Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the spotlight in Paris Bercy - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the spotlight in Paris Bercy

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Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas grab the headlines at the Paris Bercy Masters 1000 tournament at the Accor Hotel Arena in Paris Bercy. 

 

Top seeded Nadal returns to Paris three weeks after his 13th Roland Garros title. The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be bidding to score the Roland Garros – Paris Bercy double in the same year. He has a record of 19 match wins to 5 defeats in Paris Bercy but he has never won the this indoor tournament in his career. He achieved his best result in Paris Bercy in 2007 when he lost to David Nalbandian in 2007. Nadal will open his Paris Bercy campaign against either 2017 finalist Filip Krajinovic or Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez. 

Nadal, who will attempt to win his 1000th ATP Tour match in his opening match of the Paris Bercy tournament, could meet Borna Coric in the third round. Nadal and Coric are tied 2-2 in their five head-to-head macthes. If Nadal wins his second-round match would become the fourth male player in the Open Era to join the milestone 1000-match wins club. 

Nadal shares the same half of the draw with former ATP Finals champion and 2020 US Open finalist Alexander Zverev, this week’s Vienna champion Andrey Rublev, Pablo Carreno Busta, Stan Wawrinka and David Goffin. 

Carreno Busta reached the semifinal at the US Open and the quarter final at Roland Garros after forcing Dominic Thiem to five sets on Court Philliippe Chatrier in Paris.

Zverev, who won back-to-back titles in Cologne, will face either Nur Sultan champion John Millman or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round. 

Rublev will be bidding to win his sixth title this season after Doha, Alicante, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna. The 22-year-old Russian player has secured his spot in the 2020 ATP Finals in London. (15-22 November). Rublev will face either Pole Hubert Hurkacz or a qualifier in the second round. 

Reigning ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will headline the bottom half of the draw. The Greek player will be bidding to win his maiden Masters 1000 title. He recently reached his second Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros. The Athens native player will face a tough second round clash against either 2020 Antwerp champion Ugo Humbert or Rome Masters 1000 semifinalist Casper Ruud. 

Tsitsipas has been drawn in the same quarter of the draw as last year’s US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini, 2014 Paris Bercy finalist Milos Raonic and Felix Auger Aliassime. Tsitsipas could face 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev in a potential semifinal. Medvedev, who won two Masters 1000 titles in Shanghai and Cincinnati last year, could face 2018 Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson in the second round. Anderson beat Medvedev in Vienna this week. Anderson will start his Paris Bercy campaign against a qualifier or a lucky loser. 

Sixth seed and Rome Masters 1000 finalist Diego Schwartzman is the other top name in the third quarter of the draw. Schwartzman, who reached the semifinalist at this year’s Roland Garros, will take on either Richard Gasquet or Taylor Fritz in the second round. Schwartzman could meet 2018 Paris Bercy champion Karen Khachanov. 

Lorenzo Sonego will be looking to continue his impressive period of form in Paris one week after reaching his first ATP 500 final in Vienna, where he finished runner-up to Andrey Rublev. The 25-year-old will renew his battle against Alexander Bublik. It will be a re-match of the recent second round clash at Roland Garros, where Sonego prevailed over his Kazakh opponent in straight sets en route to reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros. 

This week’s Vienna semifinalist Daniel Evans will face three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in one of the most interesting first round matches. Wawrinka saved three match points to extend his unbeaten streak against Evans in St. Petersburg. 

Felix Auger Aliassime will take on 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in the first round. Auger Aliassime will make his debut in Paris Bercy. Cilic will make his 12th appearance in the French capital’s tournament. The Croatian player reached the semifinals in Paris Bercy in 2016. 

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Former Tennis Star Reveals 2016 Retirement Was Linked To 18-Month Ban

The former world No.66 says she was suspended from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player following one of her matches.

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Ekaterina Bychkova (image via Wikicommons)

A top 100 player who stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open when she was the defending champion has made a shock revelation about the reason why she retired from the sport.

 

Ekaterina Bychkova, who peaked at a ranking high of 66th in her career, was a familiar face on the women’s Tour that played in 15 Grand Slam main draws between 2005-2011. During her career, she won 10 ITF singles titles and five in the doubles. She hung up her racket in 2016 after playing one qualifying match in St Petersburg but the decision to retire wasn’t entirely her choice.

In a recent interview Bychkova revealed for the first time she was slammed with a 18-month suspension from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player. The incident took place following her match against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at an ITF $100,000 event in Nanjing, China.

“In the third set Kuchova began to suffer from convulsions (cramps). But according to the rules, you cannot call a doctor for convulsions and you cannot lie on the court for five minutes. However, she lay on the court for several minutes, then the supervisor came, who said that it was not a seizure, which means that a break was needed. He clearly sympathized with her,” she said during an interview with website Bookmaker Ratings.
“Kuchova returned to the match and immediately began to serve powerfully, kick the ball and move well. She was released psychologically, but on the contrary, I was shackled.”

A furious Bychkova ended up losing the first round match 7-5, 6-7(1), 3-6, to Kucova who is currently ranked 149th in the world. Although the incident between the two players didn’t take place on the court. It occurred later on that day when they crossed paths again.

“I was asked to take a walk for 20-30 minutes. Suddenly this beauty floats past me, cheerful. I broke down and started a fight,” she said.
“Two days later, the supervisor announced to me that our fight was on camera. It was a hostel on the court grounds, not an official hotel, and in fact the fight did not take place on the territory of the tournament.”

Reflecting on her actions, which was caught on CCTV, the Russian says they were in no way justifiable and she regrets how she reacted. Not only did she end up with a 18-month ban from the sport, she was also fined $3,150.

At the time Bychkova said she had the option to appeal the decision but opted not to do so because she didn’t want to go through the process of hiring lawyers and travelling to London for an ITF hearing. Claiming that the fight didn’t actually occur on the tournament site but at a hostel located on the surrounding grounds. She also said her decision to not to appeal was because she was ‘tired of tennis.’

Now at the age of 35 she has decided to give playing professional tennis another go. This week she played her first match in five years at an ITF event in Moscow where she lost in the first round to world No.611 Anastasia Tikhonova.

There has been no public comment from Kucova regarding Bychkova’s account of what happened in China.

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Aljaz Bedene rallies from one set down to beat Jannik Sinner in Montpellier

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Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene came back from one set down to beat 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to reach the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Sinner was hindered by a back injury in the final stages of the match. 

 

Bedene entered the match with a 2-1 lead in his head-to-head matches against Sinner, but the Italian 19-year-old player won their most recent clash at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne en route to the second title of his career.  

Sinner earned his only break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 and held his next service games to close out the opening set 6-3 with a forehand down the line. 

Sinner went down 0-40 in the fourth game of the second set on serve, but he saved three consecutive break points. Bedene converted his fourth break point at deuce, as Sinner made an error at the net. Sinner forced the next game to deuce, but Bedene held his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Bedene closed out the second set 6-2 with his double break at 15.

Sinner saved a break point and held serve after two deuces in the second game. The Italian player wasted two break points in the third and fifth games. 

Sinner earned an erly mini-break, but Bedene got back on serve immediately. Bedene opened up a 4-2 lead with two more mini-breaks in the tie-break before Sinner received a medical time-out to a lower back injury. Bedene earned two more mini-breaks to close out the match after 2 hours and 39 minutes. 

Bedene becomes the first player outside the top 10 to defeat Sinner indoors in a year. Sinner entered the match on a 10-match indoor winning streak against players outside the top 10, which dated back to the quarter final defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta in Rotterdam. 

“In the first set Sinner was the better player. Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it. On the important points I was there. I didn’t lose my focus”, said Bedene. 

Bedene set up a second round match against Egor Gerasimov, who beat Andy Murray 7-6 (10-8) 6-1on Tuesday evening. 

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina converted six of his fifteen break points to overcome Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 setting up a second round match against Hubert Hurkacz. 

French qualifier Gregoire Barrere broke twice in each set and won 65 % of his second service points to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-4. 

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Marin Cilic beats Taro Daniel to reach the quarter final at the Singapore Open

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Former US Open champion and world number 3 Marin Cilic won 82% of his first-serve points and and fended off three of the four break points he faced to claim a 7-5 6-4 win over Taro Daniel after 1 hour and 40 minutes at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Cilic converted his second break point at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Daniel broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Cilic earned his second break in the 11th game and served out the first set at love in the 10th game. Cilic earned the only break in the 10th game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Cilic set up a quarter final match against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, who came back from one set down to beat Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4. 

Fourth seed Alexander Bublik fired 10 aces to beat Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek 6-3 6-2. Bublik will take on Yoshihito Nishioka, who won 62 % of hsi second serve points to claim a 6-4 6-2 win over Maxime Cressy. 

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin overcame Adrian Andreev 6-1 5-7 6-3. Popyrin earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Andreev sealed the second set 7-5 with his only break in the 12th game. Poppyrin broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to close out the third set 6-3.  

Italy’s Roberto Marcora broke once in each set to upset former top 10 player Ernest Gulbis 7-5 6-4 setting up a second round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Matthew Ebden edged Yuki Bhambri 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to secure his spot in the second round where he will face second round match against second seed John Millman.

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