Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Kokkinakis In Australian Open Epic - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Kokkinakis In Australian Open Epic

The world No.6 battled on court for more than four hours against a player who has only played three Tour matches in 18 months.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a huge second round scare against Thanasi Kokkinakis to seal a place in the last 32 of the Australian Open.

 

The Greek tennis star had to come from behind to edge out the injury-stricken world No.No.267 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1,6-7(5), 6-4, during what was a marathon clash at Melbourne Park. Tsitsipas, who dropped just four games during his opening match against Gilles Simon, found the going significantly tougher in his latest encounter. Nevertheless, he managed to prevail with the help of 78 winners against 46 errors and managed to break the Australian’s serve five times.

The encounter was only the third competitive match Kokkinakis has played since the 2019 US Open. Since then, the 24-year-old has been sidelined by both injury and the pandemic. He has been blighted by injury throughout his career but has been ranked as high as 69th in the world back in 2015.

“Thanassi is a great competitor and a great fighter. It was very difficult facing him today. He’s a talent who has huge potential. I am pretty sure he knows it himself. He just needs to take advantage of it and make the best of his career,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“He’s a great server, has all the weapons from the baseline. It was quite a difficult match.”

Tsitsipas’ biggest weapon against Kokkinakis was his serve as he remained unbroken throughout the match. Winning 86% of his first service points. Kokkinakis was also impressive behind serve but his occasional blips enabled the world No.6 to capitalise at times as he broke once in the second set followed by three more times in the third.

Trying to establish a stronghold in the match was a far from easy task for Tsitsipas who was unable to get a look at his opponents serve throughout the majority of the fourth set. Nudging ahead to a 5-4 lead and one game away from victory he elevated his intensity during a marathon Kokkinakis service game but still it wasn’t enough. Tsitsipas’ first match point occurred after a forehand from across the court landed out, however, he was unable to convert as they drew level once again.

Kokkinakis’ resistance eventually frazzled the mind of Tsitsipas who hit a duo of unforced errors during the second tiebreak to hand the Australian a 5-1 lead. Although he did recover to draw level again, the home favourite continued to play some inspired tennis. A serve out wide rewarded the underdog with a set point to force the clash into a decider which he converted after hitting a backhand down the line winner.

The titanic tussle continued into the decider with neither player being prepared to back down. Once again Kokkinakis delighted home fans by coming through another marathon service game which saw him save two break points to move ahead 2-1. However, two games later he was not as fortunate after hitting two consecutive errors to hand Tsitsipas a crucial break. Prompting him to drop his head in disappointment.

Back in the lead once again, Tsitsipas carefully manoeuvred his way to the finish line against a player who last played a five-set match at the 2017 US Open. Continuing to weather the storm he worked his way to match point opportunity number two more than an hour after his first after hitting a serve out wide which Kokkinakis returned into the net. Victory was then sealed with the help of another well placed Tsitsipas serve down the centre of the court which triggered another error.

I just want to go for an ice bath right now that is all I’m thinking,” the Greek proclaimed after playing for 272 minutes.

Tsitsipas will return to the court in two days to play Mikael Ymer in the third round. The Greek has been billed as one of the future stars of the sport to take over when the reign of the Big Three comes to an end.

“I think we are a great generation of players. There is so much variety and diversity among us so I think we are expected to see some good tennis in the next couple of years and it’s going to make it really interesting,” he said.
“I think it is going to be something more interesting than the top three right now.”

Coincidentally Ymer was a practice partner for Tsitsipas heading into the Grand Slam.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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