Daniil Medvedev Stuns Top Seed Alcaraz to Reach Fifth Grand Slam Final and Faces Djokovic in Showdown - UBITENNIS
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Daniil Medvedev Stuns Top Seed Alcaraz to Reach Fifth Grand Slam Final and Faces Djokovic in Showdown

2021 Champion Daniil Medvedev Praises ‘Unbelievable Crowd’ Amid Tense Finish.

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(@DaniilMedwed - Twitter)

By Anshu Taneja

Third seed Daniil Medvedev overcame a nervy finale to finally put away defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in four tight sets 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, and now faces Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s decider.

In a match lasting three hours and nineteen minutes on a sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium, the match lived up to its billing and did not disappoint, featuring numerous outstanding rallies as both men displayed all the best of their attacking and defensive skills from all parts of the court.

“The crowd was unbelievable today. Absolutely unbelievable, I mean it” said Medvedev in his on-court interview afterwards.

“We had some crazy points and there was love to both sides. Some Spanish guys started screaming at 5-3 [in the fourth] during the points which is not so nice but I guess they were desperate. I said I needed to play 11 out of 10. I played 12 out of 10, except from the third set.”

This was the third meeting between the two this year with Alcaraz winning both matches very convincingly: the first a straight sets demolition in the Indian Wells Final – where Medvedev criticized the slow-paced surface – and then again in the Wimbledon semis where he won every set 6-3.

Both players held serve in an impressive opening set. At 4-5 down and with no room for error, Medvedev held to love and had 0-30 in the next game. Then Alcaraz held firm in a quality rally ending with a brilliant inside out forehand and escaped the game to go 6-5 up. The next game featured the best rally of the first set with Alcaraz covering the net like a man possessed and even though he pushed a volley wide, it drew a standing ovation from the crowd.

Fittingly, the set would be settled on a tiebreak where Medvedev took the first mini-break with a stunning forehand up the line but the Russian gave it straight back with a double fault and they switched ends at 3-3. But Alcaraz failed on a drop shot, and then missed a forehand to give Medvedev a real chance of taking the set – and two points later he won it with 85% of first serves won and a whopping 40% of unreturned serves.

Alcaraz, who had failed to take advantage of two breakpoints early in the first set, suddenly found himself facing one at the start of the second and surrendered his serve meekly with another failed drop shot. Meanwhile Medvedev continued dominating the baseline exchanges and took a 3-0 lead having won 14 of the first 18 points. He even carved up two more breakpoints in the next game and though he couldn’t take one, he was cruising on his service game, holding for 4-1 having not lost a point on serve thus far, and broke again in the next for 5-1.

Medvedev, who came through his quarter final in straight sets against Andrey Rublev, had now won the set 6-1 with just three unforced errors – a tactical masterclass. Simply outstanding from the World Number three, who was the tour leader with 37 wins on hard courts this year, and now tantalizingly close to his fifth Grand Slam Final.

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz had never recovered from two sets down in a Grand Slam in five previous attempts, and now had a mountain to climb. But he slowly worked his way into the set by getting the upper hand in the baseline rallies, and began focusing on Medvedev’s backhand and upped his percentages on serve. Along with thirteen blistering winners, he also converted 13 of 15 net approaches and using the energy of the crowd and relying on his inner belief, he converted on his only breakpoint with a beautiful rolled backhand lob to go 3-1 up. He held on to that lead throughout to take the set 6-3 to the delight of the crowd. Game on again.


But once again Medvedev raised his game in the fourth. Games went with serve until the sixth where Alcaraz found himself under serious pressure with some long physical exchanges and six deuce points. After thirteen long minutes Medvedev broke for a 4-2 lead. Both players held, and then at 5-3 and now serving for the match, the Russian went 0-30 down and then 15-40 down to hand some final hope to Alcaraz. He saved both and then reached match point but inexplicably threw in two double faults – showing just how much tension there actually was on court.

Once again, the crowd were treated to fabulous points in the nervy ending which see-sawed both ways at deuce before Medvedev finally put away his fourth match point to settle the enthralling contest and deny Alcaraz, meaning that Roger Federer still remains the last man to successfully defend the title back in 2008.

Medvedev has made his living with his unorthodox style of play mixed in with excellent court coverage and had a 28-5 lifetime record at the US Open over the last six years. Coming in to the match, the general consensus was that it was he who would have to come up with a different game plan and not stand so far back at the court.

“Before the match for sure I had a lot of doubts after losing easily to him twice this year. He is honestly just really unbelievable” explained Medvedev afterwards. “To beat him you need to be better than yourself and I managed to do it. The third set was not so bad. I lost one serve and I felt I wasn’t so far away on his. I managed to do some amazing points in the fourth and he started to miss a bit which we don’t usually see.”

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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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