Novak Djokovic holds off Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure a spot in his fifth Roland Garros final - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic holds off Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure a spot in his fifth Roland Garros final

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Novak Djokovic survived a come-back from Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure his spot in his fifth Roland Garros final and his 27th Grand Slam final with a thrilling 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 win in a 3-hour and 54 minute semifinal. Djokovic has improved his win-loss record to 4-2 in his six head-to-head matches against Tsitsipas. 

 

Djokovic earned eight breaks and dropped serve four times.

Djokovic saved four break points with four winners to hold serve in the first game of the opening set. He hit a crosscourt forehand winner in the next game to open up a 2-0 lead. Djokovic held serve in the third game with a service winner. Tsitsipas got his first game on the scoreboard with a forehand crosscourt winner in the fourth game.

Djokovic fended off a break point at the net after a 23-shot rally, as he was serving at 4-2, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner to hold his service game. Djokovic sealed his first set on his fourth set point at 5-3 with a service winner.

Tsitsipas led 40-0 in his service games at 2-2 and 2-4, but Djokovic broke him both times to open up a 5-2 lead, when Tsitsipas made a forehand mistake. The World number 1 and 17-time Grand Slam champion held at love with a service winner to seal the second set 6-2.

Tsitsipas held serve four times in the third set and earned a break point in the second game of the third set, but Djokovic saved it with a winner. They produced six consecutive holds to stay neck and neck at 4-4 before Djokovic earned the first break of the third set to take a 5-4 lead with his drop-shot. As Djokovic was serving for the match, Tsitsipas saved a match point to draw level to 5-5 with a backhand error from Djokovic after saving 10 of the 11 break points. The young Greek star held  serve to 30 and hit a forehand up the line to break serve, when Djokovic hit his forehand long. Tsitsipas saved 10 out of the 11 break points he faced after taking a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. Tsitsipas saved eight break points in the fifth, seventh and ninth games forcing Djokovic to serve to stay in the set.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the fourth set. As Djokovic was serving at 4-5 40-15, Tsitsipas hit a drop-shot to earn a break point. The 2019 ATP Finals champion got the crucial break in the 10th game, as Djokovic committed consecutive backhand errors and netted a drop shot. 

Djokovic got the decisive break in the third game of the fifth set with a crosscourt drop-shot to take a 2-1 lead. The Serbian player forced an error from Tsitsipas and broke serve at 15 to open up a 4-1 lead. The 2020 Australian Open champion closed out the match with a return winner in the seventh game on his second match point. 

Djokovic has scored the 37th win in 38 matches this year. The Serb has joined an elite club of seven players to have qualified for five finals at Roland Garros. 

“I was definitely not pleased with the way I played the finishing stages of the third and fourth sets, but I was very pleased I kept my composure mentally throughout the entire match. I felt that even though I lost the third and fourth sets, I still felt like I was the better player on the court. I had more control. I just felt comfortable playing”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic has fended off 76 %of break points in the tournament and dropped one point on his first serve. 

If Djokovic wins Sunday’s final against Rafael Nadal, he would become the first player in the Open Era to win multiple titles at each of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Djokovic beat Andy Murray in the 2016 Roland Garros final to claim his first title in the French Grand Slam tournament. 

Djokovic holds a 29-26 win-loss record against 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, including a win in the quarter final in 2015. 

“This is Rafa’s house, but I also won against him in 2015 at Roland Garros in the quarter finals. I hope to recover. It’s the biggest challenge that you could have in sports on all suurfaces to play against Nadal here at Roland Garros. I am also motivated to possibly win”, said Djokovic. 

Tsitsipas came back from two sets down for the first time in his career to beat Jaume Munar in the first round before beating Pablo Cuevas, Aljaz Bedene, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev to qualify for the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career. 

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Lorenzo Sonego continues his winning streak with a victory over Barnabe Zapata Miralles in Sofia

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Lorenzo Sonego beat Barnabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4 after 1 hour and 19 minutes to reach the second round at the Sofia Open. Sonego won 86% of his first serve points. 

 

Sonego broke serve in the second game at 30, but he missed a double break point in the third game. The Italian player dropped just three points in his next three service games to close out the first set 6-3.  

Sonego broke serve in the ninth game at love, as Zapata Miralles made a double fault. He made a double fault and a forehand error at 5-4, but he won four consecutive points to close out the second set on his first match point. 

Last week Sonego won his title in Metz without dropping a set. 

Sonego will face Danish Next Gen player Holger Rune in the second round. 

“I am really happy because today I was really aggressive on court. I played so well. I did my best thing today. I am really happy for that. Zapata is a big wall. He served really well, but I started so good today, with good variation. The key was my performance on serve, and to be aggressive on serve”, said Sonego. 

Lorenzo Musetti battled past Alexander Lazarov 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 after 2 hours and 42 minutes. 

The first set went on serve with no break points. Lazarov earned his mini-break at 4-2 to win the tie-break 7-5. Musetti saved two break points at 4-4. The Italian player wasted a set point at 5-4 on Lazarov’s serve and dropped his serve in the next game. Lazarov earned his chance to close out the match at 6-5, but he was broken at 30. Musetti went up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break, but Lazarov  won four consecutive points to take a 5-4 lead. Lazarov had the chance to close the match, but he dropped two points on serve.  Musetti sealed the tie-break on his fourth set point. 

Musetti earned two breaks and held his next service games to win the third set 6-2. 

Ilya Ivashka upset Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 1 hour and 52 minutes to reach the quarter finals. Ivashka saved all seven break points he faced. Dimitrov saved two match points in the second set forcing the match to the tie-break. Ivashka earned two mini-breaks to take a 7-3 lead. 

Ivashka will face either Sonego or Rune in the quarter final. 

“It was a very tough match and I am very happy that I got the victory at the end. It is very hard to play against Grigor, especially at his home”, said Ivashka.  

Fernando Vedasco edged past Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 to set up a second round match against Alexander Vukic. 

Jan Lennard Struff came back from a set down to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6 6-3 6-2. 

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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