Dimitrov Upsets Cilic in French Open Second Round - UBITENNIS
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Dimitrov Upsets Cilic in French Open Second Round

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-Paris, France

It had been a long time coming but Grigor Dimitrov finally put together a quality match against a top ranked opponent and he picked a good time to do so. Dimitrov, who has been struggling mightily of late rallied from two sets to one down to take out the No. 11 seed Marin Cilic 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in four hours and 24 minutes on the brand new Court Simonne Mathieu.

Dimitrov has been struggling so much recently he had to go through qualifying at last weeks event in Geneva just to get into the main draw. He then lost in the first round. However, so far at the French Open he has picked up a pair of wins, both in five sets to match the best result of his career at the years second Grand Slam. Dimitrov also reached the third round on three previous occasions including in 2018.

Cilic drew first blood in the opening set after a Dimitrov double fault gave the Croatian a 5-3 lead. But the 30-year old was unable to serve out the set handed the break back in the following game. The players went to a tiebreak and after another double fault from the Bulgarian, it gave Cilic a 4-3 lead, a lead he maintained winning the next three points to take the tiebreak.

Dimitrov got the advantage in the tenth game of the second set. Cilic attempted a drop shot on set point but Dimitrov found the open court converting just his second break in ten opportunities winning it 6-4.

The only break of the third came on a sloppy game from Dimitrov who double faulted twice and fired a backhand into the net giving Cilic a 4-3 lead. He held his next two service games and went up two sets to one. Despite being down in the match, Dimitrov’s numbers were still better than his opponents. He had three more winners, won four more points and had a better first serve percentage.

In the fourth set neither player could get a break of serve including a long third game which needed five deuces. Another tiebreak was needed and it was Dimitrov who got off to a good start with a pair of drop shot winners. He also got some luck as a net chord which looked to be heading out spun back into the middle of the court giving him a 5-1 lead. An ace, one of 15 overall, sent the match to a decider.

The 2017 ATP Finals winner capitalized early in the fifth breaking Cilic in the first game after he hit a forehand into the net. The point of the match came two games later as Dimitrov read a Cilic overhand perfectly getting in position for the return then racing up to the net to get a drop shot returning it with a perfect angle and then following that up with a volley into the open court. The packed stadium got on their feet thanks to the help of Dimitrov raising his arms in the air.

The Bulgarian got a second break to go up 5-2 in the final set after the tenth double fault from Cilic. Dimitrov began whincing in the next game, his previously injured shoulder looked to be bothering him after playing his tenth set over three days. After several uncomfortable whinces, he ended up giving away one of the breaks away which he had earned.

Luckily though for him Cilic was beginning to struggle as well. A weak forehand into the net followed by a backhand errors gave the match to Dimitrov.

“Best of five, on clay, you can be down by two sets and a break and something can just happen,” said the World No. 46. “I have always felt that every time I competed on clay, you are always going to get, like, a little chance. I felt early on in the match I had way too many opportunities. I knew my numbers were bad. I knew I was playing sort of a better tennis, but I could never get those break points and, I mean, I had to stay in the match. That was that, for me.”

“He played an unbelievable tiebreak to win the fourth  and, you know, just kept the pressure up,” said Cilic. “And, you know, I felt I just dropped a little bit in that fifth set, missed few balls that I was not missing in that first part of the match, you know, which can happen after four hours of play. But, you know, credit to him. He was playing really well. And I think what he did well was serving well when he was in the trouble.”

Dmitrov finished with 60 winners, 15 of them aces, won 18 of 22 points at the net and had a 63-percent first serve percentage. He’s now spent seven hours and 26 minutes on court over his first two matches. He will now face the No. 24 seed Stan Wawrinka in the third round. Wawrinka took out two-time clay court winner in 2019 Christian Garin in straight sets.

“Every win that I have now, I appreciate it,” said Dimitrov.  “I don’t really think of who I’m playing against. I just want to have those wins. I mean, I have pretty much played against everybody out there. It was a very, very important match to me, without a doubt, though….I feel great, and I’m very, so to speak, focused and excited for what’s ahead.”

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat Italian Next Gen star Jannick Sinner in St. Petersburg

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat 18-year-old Italian Next Gen rising star Jannick Sinner 6-3 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Kukushkin fended off nine of the eleven break points he faced.

 

Sinner, who turned 18 last month and received a wild-card to take part at the next November’s ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan, did not convert three break points in the first game, but Kukushkin saved them to hold his first game.

Kukushkin, who won his only title in St.Petersburg in 2010, was the first to break serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Sinner earned three break points but Kukushkin fended them off. Sinner saved a break point in the eighth game but Kukushkin served out the opening set on his first set point.

Kukushkin went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead, Sinner converted his second break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Kukushkin got a break lead for the second time but Sinner rallied from the break down for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Sinner earned set point at 5-4 to force a decider, but Kukushkin saved it to draw level to 5-5. Kukushkin got a mini-break in the tie-break to win the tie-break 7-4.

Adrian Mannarino, who won his first ATP Tour title in s’Hertogenbosch, beat Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 19 minutes. Travaglia held his first two service games at love and broke serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Mannarino converted his first break-back point for 3-4. Both players held their serve to draw level to 5-5. Travaglia saved a break point, but he made two double faults to drop his serve in the 11th game for 5-6. Mannarino served out the first set on his first point.

Travaglia saved a break point at the start of the second set, but Mannarino converted his second chance.

Travaglia earned two break-back points in the second game but did Mannarino saved them to open up a 2-0 lead. Mannarino went up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman saved a break point in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead and sealed the win on his first match point.

 

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‘Looks Like He Should Be Suspended’ – Pat Rafter Questions ATP’s Management Of Nick Kyrgios

The former world No.1 is the latest person to speak out about the controversial player.

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Nick Kyrgios, Steve Johnson, 2019 US Open
Photo Credit: Andrew Ong/USTA

Two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter has cast shade on the governing body of men’s tennis over their management of Nick Kyrgios’ behaviour on the tour.

 

The Australian world No.27 had been facing a potential suspension by the ATP over a series of controversies. However, he has received no ban as of yet. During the Cincinnati Masters he was fined $113,000 for eight violations committed during his match against Russia’s Karen Khachanov. Ranging from unsportsmanlike conduct to walking off the court without permission.

A couple weeks later during the US Open Kyrgios accused the ATP of being ‘corrupt’ before clarifying his statement 24 hours later. Arguing that there are double standards in the game when it comes to some players.

Now the subject of an investigation, 46-year-old Rafter has questioned why Kyrgios has not been suspended from the tour yet.

“I don’t understand why it hasn’t happened,” Rafter said during the launch of the ATP Cup.
“There is obviously something else going on behind the scenes. I don’t know.
“On paper it looks like he should be suspended, to me.”

On the other hand, some would argue that banning the 24-year-old would be counterproductive. Despite his antics, Kyrgios has managed to become a household name in the sport. He also has the talent to challenge the best players in the world. In the past, he has defeated Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Although Rafter believes there is a fine line.

“That’s the other thing. He draws a crowd,” Rafter said.
“But at what stage do you say the crowd is more important? Or are you trying to uphold a certain standard or protocol for players to adhere to.”

Previously tennis legend Rod Laver was reportedly another person to speak in favour of handing Kyrgios another suspension. His first took place at the end of 2016. During an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Laver was quoted as saying ‘whatever they have done hasn’t worked so far, so maybe a suspension is the only answer.’

Whilst it looked as if the tennis legend backed punishing Kyrgios, he has since taken a different tone. In a recent interview with a Swiss newspaper, Laver said he was misquoted when talking about Kyrgios.

“I did not say that, I was misquoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.” He told Aargauer Zeitung.
“This was then misunderstood by others and went around without anyone talking to me to verify that statement. It’s true what I said to FOX Sports: I said Nick should not be banned.”

Kyrgios will return to action on Friday where he is taking part in the Laver Cup.

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ATP Cup Draw Places Andy Murray On Collision Course With Federer

Details of where Murray, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal will play their first matches of 2020 have been announced.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray has been placed in the same group as Swiss rival Roger Federer for the revamped ATP Cup which will get underway in January.

 

The draw for the team event was formally made on Monday at the Sydney Opera House with former players Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and John Newcombe among those attending. A total of 24 countries will take part in the competition across three different Australian cities. Unlike the traditional Davis Cup, $15 million in prize money and up to 750 ranking points will be up for grabs.

“It’s great for tennis,” Newcombe said at the draw.
“What a showcase, to be able to showcase the best players in the world representing their country.”

It will be in Sydney where Murray will lock horns with the world No.3. Both have been drawn in Group C along with Belgium, who will be headed by David Goffin. Another team will be added to the group in the future. Murray is on the comeback from a second hip operation and is currently ranked outside the top 400. The upcoming event could be his first chance to play Federer since 2015.

Novak Djokovic will start his campaign in Brisbane. Making it the first time he has played an ATP event in the city since 2009. Paired with Dusan Lajovic, the duo has been placed alongside South Africa and France in Group A. The other group playing in Brisbane will feature both Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Two players who at times do not see eye-to-eye on the tour. They have been placed in Group F along with Canada and host nation Australia.

In Perth Rafael Nadal will be headlining the field and hoping to lead Spain to glory. The US Open champion will face early opposition from both Japan and Georgia. Nadal hasn’t won a title of any kind in the country since his triumph 10 years ago at the Australian Open.

The groups

Brisbane Perth Sydney
Group A Group F Group B Group D Group C Group E
Serbia Germany Spain Russia Switzerland Austria
France Greece Japan Italy Belgium Croatia
South Africa Canada Georgia USA Great Britain Argentina
TBD Australia TBD TBD TBD TBD

At present every member of the world’s top 10 has committed to playing in the event. The ATP Cup is the first team event to be placed on the ATP Calendar since the World Team Cup, which ended in 2012. In the new event, the top eight teams from the group stages will qualify for the quarter-final stage in Sydney. Each tie will feature two singles matches and one doubles.

The return of the competition has shaken up the tennis schedule in Australia. Both the Brisbane International and Sydney International have become women-only events. Meanwhile, the once prestigious Hopman Cup has come to an end after more than 20 years.

The ATP Cup will take place between January 3rd-12th.

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