United Cup: Fritz And Keys Shine For USA, Greece’s Tsitsipas Ousts Dimitrov In Epic  - UBITENNIS
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United Cup: Fritz And Keys Shine For USA, Greece’s Tsitsipas Ousts Dimitrov In Epic 



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It was the perfect start to the United Cup for team USA with both of their players winning in straight sets against the Czech Republic. 


On the first day of the new mixed event which offers ranking points and has a prize money pool of $15M, Taylor Fritz got his country off to a strong start by defeating Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-4. A 21-year-old Czech who was runner-up to Brandon Nakashima at the Next Gen Finals in November. Fritz remained unbroken throughout the match and won 78% of his first service points. 

“In a team event, first match of the year, there are always some nerves coming out, so it is great to come out and get the team ahead,” Fritz said afterwards. “Hopefully loosen everyone else up. It is a tough position to play if behind, so it is really good for the team.”

Madison Keys continued her country’s winning momentum by defeating Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-3. Keys, who is currently ranked 11th in the world, was forced to battle back from a break down in both sets. 

“I have always typically done pretty well here,” said Keys, who has reached the Australian Open semi-final twice in her career. “I love playing here and I think I just do really well, whether it’s the people or I like playing in the heat. It’s the start of the year, it’s fast and bouncy and suits my game really well.”

During the 2022 season, Keys only reached one Tour final which was at the Adelaide International where she defeated Alison Riske to win the title. She hopes to regain that kind of form at the United Cup where she is relishing the rare opportunity of playing alongside her teammates. 

“We’ve all known each other for a really long time,” she said.
“We’ve been really close for a long time. It’s great having coaching out there, but every time you look over you have people you’ve known forever they’re supporting you. It’s a really great environment.”

Later in the tie, there is a mouthwatering clash between two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and Jessica Pegula. Frances Tiafoe will also play the second men’s singles match on Friday. 

Tsitsipas fights back 

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Team Greece (L) shakes hands at the net with Grigor Dimitrov of Team Bulgaria – PHOTO CREDIT Tennis Australia/ TREVOR COLLENS

In Group A Greece leads Bulgaria 2-0 after two tough victories in Perth. 29-year-old Despina Papamichail, who is yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, battled back from a set down to defeat a weary Isabella Shinikova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Shinikova had treatment on her left quad during the match and was also troubled by hand cramps. 

Papamichail’s win was a big boost for team Greece ahead of one of the tournament’s most intriguing matches on Day one. Stefanos Tsitsipas took to the court to face Grigor Dimitrov in what was a marathon battle that lasted more than two hours with both players having their chance to seal the victory. 

Dimitrov, who is also the captain of his team, had a double chance to break at 4-4 in the decider but failed to convert. Overcoming the scare, Tsitsipas held his nerve to prevail 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4), and earn his 250th ATP win. 

“It was extremely close. I think he was one point away and that made a difference,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“I’ll take it. It was a good effort from my side.
“It was quite difficult playing with the heat in the beginning. I was happy the roof closed.
“We enjoyed some high-quality tennis, I was just trying to hang in there, fight. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as Grigor is someone who has done exceptionally well in the past couple of years.
“He’s still got it. He can still compete against the best players in the world and I’m glad I found this little gap in between and gave myself a chance to do something in the tiebreaker.”

Elsewhere at the tournament, Italy and Brazil are currently tied at 1-1. Beatriz Haddad Maia thrashed Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-0 before Lorenzo Musetti dismissed Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3, 6-4. 

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Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

 Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them. 


Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings. 

“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference. 
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”

Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.

“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”

It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14. 

Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent. 

“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent. 
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday. 

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Gael Monfils Withdraws From French Open Clash With Rune



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After winning a marathon first round clash at the French Open on Tuesday, Gael Monfils has been forced to pull out of the tournament due to a left wrist injury. 


The 36-year-old defeated Sebastian Baez in a five-set thriller in his opening match at his home Grand Slam which took place late at night on the Phillip Chatrier Court. Monfils’ win was the first he has recorded on the Tour since returning to action following a foot problem. He suffered a plantar fascia rupture in his right foot last year which sidelined him from competition for seven months.

Now Monfils’ latest injury setback concerns his wrist which he started to feel pain in whilst playing against Baez. He has subsequently been advised to not continue playing to avoid worsening the issue. 

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. I was quite happy this morning. I woke up quite good, but I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” Monfils said in a late-night press conference on Wednesday. “Felt it during the match, actually the whole match [yesterday]. And unfortunately even [though] we pushed it ’til tonight, just came back again for another exam, and yes, waited a little bit.
“The doctor said [it] was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely said I should stop.”

Monfils has been diagnosed with a Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) injury. He has undergone an Arthroscan (MRI) which will establish how long he may be sidelined from the sport. The Frenchman is set to find out the results later today. 

“I think had it been totally broken it would have been more serious, but it’s partial,” Monfils said. “So I’ll know more about the length of time when I’m off the courts. But the doctor said he hopes I’ll be able to play on grass.”

Due to his withdrawal, Danish sixth seed Holger Rune will move into the third round where he will play either Genaro Alberto Olivieri or Andrea Vavassori who have both come through the qualifying rounds. 

As for the schedule of play at Roland Garros, Monfils’ match was set to take place in the evening slot. It has been replaced by Alexander Zverev’s clash with Alex Molcan. 

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Dissatisfied Aryna Sabalenka Reaches French Open Third Round



Aryna Sabalenka has sealed her place in the last 32 of the French Open for the fourth consecutive year after overcoming a spirited performance from qualifier Iryna Shymanovich. 


The world No.2 powered her way to a 7-5, 6-2, win over her compatriot in a match where she at times struggled to maintain consistency in her shot-making. Sabalenka’s powerful hitting produced some stunning shots but also resulted in some costly errors which proved pragmatic at times.

“I’m not really happy with my game today,” said Sabalenka, who hit 23 unforced errors compared to 21 winners. “I’m going to work a little bit tomorrow and make sure I’m ready for the next round a little bit better than I was today.” 

The first set was a far-from-perfect performance from the reigning Australian Open champion who produced a total of 17 unforced errors. Sabalenka looked to be on a good footing early after breaking for a 4-2 lead but her inconsistency enabled Shymanovich to claw her way back to level. Nudging ahead to a 6-5 lead, the second seed snatched the opener after prevailing in a marathon seven-deuce service game. Two set points came and went before Sabalenka converted her third with the help of a drop shot from her opponent landing out. 

Sabalenka, who is challenging Iga Swiatek for the No.1 spot in Paris, started the second set emphatically by breaking for a 2-0 lead. However, she failed to capitalize on the opportunity as once again Shymanovich broke back. Prompting her to look towards her entourage in the crowd in frustration.

Despite the blip, the 25-year-old bounced back to crush her opponent’s hope of a shock win. Surging to a 5-2 lead, Sabalenka worked her way to three match points with a powerful forehand strike that forced her rival to return the ball out. She prevailed on her second opportunity after a Shymanovich shot crashed into the net.

“It was a tough match,” Sabalenka reflected. “She played really great tennis and I’m happy that no matter what I was able to fight for every point. I’m happy to get this win.” 

Sabalenka will next take on either Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova or Magdalena Frech. Should she win that match, she will achieve her best-ever run at the French Open. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam where she is yet to reach the semi-final stage.

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