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Mektic/Pavic Capture First Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jul 10, 2021

In their first Grand Slam doubles final as a team, top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic sealed the biggest victory of their sterling season on Saturday after taking down Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in four sets to win the Wimbledon doubles trophy.

Mektic and Pavic became the first Croatian players to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles title. They are also the first players from their country to triumph at the All England Club since Goran Ivanisevic’s 2001 victory in singles and Ivan Dodig’s 2019 mixed doubles win with Latisha Chan.

“This is something special, this is by far the best tournament in the world… Especially for me and I think for Nikola also, we all grew up with Goran [Ivanisevic]. It’s been 20 years since he won the Monday final, and this is the first time there is another Croatian winning the trophy,” Pavic said, fighting back tears during the trophy ceremony. “We are very emotional. I had a tough final a few years ago, so I’m super happy and very emotional.”

The Croatian duo have been the most dominant team of the 2021 season, and they already punched their ticket to the Nitto ATP Finals by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals. Mektic and Pavic teamed up at the start of the year, and they never looked back as they lifted a tour-leading eight trophies leading up to this fortnight, including three at the ATP Masters 1000 level in Miami, Monte-Carlo and Rome. 

The top seeds were tested every step of the way at Wimbledon, having to battle through a tough five-setter to move past eighth seeds Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot in the quarter-finals and a roller-coaster four-set battle against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury to reach their first Grand Slam final.

Mektic and Pavic made a strong start under the Centre Court roof as they claimed a decisive break at 3-3 to seal the tightly contested opening set against fourth seeds Granollers and Zeballos. They had trouble containing the Spanish and Argentine duo, who didn’t give up any opportunities on their serve in the second set. But the Croatians continued to press, and they earned a double fault on set point to close out the tie-break.

The Hispanic duo raced in front in the third set, breaking early and opening up a 4-0 lead. But Mektic and Pavic bounced back in the fourth, creating four break opportunities across three of their opponent’s service games. With the pressure at a max, the fourth seeds sent a lob long as Mektic and Pavic collapsed to the ground in elation, sealing the victory after two hours and 47 minutes.

“That ball falling long on the last point, that was the best feeling of my life,” Mektic said. “It was an incredible match today again. The last three matches that we played, it was probably the best three matches of my life, the best three matches that I ever participated in.

“We just kept pushing. We just kept telling ourselves, let’s just dig every point, let’s not give up.”

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Granollers and Zeballos were bidding to win their first Grand Slam doubles title – either as individuals or as a team – as well as become the first Spanish and Argentine man, respectively, to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles title.

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Scouting Report: Tsitsipas Returns to Hamburg; Action In Bastad and Newport

  • Posted: Jul 10, 2021

The ATP Tour returns to clay this week with Stefanos Tsitsipas leading the field at the Hamburg European Open, an ATP 500 event. The Greek reached the final in Germany last year, and will be joined by ATP stars Pablo Carreno Busta and Jan-Lennard Struff.

There are also two ATP 250 tournaments taking place, with one on clay at the Nordea Open in Bastad, and the other on grass at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Casper Ruud and Lorenzo Musetti will be in action in Bastad, while Alexander Bublik will be joined by a plethora of Americans in Newport at the last grass-court tour-level event of the season. looks at what you should watch at these three events.

1) Tsitsipas Leads The Way: The top seed in Hamburg is World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is pursuing his third clay-court ATP Tour title of the season in Germany. The Roland Garros finalist reached the championship match (l. to Rublev) in Hamburg last year and will look to bounce back after his first-round defeat to Frances Tiafoe at Wimbledon. Tsitsipas will also feature in the doubles with his brother Petros Tsitsipas.

2) Super Carreno Busta: Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta is enjoying one of his best-ever clay-court seasons, having won the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open title (d. Munar) in Marbella and reaching the semi-finals at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (l. to Nadal). The 29-year-old holds a 13-4 record on the surface this year and will be the second seed in Hamburg. Carreno Busta has had success at the ATP 500 event before, reaching the semi-finals in 2019.

3) Ramos-Vinolas Success: Albert Ramos-Vinolas won his third ATP Tour title on clay at the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Norrie) in May. The 33-year-old has slightly struggled since and will be aiming to snap a seven-match losing streak against either Federico Delbonis or a qualifier in the first round.

4) Home-Favourite Struff: Jan-Lennard Struff will lead the German charge on home soil. The World No. 45 equalled his best Grand Slam performance last month as he reached the fourth round at Roland Garros. He will begin against Laslo Djere and is joined in the draw by three other countrymen, including Philipp Kohlschreiber.

5) Basilashvili Goes For Third Title: Nikoloz Basilashvili has loved his time in Hamburg in recent years, having lifted the title in 2018 and 2019. The Georgian, who lost a four-set thriller to Andy Murray at Wimbledon in June, will begin his quest for a third title against either Corentin Moutet or Aljaz Bedene.

1) Ruud Top Seed: Norway’s Casper Ruud will lead the field at the Nordea Open as the top seed. The 22-year-old is currently at a career-high No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, having won the Gonet Geneva Open (d. Shapovalov) in May. He will face either Radu Albot or talented #NextGenATP Dane Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune in his first match.

2) Clay-Court Specialist Garin In Action: Cristian Garin had never won a match on the lawns of Wimbledon before his run to the fourth round this year. The Chilean will look to build on this in Bastad at the ATP 250 tournament on a surface he is far more acquainted with. Garin has won all five of his ATP Tour titles, including the Chile Dove Men+Care Open (d. Bagnis) in March, on clay in Santiago.

3) Former Champions: With Fabio Fognini and Pablo Cuevas both competing in Sweden this week, there are two former champions in the draw. Italy’s Fognini defeated Richard Gasquet in 2018 with Cuevas overcoming Joao Sousa in 2014. The former begins against either Facundo Bagnis or Roberto Carballes Baena with the latter facing Norbert Gombos.

4) Rising Musetti: #NextGenATP star Lorenzo Musetti has gone from strength to strength in the last year. He has risen from outside the Top 250 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, currently at No. 63. Having reached the semi-finals at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (l. to Tsitsipas), the 19-year-old is in fourth position in the ATP Race To Milan. He will look to claim a maiden tour-level title in Scandinavia.

5) Swedish Stars: The last Swedish man to claim the title on home soil was former World No. 4 Robin Soderling in 2011. Brothers Mikael Ymer and Elias Ymer have both been handed wild cards and will carry the hopes of the home supporters. The former is currently the World No. 98 and starts against eighth seed Emil Ruusuvuori.

1) Return Of Bublik: The former finalist, Alexander Bublik, returns to Newport seeking to go one step further and win his first ATP Tour title. The Kazakhstani lost to four-time champion John Isner in 2019. Bublik is the top seed at the last grass-court tour-level tournament of the season.

2) American Hopes: Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson are part of a contingent of seven Americans that will be competing on home soil at the Hall of Fame Open. Johnson, currently No. 72 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has had success in Newport before, winning the title against Ramkumar Ramanathan in 2018.

3) Big Servers Take Wild Cards: Big servers Ivo Karlovic and Kevin Anderson have taken wild cards into the ATP 250 event. Croatia’s Karlovic lifted the trophy in 2016 but has played just three tour-level tournaments this year. Anderson, whose best result this season was a run to the quarter-finals at the Millennium Estoril Open, is competing in Newport for the first time since 2008.

4) Nishioka’s Debut: It will be the first appearance for Japanese star Yoshihito Nishioka in Newport. The 25-year-old is the second seed and will be aiming to bounce back after his second-round defeat to Aljaz Bedene at Wimbledon.

5) Sock Is Back: Jack Sock will compete at a tour-level event for the first time this year after also being handed a wild card. The World No. 229 last played a tour-level match at Roland Garros in September, when he came through qualifying to reach the second round. Sock has twice reached the semi-finals (2014, 2015) in Newport.

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Preview: Berrettini vs Djokovic, Not Quite David & Goliath, In Wimbledon Final

  • Posted: Jul 10, 2021

With history on the line, a mouthwatering clash awaits in the final match at The Championships, Wimbledon, as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on seventh seed Matteo Berrettini for the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy on Sunday. 

The battle between 19-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic – who is going for his third consecutive major title of the year and contesting his 30th final – and Berrettini, a first-time Grand Slam finalist, is being billed as a ‘David vs Goliath’ type clash on Centre Court. 

Most Grand Slam Finals (all-time)

Player  Slam Finals
 1. Roger Federer   31
 2. Novak Djokovic  30
 3. Rafael Nadal  28
 4. Ivan Lendl  19
 5. Pete Sampras  18

But in our tale, David actually towers over Goliath at 6’5”, and Berrettini’s weapons – a booming serve and powerful forehand – can do quite a bit of damage on grass courts. The seventh-seeded Italian is riding an 11-match winning streak after lifting the cinch Championships trophy, his first ATP 500 triumph, in the build-up to Wimbledon.


“I’m just so, so happy for everything,” Berrettini said after his semi-final win. “My year started in a good way, with the finals in the ATP Cup. Then I got injured again. I kind of saw those ghosts again, of my body kind of struggling. 

“Again, I came back stronger. I think I fully deserve to be here. I want to enjoy it like I did today. I want to enjoy my first final… I just appreciate what’s happening.”

After an injury-affected 2021 season, Berrettini is back at his best at the All England Club, where he is searching for his sixth tour-level trophy and his first at the Grand Slam level. He previously featured in the 2019 US Open semi-finals (l. to Nadal), but he is in uncharted territory after recording victories over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz to reach the championship match.  

A victory on Sunday would make Berrettini the first Italian man to lift a Grand Slam trophy since Adriano Panatta’s 1976 triumph at Roland Garros, and the first to do so at Wimbledon.

Italian Men In Grand Slam Finals (all-time)

 Player  Finals Reached 
 Nicola Pietrangeli   (4) 1959-61, 1964 Roland Garros
 Matteo Berrettini  (1) 2021 Wimbledon
 Adriano Panatta  (1) 1976 Roland Garros
 Giorgio de Stefani  (1) 1934 Roland Garros

But he’ll have to find a way past heavyweight Djokovic, the top seed, whom he trails 0-2 in their ATP Head2Head. Berrettini has never defeated a Top 10 player in a completed Grand Slam match; in Paris, he received a walkover from World No. 8 Roger Federer into the quarter-finals, where he met Djokovic. 

Berrettini, still finding his feet after an abdominal injury kept him off the courts at the start of the season, managed to take one set from the eventual champion. The Italian got his big game going too late in a dramatic 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 defeat on Court Philippe-Chatrier – he’ll be aiming for a faster start on Centre Court. 

Matteo Berrettini, Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (right) defeated Matteo Berrettini in four sets in their most recent meeting at Roland Garros. Photo Credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images

Berrettini and his powerful serve will face a major challenge against Djokovic, one of the best returners in the game. The pace and precision of the World No. 1’s backhand will also provide a perfect counterbalance to the seventh seed’s heavy forehand when they settle into baseline battles. 

“He’s one of the best players in the world in the last 12 months, I think,” Djokovic assessed. “With big weapons in [the] serve and forehand, he can play well on any surface. Obviously, grass favours him even more, favours his game. 

“If he serves big, as he did throughout the entire tournament, it’s tough to break his serve. It’s tough to go into the rhythm, to find a good positioning to return, make him play. But I believe in my return. I think [the] return has served me very well throughout my career.”

Djokovic has looked more and more untouchable at SW19 since the tournament began as he looks to add another Grand Slam crown to his ever-growing haul. The World No. 1 has won 17 matches in a row in 2021, a streak that dates back to his Belgrade trophy and includes a historic Roland Garros triumph, where he became the first man in the Open Era to win all major titles twice. 

On grass, it’s an even longer streak of success for Djokovic. His last defeat on the surface came at the hands of Marin Cilic in the 2018 Queen’s Club final – since then, he’s won 20 matches in a row, including back-to-back Wimbledon titles. He has only dropped one set this fortnight, against wild card Jack Draper in the first round, and aced big tests against former finalist Kevin Anderson and lefty Denis Shapovalov on the way to the final.

A third consecutive triumph, his sixth overall at Wimbledon, would bring him to 20 Grand Slams – tying the all-time record shared by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.


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“It would mean everything. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing,” Djokovic said after his semi-final victory. “I imagined myself being in a position to fight for another Grand Slam trophy prior to coming to London. I put myself in a very good position. Anything is possible in the finals. Obviously, experience is on my side.”

Perhaps in a sign of the times, it will be Djokovic’s third consecutive Grand Slam where he has not met another member of the Big Three – Federer or Nadal – in the championship match. In fact, since the start of 2019 all but three Grand Slams have featured finals with one 25-and-under player: Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and now Berrettini.

“I think that experience definitely favors me every single time,” Djokovic reflected. “Next time I get to work on the court, [I do so] knowing that I’ve been through everything that I could possibly go through as a tennis player. I know my strengths. I know what I’m capable of. I rely on that.”

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After a fortnight of chasing triumph and dodging disaster at the All England Club, Djokovic stands one match away from a monumental achievement. Can he continue fending off newer and younger challengers, or will Berrettini be the one to find a way to topple the ‘giant’ and seize the moment for himself?

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