French Open: Alexander Zverev Defeats De Minaur in Straight Sets to Reach Last Four - UBITENNIS
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French Open: Alexander Zverev Defeats De Minaur in Straight Sets to Reach Last Four

German fourth seed into semis for fourth consecutive year

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Despite not finding his best form, Alexander Zverev played the better tennis at just the right moments and beat Alex de Minaur 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of Roland Garros where he will face Casper Ruud on Friday. 

Although fourth seeded Zverev won in straight sets, De Minuar will surely rue his missed opportunities throughout the match – none more so than when he was 4-0 ahead in the second set tie-break with clear chances to level the contest. He also failed to take a set point when 6-5 ahead. 

Zverev has come through two five-setters in the third and fourth rounds during this year’s tournament and has spent over eight hours on court. After the match he spoke about how he has managed to maintain his energy levels:

“Everybody in the press keeps asking me what I do for recovery and my answer is very simple – you don’t recover after matches, you recover in the off-season, and then tennis becomes easy. I have the mindset you have to work harder than everyone else to be the best player. The best players are all doing that. For me, I like to work to my absolute limit. If I do that then playing five sets all of a sudden is not that difficult. I’ve been doing that over many years now and I’m happy it’s paying off and happy to be in another semi-final. Hopefully I can win one!”

Both players broke serve early in the first set as neither was able to settle down. With the scores at 3-3, De Minaur faltered and gifted another break of serve with a double fault. Zverev fought back from 0-30 down to lead 5-3 and took the set shortly afterwards with a lovely cross court winner. 

The second set went with serve until 2-2 when Zverev made his move to break but just as in the first set the Australian broke back to level up at three games all.  Games went with serve until the breaker where the eleventh seed took a huge four-point lead. A sliced backhand hit the net cord in the rally which could have taken him to 5-0, but instead Zverev fought back to 5-5. 

And then came the moment of the match where either player could have set point – a magnificent 39-shot rally which tested both player’s patience, dexterity, fitness, and skill. In spite of some wild forehand misses earlier on, Zverev played better when it mattered most and stole the tie-break seven points to five.

Zverev, who beat Rafael Nadal in the first round, once again broke serve at 2-2 in the third set but was in trouble when he tried to serve for the match at 5-4. He went 0-30 down courtesy of an unforced error followed by his fifth double fault. Winning the next two points got him back to 30-all  but De Minaur carved up a breakback point – and took it with a beautiful backhand drop volley to send the crowd wild. 

Their Mexican wave during the changeover carried on into the next game which distracted the Aussie. From 30-15 up he fell to 30-40 as Zverev brought up his first match point which he took following an unforced error from his opponent. 

Having spoken before about his difficulties of playing with slow balls in the night session, Zverev knew he had to stay focussed during the key second set tie-break. After his win, he was asked about the 39-shot rally and how he managed to chase everything down, and he replied: 

“I have a coach who’s my father who couldn’t care less how I feel on the practice court. Since I was three years old, it was run here, run there, run for four hours straight. He sometimes forgets I’m 2m tall and can hit a serve 230km an hour. He definitely taught me the Spanish way – running for everything and putting balls back in the court. I wish I would be more aggressive sometimes, but if I’m winning, I’m happy. I’m in the semi-finals and that’s all that matters.”

Next up for Zverev is Ruud where he will look to banish memories of last year’s semi-final where he lost in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Although they have split their four matches, the Norwegian has had three days off and will surely start the fresher. 

“[On Ruud], great player. Look, two finals in a row, third semifinal in a row, that speaks for itself,” said Zverev. “He’s one of the best players on this surface, for sure. I think I have to play my best tennis to have a chance.”

Zverev then went on to speak about how tennis has impacted his life. 

“This sport has given me everything,” he continued. “It has given me the life that I have, it’s given me my first love, given me heartbreaks, the biggest joyful and painful moments. If I can give back in any way and give joy to the people watching. I hope I can continue to bring joy to people’s faces and as long as I do, I will keep on playing and that’s the most important thing.” 

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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