French Open Day 13 Preview: The Men’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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French Open Day 13 Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

Friday’s lineup at Roland Garros features two blockbuster semifinals with four players in impressive form.  Three of the four semifinalists have not dropped a set, and the fourth is the #1 player in the world.  While Murray has not been at his best in 2017, his form has steadily improved over the past two weeks in Paris, and he’s now playing his best tennis of the year.

 

Whoever wins on Friday, we’ll be seeing a fresh matchup in the final on Sunday.  The only two of the four semifinalists to ever meet in a major final are Nadal and Wawrinka, and that only happened once.  Stan defeated Rafa in the 2014 Australian Open to win his first major, but that match was spoiled by an injury to Nadal.  It would be extremely interesting to see these two former French Open champions meet again in an injury-free final, especially since Wawrinka is 3-0 in major finals and Nadal is 9-0 in French Open finals.  Amazingly, Nadal and Murray have never met in a major final, the only combination of the “big four” where that holds true.  And then there’s Dominic Thiem, who looks to reach his first major final after a strong clay season and definitively defeating the defending champion Novak Djokovic.

 

Andy Murray vs. Stan Wawrinka

This will be the battle of the three-time major champions.  Their career head-to-head is tighter than you may think considering Wawrinka blossomed into a top player late is his career.  Murray still holds the slight edge 10-7.  This is a rematch from last year’s French Open semifinals, where Murray bested Wawrinka in four sets.  But that victory followed a much stronger season for Murray than he’s had in 2017.  Wawrinka also struggled for much of 2017, but Stan is a player who doesn’t thrive as much off long-term momentum: he can get hot out of nowhere within a single tournament.  Coming off winning a title in his home country the week prior to Roland Garros, the Swiss #1 (yes, he’s ranked higher than Federer) hasn’t dropped a set in Paris.  Based on recent form, Wawrinka should be favored to gain revenge from last year’s semifinal loss.  Notably, Stan will surpass Djokovic for #3 in the rankings with a win on Friday, and would go to #2 if he wins on Friday and Nadal loses.

 

Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem

Nadal does not often lose at Roland Garros.  He is an amazing 77-2 lifetime.  But Nadal did lose to Thiem the last time they played, at the Rome Masters a few weeks ago.  That followed two victories for Nadal earlier this year in the Barcelona and Madrid finals.  Thiem has also beaten Nadal on another occasion: last year in Buenos Aires.  Oddly, their six previous meetings have all taken place on clay, though perhaps that’s not so odd considering their clay prowess.  Thiem had one of the biggest victories of his career in defeating Djokovic on Wednesday.  After defeating Nadal in Rome, Thiem’s last big victory, he only won one game the next day against Djokovic.  But Thiem should be much more rested physically and emotionally on Friday, especially since he’s had a day off between matches.  Neither man has dropped a set in the tournament.  Thiem is one of the only players on tour that can hang with Nadal on clay when Rafa is in top form, as he has been this season.  Nadal is the favorite to reach his tenth French Open final, but this should be a thriller between 2017’s top two clay court players.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records

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Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

 

“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.

 “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.

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