Monte-Carlo Masters Friday Preview: Rafael Nadal Faces Andrey Rublev in the Quarterfinals - UBITENNIS
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Monte-Carlo Masters Friday Preview: Rafael Nadal Faces Andrey Rublev in the Quarterfinals

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Rafael Nadal on Thursday in Monte-Carlo (montecarlotennismasters.com)

Novak Djokovic’s shocking defeat to Dan Evans leaves Nadal as the top remaining seed.  Can anyone stop the King of Clay from winning this event for an astounding 12th time?  Andrey Rublev tied Djokovic for most wins on the ATP Tour last season, and he’ll try to secure his first over Nadal on Friday.

 

The other three singles quarterfinals feature seeded players against unseeded ones.  But those unseeded players are all dangerous, as each upset a top eight seed to claim their spot in the quarters.  And in doubles, three of the top four seeds are still alive, as are a veteran French team who were the champions of this event in 2016.   

Throughout the week, this preview will analyze the most prominent match of the day, and note the other intriguing matchups on the day’s schedule.  Friday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.

Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Andrey Rublev – Fourth on Court Rainier III

Their most prominent previous clash occurred during Rublev’s breakout event.  At the 2017 US Open, a 19-year-old Rublev reached his first Major quarterfinal.  However, he was promptly destroyed in that round by Nadal, earning only five games across three sets.  And Nadal has been in destroy mode thus far this week, dropping only five games across four sets.

Four years later, Rublev is a much more developed, accomplished player.  Since the start of last season, he’s 63-14, with six titles.  And while he’s not the King of Clay, he’s 12-2 on this surface during that same span.  So his rematch with Nadal should be a much more competitive affair.  But the Russian is coming off a grueling, nearly three-hour contest on Thursday evening with another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut.  And Nadal is a strong favorite just about every time he walks onto a clay court.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Fabio Fognini (15) vs. Casper Ruud – Fognini is the defending champion from 2019, and is yet to drop a set this week.  Ruud came back from 5-2 down on Wednesday, saving two match points against Carreno Busta.  The 22-year-old Norwegian is 2-0 against the Italian, which includes a victory on clay last September in Hamburg.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – This is their first meeting, and the 21-year-old Spaniard’s first time advancing this far at a Masters event.

David Goffin (11) vs. Dan Evans – The British No.1’s three victories this week represent nearly half of his career total on this surface.  Goffin took out fifth-seeded Sascha Zverev on Thursday.  Evans claimed their only previous encounter in straight sets, at last year’s ATP Cup.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (7) – Mektic and Pavic are an outstanding 26-3 on the year, with four titles.  The Frenchmen own a career Grand Slam as a team, as well as seven Masters 1000 titles.  At the Australian Open, Mektic and Pavic outlasted Herbert and Mahut in a third-set 10-point tiebreak.

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman – On Thursday, Cabal and Farah dominated two other top singles players, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz.  This is Fabio and Diego’s first event as a team since three years ago in Madrid, where they lost to Cabal and Farah in straights.

Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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