Rain Halts Play, But Not Feliciano Lopez’s Childhood Dream At Queen’s - UBITENNIS
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Rain Halts Play, But Not Feliciano Lopez’s Childhood Dream At Queen’s

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LONDON: Describing his journey this week as a ‘gift,’ troublesome weather and a slippy court failed to deter Feliciano Lopez as he outlasted Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, to reach the final of the Aegon Championships.

35-year-old Lopez is ranked 21 places lower than Dimitrov, but experience can never be underestimated. So far in his career, the Spaniard has won almost twice as many matches on the ATP Tour than Dimitrov (444-232) and is a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist.

“Experience is always important. It’s not only today,” Said Lopez. ”Also the fact that I have been winning many matches lately. I reach the finals in Stuttgart. It was four matches won there.”  He added.

Illustrating his grass-court skills, the Spaniard looked on course to clinch a comfortable victory after sealing a late break in the opening set. The momentum then grounded to a halt as the rain fell, forcing both players back to the locker room. Mother nature seemed to benefit world No.11 Dimitrov the most. A backhand winner combined with an error from his opponent secured him a 5-3 lead when play resumed. He then levelled up the match after closing the second set out with back-to-back aces.

With everything to play for at The Queen’s Club, Lopez’s attack was greeted by some sublime defence of Dimitrov. During one of the Bulgarian’s service games a total of six opportunities came and went for Lopez. Eventually he managed to break down the wall two games later with the help of a forehand volley crashing into the next from Dimitrov. Avoiding the scare, Lopez approached the finished line with ease as his opponent continued to falter in the somewhat cooler conditions.

“It is true that during the week the weather was perfect, it was sunny and the court was dry, but today the court was still dry.” The Spaniard replied when asked about the conditions.
“Conditions were windy a little bit. That’s it. The rest was very similar.”

Surging with confidence, gaining momentum

Feliciano Lopez (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

Lopez doesn’t attribute his latest surge in form to any kind of physical activity. Instead, he believes it has been caused by the power of his mind. Today was his eighth win on the grass this season, emulating his winning run in 2014. It is an impressive achievement for the third oldest player currently in the world’s top-40 after Ivo Karlovic and Roger Federer.

“I came on court today with a lot of confidence. Right now it’s all about, confidence in tennis. It’s not 100%, but nearly 80 or 90% is on the mental part.” He explained.
“Today I came also on the court with a lot of confidence. I lost the second set, but I still believed that if I keep playing as I was playing the whole week, I will have a chance to win the match. This is what happened in the end.”

As a Spanish player, one stereotypically assumes that it is the clay that Lopez loves the most. It is, however incorrect as he also grew up once dreaming of lifting the Queen’s Club title, which he nearly did in 2014. Now a win away from winning the trophy, the passion he feels is no less.

“When I was younger, I was watching Queen’s all the time, and it’s one of those tournaments that you always want to play. For me, it’s so special to be in the finals.”

Standing in the way of a London triumph is world No.7 Marin Cilic, a player who has only dropped serve once in the tournament. Lopez trails 5-2 in his head-to-head with the Croat, but this doesn’t concern him. Instead, he relishes in his joyful rise in 2017, which started with a injury setback.

“This year hasn’t been great for me. Started the year injury in Australia. So it’s a gift for me to be again in the finals, especially here.” He concluded.

A win on Sunday would give Lopez his sixth ATP title. Meanwhile Cilic is gunning for his 12th.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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