Casper Ruud plays in a crescendo and overcomes Cilic to reach French Open final - UBITENNIS
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Casper Ruud plays in a crescendo and overcomes Cilic to reach French Open final

After winning the first set in the manner of his previous matches Cilic runs out of steam and gives way

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Image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros/

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye 

The second Roland Garros semi-final was a double-face match.  In a confrontation between two players whose game revolves around their forehand, especially the inside-out, and relentless pacing and footwork, it was the younger who prevailed in the long run, and quite vehemently, 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-2. Ruud’s high rotation spin was expected to be tougher to master than the flatter groundstrokes of Cilic’s previous opponents, Rublev and Medvedev, but it was some surprise that the Croatian’s capacity to move in and reap comfortable points off his forehand came unstuck after losing the second set.     

 

”I played a really solid first set and served really well and mixed it up nicely. I played aggressive off the ground.  I have to say that somewhere there in the second set, you know, just things started to turn around a bit.  At the end of the second set, start of the third, there was just a little bit of a difference,” admitted Cilic

The first six games went with serve.  Although Cilic had to save two break points after missing two smashes and throwing in a double fault in the fourth game, he ended up holding serve well supported by his mighty and angled first service.

Ruud instead missed two first services at the start of the seventh game, and Cilic rose to 0-30 with his effective aggression on the Norwegian’s second service, a little too tame. Then he adjusted his return to the first serve of Ruud as well and ripped the break in a flash. 

Serving for a 5-3 lead he suddenly lost control of his forehand, and had to save another break point, but he got away with it. An ace and a winning serve consolidated his margin.

In spite of the odd unforced error, Cilic was overpowering Ruud, taking command from the first shot, also with his weaker groundstroke, his backhand. He reached set point on Ruud’s service and danced leftward to hit his inside-out forehand and seal the first set.

 From the very start of the second set Ruud appeared resolved to swing the script around, raising first serve speed and length as well as trying to find depth and greater lift off both groundstrokes so as to move his opponent to and fro.

“I was too defensive. I figured I had to step up a little bit, counterattack and hit faster shots,” said Ruud.

The strategy yielded revenues when Cilic concentration slipped in the second game and he actually lost service, too often missing the target off his forehand.

“It was unfortunately a little bit of a drop in the level comparing to these last 10 days. It might be due to just a little bit more emotional drainage from the last match,” Cilic said, while giving due credit to his opponent.
“And, you know, today it was obviously a big task to play Casper, who is definitely in great form.”

However Cilic instantly rebooted and Ruud had to stave off a break point in the third game by  stealing his opponent’s tactics: service out wide to set up a forehand winner. A dropshot did the rest of the job and he raced to 3-0.

Ruud was able to keep up consistency and served for the set 5-4. 

He tightened up, though, and missed three forehands. He had to save two breakpoints with forehand winners to recover to deuce. Then an ace, his fifth in the set followed by a backhand down the line and he was back even.

Cilic started the third set still trying mounting up pressure but too many errors were seeping in. Then came the rally of the match. Cilic finalized constant pressure with a first forehand inside-in and a second one inside-out, but the Norwegian erected a solid defence and then fired a backhand winner down the line. Cilic robustly saved second break point, but immediately conceded another unforced error. When he hit a smash way out or the first time in the match Ruud was leading.

Cilic’s tennis was now longer flawless. Mental energy was thinning and fatigue was eroding his footwork. Ruud took a second break with an exquisite sliced backhand passing shot.

The match was most unexpectedly interrupted due to a court invasion by a young woman who chained herself to the net. The incident brought no damage, yet some concerns may be raised about the efficiency of the French Open security services.

When the match was resumed, Cilic earned two break points to get back into the set but failed to convert. It felt like the last fling.

Ruud served at 5-1. He missed his first two set points and had to erase a break point on the way to settling the matter 6-2.

He drummed on with such momentum at the kick off of the fourth set: he first sprinted after a dropshot and earned a break point, then he broke after landing a fabulous inside-in forehand  directly off the return.

By now Ruud was returning Cilic’s blunted and no longer angular serve with ease. He conquered three break points for a double break and converted the second when a Cilic slammed a dejected forehand into the net.

Shortly Ruud was serving for the match. He was by no means overwhelmed by tension and held to love, with an ace, a domain in which he had most surprisingly outclassed Cilic, 16-10, proving his worth off return as well.  

“It was a great match from my side. I didn’t start very well but Marin played very well in the first set.  I was able to break him in the second set and that got it going. From that game I played some of the best of this year, playing aggressive, serving well. I’m super happy with my performance,” Ruud reflected.

Asked about his next match, against Nadal, whose academy he joined in 2018 he said:  “Playing against Nadal will be a very special moment for me, and a little bit for him as well. He’s played so many finals, but at least he’s playing a student from his Academy this time. It’s going to be fun.”

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Names His Best Personality Trait Ahead of Wimbledon Showdown With Kyrgios

The Greek has named one ‘defining aspect’ of her personality but will it have any relevance for his next match?

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) - Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

Stefanos Tsitsipas says he is ‘thrilled’ to book a Wimbledon third round meeting with Nick Kyrgios later this week after seeing off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

 

The world No.5 rallied his way to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, over Thompson to record only his fifth main draw win at the tournament in his career. Despite his accolades on the Tour, Tsitsipas has endured disappointment at The All England Club. In his four previous appearances, he lost in the first round three times.

Nevertheless, the Greek appears to be heading in the right direction on the grass after winning the Mallorca Open less than a week ago. Although he will be truly tested on Saturday when he faces the dangerous Kyrgios who he lost to in Halle earlier this year after winning the first set. Kyrgios produced a clinical performance in his second round match which he said was a message sent to media criticism him.

“Nick has more matches on me in these courts. He claims to like grass. I think his game is good for the grass,” said Tsitsipas.
“I am definitely thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot, on the court, what he’s trying to do. Although he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he’s playing good tennis.’
“I’m going to try and concentrate on doing my thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can stay there and do something great, have a great competitive match against him.”

Kyrgios’ talent has never been disputed but it is his mentality which has at times been his downfall. In his first round match, he was aggravated by the crowd, argued with a match official and spat in front of some people in the stands who were ‘disrespecting’ him.

As for Tsitsipas, the 23-year-old believes his mental strength is one of his best personality traits.

“My mentality is pretty strong. If I fall, I’ll always get up and work hard. I never really have these days where I’m saying, I don’t want to practice today,” he said
“I feel like other players would have that a bit more often than I do. If I fall, I always get up, one thing to get stronger.”

It remains to be seen if Tsitsipas will come back stronger against Kyrgios as he seeks revenge for his recent loss. Although he has lost to the Australian on two other occasions with his only victory in their rivalry being at the Laver Cup.

You just go out on the court hoping to have a good match, hoping to be able to get balls back, be precise with your shot selection. That comes with good preparation. The rest will hopefully follow if you’re able to approach that with the right mindset.” Tsitsipas explained.

Tsitsipas is the only seeded player remaining in his section of the draw after two rounds played.

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Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer form dream team for London’s Laver Cup

Build-up to September’s Laver Cup has already begun and some big names are set to feature.

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Andy Murray’s Wimbledon may have come to a disappointing end yesterday, but there is hope on the horizon yet.

 

It was announced shortly before his second-round encounter with John Isner, that the three-time Grand Slam champion has signed up to play in September’s Laver Cup.

This would mark Murray’s first appearance in the competition.

Being a home tournament for the Brit, fans will be hoping and praying he stays fit for September’s showpiece at the O2 Arena.

Team Europe assembles dream team

With the confirmation of tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, the addition of Murray adds more stellar firepower and history to Europe’s cast.

With three of six confirmed, who could the other three names be?

Surely, teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz should be given a place at the table.

The Spaniard has taken the ATP Tour by storm this season, winning not one but TWO Masters 1000’s in Miami and Madrid.

He also became the youngest member of the top ten since you guessed it, his idol Nadal.

Another strong contender would be Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

Having spent three months out with a hand injury, he stormed to titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s proving to be the season’s standout player on grass.

He unfortunately had to pull out of Wimbledon on the eve of his first-round match after contracting Coronavirus.

If fit, he would be a worthy addition after debuting at the event last year.

The romantics would love for another big name in Stan Wawrinka.

The Swiss is well and truly in the twilight of his career.

Like Andy, he has won three Grand Slam’s and would be warmly welcomed by close friend Roger, who he won the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold alongside.

And then there’s Marin Cilic who was in fine form to reach the semi-finals of the French Open, making him only one of five active players to reach all four Grand Slam semi-finals.

The former US Open champion played in the inaugural Laver Cup back in 2017.

Team World – Diego Schwartzman, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime confirmed

The challenge of Team Captain John McEnroe is that his counterpart, Bjorn Borg has a wealth of talent at his disposal.

Whilst, the American doesn’t quite have the same luxury.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Indian Wells winner Taylor Fritz were the first two confirmed names.

Canadian talents Felix Auger Aliassime (confirmed) and Denis Shapovalov (not yet confirmed), are the standout names that Team World will bolster their ranks with.

That would then leave two places left with McEnroe likely to call on past stalwarts from previous editions.

This could be 37-year-old Isner, who was highly impressive in defeating Murray yesterday at Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, the seven-time Grand Slam champion is a known fan and admirer of the feisty Nick Kyrgios.

The two big servers could therefore be the final names.

Other possibilities would be American’s Frances Tiafoe, who has played the Laver Cup before, and the talented Sebastian Korda.

Following the announcement of Murray, more confirmations cannot be far away.

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Spain’s Bautista Agut Latest Player To Test Positive For Covid At Wimbledon

It is understood that The All England Club is reviewing their Covid-19 policy amid fears of an outbreak.

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Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

This year’s Wimbledon men’s tournament has had a third seeded player forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Roberto Bautista Agut, who was the 17th seed in the draw, has withdrawn from his second-round match against Daniel Elahi Galan which was set to get underway on Thursday afternoon on Court Three. Announcing his decision on Twitter, the Spaniard said his symptoms are ‘not very serious‘ but he believes not playing is the right thing to do.

“Today I have notified Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious but I think it is the best decision (not to play).” Bautista Agut wrote.
“I hope to be back soon.”

 

The 34-year-old was making his eighth main draw appearance at The All England Club this year. In 2019 he reached the semi-finals in what is his best-ever result at a Grand Slam tournament to date.

Earlier this week Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini also withdrew from Wimbledon after positive Covid tests. However, they hadn’t played their first round match which Bautista Agut did. The trio of cases raise fears of a possible outbreak in the tournament given how contagious it can be.

Wimbledon’s Covid-19 policy is made in conjunction with advice issued by local health officials. Although it is unclear if a player is required to withdraw from an event if they have the virus. Ubitennis asked a spokesperson for clarity on the matter but was instead given a generic statement.

As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority,’ An All England Club spokesperson said via email on June 26th.

“As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority.

“We have maintained enhanced cleaning and hand sanitising operations, and offer full medical support for anyone feeling unwell. We are following UK guidance around assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease.

“Our player medical team also continue to wear face masks for any consultation.”

The Guardian has reported that a review of Wimbledon’s guidelines is underway. This was before Agut said he had also contracted the virus. However, there has been no formal announcement concerning any review. 

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