Alexander Zverev cruised past 18-year-old Next Gen Canadian player Felix Auger Aliassime 6-1 6-4 in one of the most exciting matches of the day at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
Zverev got the first break of the match in the first game with a cross-court backhand passing shot to take a 2-1 lead. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion reeled off 16 of the next 18 points to seal the first set after 30 minutes with two breaks at love in the fifth and seventh games.
Auger Aliassime got his first break at 15 to take a 2-1 lead, but Zverev broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3, when Auger Aliassime made his fourth double fault. Both players traded breaks in the seventh and eighth games to draw level to 4-4. Zverev held serve at 30 in the ninth game before closing out the second set 6-4 with his sixth break of the match at deuce in the 10th game, when Auger Aliassime made a forehand error.
Zverev will take on Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who reached the third round after Gilles Simon withdrew before the start of match due to a back injury. Zverev beat Fognini twice in 2017 in Rome and Beijing.
Tsitsipas edges Kukushkin
Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 7-5 after 1 hour and 42 minutes in a re-match of this year’s Open 13 final in Marseille. The Greek Next Gen player broke serve four times and dropped his serve twice.
The first set went on serve with no break points before Tsitsipas got the first break of the match in the eighth game on his second opportunity to take a 5-3 lead. Tsitsipas consolidated the break with a hold of serve in the ninth game to clinch the first set 6-3.
Kukushkin saved a break point to hold his serve in the first game of the second set. Both players traded four breaks to draw level to 4-4.
Kukushkin saved three break points to hold his service game for 5-4. Tsitsipas withstood Kukushkin’s late come-back by winning the final three games. The Greek player got the break with a backhand down the line winner in the 11th game and held his serve to serve out the second set 7-5 after 1 hour and 42 minutes.
Tsitsipas scored his third win in as many matches against Kukushkin and his 18th win in 25 matches he played in 2019. This year he reached the Australian Open semifinal, won the Marseille title and finished runner-up to Roger Federer in the Dubai final.
“Monte-Carlo is a very important tournament for me. I have been coming here as a kid, watching all the players play. Now I get to be part of it. I am happy that I got to make it here, be one of the top seeds. There are players out there that want to beat me badly and want the same piece of glory. It’s going to be very difficult to stay concentrated and focused, but once I get there, I think there is nothing that can stop me, because I feel like I can play really good on clay”, said Tsitsipas.
Medvedev eases past Albot
In the third round Tsitsipas will face Danil Medvedev, who eased past Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-1 6-2 in 69 minutes to score his 19th win of the season.
Medvedev earned an early break in the first game of the match. He got another break with a winner at the net and sealed the opening set with his third break in the seventh game after 26 minutes. Albot got his first break at the start of the second set, but he dropped his serve in the second game after Medvedev made a backhand crosscourt winner. The young Russian player hit a backhand down the line winner in the fourth game and sealed the win with his third break at deuce in the eighth game.
“I have never beaten Medvedev before. We played a couple of times before. He has a different game than other players. He had a good serve, if he plays with first serve. It can get really aggressive and frustrating to return. He is maybe like a baseliner who likes to play a bit behind the baseline. He is a good defense for his eight”, said Tsitsipas.
Herbert upsets Nishikori
Pierre Hugues Herbert upset last year’s Monte-Carlo finalist Kei Nishikori 7-5 6-4 with a late break in each set after 1 hour and 42 minutes to score his first win over a top 10 player on clay. Herbert will face Borna Coric, who beat Jaume Munar yesterday in the longest match of the day. Nishikori suffered his fifth defeat in his last seven matches.
Herbert saved four break points to hold his service game after two deuces in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The Frenchman fended off two more break points in the ninth game to hold serve for 4-5 before sealing the first set 7-5 with a late break in the 12th game, when Nishikori made a backhand error after 57 minutes.
Herbert saved three break points to hold his first service game for 1-0. The Frenchman hit a big serve to save a break point in the ninth game before breaking serve to close out the second set 6-4.
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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