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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Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz win singles matches in Madrid

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The clash between Italy and the USA came down to a decisive doubles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid after Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz won their respective singles matches.

 

Fabio Fognini  beat Relly Opelka 6-4 6-7 6-3 after 1 hour and 54 minutes to give Italy a much-needed win to the Italian team.

Fognini earned an early break at 1-1 after two errors from Opelka and dropped just five points in five service games. Fognini did not face a break point to close out the first set 6-4 in 33 minutes.

Both players stayed neck and neck setting up a tie-break. Opelka earned a mini-break to take a 5-3 lead in the tie-break and earned three set points. The US player sealed the first set point, but Opelka converted his second chance 7-4.

Opelka saved the first break point with an ace, but Fognini converted his second chance with a forehand passing shot in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Fognini dropped just three points to build up a 5-2 lead. Fognini served out the win on his first match point to give Italy a 1-0 win.

“I am tired for sure because it was tough. One of the things I did today was my serve, don’t ask me why. I am surprised about that”, said Fognini.

Taylor Fritz came back from one set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in the second match. Berrettini saved a break point in the second game with a forehand down the line and a service winner. In the fifth game Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Berrettini broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 and sealed the first set on his first set point.

In the third set both players stayed neck and neck til the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. In the seventh game Fritz saved a break point. Berrettini held his serve at love. Fritz closed out the second set at 6-5 after 51 minutes.

Berrettini saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third game. Fritz rallied from 0-30 down to hold his serve for 1-1. Fritz broke twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Berrettini saved a match point and held his serve for 2-5, but Fritz sealed the win on his second match point.

“Playing for my country is all the motivation I need. I just kept digging, kept fighting. It was really close. I lost the first set by close margin, and I told myself to tough out the second set like I know I can do, and my aggressive and fitness carried me through the third”,said Fritz.

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Germany takes a 3-0 lead over Argentina

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Phillip Kohlschreiber and Jan Lennard Struff scored two win in the singles matches over Argentina’s Guido Pella and Diego Schwaartzman.

 

Kohlschreiber came back from one set down to beat Guido Pella 1-6 6-3 6-4 scoring his 23rd Davis Cup win. Pella earned two consecutive breaks in the fourth and the sixth games to cruise through to a 6-1 lead. Kohlschreiber served well in the second set and broke serve in the sixth game. The German veteran player saved two break points to force the match to the decisive set. Kohlschreiber broke serve in the first game and did not drop in his five service games in the third set. He sealed the win at 5-4 on his fifth match point.

Jan Lennard Struff beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 50 minutes in the second match. Struff earned the first break after a backhand error from Schwartzman and held on his serve with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead.

Schwartzman wasted his only break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve with a volley winner in the ninth game to take a 6-3 win.

Both players stayed neck and neck holding on their serve in the second game until 4-4 when Struff broke serve with a backhand error. Schwartzman fended off a match point and broke back with a backhand down the line winner in the 10th game. Schwartzman saved the match point at 5-6 with a service winner. The Argentine did not convert a set point at 8-7 before Struff won the final two points with two winners.

 

Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies battled past Maximo Gonzales and Leonardo Mayer 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (20-18) after saving six match points in the tie-break of the third set (the longest tie-break in Davis Cup history) to give Germany a 3-0 win.

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Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert seal a hard-fought win in decisive doubles match

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Ten-time Davis Cup champions France beat Japan 2-1 scoring the fifth win in as many Davis Cup matches against the Asian team.

 

French star Jo Wilfried Tsonga reeled off seven games from 4-2 in the first set to beat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2 6-1 in 58 minutes in his 12th Davis Cup season.

Tsonga saved two break points and converted four of the five break points. The Frenchman held four service games and broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to take a 6-2 lead.

Tsonga broke twice in the second and fourth games and closed out the match in the seventh game after saving two break points.

“It was very important for our team to start well. I am also happy about my game, what I did today, so I hope it continues like this”, said Tsonga.

 Yoshihito Nishioka claimed 9 of the last 11 games in his 7-5 6-2 win over Gael Monfils in 66 minutes to level the score at 1-1 sending the tie into a decisive doubles match. The Japanese player saved one break point and earned two breaks to seal the win in straight sets.

“I wanted to show to the whole world Japan are still strong. Of course, if Key was here we would be strong, but even when he is not here, we can play. Hopefully next time Kei is here and we can play better”, said Nishioka.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the first set and stayed neck and neck until the 11th game of the first set when Nishioka got the break at 5-5 to seal the first set. Nishioka broke twice to seal the second set 6-2.

Last week’s ATP Finals doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert fought back from losing the first set to beat Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchyama 6-7 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 40 minutes.

After losing the first set at the tie-break, Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Herbert and Mahut went up a break in the third set. Uchiyama and Nishioka got the break back in the 10th game, when Herbert and Mahut were serving for the match. Mahut and Herbert got another break at 5-5 and held at 15 to seal the decisive win for France.

“They played at a very high level. We know we have arrived late from London, but the captain had a lot of confidence in our team. We were 1-1, we really had to win to give France the win. There was a lot of intensity in the win but we are really happy today, this was a really difficult tie”, said Mahut.  

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