Sunday Start No Issue For French Open Hopefuls Marin Cilic And Stefanos Tsitsipas - UBITENNIS
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Sunday Start No Issue For French Open Hopefuls Marin Cilic And Stefanos Tsitsipas

It was a solid start for two player’s bidding to reach their first ever Final at Roland Garros.

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Marin Cilic (photo by Gianni Ciaccia)

One of the many things that separates the French Open from the other major events is the day it gets underway. The first round matches always take place over a three-day period starting from the Sunday. A somewhat different tradition compared to the other grand slams, who always kick off proceedings on the Monday.

 

Nevertheless, the schedule had little impact on two of the men’s seeds in this year’s tournament. Marin Cilic kicked-off his campaign on the Suzanne Lenglen Court against Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano. The Croat has endured a turbulent time on the tour in recent months with a series of early losses at tournaments as well as a bout of food poisoning forcing his out of his quarter-final clash against Novak Djokovic in Madrid.

Fortunately the 11th suffered no misfortunes at Roland Garros as he eased to a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1, win over Fabbiano, who was playing in the main draw for only the third time in his career. Cilic’s performance saw him blast 13 aces and 32 winners past the Italian as he won 86% of the points behind his first serve.

“I was in a situation (back in 2016) when I lost on the Sunday and I was back home that evening before the tournament started. So that wasn’t much fun.” Cilic recounted.
“But it’s great to play on a Sunday. I enjoyed my time on the court (against Fabbiano), the last 12, 13 games I was playing aggressive and hitting well.”

14 years have passed since Cilic won the boys’ title at Roland Garros. It was in that tournament where she scored wins over both Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray. However, on the professional tour he has not been able to achieve success in Paris. Out of the four grand slams, he has won less matches at the French Open than anywhere else. Although, he isn’t giving up hope yet.

“This is where the journey for me started. As a junior I won here back in 2005 and it seems unreal that so many years have gone by since then.” He said.
“I’m still battling, fighting hard and hopefully one year I can reach the final.”

Tsitsipas impressive

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Another former junior champion bidding for French Open glory is sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who could play Cilic in the fourth round. He is only Greek player to win a junior grand slam title in the Open Era (2016 Wimbledon boys doubles). Tsitsipas was in clinical form during a business-like 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4), win over Germany’s Maximilian Marterer. Successfully fending off some last-minute resistance from the world No.110. Sealing victory with a forehand down the line.

“It’s an important start to a tournament like this. The third set wasn’t easy with the tiebreak.” Tsitsipas commented during his on-court interview.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I showed good character during the third set. I didn’t get distracted or lose my focus, so I’m really glad that I kept up my momentum and played the same way I did during the first two sets.”

The first round match was Tsitsipas’ first taste of what it is like to play on Court Philippe Chatrier. The principle court of the French Open with a capacity of more than 15,000 people. A moment he relishes as a young player.

“It’s quite different to some other clay-court tournaments. I would say it’s (the court) pretty slow. It’s ok, it’s not too fast or too slow. It’s fine.” He said.
“I love playing on this court. It’s great playing in these big arenas because it gives you another energy when you enter the court.’
“These are the moments we are practicing and all these years we are dreaming of. I’m really happy I got to play here for the first time.”

Tsitsipas is hoping to go one step further than the Australian Open and reach his maiden major final. Should he do so, the 20-year-old would become the youngest player to do in Paris since Rafael Nadal back in 2006.

Elsewhere at the tournament, Norway’s Casper Rudd defeated former semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-0, and Australia’s Alexei Popyrin edged out home favourite Ugo Humbert in four sets.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Denis Shapovalov gets revenge win over Nadal to reach quarterfinals in Rome

The Canadian avenged a loss he suffered last year by beating the king of clay in the eternal city.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Denis Shapovalov booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after beating the world number four Rafael Nadal in three tight sets 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes on Pista Centrale.

 

The Canadian fired 35 winners and served 13 aces while the Spaniard hit 34 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth.

“It’s definitely incredible to me to beat him. Having match points against him last year was kind of a hurtful feeling,” said Shapovalov who lost to the Spaniard at the same tournament 12 months ago. “Coming back here this year, I definitely remember that match. Obviously great tennis, but that one really hurt. Happy to get the win this time around”.

It was the Spaniard with the better start to the match, putting pressure right away on the world number 16 in the second game of the match and it took Shapovalov almost 10 minutes to save three breakpoints and hold serve.

At 2-1 Nadal kept pushing and struck setting up two breakpoints with his ferocious forehand and then broke the Toronto native with a solid backhand down the line winner.

After consolidating the break the world number four was hungry for more and again with his powerful forehand set up more break opportunities and broke again to take a 5-1 lead and served out the first set.

Shapovalov once again faced three breakpoints in the opening game of the second set but managed to save all of them and was able to hold serve. In the following game he broke Nadal to love for the early 2-0 lead.

He was able to consolidate the break but at 4-3 the Spaniard fought back and managed to break back to go back on serve. However, the Canadian at 6-5 was able to get the crucial break to take the second set and send the match to a third.

Nadal responded right away breaking the Canadian in the first game of the third set but the following game Shapovalov set up three breakpoints with a perfectly timed forehand winner.

He broke back the following point and at 3-2 Nadal struggled with his serve and double faulted to give the world number 16 a 4-2 lead as it seemed he was struggling with an injury.

After running down a ball he was seen hunched over at the towel box and was almost limping after points and wincing before serving or returning serve.

At 5-2 with the Spaniard serving to stay in the match and in pain, Shapovalov had three chances to seal the win and it was third time lucky as Nadal last shot went out.

I was trying to change something, he was completely outplaying me and I was hanging in there and I was really happy to turn it around,” said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov will next face Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals on Friday. In their last meeting the Norweigan was able to come out with the win when they played in the Geneva Open final last summer.

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After Multiple Surgeries, Comeback Kid Stan Wawrinka Books Djokovic Showdown In Rome

In only his third tournament of the year, 37-year-old Wawrinka admits the upcoming clash will be ‘really difficult’ but he is willing to give it his best shot.

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Image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia/

Until now 15 months have passed since Stan Wawrinka last experienced the feeling of recording back-to-back wins in a tournament of any sort.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined from the sport for a year due a foot injury which ended up requiring two surgeries. The first was done in March last year before he underwent another procedure in June. The surgeries occurred just four years after he underwent two other operations on his left knee. Despite the physical problems and frustration, the Swiss isn’t giving up on his career just yet and is proving why at this week’s Italian Open.

A day after knocking out 14th seed Reilly Opelka, Wawrinka battled on court for almost three hours to oust Laslo Djere 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4, in front of a highly animated crowd. The rollercoaster battle saw him fight back from a 1-3 deficit in the deciding set. Then four match points came and went before he finally prevailed. Booking his place in the last 16 of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since Paris 2020.

“It’s helping me to keep doing what I love. Tennis is a passion. The crowd, the support, the atmosphere, these courts is the reason why after two surgeries and one year out (of the Tour) I’m still playing tennis at 37. To live those moments as much as I can and I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wawrinka told atptour.com following his win over Djere.

At 361st in the world, Wawrinka has become the lowest-ranked player to reach the third round of a Masters event since Taylor Dent at the 2009 Miami Open. In Rome specifically, he is the lowest-ranked third round player since Carrado Borroni in 1995.

The reward is a clash with world No.1 Novak Djokovic in what will be a true test for Wawrinka. The two have an extensive rivalry after playing each other on the Tour 25 times before, including the finals of the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open. Djokovic currently leads their head-to-head 19-6 with their last meeting taking place in 2019.

“It’s always special to play against him,” Wawrinka said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner. “As I’ve said many times I’m not where I want to be yet with my game and fitness level. I need those matches.’
“To have a chance to play against the best player (in the ATP rankings) it’s going to be really difficult for me because I think I’m not ready to compete at that level. (But) it’s what I need. I need those challenges and push myself as much as I can to keep improving.”

Wawrinka’s win over Djere is his 535th on the ATP Tour and his 24th at the Italian Masters.

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