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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US Open Must Allow Entourages Of Three Or Four People, Says Thiem

The world No.3 says he is feeling good ahead of the return of professional tennis next month.

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Dominic Thiem has come out against proposals to restrict the number of coaching staff that can travel to this year’s US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This year’s New York major will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing a series of measures to help minimise the threat posed by the virus. Part of their plan is to limit how many people a player can bring with them to the tournament. It was originally reported that only one team member per player would be allowed to travel, but it has emerged that the limit has since been extended to three.

Speaking about the limits, three-time Grand Slam finalist Thiem said the idea of only allowing one member of his team to travel with him would be a risk for some players on the Tour.

*”I do not think so. Three or four people must be allowed. It would be extremely risky to travel without your own physio. You need a local coach for this,’ Thiem told The Kronen Zeitung newspaper on Sunday.

Thiem last played a match on the ATP Tour at the Rio Open in February where he lost in the quarter-finals. However, throughout the lockdown he has still managed to maintain his match fitness by participating in numerous tournaments. In total he has played 24 matches across three different countries, including one named after him called Thiems 7.

“Right now I feel very good,” he said. “I have played a lot of exhibition games in the last two months and I am not tired at all. I really wanted to play tennis again, since my start of the year was very good.’
“During This period of confinement at home I have been crushing myself a lot in the physical aspect and already when I returned to training. I have decided to improve the backhand and the serve a little more.”

The ATP Tour will resume next month with Thiem hoping that he can continue his form generated from earlier this year. At the Australian Open he reached the final for the first time in his career before getting edged out by Novak Djokovic. Although when he returns, tournaments will not be the same as before due to the ongoing pandemic with strict safety measures and reduced crowds in place.

“When the circuit returns, the matches will be exactly the same as we had previously, but the atmosphere will be different,” he said.
“All tennis players will miss playing tournaments where many people travelled to see us every day. In New York, Paris or Melbourne there are between 60,000 and 70,000 people every day in the facilities. That previous life we ​​had will not be the same and we may have to get used to this new normal for a few years.”

Thiem is one of only four men to have already made more than $1 million in prize money so far this year on the ATP Tour.

*NOTE: Since the publication of this article quotes have been edited following a translation mix-up.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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