Roland Garros Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Rafael Nadal for the 58th Time - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Plays Rafael Nadal for the 58th Time

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Novak Djokovic was quite fired up on Wednesday (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The most prolific men’s rivalry of the Open Era continues on Friday, with history on the line.  Rafael Nadal is two wins away from not only his record-extending 14th Roland Garros title, but also two wins away from surpassing Roger Federer with his 21st Major.  If Djokovic can win the next two rounds, he will be the first out of “The Big Three” to have won each Slam twice, and will pull himself within one Major title of both Nadal and Federer.  A Djokovic win would be a turning point in the ongoing GOAT debate.

 

The other men’s semifinal is also a blockbuster, featuring 2021’s best male clay court players not named Nadal.  Stefanos Tsitsipas has now reached three consecutive Slam semifinals, but is trying to advance one round farther for the first time.  Sascha Zverev did just that at last summer’s US Open, and is surely eager to put that disappointing, ugly loss behind him.

Also on Friday, the women’s doubles semifinals will be decided on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Sascha Zverev – 2:50pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Tstisipas is 21-3 this year on clay, with a Masters title in Monte-Carlo, and a 250-level title in Lyon.  Zverev is 14-3 this year on clay, with a Masters title in Madrid.  Along with Andrey Rublev, they are the only players who own victories in 2021 over Rafael Nadal.  Tsitsipas did so in best-of-five, while Zverev did so on clay.

The 22-year-old from Greece leads their head-to-head 5-2, though the 24-year-old from Germany claimed their only encounter this year, in Acapulco on a hard court.  Prior to that, Tsitsipas had won five in a row against Zverev, including their only match on clay, two years ago in Madrid.  Stefanos has dropped just one set this fortnight, while Zverev has won 15 in a row since losing his first two of the tournament. 

If Zverev can have a big serving day, and suppress the double fault woes of his recent past, he has a fair chance of prevailing.  Through five rounds, he’s struck 36 aces and 29 double faults, which is not bad, but also not overly impressive.  Tsistipas is 0-3 thus far in Major semifinals, but based on the way he’s played this season, the fourth time might just be the charm.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Rafael Nadal (3) – Not before 5:30pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Overall, Djokovic leads this bountiful rivalry 29-28.  At Slams, Nadal leads 10-6.  On clay, Rafa leads 19-7, which includes their last five meetings.  And at Roland Garros, it’s 7-1 Nadal, with Novak’s only victory coming in 2015’s quarterfinals.  Djokovic hasn’t beaten Nadal on clay in over five years, and only once in a best-of-five match

So can Novak find a way to overcome a confident, healthy, in-form King of Clay on the grounds that now feature a statue of the 13-time champion?  Rafa’s 105-2 record at this event, paired with his 26-0 record in semifinals and finals, are gargantuan feats.  Novak’s quarterfinal match ending around midnight was not helpful to his recovery efforts.  And the weather will do Djokovic no favors, with warm and dry temperatures forecast for Friday evening in Paris.  With Nadal’s ball jumping up and through the court in the heat, he’s a heavy favorite to even this rivalry at 29-all. 

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (2) vs. Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera – Krejcikova has a chance to play in the finals of both singles and doubles, after defeating Maria Sakkari in an epic singles semifinal on Thursday.  Linette and Pera are 6-1 as a team since forming in Rome, and have already eliminated two top 10 seeds from this event.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek (14) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu and Nadia Podoroska – Swiatek was eliminated from singles, but she still has a chance to be a French Open champion for a second year in a row.  Begu and Podoroska were just 1-2 as a team before this tournament.

Friday’s full schedule is here.

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Novak Djokovic Thrashes Davidovich Fokina To Set Nishikori Showdown At Olympics

Novak Djokovic moved into the last eight at the Olympics where he will face Kei Nishikori next.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic gold medal continues after a convincing 6-3 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

 

The world number one’s bid for the golden slam rolls on after a dominating straight sets win over the Spaniard.

Despite the win the top seed had to defend break points early on as Davidovich Fokina showed early signs of consistent aggression.

Davidovich Fokina’s all-round game was working effectively on return and the Spaniard managed to save two break points himself with some neat patterns of play.

However Djokovic eventually grinded out the break for a 3-1 lead as his defensive skills were too strong for the Spaniard.

After that the Spaniard did well to fend off Djokovic’s returning pressure as he maintained a good percentage of 1st serve points won.

However the Serb eventually served out the opening set in 47 minutes in a strong performance.

From there the Serb increased his level and intensity as he made Davidovich Fokina work harder than the first serve.

A flawless second set display was enough as Djokovic broke three times to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

The win means Kei Nishikori stands in Djokovic’s way of competing in a medal match as the Serb looks to win the one thing that has alluded his career and that is a gold medal.

Nishikori beat Ilya Ivashka to make the last eight after winning 7-6(7) 6-0 in just over two hours.

Alexander Zverev also went through to the Olympics quarter-finals with a straight sets win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The German will now face Jeremy Chardy in the last eight after the Frenchman ended Liam Broady’s run in Tokyo.

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Svitolina Beats Giorgi to Reach Semis in Tokyo

Elina Svitolina has guaranteed herself a medal match after beating Camila Giorgi in Tokyo.

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Elina Svitolina (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

The world number six booked her spot in the final four after beating Camila Giorgi of Italy.

 

Elina Svitolina is into the semi-finals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics almost guaranteeing herself a medal after beating the world number 61 and Italian in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 serving 6 aces and hitting 13 winners in the while Giorgi hit 32 unforced errors in the loss.

The Ukrainian went on the attack from the word play earning two breakpoints in the match’s opening game as the Italian seemed to get off to a slow start and she made her pay by getting the early break.

After consolidating the break the number four seed was hungry for more getting two more chances to break and breaking once more to go up a double break.

At 5-1 the Ukrainian had two set points but failed to convert and the Italian took advantage of it breaking back the very next game with a stunning forehand winner to get one of the breaks back.

The world number six eventually served out the first set and continued to ride the momentum into the second set where just like the beginning of the first set she broke in the first game and cruised from there.

At 3-1, she had three more chances to go up a double break once again and she earned it with a sublime forehand winner up the line before getting broken the very next game.

Despite giving one of the breaks back, Svitolina could serve out the match and will play Marketa Vondrousova in the last four.

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Ugo Humbert Pulls Off Tsitsipas Upset In Tokyo

Ugo Humbert stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the Quarter-Finals at the Olympic Games.

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Ugo Humbert (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

The Frenchman sent the Greek packing in a three-set battle that went over two hours on court.

 

Ugo Humbert booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympic tournament after beating the world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in three sets 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 20 minutes hitting 34 winners in the win while his opponent hit 37 unforced errors in the loss.

After both players held their opening service games it was the Greek with the first chance to break and at the second time of asking he broke to take an early 2-1 lead.

The world number 28 had two chances to break back the very next game but the number three seed saved both and consolidated the break before going up a double break the very next game.

Tsitsipas served out the first set and going into the second set it was a very tight affair with neither player budging on their service games as the set was decided by a tiebreaker.

That’s where the number 14 seed jumped out to an early lead and that lead was enough for him to take the second set and force a deciding third set.

There was a bit of a scary moment for the world number three when on set point he seemed to roll his ankle and took a medical timeout to get it treated.

It was clear the injury was affecting him during the third and final set as after both players again held their opening service games it was the Frenchman with three breakpoints and got the early break.

In the next game, the number three seed had a chance to break back on go back on serve but the world number 28 did a good job saving it and consolidating the break.

After consolidating the break the Frenchman smelled blood and sensed the match was his for the taking and broke the Greek for a second time to love and at 5-2 there was a long back and forth game that lasted over 10 minutes.

Humbert finally converted on his fourth match point to book his spot in the quarterfinals and a date with the Russian Karen Khachanov.

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