Gael Monfils Topples 'Brother' Wawrinka To Win Rotterdam Open - UBITENNIS
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Gael Monfils Topples ‘Brother’ Wawrinka To Win Rotterdam Open

The Frenchman is set to rise back inside the world’s top 25 for the first time in more than a year following his latest triumph.

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Gael Monfils (Photo by chryslène caillaud, Copyright @Sport Vision)

France’s Gael Monfils has returned back to the winner’s circle after claiming his first title on the ATP Tour for 13 months.

 

The world No.33 downed three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, during what was a roller coaster clash at the Ahoy Arena. In what was the first tournament final to feature two unseeded players since 2008, Monfils overcame some patchy play and physical issues to win the ATP 500 event. Hitting a total of 16 winners to 28 unforced errors. The Frenchman also claimed 67% of the points behind his first served and saved seven out of the 10 break points he faced.

“Stan, you know I love you. You’re my brother.” Monfils said during the trophy presentation. “This win is a part of him. We have been practising a lot, we’ve been talking a lot during the winter.”
“You (Wawrinka) told me that if I didn’t win one of the tournaments you would stop practising with me. Sorry I beat you in the final.”

Initially, it appeared as if Monfils would ease towards the trophy after producing a solid display in the opening set. Breaking Wawrinka twice while only dropping six points behind his own serve. However, in the second frame the 32-year-old lost his momentum as it looked like he was suffering from some injury issue concerning the region around his left hip. Enabling Wawrinka to take proceedings into a decider.

Despite the injury scare, Monfils managed to regroup and end Wawrinka’s dream of winning his first title since undergoing knee surgery. An error-stricken game from his Swiss rival, gifted Monfils a break for 2-1 in the third set. Then, later in the match, Monfils secured the double break for 5-2 with the help of a Wawrinka backhand going out. Serving for the title, he prevailed on his first championship point by hitting a carefully crafted forehand at the net to draw another mistake from across the court.

Shortly after the match Monfils paid tribute to his coach Liam Smith, who joined his team at the end of 2018.

“This is our first tournament together that we have won. We have had a good start to our season.” He said.
“I think I’m tough, but in a good way. I’m a hard worker and you push me through. We had three tournaments and some reasonable wins. I really like how we are doing and I hope that we will have many more (wins together).”

Runner-up Wawrinka can seek some comfort in his week at Rotterdam. It was the first time he has claimed four consecutive matches in a tournament since having knee surgery in 2017. Prior to the final, he scored wins over seeds Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov and Kei Nishikori.

“It’s always tough to lose in a final, especially in a final like tonight” Said Wawrinka. “But if I had to lose to someone it would be to you Gael. You’re a close friend and I’m really happy for you.”
“This was my first final since my surgery. It was a special week.” He added.

Monfils’ triumph in Rotterdam earns him one of the biggest titles of his entire career. His only other triumph in a ATP 500 tournament was at the 2016 Washington Open. Monfils is now projected to rise up to 23rd in the world rankings when they are updated on Monday. His highest position since August 2017.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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