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Gilbert Reveals Key For Djokovic Against Nadal

  • Posted: May 30, 2022

Gilbert Reveals Key For Djokovic Against Nadal

This will be the pair’s first meeting since the 2021 Roland Garros semis

Brad Gilbert was courtside for the first match Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ever played, at Roland Garros in 2006. Now 16 years later, the two tennis legends will play for the 10th time at the clay-court Grand Slam — and the 59th time overall — in Tuesday night’s quarter-final.

The former World No. 4 admitted a rooting interest in the showdown. He’s pulling for another classic match.

“The tennis fan in me, I just hope we see one of those titanic matches like we saw last year,” he said, referencing the 2021 semi-final epic won by the Serbian. “Sweaty palms, incredible tennis. That’s what I’m rooting for. Then it’s a win-win for tennis.”

Gilbert called that match and the pair’s 2018 Wimbledon semi-final (won by Djokovic over two days) the highest-level contests between them. He sees no reason not to expect more of the same this time around.

“Djoker just quietly has lifted his game,” he assessed. “He’s won 22 sets on the trot [dating back to his Rome title run]. He’s back to kind of being normal Djoker.

“[Diego] Schwartzman’s a hell of a player and he just wiped him out. Obviously he’s not Rafa, but that shows how sharp Djokovic has been.”

Gilbert is particularly impressed with the Serbian’s fast starts in those matches and his ability to take command — and take away his opponent’s belief — with early breaks.

“He’s back to starting really fast and he’s playing some seriously good ball,” he said.

“I think that the key will be how he can attack the Rafa forehand. Because I think when he plays his best against Rafa, he’s able to attack Rafa’s forehand.”

As for Nadal, Gilbert was impressed by his outing against Felix Auger-Aliassime and the way the Spaniard improved over the course of the marathon match.

“The most obvious thing for Rafa — he hadn’t really been tested at the French, and then on Sunday he goes four hours and 20 minutes. He looked good physically, didn’t have any of the foot problems that he’s been having, so that was a good sign. 

“It’s a 48-hour turnaround and that was a physical match, but it was needed because FAA played some serious ball.”

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Despite both men’s strong form so far this Paris fortnight, it’s their performance in the second week that will define their respective campaigns.

“You don’t judge a tournament off the first 12 sets,” Gilbert said. “You judge it off the last nine sets.

“At the moment, Rafa has a 7-2 head-to-head against him at Roland Garros. He has the greatest history at this one event. Djoker has played the best tennis through the first 12 sets… but he hasn’t played Rafa.”

One big talking point ahead of this match was whether it would be scheduled during the daytime or the evening session. Nadal said that he preferred an earlier start, while Djokovic favoured an evening match.

While the match will be played under the Court Philippe Chatrier lights, Gilbert downplayed the significance of the evening conditions.

“Rafa maybe wanted to play in the day. He wants it fast,” he said. “But Djoker’s great in any conditions, so is Rafa. Both of them – you play them any time, anywhere, they’re gonna play good tennis.

“It’s just a matter of who’s going to be slightly better on the day; who executes.”

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So who has the edge entering this heavyweight showdown?

“If it was an [American] football game, Djoker’s about a 1.5-point favourite,” Gilbert said, using his customary handicapping analogy.

“I do think that the first set a lot of times in big matches can be key. But these guys are so good that they can make adjustments. It will be interesting in slower conditions.

“I expect the crowd to be absolutely rocking tomorrow night.”

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Tsitsipas: 'This Is Not Where I've Maxed Out'

  • Posted: May 30, 2022

Tsitsipas: ‘This Is Not Where I’ve Maxed Out’

World No. 4 praises 19-year-old Rune after fourth-round defeat at Roland Garros

Stefanos Tsitsipas admitted he was disappointed with his performance against Holger Rune at Roland Garros on Monday, but the World No. 4 believes he will learn important lessons from his fourth-round defeat at the clay-court major.

“[It was] a great match from his side, but I have to say it was a very bad management from far back from the court from my side,” said Tsitsipas in his post-match press conference. “I don’t know, it was as if I was missing too many returns, giving away too many free points without really giving a chance to myself to compete a little bit.”

#NextGenATP Dane Rune upset the fourth seed with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win on Court Philippe Chatrier. Tsitsipas was full of praise for his opponent’s performance, but has already identified the match as a turning point in his bid for further success on the ATP Tour.

“I was a completely different player once I stepped into the court, taking returns early,” said Tsitsipas. “I really feel it’s one of those matches where every match would be a lot different after this point.”

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Tsitsipas enjoyed a successful clay-court season overall, successfully defending his title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and reaching the final at another ATP Masters 1000 event, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Given his strong form, the Greek admitted he felt he was capable of going deeper in Paris.

“I knew I [was] going to have to play difficult opponents that know how to play on this surface, but mentally, physically, tennis-wise, I felt good,” he said. “This is not where I’ve maxed out, let’s say. I didn’t give myself the opportunity to max out. It’s not that he didn’t give it to me, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to go all the way and that is a shame.”

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The Greek was impressed by 19-year-old Rune, who was making his maiden appearance in a Grand Slam fourth round on his Roland Garros debut. Tsitsipas admitted that there was an element of surprise to the Dane’s approach on court.

“He’s young, he plays with a lot of emotion,” said Tsitsipas. “[A] one-of-a-kind of an opponent, I would say. It’s kind of strange, I don’t get to face that very often from someone. But then suddenly [he] seems to be playing amazing, which is a good thing, of course.

“He is a very emotional player, he can play great, he absolutely deserves this victory. [He] played better, faced crucial tough moments better. But I can see something different next time with this opponent. I’m pretty convinced I can do way better.”

Tsitsipas recognises the emergence of young talent such as Rune and Carlos Alcaraz may make his push for success on the ATP Tour more difficult, but the eight-time tour-level titlist sees it only as extra motivation.

“[It] has to come at some point, it comes for everyone, right? I’m not worried. I know my tennis, I know my game,” said the Greek.

“These kids are going to want to beat me badly because obviously they are chasing. I’m chasing too, but I’m at a different kind of position than they are. I’m hungry to beat them too. Now that they have beaten me, I want payback.”

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Food Court: 'Simple Guy' Cilic Dishes On His Diet, Food He Hasn't Eaten In 10 Years

  • Posted: May 30, 2022

Food Court: ‘Simple Guy’ Cilic Dishes On His Diet, Food He Hasn’t Eaten In 10 Years

Croatian reveals his match-day nutritional routine

Marin Cilic put on one of the most impressive performances of this Roland Garros on Monday when he dismissed second seed Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals. The Croatian will play Andrey Rublev for a spot in the last four at the clay-court major.

Cilic recently spoke to about his cooking skills, guilty pleasures, his nutritional routine on match day, the food he has not eaten in 10 years and more. 

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Let’s say you have to cook tonight, whether for yourself or for friends. What would you cook and why?
I would cook veal shank. I love that the most and in Croatia it is incredible. Mix that up with potatoes and vegetables in a nice sauce and that is going to melt in the fingers. Just have a regular sauce that comes out of the meat. Leave the meat for a few hours, it is great.

How would you rate your cooking skills?
I would say that I am a good cook for what I need to eat and that is it! Eggs, crepes, pasta, rice and chicken. Carbs and protein and that is it.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
I like a burger here and there. When I come to the United States the first meal is always a burger. Then if I happen to be in a good restaurant where I know burgers are really good, that is a go-to cheat meal. For [something] sweet, I love pancakes. It is not easy to find the real crepes with the Nutella and when I am back home I have them.

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What is your go-to meal the night before a match?
I would load with carbs and eat a little bit of protein. That is always chicken or turkey. It is a little bit quicker [to cook] than the red meat and has a little less fat in it. Before a match in Italy I like pasta with tomato sauce and a little bit of chicken, 150 grams or so, so I have a little bit of protein and don’t get hungry too much. Then if the match before me gets extended, I eat another plate of pasta.

That is Italy — it is pasta. All the other tournaments it is mostly rice. They don’t make the pasta as well, so I prefer rice elsewhere.

What do you eat right before a match and how many hours before the match do you eat it?
I normally eat one hour and a half to one hour and 15 minutes before so I can eat a good meal. If the match gets extended, I might eat a banana or top up the main [meal] a bit.

What do you snack on during a match? Has that changed over the years and if so, what did you eat before?
I have a pretty simple routine. Just drinking my electrolytes and having a carb gel and then eating a banana. I am a simple guy, nothing fancy.

What might you eat during a non-tournament week that you wouldn’t during a tournament?
When I am at home I relax because I get stuffed up eating the same thing all the time. The worst thing about being a tennis player is when you have to eat and you are not ready to eat. For example, say your match is at 12 p.m., you eat breakfast and then warm up and then you need to eat before the match, like pasta or rice at 10:30 a.m. It is one of the tougher things to being on Tour.

I try to take care of the carb and protein intake but sometimes I just forget about it. When I get home I want to have pizza or something simple. In the evening I might just have three eggs with some cheese and ham, simple stuff. Also a yogurt. It is not easy to eat big meals all the time.

If you go to one of your favourite restaurants, what would you order?
I like a good steak. There is an Italian restaurant at home and they do huge portions and they know my stuff. Rice mixed with vegetables and carrots and chicken.

What is something people might be surprised to hear you enjoy?
This year in Australia, when we were there, we ordered Indian food maybe 10 times. Butter chicken and chicken biryani, and I enjoyed it.

When I got home I told my wife ‘OK, we need to find a recipe for butter chicken’, and she did it and it was fantastic. So this year, I have eaten quite a lot of Indian food.

What is the best meal from your culture/country?
Because Croatia is diverse, we have a lot. The Mediterranean is a little bit similar to Italy. Then the continental part is a little bit heavier. Then we have BBQ food and minced meat and food like this. It is pretty heavy food.

What are foods you refuse to eat?
This junk food, I really don’t like to eat it often. I haven’t eaten anything fried for more than 10 years. Nothing fried. When I see it, I am like ‘No’.

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Cilic Downs Medvedev In 'One Of The Best Matches Of My Career'

  • Posted: May 30, 2022

Cilic Downs Medvedev In ‘One Of The Best Matches Of My Career’

Croatian next faces Rublev on Wednesday

A red-hot Marin Cilic left no doubt in a fourth-round domination of World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev on Monday night, powering into the Roland Garros quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory on Court Phillippe Chatrier.

“It was an absolutely fantastic match from the first point to the last,” he said in an on-court interview. “I enjoyed the atmosphere, enjoyed the night session here. I played incredible tennis — one of the best matches of my career from start to finish.”

The 33-year-old is through to his third Roland Garros quarter-final (2017-18) and his first Grand Slam quarter-final since he reached that stage in three of the four majors in 2018, including the Australian Open final.

His victory over Medvedev was every bit as one-sided as the score suggests, with the classy Croatian breaking in the sixth game of the first two sets before racing out a a 4-0 advantage in the third. The 20th seed did not face a break point and won 90 per cent (35/39) of his first-serve points to advance. He was also ruthless on return, converting on five of his seven break chances in a one-hour, 45-minute victory.

Cilic dominated Medvedev in every facet. He frequently gained an immediate advantage in rallies with strong serving and returning, but was equally comfortable beating his opponent in longer exchanges. Powerful and precise groundstrokes pulled Medvedev from side to side and set up opportunities for drop shots throughout as Cilic delighted the Chatrier crowd with his varied shotmaking.

The inspired Croatian has dropped just one set in reaching the quarter-finals and has held serve in 50 of 54 service games, saving eight of 12 break points. With the win, Cilic improved to 1-10 against Top 10 opponents at Roland Garros and 4-21 against the Top 10 on clay. He was previously 2-3 in the fourth round in Paris.

Cilic next faces seventh seed Andrey Rublev, who moved past Jannik Sinner earlier on Monday when the Italian retired in the third set of their match. Cilic will be seeking his first Roland Garros semi-final.

The 2005 Roland Garros boys’ singles champion, he has reached the men’s final at each of the other three Grand Slams, famously winning the 2014 US Open title by upsetting Roger Federer in the semis and storming past Kei Nishikori in the final. Cilic lost to the Swiss legend in the 2017 Wimbledon title match and the 2018 Australian Open final.

Medvedev finishes his the European clay swing with a 3-2 record. He returned from hernia surgery to compete in Geneva, but lost his opening match at the ATP 250 event before recording three straight-sets wins at Roland Garros. He fell one match shy of matching his run to the quarter-finals one year ago in Paris.

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Rublev Advances To Roland Garros QFs After Sinner Retires

  • Posted: May 30, 2022

Rublev Advances To Roland Garros QFs After Sinner Retires

Seventh seed will next play Medvedev or Cilic

Andrey Rublev advanced to his second Roland Garros quarter-final on Monday after his fourth-round opponent, Jannik Sinner, retired in the third set of their match due to an apparent left knee injury.

Sinner controlled play early on from the baseline, taking a 6-1 lead. But as the second set wore on the Italian increasingly struggled with his movement — his left knee was taped — and Rublev was able to seize the momentum. After the seventh seed took a 1-6, 6-4, 2-0 lead, Sinner retired.

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Rublev will next play second seed Daniil Medvedev or 20th seed Marin Cilic. A four-time major quarter-finalist, the 24-year-old will try to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

More to come…

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Ruud Ousts Hurkacz To Reach Maiden Grand Slam QF

  • Posted: May 30, 2022

Ruud Ousts Hurkacz To Reach Maiden Grand Slam QF

Norwegian to face Tsitsipas or Rune in Roland Garros last eight

Momentum is building for Casper Ruud at Roland Garros.

The eighth seed fended off a strong comeback from Hubert Hurkacz to complete a 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the fourth round on Monday afternoon and reach his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final in Paris.

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“It feels great,” said Ruud in his on-court interview. “It’s been one of the goals for me this year, to try and reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. I don’t know why, but suddenly when I came here this year I felt a little bit more experienced playing five sets. I wasn’t able to play in Australia so Roland Garros was a big goal for me, especially this year.”

In a meeting between two players both making fourth-round debuts in the French capital, it was the World No. 8 Ruud who took control early as the 12th-seeded Hurkacz was unable to consistently counter the powerful ballstriking of Ruud on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

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The Norwegian has frequently demonstrated the ability to handle tough match situations on his way to the last eight in Paris. He opened with an emotional four-set win in home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s last match before retirement and came through a five-set thriller against Lorenzo Sonego in the third round.

Ruud stayed calm under pressure again against Hurkacz, keeping his cool after the Pole raised his game to clinch the third set and then opened up an early lead in the fourth. Despite the efforts of Monte Carlo and Madrid quarter-finalist Hurkacz, Ruud was clinical in notching two breaks of his own to seal an eighth straight win and book a quarter-final appointment with Stefanos Tsitsipas or Holger Rune.

“Hubert has improved a lot on clay from previous years,” said Ruud. “He has become a dangerous player on all surfaces, especially here on the clay where if the sun is out, it is quite fast.

“Of course, he has a dangerous serve, and the goal today was to try and get many returns back. I did very well in the first two sets. I was able to make him play a lot of points and was able to run around my forehand and control many points. He raised his level a little bit in the third, and one poor service game by myself and then he had a break.

“It turns around quick in tennis. It was looking a bit dark in the fourth set as well but luckily I was able to break him back a couple of times.”

Hurkacz found himself under pressure early as the Pole’s usually reliable first serve eluded him in the opening set. Ruud stayed solid and was able to break three times with relative ease to become the first player to take a set off Hurkacz in the tournament.

There was some improvement from the Pole in a tighter second set but again a slow start cost him. Ruud whipped his trademark big forehand to great effect to break in the second game and then saved a break point in the next game to establish a 3-0 lead. That was as close as Hurkacz came to reclaiming the break as the Norwegian took command from the baseline.

Despite his two-set deficit Hurkacz was rewarded for the steady improvement in his game over the course of the match as he clinched the third set with a break in the sixth game. The World No. 13 looked to have taken control as he broke for 2-1 in the fourth set, but Ruud regained his composure to break twice himself and seal a two-hour, 31-minute victory.

Ruud has been one of the most consistent clay-court players on Tour in recent years, with seven of his eight titles coming on the surface. Until this year he had not been able to convert that form into a deep run at Roland Garros, however, with third-round appearances in 2019, 2020 and 2021 his best previous showings in Paris.

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