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Monfils Magic! French Star Surges Past Baez In Roland Garros Epic

  • Posted: May 30, 2023

Monfils Magic! French Star Surges Past Baez In Roland Garros Epic

Monfils will next play sixth seed Rune

Gael Monfils produced a moment of magic in the early moments of Wednesday morning that fans will not soon forget. 

The French star rallied from 0-4, 30/40 down in the fifth set of his first-round Roland Garros clash with Sebastian Baez to triumph 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 at 12:18 a.m.

The former World No. 6 scrambled throughout to deal with Baez and his aggressive forehand, then battled his body deep into the fifth set, in which he struggled to walk in between points due to cramps. But the Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd propped up the 36-year-old with unrelenting support and urged him to victory after three hours and 47 minutes.

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The scene after Monfils clinched the match with a backhand passing shot up the line — which bounced off the top of the net and in — is one those watching will retain for years to come. Initially he pulled his shirt over his face in disbelief, then revealed a massive smile.

After shaking hands with Baez and the chair umpire, he returned to the court and held his arms out to embrace the thousands of fans who had pushed him to fight on for the previous four hours. The Frenchman, who has long prided himself on performing for the fans, then laid down on his back and began sobbing.

Monfils faced 20 break points in the match and appeared out of gas late in the fourth set and early in the fifth. His Argentine opponent was pummeling forehand after forehand, running the home favourite all around the tournament’s centre court. 

But some how, some way, Monfils found the energy to make another push. Having lost all four of his previous tour-level matches this year as he returned from a right foot injury, the 36-year-old defended beautifully and won critical points to stay within touch.

Once it became a battle of wills, Monfils simply refused to capitulate, no matter what his body told him to do. The Frenchman will next play sixth seed Holger Rune, who defeated Christopher Eubanks on Tuesday.

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Medvedev Upbeat After Early Paris Exit: 'I Was Fighting'

  • Posted: May 30, 2023

Medvedev Upbeat After Early Paris Exit: ‘I Was Fighting’

Second seed reflects on his clay-court season

Daniil Medvedev was quick to credit his opponent, Thiago Seyboth Wild, after losing in the first round at Roland Garros.

“Tough match. I don’t know. I’m not going to look at it back on TV but my feeling was that he played well. I don’t think I played that bad, but he played well,” Medvedev said. “The thing is that it’s always the same. If he continues to play that way, my opinion, end of the year, he’s Top 30. But last time I said something like this about someone, he didn’t manage to do it. But great for him to play like this today.

“I honestly hope he’s going to play like this later on, because if not, I’m going to be disappointed. I’m going to be like, ‘Why today? Why not in two days?’”

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Medvedev appeared to take control when he won the third set 6-2 to earn a two-sets-to-one advantage. But Seyboth Wild controlled many of the baseline exchanges, hitting 69 winners to triumph after five sets across four hours and 15 minutes.

“I think I was fighting well. Physically I was not feeling that bad. I mean, I’m a little bit tired now, but also when you lose your body goes down faster. If I would win I would not feel that tired,” Medvedev said. “Mentally I was fighting. I was fighting. The last game, brought it back to 30-All, guy makes two winners, okay, whatever. Hopefully [I] can make it next time.

“For sure I’m really disappointed. I’m going to be [for] one week thinking about this match, but for the moment I don’t see anything wrong I did. I mean, double faults, the wind was crazy today, so it was not easy… I don’t see anything I could really do better. That’s good. That’s when you can bounce back faster in the next tournaments.”

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The second seed enjoyed a breakthrough clay-court season. Just more than a week ago, he earned his first title on the surface when he triumphed at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome. However, he is still happy to depart the surface.

“It didn’t change one time that every time it finishes I’m happy. So I’m happy. I’m happy again. Doesn’t matter, one time quarters, one time fourth round, a lot of times first round,” Medvedev said. “Today I had because [of the] wind, dry court, I had a mouthful of clay since probably [the] third game of the match, and I don’t like it. I don’t know if people like to eat clay, to have clay in their bags, in their shoes, the socks, white socks, you can throw them to garbage after clay season. Maybe some people like it. I don’t.

“I am happy to have it finished. I’m going to have to have a good time off. Have to find positives. A lot of relaxing [in the] next days. Happy to go to the next challenges even if, for sure, I wanted to stay longer in Paris, even if it’s clay.”

Medvedev will move forward with confidence knowing that despite his early loss in Paris, he found his footing on clay.

“Before sometimes I was feeling, ‘Wow, I really cannot do anything.’ Today I felt like I [was] doing what I had to do, and he played well, so let’s continue. And, well, the match was over and I didn’t manage to win it,” Medvedev said. “But definitely amazing. Rome is unbelievable. I never thought I’m going to win a tournament on clay. Not talking about a Masters. So have to think more about this right now than Roland Garros, unfortunately.

“Next year I’m going to be maybe even more motivated to try to repeat the success of this year.”

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Ruud Races Into Second Round At Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 30, 2023

Ruud Races Into Second Round At Roland Garros

Paul defeats Stricker

Last year’s Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud is up and running at the clay-court major in 2023, dispatching Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the second round for the sixth consecutive season.

The fourth seed, who lost against Rafael Nadal in the title match 12 months ago, quickly found his range on his return to Paris. The Norwegian hit freely on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, outmanoeuvring World No. 155 Ymer with his mixture of spins to advance after two hours and seven minutes.

“It was tough. The first match back here since one of the best tournament’s of my life, you have to try to defend what you did last year, so I was a bit nervous at times,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “But I managed to calm down and as the match went on I felt a little better. I had to stay focused all the way and I am very happy happy to be through in straight sets.”

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Ruud struck 28 winners compared to 17 from Ymer, while he broke the Swede’s serve eight times to earn his 14th win at Roland Garros.

“It is great to be back in Paris and play in front of the French crowd,” Ruud added. “They are very passionate. I had a great experience last year making the final and as every match went on I felt more supporters were coming to watch and support me.”

Ruud has had a modest season by his standards, failing to win consecutive matches at 10 of the 12 events he has played. However, the 24-year-old’s best results have come on clay, with Ruud capturing his 10th tour-level trophy in Estoril in April before he advanced to the semi-finals in Rome.

The World No. 4, who is chasing his maiden Grand Slam title this fortnight, will next meet Alexander Bublik or Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.

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In other early action on Day 3, Tommy Paul defeated #NextGenATP Swiss Dominic Stricker 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The American, who advanced to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January, hit 25 winners and committed 17 unforced errors to clinch his 18th win of the season.

Paul, currently 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, will play Geneva champion Nicolas Jarry in the second round. The Chilean defeated Hugo Dellien 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

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