Jack Draper Through to Quarters, Faces Defending Champion Tiafoe in Stuttgart - UBITENNIS
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Jack Draper Through to Quarters, Faces Defending Champion Tiafoe in Stuttgart

Wins also for Alexander Bublik and Lorenzo Musetti.



Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper was taken the distance but defeated America’s Maros Giron 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and reached the quarter finals in Stuttgart where he faces another American in Frances Tiafoe on Friday. 

Draper, who is still only 22-years-old, hit 36 winners along with nine aces as he won a massive 84% of points behind his first serve to finally come through in almost two hours.

“I thought I played a really good first set, but then he came back really strong. I had a blip in concentration, but then in the third set I came back so I’m really happy I was able to come through the match” said Draper on court after his victory. 

In the day’s last match on Centre court, the first four games went with serve until Giron played a horrible game starting with three unforced errors to go 0-40 down. Two points later, a brilliant forehand up the line from sixth seed Draper pulled Giron out of position and he committed yet another error to hand the break to the Brit. Games thereafter went with serve and Draper, who peaked at 35 in the rankings just two months ago, closed out in 32 minutes.

But 30-year-old Giron, who is ranked just outside the top 50, upped his game in the second set and broke serve for a 5-3 lead to take the match into a decider. In the third, left-handed Draper used his massive swinging serve to full effect and broke serve immediately to go 3-0 up and even had a chance for a double break. Instead Giron, who beat Holger Rune in the second round of the Toronto Masters last year, held and put Draper under pressure for the remainder of the match. 

Draper paid tribute to his beaten opponent: “he beat Andy Murray yesterday who is an incredible player, so I knew he had a high level. I had to come out and know he was going to bring that and I was able to stay with him and in the end come through. It’s not fun at all, it’s not easy. But, yeah, you just have to stay with him, I was trying to stay focussed and try to stay positive, because especially on these courts it can happen very quick, so I’m happy I was able to perform here.” 

Draper knows how to play on grass, having reached the Wimbledon junior final in 2018. He mixed up heavy hitting from the back along with intelligent net approaches and closed out the contest with a sliced crosscourt backhand volley, before clenching his fist and waving to the crowd. 

Looking ahead to the Tiafoe game, Draper said: “He is an incredible player, I think everyone in the draw is incredible, so I really look forward to that challenge and it will be a really fun match.”

The first match of the day saw Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti take on home hope Dominik Koepfer who won their only previous meeting and was searching for his first quarter final on grass. In a match approaching three hours, Musetti finally came through 6-7, 7-6, 6-3. 

Both players held serve well in the opening exchanges and won a combined 22 points at the net. Musetti, who had a 6-3 win/loss record on grass last year, was untroubled on his service games and held four breakpoints but was unable to convert any.  He raced to a 4-1 lead in the tie-break but threw in a sloppy double fault to lose his advantage and the scores were level at 5-5. Thereafter, both players held and saved set points and 65th ranked Koepfer (having saved five) finally won on his third set point after an hour and nine minutes, when former junior World number one Musetti played a very conservative rally and nervously hooked a forehand wide.

But 22-year-old Musetti, who broke into the top 20 after earning a personal-best 34 wins during 2022 season regrouped and fought back in the second – also on a tie-breaker – seven points to five to level the contest. After trading breaks at the start of the third, he took the decisive break to go 5-3 ahead and soon served out to reach the quarter finals here for the second year in a row.

“It was a really, really tough match,” Musetti said. “We saw two hours and a half of really good tennis. Dominik was playing really, really well… We were fighting until the end and I am really proud of myself.”

The second match on Centre court saw American Frances Tiafoe save eleven breakpoints before beating Yannick Hanfmann 7-5, 7-6. The German has multiple victories on the Challenger circuit and has wins over Fritz, Gael Monfils and Andrey Rublev on the main ATP Tour, while he earned the biggest win of his career over Stefanos Tsitsipas on the grass in Mallorca last summer. 

In the first meeting between the two players, both held serve until five games all in the first set before defending champion Tiafoe made his move to break. Both players continued serving well and tested each other out in the second set: Tiafoe forcing deuce a couple of times and Hanfmann reaching 0-30 in a service game before Tiafoe averted the trouble with great serving. 

The game point at two games all featured the rally of the day, proving tennis is not all about power and booming serves. The lovely exchange involved a series of angled drop shots before Hanfmann, who achieved his career-high ranking of 45 last July, ended up on the other side of the net. Both players then acknowledged their efforts and shared a fist pump. 

Tiafoe, a former World number two in juniors, cracked the top 10 exactly a year ago after winning here for his third ATP Tour title – saving a match point against Jan-Lennard Struff in the final – meaning there were two Americans in the top 10 (along with Taylor Fritz) for the first time in over ten years. 

In the only other singles match today, Alexander Bublik went through in straight sets, beating youngster Hamad Medjedovic, who became the third Serbian teenager to win a hattrick of Challenger titles last year. Bublik, who posted a personal best of 35 wins in 2021, is adept on the grass courts having won last year in Halle with a victory over Andrey Rublev, and he cruised through the first set with a double break over his nervous opponent taking it 6-1. 

Medjedovic is a relative newcomer to the main ATP Tour and has faced only one top 20 player in his fledging career, losing to Daniil Medvedev in Rome last month. He put up a more solid display in the second set taking it to a tie-break, but a couple of loose errors at the wrong time was his downfall as he lost it 7-6.

Bublik, who made the last 16 at Wimbledon last year spoke briefly on court after his match: “It’s true I’m happy to be back on grass. I had one of the best memories I had last year in Halle and coming back to Germany here in this beautiful venue on the beautiful grass gives be goosebumps. Hamad is very young and nervous, maybe he gifted me a couple of points in the first set and I used my experience. In the second set the serve percentage was much higher and I’m lucky I got a few balls back in the court in the tie-break.”


Wimbledon Daily Preview: Jasmine Paolini Plays Barbora Krejcikova for the Ladies’ Singles Championship



Jasmine Paolini after winning her semifinal on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 13 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, and gentlemen’s doubles.

It’s cliché, and usually untrue, to say “No one expected these two finalists.”  But in this case, it is absolutely true.  Prior to this fortnight, Jasmine Paolini had never won a match at The Championships.  And Barbora Krejcikova arrived at SW19 with a losing record on the year.  Yet both will play in their second Major singles final on Saturday, after inspired play during this tournament.

Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

After failing to advance beyond the second round in her first 16 appearances at Majors, Paolini is now 15-2 in her last three, and is the first WTA player to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.  Jasmine is 30-12 on the year, and has won 14 of her last 16 matches.  She has been taken to three sets twice during this event, most recently outlasting Donna Vekic in a third-set tiebreak during Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova has also required three sets in two of her six matches to this stage, upsetting 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the semis.  That was the third win in a row for Barbora over a higher-seed, after ousting two other big hitters, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko.  She’s accomplished all this despite being just 7-9 this season before this tournament began.  Injuries have plagued her career since her 2021 Roland Garros singles title, including a back injury earlier this year. 

Paolini is 2-4 lifetime in singles finals at WTA level, while Krejcikova is 7-5.  However, when you consider their appearances in Major finals between singles and doubles, Paolini is 0-2, having lost both the women’s singles and doubles finals last month in Paris, while Krejcikova is an amazing 11-1.  That’s a huge contrast in success at Grand Slam level.

These players also possess contrasting styles.  Paolini has been crushing her forehand, using it to come forward and show off her great hands at the net.  Krejcikova has a good serve, as well as both power and guile on her groundstrokes.  She loves using her slice to keep her opponents off-balance.  However, that will be more difficult to do against such a great mover like Jasmine.  And Barbora’s forehand has become unreliable in some crucial moments during this fortnight, which the Italian can target.

But on this surface, and considering her history in Major finals, I give the edge to Krejcikova to win her second Major singles title.  Plus, Barbora has already won two ladies’ doubles titles on this same court.  And she would surely cherish the chance to honor her late coach and mentor Jana Novotna by holding the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft on Centre Court, just as Jana did in 1998.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) vs. Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten – This is a fourth Major final in men’s doubles for Purcell, who won this title two years ago alongside another Aussie, Matthew Ebden.  Thompson had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major in either men’s singles or doubles until this run.  Patten is also a Major final debutante, while Heliovaara won last year’s US Open in mixed doubles.

Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Siniakova is playing for the ninth Major title in women’s doubles, while Townsend is playing for her first, after going 0-2 in previous finals.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and Routliffe will become the new World No.1 in women’s doubles on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s result.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Daniil Medvedev Calls For Video Replays After ‘Small Cat’ Insult At Wimbledon Umpire



Daniil Medvedev - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Daniil Medvedev admits the use of his words against the umpire in his Wimbledon semi-final match was not pleasant but he believes he didn’t cross a line. 

The world No.5 was issued with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct during the first set of his clash with Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev was visibly irritated when umpire Eva Asderaki ruled there was a double bounce before he returned a ball during a rally. He was then caught on camera mouthing an insult to Asderaki who consulted with the tournament supervisor before issuing him with a violation. Verbal abuse towards match officials can lead to players being defaulted from matches. 

Medvedev went on to win the first set before losing in four to Alcaraz. After his exit from the tournament, he was quizzed about what he said. 

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” he said without elaborating any further.

Continuing to defend his actions, the 28-year-old said he had previously been involved in a similar incident involving Asderaki where a double-bounce call was made against him at the French Open. Medvedev says memories of what happened were triggered today. 

“I don’t know if it was a double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago at Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that it was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the phrase ‘small cat’ as an insult. During a heated match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2022 Australian Open, told umpire Jaume Campistol he would be a small cat if he did not take action against claims that Tsitsipas was being coached illegally during the match.

The former US Open champion says he did not fear being defaulted from his latest match before going on to say video replays should be allowed in the sport. A comment that was also made by Coco Gauff during the French Open earlier this year after she was caught up in a dispute concerning a double-bounce.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he replied when asked if he was concerned he might be disqualified for what he said on Friday.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it. 

“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why we don’t use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

Medvedev’s focus will now turn back to the clay ahead of the Olympic games which will be held at Roland Garros. 

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Novak Djokovic Claims 375th Major Win To Reach Wimbledon Final



Image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic is a win away from a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title after beating a spirited Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-3, in the semi-finals on Friday. 

The second seed was challenged by his 22-year-old but had all the answers to the questions that were asked of him. Djokovic dropped serve twice in his latest match but managed to come out on top with the help of 34 winners. He is through to his 10th Wimbledon final which is the second-highest tally in history among male players after Roger Federer (12).

I have said it many times Wimbledon has been a childhood dream for me to play it and to win it. It is worth repeating I was a seven-year-old boy watching the bombs fly over my head and dreaming of being on the most important court in the world which is here in Wimbledon.” Djokovic said afterwards.
“I was constructing Wimbledon trophies out of any material in the room!
“I have the tremendous support from my family and my wife has been with me for many years and my children too – it has been an incredible journey.
“I try not to take it for granted every time I find myself on this unique court. Obviously during the match it is business time and trying to do your work and I try out play my opponent.
“I am satisfied and pleased, but I don’t want to stop here – hopefully I get my hands on the trophy.”

The seven-time champion first drew blood six games into the match. A roller-coaster rally between the duo ended with Musetti hitting an unforced error that granted Djokovic a break for 4-2. Immediately afterwards he tried to generate more support from the crowd which triggered mostly cheers, as well as some booing due to what he said earlier in the tournament. Meanwhile, on the court, Djokovic looked to be in control when leading 5-3, 40-15, before Musetti unexpectedly broke back. Despite the blip, he sealed the 6-4 lead in the following game.

Djokovic continued to be sternly tested by Musetti, who produced moments of brilliance with his shot-making to rightfully earn the 3-1 lead in the second frame. But once again, he managed to fight back against the Italian by claiming three games in a row. With little to separate both players, proceedings headed into a tiebreaker after Musetti fought off a set point.

It was largely one-way traffic in the tiebreaker as Djokovic surged to a two-set lead by hitting a smash. However, the best point was undoubtedly produced by his rival who hit a stunning around-the-post winner that clocked in at 103 mph.  

Closing in on a record 375th win in a Grand Slam tournament, the 24-time Grand Slam champion broke once in the third set before sealing after a shot from his rival landed beyond the baseline.

“There was plenty of doubt. I came into London eight days before the tournament stared. I didn’t know [if I would play] and I was keeping everything open until the day of the draw,” said Djokovic who had knee surgery last month.
I have played a couple of practice sets with top plays and that proved to me I was in a good enough state to not just be in Wimbledon, but to go deep into the tournament. 
“That kind of mentality is there and is ever present. Thank you to the team members for helping me.”

The Serbian has broken another Open Era record to reach the title match at SW19. He is the first player to reach this stage on three separate occasions after turning 35. He will next take on Carlos Alcaraz in what will be a rematch of last year’s title match. Alcaraz came back from a set down to beat Daniil Medvedev earlier in the day. 

“Last year it was a really difficult match. He put me in real trouble,” Alcaraz said of his 2023 final clash with Djokovic.
“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. I’ve played a few times in Grand Slams, the final of Master 1000, multiple times against him. 
“I know what I have to do. I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me. It’s going to be a really interesting one”

Djokovic leads Alcaraz 3-2 on their head-to-head but only one of his wins have been in straight sets.

“He’s a great example of someone as a young player who has a well balanced life. A good family… a lot of charisma… carries himself well on and off the court.” He said of his next opponent.
“He’s deservedly one of the greatest 21 year olds we’ve ever seen in this sport. We’re gonna see a lot of him in the future no doubt. He’s gonna win many more grand slams. Hopefully in 2 days, not this one.”

Should Djokovic win the title on Sunday he would become the oldest player to ever do so at the age of 37.

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