10 Facts About The Men’s French Open Semi-Finals - UBITENNIS
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10 Facts About The Men’s French Open Semi-Finals

Three seeded players and one underdog – Ubitennis looks at what is at stake for today’s semifinalists in the men’s draw.

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Juan Martin del Potro (zimbio.com)

Friday at Roland Garros will see four players fight it out for a place in the men’s French Open final on Sunday. Rafael Nadal will lock horns with Juan Martin del Potro and Marco Cecchinato takes on Dominic Thiem. A series of records and milestones will be at stake for the quartet. Ranging from Nadal’s 450th clay court match to Cecchinato’s bid to end Italy’s 42-year wait for a men’s finalist at the tournament.

Here are 10 things you need to know about today’s matches at Roland Garros.

1. The head-to-head

Top seed Nadal leads Del Potro 9-5 in their head-to-head, but has only won one of their three most recent meetings. Last year at the US Open he battled back from a set down to defeat the Argentine in the semifinals of the tournament. A year prior, it was Del Potro’s turn to triumph as he claimed the final set tiebreaker 7-5 to secure a place in the Rio Olympics final. Despite their rivalry, this will be only the third time that will play each other on the clay. The most recent was at the 2011 Davis Cup where the Spaniard won in four sets.

Thiem’s encounter with Cecchinato will be their first tour-level clash. Although they have played each other twice before in lower level events. Back in 2013 the Austrian lost to his Italian rival in the final of a Futures tournament in Modena, Italy. A year later Thiem got his revenge by defeating Cecchinato in the second round of qualifying at the Doha Open. The clash will be Thiem’s 59th grand slam main draw match compared to Cecchinato’s ninth.

2. How do their Grand Slam records compare?

Out of the four remaining men, Nadal is the one with the outstanding grand slam record. Participating in his 53rd grand slam main draw, he is bidding to win his 17th major title. Something that has only ever been previously achieved on the men’s tour by his rival Roger Federer. At the French Open, he has won 84 out of 86 matches played.

Del Potro is the only other player in the quartet to win a major title at the 2009 US Open. Since then he has never reached another grand slam final as he spent months away from the tour due to a career-threatening wrist problem.

Thiem is set to play in his third consecutive French Open semi-final. Roland Garros is his strongest grand slam in term of wins with his record currently at 17-4. To put that into perspective, his second best is 11-4 at the US Open. This year’s tournament is his 18th consecutive appearance in a grand slam.

Underdog Cecchinato has stunned the men’s tour with a run to the last four. Prior to the start of the event, he had previously never won a grand slam match. Suffering four first round exits in the past.

3. Three players are targeting national milestones

Friday in Paris could be a historic occasion for some national tennis federations. 24-year-old Thiem is bidding to become only the second Austrian player – man or woman – to reach a major final. The first was Thomas Muster at Roland Garros in 1995. He is already the first player from his country to reach the last four of the tournament on three separate occasions (2016, 2017 and 2018).

Cecchinato could end Italy’s 42-year wait for a men’s finalist in Paris. Adriano Panatta was the last to triumph back in 1978. Should he continue his shock run, the 25-year-old will become only the fourth Italian man in history to reach a major final.

Del Potro could become the third Argentinian to reach multiple grand slam finals after Guillermo Vilas (8) and Gabriela Sabatini (3). He could also become the first player from his country to reach the final since Mariano Puerta in 2005. That was also the last time a non-European player featured in the men’s French Open final.

4. Another historic occasion for Nadal

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Friday will see the world No.1 play his 450th clay-court match on the tour. Becoming only the 11th player in the Open Era to do so. He currently had a win-loss record of 413-36 on the surface. In history only Muster (426), Manuel Orantes (453) and Vilas (631) have won more matches than Nadal on the clay.

5. Del Potro gunning for No.10

A win today would award Del Potro his 10th victory over a No.1 player. Only six men have managed to score 10 or more wins over a No.1 player – Boris Becker, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andre Agassi and Federer.

No.1 players who have lost to Del Potro
Federer – twice in 2009, 2012 and 2018
Nadal – 2009 and 2013
Djokovic – 2011, 2013 and 2016.
Note: Del Potro’s win over Federer at the 2009 US Open was the only time he defeated a No.1 player in a grand slam.

6. Thiem’s youth record

At the age of 24 years and 280 days, Thiem could become the youngest men’s finalist in Paris since Nadal back in 2010 at the age of 24 years and 3 days. He would also become the youngest grand slam finalist since Kei Nishikori at the 2014 US Open.

Michael Chang is the youngest player to win the title at the age of 17 back in 1989.

7. Cecchinato’s underdog milestones

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The relentless Italian has reached the biggest match of his career with wins over players such as Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Djokovic. Should he continue his surprise run, the Italian would achieve a trio of milestones. A win would make him the lowest ranked Roland Garros finalist since Andrei Medvedev in 1999, the first unseeded finalist since Puerta in 2005 and the fifth player in the Open Era to reach their first French Open final on their second appearance.

8. Nadal aims to match Federer

Win No.85 in Paris will elevate Nadal to his 11th French Open final. Should he do so, he would become only the second player in history to participate in the final of the same grand slam 11 times. The first was Federer at Wimbledon, who achieved the feat last year.

Nadal’s Roland Garros record
Champion – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 (10)
Quarter-finalist – 2015
Fourth round – 2009
Third round – 2016 (withdrew from the tournament)

9. 20th time lucky for Del Potro?

Since his triumph in 2009, Del Potro has only reached the semifinals of a major three times (including this year’s tournament). The French Open is his 20th grand slam since his win in New York. Should he progress to the final, Del Potro would have a unique record. Becoming second on the all-time list for most attempts made before reaching a second grand slam final. Chang is first with 21 grand slam appearances between his first two major finals (1989 French Open and 1995 French Open).

10. Thiem’s chance to become a season leader

Known for his hectic schedule on the tour, the Austrian could become the first man on the ATP tour this year to win their 35th match. He is currently tied in joint first position with Alexander Zverev. Both Nadal and Del Potro are currently at 28 wins this year.

2018 tour-level match-wins (prior to the French Open semi-finals)
1= Dominic Thiem 34-8
Alexander Zverev 34-9
3=Juan Martin del Potro 28-6
Rafael Nadal 28-2
5. Fabio Fognini 25-13

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Carlos Alcaraz Overcomes Cerundolo Resurgence To Begin Queen’s Club Title Defence With Victory

Carlos Alcaraz has begun his grass court season with a victory.

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Carlos Alcaraz overcame a second set resurgence from Francisco Cerundolo to defeat the Argentinian 6-1 7-5 at Queen’s Club.

The Spaniard came back from 5-2 down to win five games in a row against the Argentinian to begin his Queen’s Club title defence with a victory.

Now the recent Roland Garros champion could play Stuttgart champion Jack Draper in the second round.

A week in Ibiza didn’t hinder Alcaraz’s level of tennis as the Spaniard came out firing to start the match.

The mixture of power, depth and variety was too strong for Cerundolo as some stunning shot-making saw Alcaraz race to a 5-0 lead.

An ironic cheer went out for Cerundolo as the Argentinian edged towards his first game of the match before Alcaraz completed the opening set in 30 minutes.

However Cerundolo is not an opponent to be messed with having taken a two sets to one lead over Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

There was evidence of his grit and power in the second set as he powered to a 3-0 lead against a helpless Alcaraz.

As the set went on, Alcaraz gradually grew in confidence as he used his full repertoire of shots to open up space on the court.

Cerundolo managed to keep up the pressure as the Argentinian built a 5-2 lead.

That didn’t last for long as the Argentinian got tight and passive when serving for the set.

This allowed Alcaraz to play with freedom and power as he cruised to five games in a row and secure a win to start his title defence.

Next for Alcaraz will be either Jack Draper or Mariano Navone, who are last on Centre Court.

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Laura Robson’s Relaxed Nature Aids Rothesay Open In Overcoming Latest Obstacles

Laura Robson has overcome multiple obstacles as tournament director of the combined WTA/ATP Challenger event in Nottingham.

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A tough two years for the grass court tournament in Nottingham has been aided by Laura Robson’s relaxed nature.

When Laura Robson took over as the tournament director for the Rothesay Open last year, the Brit didn’t know what to expect.

However the last two years have seen thunder striking on finals day last year, deaths impacting the Nottingham community last year and this year saw multiple rain delays.

Speaking on last year’s tragic events where three people were killed in a street stabbing, Robson was determined to acknowledge last year’s tragedy as the tournament paid its respects this year, “We wanted to make sure we were really respectful of the situation,” Robson told the WTA website.

“The tennis continued, but everyone that day was aware what was going on and we were getting updates from the police. We were worried that all the players would suddenly be nervous to be out and about in Nottingham, which in my experience has always been very, very safe.

“You get these horrific incidents in all parts of the world, unfortunately. But in the end everyone understood the situation.”

This year Robson had to overcome multiple rain delays in order to just about complete the tournament on time.

However the relaxed nature of the 30 year-old aided the tournament in finishing on time and Robson spoke about the keys to running a successful tournament, “We all become weather experts. But the less I look at the forecast, the better. I can’t control it and there’s no reason to stress,” Robson explained.

“If it helps them play well on court then you want to try to facilitate that. Some are definitely harder than others, but it’s a complaint or a request for a reason. And it’s not that there’s difficult people, it’s just a difficult world — it’s a very individual journey and you’ve always got to look out for yourself. I understand, because when I was playing I’d have wanted the same things.

“It really is the same. Honestly, it goes so quickly when you’re in it. You spend so much time building up to the event that especially in the first few days it can feel a lot. But honestly, it’s just so much fun to see it all come together and to see the players actually on the court.”

Now Robson can focus on continuing her role as commentator and pundit for Sky Sports and Eurosport before preparing for next year’s tournament.

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Ons Jabeur Becomes Latest Olympics Withdrawal

Ons Jabeur has played the last three Olympic Games but will not compete in Paris.

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Ons Jabeur has become the latest tennis player to withdraw from the Olympic Games.

The Tunisian would have been an outside contender to claim an Olympic medal for her country but has now withdrawn from the event.

Writing a statement on social media, Jabeur took the decision in order to look after her health as she aims to prepare for Wimbledon and the US Open.

It could be Jabeur’s last chance to compete at the Olympic Games with her career nearing towards an end.

The Wimbledon finalist has competed at the last three Olympic Games but lost in the first round on all three occasions.

Jabeur joins Emma Raducanu, Aryna Sabalenka, Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev as the players that are absent from this summer’s event.

The tennis event at the Olympics will start on the 27th of July and will take place at Roland Garros in Paris.

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