Dominic Thiem Eases Into Maiden French Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Eases Into Maiden French Open Final

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World No. 8 Dominic Thiem eased into his maiden Roland Garros final after making short work of Novak Djokovic’s slayer Marco Cecchinato in their semifinal on Friday. Thiem was at his absolute best as he raced to his first ever Grand Slam final after completely dominating Cecchinato from start to finish, coasting to a comfortable 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 victory in two hours and 17 minutes.  He will meet defending champion Rafael Nadal or 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro in Sunday’s showpiece final in Paris.

Thiem was off to a flyer as he forced a break-point at 30-40 in the opening game of the match. But the Argentine fired a wide serve and a forehand crosscourt winner to save it. Thiem then earned another opportunity with some penetrating hitting before forcing Cecchinato to spray a backhand long for the service break.

Thiem backed up the break with a swift hold to love. He served a massive ace down the T to lay down an early marker of his intent for an early 2-0 lead. A dominant Thiem was employing the one-two punch to great effect as he romped to a 4-2 lead. Big serves and even bigger forehands were simply too good for Cecchinato, who defeated former champ Djokovic in the previous round.

However, the 8th game turned out to be a major disappointment for Thiem as Cecchinato, who barely won a point on the seventh seed’s serve till that stage of the contest brought up three break points. Thiem saved all three, but another missed backhand from him eventually gifted the break back to Cecchinato for 4-4.

The pendulum swung once again in the 11th game as Thiem broke just when he needed to break. Thiem really cranked up the heat as both players traded blows off both wings. Thiem ultimately came out on top as he crunched a forehand winner down the line after dragging Cecchinato from side to side.

In the following game, Thiem served out the opening set to 15. He dominated early on but looked to have allowed Cecchinato back during the concluding stages. However, he responded and raised his level to claim the set in 46 minutes.

Thiem had multiple chances to break his rival early on in the second set. His first opportunity arrived in the first game, but he couldn’t capitalize as Cecchinato produced possibly his best drop shot of the encounter to save it. Thiem had two more chances in game No. 5, but his adversary once again managed to get away as he saved them both – the first with a delicate volley and the next with a serve out wide.

The quality of tennis was simply world class as neither player was giving an inch to the other. In the end, the set went to a tiebreak, which once again witnessed a see-saw battle between the pair. Grueling rallies, massive hitting and deceptive play became the norm as Thiem seized the early momentum to lead 5-2.  Thiem then brought up three set points at 6-3, but failed to convert even one of them.

Thiem then found himself in a real spot of bother as Cecchinato had three opportunities to level the proceedings at a set apiece. But, like Thiem he too couldn’t convert those chances and it was Thiem, who finally got the job done on his fifth set point to claim an enthralling tiebreak 12-10.

After winning set No. 2 Thiem went into an overdrive as he found his groove and almost never missed. Within a blink of an eye, he found himself 5-1 up with a double break of serve. Thiem then made no mistake, picking up a free point on serve to bring up match point before sealing the deal at the first time of asking with a scorching forehand winner.

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

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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

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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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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

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Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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