Marin Cilic fends off four match points to beat Martin Klizan in Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Marin Cilic fends off four match points to beat Martin Klizan in Madrid

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Marin Cilic saved four match points in his 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-0) win over Slovakian qualifier Martin Klizan after 2 hours and 48 minutes to score his fifth win this season at the Madrid Mutua Open in the Caja Magica. 

 

Klizan earned three consecutive breaks to win the second set 6-2 and earned four match points at 6-5. Cilic saved them before cruising through to a 7-0 win in the decisive tie-break. Cilic will face Jan-Lennard Struff, who beat Nick Kyrgios on Sunday.

Number 11 seed Karen Khachanov came back from 0-3 deficits in both the first and the second sets to battle past Jaume Munar 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 after three hours securing his spot in the second round at the Madrid Mutua Open where he will face either Radu Albot or two-time quarter finalist Fernando Verdasco.

Jaume Munar went up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game in the first set. Khachanov won four consecutive games with breaks in the fifth and seventh games at deuce. Munar converted his fourth break-back point chance at deuce to draw level to 4-4. Khachanov broke for the third time at 30 in the ninth game and served out on his first set point in the 10th game.

Munar started the second set in the same way as the first taking another  3-0 lead with a break in the second game. Khachanov broke back in the ninth game on Munar’s set point at 5-3 40-30. Khachanov reeled off five of the first six games of the decisive set with two consecutive breaks in the fourth and sixth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Munar pulled one break back in the seventh game and saved two break points in the eighth game to close the gap to 3-5. Khachanov served out the win on his first match point.

“I am really happy with my performance today and I tried to fight until the end. It’s the kind of game I am looking for. I am really happy to get through to the second round, to build my confidence and go back to basics. This is the kind of win, over three hours, physically demanding, that I needed”, said Khachanov.

US qualifier Taylor Fritz upset Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 47 minutes. Fritz converted two of his four break points.

The Bulgarian player earned the first break in the sixth game of the opening set to take a 4-2 lead, but Fritz broke straight back in the next game after a poor drop shot from Dimitrov. Fritz saved a set point at 7-6 with a service winner and sealed the tie-break with a forehand winner at 9-8 after 56 minutes.

Fritz got an early break to build up a 3-0 lead, but Dimitrov broke back in the seventh game after a double fault from Fritz. The young US player earned four mini-breaks and closed out the tie-break on the 11th point when Dimitrov made a forehand error.

Gael Monfils cruised past Andreas Seppi 6-3 6-1. The Frenchman drew the first blood with a break in the second game and held his next two service games to build up a 4-2 lead. Seppi got one break back in the seventh game to close the gap to 3-4, but Monfils sealed the first set with his third break at 15 in the eighth game. The 2019 Rotterdam champion broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1 in the second set.

This year’s Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere beat Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-4 in all-Serbian first-round clash to seal his second Masters 1000 win. Djere converted three of his twelve break point chances.

US Next Gen star Frances Tiafoe scored his third top 20 win this season when he beat world number 14 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 6-4 after 2 hours.

In the opening set Tiafoe earned two set points at 5-4, when Basilashvili was serving at 30-40, and two more set points at 6-5 and 8-7 in the tie-break. Basilashvili won the final three points to win the tie-break 10-8.

Basilashvili broke serve in the third game to open up a 3-1 lead. Tiafoe came back by winning five games with two consecutive breaks to clinch the second set 6-3. The young US player needed just one break in the fifth game to seal the decisive set 6-3 setting up a second round match against German Phillip Kohlschreiber, who beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2 7-6 (7-5) after 1 hour and 39 minutes.

Young US giant Reilly Opelka edged Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in 1 hour and 25 minutes to score his fourth match win at Masters 1000 level. Opelka won the tie-break 7-5 before getting his only break of the match in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead in the second set after a forehand error from Carreno Busta. Opelka hit four winners in the 10th game to secure his spot in the second set.

 

 

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REPORT: ATP To Hold Zoom Meeting With Players Concerning Future Of 2020 Season

Details of a confidential meeting concerning the governing body of men’s tennis have been published by a leading Spanish newspaper.

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In just over a week’s time the likes of Roger Federer and Co will know for certain what the future of the 2020 season will look like.

 

Spain’s top sporting newspaper Marca have confirmed that player’s have been sent emails from the ATP Tour inviting them to attend a zoom meeting. It is set to be held on Wednesday June 10th at 16:00 CET where they will be discussing the future plans of the men’s Tour. It is unclear how the WTA is addressing the situation or if they will take a similar approach.

All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At present the Tour is suspended up until July 31st, but it is unclear as to what will occur beyond that date. Both the US Open and French Open are hoping to hold their tournaments later this season.

There has been no official word for the ATP to confirm the upcoming meeting, however it has emerged that it was meant to be kept confidential. Something that is no longer possible due to the Marca article.

The most significant aspect regarding the upcoming call will be surrounding the North American Tour and what events will or will not take place. For example the Rogers Cup in Canada has already cancelled their women’s event, but they are still hoping to stage the Men’s equivalent. There are also questions over the future of tournaments in Cincinnati, which is a Masters 1000 event, and the Citi Open in Washington.

“The chance of having 7,500 people a night at the beginning of August is extraordinarily low,” Citi Open tournament director Mark Ein told Tennisnow.com last month. “We haven’t ruled anything out at this point, but the chance of being able to pack a stadium, if you’re being realistic, is extremely low.
“Really we’re focused on scenarios where our hope would be that we can play it with some number of fans. We’re really thinking of hundreds to a thousand [fans].”

The New York Times has reported that the United States Tennis Association is considering moving the Washington event to the same venue of the US Open. Minimising the amount of travel that player’s would be required to do. It is understood that both the ATP and WTA are considering that proposal.

Another factor that will likely be discussed will be how different the Tour may look. There have been talks about potentially staging events behind closed doors, including the US Open, due to the ongoing pandemic. Furthermore, a more pressing matter will be travel requirements and if player’s will be exempt from going through quarantine when entering a new country.

In regards to coaches, it has been reported that they have been invited to attend a separate zoom meeting on June 18th. Torben Beltz, who is the coach of women’s player Donna Vekic, recently disclosed some of the approaches being considered by the WTA. Speaking to the Advantage Podcast, Beltz said the ideas include limiting players to only having one person travelling with them. It is still unconfirmed if this would occur or if the ATP would consider a similar approach.

ATP Tour chief Andrea Gaudenzi had previously said on May 11th that yesterday (June 1st) would be the deadline for making a decision regarding playing tournaments in August. However, they are yet to issue any statement concerning their plans.

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Rafael Nadal Commits To The French Open On One Condition

The king of clay looks ahead to Roland Garros with both optimism and caution.

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World No.2 Rafael Nadal has cautiously confirmed that he will head to the French open later this year to defend his title once again.

 

Nadal, who has won the clay-court major a record 12 times, will have to wait until September to play at Roland Garros due to the ongoing suspension of the Tour due to COVID-19. Officials originally planned to host the event between the end of May and June. Instead, it is currently scheduled to get underway on September 27th with final plans concerning the tournament yet to be finalized.

Speaking to French radio over the weekend Nadal has insisted that he will only play at the event as long as it is safe to do so and the conditions are the same for all players. It is still unclear as to how many fans will be able to attend the event with French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli saying he wanted ‘as many as possible.’ However, the final decision will be up to the government.

“I do not see the future from a professional point of view, but from a medical and health point of view,” the Spaniard said.
“As for Roland Garros, if it is possible to play in optimal conditions and in total safety, if everyone can play, if we are all together, yes, I will be there. But today we have to take precautions and be responsible with the right decisions to guarantee the safety and health of everyone in tennis.”

Nadal faces a potentially critical period later this year should the US Open get underway in September ahead of the French open as planned. As the defending champion at both of those events, he will be tasked with defending a total of 4000 points within five weeks. A far from ideal scenario for anybody.

Although it could be expected that if push comes to shove, Nadal would most likely favor the French Open over the other given his emphatic record. In Roland Garros, he has only ever been defeated twice. Losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015. Overall he has a win-loss record of 93-2 at the event.

It is currently unclear as to when the Tour will get going again with all professional tournaments either suspended or canceled until at least July 31st. When play resumes, one possibility is that the action could take place behind closed doors to follow suit to other sports. Although Nadal admits that the situation will be less than ideal for him.

“It is possible. Football is being played behind closed doors. But if you ask me if I like it, the answer is no. Nothing can replace the presence of the public and the energy it generates.” He stated.

On the upside, Nadal is slowly returning to practice thanks to relaxation in lockdown rules in his native Spain. He aims to be fully ready for the resumption of the tour whenever that will occur.

“I feel good. Like the rest, I have not been able to leave the house in two months. Luckily, I had weight training machines at home to train and keep myself physically fit,” Nadal commented on his current fitness routine.
“Little by little I have resumed training several days a week, but not all seven. It has been a gradual and very slow recovery that we have done with care and caution. The objective is to be ready for the day when we return to play tennis, but we still don’t know that. “

Nadal started 2020 with a win-loss record of 13-3 before the Tour suspension.

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French Tennis Star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shares His Experiences With Racism

The grand slam finalist opens up about what it for like being the only ‘half-breed’ in his school as well as other problems he has experianced.

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Former top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become the latest sporting figure to speak out about his personal struggles with racism in the wake of mass protests gripping America.

 

Dozens of cities in the north American country have been placed under overnight curfews following violent demonstrations that have resulted in various injuries and looting. The outcry started when an unarmed black man called George Floyd died whilst being arrested. Video footage showed that a police officer was leaning on his neck which resulted in him dying from asphyxia, according to a private post-mortem paid by his family.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the world with various top names speaking out against the use of disappropriate force against minority groups. Speaking about the situation, Tsonga said that racism is a problem everywhere before sharing some of his own personal experiences.

“This type of behaviour that we see frequently in the United States, but that’s on another scale, is repeated continuously throughout the world, is unbearable for me,” he told radio station France Info.
“Such an event removes the consciences of everything and shows how necessary a change is.’
“The non-acceptance of the difference and racism, as well as other issues, such as sexuality, religion or sexual orientation, continue to be used as an excuse to commit atrocities.”

Growing up the 35-year-old said he was singled out as a youngster for being a half cast. His mother is white and father is black. The problems he encountered took place both during and outside of school. Tsonga was born in the French town of Le Mans, which is famous for its annual 24-hour Motor sport race.

“Since I was a child I have had to regularly experience racial discrimination and inappropriate comments,” he said.
“I was the only half-breed in my elementary school, so you can imagine what was happening.’
“All of them were nicknames, insults, I had to bear that when I was a teenager I was continually stopped on the street asking for my papers, people who met me covered their bag as if they was afraid I was going to steal from them and they wouldn’t even let me pass in some places when I went with my friends.”

Whilst nowadays France has grown to be a much more tolerant country like many others, incidents such as the one involving Floyd proves that there is still much more needed to be done. As for Tsonga, he hopes his son Sugar, who was born in 2017, will not go through the same as him.

“There are still a lot of people who make offensive comments without realizing it because discrimination is so ingrained that for many it is not even so. But there are words that can hurt a lot. I have had a hard time finding my place and my identity; I just hope that my son doesn’t feel like a stranger wherever you go,” he concluded.

Tsonga is the last Frenchman to contest a grand slam final at the 2008 Australian Open. So far in his career he has won 18 ATP titles and peaked at a ranking high of fifth back in 2012.

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