Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal face a tough draw in Monte-Carlo - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal face a tough draw in Monte-Carlo

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal lead the main draw in the 113th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 1000 tournament, which traditionally kicks off the European clay season.

 

Nadal claimed his 11th Monte-Carlo title last year and went on to win Barcelona, Rome and his 11th trophy at Roland Garros. Djokovic won two titles in 2013 and 2015. Stan Wawrinka broke the dominance of Nadal and Djokovic when he won in 2014 beating Roger Federer in an all-Swiss final.

The Draw Ceremony was held in the Mediterrenean gardens of the Monte-Carlo Bay and Resort, the official tournament hotel.

Djokovic, who won the Monte-Carlo title twice in 2013 and 2015, will start his Monte-Carlo campaign against either Phillip Kohlschreiber or Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round in the top half of the draw. Kohlschreiber in the second round. Kohlschreiber upset Djokovic at Indian Wells last month. If Djokovic overcomes the first hurdle, he could face either 2016 Monte-Carlo finalist and this year’s Rotterdam champion Gael Monfils or this week’s Marrakesh semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round. Djokovic is projected to meet either 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals Stefanos Tsitsipas or Danil Medvedev in the quarter final. Tsitsipas beat Djokovic in their only head-to-head match at last year’s Rogers Cup. This year’s Indian Wells champion and 2018 Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem or Karen Khachanov loom as potential Djokovic’s rivals in the semifinal. Thiem has been drawn in the top half and will start against either Slovakia’s Martin Klizan or a qualifier before a possible third round clash against David Goffin, who leads 7-3 in his 10 head-to-head matches against the Austrian player.

Rafael Nadal, who skipped Miami to prepare for the European clay season, has been drawn in the bottom half and will face a tough second round clash against either John Millman or this year’s Doha champion Roberto Bautista Agut. Nadal is on a collision course for a potential third round against this year’s Miami semifinalist Denis Shapovalov or Grigor Dimitrov. Nadal’s potential quarter final rivals could be Marin Cilic, 2014 Monte-Carlo champion Stan Wawrinka or 2018 Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato.

 

Alexander Zverev has been drawn in the bottom half and could face a very tough second round match against this year’s Miami semifinalist Felix Auger Aliassime in the second round. The young German player, who lost to Jaume Munar in Marrakesh, is on a collision course against last year’s finalist Kei Nishikori or Borna Coric in the quarter final and could meet Nadal in the semifinal.

 

The draw features intriguing first round matches like Borna Coric vs Hubert Hurkacz (this year’s Indian Wells quarter finalist), Kyle Edmund vs Diego Schwartzman and Stan Wawrinka vs Lucas Pouille.

 

“This has always been a very special place for me. I watched all of the great champions here as a kid, so it was always a dream for me to be here”, said Nadal during the draw ceremony.  

 

 

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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