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.

ATP

Felix Auger Aliassime Goes The Distance To Win First Match In Rome

The Canadian was pushed to three sets in his opening match by Filip Krajinovic.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the second round of the BNL D’ Italia Masters in Rome after beating his Serbian opponent Filip Krajinovic in three gruelling sets 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

 

The marathon encounter saw the Canadian hit 45 winners and 12 aces en route to victory. Avenging his loss to Krajinovic at the same tournament last year. His win-loss for the season now stands at 13-8.

” It’s always a tough match against him and I was happy I was able to win today,” the world No.20 said afterwards.

It was Krajinovic who got off to a fast start earning a breakpoint on the Montreal natives opening service game of the match and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. The Canadian responded at 2-1 earning his first two breakpoints of the match and breaking with a solid forehand winner to get the break back and go back on serve. At 3-2 the world number 20 had a chance to take the lead but it was saved by the world number 36. Nevertheless, he would go on to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out the match.

Auger-Aliassime started the second set with confidence and broke the Serb’s opening service game. It stayed on serve until the world number 20 was serving for the win when he ended up getting broken to level the set at five. The very next game the Montreal native had three looks at a breakpoint but again was denied and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker stayed on serve until 4-4 when Auger Aliassime managed to get the crucial break but squandered it the following point and gave his Serbian opponent a chance to serve it out which he did following a double fault.

The third and decisive set was a roller-coaster with the Canadian holding his opening service game and than having three more breakpoints which he would convert to take another early 2-0 lead. Krajinovic would respond once again earning a breakpoint the following game and getting the break back to go back on serve until 3-3 when the Serb had his first chance to take a lead in the third set but the Canadian would come up with a huge point to save it.

The next game Auger-Aliassime would have a look at another breakpoint and this time would convert to take a 5-3 and serve for the match but struggled to close it out and the world number 36 broke serve once again.

With the Serb serving to stay in the match the Canadian increased his game to another level and managed to earn two match points. Sealing his first match win in Rome with a huge forehand winner down the line.

After the match in his post match press conference Auger Aliassime spoke about how he was able to overcome the adversity of having two chances to serve it out.

” You have to believe and be resilient at times, I wanted to win badly so I dug deep and I found a way so I am happy that I was able to find a way with all the circumstances,” he said.

Auger Aliassime will next face the number eight seed at the tournament Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine currently has a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head with their last meeting coming last October in Cologne, Germany on a indoor hard court.

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Alexander Zverev and Tim Puetz reach the semifinals in the doubles tournament in Madrid

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Alexander Zverev followed up his win against Rafael Nadal in the singles quarter final with a 6-4 3-6 10-5 win alongside his teammate Tim Puetz against Denis Shapovalov and Rohan Bopanna. 

 

On Saturday Zverev and Puetz will take on Marcell Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who beat Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (7-3) 6-2. 

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 10-7. Mektic and Pavic are bidding for their sixth title in 2021 and their Masters 1000 trophy after winning in Miami and Monte-Carlo. The Croatian team set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Munich BMW Open finalists and Singapore Open champions Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who edged past Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-3 3-6 10-5.

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Five Takeaways From Men’s And Women’s Rome Draws

Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu all return to Rome next week.

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Novak Djokovic (@usopen - Twitter)

Here are five things to take away from Men’s and Women’s singles draw from Rome.

 

Next week is the start of the next stop on the road to Roland Garros as the ATP and WTA tour heads to Rome next week.

The Italian capital will host a star-studded line-up as Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep look to defend their titles.

With another week of stacked ATP and WTA draws here, let us take a look at the five key points to take from this week’s draws:

  • Nadal Set For Zverev Rematch

Rafael Nadal could have a rematch with Alexander Zverev again in Rome next week as has already faced a mixed start to the clay court season. A quarter-final defeat to Andrey Rublev in Monaco was followed by a Barcelona title before losing to Zverev in the Madrid quarter-finals this week. It looks set to be another week where Nadal could face the tall German, whom he has lost on three consecutive occasions to. Before Nadal can get to Zverev, Nadal may have to overcome Jannik Sinner and Casper Ruud, two rising stars who are capable on this surface.

  • Serena Handed Good Draw On Tennis Return

Next week will see Serena Williams return to a tennis court for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka. Having had her physical struggles since the end of last season, Serena now competes in a limited schedule but will be keen to boost her Roland Garros chances next week in Rome. The 23-time grand slam champion could face Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in her first match before Belinda Bencic stands in her way of a rematch with Osaka in the last eight.

  • Djokovic Looks To Avenge Recent Clay Losses

After winning the Australian Open in January, Novak Djokovic would have wanted a better clay-court season than he has had after being knocked out by Dan Evans in the third round in Monaco and an epic semi-final loss to Aslan Karatsev in Belgrade. After taking Madrid off, Djokovic looks to build momentum and may have to face Dan Evans again this week in his first match. The likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas await Djokovic en route to the last four where Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev will wait for the Serb.

  • The Barty Party Looks To Roll On

Ash Barty is silencing the critics week by week and proving why she deserves her world number one ranking after winning Miami, Stuttgart and reaching the final in Madrid. In two of those three tournaments mentioned Barty would have played Aryna Sabalenka in the final. Although that won’t be happening in the final, she could face the Belarusian in the quarter-finals in Italy as a fairly comfortable draw has presented itself for the Australian. Barty’s first opponent will be either Martina Trevisan or Yaroslava Shvedova.

  • Bianca Andreescu Returns

After suffering an injury in the Miami final and testing positive for COVID-19 in Madrid, Bianca Andreescu looks to finally settle into a clay-court season as she returns in Rome. The tricky Canadian will start off against Anastasija Sevastova or Jil Teichmann before facing Petra Kvitova. If Andreescu can negotiate the first two rounds then a dream match with Simona Halep could await in the last eight. As for Halep her Rome campaign could start against Angelique Kerber.

Here is the full ATP and WTA draw:

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