Monte-Carlo Masters Tuesday Preview: Two Australian Open Semifinalists Meet in the Second Round - UBITENNIS
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Monte-Carlo Masters Tuesday Preview: Two Australian Open Semifinalists Meet in the Second Round

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Aslan Karatsev, yesterday in Monte-Carlo (twitter.com/ROLEXMCMASTERS)

World No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas will play his first match on clay since reaching last fall’s Roland Garros semifinals, when he lost to Novak Djokovic in five sets.  He will face Aslan Karatsev for the first time, who prevailed over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti on Monday.  Two other top 10 seeds, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut, are also scheduled for their opening matches.

 

Rain disrupted play for much of the day on Monday, resulting in some matches getting rescheduled for Tuesday.  Yesterday’s preview (here) details many of those matches.  With rain forecast again on Tuesday, it could become challenging to complete the full Order of Play.

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.  Tuesday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Aslan Karatsev – Third on Court Rainier III

Yesterday against Musetti, Karatsev played some stellar service games despite the slow, heavy conditions.  The 27-year-old Russian won 78% of first serve points, and saved all four break points faced.  And Karatsev is now 18-2 on clay at all levels (including qualifying matches) since the tour restart last August.  As impressive as Aslan has been, his resume is overshadowed by that of Tsitsipas.  The 22-year-old’s success on clay is often underappreciated.  Since the start of 2018, he is 37-14 on this surface, with four appearances in tour finals, and a French Open semifinal.  Stefanos should be considered a slight favorite on this day, though first-time meetings are quite unpredictable.  Karatsev has risen over 200 rankings spots in the past eight months, though a victory would break new ground in his career, as he’s 0-2 against top five players thus far.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Roberto Bautista Agut (9) vs. Taylor Fritz – The Spaniard leads the American 4-1, but they’ve split their two meetings on clay.  Bautista Agut is just 12-9 on clay over the last two seasons.  Fritz reached the semifinals of the clay event in Cagliari last week.

Matteo Berrettini (8) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – the Italian No.1 hasn’t played since injuring his abdomen at the Australian Open.  The 21-year-old Spaniard defeated Alex de Minaur yesterday in straight sets.  These two have never before played.

Jannik Sinner vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas – Here’s another first-time matchup pitting Italy against Spain.  This will be Sinner’s first match since losing the final in Miami nine days ago.  Ramos-Vinolas is already 9-3 on clay this season, and has reached the semifinals or better of the three clay events he’s played.

Tuesday’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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