Feliciano Lopez Rewrites Grand Slam History At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Feliciano Lopez Rewrites Grand Slam History At Australian Open

The Spaniard has achieved TWO unique milestones with his latest win at Melbourne Park.

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Incredibly Feliciano Lopez’s run of appearances in Grand Slam tournaments is a longer period than what Italy’s Jannik Sinner has been alive for.

Despite his age the 39-year-old Spaniard is proving at the Australian Open that he still has what it takes to compete with the best in the world. Currently ranked 65th in the world Lopez battled back from two sets down to defeat Lorenzo Sonego 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in the second round on Thursday. To put that achievement into perspective, he is the oldest player to win a major match from two sets down since Ken Rosewall at the 1974 Wimbledon Championships.

“The first two sets I didn’t start it quite well, he was a better player. I didn’t find a way, honestly, during the first two sets,” said Lopez. “Then all of a sudden after the break everything changed. The conditions are pretty fast, I would say, especially today.”

Proving that age is just a number, Lopez’s average service speed registered at 187kmh which is just 4kmp less than work No.1 Novak Djokovic during his second round match. Overall, he produced 16 aces and 42 winners. Not a bad performance from the second oldest player in the top 100 after Roger Federer.

Lopez’s latest triumph also makes him the oldest player to reach the third round of the Australian Open since 1978. Incredibly Melbourne is the 75th Grand Slam he has played in a row, having not missed one since the 2002 French Open. Although his main draw debut in a major started back in 2001 with a match he still remembers now.

“I think I got killed in the first round by Carlos Moya, if I’m not wrong. I qualified and I lost to him,” Lopez reflected.
“He was my idol when I was growing up as a junior, Carlos was always someone I really admired when I started playing professionally. For me it was like a gift to play against Carlos in the French Open.’
“I think he was a much better player than me. But this is my first memory from a slam.”

On the ATP Tour Lopez’s Grand Slam tally of 76 appearances has only been surpassed by Roger Federer who is on 79. He has not given a firm outline on when he may potentially retire from the sport but he is already venturing outside of competitive tennis. Lopez is also the tournament director of the Madrid Open.

As for the future of the sport itself, the former world No.12 has come out in favour of retaining the best-of-five set format in the Grand Slams.

“I love the five-setters,” he stated. “Five-set matches bring something different to tennis, especially when they go into the fifth set, sometimes you have big matches and I honestly love them.’
“I don’t know if they are the best, given the circumstances that we have right now where most of the players we haven’t played much in the last year nearly one year and a half. This I don’t know. But I wouldn’t change the five-set matches in the slams.”

Lopez will play seventh seed Andrey Rublev in the third round.

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French Open Player Avoids Disqualification After Striking Fan With Ball

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Terence Atmane - photo by Ubitennis

Officials at the French Open opted not to default a player from his match after he hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan on the first day of the tournament. 

Terence Atmane, who received a wild card into this year’s draw, was involved in a tough five-set battle against Sebastian Ofner on Sunday evening. During the fourth set, Atmane found himself down 1-4, 30-30, when the incident unfolded. After hitting a shot that landed out, the Frenchman blasted a ball which unintentionally hit somebody in the crowd.

As a result of the incident, the match was halted for 15 minutes while the umpire and tournament referee addressed the situation, which included speaking to the person who got hit. Following the lengthy discussion, it was decided that Atmane would be issued with a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct but would not be disqualified. Prompting surprise from Ofner who went on to win the match 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 7-5.

“For me, it was a bit surprising, because if you do something like that on a small court, you have to be punished, you know?” The Associated Press quoted Ofner as saying after the match. “Because it’s not like you hit the ball normally. It was full power. The ball was so fast. Straight in the crowd. There were people disqualified for less.”

In the past players have been disqualified from a match for similar actions, including Novak Djokovic who was defaulted from his fourth round match at the 2020 US Open after hitting a lines judge with a ball. More recently, at last year’s French Open, doubles player Miyu Kato and her partner were defaulted after she accidentally but a ball girl. 

Ofner, who is currently ranked 45th in the world, says he was told that Atmane avoided a big punishment because the person the crowd was fine and ‘saw the ball coming.’ 

“The referee said, ‘Oh, yeah, I was talking with the lady. The lady said at the beginning it was hurting but now it’s fine, and everything was OK. She saw the ball coming. So it’s not enough for disqualification.’ I think if he would see how it was, maybe he would decide different,” he said. “A little bit more unlucky and it’s going directly in the face. And then something can happen (like) a broken nose or whatever.”

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has so far made no public comment on the matter.

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French Open: Stan Wawrinka Beats Murray In Battle Of Former Grand Slam Champions

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Stan Wawrinka - Parigi 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Stan Wawrinka produced a solid display to beat long-time rival Andy Murray in what could be the Brit’s final appearance at the French Open.

Wawrinka, who won the Paris title back in 2015, rallied his way to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1, win over former world No.1 Murray in what was the second-oldest match-up to take place at the tournament this century. At the age of 39, Wawrinka has become the oldest player to win a match in Paris since his compatriot Roger Federer did so three years ago. The Swiss No.1 hit 35 winners past his opponent in what was their 23rd meeting on the ATP Tour. 

“My first words were respect for a great champion,” Wawrinka said about the exchange the two had at the net afterwards. 
“I love watching him (Murray) play and fighting against him. We have had a lot of good fights in the last 15 years. A lot of emotion when we played here (at Roland Garros).”

Coming into the tournament, there have been questions raised about the current form of both players. Wawrinka had only won three matches in his four previous tournaments played and is yet to score consecutive wins this year. Meanwhile, Murray’s start to the clay swing was marred by an ankle injury and he has only played three matches on the clay this season before Paris. 

However, it was Wawrinka who managed to come out on top with the use of some of his signature backhand winners. Throughout the first two sets, he won 75% of his first service points without dropping serve and broke Murray once in each of those. 

Then at the start of the third frame, he pounced once again with yet another backhand winner to break as a lacklustered Murray continued to produce costly errors. Paving the way for Wawrinka to storm to a largely one-sided victory. He earned his first match point with a winner down the line before closing the clash out with an almost identical shot. 

“I love to work a lot in front of a crowd like this,” Wawrinka explained. 
“I’ve shared a lot of emotion with this crowd and they gave me a lot of energy to fight.
“In my head, I am still a young guy, I am still a kid. I just want to live this moment in front of this crowd.”

Murray’s loss occurs in what could be his last-ever French Open appearance. In recent months he has spoken about ending his career in 2024 but it yet to make a formal announcement. Should this be the case, he ends his Roland Garros career with a win-loss record of 39-12. His best run was to the final in 2016. 

This year is Wawrinka’s 19th appearance at Roland Garros and he is one of only two players in the Open Era to have won 11 five-set matches at the Grand Slam. The other to do so is Gael Monfils. It is the second time he has beaten Murray in the first round of the tournament after 2020. 

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French Open: Jack Draper Serves Up Trouble and is Upset by Dutch Qualifier De Jong

Brit Draper loses his longest ever tennis match in only his second five-setter of his career.

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Jack Draper crashed out at the first hurdle at the French Open after a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-3 loss to world number 176 Jesper de Jong – a qualifier who had come through three rounds to reach the main draw – who next faces third seed Carlos Alcaraz. 

In a titanic tussle lasting over four hours, the British number two could not find any rhythm on his serve, getting just 50% of his first deliveries in while winning only 51% of his second serves – resulting in him being broken an alarming nine times over the five sets.

“My serve has been a problem this year,” said Draper after the match. “I’m trying to change it to make it better, and obviously I’ve made those changes in the last few weeks. So, it’s not comfortable, especially in a grand slam playing in a fifth set on a second serve. You know, the confidence isn’t there at the moment on my serve, and it’s a problem I’m going to have to work on with coaches and see where I can make it more consistent because, yeah, it’s really letting me down.”

Dutchman De Jong took the opening two sets and was heading for a surprising routine victory before Draper showed some admirable fight to win the third on a tie-breaker before taking control of the fourth to push the match into a decider after a one-hour rain delay.

Draper, still only 22 with huge potential, still has time to understand how to navigate the fluctuations of long five setters and will be disappointed with the outcome of the fifth when he threw in yet another double-fault at 30-40 down in the seventh game to hand his opponent the initiative.  “I battled my way back, started playing a decent level. There was a lot of ebbs and flows in the match. That’s five-set tennis. I’m kind of learning that the more I play,” he added. 

Elsewhere in other results, sixth seed Andrey Rublev dropped a set in a tough battle against Japan’s Taro Daniel and next faces Spain’s Pedro Martinez, while eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz survived going two sets to one down before coming through easily in five against Shintaro Mochizuki from Japan. 

Bulgaria’s 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov recorded a routine win against American Aleksandar Kovacevic and French veteran, and wildcard Richard Gasquet was arguably more impressive in his straight sets win over Borna Coric of Croatia and potentially plays second seed Jannik Sinner next. 

However, in perhaps the biggest upset of the day, French number one and 17th seed Ugo Humbert lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in a match close to three hours and in front of home fans on Suzanne-Lenglen stadium court. 

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