WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Swiatek, Djokovic Play on Tuesday - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Swiatek, Djokovic Play on Tuesday

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Iga Swiatek on media day in Fort Worth (twitter.com/wta)

Tuesday’s singles play in Fort Worth sees World No.1 Iga Swiatek face Daria Kasatkina, who is making her debut at this event.  Another debutante, Coco Gauff, will play Caroline Garcia, who returns to the WTA Finals for the first time since 2017.

In Paris, defending champion Novak Djokovic makes his 2022 debut at an event he’s won six times, against serve-and-volleying American Maxime Cressy, who was born in Paris.  Another multi-time Major champ, Stan Wawrinka, takes on Next Gen standout Holger Rune, who is nearly half his age.  And Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz both play on Tuesday, as they aim to earn a spot in the ATP Finals later this month in Turin.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup from both the WTA Finals and the ATP Paris Masters, while highlighting the other matches on the schedules.  Tuesday’s play in Paris begins at 11:00am local time, while play in Fort Worth begins at 3:00pm local time.


Novak Djokovic (6) vs. Maxime Cressy – Fourth on Court Central in Paris

After missing the entire summer hard court season, the unvaccinated Djokovic returned at Laver Cup.  Despite going 1-1 in singles at that event, he promptly won back-to-back titles in Tel Aviv and Astana.  In Astana, he defeated both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev.  Cressy had a great start to the year, reaching the final of an Australian Open tune-up event, and the second week at the season’s first Slam itself.  He also gained success on grass, winning titles in both Eastbourne and Newport, and upsetting Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon.  His attacking style is often rewarded on fast surfaces, and the courts in Bercy are some of the fastest on tour.  But in his first meeting against the 21-time Major champ, it would be surprising if Maxime pulls off the upset.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Daria Kasatkina (8) – Not Before 5:00pm local time in Fort Worth

Swiatek is a stellar 64-8 on the year, with eight titles, two of which were Majors (Roland Garros, US Open).  A year ago, she failed to advance out of the round robin stage of this event, going 1-2.  Kasatkina has compiled a record of 40-20, with two titles.  And she advanced to her first Slam semifinal at Roland Garros.  But in that semi, she was dominated by Iga 6-2, 6-1.  Overall Swiatek is 4-1 against Kasatkina, with all four victories coming in straight sets this season.  Across those eight sets contested within 2022, Daria has managed only a total of 12 games.  With three of those matches taking place on hard courts, there’s not much evidence to suggest a different outcome in this lopsided rivalry on Tuesday.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

John Isner vs. Andrey Rublev (7) – Rublev currently sits in the eighth and final qualifying spot for Turin, with Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz needing to at least make the final to have a chance of surpassing him.  Isner is a former runner-up at this event, and is 3-0 against Andrey, which includes two matches on hard courts.

Hubert Hurkacz (10) vs. Adriann Mannarino (WC) – Hurkacz is now 40-20 on the year, but losses in the quarterfinals of three tournaments in October hurt his qualifying chances for Turin.  Mannarino is only 8-11 lifetime at this event in his home country, but he did take out Hurkacz in straight sets at this year’s Australian Open.

Holger Rune vs. Stan Wawrinka (PR) – Rune has claimed 13 of his last 15 matches, reaching three consecutive finals, and winning the title over Stefanos Tsistipas in Stockholm.  Wawrinka was a quarterfinalist last week in Basel, where he upset US Open finalist Casper Ruud. 

Coco Gauff (4) vs. Caroline Garcia (6) – Gauff is 38-19 in 2022, though her only appearance in a final was her straight-set loss at Roland Garros to Swiatek.  Garcia started the year ranked 74th in the world, but is 41-19 on the season, with three titles on three different surfaces, and achieved her first Major semifinal in New York.  Gauff leads their head-to-head 2-1, though Caroline took out Coco in the US Open quarterfinals.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play at the WTA Finals is here, and the Paris Masters schedule is here.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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