Germany Sweeps Canada To Send Them Packing At ATP Cup - UBITENNIS
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Germany Sweeps Canada To Send Them Packing At ATP Cup

Canada faces Germany in their second tie of the ATP Cup on day two of the event as Jan Lennard Struff took on Milos Raonic while Denis Shapovalov took on Alexander Zverev.

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Jan-Lennard Struff (image via https://twitter.com/ATPCup)

Germany have set up a must-win showdown again Serbia at the ATP Cup after travailing over Canada in their opening group match on Wednesday. Despite a loss it the doubles, wins by Jan-Lennard Struff and Milos Raonic secured their victory in the tie.

Struff surprises Raonic 7-6(4), 7-6(2)

First on court was Milos Raonic taking on the tricky German Jan-Lennard Struff in the first singles match. Both players did well at holding serve and it was proving to be a tight match.

There wasn’t a breakpoint during the entire first set and it would be decided by a tiebreaker and the German number two got off to a flying start winning the first three points of the breaker playing some great tennis and winning some great points with his big forehand.

He won three more points and at 6-1 Raonic made a attempt at a comeback and made it all the way back to 6-4 but that was as close as he got as Struff would seal the set with another error from the Canadian 7-6.

The Canadian put pressure on the German in the first game of the second set earning his first breakpoint of the match with a scintillating backhand winner passing shot.

The Warstein, Germany native would immediately save it with a big serve that the tall Canadian couldn’t return and would go on to hold serve and respond by earning a breakpoint in the very next game and he would convert as Raonic sent a ball long to earn the first break of the match.

The Monte Carlo resident responded right away winning four straight points on the German serve including an amazing forehand down the line winner to go back on serve in a match that was going back and forth.

He would hold serve and there wasn’t another breakpoint until 4-3 when Struff had five chances but Raonic would save each of them to survive the game.

Once again the set headed to another tiebreaker and it was almost deja vu as Struff jumped out to a 6-1 lead but this time he wouldn’t crack under the pressure and take the breaker 7-2 and the match in straight sets.

“I played him three times before, lost two, and I’m very happy to have tied against him, and it was a very tough match. He was serving really good in the first games, and it was very tough to put the ball back in play. But I managed to stay good in my service games, and I’m very happy with the win,” said Stuff.

Zverev gets by Shapovalov 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4)

Next on court was the battle of the number ones as Denis Shapovalov took on Alexander Zverev and ironically the last time these two players met was the ATP last year and the Canadian won that one easily in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

The first set was a pretty tight affair with both young guns going at it and once again proving to be another great match. The first breakpoint of the match occurred at 5-5 which belonged to the world number 7 but it immediately saved by the 12th ranked player.

A tiebreaker decided the first set where Shapovalov got the early break on the second point of the breaker winning a long intense rally with a great forehand winner.

That break was all he needed and he would end up taking the tiebreaker 7-5 and was one set away from evening the tie at one point apiece.

The German responded in the seconded set breaking in the third game of the set with an amazing backhand return winner that caught the Canadian by surprise to take a 3-1 lead.

He would consolidate the break by holding serve and on the next changeover Shapovalov took a medical timeout to have the trainer work on his shoulder.

It seemed to work as the world number 12 held serve and had two chances to break right back but Zverev was up to the task of saving them and managed to hold serve.

He would serve out the second set to take it 6-3 and force a deciding third set to decide the winner of the match. The Nassau, Bahamas resident got off to the faster star getting a break point early in the set but couldn’t finish the point and an unforced error cost him dearly.

At 2-2 the Richmond Hill, Ontario native served an untimely double fault which gave the German two break points but Shapovalov came up with two big serves to save them and managed to hold serve.

Once again at 3-3 there was breakpoints for the world number seven but they were quickly saved by the Canadian in a match that was going back and forth. Zverev had two more chances at 5-5 but again couldn’t finish and the 21 year old held serve.

The match would be decided by a tiebreaker once again and it was the world number 12 who got off to the faster start jumping out to a 3-1 lead before Zverev stormed back to win the next two points and even the breaker at 3.

Shapovalov would throw in another untimely double fault at 3-4 to give the German the break he needed and he would serve out the match to take it 6-7, 6-3, 7-6.

“It was kind of a typical first match of the season where I had a lot of chances but let them go a little bit. In the end I did a good job I think winning the tiebreak, played some good points and getting the win for Germany is the most important thing right now,” the 2020 US Open runner-up told reporters.

Canada is officially eliminated from the ATP Cup with a 0-2 record meanwhile Germany and Serbia will meet on Thursday to decide who goes to the semi finals.

“Winning a team event, winning something for your country it’s one of the biggest things in our sport. I think the ATP Cup is just as big as the Davis Cup right now, with the new format that the Davis Cup is having, so it’s — we want to go match by match. Tomorrow we got the defending champions, that’s not going to be easy for us,” Zverev commented on the tournament.

There was some consultation for Canada who won their doubles match to end the tie 1-2 in Germany’s favour.

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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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