Fabio Fognini rallies from a set down to oust Andrey Rublev in Montecarlo - UBITENNIS
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Fabio Fognini rallies from a set down to oust Andrey Rublev in Montecarlo

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Fabio Fognini came back from one set down to knock out Andrey Rublev 4-6 7-5 6-4 after 2 hours and 30 minutes in the opening round at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

Fognini, who reached the semifinal in Monte-Carlo in 2013, saved a break point in the second game before breaking serve in the third game. Rublev broke straight back in the next game.

Fognini got another break at 15 in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Rublev reeled off eight of the next 10 points to take a 4-3 lead with a break-back in the sixth game. Fognini won three consecutive points in the eighth game to hold his serve for 4-4. Rublev converted his second break point chance in the 10th game to clinch the first set 6-4.

Rublev went up a set and a break in the fourth game on his second opportunity and held his service game to take a 4-1 lead. In the sixth game Fognini saved five break points to hold his service game. The Italian player broke back on his first chance in the seventh game to claw his way back to 3-4 and saved a break point in the eighth game to hold on his service game for 4-4. Fognini turned around the match in the 11th game, when he converted his second break point to take a 6-5 lead. Fognini sealed the second set 7-5 on his second chance sending the match to the third set.

Fognini went up a break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. He held his service game in the fourth game with a half volley for 3-1. He saved a break point to hold serve for 4-2. Fognini won a crucial point at 5-4 15-15 after a long rally before sealing the win on his first match point to the delight of the Italian fans, who packed the Court Rainier III.

Fognini will face either Alexei Popyrin or Gilles Simon in the second round,

Diego Schwartzman fought back from a break down to beat Kyle Edmund 4-6 6-3 6-1 after just over two hours. Edmund got the break in the 10th game to clinch the first set 6-4. He built up a 3-0 lead with a break, but Schwartzman reeled off six consecutive games to close out the second set 6-3. Schwartzman built up a 3-0 lead to extend his winning streak to nine consecutive games. Edmund stopped the losing streak by taking the fourth game, but Schwartzman won the final three games to close out the third set 6-1. Schwartzman set up a second round clash against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Taylor Fritz.

Lorenzo Sonego edged past Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 after 1 hour and 45 minutes setting up a second round match against Karen Khachanov.

The first set went on serve without break points and was decided by the tie-break. Sonego, who reached the quarter final in Marrakesh last week and came through the qualifying round in Monte-Carlo, earned two set points at 6-4 and sealed the first on his first chance. Seppi saved two set points in the first game of the second set. Both players went on serve until the seventh game when Sonego got the decisive break. Sonego served out the win 6-4 on his second match point at deuce.

David Goffin beat Argentina’s Guido Andreozzi 6-1 6-4 after 85 minutes to clinch his 10th win in Monte-Carlo. Goffin beat Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic to advance to the semifinal in Monte-Carlo before losing to Rafael Nadal. Goffin will face Dusan Lajovic, who beat Malek Jaziri 6-4 6-4.

Mikhail Kukushkin beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-4 setting up a second round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Last year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato was leading 4-0 before Damir Dzumhur was forced to retire due to injury. Cecchinato will face Stan Wawrinka in the second round.

This year’s Sofia semifinalist Marton Fucsovics edged Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-5 3-6 6-1 to secure his spot in the second round, where he will face either Adrian Mannarino or Cameron Norrie.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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