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Nadal On Record Roland Garros Final: 'Not A Routine'

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018

Nadal On Record Roland Garros Final: ‘Not A Routine’

The Spaniard plays Thiem for an 11th title in Paris on Sunday

Rafael Nadal and Roland Garros go together like thunder and lightning. Any time the Spaniard competes on the Parisian terre battue, you know something special will happen. The evidence is clear: a record 11 finals (10-0), an 85-2 record and more shouts of ‘Vamos!’ than one can count.

But just because Nadal has won on the red dirt at Roland Garros an unprecedented 97.8 per cent of the time does not mean that the World No. 1 takes his appearance in Sunday’s final for granted.

“Being in a final here is something I should rejoice about and be happy about. It may sound easy and logical, but I don’t want it to be. It’s not a routine. I don’t want anyone to think that it’s a routine,” Nadal said. “It’s a day that I should rejoice about, enjoy. And from tomorrow on, I will do what I have to do to get ready for Sunday.”

So even though winning another Roland Garros semi-final is nothing new for Nadal, he is enjoying it just the same. He maintains the same mentality that helped him lift his first Coupe des Mousquetaires as a 19-year-old in 2005.

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“The motivation to play here always is high, [as] high as possible,” Nadal said. “But for me, every tournament… there [are] limited chances in your career. So when I had the chances, I just tried to convert. Then [if] you lose, you lose, but I’m going to play with my highest passion and love for the game and for the sport to try to have success.”

Sure, Nadal has been dominant this clay-court season, going 25-1 thus far, with his only loss coming in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals against his opponent in the championship match, Dominic Thiem. But it’s easy to forget that Nadal had to withdraw from Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami just a few months ago due to a right hip injury.

“I lost a lot of opportunities for injuries, and I know the years are going quickly,” Nadal said with a smile. “There are not 10 more chances to keep playing here. So I’m just enjoying the fact that I am here again.”

Nadal has long been credited for his fight on the court, and his relentless pursuit of every point. The Spaniard ‘takes a point off’ as often as the sun fails to rise in the morning — it simply does not happen. And the reason why is clear.

“I love what I am doing. I love the competition. I love the sport,” Nadal said. “If it’s not that way, it’s sure that I will not be here… It’s a lot of years of playing and doing the same things every year. But the only way to keep doing that and keep going on court every morning with the motivation to improve something [is] because you feel the game. You feel the sport and you appreciate [it].”  

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Dan Evans continues comeback as he reaches Surbiton semis

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018

Former British number two Dan Evans continued his comeback from a year’s ban for cocaine use as he advanced to the Surbiton Trophy semi-finals.

The 28-year-old beat Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer, a former top-10 player, 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to make the last four.

Evans, who was won 12 of his 14 matches since his return in April, has also been given a main draw place in next week’s warm-up event in Nottingham.

He will play top-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy next.

Elsewhere 21-year-old Briton Harriet Dart also made the Surbiton semi-finals by beating Yanina Wickmayer 6-2 3-6 6-0. She will meet Switzerland’s Perrin Conny.

Ranked 858th in the world, Evans is likely to require a wildcard to make the main draw of either Wimbledon or Queen’s this summer.

He reached a career high ranking of 41 in March 2017, a month before he tested positive for cocaine at an event in Barcelona.

He reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2016, losing to Roger Federer in straight sets on Centre Court.

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Delpo Nearing The Top Of The ATP Rankings

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018

Delpo Nearing The Top Of The ATP Rankings

Argentine reached his fifth Grand Slam SF

Matching his career-high of No. 4 in the ATP Rankings: Add it to the list of milestones that Juan Martin del Potro thought he’d never achieve after enduring three left wrist surgeries from March 2014 to June 2015.

But, following his second Roland Garros semi-final run (2009), del Potro will be back in the Top 4 on Monday when the new ATP Rankings are released.

[It] is something special for me, for my family, for the people who were behind me all the time. I like to keep surprising myself,” Del Potro said after falling to No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in Friday’s semi-final.

Any person who follows my recovery knows that when I came back to play tennis, [I] would have never thought I would become No. 4 again. I was feeling that because my body was going through these difficult times. But now I’m here, and I’m enjoying and thanking all these people who didn’t let me retire a few years ago. They encouraged me to continue fighting.”

You May Also Like: Terror Battue: Rafa Into 11th Roland Garros Final

Del Potro was last at No. 4 eight years ago when he spent two weeks, 19 April 2010 to 2 May 2010, at his career-high. This time, it seems likely he will get to spend more than just a couple of weeks inside the Top 5. Del Potro will be defending only 90 ATP Rankings points during the next two months.

The 6’6” Argentine was close to taking a set off Nadal, like the Tandil native’s countryman Diego Schwartzman did in the quarter-finals. Del Potro saw six break points in the first set, including two on Nadal’s serve from 4-4, 15/40, but the Spaniard erased them all.

That was my chance of the match. I had a lot of break points. I couldn’t make it. Rafa served well, played good points in those break points, and I got unlucky in that moment. Could be different match if I win the first set,” Del Potro said.

But then he made me run a lot. Intensity is too high the whole match, and I couldn’t stay there after the first set… When you don’t take your chances against the No. 1 in the world, you’re in trouble.”

Del Potro leaves Roland Garros feeling confident about the remainder of his 2018. He’s currently No. 4 in the ATP Race To London.

I did a beautiful tournament, better than expected,” he said, ”and losing against Rafa on his best surface, his best court, I’m quite relaxed about that.”

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Briton Reid loses two French Open semi-finals

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Britain’s Gordon Reid missed out on a place in both the French Open wheelchair singles and doubles finals.

The Scot, 26, lost 6-2 6-0 in 53 minutes to six-time winner Shingo Kunieda of Japan in the last four of the singles event at Roland Garros.

Kunieda will play Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez in the singles final.

Reid and English doubles partner Alfie Hewett were beaten 6-4 6-4 in their last-four tie by France’s Frederic Cattaneo and Stefan Olsson of Sweden.

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French Open 2018: Simona Halep aims for maiden Grand Slam title

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018
French Open women’s final
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: Saturday, 9 June Time: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

World number one Simona Halep says she will “stay chilled” in Saturday’s French Open final as she attempts to vanquish memories of defeat in her previous three Grand Slam finals.

The Romanian, who was runner-up in Paris in 2014 and 2017 and at the Australian Open in January, will play American Sloane Stephens.

“I’ve lost three times up until now. No-one died,” the 26-year-old said.

“It’s a big chance but you never know, so I will stay chilled.”

Halep led unseeded world number 47 Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 in last year’s Roland Garros final, but could not contain the 20-year-old’s attacking game, eventually losing 4-6 6-4 6-3.

She admitted afterwards that she felt sick with nerves, adding “maybe I wasn’t ready to win it, but maybe next time”.

“I will be I think more confident because I have a lot of experience,” she said after booking her place in this year’s final with a 6-1 6-4 win over world number three Garbine Muguruza.

She is certainly more used to playing on clay.

Tale of the tape
Simona Halep Sloane Stephens
26 Age 25
5ft 6in Height 5ft 7in
1 World ranking 10
16 Career titles 6
28-6 2018 win-loss record 15-8
0 Grand Slam titles 1

In addition to her two runs to the final in Paris, she won the junior title in 2008 and has won seven clay-court titles on the women’s tour.

Stephens by contrast has only one title on the surface and has advanced beyond the fourth round for the first time.

The 25-year-old, however, does have experience of winning a Grand Slam.

She beat her compatriot Madison Keys to claim the US Open title in 2017 and has raised her game on the big stage once again.

She looked composed in beating Keys in straight sets in the semi-final in Paris and has a straightforward mindset for Saturday’s showdown with Halep.

“It’s just mainly about competing. No-one is going to hand you the match,” she said.

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“It’s a Grand Slam final. You have to go out there and get after it and make sure you play every point and try to execute your game plan as best as possible.”


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Just like last year, Simona Halep goes into the French Open final as the favourite to win her first Grand Slam title.

She played magnificently and powerfully to see off the challenge of Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals, and is a natural on clay.

But favouritism, and her status as the world number one, invites its own pressure – especially as she has come off second best in her first three Grand Slam finals.

She does, however, seem more relaxed about the challenge, having reconciled herself to the fact there are worse things in life than never winning a Grand Slam.

Sloane Stephens may be the underdog, but she is more than capable of denying Halep once more.

She has a very consistent record at Roland Garros and moves exceptionally well on all surfaces. And the American has proved she is the woman for the big occasion.

Stephens has been in six finals, including at last year’s US Open, and won them all.

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Cecchinato Names His Favourite Roland Garros Moment

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018

Cecchinato Names His Favourite Roland Garros Moment

Italian will climb to inside the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings

For Marco Cecchinato, who fell to Dominic Thiem 7-5, 7-6(10), 6-1, the lasting memory of his surprise run to the Roland Garros semi-finals wasn’t when he ousted 2016 champion Novak Djokovic in a 24-point tie-break during the quarter-finals, one of the moments of the fortnight. It also wasn’t when Cecchinato, down two sets to love in the first round, came back to beat Romania’s Marius Copil 10-8 in the fifth set to secure his maiden Grand Slam victory.

The finest memory for Cecchinato, who captivated tennis fans across the world, was when the fans shouted the love back at the Italian.

I think today, all day, on Philippe-Chatrier, every point, [the fans] said ‘Forza, Marco’. So I think this is the best moment for me. Against Dominic Thiem, he is Top 10, and today all the people were for me,” Cecchinato said.

You May Also Like: Thiem Ends Cecchinato’s Run; Reaches First Major Final

It’s worth repeating: the Italian had not won a Grand Slam match before Roland Garros, having gone 0-4 since the 2015 US Open. But then he defeated Copil, Argentine lucky loser Marco Trungelliti, 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, eighth seed David Goffin and former No. 1 Djokovic to make the semi-finals. Cecchinato became the lowest-ranked Roland Garros semi-finalist since No. 100 Andrei Medvedev 19 years ago.

[It] was the special tournament for me. I played two sets the same level against Dominic Thiem. I think he’s the second- or third-best player on red clay,” Cecchinato said. “The level is very good in this moment. And after Roland Garros, I am very, very happy.”

Cecchinato reminded everyone that his run didn’t come from completely out of nowhere. The 25-year-old Italian, as a lucky loser, won his maiden ATP World Tour title in April on clay at the Gazprom Hungarian Open in Budapest. Prior to that, Cecchinato had been 5-29 in tour-level matches.

Read & Watch: Champion Cecchinato: Italian Wins Maiden ATP World Tour Title

I think I started two months ago, not the last two weeks, because I won also Budapest… So I start to play very well in Monte-Carlo, I think. And so every week I play very, very well… and I want to continue like this,” Cecchinato said.

The Italian, currently No. 72 in the ATP Rankings, is expected to climb to a new career-high of No. 27 when the new rankings are released on Monday. He has his eyes set on even more elusive territory.

For me, it is very important today, because I [was] playing against Dominic. So I need more work [to get to] Top 10 or Top 20, so these matches are very important for me,” Cecchinato said. “I think it’s possible to compete every day, I think, because every match I played very well against Top 10, Top 20, Top 30. So now I think positive and maybe I can go also Top 20.”

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Rafael Nadal into French Open final with win over Juan Martin del Potro

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018
2018 French Open men’s final
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: Sunday, 10 June Time: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Top seed Rafael Nadal will bid for a record-extending 11th French Open title after breezing past fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals.

Nadal, 32, won 6-4 6-1 6-2 to set up a meeting with Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final.

The Spaniard, who has only lost twice in 87 matches at Roland Garros, beat the Argentine in just over two hours.

Nadal is only the second man after Roger Federer to reach 11 finals at the same Grand Slam.

Thiem, 24, will contest his first major final after beating unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in straights sets earlier on Friday.

More soon.

  • How do you beat Nadal on clay?
  • Relive Nadal v Del Potro text coverage
  • Thiem ends Cecchinato’s fairytale run
  • Live scores, schedule and results

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Thiem beats Cecchinato to reach first Slam final

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018
2018 French Open finals
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 9-10 June Times: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem reached his first Grand Slam final by beating unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in three sets at Roland Garros.

Thiem, 24, won 7-5 7-6 (12-10) 6-1 against the 25-year-old, who shocked Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Thiem edged the first two sets before clinching the third in 21 minutes.

He will play Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final after the Spaniard’s win over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.

  • Relive Thiem v Cecchinato and Nadal v Del Potro
  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • How do you stop Nadal on clay?

“The big key was the second-set tie-break because it was very close and I saved I think three set points,” said Thiem.

“If I lost that tie-break it would have been a very close match and I didn’t want that.

“Of course it’s very important to have a good recovery now. I’ll watch the other semi-final to study my opponent and then it’s full power on Sunday.”

Thiem closer to fulfilling promise?

Thiem has long been considered as a Grand Slam champion in the making, with Roland Garros seemingly his best opportunity.

Nobody has won more clay-court matches on the ATP tour than Thiem this year, while he is the only person to have beaten Nadal on the red dirt in the past two years.

Those victories came over three sets in Rome and Madrid – and he now faces the ultimate test after top seed Nadal overcame fifth seed Del Potro in the second semi-final in straight sets.

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Thiem started quickly against Cecchinato, breaking at the first opportunity and then seizing control with some dominant serving which saw him drop just one point with the ball in hand.

A wobble at 4-3 allowed the Italian to level, only for Thiem to regain control with another break for 6-5 and then serve out for the first set.

Cecchinato batted off three break points in the second set, his serve proving impenetrable as it went to a thrilling tie-break.

Thiem missed four set points, Cecchinato spurning three, before the Austrian finally clinched it when Cecchinato went long.

And he swept through the third – albeit with a brief wobble when he saved two break points in the final game – to become only the second Austrian player to reach a Slam final following Thomas Muster.

“Of course there is pressure especially in Grand Slam finals,” said Thiem.

“I have gone a very long way now and I don’t want to lose the finals; otherwise, it’s not a very nice feeling.

“But on the other hand, it’s so tough to go all the way in such a tournament. Facing Rafa, I’m not the one who has the pressure.”

Cecchinato’s dream run finally ended

Cecchinato was not a name known to many outside tennis circles before his exploits at Roland Garros.

And if he was, it was more likely because of the 18-month ban – later reduced to 12 months and then overturned – given to him by the Italian Tennis Federation for match-fixing rather than his on-court history.

He had never won a main draw match at a Grand Slam before this fortnight.

But his journey through the draw has been a memorable one: winning his opener in five sets, then knocking out Marco Trungelliti following the Argentine lucky loser’s 10-hour car journey to Paris, before putting out 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and eighth seed David Goffin.

All of that was topped by a gripping quarter-final win against 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.

However, he could not reach the same heights against Thiem, despite having the vocal backing of a noisy Court Philippe Chatrier.

He showed glimpses of his ability – particularly from his one-handed backhand – and fondness for drop-shots but his confidence and energy visibly wilted after being edged out in the second-set tie-break.

From that point the world number 72’s run looked to be over, and so it proved as Thiem cleaned up victory.

“If I won the second set, I think the third set is totally different,” said Cecchinato, who is set to move into the world’s top 30 for the first time.

“I went a little bit down mentally and physically because I have played so many matches.

“Reaching the semi-final at Roland Garros is very special. Now I want to work more, think positive and maybe I can go to the top 20.”

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Pavic/Marach Continue Senational Season, Advance To Roland Garros Final

  • Posted: Jun 08, 2018

Pavic/Marach Continue Senational Season, Advance To Roland Garros Final

No. 2 seeds to face home favourites Herbert & Mahut

No doubles team has been as dominant as Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in 2018. The Austrian-Croatian tandem has already won four tour-level titles out of six finals, soaring to No. 1 (Pavic) and No. 2 (Marach) in the ATP Doubles Rankings.

And on Saturday, they will have a chance to earn their second Grand Slam championship of the season, after defeating No. 12 seeds Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-4, 7-5 in the Roland Garros semi-finals. The second seeds broke three times to advance after one hour, 32 minutes.

Marach and Pavic now have 36 match wins as a team this season. The pair has gained a sizeable lead in the ATP Doubles Race To London, guaranteeing that regardless of the result in the final, they will sit in first by at least 1,295 points.

It appeared that Marach and Pavic would need to win their third consecutive three-setter, as the Spaniards broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set. But the favourites strung together the final four games of the match, breaking twice and losing just one point on serve, to advance to the final on the Parisian terre battue.

The championship match will be a difficult one, as Marach and Pavic look to beat home favourites Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Less than four months ago, the Frenchmen ended Marach and Pavic’s 17-0 start to the campaign in the final of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

Herbert and Mahut have won both of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against their final opponents, and are seeking their third Grand Slam trophy (2015 US Open, 2016 Wimbledon). Marach and Pavic, on the other hand, are the reigning Australian Open titlists.

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