Ball Mishap Fails To Derail Novak Djokovic From Reaching 11th Straight French Open Quarter-Final - UBITENNIS
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Ball Mishap Fails To Derail Novak Djokovic From Reaching 11th Straight French Open Quarter-Final

The world No.1 accidentally hit a lines judge as he moves to three wins away from his 18th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

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Novak Djokovic has continued his dominant run at the French open with a straight sets win over Karen Khachanov in the fourth round on Monday.

The former champion, who last won the Paris trophy back in 2016, overcame some stiff resistance early on to prevail 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, on the Philippe Chatrier Court. Becoming only the second player in history to reach the last eight of a major for the 47th time after Roger Federer. Djokovic’s latest victory saw him hit 44 winners to 28 unforced errors as he clinched 70% of points behind his first serve. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

“It was definitely a closer match that what the score indicates,” Djokovic told Eurosport’s The Cube. “All three sets were kind of even and I managed to break his resistance towards the end of every set.’
“I’m happy with the way I closed out the match but it was a close one. Karen was very solid. Conditions, if you play a bit later in the day with the roof closed, there is no bounce at all.’
“I managed to find a way to win and that’s what matters.”
He added.

It was during his latest encounter where Djokovic got flashbacks of his US Open disqualification for hitting a lines judge. Trying to return a monster Khachanov early on he accidentally hit the ball at an official and immediately apologised. Due to it being a pure accident, he received no warning or violation unlike New York.

https://twitter.com/doublefault28/status/1313122898136137730

Heading into the fourth round Djokovic had only dropped 15 games in three matches played but he was still wary of the threat posed by his Russian opponent. Khachanov is a former quarter-finalist at Roland Garros and had defeated the world No.1 once before in the final of the 2018 Paris Masters.

The latest showdown between the two started with a mainly high-quality opening set consisting of lengthy exchanges. After failing to convert a quartet of break points Djokovic finally prevailed 39 minutes into the match with the help of a Khachanov shot going out. Promoting an almighty roar from the Serbian as he nudged ahead 5-3. However, he still had his work cut out with his rival breaking back instantly. Despite the tussle the top seed capitalised on a momentary lapse in form from Khachanov in the following game who hit a double fault to hand him the opening set.

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with another break proving decisive for Djokovic as he extended his stronghold. This time it took place four games into the set following another Khachanov forehand error. Despite dominating proceedings, the 17-time Grand Slam champion still showed glimmers of frustration on the court. Hitting the net with his racket after failing to break when up 5-3 and then glaring towards his camp in the crowd. Still, his temperament failed to derail him on the court.

Closing out the match was far from simple for Djokovic as he faced another resurgence in Khachanov’s form. Nevertheless, he once again wore down his opponent en route to victory after converting his first match point when a shot out wide proved too much for his opponent to return.

“I try to be mentally solid in my game all the time, especially in these kinds of conditions,” Djokovic explained. “You can’t afford to drop your focus or go too wild with your shots because if you play someone as experienced as Karen he is going to take his chances.’
“My drop shot was not that particularly great from the second set but you just find a way (to win).”

Reaching the quarter-finals for a record 11th time in a row, the 33-year-old will play either Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta or German underdog Daniel Altmaier. Carreno Busta was the player who he was facing at the US Open last month when he got disqualified.

Djokovic has now won 72 matches at Roland Garros, which is second on the all-time list for male players after Rafael Nadal who is on 97.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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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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