Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas advance to the semifinal in Hamburg - UBITENNIS
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Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas advance to the semifinal in Hamburg

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Fifth seed and 2019 Hamburg finalist Andrey Rublev hit 30 winners in his 6-2 7-5 win over Roberto Bautista Agut in 1 hour and 31 minutes to reach the semifinal at the European Open in Hamburg at the renovated Am Rothenbaum venue. 

 

Rublev earned an early break in the opening game, as Bautista Agut missed a backhand down the line. Rublev went up a double break to take a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner. Bautista Agut pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Rublev broke for the third time in the seventh game to open up a 5-2 lead and closed out the first set in the eighth game with a backhand volley after 34 minutes. 

Rublev went up a break in the third game at deuce to take a 2-1 lead. Bautista Agut broke back to draw level to 2-2. Rublev converted his third break point in the fifth game and held serve at love to take a 4-2 lead. Bautista Agut broke back for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Rublev broke Bautista Agut at 5-5 30-40 with two forehands at the net and sealed the win in the 12th game, when Bautista Agut hit a backhand return into the net. 

Rublev will face either Ugo Humbert or Casper Ruud in the semifinal.  

“Roberto is one of the most consistent players on Tour. It’s really tough to beat him. You need to play at an amazing level and be really fit. He never gives you an easy match. I am really pleased as I played well, even in the first set, in the spite of the score. There were long games and I am happy to get through the second set”, said Rublev. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from 3-5 in the tie-break of the tie-break in his 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 over Dusan Lajovic in 1 hour and 38 minutes to reach the semifinal. 

In the opening set Tsitsipas saved a break point in the fifth game and two more chances in the seventh game. The first set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Tsitsipas rallied from 3-5 down in the tie-break by winning four consecutive points to take a 7-5 lead after 57 minutes. 

The second set started with three straight breaks. Tsitsipas opened up a 3-1 lead with a forehand winner. The Greek player broke twice in a row to open up a 5-1 lead. Tsitsipas missed out on two match points on Lajovic’s serve at 5-1 and Lajovic held serve after three deuces. Tsitsipas closed out on his third match point to clinch his 21st win in 29 matches this year. 

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Dominic Thiem dreams to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros

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Last year’s US Open champion Dominic Thiem lost two consecutive finals to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019. The Austrian player faced the Spanish legend four times in his favourite Grand Slam tournament and won just one set in the final in 2019. Nadal beat Thiem 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 in three hours to lift his 12th Roland Garros title. 

 

Last October Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 French Open in three sets, while Thiem lost an epic quarter final clash against Diego Schwartzman after five hours. 

Thiem reached the Roland Garros Junior final in 2011. He made his debut in the senior tournament in 2014 and lost to Nadal in straight sets. In 2016 Thiem reached the French Open semifinal and lost to Djokovic in straight sets. 

Thiem was the only player who beat Nadal on clay in 2017 and 2018. 

Thiem ended Nadal’s 19-match winning streak on clay to reach the Rome Masters 1000 semifinal before losing to Djokovic in straight sets. The Austrian star did not drop a set and beat Djokovic 7-6 6-3 6-0 en route to his second straight Roland Garros semifinal, but he lost to Nadal 6-3 6-4 6-0. 

Thiem beat Alexander Zverev to advance to his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, but he lost to Nadal in the final. He became the second Grand Slam finalist from Austria, joining 1995 Roland Garros champion Thomas Muster. Thiem beat Nadal en route to his second consecutive Masters 1000 final in Madrid ending the Spaniard’s 50-set clay winning streak.

Thiem won an ATP 500 title on clay in Barcelona (beating Nadal and Danil Medvedev) and beat Nadal on this surface for this surface for the fourth consecutive season becoming the second player to earn four wins or more over Nadal on clay. 

In a recent interview to the German website Sportschau.de Thiem talked about the biggest goal of his career.

“My biggest goal is to win the French Open. I like the tournament the most, and the conditions suit my game. I played the junior final in 2011, and I have wanted to win it ever since. Rafael Nadal is in a league of his own at Roland Garros. I am confident against him at other tournaments, but it becomes extra tough on Court Phillippe Chatrier. He lost twice in 16 years in Paris; that’s insane. Rafael should be the favourite in Paris for another year or two. Nadal is in a class of his own, and I don’t know if I trust myself to do it I have never managed to beat him there. Beating him on this center court is probably one of the hardest things there has ever been in sport, but it’s still my goal and I will try again in 2021.. ”, said Thiem. 

Thiem is one of the biggest favourites at the upcoming Australian Open. He finished runner-up in the Australian Open final last year losing to Novak Djokovic and hopes to avenge this defeat next February at Melbourne Park and win the second Grand Slam title of his career. The Austrian player claimed his first US Open title in his fourth Grand Slam final after beating Alexander Zverev in five sets after 4 hours and 2 minutes. After winning his first Grand Slam title, Thiem believes that he can win more Major tournaments. 

“I definitely want to win the Australian Open. I go to every and want to win it, perhaps with the exception of Wimbledon. In a match I have not loosened up now because I have won a Grand Slam. I am just as nervous as before. That won’t change until the end of my career. I also know that when I play well and I am well prepared, my chances are good to get far. My preparation in the off season went very well. I worked a lot on my physical preparation. It was very nice to spend the Christmas holidays at home in Austria with my family”. 

Thiem led Djokovic by two sets to one in last year’s Australian Open final and admitted that it took time to get over this defeat. 

“Over time, I have learnt to deal with defeats better. Of course there are defeats that really hurt. Last year’s defeat in Australia was one of those, and I must have gnawed at it for tow, three or four months”. 

Thiem is spending 14 days of quarantine in Adelaide with five other players and their training partners. He thinks that the 72 players, who are forced to stay in their room for 24 hours in hard lockdown in Melbourne, will pay the price after 14 days of lockdown. 

 “It’s clear there is a complete inequality of opportunity. All players are fresh out of their pre-season. They are in really good shape and have top fitness. If you can’t leave your room for 14 days, it does not matter how much fitness you do in the room, a lot of it just goes away, but that’s the risk we all took. It’s very bitter and unfortunate. For all the players in Melbourne, I think it’s OK. They can train as it was planned. Fortunately, those who are in hard quarantine, will have nine days before the start of the Australian Open”. 

Thiem has been used to quarantine, as he spent 14 days in New York last summer before winning the first Grand Slam tournament of his career. “I am now used to quarantine and I know what to expect. The bubble was a big change in New York, but I have experienced that in Paris, Vienna and London. The situation is not worse in Australia. It is not easy to play a tournament behind closed doors. We expect a bug cheers from the fans after a great rally, but we do not hear anything from the crowd. In these circumstances we feel alne on the court”.

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Carlos Alcaraz dreams to become world number 1 player

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Carlos Alcaraz is getting ready to the first Grand Slam tournament of his career at the age of 17 at the upcoming Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

The Spanish teenager has clear ideas about his future goals. 

“I dream to become the world number 1 and play matches, which will go down in the history of tennis. I watch videos from past Wimbledon matches of Rafa, Novak and Roger many times and Imagine that I will take part at this tournament in the future. It’s very special to play on grass courts. It would be incredible to win the Wimbledon tournament”, said Alcaraz. 

Alcaraz is currently keeping fit in the bubble created in his hotel in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, which will start on 8 February. The player coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero wants to set high goals, but he is aware that he needs to contunue his career step by step. Alcaraz climbed six places in the ATP Ranking to world number 135 and he has the chance to improve his ranking if he advances through the rounds at the Australian Open. 

“The main goal is to finish the 2021 season in the top 50. I would like to play in the Masters 1000 in Madrid and in the Barcelona tournament. It would be nice to train with Rafa and Novak. I have already had the chance to train with Roger, but I am shy and I could not speak English very well. I was not able to talk with him. I think I have tennis and I would say that I have the maturity to face any player. I try to handle situation as well as possible and I am doing well. I don’t look at points much, I have it apart. I am going to Australia to improve and grow as a player and a person. I must not go too much. Whatever comes is welcome, but I still have a lot of room”. 

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Paula Badosa tested positive for Covid-19

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Paula Badosa Gilbert posted on her social media channels that she was tested positive for Covid-19. 

 

The 23-year-old Spanish player, who won the French Open Junior title in 2015, had been quarantining in Melbourne under the mandatory 14-rule after a couple of co-passengers in her flight to Melbourne had tested positive for the coronavirus when they arrived in Melbourne. 

The world number 67 was one of the 72 players forced to isolate in their hotel rooms after passengers on three separate charter flights to Melbourne tested positive. 

Badosa is symptomatic and has been shifted to a different hotel. She is the first player to be tested pasitive to Covid-19 after travelling to Melbourne. 

“I will try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors. I have been taken to a health hotel to self-isolate and be monitored. Thanks for your support. We will be back stronger”, said Badosa. 

Badosa made two appearances at the Australian Open in 2019 and 2020. She reached  her best result in Melbourne last year, when she got through to the second round, losing to former finalist Petra Kvitova. The list of players forced to isolate include two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori. 

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