Julien Benneteau crowns a dream week with his second career Masters 1000 semifinal in Paris Bercy - UBITENNIS
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Julien Benneteau crowns a dream week with his second career Masters 1000 semifinal in Paris Bercy

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French hero Julien Benneteau stunned Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to advance to the semifinals at the Paris Rolex Masters in front of his enthusiastic fans, who packed the Accorhotels Arena in Paris Bercy. Benneteau is continuing his dream week in the home tournament in which he reached the second Masters 1000 semifinal of his career and his first at this level since Cincinnati 2014.

 

The 35-year-old French player won the 2014 Roland Garros doubles title, but has never won a ATP Tour singles trophy in his ten finals played during his career. He will play the semifinal against either Jack Sock or Fernando Verdasco.

Benneteau beat Cilic for the first time in their four head-to-head matches and won a match against a top 10 player since Shanghai 2014.

Benneteau drew the first blood breaking serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead but Cilic broke straight back at deuce for 2-2. Cilic broke serve at 30 in the sixth game for 4-2. Benneteau saved a set point in the ninth game before breaking back at deuce for 4-5. Benneteau sealed the tie-break when Cilic made a double fault on the match point at 6-5.

Benneteau went up a set and a break in the second game of the second set. Cilic broke straight back in the third game for 1-2. Benneteau saved a break point to hold his serve for 5-4. Cilic held his serve to love, as he was serving to stay in the match.

As Cilic was serving to stay in the match at 5-6, Benneteau earned two match points. Cilic saved the first opportunity but Benneteau hit an inside-out forehand to convert his second break point to the delight of the enthusiastic French fans. Bennetueau threw his to the ground and burst into tears.

Benneteau provided one of the biggest stories of this week, as he reached the second Masters 1000 semifinal of his career as a wild-card in his last appearance in Paris Bercy after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Goffin and Marin Cilic. He has become the first French player to reach the semifinals in Paris Bercy since Michael Llodra in 2012.

“It was the biggest emotion in my life on a tennis court after two difficult years. I have boosted my confidence in the past weeks. It’s my last tournament in Paris Bercy and I had nothing to lose. Paris Bercy is the best indoor arena in France. The crowd is close to the court and made the atmosphere special. I had stong emotions”, said Benneteau.

 

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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