Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Djokovic/Dimitrov, Krejcikova/Ostapenko Headline Sunday’s Play - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Djokovic/Dimitrov, Krejcikova/Ostapenko Headline Sunday’s Play



A look at the red clay of Rome (

Third round singles action continues on Sunday at Foro Italico, with some second round matches still to be concluded, as many contests were rescheduled from Saturday due to rain.  Some of those matches were featured in yesterday’s preview here.

On Sunday in Rome, six-time and defending champion Novak Djokovic renews what has been a one-sided rivalry with Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.  And in a battle of Roland Garros champions, Barbora Krejcikova faces Jelena Ostapenko.

Other matches on Sunday feature two-time defending champ Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina, and the match most Italian eyes will be on: Holger Rune against Fabio Fognini.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (26) – Third on Center Court

Djokovic is 18-3 this year, but is yet to win back-to-back matches on clay.  He lost his second match in both Monte Carlo and Banja Luka, going down to Lorenzo Mustti and Dusan Lajovic, respectively.  And of course, he pulled out of Madrid due to his ongoing elbow issues.  However, in a career of massive success at Masters 1000 events, this has definitively been his best one.  He’s won the Rome title six times, and reached six other finals.  Novak is now 65-10 in Rome, after taking out Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the last round.

Dimitrov is only 12-8 this season, and hasn’t won back-to-back matches since February on any surface.  After defeating another Slam champ, Stan Wawrinka, in the last round, he is now just 11-10 in Rome, having reached a semifinal back in 2014.

Overall Djokovic is 10-1 against Dimitrov, with their first encounter occurring at the 2012 Shanghai Masters.  Grigor’s only victory came 10 years ago in Madrid, in a match where Novak battled an ankle injury.  Despite his elbow injury on this day, Djokovic remains a considerable favorite to advance.

Barbora Krejcikova (10) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (20) – Fifth on Grand Stand Arena

Krejcikova is 20-9 in 2023, with a WTA 1000 title in Dubai.  But since that title run nearly three months ago, she’s failed to win more than two matches at any event, losing in the fourth round of the last three WTA 1000 tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid).  This is only her second appearance in the singles main draw of this event.

Ostapenko is 15-10 on the year, and just 3-2 on clay.  She’s now 9-7 lifetime in Rome, having reached the quarterfinals twice across the last five years.  But in her other three appearances, she lost in the first round.

Krejcikova leads their tour-level head-to-head 2-1, with all three meetings taking place on hard courts.  In a match that could easily go either way based on recent form, with not to separate the two, I give the slight edge to Ostapenko, purely because she feels overdo for a strong run at a big event.  And her big swings can allow her to beat almost anyone on any day.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Maria Sakkari (9) vs. Marketa Vondrousova – Sakkari is 20-9 on the year, and 12-4 lifetime in Rome.  Vondrousova is 18-7 in 2023, and showed little mercy for Bianca Andreescu on Friday, eliminating her by a score of 6-0, 6-1.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Lesia Tsurenko – Swiatek is now 26-5 this season, and 10-1 on clay.  She showed absolutely no mercy for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Friday, demolishing her 6-0, 6-0.  Tsurenko is yet to drop a set through two rounds.  Last year at Roland Garros, Iga defeated Lesia 6-2, 6-0.

Fabio Fognini (WC) vs. Holger Rune (7) – Rune is 23-9 on the year, and 9-2 on clay.  Fognini is now ranked outside the top 100, but notched impressive victories this week over Andy Murray and Miomir Kecmanovic.  Last summer in Canada, Holger beat Fabio in straight sets.

Anna Kalinskaya vs. Elena Rybakina (7) – Rybakina is now 25-7, but has recently been dealing with a lower back injury.  She’s 1-2 against Kalinskaya, and they’ve split two meetings within the past two months.  In Miami, Elena won in three.  In Madrid, Anna won in three.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.


Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two



Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket



The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.


Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.


Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.


Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

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 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open



Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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