The 2019 edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters was officially presented to Italian media at the Showroom of Sergio Tacchini headquarter in Milan. Every year the organizers of the prestigious Monte-Carlo tournament hold their traditional press conference in Milan to promote their event among Italian media and fans.
“The press conference we hold every year in Milan has become a tradition. It is very important for the promotion of our tournament. We want to thank Italian media and fans for their support and their loyalty, and our historic partner Sergio Tacchini, which is based in Milan, and their representatives Patrizia Bolzoni and Cristina Clerici for their cooperation. We registered a slight increase in tickets sold to Italian fans. Many Italian fans come every year showing their passion and enthusiasm for tennis and this makes us very proud.”, said Tournament Director Zeljko Franulovic, who won the Monte-Carlo title in 1970.
Franulovic has worked as Tournament Director since 2005, when the “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal won the first of his 11 titles at the historic Monte-Carlo Country Club. The former Croatian player looked back at a hugely successful edition in 2018.
“The 2018 edition was very successful in terms of ticket selling. The attendance record was broken once again with 136.671 spectators. Our tournament was already sold out since Tuesday. No less than 33% of them came from Italy. On the first day former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and former Liverpool football player Jamie Redknapp took part in an original tennis charity event to raise funds for the Prince Albert II Foundation in Monaco, which supports projects to protect the oceans. Another special moment of this year’s edition was Boris Becker’s Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony. Our tournament was attended by 453 accredited journalists from 18 countries. We received an excellent TV coverage in France thanks to our French partners Canal + and C8 and Italian sports channel Sky Sport. We are happy with the new TV rights deal with Eurosport, which will broadcast the Masters 1000 tournaments in France from 2019. Our fans could cheer on the Next Gen players like Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov, who will play at the 2018 ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan. We were happy that Kei Nishikori made a successful come-back from injury and kept the pace with Rafa Nadal in the final. Despite the defeat Nishikori produced the first big performance in Monte-Carlo. Nadal added another title to his impressive collection by winning his 11th Montecarlo title.
“I did not expect Nadal to dominate our tournament for many years when he won his first title in Monte-Carlo in 2005. That year I started working as Tournament Director. We bring good luck to each other. The Next Gen players will get stronger and will take over the old generation, who is getting older”.
Franulovic looks ahead at the 113th edition, which promises to live up to the proud tradition of this tournament. The Monte-Carlo Tournament will be held from 13th to 21st April 2019.
“Our tournament wants to hold to its tradition, but we also want to look to the future and improve our facilities. In 2019 we will open our new facility for TV production, a restaurant for players and a new room for interviews. Our location is smaller than in other Masters 1000 tournaments but is unique around the world and this makes our tournament so special. The ticket selling for the 2019 edition is going well. Italian fans and Italian tennis clubs have shown their continuous support over the years. We suggest our loyal Italian fans should go on our website to buy the still available tickets as soon as possible. We really hope that the best players like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev will be in top form in the week of our tournament. The Main Draw Ceremony will be held at the Jardins Méditérranéens of the Monte-Carlo Bay, the official hotel of the tournament. The traditional charity event will take place on 12th April on the Court Rainier III. It will be attended by the best players of the tournament. This year the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters has chosen to support the Monte-Carlo Red Cross, one of the most important charity organizations worldwide”.
Franulovic reflected on the future of tennis with the introduction of new tournaments like the Laver Cup and the new Davis Cup, which will start in 2019.
“On one hand I understand that players would like to have more tournaments, but as a tournament organizer I am not very happy because more tournaments mean a higher risk of injuries for players. The fact that the ITF has decided to invest a lot of money on tennis is positive for our sport, but I think that the new Davis Cup cannot be held during the period between the ATP Finals and the new ATP World Team Cup”.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat
The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.
Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.
Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.
“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”
The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.
Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.
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