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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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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John Newcombe Believes The Australian Open Will Be ‘A Big Ask’ For Nick Kyrgios

The tennis legend is unsure if the former top 20 player will be fit in time for the first grand slam of 2020.

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MADRID, SPAIN - Nick Kyrgios of Australia waking to the locked room Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

Former world No.1 John Newcombe has cast doubts on Nick Kyrgios’ chances of going deep in the draw at the upcoming Australian Open.

 

The 75-year-old, who won seven grand slam titles during the 1960s and 1970s, believes the injury-stricken world No.30 may struggle playing best-of-five matches in Melbourne. Kyrgios missed most of the final quarter of the 2019 season due to a shoulder issue. He returned to action last month at the Davis Cup, but skipped his country’s quarter-final clash with Canada due to a collarbone injury. Overall, he has won 23 out of 37 matches played this year.

“It’s a bit of a worry that he has recurring injuries, especially around where the muscles join the joints and that’s going to be an ongoing problem for him it seems,” Newcombe told The Age.
“At the Davis Cup he’d only played four sets of singles and his shoulder started to play up again and when you’ve got an injury like that it’s hard to go out and practice a lot.
“Leading into the Australian Open – five sets is a big ask for him.”

A two-time grand slam quarter-finalist, the 24-year-old has struggled to make his mark in the majors this year. Winning just three matches in three grand slam tournaments he played in. Kyrgios missed the French Open due to injury. At his home slam, he lost in the first round for the first time since making his main draw debut back in 2014.

As well as trying to get fit in time for the start of the new season, Kyrgios will continue to be playing under a probation on the ATP Tour for ‘aggravated behaviour.’ Should he violate that, he faces the prospect of a 16-week ban from the tour.

“I can’t speak for him but if it was me it would be tough having that ban hanging over you,” Newcombe said.
“But I guess you’ve just got to learn to zip up.”

Kyrgios is set to start 2020 at the inaugural ATP Cup, which is the only team event to have both prize money and ranking points available. After that, he is set to play in the Kooyong Classic in what will be his final test prior to the Australian Open.

“I am delighted that Nick has chosen to play Kooyong again, and hopefully it acts as the perfect tune up for his Australian Open (AO) campaign and sets him up for a massive 2020 season.” Tournament director Peter Johnson said in a statement.

So far in his career, Kyrgios has won six titles. Including Acapulco and Washington this year.

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