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Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Sep 26, 2020

Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros

An executive summary of what fans should know about the coming week in Paris

Roland Garros was rescheduled to begin in September this year, but the anticipation is as high as ever for the clay-court Grand Slam. Twenty-eight of the Top 30 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings lead the way in Paris, with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 12-time champion Rafael Nadal topping the field. looks at 10 things you should watch for in the coming fortnight:

1) Novak Goes For Second Career Grand Slam: Djokovic has been the best player of 2020. He will try to maintain that momentum as he bids to become the first man in the Open Era to complete the Career Grand Slam twice (Emerson and Laver also did it, but not entirely in the Open Era).

Djokovic, who won a record 36th ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, completed his first Career Grand Slam in Paris four years ago. Djokovic opens against 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Mikael Ymer.

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2) Rafa Goes For 13: Nadal will pursue his 13th Coupe des Mousquetaires in Paris this year. The Spaniard holds an incredible 93-2 record at the clay-court major. If the lefty triumphs again, he will reach 100 victories at the tournament.

Nadal is already the only player to win 12 titles at a single Grand Slam and the only man to claim 12 trophies at one tour-level event. The second seed begins his run against Egor Gerasimov.

3) New Slam Champ Thiem: Dominic Thiem, who has made the Roland Garros final the past two years, will be more confident than ever starting this event. The Austrian is fresh off capturing his maiden major trophy at the US Open. He did not play any clay-court events leading into Paris, but he has earned 10 of his 17 tour-level titles on the surface.

The 27-year-old, who faces a tough test in the first round against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic, has advanced to at least the semi-finals at Roland Garros the past four years. Thiem is trying to become the first Austrian to win multiple major crowns.

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4) Historic Implications: If Nadal wins a record 13th Roland Garros title, he will tie Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam trophies in history with 20. If Djokovic triumphs, the Serbian will lift his 18th major trophy, moving within one of Nadal (19) and two of Federer (20). A Thiem triumph will see him move past Nadal for World No. 2. Since Nadal passed Lleyton Hewitt for that spot on 25 July 2005, only the Big Four have held that place in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

5) Blockbuster Openers: There are two first-round blockbusters between Grand Slam champions. Third seed Thiem will play 2014 US Open titlist Marin Cilic and 16th seed Stan Wawrinka faces former World No. 1 Andy Murray. This is the first time two major winners will battle in the first round at Roland Garros since Yevgeny Kafelnikov beat Michael Chang in 1999.

6) Medvedev Making His Move: Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, fresh off his run to the US Open semi-finals, will try to make a deep run in Paris. He begins his tournament without a win at Roland Garros (0-3), but having enjoyed previous success on clay. The Russian last year reached the final in Barcelona and the semi-finals in Monte Carlo. Medvedev plays Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the first round.

<a href=Daniil Medvedev headlines the second quarter of the Roland Garros draw alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas.” />

7) Sons Of Former Slam Champs In Main Draw: Emilio Gomez and Sebastian Korda both qualified for the main draw in Paris for the first time. Both of their fathers, 1990 Roland Garros titlist Andres Gomez and 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda, are Grand Slam champions. There are 31 players making their Roland Garros main draw debuts. Read Feature

8) Zverev In Paris: Before this year, Alexander Zverev’s best Grand Slam results came at Roland Garros. The German star has reached back-to-back quarter-finals at the clay-court major. Five of his eight victories at the tournament during that span came in five sets. Zverev, who did not play on clay before Roland Garros, will be as confident as ever after making his maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open. His coach, David Ferrer, is with him in Paris.

<a href=Alexander Zverev practises with new coach David Ferrer ahead of his fifth consecutive main draw appearance at Roland Garros.” />

9) Hamburg Finalists In-Form: Andrey Rublev is playing Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s Hamburg European Open final, giving them confidence ahead of Roland Garros. Like countryman Medvedev, Rublev is pursuing his first main draw victory at Roland Garros. His only previous main draw appearance at the tournament came in 2017, when he lost a three-hour, 30-minute five-setter against Diego Schwartzman. The Russian ranks second on the ATP Tour in wins this season (24), trailing only Djokovic. The 22-year-old is one of four players (also Djokovic, Garin, Monfils) who have lifted multiple tour-level trophies in 2020.

Tsitsipas played one of the best matches of 2019 in the fourth round at Roland Garros. The Greek star fell just short in a five-hour, nine-minute marathon against three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka. Tsitsipas is the fifth seed this year.

10) Will The Germans Retain? Defending doubles champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies will try to retain their title in Paris. Other former Roland Garros doubles titlists in the field include Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, Pablo Cuevas and Feliciano Lopez (who won with different partners), Marcelo Melo, Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

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Peers/Venus Save 1 M.P. To Reach Hamburg Final

  • Posted: Sep 26, 2020

Peers/Venus Save 1 M.P. To Reach Hamburg Final

Dubai champions to meet Dodig/Pavic in final

John Peers and Michael Venus saved one match point to advance to their second team final on Saturday, beating Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 3-6, 7-5, 10-6 at the Hamburg European Open.

The unseeded duo had not dropped a set in their opening two matches in Hamburg, but trailed their opponents 3-6, 3-5 on Centre Court. After saving match point on a deuce deciding point at 4-5, the pair completed a run of four straight games to force a Match Tie-break.

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Peers and Venus saved five of seven break points to improve to 13-6 as a team. The Dubai champions joined forces for the first time at the ASB Classic in January.

Peers will be aiming to capture his third Hamburg crown in Sunday’s championship match. The Australian lifted the trophy in 2015 (w/J. Murray) and 2016 (w/Kontinen).

Last week’s Rome semi-finalists will face Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic for the trophy. The Croatian pair beat US Open finalists Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic 6-4, 6-4 on Friday.

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Musetti's Moment: 18-Year-Old Claims First Challenger Title

  • Posted: Sep 26, 2020

Musetti’s Moment: 18-Year-Old Claims First Challenger Title

Lorenzo Musetti reigns on home soil in Forli

Italy’s newest star has his first trophy. One week after announcing his arrival in Rome, Lorenzo Musetti celebrated his maiden title on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Musetti was a force all week in Forli, culminating in a 7-6(2), 7-6(5) win over World No. 89 Thiago Monteiro on Saturday. It was a magical week for the Italian teen,  who lifted his first piece of silverware in emphatic fashion.

“It’s amazing to win here in Italy,” said Musetti. “I played against many Top 100 players, but the key was to build on my week in Rome. I was nervous today and I managed the pressure well. I think I played a really good match. It was not easy, but I focused on every point and single detail that makes the difference.”

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As he ripped a forehand winner into the corner, a relieved Musetti tossed his racquet to the clay and dropped his hands to his knees. A fist pump to his coach Simone Tartarini confirmed it. The 18-year-old was a Challenger champion for the first time.

Dictating from the baseline and making Monteiro work for every point, Musetti triumphed after one hour and 58 minutes. The victory marked the conclusion of a stunning week for the La Spezia native, who reeled off four straight Top 100 wins to take the title. In fact, Musetti entered last week’s ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome without a Top 100 victory to his name, but in the span of 12 days he claimed six such victories.

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Musetti is the fifth-youngest Italian champion in Challenger history. Only Jannik Sinner’s three titles in 2019 and Stefano Pescosolido’s triumph in Parioli in 1989 came at a younger age. At the age of 18 years and six months, he is also the third teenage titlist this year, joining a 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz and a 19-year-old Tomas Machac.

Musetti, who is projected to rise more than 40 spots to a career-high inside the Top 150 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, is in the midst of a two-week run he’ll never forget. At the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, he upset Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori, en route to the Round of 16. His ATP Tour debut was his long-awaited breakthrough and he would carry the momentum to Forli.

Victories over Frances Tiafoe, Andreas Seppi, Lloyd Harris and Thiago Monteiro have Musetti soaring as he hurtles towards the Top 100. From outside the top 400 one year ago to becoming one of the hottest players on the planet in 2020, the rise continues for the teen.

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Rublev Repeats Ruud Win, Returns To Hamburg Final

  • Posted: Sep 26, 2020

Rublev Repeats Ruud Win, Returns To Hamburg Final

Russian to face Tsitsipas or Garin for trophy

Andrey Rublev advanced to his second straight Hamburg European Open final on Saturday, ending the run of in-form Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-2.

The World No. 14 won 54 per cent of his first-serve return points (19/35) to defeat Ruud in Hamburg for the second straight year. At last year’s event, Rublev rallied from a set down to beat the 6’0″ right-hander 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the second round.

”[It is] my first ever time that two years in a row I reached a final at the same tournament,” said Rublev, in an on-court interview. “For the moment, it is the most special tournament for me. We will see how it goes tomorrow.”

Rublev is through to his third final of 2020. The Russian became the first player since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win back-to-back trophies in the opening two weeks of the year. Rublev claimed 11 straight victories to open his 2020 ATP Tour season, winning titles in Doha and Adelaide before a run to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open.

With his straight-sets win against Ruud, the 22-year-old improves to 24-6 this season. Only Novak Djokovic (31-1) owns more victories than Rublev this year.

Most ATP Tour Wins In 2020

Rank Player Win/Loss Record
1 Novak Djokovic 31-1
2 Andrey Rublev 24-6
3 Stefanos Tsitsipas 21-8
4 Casper Ruud 20-9
5 Felix Auger-Aliassime 18-13

Ruud was competing in his fourth semi-final from five clay events this year. The 21-year-old earned his maiden ATP Tour title at the Argentina Open (d. P. Sousa) and also advanced to the Santiago final in February (l. to Seyboth Wild).

At last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Ruud reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final (l. to Djokovic). The Norwegian leads the ATP Tour with 15 clay wins this year (15-4).

“Casper did such a great run this week,” said Rublev. “He did such a great run last week in Rome… lost a good match against Djokovic. He is really on a high level now and I wish him good look at Roland Garros.”

Rublev will face Stefanos Tsitsipas or Cristian Garin in the final. The 2019 runner-up is tied at 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas and owns a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record against Garin.

Under a closed roof on Centre Court, Rublev stepped in on his forehand and pushed Ruud behind the baseline to earn an early break advantage. Despite dropping serve at 3-2, Rublev continued to find success on his return. The four-time ATP Tour titlist regained his advantage in the next game after an extended rally, moving up the court to land a backhand drop shot winner. Rublev closed the set with a love service hold after 50 minutes.

After winning only 48 per cent of first-serve points (11/23) in the opening set, Ruud received treatment to his right shoulder ahead of the second set. Rublev earned three further breaks when play resumed, as he continued to dictate points by stepping inside the baseline and driving powerful groundstrokes up the line. The Moscow native ran to the net and flicked a forehand winner up the line to convert his second match point.

“The match was really tough. I think everyone saw how tough it was, how [many] long rallies we had, how many chances both of us had,” said Rublev. “It could [have been] easily 6-4, 6-2 to Casper’s side, but I was a little bit lucky. In the most important moments and at the end, the match was for me. I am really happy with the way I played today.”

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