Monte Carlo Masters talking points (Part Two): David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov back to form - UBITENNIS
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Monte Carlo Masters talking points (Part Two): David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov back to form

Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin have rediscovered their form in Monaco.



Grigor Dimitrov (@usopen - Twitter)

James Spencer (Twitter – @jspencer28)

In my previous article, I cited the shock loss for world number one Novak Djokovic, and the return of Swiss star Stan Wawrinka, as my first two major talking points from this week’s Monte Carlo Masters.


I now conclude my piece with some other interesting subplots.

3.  David Goffin a man reborn

Belgium’s David Goffin was one of the standout players of the ATP Tour just a few years ago.

He reached the final of the 2017 ATP Tour Finals with an impressive semi-final win over Roger Federer, before falling to Grigor Dimitrov.

This led to a high of world number seven.

However, injuries have taken a toll on the Belgian, like Wawrinka.

The good news is the 31-year-old appears to be really fit again and undergoing a renaissance, as he triumphed in Marrakesh last week.

Victory at Grand Prix Hassan II marked just his sixth ATP Tour title.

Goffin strung together five consecutive wins against the likes of Bosnian Damir Džumhur, veteran Pablo Andújar, Spaniard Roberto Carballés Baena, Argentine Federico Coria, and Slovakian Alex Molcan in the final.

The Liège native backed this up with some good performances this week in Monte Carlo, as he beat Czech Jiri Lehecka, and most notably, Britain’s Dan Evans, in straight sets.

Goffin eventually fell in the quarters to the impressive Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, to which there is no shame in that.

But a promising run on clay, the Belgian’s strongest surface, is certainly likely as Goffin looks to gate-crash the top 30 in the next few weeks.

4.  Grigor Dimitrov showing top-10 potential again

Dimitrov has been extremely inconsistent this season. After a poor first round exit in Acapulco, he has managed to pull off some stellar performances elsewhere.

The former world number three, managed to make the quarter-finals of Indian Wells, but was then bundled out at the first hurdle at the Miami Open.

This week in Monte Carlo, the Bulgarian has upset the odds to reach the semi-finals, with a stunning round of 16 win against current world number seven, Casper Rudd.

This was even backed up with an eye-catching quarter-final victory over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

Now Dimitrov stands on the cusp of another Masters 1000 final, if he can get past the inexperienced Davidovich Fokina, who is in a whole new territory, for the first time in his career.

Meanwhile, the man once dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ as a teenager, muchto his annoyance, must surely fancy his chances of winning in the principality, and getting his career well and truly back on track.

5.  2019 stars yesterday’s men

If 2017 ATP heroes Dimitrov and Goffin continue to make strides back to the pinnacle of tennis, the 2019 Monte Carlo Masters stars faded away more or less immediately, this week.

That year’s runner-up, Dušan Lajović, showed his expertise on clay that season, but will be majorly disappointed at going down to Dimitrov in the round of 32, after taking the opening set.

Although, the Bulgarian is in impressive form, to be fair.

Meanwhile, the champion of three years ago, Fabio Fognini, continues to illustrate the inconsistency that has dogged his entire career.

The Italian, a shadow of the player that won a maiden Masters 1000 trophy, 36 months ago, capitulated to last year’s defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-0, being slammed with a bagel set without winning a single game.

Both Fognini and Lajović will aim to bounce back next week at the Serbia Open in Belgrade.

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Seb Korda Wins First Match Since Injury At French Open



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After what has been a rollercoaster past few months, Sebastian Korda has returned to the winner’s circle at the French Open. 


The 22-year-old started the year set to become one of the sports rising stars after reaching the final of the Adelaide International and then the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. However, he was forced to retire from his match against Karen Khachanov at Melbourne Park due to a wrist injury that ended up sidelining him from the Tour for weeks.

 “I went two, three months without touching a racquet, basically,” the American said of his injury woes in Paris on Sunday. “I even still had a little bit of pain in Madrid, and then Rome was the first tournament where I kind of had nothing, which was a really big positive for me. Now I have zero pain in my wrist.” 

Finally pain-free, Korda clinched the first win of his comeback at the French Open on Sunday by defeating Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. The player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of the Australian Open. It was a solid performance from the world No.20 who hit 52 winners and had an average first serve speed of 173 km/h. 

During his recent hiatus, the American used the opportunity to build on his physical development with the help of Jez Green. A highly experienced fitness coach who has previously worked with Andy Murray, Emma Raducanu and Dominic Thiem. 

“It was a tough period for me but a blessing in disguise. I had three, four months to really build the body and set a base that will basically be with me for the rest of my career.” Korda said of his work with Green. “I think that was one of the things I needed most was to kind of get the body right. The tennis I always had. It was just kind of getting the body right and getting ready for these long best-of-five matches to make deep runs.” 

It was at the French Open where Korda had his first major breakthrough. In 2020, when the tournament was held during the autumn due to Covid-19, he reached the fourth round on his debut. 

Korda will play Austria’s Sebastian Ofner in the second round.

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‘A Breath Of Fresh Air’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas’ High Praise For French Open Rival Alcaraz



Carlos Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport has left an impression on many, including his recent training partner Stefanos Tsitsipas.


The two top 10 stars held a practice session together at Roland Garros a day before this year’s tournament began. Alcaraz leads Tsitsipas 4-0 in their head-to-head and has only ever dropped three sets against him on the Tour. Whilst they are rivals on the court, there is a lot of admiration between them. This was highlighted by Tsitsipas following his 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7) win over Jiri Vesely in the first round on Sunday. 

“I had a practice session with Carlitos the other day and did throw in a “thank you” just randomly, and I don’t know if he understood that or not. I owe a lot to Carlitos because he’s such a breath of fresh air, the fact that he’s on the tour.” Tsitsipas said during his press conference.
“The fact that he’s so competitive and he’s always with a smile on his face, and almost so much charisma to him and so much positive energy that he distributes. I think that’s contributed a lot to his growth as a tennis player and his consistency too. He seems to be enjoying having fun.”

Despite being four years older than the Spaniard, Tsitsipas admits he has been inspired by his rival to make certain changes to how he approaches the sport. Currently ranked fifth in the world, he is yet to win a trophy this season. Although he finished runner-up at the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic and at the Barcelona Open to Alcaraz. 

“Last year during preseason I was, like, I want to apply that more into my game. Players focus maybe more on technical stuff and stuff that doesn’t focus on these aspects of the game,” he explained.
”I kind of admire him for who he is. I have the capacity of being that person. I truly believe that. That is also the reason that I’m just much more joyful and happy when playing this sport, due to him.”

Besides his high regard for the Spaniard, part of Tsitsipas must be secretly hoping Alcaraz will suffer an early exit in Paris. He is in contention for claiming the No.1 position but can only do so if he wins the title and Alcaraz loses before the third round and Daniil Medvedev loses before the quarter-finals. 

However, to even have a chance of winning his maiden slam Tsitsipas admits he needs to improve his game after saying he was ‘very inconsistent’ throughout his clash with Vesely. He will next play either former champion Stan Wawrinka or Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round. 

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Dan Evans Stands By Criticism Of British Tennis After French Open Exit



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Dan Evans says his recent remarks about the state of British tennis were driven by his own experiences and the difficulties young players face in the sport. 


The world No.24 took a swipe at the current state of the sport in his own country by agreeing that Emma Raducanu’s win at the 2021 US Open ‘papered over the cracks’ of his national federation. Evans told reporters last week he believes not enough is being done to encourage young players to play junior tennis. A comment that was contested by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) who says they are ‘making long-term progress.’ Earlier this year, Evans also hit out at what he believes is a culture of players prioritising rest over match play in a swipe at women’s tennis.

Reiterating his stance at the French Open on Sunday, the world No.24 voiced concerns that the elitist nature of tennis is harming those wanting to play from a working-class background. Evans crashed out of the first round of Roland Garros to Thanasi Kokkinakis who won 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. He has now lost his opening match at the Grand Slam in four out of the last five years. 

“I want younger children, working-class kids to get the support they deserve, and that’s why I voice my opinions,” said Evans. 
“In any other sport when people voice their opinions about a system, it goes forward, but in tennis, because we’re so elitist in England, it doesn’t get put forward. I’m doing it for working-class people like I was.’
“That’s why I say the things because no one ever just comes from nowhere. They come through in Britain. It’s always, yeah, he was good when he was young. Ten times out of ten they’re from a very nice area most likely.’
“I don’t think there’s a chance for people from working-class backgrounds to get into the sport and get a chance if their parents don’t have money.”

Watching Evans’ match against Kokkinakis was LTA performance director Michael Borne, as well as Davis Cup captain Leon Smith. The tennis star has also previously had verbal exchanges with Smith regarding his omission from doubles matches in the past. 

Whilst an outspoken figure, the 33-year-old insists that there is no malice in his words. 

“I’m just asking for things to be a bit different, more people to have a chance to get funded. That’s why I do it.” He explains. 
“It’s not personal. Everyone takes it personally. It’s not personal at all. It’s just why I do it is for that reason, and that’s what I believe in, and I’m allowed to do that, I guess.”

Evans is one of only three British players – male or female – to have secured a spot in the main draw of the French Open this year in singles. The other two are Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper. 

So far this season, he has won just eight out of 23 matches played with his best run being to the semi-finals of tournaments in Marrakech and Barcelona. The hope for the Birmingham-born player is that he will be able to turn his fortunes around on the grass. 

“I’ve got my own battles to deal with right now on the court. I’ve got to get my game in a spot where I’m able to compete at this level. I’ve been very poor in the big tournaments this year.” He concluded. 

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