Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal Clear Favourites At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal Clear Favourites At Australian Open

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Roger and Rafa are set to renew their rivalry in Melbourne. Their popularity is making them two of the most influential cultural icons of the past 15 years.

MELBOURNE – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are without a doubt the most coveted stars at this year’s Australian Open, that will kick off between Sunday night and Monday morning. Despite being 31 and 36 years of age respectively, the two legends are still the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world and the most popular stars to transcend the sport of tennis in the past fifteen years. The Barilla commercial that “master” Federer shot with “chef” Davide Oldani racked up a staggering 92 million views on social media, not to mention the TV exposure in the 40 different countries where the segment is broadcasted. In the commercial, Roger learns how to prepare pasta with tomato sauce and basil: After playing with cherry tomatoes in his hand as if they were tennis balls, Roger drops a basil leaf on the pasta with the same precision as a drop volley.

The video has become so popular on YouTube that a parody called “Master Tarantella” has gone viral with Oldani and Federer speaking in Neapolitan dialect and a traditional tarantella soundtrack replacing the Greek sirtaki of the original commercial.

With 5-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray on the sidelines after undergoing hip surgery and 6-time champion Novak Djokovic coming back to the tour this week after a six-month hiatus caused by an elbow injury, Nadal and Federer are the only two members of the Fab Four that seem to have a shot at the title this year. Despite being 5 years older, the Swiss is ironically healthier and in better physical shape than his Spanish rival, who is once again troubled by chronical knee problems. Last year the two met in a thrilling final, with Roger coming back from 1-3 in the final set and capturing the title in exhilarating fashion. Roger seemed pleasantly surprised after each win during last year’s event. After all, he was only the No. 17-seed coming back from a six-month break at 36 years of age. Nobody expected him to do so well so soon, probably not even Roger himself. After capturing his first Grand Slam title since 2012, Federer went on to win back-to-back Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami in the spring. He then captured his eighth Wimbledon on the lawn of the All England Club in July.

Last year Federer decided to preserve his body and skip the entire clay court season, which was hunting ground for the usual suspect Rafael Nadal. Rafa achieved “la decima” at Roland Garros, after coasting to his tenth titles in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona and collecting enough ranking points that allowed him to finish the year as the world No. 1. A third US Open title was the icing on the cake for Rafa, who now has 16 Grand Slam titles to his credit – only three short of Roger’s all-time record at 19.
(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard overcomes Alexander Bublik to reach his first ATP Tour final in Lyon

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French wild card Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard overcame second seed Alexander Bublik 6-4 7-5 after 76 minutes to reach his first ATP Tour final in Lyon on his debut at this tournament. Mpetchi Perricard hit 28 winners and won 85% of his first serve points. 

Mpetchi Perricard started the match with a break in the first game and held serve to open up a 2-0 lead. Bublik saved four break points in the fifth game before breaking serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Mpetchi Perricard broke for the second time in the seventh game at love to take a 4-3 lead. The Frenchman served out the first set at love. 

Mpetchi Perricard broke serve in the 11th game and served out the win on his seventh match point. 

The 20-year-old Frenchman claimed the first top-20 win of his career. 

World number 117 Mpetchi Perricard is the lowest-ranked finalist in the history of the Lyon tournament. Earlier this week the young Frenchman beat Lorenzo Sonego and Hugo Gaston. He has clinched three ATP Challenger titles during the 2024 season in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco.

“It is amazing to be in the final here in Lyon. The tournament is not over. I have one match left and I will do my best to win that match”, said Mpetchi Perricard. 

Mpetchi Perricard set up a final against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who beat Italy’s Luciano Darderi 6-2 6-4. Etcheverry won 83% of his first serve points and saved all three break points he faced. 

Etcheverry broke twice in the third and fifth games to win the first set 6-2. The Argentine player earned a break in the ninth game and served out the win on his second match point in the 10thgame. Etcheverry is aiming to win his first tour-level title after reaching two clay-court finals in Santiago and Houston.

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Novak Djokovic edges Tallon Griekspoor to reach the semifinals in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic saved four set points in the opening set to edge Tallon Griekspoor 7-5 6-1 in 1 hour and 17 minutes reaching the semifinals at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday on Wednesday by winning his 1100 match on the ATP Tour. 

Griekspoor saved an early break point on Djokovic’s serve in the ninth game of the first set. Djokovic fended off four set points, as he was serving at 4-5 0-40. The top-seed held serve with an ace and a first serve.  Djokovic broke serve in the 11th game with two deuce points to take a 6-5 lead. Djokovic held serve to love to seal  the first set. 

Djokovic won seven consecutive games  to build up a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve. Griekspoor got back on the board by hold serve in the fifth game for 1-4. Djokovic won the final eight points and broke for the third time to seal the second set 6-1. 

Djokovic set up a semifinal match against Tomas Machac, who beat US rising star Alex Michelsen 6-3 7-6 (7-2). 

Djokovic beat Machac in a third-set tie-break in Dubai last February. 

“I thought the first set could have gone his way easily because he was a better player for most of the first set. We could have been having a completely different direction of the match if he converted those set points. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards really played some good solid tennis. I was lucky to find some really good serves and from that moment onwards I really played some good tennis. The way I played the second set was really good. I want to thank everybody again for the support and presence today on a colde day”, said Djokovic. 

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Jessica Pegula Pulls Out of French Open But Alcaraz, Sinner Raring To Go

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JESSICA PEGULA OF THE UNITED STATES - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

Jessica Pegula says she wants to be ‘super safe’ with her recovery after deciding to withdraw from next week’s French Open. 

The world No.5 hasn’t played a Tour-level match since April due to ongoing injury issues. It will be the first time she has missed a major event since the 2020 Wimbledon Championships. She reached the third round of the French Open 12 months ago and the quarter-finals the year before that. 

Pegula now plans to return to action during the grass swing leading up to Wimbledon which will get underway on July 1st. She is expected to play in lead-up events to the tournament but it is unclear as to which ones. 

I’m just about back to practising normal (haven’t had any issues for weeks) but played it super safe with recovery and return to play,” Pegula wrote on Instagram.
“If I had another five to seven days I would have been there 100%. So I will definitely be back for a full grass season and the rest of the summer and grinding out the rest of the year.”

So far this season Pegula has reached three WTA semi-finals in Adelaide, San Diego and Charleston. However, she has only beaten one top 20 player which was Emma Navarro at the Miami Open. 

Alcaraz, Sinner set to return

In the men’s draw two players who have also been troubled by injury issues in recent weeks are on course to play at Roland Garros. Carlos Alcaraz has been forced to miss two out of the last three Masters 1000 events due to a forearm injury, as well as the Barcelona Open. The 21-year-old told the Press Association on Tuesday that he hopes to get back on track despite a lack of match play. 

“I don’t have hours on the court and I think on clay you need to be a lot of hours on the court just to get the rhythm, to get how to move,” he said.
“Tennis players when they are a lot of time off the court with no competition, you lose the competitive part a little bit and you need to play matches, play tournaments to get the rhythm for the big tournaments.
“Missing the three tournaments on clay, really important ones, and not playing points, sets or matches before, it’s going to be difficult, but I have time to practise with the top players, I have time to play sets and practice matches, and I think it’ll be really helpful for me just to be ready for Roland Garros.”

Alcaraz is already in Paris training and recently had a hitting session with  Luca van Assche.

Another player also working hard on the practice courts is the world No.3 Jannik Sinner who recently pulled out of the Italian Open due to a hip injury. The Australian Open champion recently stated that he would not play in Paris if he didn’t feel fit enough to do so. However, he appears to be fit again after having a training session with Kei Nishikori. 

Siner is in contention of claiming the No.1 spot. A milestone that has never been achieved by an Italian male player in the Open Era. 

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday with action getting underway on Sunday.

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