Monte-Carlo Preview: Novak Djokovic Handed Nightmare Draw As Nadal Looks to Defend Title - UBITENNIS
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Monte-Carlo Preview: Novak Djokovic Handed Nightmare Draw As Nadal Looks to Defend Title

Novak Djokovic has been handed a nightmare draw for the latest edition of the Monte-Carlo Masters as he appears in Rafael Nadal’s quarter of the draw

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Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

 

1st Quarter

Rafael Nadal enters Monte-Carlo as defending champion. (Zimbio.com)

The first quarter of the Monte-Carlo draw is the most brutal as defending champion Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic appear in this quarter of the draw. The 10 time champion Rafael Nadal will start his campaign against either Aljaz Bedene or a qualifier in the second round. He then could face 16th seed Adrian Mannarino in the third round, who faces his fellow compatriot Gilles Simon in the first round. Whoever wins the all-French battle will take on either Karen Khachanov or wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis in round two.

Former champion Novak Djokovic has been handed a brutal draw as he could face Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal en route to the Monte-Carlo. The out-of-form won’t be worried about that just yet though as he has to navigate a qualifier in the first round. Borna Coric, who had an amazing American hard court swing will face Julien Benneteau in his first match. The other match sees Robin Haase take on Andrey Rublev, with the winner playing sixth seed Dominic Thiem, who will be returning from injury.

2nd Quarter

The second quarter isn’t as loaded as the opening quarter but sees lots of opportunity for some players who have had a slow start to the season, including fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian will face either Filip Krajinovic or Paolo Lorenzi in his first match on clay this season. Other matches in his section of the quarter include Tennys Sandgren v Philipp Kohlschreiber and Jared Donaldson facing 15th seed and last year’s finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

There is lots of star quality and unpredictability in the bottom half of the quarter including sixth seed David Goffin. The Belgian could have a tough test in Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round, should the brash teenager overcome a Qualifier in his opening match. Goffin’s seed in the last 16 is 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who faces Peter Gojowczyk first. The other match in this quarter is Feliciano Lopez v Benoit Paire.

THE TOP HALF

 

THE BOTTOM HALF

 

3rd Quarter

Lucas Pouille looks to create his own opportunities in this quarter of the draw as the Frenchman starts his tournament against Mischa Zverev or talented Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime. There are also plenty of dangerous floaters in the third quarter of the draw including Diego Schwartzman and Richard Gasquet. They could play in round two if they get past Guido Pella and a qualifier respectively.

Talented German Alexander Zverev looks to overcome his Davis Cup disappointment as he could face big serving Gilles Muller in round two. 15th seed Fabio Fognini also lurks in this part of the draw as he faces a qualifier in round one, with Yuichi Sugita or Jan-Lennard Struff awaiting in the second round.

4th Quarter

This final quarter sees plenty of good matches and plenty of expectation. 8th seed Pablo Carreno Busta will hope to make a deep run here as the Spaniard will face Kyle Edmund or Alexandr Dolgopolov in his opening round match. One of the ties of the first round also occurs in this final quarter as 12th seed Tomas Berdych takes on Kei Nishikori in a spectacular match. The winner of that match could face Russian Daniil Medvedev in round two.

14th seed Milos Raonic is looking to gain valuable points on his weakest surface as he plays local wildcard Lucas Catarina. Although a sterner test could await in round two as he could battle Bosnian Damir Dzumhur. Raonic appears in second seed Marin Cilic’s section of the draw and the Croatian will face the winner of Fernando Verdasco versus Pablo Cuevas. The match is a tough test for Cilic, who had a rough South American clay court swing.

THE DRAW

 

 

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Albert Ramos Vinolas saves two match points to battle past Andreas Seppi in Shenzhen

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World number 52 Albert Ramos Vinolas saved two match points to edge Andreas Seppi 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 after 2 hours and 53 minutes at the ATP 250 in Shenzhen. Seppi missed two match points in the tie-break of the second set at 6-5 and 7-6.

Seppi started the match well by winning seven consecutive points to break serve on his third opportunity. Ramos Vinolas broke straight back. The match went on serve until 5-5. The Spaniard earned his chance to serve for the set, but he failed to convert it. In the tie-break Bautista Agut went up a 3-0 lead, but Seppi reeled off six consecutive points to win the first set 7-5.

Ramos Vinolas broke serve at 30 in the second game, but he missed two chances for 4-0. Seppi broke back at 30. Seppi earned a break point at 5-5 and two match points at 6-5 7-6 on his serve but Ramos Vinolas won the final three points to win the second set 9-7.

The third set started with four break points (three for Ramos Vinolas and one for Seppi). Ramos Vinolas finally broke serve in the fifth game on his fourth opportunity and sealed the win with his double break at deuce in the ninth game.

Ramos Vinolas will face Victor Troicki, who was leading 5-3 over Guillermo Garcia Lopez, when the Spanish player was forced to retire due to a hip injury.

Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-3 in one hour and four minutes to clinch his 20th win at the ATP 250 in Shenzhen. The World number 67 dropped just nine points in ten service games and faced just one break point and broke Lajovic once in each set.

 

Herbert got the first break of the match at 15 in the 10th game. He fended off a break point in the fifth game of the second set and earned his second break of the match in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held two consecutive service games at love to reach the round of 16.

 

British young player Cameron Norrie served at 62 % and fended off all six break points to cruise past Di Wu 6-2 6-2 in 70 minutes. Norrie, who reached two consecutive semifinals in Atlanta and Los Cabos, converted on four of his seven break points. The Brit came back from 1-2 down by winning five consecutive games to seal the first set 6-2. He fended off four break points in the second game of the second set and went up a double break in the third and seventh games to race out to a 5-2 lead. Norrie sealed the win after saving two break points, as he was serving for the match in the eighth game.

 

Yoshihito Nishioka converted on five of his nive break points to cruise past Denis Kudla 6-1 6-3 in just 59 minutes. He booked his spot in the second round against either Denis Shapovalov or Ilya Ivashka.

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Dominic Thiem Wins First Indoor Title In Russia As Simon Triumphs In Metz

There was joy for Austrian and French tennis fans on Sunday.

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World No.8 Dominic Thiem has claimed his third ATP title of the season after defeating Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-3, 6-1, in the final of the St Petersburg Open.

Despite getting less than 50% of his first serves in, the top seed managed to dominate proceedings throughout the 67-minute encounter. Breaking Klizan three consecutive times during the final, as well as a fourth time during the closing stages of the second set. The Austrian was the more consistent out of the two on court as he hit 13 winners to 12 unforced errors. In contrast, his Slovakian opponent hit the same amount of winners, but a costly 27 errors.

“It means a lot to me. I was serving for my first indoor title, which was really amazing. That was why I got a little bit tight towards the end, but I’m really happy that I’ve won this game (match).” Thiem said during his on-court interview.

After falling on three previous occasions, the win is Thiem’s first triumph over Klizan on the ATP Tour. He has now won 48 matches this year, which is the highest number on the men’s circuit. As a result of his St Petersburg triumph, Thiem is currently placed seventh on the ATP Race to London with 3525 points. Only the top eight players will qualify for the end-of-season finale.

The performance of the Austrian, has drawn praise from Klizan. The world No.65 was bidding to become the first player to have won his first seven title matches since the ATP World Tour began in 1990. Frustrated by the outcome, Klizan has tipped his rival to top the ATP rankings in the near future.

“I wish you all the best on your way to becoming world No.1 because you are going to be very soon.” Klizan said to Thiem during the trophy ceremony.

Thiem is the sixth man to win three or more titles in 2018. Asked if he would be returning to Russia next year to defend his title, he admitted that he was unsure.

“One thing for sure is that I will come back here, but I am not sure if it will be next year or not.” He explained.
“There are many tournaments going on this week (of the ATP calendar) and it is not easy to decide.”

Simon delights home fans in Metz

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At the Moselle Open in Metz, Gilles Simon has become the second player in history to have won the tournament for a third time. Following in the footsteps of compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The 33-year-old Frenchman outlasted German underdog Matthias Bachinger 7-6(2), 6-1. Bachinger knocked out Kei Nishikori in the semifinals of the tournament.

“Every title is special, I say to myself every time it may be the last, I’m happy to align (win) one more.” Simon reflected during his press conference.

The comprehensive performance saw Simon hit twice as many winners to unforced errors (34-17) as well as producing 10 aces. Winning his 14th ATP title and his second in 2018. Simon also triumphed at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, India earlier this year.

As a result of his third triumph in Metz, Simon will return back into the world’s top 30 at 29 when the rankings are updated on Monday. It will be his highest position since March 2017. Simon has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

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Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini claim their first doubles title as a team in St. Petersburg

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The all-Italian doubles team formed by Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini lifted their first doubles title as a team by beating Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) in the doubles final in St. Petersburg.

The match started with three breaks in a row. Jebavy and Middlekoop got two breaks to one to open up a 2-1 lead after the first three games. Berrettini and Fognini pulled back the break in the sixth game but they dropped their serve for the third time in the 11th game. The Italian team broke back for the third time to set up a tie-break.

The Italians wasted two consecutive set points in the tie-break but they sealed the first set on the third set point. Jebavy and Middlekoop got the first break of the second set in the second game and held their service games until the seventh game, when Fognini and Berrettini broke back. Jebavy and Middelkoop went up a break in the eighth game to open up a 5-3 lead, but Berrettini and Fognini broke back to set up a tie-break. Fognini and Berrettini reeled off three consecutive points from 4-4 to win the decisive tie-break after 1 hour and 39 minutes.

Berrettini claimed his second doubles title after lifting the Gstaad trophy with Daniele Bracciali last July. Fognini won his fifth doubles title and the first since Shenzhen in 2016.

“It was really tough for sure. I am really happy. It was a really great week for us. We played together for the first time. It’s good to leave St. Petersburg with the title”, said Fognini.

 

 

 

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