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Preview: Alcaraz Seeks Musetti Revenge, Roland Garros QF Return

  • Posted: Jun 04, 2023

Preview: Alcaraz Seeks Musetti Revenge, Roland Garros QF Return

Djokovic, Tsitsipas face unseeded upstarts

The Roland Garros men’s singles draw is down to 16 title hopefuls after three rounds on the Paris clay. The loaded top half of the men’s draw returns to action on Sunday with three of the Top 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings set to compete.

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz meets 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti on Court Philippe-Chatrier following Novak Djokovic’s matchup against Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas. On Court Suzanne-Lenglen, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas meets Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner after 11th seed Karen Khachanov takes on Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego earlier in the day. looks ahead at Day 8 by scouting the Sunday schedule in Paris.

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[1] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. [17] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)

The lone previous ATP Head2Head meeting between these young stars was a memorable one, particularly for Musetti. The Italian upset Alcaraz in the 2022 Hamburg final, recovering from five missed match points in the second set to claim his first ATP Tour title with a 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 triumph.

While the pair has not played a competitive match since then, both players have watched each other with great admiration in the 10 months since that final.

“I see a friend. I see that he started a way, a new generation,” Musetti said of Alcaraz. “He [won] the first Grand Slam title [of the younger generation], so I think it’s sort of inspiration for us, for me, Holger [Rune], Jannik [Sinner], and whoever is behind him, and trying to push him away and trying to get closer.

“I think that the match in Hamburg gave me a lot of confidence, especially on this side…. Of course it’s a complete different position, different status, but I think we will enjoy, in this case, our match.”

Alcaraz also expects an enjoyable matchup as he braces for the biggest challenge of his Paris run to date.

“He’s playing great. He has beaten really tough players. He’s a really talented player,” said the Spaniard.

“I remember the match in Hamburg. It was really, really tough. This is a match that I’m really looking for, I really want to play that match. I’m going to enjoy it, because it’s going to be a really fun match. I would say it’s going to be really good rallies, good shots between us, and of course it’s going to be a really fun match to watch, as well.”

Alcaraz has dropped just one set in reaching the fourth round, including a three-set domination of 26th seed Denis Shapovalov on Friday. It’s a stark contrast to his run through the early rounds last season in Paris, when he needed to save a match point to defeat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round. A win on Sunday would see the 20-year-old match his best Roland Garros result by returning to the quarter-finals for the second straight year.

Musetti is also into the Roland Garros fourth round for the second time. The last time he reached that stage, he gave Novak Djokovic a scare by taking a two-set lead behind a pair of tie-break wins. But he faded physically after that and ultimately retired late in the fifth set after the Serbian wrestled away control of the match.

Once again facing a World No. 1 on the Paris clay, the 21-year-old will be ready to go the distance. After playing some of the best tennis of any player this fortnight in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win against 14th seed Cameron Norrie, Musetti will hope to take the initiative against Alcaraz in a matchup of two electric all-court talents.

[3] Novak Djokovic (SER) vs. Juan Pablo Varillas (PER)

Varillas won three five-setters to make history for Peru, becoming the first man from the nation to reach the Roland Garros fourth round since 1994. After knocking of 19th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz in his past two matches, the 27-year-old’s task will be even tougher on Sunday against Djokovic.

The Serbian, champion at Roland Garros in 2016 and 2021, has not dropped a set this fortnight but played two marathon sets against 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-2 third-round win. 

“I don’t remember when I played last time three hours [for] two sets. Maybe against Nadal in one of our matches,” Djokovic reflected. “This was looking like if I lost one of the first two sets, it was looking like it was going to go four, five hours.”

Instead, the Serbian managed to get off the court in three hours, 36 minutes — though he did receive treatment to loosen up his upper leg following the third set.

Djokovic, who has won four tie-breaks across his three victories, downplayed any injury concerns after the match. Instead, his focus is on improving for the second week, a skill he has mastered in winning his joint-record 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I’m very self-critical, so I know that I can always do better and I can always play better. But I also try to remind myself, as also the people in my team try to remind me daily, that there are a lot of positives, that I have to try to stay optimistic and look ahead and be in the moment, try to make the most out of it,” he said. “I’m happy with where I am at the moment with my game. Can it be better? Certainly.”

[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [Q] Sebastian Ofner (AUT)

Tsitsipas has yet to face a seeded player this fortnight, but he called his 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 third-round win against Diego Schwartzman his most difficult outing so far due to the Argentine’s solid play from the baseline.

After beating the former Roland Garros semi-finalist, he will now meet Ofner, who is through to the fourth round at a major for the first time. Incredibly, Ofner did not own a tour-level win this season until his run on the terre battue. But after a successful season on the ATP Challenger Tour, the Austrian entered Paris at a career-high of World No. 118 and has since rocketed up the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings to No. 80 behind his three victories.

Tsitsipas watched some of Ofner’s five-set win against Fabio Fognini and will not be taking the surprise opponent lightly on Sunday.

“I know that clay court suits him well. He can play well on this surface,” said the Greek. “He has had good results in the past on clay courts. He might not be the guy who you see very often in Masters 1000 tournaments and 500s in terms of going deep and playing and beating top guys, but I’m sure he’s on a good streak right now, he’s feeling good with his tennis… I’m going to approach it with seriousness and professionalism.”

If both Tsitsipas and Alcaraz advance, they will set up a quarter-final showdown — with Djokovic potentially awaiting in the semis.

[11] Karen Khachanov vs. Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)

Khachanov and Sonego will contest their fourth ATP Head2Head meeting and their first since 2019. Both men have advanced to the fourth round with wins of three, four and five sets. Sonego’s five-setter came in an upset of seventh seed Andrey Rublev in the third round, during which the Italian stormed back from two sets down to claim a 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 result. He also knocked off 30th seed Ben Shelton in the opening round.

The 11th-seeded Khachanov went five against Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the opening round and won a four-setter against Thanasi Kokkinakis in the third round. The 27-year-old is two wins away from his third consecutive major semi-final after reaching that stage at the US Open and Australian Open. He is also seeking his second Roland Garros quarter-final (2019).

Doubles Action

Sunday will also see four men’s doubles matches as teams bid for quarter-final berths. Fifth seeds Harri Heliovaara and Lloyd Glasspool meet 12th seeds Andreas Mies and Matwe Middelkoop in the lone seed vs. seed match on the day, while fourth seeds Austin Krajicek and Ivan Dodig meet Francisco Cabral and Rafael Matos.

On Court Simonne-Mathieu, two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz meet Frenchmen Fabien Reboul and Sadio Doumbia, after 10th seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers face John Peers and Marcelo Melo.

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Zverev Edges Tiafoe In Late-Night Roland Garros Thriller

  • Posted: Jun 04, 2023

Zverev Edges Tiafoe In Late-Night Roland Garros Thriller

German next faces 28th seed Dimitrov for quarter-final place

The most gripping match of the Saturday slate at Roland Garros was saved for last, with Alexander Zverev and Frances Tiafoe thrilling the night-session crowd for three hours, 41 minutes in a hugely entertaining encounter. After four sets of spectacular shotmaking and countless twists and turns, Zverev emerged victorious with a 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5) result.

The 22nd-seeded German improved his ATP Head2Head record against Tiafoe to 7-1 with the win. By beating the American in the pair’s first clay-court meeting, Zverev advanced to the Roland Garros fourth round for the sixth straight year and continued his chase for a third straight Paris semi-final.

“I’m happy to be through. I’m happy to be in the fourth round and be in the second week of a Grand Slam,” Zverev said in his post-match presser. “It’s, for sure, a great thing for me right now.”

For Tiafoe, his best Roland Garros run ended in the third round, with the match finishing after midnight on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

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Zverev, whose 2022 Roland Garros campaign ended in agony when he injured his ankle midway through his semi-final against Rafael Nadal, showed glimpses of the form that helped him challenge the Spaniard in that epic match one year ago. While Zverev’s game ebbed and flowed against Tiafoe, he held firm in the two tie-breaks either side of a dominant third set.

“I know what happened last year,” the 26-year-old said of the injury. “It was emotional for me to step on that court for the first time when I played [Alex] Molcan, I’m not going to lie. But now I’m here to play some of the best players in the world, and today was definitely the case in that.”

Both Zverev and Tiafoe did damage on both attack and defence in a match filled with cat-and-mouse points, with both uncorking sublime passing shots and each winning their share of delicate duels in the frontcourt. It was a gripping contest that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with both the tight scoreline and the varied shotmaking that put power, precision and touch on display in equal measures.

Zverev, who hit 13 aces and 10 double faults in the victory, cashed in on five of his 14 break points while Tiafoe converted five of his 10 break chances in a topsy-turvy encounter. The last break came with Tiafoe serving to force a fifth set at 5-3 in the fourth, as Zverev snapped back after losing his own serve in the previous game.

A warm embrace at the net was a fitting end to a monumental match that could spark another deep run for Zverev.

Next up for the German is a meeting with 28th seed Grigor Dimitrov on Monday. The Bulgarian advanced with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win against Daniel Altmaier earlier in the evening on Court Simonne-Mathieu. Both Dimitrov and Altmaier were bidding to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the second time after previous runs to that stage in 2020. 

Dimitrov’s win puts him through to the second week at a Grand Slam for the first time since he reached the 2021 Australian Open quarter-finals. The Bulgarian has reached the semi-finals once at each major other than Roland Garros.

The winner between Zverev and Dimitrov will face 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the quarter-finals in a wide-open section of the draw.

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Cerundolo Fires Past Fritz To Extend Best Roland Garros Run

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2023

Cerundolo Fires Past Fritz To Extend Best Roland Garros Run

Etcheverry & Nishioka advance

After entering Roland Garros without a main-draw win at the event, Francisco Cerundolo has secured his best Grand Slam result by reaching the fourth round in Paris. The Argentine defeated ninth seed Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday evening to continue his run, improving to 6-7 against Top 10 opponents with the victory.

Cerundolo was without a win in four Grand Slam main-draw appearances prior to 2023, but reached the third round at the Australian Open before his success at Roland Garros. His Paris campaign will continue with a showdown against sixth seed Holger Rune on Monday.

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The 24-year-old, who has moved up three places from his current career-high to No. 20 this week in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, frustrated Fritz with his big forehand to earn the victory on Court Suzanne-Lenglen after two hours and 50 minutes. After surrendering an early break advantage in a dramatic fourth set, Cerundolo saved a set point on serve at 4-5 with a majestic topspin lob and ultimately won the final three games of the match behind his baseline brilliance.

The back-and-forth match saw a combined 10 breaks of serve, with Cerundolo converting on six of 21 break chances and Fritz claiming four of his 15 break points. Fritz, whose defeat means that five of the Top 10 seeds are out after three rounds at Roland Garros, fired nine aces to Cerundolo’s one. But the American was second-best in many of the neutral rallies as Cerundolo moved him from side to side with power and width. 

Cerundolo, a quarter-finalist at the ATP Masters 1000s in Miami and Rome this season, was one of three Argentines in action on Saturday. While Rune breezed past Genaro Alberto Olivieri, Tomas Martin Etcheverry upset 15th seed Borna Coric 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-2 earlier in the day. With the victory, the 23-year-old Etcheverry — who reached his first two ATP Tour finals this season in Santiago and Houston — extended his best major run. 

The 23-year-old, up 12 spots to No. 37 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, dropped to the floor in celebration following his second Top 20 win of the season. The Argentine defeated World No. 19 Alex de Minaur in the second round in Paris.

Etcheverry owned just one Grand Slam main-draw win prior to Roland Garros, his victory coming earlier this season at the Australian Open. Next up for the unseeded Argentine is a fourth-round meeting with 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka, a 3-6, 7-6(8), 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 winner against Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild on Saturday.

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Koolhof/Skupski Reach Roland Garros QFs

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2023

Koolhof/Skupski Reach Roland Garros QFs

Defending champions Arevalo/Rojer advance

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals as a team for the second consecutive year Saturday when they defeated Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela 7-5, 6-4.

Koolhof and Skupski won 86 per cent (31/36) of their first-serve points and broke three times to advance after one hour and 29 minutes.

The top seeds won seven tour-level titles last season but have yet to triumph this year. Chasing their first major trophy in Paris, the Dutch-British tandem will next meet 10th seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos or Marcelo Melo and John Peers.

Defending champions Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer also advanced, overcoming Jamie Murray and Michael Venus 6-2, 6-2. Murray and Venus clinched the crown in Geneva last week but were unable to topple the third seeds.

Arevalo and Rojer are aiming to clinch their third tour-level title of the season this week, having won in Adelaide and Delray Beach. They will next play Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara or Matwe Middelkoop and Andreas Mies.

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Inspired By Nadal, Varillas Makes History For Peru In Paris

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2023

Inspired By Nadal, Varillas Makes History For Peru In Paris

Argentine faces Djokovic on Sunday

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

Juan Pablo Varillas claimed the biggest win of his life on Friday by seeing off Hubert Hurkacz to book a place in the fourth round of Roland Garros, becoming the first Peruvian to reach the last 16 since Jaime Yzaga in 1994. To do so he has had to fend off three fifth-set match points: against Chinese player Juncheng Chang in the first round, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, and finally against Hurkacz.

In the process, Varillas also managed to do something else; he sent a message of hope to the young people of Peru.

“I think it’s a very good thing for my country,” said Varillas. “Being a professional tennis player is not an option there, so this is a good example for the children. With hard work, discipline, perseverance and belief in yourself, I think it’s possible. It will be a good boost for the children to continue to pursue their dreams of being professional tennis players so that their parents don’t pressure them.

“It’s an incredible feeling and it’s difficult to describe because this triumph is a result of many years of hard work, of coming through the ranks, of making sacrifices all the time, of the support of my team, my family and the people around me. That leads you to experience and enjoy moments like this.”

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It was precisely those people that stopped him from retiring from tennis in 2016. Back then, struggling with the dip in confidence that comes with a lack of results and after six months of fruitless hard work in Barcelona, Varillas was considering hanging up his racquet. Suddenly, the words of his idol had stopped making sense. “Hopefully we’ll meet someday on Tour. Practise hard!” the Spaniard told him in 2013 during an exhibition in Peru, where they played a doubles match together.

The four photos of Rafael Nadal hanging on the walls of his parents’ home in Lima went from being a motivation to a reminder of a time when he seemed to have reached a dead end. The dream of coinciding with his hero had all but evaporated.

“I thought ‘I’m not cut out for this, competition on this level is not for me’,” admitted Varillas.

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In fact, he considered going back to studying engineering at the Catholic University of Lima, a degree he had set aside years early to fully focus on tennis.

However, the Lima native trusted the advice of his loved ones. Since then, slowly but surely, the results have kept coming. The 2020 Australian Open was his first experience of a major, and despite losing in the second round of qualifying, he shared a locker room with Nadal and realized that it had been worthwhile fighting for his dream. Finally, he crossed paths with his idol on the professional circuit.

The support of his family also proved crucial early in his career.

“In the early years, they were the ones who helped me,” he remembered. “I was playing in Futures tournaments for almost six years. They supported me, trusted me and never pressured me. They played the role of parents, but without interfering in the tennis. They were with me through thick and thin. They deserve all my gratitude. It’s the first time they have come to see me at a Grand Slam. I’m happy to have the chance to share this moment with them.”

Last August he broke into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and this week in Paris he has claimed his first three wins at a major.

“Doing that here is special. Roland Garros is the tournament I always dreamed of playing in. I have also dreamed of winning matches here, and it’s amazing now that it’s happening. I’m so proud,” added the world No. 94.

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He came very close to achieving that dream one year ago. He was two sets up against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round but went on to lose. Twelve months on, he now has three wins in the main draw of this season’s Roland Garros. That winning mentality was largely fostered in Buenos Aires, the city he has called home since early 2017.

“In Argentina I completely changed my life. I started to mature there and improved a lot in every way,” said Varillas. “There are so many great players, coaches, fitness coaches, physios and sports psychologists in that country. All that competition makes you raise your game and prevents you from resting on your laurels.”

Amid all the success stories from Argentinian players at his year’s clay-court major, Varillas could easily be confused for one of them. He has an Argentine coach (Diego Junqueira, former World No. 68), he drinks mate, eats medialunas and is a Boca Juniors fan. However, he has not forgotten his roots and still works hard to inspire new generations of players in Peru.

“I try to set an example,” he explained. “I had Lucho Horna to look up to, and now I can be that for other kids. It’s a wonderful responsibility and I try to use it as extra motivation.”

Now, Varillas is surely facing the biggest challenge of his career; Novak Djokovic in the fourth round at Roland Garros. He only learned who his opponent would be a few minutes after sealing his passage to the next round.

“I didn’t know, I found out in the on-court interview,” he said. “Playing against one of the biggest players in history on one of the most amazing courts on Tour… I’m so excited about the opportunity of going out there and winning. It’s the perfect stage to continue this great week.”

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Preview: Tiafoe & Zverev Face Off For Fourth-Round Spot

  • Posted: Jun 03, 2023

Preview: Tiafoe & Zverev Face Off For Fourth-Round Spot

Fritz takes on fellow seed Cerundolo in Paris

The third-round action draws to a close Saturday at Roland Garros, where Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev meet in an intriguing matchup at the clay-court major. Top 10 stars Casper Ruud, Holger Rune and Taylor Fritz are also in action as they chase a fourth-round berth in the bottom half of the draw. looks ahead at some standout matches from the Day 7 schedule in Paris.

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[12] Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. [22] Alexander Zverev (GER)

A first clay-court meeting between Tiafoe and Zverev will bring two of the biggest baseline hitters on Tour together on Court Philippe Chatrier. The two-time semi-finalist Zverev has impressed upon returning to Roland Garros for the first time since he retired from his 2022 semi-final against Rafael Nadal after rolling his ankle, notching straight-sets victories against Lloyd Harris and Alex Molcan.

Zverev leads Tiafoe 6-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, but the pair has not met since 2021 in Vienna. Since then, Tiafoe has risen to the brink of the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the 2022 US Open. Now into the third round at Roland Garros for the first time, can the World No. 12 down Zverev for another breakthrough at a major tournament?

[4] Casper Ruud [NOR] vs. Zhang Zhizhen (CHN)

Last year’s finalist Ruud has made a fast start to his latest Roland Garros campaign. The Norwegian has shown signs of rediscovering his best level in recent weeks after a modest first few months of the season, and he deployed his powerful forehand to great effect against Elias Ymer and Giulio Zeppieri in Paris to reach the third round for the fifth consecutive year.

The fourth seed’s next challenge is a maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with Zhang Zhizhen. The Chinese star is yet to drop a set on his main draw debut in Paris, where he has impressively backed up his run to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Madrid last month. Zhang’s ability to match the depth of Ruud’s groundstrokes could be key, with the Norwegian one of the most clinical on Tour at pouncing on any short balls.

[6] Holger Rune (DEN) vs. [Q] Genaro Alberto Olivieri (ARG)

Rune competes for the first time since Tuesday after his second-round opponent Gael Monfils withdrew due to a wrist injury, and the sixth seed will hope to find his rhythm quickly as he seeks to reach the fourth round at a major for the third time by beating qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri. Rune is 14-3 on clay this year after reaching finals in Monte-Carlo and Rome either side of a title run in Munich, and he holds fond memories of Roland Garros after reaching the quarter-finals on event debut a year ago.

Olivieri is enjoying a breakout run of his own this year in Paris. He had not played a tour-level main draw match prior to this week, but the 24-year-old saw off Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard in five sets and Andrea Vavassori in four to earn his clash with Rune on Court Philippe-Chatrier. It will be the Argentine’s first match against a Top 10 opponent.

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Also In Action…

Alongside Ruud and Rune, Taylor Fritz is the other Top 10 star in action on Friday. The American faces 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Daniel Altmaier looks to back up his second-round upset of Jannik Sinner against 28th seed Grigor Dimitrov and Daniil Medvedev’s conquerer Thiago Seyboth Wild aims to extend his run against Yoshihito Nishioka.

Borna Coric is the other seeded player in third-round action. The Croatian meets Tomas Martin Etcheverry, while three-time clay-court ATP Tour titlist Nicolas Jarry plays Marcos Giron.

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