Iga Swiatek Hits With A Purpose To Glory - UBITENNIS
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Iga Swiatek Hits With A Purpose To Glory

James Beck reflects on Swiatek’s run to her second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

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Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

It’s so simple.

Iga Swiatek plays a different game.

The 21-year-old Polish Wonder hits with a purpose. Unlike many of her counterparts in the world of professional tennis, Swiatek doesn’t try to overpower her opponents. She just outplays them with finesse and control.

No one in tennis turns a tennis ball around as quickly as Swiatek. She goes from defense to offense almost instantly. As her opponents follow through on their shots, Iga already has her return on its way.

IGA’S SECRET WEAPON TAKES CONTROL

That’s her secret weapon: the time it takes to transition from defense to offense. Swiatek   simply takes over the point. It’s almost complete domination with a somewhat slender 5-9 young woman in charge. Swiatek just turned 21 less than a week earlier.

With this weapon, Swiatek has won 35 straight matches, capped off by her one-sided 6-1, 6-3 victory over young Coco Gauff in Saturday’s French Open women’s singles final.

Yes, it was complete domination, really no contest. It took just over an hour.

Gauff’s super-athletic ability never came into play. Swiatek wouldn’t let it.

Coco couldn’t keep the ball in play. Iga could hardly miss.

BRIEF CONTENTION

The first two games of the second set were the only times Gauff appeared to escape Swiatek’s dominant play.

Gauff would hit a sizzling ground stroke to one side of the court, and before she could recover from making contact Iga had her return headed in a different direction for an outright winner.

While Coco was brilliantly quick racing from one side of the court to the other, that strategy was no match for Swiatek’s quick turnaround of shots.

SWIATEK’S JUST PRACTICING MODE

It’s almost as if Swiatek is just practicing and she’s the only person on the court as she converts opponents’ power into precisely placed winners.

Coco over-hit her forehand badly as her shots sailed long or often ended up in the bottom of the net. Nerves obviously came into play due to Gauff’s youthfulness. The final was the 18-year-old Gauff’s first test against a top 30 player in this French Open. She wasn’t ready to go against the world’s No. 1 player. Of course, Swiatek also won this Grand Slam two years ago. 

RAFA MAY HAVE COMPETITION

Swiatek’s idol, Rafa Nadal, may have some competition now for setting records at Roland Garros. Of course, Rafa will be going for his 14th French title and 22nd Grand Slam title on Sunday against Casper Ruud of Norway.

Nadal just happened to drop by the workout room to wish Swiatek well in her final.

With two French Open singles titles in less than 20 months, Swiatek is quickly becoming like Rafa as a crowd favorite on Court Philippe Chatrier.

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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Alexander Zverev beats Alejandro Tabilo to reach the third final of his career in Rome

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Akexander Zverev came back from one set down to beat Alejandro Tabilo 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 reaching the third final of his career at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and his first Masters 1000 final since 2022. 

Zverev reached his 11th career Masters 1000 final, equalling his compatriot Boris Becker for most Masters 1000 final appearances by a German man since the series started in 1990.

Tabilo earned a double break point with a forehand drop shot winner. The Chilean player forced an error with a topspin forehand into the corner to earn his first break in the fourth game for 3-1 after just 13 minutes. Tabilo saved two break points to consolidate the break for 4-1. Tabilo held three break points and hit a forehand return winner to break at love for 5-1. The Toronto-born Chilean player closed out the first set with drop-shot winners. He won 10 of the last 12 points of the first set. 

Zverev won his first service game of the second set to stop his losing streak. The German player held serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. 

Zverev double fault to face a break point. He saved it with a big serve and held serve for 4-3 in the seventh game. This year’s Auckland champion Tabilo held serve at love to force the second set to the tie-break. 

Tabilo earned the mini-break after Zverev made his fifth double fault at the start of the tie-break. Zverev pulled back on serve on the third point as Tabilo netted a backhand. Zverev went up a mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after one of the longest rallies of the match. Zverev converted his second set point to force the match the third set. 

Zverev earned three break points in the third game of the decider with a crosscourt backhand. Tabilo saved the first two break points, but Zverev converted his third break point to take a 2-1 lead, as Tabilo made a double fault. 

Zverev backed up the break with an ace to open up a 3-1 lead. Zverev earned a second break in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead and closed out the win with his 10th ace of the match after 2 hours and 17 minutes. 

Zverev will face either Tommy Paul or Nicholas Jarry in the final. The Olympic champion will rise to world number 4 if he wins the Rome Masters 1000 title. 

Tabilo upset Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-3 last Sunday and backed up this win with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) win over Karen Khachanov in the fourth round. 

“I did not play well, but he was the reason why I did not play well. He came out hitting the ball extremely hard. A lot of dropshots. He was playing extremely aggressive. He did not let me play. I have to give credit to him for not allowing me to play my game”, said Zverev. 

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Taylor Fritz overcomes Grigor Dimitrov to reach the quarter finals in Rome

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Taylor Fritz overcame a tough battle to beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-7 (11-13) 6-1 reaching the quarter final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

Fritz has become the first US player to reach quarter finals at three different clay court tournaments in Monte-Carlo in 2022 and 2023, Madrid 2024 and Rome 2024. 

Fritz broke serve in the third game and saved two break points to hold serve for 3-1. The US player fended off five break points before breaking serve in the seventh game to close out the first set 6-2. 

Dimitrov earned a set point at 5-4 on Fritz’s serve, but the US player fended it off. 

Fritz hit a smash to save a second break point. The Delray Beach champion and Munich finalist fought all 11 break points he faced in the match. 

Dimitrov hit a forehand down the line to earn an early mini-break in the tie-break and took a 2-0 lead. Fritz pulled the mini-break back for 2-3, when Dimitrov missed a forehand. Dimitrov earned a second mini-break with a drop-volley winner to take a 4-2 lead. Dimitrov went up a 6-3 lead to earn three set points. Fritz fired a wide serve to save a third set point. Fritz fended off a fourth set point with a drop-shot. Fritz saved the fifth set point to draw level to 6-6, as Dimitrov made a double fault. Dimitrov hit another drop volley to earn his seventh set point, but Fritz saved it. Dimitrov saved a match point at 8-7 on a second serve. 

Dimitrov earned a seventh set point, but he hit a forehand pass wide to drop to 9-9. Fritz faced an eighth set point at 10-9 with his first double fault, but he saved it to draw level to 10-10, as Dimitrov hit his slice into the net. Fritz saved a ninth set point with a backhand down the line to draw level to 11-11. Dimitrov converted his 10th set point with a forehand down the line to close out the 19-minute tie-break. Dimitrov forced the match to the decider after 2 hours and nine minutes. Fritz dropped his first set at this tournament. 

After a four-minute bathroom break Fritz converted his fourth break point to open up a 2-0 lead in the third set. Fritz won 12 of the 13 break points on his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Dimitrov faced a two break points in the sixth game. Fritz broke for the second time in the sixth game with a forehand to race out to a 5-1 lead. Fritz sealed the win with his 13th ace on his first match point. 

After losing in the first round at the Miami Open, Fritz reached the final in Munich and the semifinal in Madrid, where he avenged a 2023 Roland Garros loss against Francisco Cerundolo in the quarter final. 

“I feel like normally in those situations. I would be a lot more uptight and nervy, but honestly I felt pretty calm. I think it was tough because the sun was moving the whole match, and right in the tie-break is the first time it was bad for me on that side, so I threw in the double fault. I had a really good opportunity on a second serve return, and he hit it into my body and a bit slower than the other ones. I just caught it a bit early trying to get out the way of it. It’s easy to go back and dwell on that the whole third set, but I did a really good job at just putting it behind me and not thinking about that second serve return”, said Fritz. 

Fritz set up a quarter final match against Alexander Zverev, who beat Nuno Borges 6-2 7-5. Zverev has reached at least the fourth round at all Masters 1000 tournaments this year. 

Zverev earned an early break, but Borges broke back to draw level to 2-2. Zverev won four consecutive games to close out the first set 6-2. Zverev earned the decisive break in the 11th game to seal the win in 86 minutes. Zverev hit 25 winners to Borges’ eight and his 82% of points on his first serve. Zverev has improved his seasonal record to 25 wins to 9 defeats. The German player reached three semifinals at Los Angeles, Miami and Los Cabos.  

Zverev leads 4-3 in his seven head-to head matches against Fritz, but the US player won two of their last three matches. Zverev and Fritz have never faced off on clay. 

“We were lined up potentially last week to play in the quarter finals, but it will be fun. We will see what happens. We have played each other a good amount and known each other a long time, said Fritz.

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Danil Medvedev battles past Hamad Medjedovic to reach the fourth round in Rome

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Defending champion Danil Medvedev battled past 2023 Next Gen Finals champion Hamad Medjedovic 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 50 minutes on Centre Court to reach the Round of 16 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

Medvedev is the highest ranked player left in the men’s draw since Novak Djokovic lost against Alejandro Tabilo on Sunday. Medjedovic beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina without dropping a set to reach the third round of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. He faced a top 10 player for the first time in his career. 

Medvedev broke serve in the first game and held on his serve to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set. Medjedovic broke serve at 15 in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Medvedev converted his fourth break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Medjedovic broke straight back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5 en route to the tie-break. Medvedev went up a mini-break three times, but Medjedovic pulled back on serve each time. Medvedev sealed the tie-break with a fourth mini-break. 

Medjedovic broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

Medvedev broke in the fourth game of the third set to open up a 4-1 lead. Medjedovic broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Medvedev broke for the second time in the 12th game to close out the third set 7-5. 

Medvedev won his first title on clay in Rome last year. He is seeking to defend a tour-level title for the first time in his career. 

Medvedev has now reached the Round of 16 at all five Masters 1000 tournaments this season. 

“I felt like I started the match well and then in a way it was going downhill. My serve was not there, my shots were not aggressive enough when I needed to. Because many times I would like to play the rhythm I played, but I would like from time to time to surprise my opponent with some good shots. Today I was not able to do it. At one moment in the match I thought what I was doing would not be enough to win the match, so I am happy that even by playing not my best I could win. Tomorrow I am going to try to find my best tennis”, said Medvedev. 

Medvedev set up a fourth round match against Tommy Paul, who beat Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-4. 

Sebastian Baez came back from one set down to beat Holger Rune 2-6 6-2 6-3. Baez has reached the fourth round of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. 

The Argentine player has scored his third top 10 win after beating Cristian Garin in Cordoba and Andrey Rublev in Bastad in 2022. 

Baez set up a Fourth round match against Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. 

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