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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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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