Indian Wells Chief Haas Backs Djokovic, Sabalenka For Title Glory - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Chief Haas Backs Djokovic, Sabalenka For Title Glory

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Tommy Haas - Wimbledon 2018 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic should be considered the favourite to capture the men’s title in Indian Wells despite not playing at the event for five years, according to its tournament director. 

Tommy Haas has lent his full backing behind the world No.1 who is set to return to action later this week for the first time since his semi-final loss to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open. Djokovic hasn’t played at Indian Wells since 2019 due to reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the event was cancelled in 2020, he was unable to play the next three years due to travel restrictions that were in place. Under an emergency health law, foreign visitors to America were required to be vaccinated against the virus and the tennis star wasn’t. He applied for special exemptions to play but was refused by authorities. These restrictions ended last year. 

Djokovic, who has previously named Indian Wells as his favourite event, is a five-time champion. The only other male player to have won the tournament as many times as him is Roger Federer. He was also runner-up in 2007 to Rafael Nadal. 

Looking ahead to this year’s tournament, former world No.2 Haas told Eurosport that he considers the 24-time Grand Slam champion as the title favourite and played down the significance of his recent loss in Australia. 

“Djokovic has had such success there, he’s coming back. I feel like every time he doesn’t win a tournament, we all look at it as a failure, right? And I hate to use that word anyway,” Haas said.
“But even the semis at the Australian Open, we all look at it like, ‘Oh, he lost in the semis, he didn’t win the Australian Open.’ But you know how many people of players would love to get to a semi-final one time.
“It’s really outrageous, so you can never count him out. He’s obviously always gonna be a favourite and he’s always gonna look at himself as like, the favourite to win the title.”

Among those challenging the Serbian for the title will be Sinner, who is currently on a 12-match winning streak after also winning Rotterdam last month. Meanwhile, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will be out to prove a point as he seeks his first title since Wimbledon last year. Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the final to Acaraz 12 months ago, will also be hoping for a strong run. 

As for the women’s event, Haas has not picked world No.1 Iga Swiatek and instead chose Aryna Sabalenka as the one to watch. After capturing her second Australian Open title, Sabalenka suffered a shock defeat in Dubai where she lost 12 out of the last 15 games played against Dona Vekic. The Belarussian was runner-up in Indian Wells last year to Elena Rybakina. 

“On the women’s side, Sabalenka, you know, she has such a big, powerful game. Gives her a little bit more time sometimes in Indian Wells too,” Haas explained.
“But she moves well, she’s feeling obviously very, very good about her game — defending her title at the Australian Open. So I kind of give her the edge also going in, no matter what happens the next couple of weeks.”

The first round of matches at Indian Wells will get underway on Wednesday. This year’s singles champions will each earn $1.1M in prize money. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Sebastian Ofner in Barcelona to extend his winning streak

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Sebastian Ofner 6-4 7-5 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to extend his winning streak to seven consecutive matches after claiming his third title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. 

Tsitsipas earned an immediate break in the first game. Ofner broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break  in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and served out the first set 6-4 with a hold at 15. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Ofner won three consecutive games with two breaks of serve to take a 5-3 lead. Tsitsipas came back by winning four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to seal the second set 7-5.

Tsitsipas has a record of 17 wins to 5 defeats in Barcelona. The Greek player reached three finals at this tournament in 2018, 2021 and 2023.  

“I feel pretty good, but it is still early in the tournament. The conditions here are very different to Monte-Carlo and I felt it today when I was playing. My job is to adapt and to ensure I can bring my A game again in Barcelona this week. Today was a great test to see where I stand. I am hoping to keep on improving and getting good wins like this under my belt”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitssipas set up a third round match against Roberto Carballes Baena, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

Musetti saved three break points in the first game of the opening set. The Italian player earned two break points with a backhand down the line. Musetti saved two break points in the seventh game. Both players went on serve un the 12th game when Carballes Baena saved a set point. Carballes Baena went up a 5-1 lead with two mini-breaks in the tie-break. Musetti won three consecutive points to reduce to 4-5. Carballes Baena won the final two points to take the tie-break 7-4. 

Carballes Baena converted his fourth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Musetti broke back in the fifth game. Carballes Baena saved a break point in the sixth game. The Spanish player sealed the win with a break on his second match. 

Last week’s Monte-Carlo finalist Casper Ruud beat Alexandre Muller 6-3 6-4 to claim his 25th tour-level win of the season. Ruud has drawn level with Jannik Sinner for the most wins in 2024 on the ATP Tour. 

Ruud set up a third round match against Jordan Thompson, who beat Jaume Munar 6-4 2-4 6-4. Roberto Bautista Agut beat Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-4 6-1 to claim his milestone 400th match win on the ATP Tour. Bautista Agut set up a third round match against Cameron Norrie. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut wins his milestone 400th match on the ATP Tour

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Roberto Bautista Agut came back from one set down to beat Australian Open doubles finalist Andrea Vavassori 4-6 6-3 6-1 after 2 hours and 1 minute at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. 

Vavassori earned an early break in the first game. The Italian player earned three break points in the seventh game, but Bautista Agut saved them. The Spanish player broke straight back in the eighth game. Vavassori broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and saved two break points before closing out the first set 6-4 on his second set point. 

Both players went on serve in the first four games of the second set. Vavassori earned a break point in the fifth game, but he did not convert it. Bautista Agut broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and did not face any break points to win the second set 6-3. 

Bautista Agut broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1. 

Bautista Agut reached the 400th milestone win on the ATP Tour.  The Spanish player has become the 13th active player with at least 400 ATP Tour wins. He achieved 20 wins against members of the top 10, ten wins against top 5 players and four against world number 1s. Bautista Agut is one of the nine players, who have beaten Novak Djokovic as World number 1 more than twice. 

“For me it’s just a number. The important thing is that I have done great work over these years, that I have a very consistent career, a career that I can feel proud of “, said Bautista Agut. 

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Martina Trevisan beats Naomi Osaka to reach the second round in Rouen

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Martina Trevisan upset former world number 1 Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-2 in the opening round of the Open Capfinances Rouen Metropole. 

Osaka has played her first clay-court match since Roland Garros 2022, where she lost to Amanda Anisimova. The Japanese player has not won a match on clay since beating Anastasia Potapova in the first round of the Madrid Mutua Open in 2022. She helped Japan beat Kazakhstan in the Billie Jean King Cup. 

Trevisan reached the quarter final in 2020 and the semifinal in 2022 at Roland Garros. The former world number 18 won her only title in Rabat in 2022. She reached the quarter finals of the Zaragoza ITF 100 tournament. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games. Osaka earned two break points at 3-2 and three more chances at 4-3, but she was not able to convert them. Trevisan broke serve in the ninth game following a series of forehand errors. 

Trevisan broke twice in the third and seventh games and served out the win on her first match point. 

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva beat Elina Avanesyan 7-5 6-4 in 1 hour and 41 minutes to reach her second quarter final of 2024. 

Andreeva went up a break in the seventh game, but Avanesyan pulled back on serve to draw level to 4-4. Andreeva broke for the second time in the 11th game to win the second set 7-5. Andreeva broke in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Avanesyan converted her third break-back point in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Andreeva broke serve at love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Avanesyan broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Andreeva broke for the third time in the ninth game and served out the win on her second match point after saving two break points. 

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