Yannick Hanfmann and Miomir Kecmanovic reach the final in Kitzbuhel - UBITENNIS
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Yannick Hanfmann and Miomir Kecmanovic reach the final in Kitzbuhel

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Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann came back from one set down to beat Laslo Djere 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 25 minutes reaching his first ATP Tour level final in three years at the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel

 

Hanfmann held two match point at 5-4 in the third set before sealing his third chance in the tie-break with a backhand return winner. 

Hanfmann reached his first ATP Tour final as a qualifier in Gstaad. He is aiming the first qualifier to win an ATP Tour title since Danil Medvedev’s win in Tokyo in 2018. 

“I did not feel so good after the first match points. At that level, if you miss those chances you can lose the match right away. I was happy that I had chances to go back up 6-5 and break him. I did not make that, so it was a tough few minutes for me to really get settled again. In the tie-break I had a pretty clear mind. I was just trying to play point by point, really go for my game and that is what I did. It is fitting that I finished it with a backkhand return winner”, said Hanfmann. 

Hanfmann set up a final against Miomir Kecmanovic, who battled past Swiss qualifier Marc Andrea Huesler 6-2 5-7 6-3 after 2 hours and 19 minutes. 

Kecmanovic broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. Both players traded breaks in the first and second games of the second set. Huesler saved three break points in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. The next games went on serve until the Swiss player earned the break in the 11th game to win the second set 7-5 forcing the match to the third set. 

Huesler got a break in the third game at deuce to take a 2-1 lead in the decider. Kecmanovic converted his third break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Huesler broke serve in the sixth game at 30 in the sixth game and held his final two service games to win the decisive set 6-3. 

“I know it is not going to be easy because Yannick is a big guy who serves well, but I can make him play. Like today, I need to stay in the point as long as I can and try to force him to go for too much. I did not have many good results last year on clay, so I did not high expectations when I came from the US Open one or two days before the tournament. I am happy to play the final here”, said Kecmanovic. 

Kecmanovic left his home town at the age of 13 to practice at the IMG Academy in Florida. 

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Internazionali d’Italia Day 8 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Championships

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Diego Schwartzman played one of the best matches of the year Saturday night against Denis Shapovalov (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

The top two seeds will play for the women’s title, while Novak Djokovic vies for his fifth championship against whatever is left of the phenomenal Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 28-year-old Argentine has reached his first Masters 1,000 final.  Less than 48 hours ago, he earned his first career win over Rafael Nadal.  And late last night, Diego played a spectacular, three-plus-hour semifinal against Denis Shapovalov.  Coming back to defeat the world No.1, who’s only loss this year was his own doing, seems unfathomable.  However, Novak brought his New York crankiness with him to Rome this week, becoming extremely frustrated on court.

This is the third Rome final in four years for Simona Halep, though she’s yet to obtain the winner’s trophy.  But the top seed is on a 13-match winning streak, and won her last two events played.  Her opponent is on a nine-match winning streak in Rome, and looking to successfully defend her title.

Simona Halep (1) vs. Karolina Pliskova (2) – 2:30pm local time

Halep leads their head-to-head 7-4, though Pliskova has claimed the last two.  They’ve split their two matches contested on clay.  That includes their most prominent encounter, in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, which Halep won in three sets.  Simona was pushed to the limit yesterday by Garbine Muguruza, with her semifinal lasting an hour longer than Karolina’s straight set win over Marketa Vondrousova.  But Halep should still feel fresh for today’s championship match.  She did not play in New York, and all her other matches this week were straight-setters.  Simona also should take a lot of confidence from out-dueling Muguruza yesterday afternoon.  Much like Garbine, Pliskova has looked better this week with every passing round, and will look to utilize her power to overcome the two-time Major champion.  By contrast, Halep will use her speed and returning ability.  And based on Halep’s current form, her third Rome final may be the charm.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Diego Schwartzman (8) – not before 5:00pm local time

This is the 10th championship in Rome for Djokovic, with a 4-5 record previously.  He’s actually lost his last three finals here, to Rafael Nadal, Sascha Zverev, and Andy Murray.  Schwartzman will be the first seeded player Novak faces this week, though his opponents have caused him much anguish thus far. Diego’s efforts have been remarkable, playing an astoundingly high level.  While Schwartzman is 0-4 against Djokovic, he’s pushed Novak in their two previous battles on clay.  They went to a final set three years ago at Roland Garros as well as last year in the semifinals of this event.  But expecting Diego to do so again today following his last two matches seems unrealistic.  Djokovic is the favorite to win his fifth title, and gain momentum just six days ahead of the French Open.

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Internazionali d’Italia Day 7 Preview: The Singles Semifinals & Doubles Finals

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Court Centrale will not be as empty on Sunday, with 1,000 seats opened up to the public (internazionalibnlditalia.com)

Following Diego Schwartzman’s stunning defeat of Rafael Nadal, are more upsets to come?

 

The most marquee match of the day is a WTA blockbuster between two Roland Garros champions.  The other women’s semifinal will be decided between two Major finalists from the Czech Republic.  On the men’s side, four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic is yet to face a seeded player, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been challenged by his competition, with another red-hot opponent today.  And just 24 hours after what he described as his “best match ever,” Diego Schwartzman faces one of the ATP’s best players since the tour restart, who is poised to make his top 10 debut.

Simona Halep (1) vs. Garbine Muguruza (9)

It’s the 2016 French Open champion against the 2018 champ, both of whom are two-time Major winners.  Top-seeded Halep has looked stellar this week, and is yet to drop a set.  Muguruza’s road has been considerably more challenging.  She’s had to fight hard to outlast some stiff opposition: Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, Johanna Konta, and Victoria Azarenka.  So while that’s built Garbine’s confidence, it also means she’s spent almost twice as much time on court.  Muguruza leads their head-to-head 4-2, which includes their most recent meeting, earlier this year in the Australian Open semifinals.  However, their only two matches on clay have gone to Halep.  And Simona is on a 12-match winning streak, having won her last two events played.  These slow-playing courts in Rome favor the speed and defense of the top seed.  A fresh Halep is the favorite to reach her third Rome final in the last four years.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Casper Ruud

Djokovic has not looked his best thus far, yet has survived some high quality tennis from the likes of Filip Krajinovic and Dominik Koepfer.  Casper Ruud is another dangerous unseeded player who comes into this match with a lot of momentum.  This week he already took out Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic, and Matteo Berrettini.  The 21-year-old from Norway arrived in Rome with only two match wins at Masters 1,000 events.  But Casper can play on the clay: earlier this season he reached the final in Santiago, and won his first ATP title in Buenos Aires.  However, defeating the world No.1 in their first career meeting is a big ask.  Novak’s only loss this year was his default at the US Open, and I don’t expect that to change today.

Karolina Pliskova (2) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (12)

Vondrousova was the surprise finalist at last year’s Roland Garros.  But due to injury, she would only play three more matches in 2019.  It’s been a struggle for the 21-year-old lefty to return to form.  Marketa was just 4-8 in this abbreviated season prior to this event.  After surviving a few close calls earlier this week, she steamrolled two-time champion Elina Svitolina yesterday 6-3, 6-0.  Today she faces another former champion.  The winner here a year ago, Pliskova is on an eight-match winning streak at this event.  Karolina dropped a set yesterday to Elise Mertens, but there’s no shame in that: Mertens is a tough out.  And Karolina closed out that match with a 6-0 third set, playing her best tennis yet this week.  In their only prior encounter, Karolina prevailed in straight sets last year on a hard court in Miami.  Vondrousova’s variety could prove frustrating, and playing a much-younger countrywoman can be tricky.  But Pliskova remains the favorite to reach her second consecutive final in Rome.

Diego Schwartzman (8) vs. Denis Shapovalov (12)

This is Diego’s second straight year advancing to the semifinals of this event, which are the only two occasions he’s done so at a Masters 1,000 tournament.  For Shapovalov, it’s his fifth Masters 1,000 semi, and he reached the final last year in Bercy.  Their first career meeting will also be one of the most important matches of their careers to date.  Shapovalov has accumulated eight match wins over the last three weeks, reaching his first Major quarterfinal in New York.  That’s a lot of tennis for the 21-year-old Canadian, including back-to-back three-setters over the last two days.  But a lack of energy doesn’t ever seem to be Denis’ problem.  And it would only be natural for Schwartzman to have a letdown coming off his first-career win over the King of Clay.  With Mikhail Youzhny helping Shapovalov improve his shot selection, his offense is becoming more sustainable.  He should be favored to play in Monday’s final.

Other Notable Matches on Day 7:

In the women’s doubles final, 2019 Wimbledon champions Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (1) vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru, who are in their first tournament as a team.

In the men’s doubles final, 2019 US Open finalists Marcel Garollers and Horacio Zeballos (4) vs. Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin, the 2019 French Open finalists.

Full order of play is here.

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Casper Ruud rallies from one set down to beat local star Matteo Berrettini in Rome quarter finals

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Norway’s Casper Ruud came back from one set down to beat local favourite Matteo Berrettini 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5) after nearly 3 hours on the famous Nicola Pietrangeli Court reaching the first Masters 1000 of his career at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Ruud has improved his win-loss record to 12-2 on clay this season after winning the Buenos Aires title and reaching the final in Santiago de Chile in last February’s Golden Swing last February. 

Ruud now leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Berrettini. The Scandinavian player player Berrettini at Roland Garros last year. Berrettini scored his only win over Ruud at the US Open this year. 

Ruud has improved on his father Christian’s record at Masters 1000 level. Christian reached his only quarter final at this level in Monte-Carlo in 1997. 

Berrettini broke serve after a double fault from Ruud on the break point in the first game. The 2019 US Open semifinal saved a total of three break points in the second, sixth and tenth games. Berrettini closed out the first set with a drop-shot on the set point and closed out the first set 6-4 with a forehand volley.

Ruud earned his first break in the second game of the second set to build up a 3-0 lead taking advantage of forehand errors from Berrettini. 

Berrettini saved a double break point with an ace at 2-5. Ruud held serve at love with a backhand error from Berrettini to close out the second set 6-3 forcing the match to the decider. Ruud converted his fourth break point in the first game to take a 1-0 lead with a forehand winner up the line. Berrettini broke back on his second chance in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Ruud came back from 2-4 down to win the tie-break 7-5 claiming his 17th win of the season. 

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