Casper Ruud overcomes Brandon Nakashima to advance to the third round in Barcelona - UBITENNIS
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Casper Ruud overcomes Brandon Nakashima to advance to the third round in Barcelona

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Casper Ruud beat Brandon Nakashima 6-3 6-2 to advance to the third round at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to earn his second ATP Tour 500 win. 

Ruud broke four times to close out the match in 89 minutes. The Norwegian player will face either Alexander Bublik or Emil Ruusuvuori, who cruised past Feliciano Lopez 6-0 6-1. 

Ruud saved two break points in the opening game before breaking serve in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Nakashima broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. 

Ruud won three consecutive games to take a 5-2 lead with a break in the sixth game. Nakashima saved a break point in the eighth game to hold serve for 3-5, but Ruud sealed the first set on his second set point. Ruud earned two more breaks in the first and fifth games to close out the second set 6-2. 

Ruud is chasing his second ATP Tour title this season after winning the trophy in Buenos Aires last February.

Italian Next Gen player Lorenzo Musetti edged past Dan Evans 6-4 7-6 (10-8). Musetti converted his fourth break point in the first game and did not face any break points in his next service games. Musetti hit an ace and a volley at 5-4 30-15 and served out the first set, when Evans made a backhand return error on the set point. 

Musetti started the second set with an immediate break and held his service game to open up a 2-0 lead, but Evans broke back to draw level to draw level to 2-2. Evans won five consecutive games from 0-2 to take a 5-2 lead with a second break in the sixth game. Musetti broke back in the ninth game on his third opportunity and held on his serve to draw level to 5-5. Musetti saved the first set points at 5-6 on Evans’ serve. The Italian player fended off the second set point at 6-7 with a drop-shot in the tie-break before closing out the match on his second match point. 

Musetti will face Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who beat Mackenzie McDonald 6-2 6-2 on Pista Rafa Nadal. Schwartzman broke in seven of his eight return games but he dropped serve three times. McDonald saved four set points in the first game. Schwartzman broke twice in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. McDonald pulled one break back at deuce in the sixth game at deuce for 2-4, but Schwartzman won the final two games with a third break in the seventh game to seal the first set 6-2. 

The second set featured six breaks of serve in eight games. Schwartman went up a 3-0 lead. McDonald pulled one break back in the fourth game. Schwartzman broke at love in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. McDonald broke straight back at love after a double fault from Schwartzman in the sixth game. Schwartzman converted his second break point at deuce and served it out on his second match point in the eighth game. 

Schwartzman is 1-1 level with Musetti in their previous head-to-head matches. Last week Schwartzman came back from a set and a break point down to beat Musetti 2-6 6-4 6-3. Musetti beat Schwartzman 6-3 2-6 6-4 in Acapulco last year. 

“Maybe I have many things to improve for the next round. Maybe I was not serving great. At the beginning of the match I was doing too many mistakes. At the end I I think in the second set I was playing my best, but I made too many mistakes. He had another opportunity to come back in the match after he broke for 4-2. I took the chance one more time and at the end I did great in the last game”, said Schwartzman.

Last year’s Rome Masters 1000 semifinalist Lorenzo Sonego overcame Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4 6-2. Sonego earned an early break as Ymer hit his forehand into the net. The Italian player saved three break points in the fourth game to hold serve for 3-1. Both players went on serve until the 10th game, when Sonego saved a break point before serving it out on his second set point. Sonego broke twice in the first and third games to seal the second set 6-2. Sonego will face the winner of the all-Spanish match between Pablo Carreno Busta and Bernabe Zapata Miralles. 

Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner cruised past world number 37 Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-0 after 67 minutes. 

Taberner won 100% of his second serve points and saved the only break point he faced in the fourth game of the opening set before earning two breaks of serve in the fifth and ninth games to close out the first set 6-3. The world number 94 took a bagel win in the second set with three breaks of serve. 

Taberner set up a second round match against this year’s Rotterdam champion Felix Auger Aliassime. 

Cameron Norrie fought back from 1-3 down in the third set to beat Egor Gerasimov 5-7 6-4 6-4. Gerasimov earned the first break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Norrie broke straight back in the seventh game for 3-4. Gerasimov broke for the second time in the 12th game to win the first set. 

Norrie won the second set 6-4 with a break in the third game to send the match to the decider. Gerasimov went up a 3-1 lead with a break in the fourth game. Norrie broke straight back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. Norrie won the final three games with a break in the ninth game to close out the third set 6-4.  

Lloyd Harris overcame Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 7-6 (7-0) one week after losing in the opening round in his first clay match of the year at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The South African player earned the first break in the ninth game too win the opening set 6-4. 

Harris converted his third break point in the third game of second set to take a 2-1 lead. Carballes Baena broke straight back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players went on serve in the next games en route to the tie-break. Harris earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-0. 

Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics knocked out Jordan Thompson 6-4 6-2. Emil Ruusuvuori eased past Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez 6-0 6-1. 

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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