Fabio Fognini sets up semifinal against Gael Monfils at Diriyah Tennis Cup - UBITENNIS
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Fabio Fognini sets up semifinal against Gael Monfils at Diriyah Tennis Cup

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Fabio Fognini beat John Isner 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in 1 hour and 25 minutes in the opening match of the Diriyah Tennis Cup, the first professional tennis tournament in Saudi Arabia. The exhibition tournament is held at the Diriyah Arena in Riyadh.

 

Fognini saved two break points at the start of the opening set. Isner fended off one break point in the second game. Fognini won eight of the nine break points to open up a 4-2 lead with a break in the sixth game. Isner broke back to draw level to 4-4. Both players went on serve to set up a tie-break.

Fognini earned a mini-break to open up a 3-1 lead in the tie-break. Isner got back the mini-break to draw level to 3-3, when Fognini hit a double fault.

Fognini earned another mini-break on the seventh point to take a 4-3 lead before sealing the opening set 7-4 on the second of his three set points, when Isner made a forehand error from Isner.

Fognini converted his third break point chance in the third game of the second set with a forehand error from Isner and held his service game to take a 3-1 lead. Fognini did not face any break points in his next service games and held his final service game at love to close out the second set 6-4 in 31 minutes with a service winner in the 10th game.

“I won the first game of the tournament. It’s nice. It’s something I will remember for sure and the people will remember as it is first year we play here. I know they want to do something, especially to improve tennis in this country, so I am happy”, said Fognini.

Fognini set up a semifinal against Gael Monfils, who beat Stan Wawrinka 6-3 6-3 after 66 minutes. Wawrinka broke serve at 15 in the opening game and held serve to open up a 2-0 lead. Monfils got the break back in the fourth game in the fourth game when Wawrinka hit his forehand long. Both players traded breaks in the next games to draw level to 3-3.

Monfils earned another break in the eighth game with a forehand down the line winner and sealed the set with a service winner in the ninth game.

Monfils forced a backhand error to get a break at the start of the second set. The Frenchman went up a double break on return at 5-3 to seal the win in straight sets.

“So far it’s great. The offering they have here for us to perform is incredible. The people are very nice. I feel vert nice”, said Monfils.

 

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Tokyo Olympic Games to take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021

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The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place from Friday 23 July to Sunday 8 August 2021 after they were postponed for an year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The decision was taken to protect the welfare of athletes and everyone involved, and to support the containment of COVID-19.

The Games were postponed until 2019, but they will continue to be known as Tokyo 2020.

This is the first time that the Olympic Games have been postponed. They were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 due to World War 1 and World War 2.

“The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020, also have the benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum in the interests of the athletes. I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge. Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of the tunnel”, said IOC President Thomas Bach.

 

 

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Carlos Alcaraz is following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal

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Carlos Alcaraz Garfia grabbed the headlines in April 2019 when he beat Jannik Sinner in Alicante becoming the first player born in 2003 to win an ATP Challenger tournament in his first event at this level. Alcaraz broke Sinner’s winning streak of 16 consecutive matches before losing to Lukas Rosol in the next round.

 

The 16-year-old Spanish player won his first ATP Tour debut match beating his compatriot Alberto Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) in a first-round match that finished at 3.00 am after 3 hours and 37 minutes. He became the first player born in 2003 to win at ATP 500 match.

Alcaraz is coached by former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero at the Equelite academy since the age of 15 and started playing at the age of four thanks to his father. His idol growing up is Nadal.

Ferrero spoke about the Spanish rising star, his tennis style in an interview to ATP Tour.com.

“Alcaraz likes to be aggressive all the time. He likes to play close to the baseline. He is not the typical player who only plays on clay courts. He likes to play on hard courts and he loves to play on grass. He played last year for the first time on grass and he loved it. He likes to finish points at the net. At the beginning I was almost sure that his best level was on clay, when I first met him. He is now improving so much on hard court and I think he can even give a little bit more level on hard court. He is playing very aggressive from the baseline and he needs to improve a little bit his serve. At 16 he is serving well. If I have to say someone that I can compare him to, it’s the game of Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer”.

Ferrero spoke about how and when he got to know Alcaraz for the first time.

“I saw him here at the JT Ferrero Equelite Sports Academy playing a tournament. We have a lot of tournaments here at the academy. I saw him for the first time playing a tournament and it helps that he lives very close to the academy in Murcia, just an hour from here. It was very easy seeing him play some matches. I remember him playing a Futures when he was 14 and got his first ATP Ranking point. I went to see some matches and I heard about this little boy who was playing at such a good level at the age of 14, so I drove over there to watch him. He was always competing against people older than him. Even the match against Albert Ramos Vinolas in Rio, the guy was 32 and Alcaraz is 16. The most important thing for him is that he improved physically very much. That’s why he can stay in the match for three and a half years and he can play against guys who are older than him”.

 The Spanish teenager has been compared to his illustrious compatriot Rafael Nadal.

“Usually he hears people who say he is going to be the next Rafael Nadal. It’s going to be difficult to keep things normal and stay calm and not tell me: Why are they saying this to me. He is a little bit used to it, because most of the people here in Spain. It’s been a long time that we haven’t had anyone at the age of 16 or 17 playing this kind of level. The team that is around him, we have to try to keep a circle around him try to put this pressure away, to make him calm, to keep thing normal, so he can go his own way”, said Ferrero.

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Andrey Rublev: “It was hard to accept the news about the Olympic Games but we can’t do anything about that”

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Andrey Rublev will have to wait until 2021 to represent Russia in Tokyo after coronavirus forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Olympic Games until 2021.

 

Rublev said that he was prepared to the prospect to wait another year and there was no alternative solution, but he expressed his disappointment when he heard the news.

“It was hard to accept the news about the Olympic Games because I always want to participate in such an event. I have never been at the Olympic Games before and this would have been my first experience there. Of course I was upset but we can’t do anything about that. The situation is not looking good but everyone is trying to stay positive. The Olympcs were postponed only only to the next year and that time should pass quickly, let’s hope for the best”, said Rublev.

The 22-year-old Moscow native player enjoyed a solid second half of the 2019 season in which he finished runner-up to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Hamburg final. He went on to beat Roger Federer en route to reaching the quarter final in Cincinnati before qualifying for the fourth round at the US Open. Rublev won the Kremlin Cup title in Moscow in front of his home fans on his 22nd birthday and capped last season with four wins for Russia at the Davis Cups Finals at the Davis Cup in Madrid. He earned career-high 38 wins and reached his career-high number 22 in the ATP Ranking on 21st October 2019.

Rublev won two consecutive ATP titles in Doha and Adelaide becoming the first player since 2004 to win two back-to-back tournaments in the first two weeks of the year. He broke into top 20 on 13th January, joining Danil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov as first Russian trio in top 20 since Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny in March 2005.

Rublev lost to Alexander Zverev in the fourth round at last January’s Australian Open. Last February Rublev reaching two quarter finals in Rotterdam and in Dubai losing to Filip Krajinovic and Daniel Evans respectively.

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