French Open: Alexander Zverev Outlasts Rune To Make Quarter Finals - UBITENNIS
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French Open: Alexander Zverev Outlasts Rune To Make Quarter Finals

World number four has now won ten five setters in Roland Garros career

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In yet another gruelling contest at this year’s French Open, Alexander Zverev showed incredible fitness and mental resilience to finally overcome stern resistance from thirteenth seed Holger Rune in four hours and eleven minutes to reach the quarter finals where he will play Alex de Minaur.

In a match containing a staggering 120 net approaches from both players (73 Zverev, 47 Rune) and 121 winners (61 Zverev, 60 Rune) along with a combined 42 drop shots, it was the 6’ 6” tall German who came through in five sets 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, aided by a magnificent 76% of points won on first serve.

After the match Zverev spoke on court and was full of praise for his younger opponent: “Wow, what a match to be honest. Holger is an unbelievable player, a young talent, you’re going to see him for fifteen, maybe twenty years here on this beautiful court so credit to him. He has been playing unbelievable tennis this week. I am lucky to be through.

The pair had played just once before with Rune winning easily on the clay courts in Munich two years ago. World number four Zverev survived a five-set thriller against Tallon Griekspoor in the previous round and was 4-1 down in the fifth, while Rune came through in straight sets against Jozef Kovalik. 

The opening set was simply a warm up for the drama that was to follow. Play went with serve in the until the fifth game when Zverev was broken after an unforced error, and 21-year-old Rune held well with 68% first serves won and he took a one set lead. 

But Zverev has serious clay court pedigree, having won the Italian Open in the lead up to Roland Garros and has reached the semi-finals here for the last three years (losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rafael Nadal, and Casper Ruud). He instantly hit back in the second set by breaking Rune three times to level up the contest at a set all. 

After trading breaks at the start of the third set Rune, who has amassed nearly $9m in prize money already in his young career, found himself 15-40 down when serving at 5-5. Thanks to some clutch tennis, the gutsy Dane held firm to push ahead 6-5.

World number thirteen Rune, who reached the quarter finals in 2022 and 2023, losing to Ruud both times, started the next game well with a forehand winner, and on the following point Zverev’s final forehand clipped the top of the net tape but fell back on his side. He then dumped a forehand volley into the net to go 0-40 down and suddenly it was Rune who found himself with set points when only moments before he was the one in trouble.

And then followed the rally of the match – a 39-stroke masterclass of baseline tennis where both players pushed themselves to the limits, and when Rune hooked a forehand wide the crowd gave both the players a deserving standing ovation. Unfortunately for Zverev however, in the next rally he missed an easy forehand volley by miles and threw the set away. Rune, who has renewed his relationship with renowned French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, was now two sets to one up and in control of proceedings having won eight of the last points.

Zverev broke early in the fourth but was unable to capitalize and handed back the initiative. He broke again in the crucial seventh game when Rune lost the point on a backhand error and Zverev was ahead once more. But he lost serve when serving for the set and the players headed into a tie-break. Although Rune was on a remarkable streak of twelve straight wins in a tie-breakers, he played poorly and ranted and raved at his errors while Zverev raced to a 6-1 lead, winning it two points later. Rune immediately went off court to cool off while Zverev was soon up bouncing around on the baseline ready to serve.

With three and a half hours on the clock, the fifth set began in a cool stadium with half the crowd under blankets. Zverev had won nine five-setters alone at Roland Garros, and surely fancied his chances while the big question for Rune was whether he could refocus and get back on track. 

Zverev broke serve early to go 2-1 ahead, and once more at 5-2 up to end the thrilling contest. Zverev now goes on to face Alex de Minaur after he caused the shock of the day in beating fifth seed Daniil Medvedev.

“I’m proud to be in the quarter finals,” said Zverev. “I have played a total of eight and a half hours in the last three days. I need to recover and do everything possible to be ready for the next match because obviously the tournament doesn’t stop here and I want to continue.” 

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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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