Shapovalov Starting a New Run in Toronto - UBITENNIS
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Shapovalov Starting a New Run in Toronto

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-Toronto, Canada

Denis Shapovalov had the best moment of his career on home soil at the Rogers Cup in Montreal last year. The way he is playing through his first two matches in Toronto this year, Canadian tennis fans could be in for another treat. The 19-year old Canadian needed 80 mins to dispatch Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-5 in the second round on Wednesday night.

It was an impressive win for “Shapo” especially after going down 0-4 after being broken twice in the second set but then rallying to win 7 of the last 8 games of the match. Another moment early in his career where his poise and confidence helped him win another match.

The first break of the opening set came in the fourth game after Fognini decided to challenge a call mid-point which he thought went wide. He was wrong and it gave Shapovalov a pair of break points. The World No. 26 then hit an enormous backhand service return winner on the next point and he went up 3-1.

After an hour plus rain delay, Shapovalov won four straight points to give him the opening set in 34 minutes of playing time.

The start of the second was all Fognini. He broke Shapovalov in his opening two service games. The Canadian making a plethora of errors from both the forehand and backhand sides. Suddenly it was 4-0 for the World No. 14.

After a racquet change and a large boost from the hometown crowd, Shapovalov immediately broke Fognini after one of his 33 unforced errors in the match went into the net.

Two games later Fognini, coming of the title at Los Cabos last week, double faulted another break away and the set was back on serve.

In the eleventh game, a couple of mistakes off Fognini’s racquet including a double fault and a forehand that went long on break point sent the crowd into an uproar and gave Shapovalov his third break of the set. The youngster motioning the crowd to get on their feet which didn’t appear to sit well with the older Fognini. The Italian sent a few words in the direction of Shapovalov as they walked to their seats both players continuing to chirp each other during the sit-down. Fognini appeared to call his opponent “arrogant” at one point.

In the next game, Shapovalov hit a spectacular backhand crosscourt winner to go up 30-15 and on match point he hit a forehand deep into the corner to set up an easy put away volley and the match was his. For the second straight year, the youngster is thrilling crowds in Canada.

“The crowd on Grand Stand, I think it helped me a lot,” said Shapovalov ” because it was so ecstatic, so energetic because it’s so compact, that it actually bothered Fognini quite a bit, especially toward the end. So it really worked in my favor, and I really enjoyed myself out there.”

Shapovalov had 18 winners and 28 errors in the match along with 9 aces. Fognini had just 6 winners throughout and just one ace. So could the 19-year old duplicate his run in Canada from a year ago?

“Definitely. I think my game is at a very high level right now,” Shapovalov said. “You know, last week, even though I lost to Kei, it was a really good match. And I was telling everyone, I’m playing well in practice. I’m feeling really good. And I think having my mom on the side has really helped me the last couple weeks. I’ve really picked up my game. We’ve really worked on a couple of aspects that have helped me in the last couple of weeks. So I’m playing really good tennis, and I’m really happy with where I am right now.”

Next up for the home favourite is a meeting with Robin Hasse.  Both players reached the semi-finals in Montreal a year ago. The two could also very well meet again in September as Canada will face the Netherlands in a Davis Cup World Group tie, also in Toronto.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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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

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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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