Marin Cilic Plays A Perfect Match To Knock Out An Unrecognisable Medvedev At French Open - UBITENNIS
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Marin Cilic Plays A Perfect Match To Knock Out An Unrecognisable Medvedev At French Open

After suffering three previous Tour losses to his Russian rival, Cilic got his revenge by producing one of his most clinical performances in recent times.

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Marin Cilic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

In the Monday’s night session the clock seemed to have been wound back to the time when Marin  Cilic who in 2014 won nine sets in a row and conquered the US Open, brushing aside Berdych, Federer and Nishikori in the three final stages. 

The 33-year-old Croatian dominated former number Daniil Medvedev  from the first point and never let him off the leash, sealing an emphatic win, 6-2 6-3 6-2.  It must be said that Medvedev was often the ghost of himself, and of the player who just two days ago steamrolled Kecmanovic, but Cilic’s performance was flawless in all aspects. He served consistently, mixing up power and placement. He was always moving in immediately to put pressure, particularly with his forehand and keeping the rallies short. His footwork, astounding for such a tall guy, and not the youngest, set up the perfect timing for flowing jests. He constantly caught his opponent off guard with dropshots, taking advantage of Medvedev’s positioning, metres behind the baseline.

It was an absolutely fantastic match from the first point to the last. I enjoyed the atmosphere, the night session, I played incredible tennis, one of the best (matches) of my career from start to finish,” a delighted Cilic said afterwards.       

Coming into this match Cilic had been enjoying a positive year and a likely comeback into the top 20 as well as seeking further glory in Majors. At the Australian Open he had defeated top 10 player, Andrey Rublev, before going down to Aliassime in the fourth round. 

Though he had never won in his previous four encounters against Daniil Medvedev, many will remember their last match in the third round at Wimbledon 2021, when he led by two sets before deflating in the distance. 

“Against the guys like Daniil you have to be able to sustain such a level. If you give him a chance he’s going to be back and it’s going to be another match. I was very focused to keep going, and I’m pleased with that.” He said. 

From the first game Cilic started with excellent serving and enterprising aggression. Targeting shorter points and variations: two dropshots and changes of direction to unsettle Medvedev.

In turn, Medvedev was more willing to lengthen the rallies and elicit errors, aware that Cilic is less of a danger on the stretch.

The match was still quite close in the first four games when suddenly Medvedev blacked out and lost four consecutive games and the set, 6-2.  

The first five games of the second set followed serve, but Cilic was scoring more points by keeping up his pressure gameplan.

Cilic earned a break point in the sixth game, on which a tentative dropshot by Medvedev allowed him to unleash a comfortable crosscourt forehand and barge on.

Serving for the set at 5-3 Cilic struck two decisive inside-out forehands, and then an inside-out dropshot, then a first serve to open up the court. Medvedev sprayed a forehand long and wide and found himself two sets down in one hour and 3 minutes.

The script may have reminded them of their last encounter at Wimbledon. But Medvedev seemed drained of physical or mental energy, unable to change stance.  He gifted break points in the first game of the third set and on the second one hit a backhand wide. And was trailing once more.

A further streak of unforced errors followed, worsened by sluggish moving, so atypical of the Russian, and in a blink Cilic was ahead 4-0.   

In the fifth game Medvedev started hurrying franticly and crossly through points as he often does, when falling prey to frustration. He held serve, though, at least upping his score. 

Cilic was untouchable when he served for the match at 5-2 and maintained his cool, pressuring without overdoing.  Medvedev kept lunging, too castled behind the baseline to have any chance to overturn the rallies and the result. 

A first service nicely sliced out wide opened up the court for the usual forehand and match point. And a crosscourt backhand secured a most significant win. 

Cilic was delighted to have reaped such a reward for his commitment to tennis.

Everything is working well, my serve, my return, my movement. I’m trying to use every day the best I can and the time I spend on the court is most valuable to me. When you are really persistent, really consistent with your training, good things can come.” He said. 

Cilic will play Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals. 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

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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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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