Richard Gasquet Speaks Out On ‘Crazy And Grotesque’ Schedule For 2020 - UBITENNIS
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Richard Gasquet Speaks Out On ‘Crazy And Grotesque’ Schedule For 2020

The world No.50 admits the new calendar is far from ideal but refuses to criticise it.

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Richard Gasquet, Rolex Paris Masters 2018, Simple Messieurs, 1er Tour, Photo : Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

French tennis veteran Richard Gasquet is yet to finalise his plans for returning to the Tour but has confirmed that he intends to play at the US Open.

The former Grand Slam semi-finalist missed the first month of this year due to injury and has only played seven competitive matches before the sport came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The ATP Tour is set to resume on August 14th at the Citi Open in Washington in what will be the start of a packed schedule. Within seven weeks two grand slams and three Masters 1000 events are set to take place.

Speaking about the return of the sport, 35-year-old Gasquet has said many of his rivals will have to be careful with their commitments in order to avoid injury. Something that Canada’s Milos Raonic has previously expressed concerns about. The Frenchman has described the partly revamped calendar as ‘crazy.’ The ATP is still to decide on what their plan will be beyond the French Open and if they will be hosting events in Asia, which the WTA has already committed to.

“The schedule they have given us is practically crazy. A lot of important tournaments in a short time. It is simply grotesque, but I understand that everyone wants to save their tournaments. They need the dispute of their tournaments to obtain economic benefits,” Gasquet told Le Parisien.
“Now it is the players who have to decide on which tournaments to play and which ones to not, but the best players on the circuit who will play in the final rounds and therefore have a lot of games, are going to have to make a schedule according to their physical condition in order to avoid injuries that could make them miss out what’s left of the season.”

One of the most debated events taking place is the US Open, which will be held without fans for the first time in history. Players will be subjected to numerous testing throughout the tournament and be kept in essentially a ‘bubble’ in order to minimise the threat of COVID-19. They will also be limited to taking three guests with them to the event. It was originally reported that the USTA wanted there to be only one guest before there was some backlash from players.

“If there are no problems, my intention is to play the US Open, but if the tournament is held tomorrow I confirm that I would not go. There are many unknowns about the tournament dispute and currently the United States is the country with the most infections in the world,” said Gasquet.
“”It is better for tournaments to be held under these conditions than not, but obviously losing a lot of emotion playing games behind closed doors. It is important that tennis is restarted like other sports and with televisions everything is easier to be able to watch all the games. In Germany, the Bundesliga has never had as much television audience as it does right now. People need sport and I’m sure tennis would gain much more television viewing.” He later added.

World No.50 Gasquet returned to action yesterday at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, which is being played under a unique scoring format and rules. Taking on Dominic Thiem, he rallied to a surprise 16-10, 15-12, 16-12, 14-17, win over the Australian Open finalist.

Gasquet has won 15 ATP titles and earned more than $18 million in prize money so far in his career.

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

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Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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