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Tsitsipas Ousts Coric To Set Medvedev Showdown In Rome

  • Posted: May 18, 2023

Tsitsipas Ousts Coric To Set Medvedev Showdown In Rome

Greek triumphs in straight sets

Stefanos Tsitsipas earned a commanding 6-3, 6-4 win over Borna Coric at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Thursday evening to set a blockbuster semi-final against third seed Daniil Medvedev. 

“He’s been playing well and I’m playing [well] also,” Tsitsipas said on court of his upcoming match against Medvedev. “I feel good on court, regardless if it’s a night session or a day session and I really hope to bring the best out of me against him. I feel like he’s playing better than the years before.”

Tsitsipas is now 13-3 this clay-court season and he has earned all four of his victories at the Foro Italico in straight sets. The 2022 Rome finalist saved three of the four break points he faced against Coric to advance after one hour and 36 minutes.

Coric has long been a tough opponent for Tsitsipas. Entering Thursday’s clash, the Croatian had won three of their five ATP Head2Head meetings and one of Tsitsipas’ victories came by first-set retirement.

They met last year in the final of the Western & Southern Open, a match Coric won in straight sets. But Tsitsipas earned his ATP Masters 1000 revenge in Rome, where he was sharp throughout his triumph.

The Greek used a good mix of power and creativity, changing the spin on his shots and using his drop shot well. Coric missed a defensive backhand long to allow Tsitsipas to serve for the first set, which he did successfully.

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The fifth seed appeared in full control when he hit a forehand passing shot to break in the second set, but he gave back his advantage in the next game.

Tsitsipas did not panic against a player who has rallied against him before. He earned his third service break of the match and then successfully served for his place in the semi-finals.

“This is clay-court tennis, things escalated quite quickly. And there was a turning point, but accompanied by my great shotmaking, at the very important moments, I was able to retrieve that and get back and hold,” Tsitsipas said. “[I played] a great service game in the very last game, serving excellently and just feeling the energy point by point.”

Medvedev leads Tsitsipas 7-4 in their ATP Head2Head series. However, the Greek has won three of their past four clashes, including a straight-sets victory two years ago in the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

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Baez Advances To Turin Challenger SFs

  • Posted: May 18, 2023

Baez Advances To Turin Challenger SFs

Humbert defeats Wawrinka in France

The top two seeds at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour 175 event in Turin, Italy are safely into the semi-finals, including World No. 40 Sebastian Baez.

The 22-year-old Argentine, seeded first, overcame a second-set slump Thursday to move past Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 at the Piemonte Open Intesa Sanpaolo.

Rain forced the match to be halted for 50 minutes midway through a lengthy second game that featured seven deuce points. Throughout the two-hour, 27-minute contest, Baez displayed smooth court coverage and didn’t face a break point in the decider to defeat the 23-year-old.

The Buenos Aires native Baez and the Brazilian Seyboth Wild were competing in doubles together this week. The duo defeated Sander Arends and Petros Tsitsipas in the opening round, before giving a walkover Thursday to Andrey Golubev and Denys Molchanov.

Baez has captured both of his ATP tour-level titles and all six of his Challenger Tour trophies on clay. Earlier this season, the Argentine claimed the ATP 250 event on the red dirt in Cordoba. Playing in his first Challenger since March 2022, Baez will next clash against Italian qualifier Federico Gaio, who ousted Andrea Collarini 6-4, 6-3 in the quarters.

Second seed Daniel Elahi Galan encountered an Italian for the second consecutive day, but the Colombian saw off wild card and #NextGenATP star Flavio Cobolli 6-4, 7-5 to reach the Turin Challenger semi-finals.

Galan was a semi-finalist at this month’s Challenger 175 event in Cagliari and finished runner-up last month at the Sarasota Challenger. The 26-year-old will next face the in-form German Dominik Koepfer, who defeated Edoardo Lavagno 6-3, 6-1 to advance Thursday.

Koepfer, 29, has competed in three Challenger finals this year, including his triumph at the Mexico City Challenger in April.

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In front of a packed stadium in southern France, the 24-year-old Ugo Humbert downed three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-1 at the BNP Paribas Primrose.

Wawrinka was aiming to back up his vintage performance Wednesday, when he ousted former World No. 1 Andy Murray 6-3, 6-0, but the Frenchman Humbert delivered a strong serving performance and fended off six of seven break points faced to advance.

Humbert, who reached a career-high No. 25 in 2021, has won 20 of his past 23 Challenger-level matches, including his triumph at this month’s Cagliari Challenger. He will meet countryman Richard Gasquet in Friday’s semi-finals.

Gasquet booked his ticket to the last four by defeating Mikael Ymer 7-6(14), 6-3. In the opening set, the Swede Ymer was down 3-5, 0/40 before pushing the home favourite to a tie-break. But the Frenchman prevailed, converting his ninth set point, after saving four set points in a marathon tie-break.

<a href=''>Richard Gasquet</a> celebrates a quarter-final win at the Challenger 175 event in Bordeaux, France.
Richard Gasquet celebrates a quarter-final win at the Challenger 175 event in Bordeaux, France. Credit: Jared Wickerham/ATP Tour

The 36-year-old Gasquet leads Humbert 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. A three-time tour titlist, Humbert won their most recent encounter in straight sets at this year’s Australian Open, exactly 12 months after Gasquet beat him at Melbourne Park.

Top seed Jan-Lennard Struff cruised past Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-2 after winning 21 of 27 first-serve points. The 33-year-old German, who was a finalist at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid, will next meet Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry in a ball-bashing semi-final at the Challenger 175 event.

Etcheverry, 23, earned a commanding 6-3, 6-3 quarter-final victory against Spainard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The seventh seed Etcheverry will aim for the highest-ranked win of his career Friday, when he meets World No. 28 Struff.

Watch Match Of The Day: Ugo Humbert vs Richard Gasquet (Bordeaux, NB 4:00 p.m. local)

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Nadal: 'I Don't Think I Deserve To End Like This'

  • Posted: May 18, 2023

Nadal: ‘I Don’t Think I Deserve To End Like This’

Spaniard reflects on withdrawal from Roland Garros and his future

Rafael Nadal is determined to end his career on his own terms. The Spaniard reflected on his outlook Thursday after announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros.

“I don’t like the word but I feel strong enough to say it:  I don’t think I deserve to end like this,” Nadal said in Spanish. “I’ve worked hard enough throughout my career for my end not to be in a press conference.”

Nadal explained that his plan is to take time off. Although he is unsure when he will return, the Spaniard added the 2024 season will “probably” be his last. 

“After that you never know what can happen,” Nadal said. “I’m going to try to make my last year not just a party, I’m going to try to compete at the highest level, give myself the option to try to compete and win tournaments on this clay tour. The reality is that we’ll have to wait for that.”

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The 22-time major champion and former World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings did not rush to his decision and instead listened to what his body told him.

“The first thing you do is not talk, you listen to yourself and you understand what is happening. You have to accept and go through a process of honesty with yourself,” Nadal said. “But decisions are not dramatic, everything has a beginning and an end, unfortunately. I am just one more of all these endings of all the people who have been able to stand out in any field of life.” 

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The reason Nadal is taking time off now is so that he can give himself the best chance for a proper final run. 

“My idea is that this last effort is worth leaving everything so that the last year will be something special,” Nadal said. “My tennis and above all my body will tell me what will happen.”

When Nadal retires, he said it will be the end of a stage of his life he has “been very happy with”.

“From then on I will start another stage, which will be different. But it doesn’t have to be any less happy,” Nadal said. “I have to take things naturally. I have plans for the next few months that I haven’t made in the last 20 years.”

World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev was asked about the Nadal news after his quarter-final win in Rome. Medvedev said: “Rafa on clay in general, but especially in Roland Garros, is just unreal. I honestly don’t know how this is possible because me, I feel like I’m a good tennis player, but you can always have a bad day, or your opponent has a very good day. Like in Madrid, I felt like I was not playing that bad against [Aslan] Karatsev. But I lost, and after the match I was like, ‘He played well. Okay, that’s it.’

“Rafa didn’t have these matches in Roland Garros, except maybe the match with Soderling where Robin played the match of his life and managed to win. This is unbelievable. I think in tennis, at least for the moment, there no comparison.”

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Medvedev Reaches Rome SFs

  • Posted: May 18, 2023

Medvedev Reaches Rome SFs

Third seed next plays Tsitsipas or Coric

Daniil Medvedev broke new ground at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Thursday when he cruised past German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals in Rome for the first time.

The third seed had never won a match in the Italian capital before this fortnight, but has produced some of his best tennis to advance to the last four at an ATP Masters 1000 clay-court event for just the second time (Monte-Carlo 2019).

“I said before the tournament I was feeling really great in practice,” Medvedev said. “It is always a danger to say this if you lose the first round and you think, ‘Why did I say this’. But I am feeling great. The transition from Grand Stand to center court was not easy. He was struggling more than me and I am happy with the win and being in the semis.”

In a dominant performance against Hanfmann, Medvedev sat deep behind the baseline to soak up the German’s powerful hitting, striking a number of stunning passing winners. The third seed moved well on centre court and timed the ball cleanly off both wings to advance after one hour and 20 minutes.

“I knew I had to put as many balls into the court as possible because he plays aggressively,” Medvedev said. “There aren’t going to be many points where you dictate, it will be mainly him. But what you have to do is play deep and try and make him miss. Maybe he didn’t play his best match but that is how it works, you can’t play your best match every day and I am happy I could neutralise his attacking style.”

Medvedev has now earned a Tour-leading 18 ATP Masters 1000 wins this season, highlighted by his run to the title in Miami last month. The 27-year-old, who defeated Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, will continue the quest for his fifth trophy of the season when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas or Borna Coric in the semi-finals on Saturday.

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Medvedev is currently first in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and will extend his lead to 845 points if he wins his sixth ATP Masters 1000 crown this week after second-placed Carlos Alcaraz lost in the third round in Rome.

In one of his best performances of the season, Medvedev was zoned in from ball one against Hanfmann. In an impressive first set, the third seed won 80 per cent (16/20) of his first-serve points and was aggressive throughout, striking 14 winners to lead. The second set followed a similar story, with Medvedev controlling the baseline exchanges with his weight and depth of shot to earn his 37th win of the season.

Hanfmann was competing in the quarter-finals at an ATP Masters 1000 for the first time after upsetting Top 10 stars Taylor Fritz and Andrey Rublev en route to the last eight. The 31-year-old German has climbed 37 spots to No. 64 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his dream run in Italy.

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Nadal Withdraws From Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 18, 2023

Nadal Withdraws From Roland Garros

Spaniard is a 14-time champion at the clay-court major

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Roland Garros, he announced on Thursday at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar. The 14-time champion will not play in the season’s second major for the first time since his tournament debut in 2005.

The 36-year-old has not competed since January at the Australian Open, where he suffered an injury to the iliopsoas muscle in his left leg. Nadal and his team were expecting a recovery period of six to eight weeks, but the lefty has not returned to action. 

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In addition to his record 14 trophies at Roland Garros, Nadal owns a 112-3 record across 18 career appearances at the major. His 112 match wins and his 97.4 per cent win rate both stand alone as records, as does his perfect 14-0 mark in finals. 

Last year in Paris, Nadal defeated Casper Ruud in a three-set championship match to win a record-breaking 22nd Grand Slam singles title — a mark Novak Djokovic has since equalled. 

Nadal overcame a chronic foot injury to win both the Australian Open and Roland Garros last season. But the Spaniard has played just five tournaments since due to injury.

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