Matteo Berrettini Beats Shapavolov to Reach Last Eight in Stuttgart, but Shelton Falls - UBITENNIS
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Matteo Berrettini Beats Shapavolov to Reach Last Eight in Stuttgart, but Shelton Falls

Qualifier James Duckworth upset the second seed and now faces Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

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Matteo Berrettini - Wimbledon 2023 (foto Ubitennis)

In the shock of the day, Australian qualifier James Duckworth took out second seed Ben Shelton in three sets to advance to the quarter finals where he plays Matteo Berrettini, who won comfortably against Denis Shapavalov.

In the first meeting between the two, Duckworth completed a 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 win in just over two hours against the American, who was playing his first match on grass this season and is still short of match play on the surface. Despite blasting 21 aces, he could not win enough points behind his second serve and lost the match – although he had won more marginally more points in total. 

The 32-year-old Duckworth was formerly ranked inside the top 50 after claiming a personal-best 22 tour-level wins in 2021. However, he has been plagued by injuries since and has undergone nine different surgeries. He squeezed through the first set tie-break and despite a blip in the second set, refocussed in the decider and managed to break serve for the first time and make it count. 

In the headline match of the day featuring powerful serving along with brilliant sliced backhands from two former top tenners battling their way back from injury, Matteo Berrettini overcame Denis Shapavalov 6-4, 6-4.

The head-to-head showed Shapavolov with a 2-0 record but both matches were over five years ago and both on hard courts. Interestingly, while both matches went to three sets, it was the Canadian who had won all four tie-breaks played. 

I knew that I hadn’t beaten him before,” said Berrettini aftrewards. “They were two tough matches although a long time ago. I knew I had to play my best tennis to beat him today. I know that in my career I have been pretty successful on grass, especially here and now let’s see if I can reach the semi-finals. I have to rest a little bit and think tomorrow about the next match. It was a perfect test for me to see my level, after a long time on grass, especially after the battle I had on Tuesday, I’m really happy to be through to the quarter finals.”

Both players played a high quality first set where once again serve dominated proceedings; Berrettini winning 82% and Shapavalov 83% behind first serves while both saved a breakpoint each. But in the game of tennis, double faults can be costly, especially if you do it at the wrong time. And it was the Canadian who threw in his one and only double fault when at breakpoint down to lose serve and go 4-5 down.

Berrettini took three hours to defeat Roman Safiullin on Tuesday but fortunately had a day off before today’s encounter, while Shapavalov fought from 2-4 down in the first set to win 7-6, 7-5 over qualifier Matteo Martineau despite ten double faults.

Shapavalov, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon three years ago before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, was rattled midway through the second set when serving and heard some computer bleeps between his first and second serve to lose concentration and concede the break. 

Berrettini was the first Italian man to reach the quarter finals of all four Grand Slams, and the only two-time winner of this event since it switched to grass in 2015, a place he clearly enjoys playing.

I put a lot of emphasis on my serve, especially on the grass,” he explained. “It’s important to make him feel the pressure that when he is serving, he better not get broken, otherwise he will be in trouble. I like using the slice to come in on the grass, especially against the one handed backhand, it’s something that’s very useful. We practised a little bit together yesterday and this morning so I’m happy that it worked.”

Shapavalov was the second Canadian after Milos Raonic to break the top ten of the rankings in 2020, but has now dropped outside of the top 100. The Italian offered some words of comfort to his beaten opponent: “Due to our conditions, we both got injured, and that’s why I think he’s probably going to be in the top 50, 30, 20 really soon, we know his potential, and for me as well. I know how tough it is to come back after many injuries, so good luck to him.”

In the first match of the day, America’s Brandon Nakashima flashed winners from across the court and defeated French veteran Richard Gasquet in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his second grass court quarter final in just 71 minutes.

Both players traded breaks of serve early in the first set before 70th ranked Nakashima took the decisive break to lead 5-3. He served out a love game to take the opener. He then broke again right at the start of the second set to take full control of the match. 

Gasquet, in the draw as the highest lucky loser after top seed Alexander Zverev withdrew with fatigue after reaching the Roland Garros final, struggled to make much impact on his return games as Nakashima regularly ramped up the speed on his first serve. Still, he showed flashes of his trademark backhand late on with a couple of flourishing winners as the match neared the end. But even when the Frenchman had break back chances in the second set, the American saved them with huge aces. 

“It’s never easy against a player like Richard, he has so much experience on the tour,” said 22-year-old Nakashima on court afterwards. “I’m just happy to win and with the way I played today. I served and volleyed at the important moments and happy to be in the quarter finals. I served well during the big points; it was very crucial to get the confidence. I was returning well and capitalising on the breakpoints I had was also very important.”

It was Nakashima’s first time in Stuttgart, and he also paid tribute to the crowd: “It’s a beautiful tournament, I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far and I’m happy to play again here tomorrow. Thank you all for coming out and I appreciate the support.”

The next match on Centre was a first tour-level meeting between another Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and home hope Jan-Lennard Struff – who did not disappoint the home fans with a straight sets victory. 

Games went with serve in the first set and neither player came close to a breakpoint – until the 28-year-old Rinderknech served at 4-5 down and Struff hit a forehand winner at 30-30 to bring up a set point. But though Rinderknech saved four set points in all, the scoreboard pressure finally told as Stuff converted on his fifth when approaching the net forcing an error from his opponent. 

Rinderknech, who broke into the top 50 for the first time in January 2022, rallied well in the second set and took it to a tie-break but capitulated without winning a point as Struff completed a 6-4, 7-6 win.

The German has now reached his third Stuttgart quarter final in his last four appearances, missing a match point against Frances Tiafoe in last year’s final. “I was serving pretty good today, all match,” he said after the match. “That can put a bit of pressure on his service games if he doesn’t get a look on mine, I’m very happy with the result today. It’s very nice to play in Germany and amazing support always, so I really enjoy it.”

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

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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

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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

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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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