Roland Garros Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

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Casper Ruud during his quarterfinal victory on Wednesday (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Rafael Nadal is just two wins away from an astounding 14th Roland Garros title, and a record-extending 22nd men’s singles title at a Major.  Prior to last year’s semifinal defeat at the hands of Novak Djokovic, Nadal was a combined 26-0 in French Open semifinals and finals.  On Friday, Rafa faces Sascha Zverev, who is into his second consecutive semi in Paris.

The other men’s semi features two players making their Roland Garros semifinal debuts.  For Casper Ruud, it’s his first semifinal at any Major.  For Marin Cilic, this completes the career Grand Slam of semifinals.

Also on Friday, the women’s doubles semifinals will be played, which feature four top 25 singles players, including women’s singles finalist Coco Gauff.


Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Rafael Nadal (5) – Not Before 2:45pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

In last year’s semifinals, Nadal lost a four-set, over four-hour thriller to Djokovic, a loss he avenged on Tuesday in another gripping four-setter.  On that same day last June, Zverev lost a five-set semi to Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Sascha is now a combined 1-4 in Major semifinals and finals, with his only victory coming in the 2020 US Open semis, when he came from two sets down to defeat Pablo Carreno Busta.  His other recent loss in a Slam semifinal was also a five-setter, when he faced Djokovic last September in New York.

Overall Nadal leads their head-to-head 6-3, and 4-1 on clay.  However, Zverev has taken three of their last four meetings, one of which occurred on clay.  Both players are coming off competitive four-set quarterfinals, though both had a full two days of rest ahead of Friday’s semifinal, so both should be fresh. 

With a 29-7 record in Slam semis, Nadal rarely loses in this round of a Major, especially this one.  And given Zverev’s contrasting history in the latter stages of Grand Slam events, Rafa is a considerable favorite to reach his 14th Roland Garros final, and his 30th Major final overall.  The King of Clay will feel supremely confident after vanquishing Djokovic in the last round.  And his chronically injured foot has not seemed to impact his level in Paris.  I expect Nadal to celebrate his 36th birthday on Friday with his 111th win at the French Open.


Casper Ruud (8) vs. Marin Cilic (20) – Not Before 5:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Which will prove more valuable on Friday: Casper’s superior clay court prowess, or Marin’s experience at Majors?  Ruud has accumulated seven titles on this surface within a short span, yet prior to this fortnight, had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Slam.  And before this run, Cilic had lost as many clay court matches over the last three years as he’d won, but this is his 14th time reaching the quarters or better at a Major.

Cilic has advanced more comfortably thus far, dropping two less sets than Ruud.  While Marin is coming off a grueling five-setter against Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, Ruud’s quarterfinal against Holger Rune on the same day went well past midnight, which is far from ideal with one just day’s rest in between.

Casper is 2-0 against Marin, with both those matches taking place within the last two years.  At the 2020 Rome Masters, Ruud won in straight sets.  At the 2021 Canada Masters, Ruud won in three.  Cilic is playing at a much higher level than he was on those two occasions, though this surface should certainly favor Ruud.  Across the last three seasons, no ATP player has won more matches on clay than Casper.  The Norwegian’s mix of defensive skills plus a formidable forehand may prove too much for Marin, who can often get tight in big matches.  I give Ruud the slight edge to achieve his first Major final.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (8) vs. Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend – Between singles and doubles, Gauff and Pegula have accumulated 14 match wins this fortnight.  This is their fifth event as a team this season, while Keys and Townsend are teaming for the first time. 

Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko (14) vs. Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic (WC) – Kichenok and Ostapenko have prevailed in three consecutive three-setters.  Garcia and Mladenovic won this title back in 2016.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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