Christian Garin reaches his second career Masters 1000 quarter final in Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Christian Garin reaches his second career Masters 1000 quarter final in Madrid

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Chile’s Christian Garin has reached his second Masters 1000 quarter final with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 win over world number 3 Danil Medvedev at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

 

Garin earned an early break after a loose service game from Medvedev at 1-1. The second set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Medvedev cruised through to a 7-3 win with two mini-breaks. Garin broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to claim the third set 6-1. 

Garin will face either this year’s Serbian Open champion Matteo Berrettini or Federico Delbonis. The Chilean player is tied at 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Berrettini and won his only previous match against Delbonis en route to last year’s title at the Rio Open. Garin won all his five titles on clay in Houston and Munich in 2019, Rio de Janeiro and Cordoba in 2020 and Santiago de Chile in 2021.

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Swiatek, Krejcikova, Azarenka, Andreescu Play on Tuesday

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A look at the grounds of the French Open (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Day 3 in Paris sees the conclusion of first round singles play.

 

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka plays US Open champ Bianca Andreescu in a matchup that headlines Tuesday’s Order of Play.  Day 3 also features the 2023 Roland Garros debuts of the two most recent women’s singles champions: Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova.  Other action includes standouts from this season such as Daniil Medvedev, Elena Rybakina, and Holger Rune.  Plus, last year’s singles finalists, Coco Gauff and Casper Ruud, will both play their opening matches.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Lesia Tsurenko vs. Barbora Krejcikova (13) – Second on Court 7

Krejcikova was the champion here two years ago in both singles and doubles.  An elbow injury derailed her career last season, but she’s 20-10 in 2023, having won a WTA 1000 title in Dubai.  However, she’s only 5-4 this year on clay, so she does not arrive in Paris with much momentum.

Tsurenko celebrates her 34th birthday on Tuesday, and was a US Open quarterfinalist in 2018.  She is an impressive 25-8 this season at all levels (including qualifying matches, which don’t officially count).  At Indian Wells, the Ukrainian withdrew from her match with Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, citing a panic attack after what she described as shocking comments regarding the war in Ukraine from WTA CEO Steve Simon.

Their first career meeting is a tricky first round draw for the 2021 champion.  Yet Krejcikova remains the favorite to advance, and is a potential fourth round draw for the 2020 and 2022 champion, Iga Swiatek.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Cristina Bucsa – Third on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Swiatek is 28-6 on the year, and 12-2 on clay.  She’s 21-2 lifetime at Roland Garros, having won 42 of 48 sets contested.  But is Iga 100% healthy?  Just over a week ago in Rome, she retired during the third set of her quarterfinal against Elena Rybakina, citing a thigh injury.  However, she’s indicated it is not a considerable injury.

Bucsa is a 25-year-old from Spain who upset Bianca Andreescu at the last Major in Melbourne, coming from a set down to win 6-4 in the third, after saving a match point in the second.  But in the very next round, she only managed one game against her opponent on this day, Swiatek.

On Tuesday, a similarly-comfortable victory should be expected from Iga.


Holger Rune (6) vs. Christopher Eubanks – Third on Court Simonne-Mathieu

Rune made his big breakthrough at this tournament a year ago, achieving his first Major quarterfinal thanks to upsets over Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  And the recently-turned-20-year-old has continued to make strong strides ever since, winning the Masters 1000 event in Bercy by outlasting Novak Djokovic in the final, and reaching two Masters finals on clay this season.  Holger is now 27-10 in 2023.

Eubanks made a breakthrough of his own two months ago in Miami, where he came through qualifying and advanced all the way to the round of 16, achieving a career goal of cracking the top 100.  The 27-year-old is now ranked 74th, but has still spent the majority of the past year on the Challenger circuit.  The tall American has a big serve, and is not the easiest of opening round draws.

In their first career meeting, Rune is a clear favorite.  However, I am curious to see how Holger handles this moment, as this is the first time in his young career that he is defending a result quite as big as his quarterfinal appearance from 2022.


Victoria Azarenka (18) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Last on Court Simonne-Mathieu

This is a marquee first-round encounter, though neither player comes into this tournament with much form, nor would either refer to clay as their favorite surface.  Azarenka is 13-9 on the year, and just 2-2 on clay, after withdrawing from Rome due to a right leg injury.  Andreescu is just 9-9 on the year, and 0-2 on clay, coming off a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome.

Vika is 28-15 lifetime in Paris, having reached a semifinal 10 years ago.  Bibi is only 2-2 in Paris, and is yet to advance beyond the second round at any Major outside of New York.  So in another first-time meeting on the day, Azarenka must be favored to advance.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Elias Ymer (Q) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Ruud reached two Major finals last season, but is just 16-11 in 2023, and would fall out of the top five with an early loss in Paris.  Elias is the elder brother of another tennis pro, Mikael, and his only career win at a Slam came at this event.  When they met four years ago at a hard court Challenger in Phoenix, Casper prevailed in three sets.

Thiago Seyboth Wild (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (2) – Medvedev is a stellar 39-5 on the year, and coming off a surprising Masters 1000 title on clay in Rome.  Seyboth Wild has accumulated 36 match wins at all levels this year, all on clay.

Rebeka Masarova vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Gauff is 19-8 this year, yet is yet to win back-to-back matches in 2023 on clay.  But Coco did win a hard court title to begin this season, defeating 23-year-old Masarova in the final of Auckland by a score of 6-1, 6-1. 

Elena Rybakina (4) vs. Brenda Fruhvirtova (Q) – Rybakina is 30-7 this season, and just a week ago claimed the WTA 1000 title in Rome.  Brenda and her sister Linda are two teenage Czech teenagers making strong strides in the sport at a very early age.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Kovacevic To Keep History Bid Alive

Novak Djokovic began his bid for a 23rd Grand Slam title with a straight sets win over Aleksandar Kovacevic.

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Novak Djokovic’s historic bid for a 23rd Grand Slam title is alive after a 6-3 6-2 7-6(1) victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic.

 

The Serb broke on five occasions as he produced a clinical performance over the American, who idolised Djokovic as a kid.

Djokovic will now face tricky Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the second round as he looks to send a statement of intent in the opening rounds.

The world number three had a tricky start to the match as Kovacevic more than held his own, using his backhand to effectively power past Djokovic’s defence.

However Djokovic did find a way through in the sixth game as he took his second break point of the set to seal a 4-2 lead.

Despite only winning five matches leading up to Roland Garros, Djokovic started the contest in confident fashion as the one break of serve was enough to seal the opening set.

The two-time champion only conceded three points on serve in the opening set and that dominance continued in the second set as he worked harder to break Kovacevic.

Although the American was resilient, the pressure was too much as Djokovic found a way through in a long opening game.

Djokovic continued to be consistent on return, using depth and power to force unforced errors from Kovacevic.

In this set, it was only four points dropped on serve as the Serb sealed another break, taking a 4-1 lead.

That was all Djokovic needed a two set lead was established after 1 hour and 18 minutes.

It was a more complicated third set for Djokovic even if he did break to love in the opening game.

Djokovic allowed his opponent back into the match after taking his foot after the gas with Kovacevic creating some break points in the third ste.

The American’s determination was rewarded with a break in the sixth game before Djokovic broke for a fifth time in the match to take a 4-3 lead.

Just as when Djokovic was cruising to victory, a poor service game saw Kovacevic break back for 5-5 as the world number 114 would eventually force a third set tiebreak.

However Djokovic raised his level when he needed to as he won seven of the eight points played to seal his place in the second round.

A dominant performance to start his bid for a 23rd Grand Slam title, which would put him ahead of Rafael Nadal on Grand Slam titles won.

Tougher tests await including Marton Fucsovics who awaits on Wednesday.

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Benoit Paire Blasts ‘Rubbish’ French Open Tennis Balls

The outspoken Frenchman has also questioned the logic of a fine recently issued to Hugo Gaston.

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Benoit Paire of France - FOTO: A.MARTINEZ/MMO

France’s Benoit Paire claims the balls used at this year’s French Open are so poor that they don’t even last a full game. 

 

The former top-20 player says the balls being used at this year’s Grand Slam are only suitable for players who have certain ‘physical qualities’ and prevented him from being able to hit attacking shots during rallies. Manufactured by Wilson and developed in collaboration with the French Tennis Federation (FFT), the ball is claimed to ‘have more texture and fluff a bit more’ compared to the ones used on a hard court. It is said to be designed for longer rallies and limits moisture or dirt build-up to maintain its consistency whilst being hit. 

However, in recent days there have been some players who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the ball. Speaking to reporters following his 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, loss to Cameron Norrie, a straight-talking Paire described the balls as rubbish. 

“You play with balls that get bigger after two seconds. The new balls don’t even last a game,” he told reporters on Monday. 
“The balls are rubbish. That’s not the reason why I didn’t win (against Norrie) but you can’t play tennis, though, with that type of ball. You can’t attack. You can’t move ahead. It’s impossible to play an ace.’
“It’s another style of tennis, which is different. It requires physical qualities. It’s a question of who can keep the ball in the court for the longest.”
“You have to hit every ball really hard because it’s not moving. It’s terrible. It’s Roland Garros, one of the greatest tournaments in the world, and we’re playing with these silly balls.”

Paire is not alone in his criticism of the balls. Another player to vent his frustration was Laslo Djere following his loss to Andrey Rublev on Sunday in the first round. 

“The balls are disastrous, the courts are different every time here,” Djere told Sport Klub.
“When I trained outside of Roland Garros, the ball flies, but here it doesn’t. I don’t think I’m badly prepared physically, but after two and a half hours, hitting every ball at 200 per cent, it goes backwards.” 

Issues around balls at tournaments are nothing new this year. Earlier in the season, some players voiced concerns that the heavier Dunlop balls being used could be linked to a rise in wrist injuries. Although this has not been proven. 

Gaston’s fine ‘ridiculous’ 

Paire also spoke out about the recent fine issued to his compatriot Hugo Gaston for unsportsmanlike conduct. Gaston was hit with a 144,000 euro penalty for violating conduct rules for the fourth time within a year. At the Madrid Open, he was seen deliberately dropping a ball on the court as his opponent was about to hit a smash in the hope that the umpire would order the point to be replayed. The 22-year-old has since appealed against the fine which was halved with conditions. 

The size of the fine effectively cancelled out all of what Gaston had earned in prize money this season. Something Paire disagrees with and argues that a more measured approach should be taken. 

“He won $16,000 and has to pay $142,000. I don’t understand the system,” Paire commented. 
“I think that you need to do things according to what you earn. You can’t ask for more money than what the player is going to earn. Otherwise, why play tennis?
“Everything that he has won in prize money since the beginning of the year is below his fine. What he did is not good, but sometimes in matches, you have bad reactions. I think that it’s silly, and it’s a shame to put such big fines.”

Paire is no stranger to getting in trouble with officials. In the past, he has been accused of tanking during matches and was fined $16,500 for his bad behaviour at the 2018 Citi Open. 

“I think that we need to find a system because even for challengers, the fines are really high,” he continued.
“He (Gason) took 20,000 at the beginning of the year as a challenger, and now he has a 140,000 fine. It makes me laugh, but it’s sad. It’s a lot of money. That’s an apartment, and that’s what’s crazy.”

Paire is currently ranked 149th in the world. 

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