After A Turbulent Season, French Tennis Comes Under Fire At The Paris Masters - UBITENNIS
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After A Turbulent Season, French Tennis Comes Under Fire At The Paris Masters

With all 10 French players failing to progress beyond the second round at their home Masters tournament, concerns are rising about the current state of men’s tennis in the country.

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French tennis has achieved a new milestone at this week’s Rolex Paris Masters, but it is one that nobody wanted.

 

At the start of this week 10 home players were entered into the draw, but after three days of competition they have all crashed out. The first time in history that no French player has reached the third round of the tournament since it was expanded to a 64-player draw back in 1990. The outcome occurs during what has been a difficult season for the men’s elite in the country.

“It is an awful season for most of the French players, but we are certainly capable of winning against the Croatians, even if they’re great players.” Richard Gasquet commented about the issue ahead of France’s Davis Cup clash with Croatia next month.

The highest ranked Frenchman is currently tour veteran Gasquet at 28th. Meaning for the first time since 1996 there will be no French player will be in the season-ending top 20. The outcome has lead to players being placed under scrutiny in a country with high expectations that hosts one of the four grand slam tournaments. The last home player to reach the final at Roland Garros was Henri Leconte in 1988. For the women, it was Mary Pierce in 2005.

“It’s harder than before because it’s tougher. There’s a lot of good players. We still have good French players who can play well.” Said world No.31 Gilles Simon.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve lost forever. I would be more pessimistic for the four or five seasons to come rather.
“But there’s still a lot of good players. We have a draw with 48 players here (at the Paris Masters). We had ten French players in the draw. It’s not that bad. Of course, the level is not as high as we want it, but still we’re here.”

Simon is the only player from his country to win multiple singles titles on the ATP Tour this season. Triumphing at the Maharashtra Open in January and the Moselle Open in September. Furthermore, three of his compatriots has also lifted ATP trophies in 2018. Gasquet (Rosmalen), Gael Monfils (Qatar) and Lucas Pouille (Open Sud de France).

At present, France has 10 players ranked in the top 100, but eight of those are over the age of 27. The two exceptions are Pouille (24) and Ugo Humbert (20).

“There are players that are older than us on the circuit that have better ranks who still win big tournaments. So it’s doable on the years to come.” Simon Commented on a possible French resurgence in 2019.
“I don’t think that Richard (Gasquet) is playing less well than before. I know that he can actually win quite well. He’s missing two good opportunities in the French Open and in Wimbledon to have very good outcomes. When I saw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga yesterday, I’m not concerned either.”

Regardless of their difficulties, team France could still end 2018 on a high if they prevail in the Davis Cup final. They will play Croatia in Lille between November 23-25, a country they lost to in the semi-finals of the competition two years ago. Croatian tennis currently boasts two players in the world’s top 20 with Marin Cilic and Borna Coric.

List of French players in the top 100 (men only)

Ranking
Player
Age
28 Richard Gasquet 32
30 Gael Monfils 32
31 Gilles Simon 33
32 Lucas Pouille 24
40 Jeremy Chardy 31
46 Adrian Mannarino 30
56 Benoit Paire 29
57 Pierre-Hugues Herbert 27
72 Julien Benneteau 36
99 Ugo Humbert 20

Note: rankings based on week commencing 29/10/2018

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Stefanos Tsitsipas extends his winning streak with straight-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta in Minsk

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Last week’s Marseille champion and 2019 Dubai finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 after 1 hour and 34 minutes to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Touurnament.

 

Tsitsipas earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Carreno Busta won three consecutive games with a break-back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. The opening set went on serve without breaks to set up a tie-break. Tsitsipas cruised through to 7-1 to win the tie-break.

Tsitsipas broke three times in the first, fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-1.

The Greek player has extended his winning streak to 10 consecutive wins and has a record of 8-4 in his 12 matches this year.

“I am happy that I got two-set victories for a very long time. I am not spending extra hours out on the court, which for sure is going to help me”, said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas sets up a second round match against Alexander Bublik, who fended off three of his four break points in his 6-2 7-5 win over Hubert Hurkacz. Tsitispas beat Hurkacz 7-5 6-3 last week in the Marseille semifinal last week.

“Bublik is a tricky player. He does unexpected things on the court. I just need to be there, do my job the way I am doing it so far”, said Tsitsipas.

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Benoit Paire saves four match points to beat Marin Cilic in Dubai

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Eighth seed Benoit Paire saved four match points to beat Marin Cilic 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships taking a re-match for the tie-break loss in the fifth set at last January’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

 

Cilic saved two break points before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. The Croatian player saved a break point at deuce before holding serve in the third game for 3-0. Cilic broke serve from 0-40 down to break serve at deuce in the final game of the opening set.

Paire broke serve in the first game of the second set to open a 2-0 lead. Cilic broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games. Cilic won the final three games with a break to win the first set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games of the decisive set. Cilic saved break points in the fifth and eleventh games. Paire saved two break points to hold serve at deuce. Paire reeled off six consecutive points from 1-1 to win the tie-break 7-1.

“I am really happy about the win. It was not easy today. I was not feeling really good on court. I have been a little bit sick for two, three days. I am really happy to win today and to fight until the end”, said Paire.

 Daniel Evans rallied from one set and one break down to edge Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Fognini went up a double break to take a 4-0 lead. Evans pulled one break back in the fifth game, but Fognini held his next service games and wrap up the first set 6-3.

Fognini saved two break points before breaking serve at 15 to take a 3-1 lead. Evans broke back at deuce in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Evans converted his second break back in the 10th game to wrap up the second set 6-4.

Fognini started the third set with a break at deuce to take a 1-0 lead. Evans broke straight back in another deuce game to draw level to 1-1. Fognini earned another break at 15 to take a 3-2 lead. Evans broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Evans wrapped up the third set with a break in a marathon 12th game on his sixth match point.

Paire set up an all-French match against Richard Gasquet, who beat Marton Fucsovics 6-4 7-5.

Another Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert defeated Delray Beach finalist Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-2 in 78 minutes.

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Queen’s Organizers Optimistic Over Andy Murray’s Return As Two Top 10 Players Join Entry List

The first four names set to play in the ATP 500 event has been announced.

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The director of the Fever-Tree Championships has said he is ‘hopeful’ that Andy Murray will play in the tournament later this year after he was included in the first group of names on the official entry list.

 

The three-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup last November due to a pelvic injury. Murray has already delayed his return to the tour on numerous occasions as he continues his rehabilitation process. It is the latest setback for the injury-stricken 32-year-old, who also underwent career saving hip resurfacing surgery last year.

“Andy is our greatest champion. We know Andy is still working his way back to fitness, but we also know that he wants to play, so fingers crossed that he will be able to.” Stephen Farrow said in a press release on Tuesday.

Murray, who is currently ranked 130th in the world, is the most decorated player in the history of the Queen’s event. He has won the trophy five times between 2009-2016 and has won 30 out of 37 matches played there. Last year he also won the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez in what was his comeback tournament following his hip surgery.

Tuesday’s announcement of Murray playing at The Queen’s Club comes as no surprise. He has a lifetime contract to play there for the rest of his career unless he is ill or injured. Similar to what Roger Federer has with the Halle event, which takes place during the same week as Queen’s.

Other names to play in London this year include ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year. The Greek is yet to contest an ATP final on the grass, but did win the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title back in 2016.

“London will always be a special place for me after winning the ATP Finals last year and I am looking forward to coming back in June.” Said Tsitsipas. “The crowd at the O2 touched my heart in a very special way and I am excited to play at Queen’s again this June. It is a big tournament and important to play in the lead up to Wimbledon.”

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev is another top name set to play in what will be his fourth appearance at Queen’s. In 2019 he produced his best ever run at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals before falling in three sets to France’s Gilles Simon.

“The last 6 months have been incredible for me, a real breakthrough, and now I want to try to do the same on grass.” The US Open finalist stated. “The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club is a great event with perfect grass courts, and I am looking forward to playing there ahead of Wimbledon.”

Completing the quartet of confirmed names is 38-year-old two-time champion Lopez, who won the singles title last year, as well as the doubles with Murray. He is one of only two Spanish men to have ever won the event in the Open Era. There other was Rafael Nadal back in 2008.

“I thought when I won the title in 2017 that it was the best moment of my career. I was wrong. It was last year! Winning singles and doubles was something incredible, more than I could ever have dreamed when Stephen (Farrow) gave me the wild card.” Lopez reflected.
“That final day is one that I will never forget, Queen’s is always going to be one of the most special places of my career, and I am already looking forward to coming back to the Fever-Tree Championships in June to defend my title.”

The ATP 500 event will get underway on June 15th.

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