It appears that more than one top player has got stuck in the mud that is surrounding the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. Just as several cars were forced to request a “towing help” to get back on the road after the thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday evening turned the parking lots into muddy pits, on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon in Southern Ohio quite a few big names have not managed to continue their ride towards the final rounds of the Western&Southern Open.
The first top player to bow out of the tournament was sixth-seed Japanese Kei Nishikori, who suffered a 7-6(2) 6-4 loss to his fellow countryman Yoshihito Nishioka. Nishikori appeared not to be on his best day as he called for the doctor twice during the match: the first time he complained about not being able to breathe properly, and he was given a nasal spray to help decongest his sinus. A few games later, after he lacklusterly lost the first set, he was given some tablets, but his performance remained well below par, allowing Nishioka to record the most important win of his career, against the player who is almost a legend in Japanese tennis.
Immediately after Nishioka’s celebrations, Cincinnati’s Grandstand offered another upset: No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, after crashing out of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on his first match one week ago, came across another unexpected loss against German Jan-Lennard Struff (n. 36 ATP), who conceded only 19 points on his serve (out of 98) in the entire match, and scored an impressive 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(8) win.
As the afternoon proceeded and the temperature climbed above the 30-degree mark, Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev, today No 70 as he is rebuilding his ranking after a lower back stress fracture, booked his spot to play Roger Federer in the third-round defeating Stan Wawrinka by 6-4, 6-4.
But the most stunning upset of the day came saw another qualifier, Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, defeated No. 7 seed Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, taking full advantage of the deflagration of the German’s serve. Zverev had already manifested some issues with his serve last week in Montreal, when he served 14 double faults during his victorious third-round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, but today the full extent of the problem appeared when the German double faulted almost one in two second serves he tried to play during the two hours, 20 minutes match.
After Tsitsipas and Zverev, another representative of the “NextGen” was sent packing ahead of schedule: Canadian Denis Shapovalov was eliminated in straight sets (6-4 6-4) by Frenchman Lucas Pouille in a match played on Court 4 where stands were packed at capacity and fans had resorted to climbing to the top row of the nearby Court 3 stands to catch a glimpse of the action. Pouille led the match from start to finish, never allowing Shapovalov to find rhythm on his return and neutralizing very effectively the Canadian’s left-handed serve trajectories. The Frenchman broke very early in both sets and carried the lead to the end to reach the third round in Cincinnati, sending Shapovalov to a ranking position that most likely will prevent him from being seeded at the forthcoming US Open.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months
The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.
Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.
The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.
“It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”
Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.
“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.
Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.
In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.
“Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.
Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
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