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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Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis

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Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.

 

He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.

Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.

“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.

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Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?

Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.

 

In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.

Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.

“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.

These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.

“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.

Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.

This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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