Jaume Munar beat Frances Tiafoe 4-1 4-3 (7-3) 4-1 in just 56 minutes to keep his chance of qualifying for the semifinals at the Next Gen ATP Finals alive. Munar will reach the knock-out stage if Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Hubert Hurkacz.
Munar lost against Hurkacz in the decisive fifth set after coming back from two sets down and needed a win against Tiafoe to have the chance to qualify. He broke once in the first set and in the third sets.
Tiafoe lost 40 % of the points in his service games and dropped his serve twice from the four break point chances he faced.
Tiafoe saved a break point with a forehand winner in the second game.
Munar, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy, got the first break of the match in the fourth game at 30 with a volley winner to clinch the opening set 4-1.
Tiafoe saved a break point at the start of the second set with a service winner. The second set went on serve until the tie-break. Munar earned an early mini-break and sealed the tie-break on his first set point 7-3 with a running forehand winner.
Munar went up a break in the second game of the third set to open up a 2-0 lead. Tiafoe earned a break point, but Munar hit two first serve winners to win the deciding point. Munar served out the third set at love to wrap up the third set 4-1.
“I did what I had to do. It’s not in my hands anymore. The most important thing was to play better and better every day. I will follow this evening’s matches in my hotel to see if I qualify or not. Maybe we can buy a Greek flag. At least i felt like I was a good tennis player, so it is important for me. It was another match for me. I knew I had to play a little bit better tennis. We did the same. Morning gym and then we took breakfast just warm-up. A long warm-up with a little bit of practice. They were the things we didn’t do well yesterday. I just tried to be motivated and fight. This is what I did today”, said Munar.
Rublev takes crucial straight-set win over Caruana:
Andrey Rublev clinched a much needed win in straight sets beating Italian wild card Liam Caruana 4-3 (9-7) 4-1 4-2. Taylor Fritz will need to beat Alex De Minaur in three or four sets this evening to survive the round-robin stage in the Group B. If Fritz beats De Minaur in five sets, he will qualify for the semifinal joining the Australian player, who has already secured his spot for the knock-out stage.
Rublev hit 28 winners to 19 unforced errors.
Rublev earned an early break point with a forehand winner in the opening game. Caruana saved the first chance with his first serve winner, but Rublev converted his second opportunity with another passing shot. Rublev backed up his break with a hold at love. Caruana got his first game on the scoreboard at love. Caruana broke back in the sixth game at 30 to draw level to 3-3 to set up a tie-break, when Rublev was serving for the set.
In the tie-break Caruana got an early mini-break to open up a 2-0 lead in the tie-break. Rublev got back on serve with a return winner and took a 3-2 lead, when Caruana made a forehand error. Rublev earned two set points at 6-4. Caruana saved both chances with a forehand return and an ace to draw level to 6-6. Caruana saved another set point on Rublev’s serve to draw level to 7-7, but Rublev sealed the set by 9-7 on his fourth chance with his backhand.
Rublev faced a break point on the deciding point in the first game of the second set and he saved it with a forehand winner. Rublev rallied from 0-30 down to get the break in the second game with another forehand winner to open up a 2-0 lead. Rublev served well in the rest of the second set to close it out 4-1.
Rublev earned an immediate break in the opening game of the third set on the deciding point and never looked back by holding his three service games to seal the third set 4-2.
“It was a tough match, as I had a lot of pressure. Today I played a completely different performance than yesterday. My attitude was the best out of these three matches. I was focused. I was not complaining. I was trying to fight for every point, because every point cost a lot. I was trying to win every point. I won in three sets. Let’s see how it’s going to happen later. In the match against De Minaur I was completely emotional. I have to be stronger than this, and I left it in the past and just move on. It’s not going to change anything if I am going to watch this evening’s match or not. I am going to do my routine and in the end, we will see what’s going to happen. I am not going to stay for the match. If you want to win matches, you need to be focused and not talk about thing around. Just focus thinking about how to win. In the end you just learn to do it.
Rublev found his rhythm after winnng the crucial tie-break in the first set.
“To be honest, the way I was playing today was the worst level I showed today, but my attitude was double or triple better than in the past matches, so I compensated a little bit. It was tough because I was serving for the set and I made the double fault, and then there was the tie-break. I was just talking to myself. It doesn’t matter. Just fight for myself. You will still have a chance”, said Rublev in the post match interview.
Grigor Dimitrov Blames Poor Monte Carlo Performance On ‘Big Infection’
The 29-year-old reveals the reason behind his error-stricken performance at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Thursday.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov said he simply ‘didn’t play’ in his latest match at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning just two games against Rafael Nadal.
The world No.17 fell 6-1, 6-1, to the 20-time Grand Slam champion in less than an hour on Thursday. He won 48% of his first service points and 32% of his second, as he hit 32 unforced errors. A dismal performance from Dimitrov who had beaten Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy earlier in the tournament.
Whilst it was never going to be easy playing somebody of Nadal’s calibre, Dimitrov has revealed that he had been troubled by an issue away from the court. He has been suffering from a ‘big infection’ in his tooth which has had an impact on his preparation for the match.
“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days,” he said. “I have a big infection in my tooth. It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that.’
“I was bearing it for a while this whole week.”
It is another case of bad luck for Dimitrov on the Tour this season. At the Australian Open he reached the quarter-finals in what was his best Grand Slam performance since the 2019 US Open. However, in his last eight showdown with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev he was hindered by a back injury.
“It’s straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately,” he commented on his tooth. “Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is.’
“At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.Hopefully it’s not too serious and I’ll be able to come back as soon as possible.”
Speaking in his press conference, Nadal said he ‘felt sorry’ for his opponent who ‘played a bad match.’ During the match the world No.3 wasn’t aware of Dimitrov’s problem but was told about it afterwards.
“I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a good friend. I just hope the situation is to improve as soon as possible,” he said.
Nadal, who is seeking a record 12th title in Monte Carlo, will play Russia’s Andrey Rublev next.
Dan Evans Fires Back At ‘No Manners’ Musetti
30-year-old Evans says he is not happy with recent comments the Italian has said about him.
British No.1 Dan Evans has branded fellow player Lorenzo Musetti ‘disrespectful’ after recording the most high-profile win of his career at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.
The world No.33 stunned Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, in what is his first ever win over a member of the prestigious Big Three. A trio that consists of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. What is even more remarkable is that Evan’s victory took place on the clay. A surface which he hadn’t won a Tour match on since 2017 prior to this week.
Speaking to reporters following his win over the world No.1, Evans was questioned about what was the difference between his match against Musetti last week and his performance in Monte Carlo. Prompting the Brit to hit out at the Italian who is dubbed as one of the rising stars of the Tour.
“How he spoke last week was embarrassing,” Evans said. “Let’s not talk about Musetti in my press conference.
“Last week he said some things in the Italian press about me that was disrespectful.
Musetti, if he apologises, I will answer. He’s a good tennis player, but he’s got no manners.”
The fallout between the two started last week after Musetti won their match at the Sardegna Open. Saving four match points in the final tiebreaker en route to the victory. Afterwards, the 19-year-old accused his rival of disrespecting him on the court.
“There are respectful experienced players on the court,” he said. “Others like Evans, they try to use my youth to (win) matches.
“But it’s all experience for me. Evans disrespected me. I don’t want to be treated like a young man.”
Whilst the two tennis players are unlikely to be friends anytime soon, Evans did praise the recent performance of his rival. Musetti is the youngest player in the top 100 on the men’s Tour and is one of only two players aged 19. The other is compatriot Jannik Sinner.
“He played very well last week. I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t take the match points. It’s just tennis. Yeah, he could do with learning some manners.” He concluded.
Evans is through to the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. Awaiting him in the next round is 11th seed David Goffin who defeated Alexander Zverev in his third round match.
New Setback Forces Dominic Thiem Out Of Belgrade
The Austrian tennis star has written a blog post on his website titled ‘my knee hurts!”
Dominic’s Thiem’s return to the Tour has been postponed for a second time due to a physical problem which he recently visited a doctor about.
The US Open champion has confirmed that he is currently suffering from pain in his knee and has decided to pull out of next week’s Belgrade Open. An ATP 250 event which will be headlined by world No.1 Novak Djokovic. It is unclear as to what kind of injury Thiem is suffering from or when the pain started. Earlier this year he confirmed that he had been suffering from a long-standing foot issue which gives him intermittent pain. Although there is no indication that these are linked in anyway.
“2021 just doesn’t want to get going. Unfortunately I will have to cancel my start at next week’s tournament in Novak Djokovic’s hometown Belgrade,” Thiem wrote in a statement. “My knee hurts and I went to see a doctor. It is not a big issue but I need to take care of it. I am definitely not fit enough to play next week.”
Earlier this month Thiem delayed his expected return to the Tour at this week’s Monte Carlo Masters because he was ‘not 100% yet.’ In a blog post on his website the Austrian admitted that he had ‘a lot of work to do’ and ‘tough weeks’ ahead. Thiem hasn’t played a match since the Dubai Tennis Championships after deciding to take a break from the sport in order to reset himself.
The hope for the world No.4 is that he will be back on track and ready to play at the Madrid Open which will begin on April 30th with the ultimate goal remaining to be back to full fitness at the French Open. Thiem’s most successful Grand Slam where he has reached finals in 2018 and 2019.
“I want to be completely fit at the beginning of May and play proper tennis,” he states.
“There is something positive, though: Coach Nicolas Massu arrived in Austria yesterday, we are going to continue my program even though at the moment we have to be careful. In the meantime I have also been working on my physical fitness with sports scientist Mike Reinprecht.’
“There is no doubt, the big goal till the summer are the French Open – in Paris I must be at my best.”
So far this season Thiem has only won back-to-back matches in one out of four tournaments played. Doing so at the Australian Open where he reached the fourth round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov. Since then he has suffered second round losses in Doha and Dubai. His win-loss record for 2021 currently stands at 5-4.
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