Roland Garros Daily Preview: Tuesday Provides Some Blockbuster Quarterfinals - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Tuesday Provides Some Blockbuster Quarterfinals

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Karen Khachanov last week in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The quarterfinals begin on Tuesday in Paris.

The ATP singles quarterfinals on Tuesday are quite scintillating.  2022 US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz faces two-time Major runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, and 22-time Slam champ Novak Djokovic plays Karen Khachanov, who is vying for his third consecutive Major semifinal.

And the WTA quarterfinals are far from shabby.  2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova takes on 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Muchova.  And this year’s Aussie Open champ Aryna Sabalenka squares off against new mom Elina Svitolina, who is trying to overcome a painful past in French Open quarterfinals.


Karolina Muchova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova  – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier

After injuries interrupted the last two years of her career, Muchova is now a strong 21-7 this season.  This is her fourth Major quarterfinal within the last four years, and her first in Paris.  Karolina has dropped one set to this stage, and upset eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the first round.

A knee injury caused Pavlyuchenkova to miss most of 2022, and she had a losing record in 2023 prior to this fortnight.  Before to her run to the final here two years ago, she was 0-6 in Slam quarterfinals.  Anastasia has won three consecutive three-setters over seeded players.

They’ve met three times on three different surfaces within the past four years.  Pavlyuchenkova won on hard court and clay, while Muchova won on grass.  But based on recent form, I favor Karolina to even their head-to-head and achieve her second Major semifinal.


Elina Svitolina vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 12:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

This will unfortunately be another matchup between Svitolina and a Russian or Belarussian player, where no handshake is expected after the match.  Hopefully the French crowd will refrain from booing that on Tuesday, as they have after Svitolina defeated Russia’s Anna Blinkova and Daria Kasatkina.

Outside of that, Svitolina’s run at this event has been inspiring.  Having become a mother less than eight months ago, and in just her fifth tour-level tournament since her return, she’s now on an eight-match win streak, after winning a title immediately prior to this event in Strasbourg.  But Elina is 0-3 in Roland Garros quarterfinals, having lost an especially heartbreaking one in 2017 to Simona Halep after being up a set and two breaks, and even holding a match point in the second set tiebreak.

Sabalenka continues to dominate this season.  She’s now 33-5, and 11-0 at Majors.  Aryna has not dropped a set through four rounds in Paris.  This is her best French Open performance to date, and Aryna is looking to achieve her fifth Major semifinal out of her last seven appearances.

They have split two previous encounters, both of which went to a third set.  However, their clay court matchup three years ago went to Svitolina.  Yet Sabalenka remains a considerable favorite to prevail on Tuesday.


Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Karen Khachanov (11) – Third on Court Philippe Chatrier

This is a 55th career Major quarterfinal for Djokovic, and he’s won 13 of his last 14, dating back five years.  The only loss during that span came here a year ago, when he was defeated by Rafael Nadal in four sets.  Novak is now 24-4 this year, and has won all 12 sets he’s played thus far in Paris.  He is looking for his 90th career win at Roland Garros.

This is a fifth career Major quarterfinal for Khachanov, but his third in a row after advancing to the semifinals in both New York and Melbourne.  He is 21-6 lifetime at the French Open, and 23-10 in 2023.  Karen played four more sets to reach this quarterfinal than Novak.

Their history has been quite one-sided, with Novak leading 8-1 overall, and 2-0 on clay.  Karen’s only victory came five years ago in this same city, though it was in the final of the hard court Paris Indoors, Khachanov’s biggest career title to date.  While Khachanov’s powerful groundstrokes could enable him to threaten Djokovic on Tuesday, and I’m not convinced Novak is 100% healthy or confident after struggling this clay court season, the 22-time Major champ remains a favorite to advance to his 12th semifinal at Roland Garros.


Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Alcaraz is 34-3 on the year, and easily dispatched of another one-handed backhand, Lorenzo Musetti, on Sunday.  He’s dropped one set in this tournament, during his second round contest with Taro Daniel.  Carlitos is vying for his second Slam semifinal, after winning the last Slam he played.

Tsitsipas is 29-8 this season, and also lost one set thus far.  And notably, the Greek is 6-0 in Major quarterfinals, having taken his last 12 sets he’s played.  Most impressively, that includes a two-sets-to-love comeback victory over Rafael Nadal, two years ago at the Australian Open.

However, Tsitsipas is 0-4 against Alcaraz, and 0-2 on clay.  When they met this past April in the final of Barcelona, Carlitos won in straight sets.  And while I expect Stefanos to make this an extremely tight contest, the World No.1 is still the favorite.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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

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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

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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.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

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.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ 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.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

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 Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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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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