Rising Star Lorenzo Musetti Looking To Make Waves On The Clay - UBITENNIS
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Rising Star Lorenzo Musetti Looking To Make Waves On The Clay

The 19-year-old looks ahead to his clay campaign and outlines one of his goals for the season.

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Italian youngster Lorenzo Musetti is quietly confident that he will be able to continue his promising start to the season into the upcoming clay court swing.

 

The 19-year-old is currently at a ranking high of 90th in the world and is the second youngest player inside the top 100. He has already reached the final of two Challenger events this year in Turkey and Italy. Although his standout performance took place at the Mexican Open last month when he reached the semi-finals as a qualifier before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was the first time in Musetti’s career he had reached the last four of an ATP 500 tournament.

Following his rise in the rankings, the teenager believes he can ‘surprise’ others on the clay this season. It was on the surface last year where he first burst into the limelight at the Italian Open. At the Masters 1000 tournament he scored shock wins over Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka.

“When we were practising these [past few] days, I felt the ball so good and I have good feelings,” Musetti told atptour.com. “I think it is going to be really nice and I think I will surprise [others] in the clay season. I am really looking forward to playing on clay.”

Musetti returns to action this week at the Sardegna Open in Sardinia. Unseeded in the draw, he starts his campaign against Austria’s Dennis Novak on Tuesday. Should he win, he will then have to play top seed and world No.29 Dan Evans who is yet to play a ATP final on the clay in his career.

“I really enjoy playing here,” he said. “It is a really nice club. It is always sunny… I am really looking forward to playing here in Sardinia and I will try to [achieve] the best result I can. In Sardinia last year, I did good [and made] the semi-finals. I will try to do the same or better.”

Looking further ahead Musetti is hoping to qualify for the season-ending ATP Next Gen Finals which will take place in Milan where he has been hosted the event since its birth in 2017. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My goal now is to play at the highest level that I can with the tournaments on the ATP Tour and then, at the end of the season, we will try to play the Next Gen ATP Finals, try to win it,” he stated. “In Italy, we now have a lot of tournaments and a lot of achievements. I am really looking forward to playing every tournament in Italy that I can.”

This week will only be the sixth time in Musetti’s career he has played in the main draw of an ATP Tour event.

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Ons Jabeur Acknowledges Mental Toughness Ahead Of Charleston Semi-Finals

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in her mental game as she heads into her fourth WTA semi-final in Charleston.

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Ons Jabeur (@VolvoCarOpen - Twitter)

Ons Jabeur has acknowledged her improvement in the mental parts of her game after reaching the Charleston semi-finals.

 

The Tunisian comfortably beat Coco Gauff 6-3 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the last four in Charleston.

It was a dominant performance from the world number 28 who broke on six occasions to set up a semi-final against Danka Kovinic.

However yesterday’s win was also evidence that Jabeur’s mental toughness has improved as in 2020, the Tunisian was 0-5 in quarter-final matches and 0-2 against Gauff having lost in Lexington and Rome to the American teenager.

Speaking after the victory, Jabeur admitted that it was nice to settle those demons last night, “Maybe this year is a revenge year for me,” Jabeur told the WTA website.

“Honestly, mentally-wise I’m much better. I’m getting there. I had my opportunities against her last year. She’s a great player. I know exactly what I’m going to face and I was ready for the battle.

“I’m glad that I’m playing good now. I know that clay is amazing and I gotta say, I have been enjoying sliding a lot lately. It’s the best part of the clay. I like the green clay. It’s different than the red clay but I like it. The bounce is not too high, it’s not too low. It’s a good balance for me.

“I’m just trying to play my game. I’m trying to enjoy after a very tough start to the season. A lot of expectations. I’m really glad I got to prove myself this week and I’m in the semi-finals.”

Jabeur will look to continue her good form in 2020 which saw her climb into the world’s top 30 and end the season with a 27-11 win-loss record.

Saturday will be Jabeur’s fourth WTA career semi-final and her first since 2019 where she reached the last four in Tianjin.

The meeting with Kovinic will be the first WTA Tour meeting of their career although Jabeur won their meeting on the ITF circuit in Budapest in 2018 6-2 6-1.

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The Grand Field Has Disappeared In Charleston

Covid 19 has left a large foot print on the landscape of women’s professional tennis known as the WTA Tour.

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Charleston, S.C., started off with a grand field for its $500,000 Volvo Car Open. Former Grand Slam champions and current top 20 players were numerous. Even world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was in the field.

 

But now the tournament has reached its semifinals with four players all ranked outside the world’s top 20. This group of survivors isn’t really accustomed to playing in the later rounds of WTA Tour tournaments.

UNKNOWN TOUR VETS TAKE OVER CHARLESTON

No, these four are not newcomers to the tour. You might call them tour veterans. They’ve been around for awhile. They just haven’t experienced a great deal of success.

Where did the likes of recent Grand Slam champions Barty and Sofia Kenin, and multi-Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza go so quickly? Maybe they needed more time to tour the world-renown seaside city of Charleston.

They left a bunch of unknowns for the job of determining the winner of the Volvo Car Open. The two finalists are guaranteed to be a 23-year-old and a 26-year-old. All four are right-handers, and three of them pound the ball from the baseline.

KEEP AN EYE ON JABEUR

Not that Ons Jabeur hits only moon balls from the baseline, but the 26-year-old Tunisian has the most diverse game of the semifinalists. She must practice drop shots in her sleep. She can drop-shot with anyone.

Just ask young Cori Gauff, who fell victim to Jabeur’s mix of delicate touch and raw power in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Jabeur in the Volvo quarterfinals on Friday.

At No. 28, Jabeur is the highest ranked of the semifinalists. She’s only 5-6, but she can play this game. At first glance, she might look like she’s incapable of covering the court. But don’t be fooled. She’s a rocket that can turn delicate at any time.

SUNDAY’S FINAL MIGHT HOLD THE SECRET

Look for big things from Jabeur the next few years, just maybe starting with Sunday’s final of the Volvo Car Open. 

First, Jabeur has to get by another 26-year-old, Danka Kovinic of Montenegro who is ranked just 91st in the world. The 5-7 Kovinic got some good practice in her three-set quarterfinal win over gritty 5-4 Yulia Putintseva.

The 23-year-olds in the other semifinal are go-for-brokers Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Paula Badosa of Spain. They’ll hit outrageous winners, yet unthinkable wild shots, the way they did in surprising straight-set upsets of former Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Barty on Friday, Badosa taking care of the suddenly erratic Barty.

Badosa has several interesting features: she’s a striking 5-11 and wants to follow in Maria Sharapova’s style, she was born in New York City and she won the 2015 Junior French Open.

You may never hear from these four young women again, or Charleston might make them stars the way it has so many other WTA Tour players.

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James Beck has been the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com and search for James Beck.

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Lorenzo Musetti’s Run Ended By Djere In Cagliari

Sonego, Fritz, Basilashvili, join Serb in semi-final line-up.

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Laslo Djere (@TickTockTennis - Twitter)

Italian teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti’s run at the Sardegna Open was ended by Laslo Djere in an error-strewn match played out in tricky conditions.

 

The 19-year-old, who has looked in supreme form this week and ousted top seed Dan Evans in a second round thriller on Thursday, appeared to run out of steam in the deciding set as the Serb ran out a 6-4 4-6 6-2 winner.

The strong gusts that have blown across the centre court all week at the Cagliari Tennis Club appeared to have saved their best efforts for this encounter, as both men seemed to be affected by the tricky conditions. Djere particularly struggled on his serve, offering up 8 double faults, but he was still able to take control of the final set as his young opponent faded.

Musetti will no doubt still be pleased with his work in Sardinia. He will be one to watch next week as a Wild Card at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he has been drawn against Aslan Karatsev in the first round, with a potential second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, third seed Lorenzo Sonego ensured there would still be an Italian representative in the last four as he came through against Yannick Hanfmann 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3. The German started impressively and had the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert. Sonego then recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the ensuing tie break to level proceedings, before going on to seal the win.

In the semi-finals Sonego will have the chance to gain revenge for his defeat in Doha last month to Taylor Fritz. The American second seed came through 6-3 6-4 against an out-of-sorts Aljaz Bedene.

Fritz appeared to be cruising at a set and a break up, with his opponent struggling to make an impact on the gangly American. It left Bedene somewhat uncharacteristically venting his frustration, but this seemed to work for the Slovenian as he was able to break back. It was Bedene’s serve that let him down at a crucial moment, two double faults at 3-3 helping to hand Fritz another crucial, and ultimately decisive, break.

The final semi-final spot was claimed by Nikoloz Basilashvili, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 under the floodlights in the final action of the day. Struff has struggled for form so far in 2021 but had looked solid so far this week, and the match-up led to some predictably entertaining rallies. After a tight first two sets, Doha champion Basilashvili was able to take advantage of some Struff errors early in the third, surging to a 3-0 lead. Despite a mini-fightback from the German, Basilashvili clung on to book a Saturday meeting with the unseeded Djere.

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