Experience Prevails In Delray Beach As Steve Johnson And Peter Gojowczyk Set Up Semifinal Clash - UBITENNIS
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Experience Prevails In Delray Beach As Steve Johnson And Peter Gojowczyk Set Up Semifinal Clash

While the bottom half is exclusively under 22, 28-year-olds Steve Johnson and Peter Gojowczyk will face off for a spot in the final in the top half.



Steve Johnson entered the match against Evgeny Donskoy after defeating Milos Raonic 6-2 6-4 in the 2nd Round. Outside of Delray Beach, Johnson has had a poor start to 2018, winning only 1 match. “I had some trouble closing out matches earlier in the year. There was a little bit of a lack of confidence. I’ve had 3 chances to serve out matches this week and I did it every single time.”

Donskoy did well to reach his first quarterfinal since beating Roger Federer in Dubai last year. The Russian advanced through Darian King and Donald Young to set up this clash.

Last time the two have met was the 2016 US Open, where Johnson advanced after a five-set drama. “You don’t want to think about that and you never know what kind of residual feelings he may have… I definitely didn’t expect him to roll over today and it was a tough match,” said Johnson about their previous meeting.

Johnson put out a dominant display over Donskoy and won 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes. Johnson and Donskoy play a similar game style, but the American showed today that he is a level higher than his opponent. “I take it day-by-day, every day is different. Hopefully, I’ll have another good day tomorrow and if nothing else, I’ll have some more momentum,” said Johnson

“It’s awesome to have Americans in. We’ll get some positive feedback, which is few and far between these days,” said Johnson, possibly referencing the negative coverage of Tennys Sandgren’s political views and the recent feud between Ryan Harrison and Donald Young.

Johnson also previewed his potential all-American derby against Reilly Opelka: “Reilly is a good friend of mine and it’s always good to see him doing well. We have the same agent and spend a lot of time together. He’s a great kid and loves sports. If we do play each other and he gets the win, he’s never allowed to stay over in my house again.”

However World No. 64 Peter Gojowczyk thwarted those plans with his win over the giant American. The German won in straight sets 7-6(5) 6-3 after 1 hour and 20 minutes. Gojowczyk’s attacking style of returning was what put him above Opelka today.

This was their 3rd meeting, all victorious for Gojowczyk. During the first set tiebreaker, Opelka yelled: “I hate playing him, I never want to play him again!” He later confirmed these comments in the press: “I kind of expected [the loss], he has beaten me two times before. I never want to play him again… Everything’s good. He’s got my number. He’s a great player and I knew I had my hands full. It was pretty similar the previous two matches.”

Opelka also commented on his “bromance” with Steve Johnson: “[playing him next] was in the back of my mind. When I’m in Carson I stay with him in Redondo Beach. He has a pretty nice house, a big house, so there is plenty of space for me. He knows I love Lucky Charms and Red Bull, so the last time I stayed there, I opened the fridge and he had a 12 pack of Red Bull and two boxes of Lucky Charms. I’m like: ‘Wow, what a great guy’. That’s a great friend right there. He’s the man, I’m always rooting for Stevie. I like Peter [Gojowczyk] too, he’s a nice guy, but I’m rooting for Stevie. 

In the past 12 months, Peter Gojowczyk has absolutely skyrocketed, rising from No. 162 to No. 64, winning ATP 250 in Metz, reaching semifinals in Newport and now in Delray Beach. The German previewed this upcoming clash of veterans: “That is a totally different match compared to my last two matches. I played some huge service guys, Reilly and John. Now, it is going to be an open match, I think. He played very well today, not that many unforced errors too. You have to play more from the baseline against him.”

Gojowczyk and Johnson will face off in the semifinals tomorrow at 3 PM local time.



Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence



Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils



Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis



Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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