Roland Garros Daily Preview: Jannik Sinner Plays Carlos Alcaraz in the Men’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Jannik Sinner Plays Carlos Alcaraz in the Men’s Semifinals

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Jannik Sinner on Tuesday in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The men’s singles semifinals will be played on Friday in Paris, as will semifinals in both men’s and women’s doubles.

The ATP singles semifinals feature three of the four top seeds, and the other player is the only of the four to have reached the championship match at Roland Garros, which he did in both of the last two years.  Which of the four will become a first-time French Open champion on Sunday?

The first singles semifinal of the day is a blockbuster, between the two best male players of the new generation.  Reigning Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner, who will become the new World No.1 on Monday, takes on reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz, who would become the new World No.2 if he wins this title.  Their matches have provided some of the most scintillating tennis of the last few years.  Who will win the ninth chapter of their developing rivalry?

The second semifinal sees Sascha Zverev try to overcome a 1-6 record in Major semifinals, against two-time French Open finalist Casper Ruud, who is 3-0 in Major semifinals.  And it’s a rematch from the same round of this same event a year ago, when Ruud demolished Zverev, dropping just seven games.


Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Jannik Sinner (2) – Not Before 2:30pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

The most notable of their previous matches is their epic US Open quarterfinal from 2022, which lasted over five hours and ended at nearly 3:00am local time.  Alcaraz prevailed 6-3 in the fifth, in a match that featured a mind-boggling level of tennis across all five hours.  Carlitos would go on a few days later to win his first Major, while Jannik would have to wait nearly 18 months to win his.

Overall they have split eight prior encounters at tour level, though Sinner claimed their only meeting on clay.  That was the final of Umag two summers ago, when Jannik came back from a set down to win in three.  In their only matchup of 2024, it was Alcaraz coming from a set down to hand Sinner his first loss of the year, in the Indian Wells semifinals.

That remains one of only two losses for the Italian this season, as he’s now 33-2.  The other was in the semifinals of Monte Carlo, at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Despite battling illness and a hip injury prior to this fortnight, Sinner has dropped only one set to this stage. 

Alcaraz has also been struggling with an injury of late, to his right arm.  But that has not seemed to impact his form, as the Spaniard has also only dropped one set.  Carlitos is 23-5 on the year, and 2-2 in Major semifinals, while Jannik is 1-1. 

Since last fall, Sinner has clearly been the best male singles players in the world.  By contrast, Alcaraz has struggled since losing an epic final in Cincinnati last summer to Novak Djokovic, and has only claimed one title since winning Wimbledon nearly a year ago.  However, while Carlitos’ two Major titles have come on a hard court and a grass court, clay is the surface he grew up on, and the one he is most comfortable on.

This feels like a monumental semifinal, and it will likely have Major implications at this tournament and beyond.  With Djokovic and Nadal both already eliminated, the winner of this matchup between the ATP’s two best players will be the favorite in Sunday’s championship match.  And with Djokovic having undergone knee surgery earlier this week, Sinner and Alcaraz will also be the two favorites next month to win Wimbledon.

On Friday, I give the slight edge to Alcaraz.  Sinner is yet to solidify himself as an elite clay court player, as the aforementioned Umag title remains his only one on this surface.  Jannik’s other three victories over Carlitos have come on faster courts (Wimbledon, Miami, Beijing), while Alcaraz has now beaten Sinner in both of the last two years in Indian Wells, which plays at a speed closer to a clay court.  Regardless of the outcome, these two young men seem primed to deliver another classic encounter.


Casper Ruud (7) vs. Sascha Zverev (4) – Last on Court Philippe-Chatrier

It has already been quite a tournament for Zverev, who plays while a trial regarding domestic abuse allegations against him is ongoing in Germany.  He drew 14-time champion Nadal in the first round, impressively defeating the King of Clay in straight sets.  Sascha would go on to win back-to-back five-setters, over Tallon Griekspoor and Holger Rune, before taking out Alex de Minaur in the last round in straight sets. 

Ruud’s road to this semifinal was also quite complicated.  He required four sets to overcome both Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Taylor Fritz, and five against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.  But in the quarterfinals, he received a walkover from an injured Novak Djokovic.  Casper now vies for his third consecutive Roland Garros final, and every time he has advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major, he’s gone all the way to the championship match.

However, we’ve seen in previous years how receiving a walkover in the later round of a Slam often leads to defeat in the next round.  The most relevant example is when Djokovic received a walkover from Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the 2011 Roland Garros quarterfinals.  In the very next round, Roger Federer ended Novak’s perfect season to date, as Djokovic had won his first 43 matches of the year.  Players are creatures of habit, and Ruud having three full days off between matches may disrupt his rhythm.

But perhaps even more troubling is Zverev’s 1-6 record in Major semifinals.  And his only victory came in an empty stadium at the 2020 US Open, when he came from two sets down against a tight Pablo Carreno Busta.  Of course it was in the semifinals of this event two years ago when Sascha suffered a gruesome ankle injury that ended his season.  And a year ago, Ruud defeated Zverev in this round by a score of 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

Overall they have split four previous meetings, with the other three occurring on hard courts.  But a year after their last matchup at this same tournament, Sascha is a much stronger player.  12 months ago, he had not fully rediscovered his form coming off the ankle injury. 

Both men achieved good results on clay coming into this fortnight: Ruud advanced to the final of Monte Carlo and won Barcelona, while Zverev won Rome, and is currently on an 11-match winning streak.  In another tough semifinal to call, I lean towards Zverev to extend his winning streak on Friday.  He feels due for a semifinal victory at a Major, and Sascha is currently playing with more confidence than he’s possessed in a few years.  And in what will likely be a close contest, Zverev’s serving prowess may be the difference, along with his tremendous record of 23-2 in tiebreakers at Roland Garros.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (1) vs. Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic (9) – Granollers and Zeballos are looking to reach their fourth Major final, though they’re yet to win one.  Arevalo won this event in men’s doubles two years ago alongside France’s Jean-Julien Rojer, while Pavic is a three-time Major champion in men’s doubles, with three different partners.  This is a rematch from the final in Rome a few weeks ago, where Granollers and Zeballos prevailed 6-2, 6-2.  The winners will face Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori in the championship match on Saturday.

Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini (11) vs. Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse – Paolini is looking to match what Errani did here in 2012: advance to the final in both women’s singles and women’s doubles.  That year, Errani was the runner-up in singles, and a champion in doubles.  Kostyuk and Ruse were also semifinalists at the last Major in Melbourne.

Caroline Dolehide and Desirae Krawczyk (8) vs. Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova (5) – Gauff will look to bounce back from another disappointing loss to Iga Swiatek on Thursday.  This is the third consecutive year Coco has reached the semifinals or better at Roland Garros in women’s doubles.  Siniakova won this event twice alongside Barbora Krejickova.  Dolehide is 0-4 in Major semis in this discipline, while Krawczyk was a runner-up here in 2020.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Novak Djokovic Starts Rehab Ahead Of Ambitious Wimbledon Return

Novak Djokovic could make an ambitious return to Wimbledon.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Novak Djokovic has started his rehab after having surgery on a meniscus injury he suffered at Roland Garros.

The Serb suffered the injury during his fourth round clash with Francisco Cerundolo where Djokovic came back from two sets to one down to claim victory.

However Djokovic played no further part at Roland Garros as he suffered a bad meniscus injury and had to withdraw from the tournament.

It resulted in Djokovic having to have surgery the following day in Paris as he gave up his world number one ranking to Jannik Sinner.

Now the road to recovery starts for Djokovic as he posted on Instagram the start of his rehabilitation programme.

Usually the programme takes three weeks to six months to recover from but Djokovic’s injury wasn’t as bad as first reported.

It remains to be seen as to whether Djokovic will make his return at Wimbledon or whether he will wait until the Olympic Games to make his return.

Last year Djokovic reached the final at Wimbledon before losing to Carlos Alcaraz in a five set epic.

However it would be no surprise to see Djokovic withdraw as the one thing the Serb is yet to achieve is to win Olympic Gold.

A fully healed Djokovic could be tough to stop in Paris as he looks to achieve a lifetime goal.

Wimbledon starts on the 1st of July while the Olympics starts on the 27th of July.

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Determined Andreescu Ready To Maintain Consistency After Defeating Osaka

Bianca Andreescu is back to her best after defeating Naomi Osaka in s-Hertogenbosch.

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Bianca Andreescu is ready to maintain consistency as her form continues to improve with her latest victory coming against Naomi Osaka in S-Hertogenbosch.

In a battle of the former US Open champions, Andreescu defeated Osaka 6-4 3-6 7-6(3) to move into the semi-finals.

The Canadian is only playing her second tournament this year after her run to the third round at Roland Garros, losing to eventual finalist Jasmine Paolini.

However that hasn’t stopped Andreescu from producing incredible performances as has gone back to the variety that earned her the US Open title five years ago.

Speaking about the match Andreescu praised her consistency on return as she admitted that she really wanted to the victory, “So the key for. me was to stay as consistent as possible,” Andreescu told the WTA website.

“My return today, the goal was to just bunt it back and then take control of the second serve. At 5-2, I might have let up a little bit on my serve. I was saying to myself ‘Go for it’ but the other side of myself said ‘Calm down’. So I got a bit conflicted with that.

“But really could have gone either way. It was two points difference maybe, in the whole match. I never give up. I ran a lot today. More than her for sure. I really wanted it. I really wanted it today and I think that made the big difference.”

Since that US Open title win five years ago, Andreescu has failed to live up to her potential as she has gained the reputation of being one of the most injury prone players on the tour.

Now the Canadian is aiming to find some consistent playing time as she aims to rebuild her ranking.

Speaking ahead of the semi-finals in Holland, Andreescu is not getting to far ahead of herself, “These are the reason we play this sport,” Andreescu commented after beating former world number one Osaka.

“Winning against players like this, at least for me, it really shows me where my level is at. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because every day is different. I just want to take it in and use it to my advantage.”

Next for Andreescu will be Dalma Galfi in the semi-finals as she plays her first WTA semi-final since January 2023.

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Jack Draper Stuns Tiafoe in Stuttgart; Becomes New British Number One

The Brit serves up astonishing 31 aces in just 17 service games

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Britain’s Jack Draper was pushed all the way before beating defending champion Frances Tiafoe in a third set tie-breaker to reach the semi-finals of the Boss Open in Stuttgart today – a result which also makes him the new British number one.

Draper’s biggest wins of his career came when he defeated world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal last year as a qualifier, and also beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in reaching the US Open third round. However, today’s victory over Tiafoe confirms his ascent to the top spot in the British rankings, something which is extremely proud of.

“It’s an incredible privilege, an honour to be in that position,” he said afterwards. “I’ve been so lucky to have guys like Andy Murray, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans ahead of me all these years and they’re still in the mix pushing me, so it’s a real honour, a big milestone.”

Games went with serve in the opening set until Tiafoe broke when the scores were even at five games all. Tiafoe, whose three ATP titles have come on all three surfaces, survived a break back point in the next game to take the set with 15 winners and an impressive 71% of first serves in. The payers stopped briefly for a rain delay at the start of the second set.

“It was difficult, it wasn’t easy after the first set, I thought Frances played a really good game, just the one break.” Said Draper. “Going off, I was very frustrated, but then I came back really strong, I knew I had my opportunities and I knew I would have some more. I’m really happy with the way I served and competed and how brave I was at the end.”

As the second set continued, Draper missed two breakpoints when 4-3 ahead including a huge chance when he pushed his opponent out wide and approached the net – but put too much on his drop volley which Tiafoe punished. Draper had been serving unbelievably throughout the set with 11 aces overall, and blitzed through another love service game to go 5-4 up and apply some scoreboard pressure.

In the next game he hit a strong forehand up the line to win the crucial first point and then chased down a drop shot to hit another flashy winner to go 0-30 ahead. Tiafoe won the next point but then double faulted to give Draper set points – and he converted with yet another superb forehand up the line to level the contest at a set all.

Both players held serve easily at the start of the third but then tested each other out as the set progressed. Tiafoe fought through a deuce game and got to 30 all on Draper’s serve but the Brit averted the danger. Draper missed a match point when 5-4 up with a missed return but entered the tie-break in good shape – his first serve was almost unplayable winning over 85% when in.

“I’m incredibly happy with the win. I’ve lost all my last three third set tie-breakers so to come through today was really amazing, I’m really proud of my effort. I’m really happy with the way I served and the way I played; it was a really high-quality match. Frances was serving very well himself so to serve the way I did; it was a really big positive for me.”

Draper now goes on to face another American Brandon Nakashima who progressed after Jan-Lennard Struff withdrew with sickness. Speaking about his next opponent who was born in the same year as Draper, he said: “He’s someone who is an incredibly good young player, a really exciting talent, I think he had a lot of injuries last year like myself but he’s been rising this year and playing a lot of matches. Like everyone here, they’re all amazing players and it will be a tough battle.”

After the match, Draper spoke to Sky Sports and elaborated further about the positive influence of the other British top five, and about the Euro 2024 tournament beginning this evening.

“Those guys have all inspired me to be better. Obviously, Andy is a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion and has achieved so much in the game. For me he’s one of the greatest players. I’ve learned so much from those guys, the professionalism, the discipline and they’ve always been really good for me, just as a young player looking up to them and copying what they do so I’m very grateful for that.”

“[In the football]: Hopefully England can do one better than three years ago because we did well to get to the final. We have an incredibly strong team. It’s going to be a lot of tough matches but hopefully they can pull through.

On the other side of the draw, former champion Matteo Berrettini faced qualifier James Duckworth.  The Australian, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2021, could only manage 64% of first serve points won and committed 16 unforced errors while also facing eight breakpoints. A single break of serve in both sets was enough for the Italian to move forward into the semis, as he won 6-4, 7-5 with another strong serving display.

“It was a really solid match, especially on my serve, I didn’t give him any breakpoints,” said Berrettini afterwards. “I felt like the rhythm on the serve was really good, on grass it’s really important and in the right moments I stepped in and was more aggressive. It’s really important to put a lot of returns in and that’s what I tried to do and it worked out, and so I’m happy for that.

When asked why he was so hard to beat on the faster surface he replied, “you should ask my opponents that! I think obviously for my weapons, my serve, it pays off on grass to play aggressively and that’s what I like to do. I’m using the slice as well on the backhand side and it’s important to play good in the important moments and being able to put pressure on your opponent when you’re serving is really important, and I think that’s the key. And when I step on grass, I feel like I want to play for hours and hours so here I am”

The 28-year-old is a big football fan, and was also asked about whether he would watch the opening match of the tournament. “Germany is playing tonight so I will watch tomorrow’s match. I love Germany but to supporting Germany is a little bit too much! Tomorrow is the start [for Italy] so good luck to the guys. Three years ago, we had really good memories during this time, so let’s see!”

Following Struff’s earlier withdrawal against Nakashima, it meant there was only one other quarter final today where Lorenzo Musetti progressed despite dropping the first set 4-6 to Hungarian Alexander Bublik. The Italian raced through the second set 6-1, and when he broke serve to go 1-0 ahead in the decider, Bublik retired.

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