneteau took advantage of serving first in the second set, putting Pouille under pressure and eventually breaking him. Benneteau took the second set 6-3. The veteran took an early break over Pouille in the third, and despite a strong serve he kept it and won the third set as well, 6-4. When Benneteau got an early break in the 4th set, it seemed to be over for Pouile. Then came a small and expected dip in performace by the 35 year-old after several grueling hours on court in the 31 Celsius heat. Pouille came back into the match, won the 4th set 6-3 and didn’t let go. Pouille dictated the 5th set and was completely in control. At 3-5 0-30 in the final set on Benneteau, one of the spectators in the lower seats close to the court seemed to faint, and the match was shortly suspended. After a couple of minutes play resumed, and Benneteau looked reborn. He won 4 points in a row and went to 4-5. Pouille helped himself by strong, consistent first serves, and won the match 7-6(6) 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 after 3 hours and 21 minutes.

Pouille was quite reliant on his first serve, winning 85% of points that came after it, as Benneteau successfully returned only 54% of serves. The match between these two was very physical, full of grinding rallies. It was mostly Pouille’s serve that made the difference. Benneteau’s big weapon was his net game, weakened by the surface but still very effective. The 2014 Roland Garros Men’s Doubles champion finished 37% of points after his serve at the net, and it is a tactic that worked almost perfectly.

The rolandgarros.com Live Blog posted: For a fleeting moment I had a sinking feeling that Benneteau was going to retire there, but fear not. With tears in his eyes – and speaking in French – he tells the crowd… “I don’t have a choice, I can’t serve 210 kph, 215 kph. The only thing I know how to do is fight, and be physical. I enjoy the pleasure of playing in front of you. Frankly, what you made me experience today makes me want to come back. I’m not promising anything, I’ll do my best to be back here next year. Lucas really deserves the win. I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom and my wife”

Lucas Pouille commented: “We had a great time on the court, he’s a great player. He has worked hard to get to the top level. I believed right until the end. I was having trouble letting go but at one point things went my way and I managed to get ahead.  I hope to go as far as possible, I want to win a Grand Slam. I know it’s not easy but I will see where I can get to.”

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Ons Jabeur upsets Karolina Pliskova to reach the quarter final in Doha

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Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur knocked out Karolina Pliskova 6-4 3-6 6-3 after 1 hour and 47 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Qatar Total Open in Doha. Jabeur scored the biggest win of her career by ranking.

 

Jabeur reached her first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open last January before losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin. Last week Jabeur lost to Simona Halep in Dubai. She reached the third round in Doha without dropping a set.

Jabeur had not beaten a top 10 player since 2018, when she defeated Sloane Stephens en route to reaching the final at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Jabeur broke Pliskova in the opening game of the match and did not face a break point on her serve before serving out the first set at love.

Pliskova earned her only break in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead and held on her serve to win the second set 6-3 forcing the match to the third set.

Jabeur got her first break after six deuces in a marathon sixth game to take a 4-2 lead in the decisive set. Pliskova broke straight back for 3-4. Jabeur broke for the second time at 15 to take a 5-3 lead and sealed the win on her second match point.

Muguruza beats Yastremska

This year’s Australian Open Garbine Muguruza beat Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-2 6-4 in 70 metres. Muguruza has reached teh quarter finals or better at all five tournaments she has played in 2020 under the guidance of her new coach Conchita Martinez.

Muguruza earned two breaks in the fifth and seventh games and served out the first set 6-2 on her first opportunity. Muguruza broke serve in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead. Yastremska broke back in the sixth game to take a 3-3 lead. Both players traded four consecutive breaks. Muguruza served out the win on her first match point, as Yastremska hit her backhand past the baseline.

The two-time Grand Slam champion will face 2019 Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, who advanced to the quarter finals after Elena Rybakina was forced to withdraw from the match due to an abductor injury.

Bencic reaches the quarter finals after straight-set win over Putintseva

Belinda Bencic beat Yulia Putintseva 6-4 6-3 after 1 to advance to her third quarter final of the year after Adelaide and St. Petersburg. The Swiss player earned an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Putintseva broke straight back in the third game. Bencic got her second break to open up a 4-1 lead. Putintseva broke back for the second time in the ninth game at 30 to claw her way back to 4-5. Bencic closed out the first set with a break on her second opportunity in the 10th game on the fourth deuce.

Bencic converted her second break point at deuce to open up a 3-0 lead. Putintseva saved two double break points to hold her serve at deuce.

Putintseva earned two break-back points but Bencic held on her serve after five deuces. Bencic served out the win on her first match point in the ninth game.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas moves through to the quarter final with straight set win over Alexander Bublik in Dubai

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Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Alexander Bublik 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 in 1 hour and 36 minutes to reach the quarter finals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Tsitsipas beat Bublik for the second time this month one week after scoring a win against the Kazakh player in the semifinal in Marseille.

 

Bublik saved two set points at 5-6 15-40 with a serve and volley and an unreturned serve. Tsitsipas cruised through to a 7-1 win in the first set after 54 minutes.

Tsitsipas saved four break points at 3-4 in the second set and earned a break at love in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Greek player sealed the win with a backhand slice winner.

Tsitsipas will face Jan Lennard Struff, who eased past Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 6-0 in just 39 minutes.

Andrey Rublev edged past Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 after 1 hour and 41 minutes. Rublev came back from 1-4 down by breaking back in the eighth game at 3-4. The young Russian player saved a set point with a forehand passing shot, as Krajinovic was serving at 5-3 40-30. Both players traded breaks in the 11th and 12th games to set up a tie-break. Rublev sealed the tie-break with his fifth ace and and cruised through to a 6-0 lead with three consecutive breaks, as Krajinovic won just 10 points. Rublev took a re-match against Krajnovic, who won their previous head-to-head match in Rotterdam two weeks ago.

“He had so many chances, two breaks and serving with one set point. There was no key. I was just lucky and broke back. It was not in these conditions. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as i lost to him two weeks ago in Rotterdam”, said Rublev.

Rublev set up a quarter final match against Daniel Evans, who fended off three match points in the tie-break of the third set to beat Pierre Hugues Herbert 7-5 3-6 7-6 (9-7) in 2 hours and 47 minutes.

Gael Monfils cruised past Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-1 6-2. Monfils earned a double break in the second and fourth games to win the first set 6-1. After a trade of breaks in the third and fourth games Monfils won four consecutive games with two breaks in the fifth and seventh games.

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Novak Djokovic sets up quarter final against Karen Khachanov in Dubai

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Novak Djokovic cruised past Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-1 in just 59 minutes to advance to the quarter final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament. Djokovic beat Kohlschreiber for the 12th time in their 14 head-to-head matches.

 

Kohlschreiber, who beat Djokovic in straight sets one year ago in Indian Wells, won 11 points in 8 service games and never created a break point.

Djokovic converted four of his seven break points to reach the quarter final in Dubai for the 11th time in his career. He hit 23 winners to 10 unforced errors.

Djokovic earned his only break on his second opportunity with a forehand winner to take a 3-2 lead. He backed up the break with a hold of love with another forehand winner and closed out the first set 6-3 with a hold in the ninth game after 30 minutes, as Kohlschreiber hit a backhand crosscourt wide. The Serb reeled off five consecutive games from 5-3 in the first set.

Djokovic held serve with a backhand down the line winner at the start of the second set and held with a service winner. The 2020 Australian Open champion went up a double break with his backhand to build up a 3-0 lead and sealed the win with a return winner, as he was returning at 5-1. Djokovic has extended his unbeaten streak to 15 consecutive matches this year.

“It was a great performance. I enjoyed the way I played, coming out with the right focus and tactics. Knowing Phillip beat me 12 months ago in Indian Wells, I needed to approach this match very seriously regardless of his raning number 80. He is one of the most experienced players on the tour and likes to play on the big stage, so he doesn’t like falter too much”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic set up a quarter final against Karen Khachanov, who beat Dennis Novak 6-3 6-4 in 74 minutes. Djokovic leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Khachanov.

“I have had some interesting battles with him. He is a great guy, a very powerful player. He is one of the guys who is a pretender to be a top 5 player. He is very dedicated, so I will be as sharp as I have been in the past two matches and start well”, said Djokovic.

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