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Tsitsipas Soars Into First Grass-Court Final In Mallorca

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Tsitsipas Soars Into First Grass-Court Final In Mallorca

Greek seeking first grass-court title

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his first tour-level final on grass Friday when he overcame Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 6-4, 6-4 at the Mallorca Championships.

The Greek demonstrated great footwork to dictate on his aggressive forehand, while he held his nerve in the crucial moments, saving all three break points he faced to advance after one hour and 32 minutes.

The second seed, who is making his debut at the ATP 250 event, also defeated Bonzi on the grass in Halle last week before he lost to Australian Nick Kyrgios.

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With his victory, Tsitsipas has now earned a Tour-leading 39 wins this season and will face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut or Swiss qualifier Antoine Bellier in what will be his fourth final of the season. The 23-year-old retained his title in Monte Carlo in April, either side of final defeats in Rotterdam and Rome.

In a tight first set in Spain, it was Tsitsipas who made the decisive move, breaking Bonzi in the ninth game before he held to lead. Fuelled by confidence, the Greek continued to find his rhythm from the baseline in the second set. He took his forehand early to take time away from the Frenchman, forcing Bonzi into errors as he closed out the match.

Bonzi had not dropped a set en route to the semi-finals, having earned the second biggest win of his career when he upset World No. 16 Denis Shapovalov in the second round. It was the second time the World No. 56 had advanced to a tour-level semi-final, after he enjoyed a run to the championship match in Marseille in February.

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Sinner-Wawrinka Blockbuster Headlines Matches To Watch At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Sinner-Wawrinka Blockbuster Headlines Matches To Watch At Wimbledon looks at five popcorn first-round Wimbledon matches

The Wimbledon men’s singles draw has conjured up a series of potential blockbuster quarter-final clashes, with six-time champion Novak Djokovic projected to meet Carlos Alcaraz and two-time victor Rafael Nadal seeded to face Felix Auger-Aliassime.

However, there are also plenty of popcorn matches in the early rounds as heavyweights are set to meet rising stars and top players clash with unseeded threats. takes a look at five of the best matchups that are already locked in at the grass-court Grand Slam.

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[10] Jannik Sinner vs. Stan Wawrinka
One of the brightest talents on Tour will meet an experienced champion in the first round at Wimbledon when Jannik Sinner takes on Stan Wawrinka.

The 10th seed Sinner is a five-time tour-level champion and has reached at least the fourth round at all three of the other Grand Slams. However, the Italian has yet to win a tour-level match on grass and will have his work cut out when he meets former World No. 3 Wawrinka.

The 37-year-old is a three-time Grand Slam champion and is gearing up for his 16th appearance at SW19, with his best result a run to the quarter-finals in 2014 and 2015. Wawrinka will enter the clash with a 2-0 lead in their ATP Head2Head series, but both of his victories came in 2019 when Sinner was outside the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

This standout clash should certainly provide entertainment as Sinner looks to earn a breakthrough win on grass.

[7] Hubert Hurkacz vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Hubert Hurkacz enjoyed a standout run to the semi-finals on the lawns at Wimbledon last season, defeating eight-time titlist Roger Federer on the way. However, the seventh seed will need to be at his very best if he is to avoid an early exit this year.

Opponent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina won the Wimbledon boys’ singles title in 2017 and has since reached a career-high No. 27 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The Spaniard is making his second main-draw appearance at Wimbledon and holds strong recent form on the grass, having advanced to the quarter-finals at The Queen’s Club earlier this month. He has also proven a tough competitor on the biggest stages, reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Hurkacz also arrives in good form, though, after capturing his first grass-court title in Halle last week. With the pair locked at 2-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, anything could happen.

[11] Taylor Fritz vs. Lorenzo Musetti
Expect Taylor Fritz and Lorenzo Musetti to put on a show when they meet for the first time in the opening round at Wimbledon.

The 11th seed Fritz enters the clash with plenty of grass-court experience, having clinched the title in Eastbourne in 2019. Three years on, the American is looking as strong as ever. The 24-year-old captured his maiden Masters 1000 trophy in Indian Wells earlier this season, while he has advanced to the semi-finals in Eastbourne this week.

In contrast, while #NextGenATP Italian Musetti does not have the same grass-court pedigree, having never won a tour-level match on the surface, will be a dangerous opponent. The 20-year-old will look to cause Fritz problems with his stunning shotmaking as he aims to earn his third Top 20 win of his season.

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[6] Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Maxime Cressy
When you watch Maxime Cressy play, it is as if you have gone back in time. The American plays an attacking brand of serve-and-volley tennis, which still is hugely effective on grass, signified by his run to the semi-finals in Eastbourne this week.

Felix Auger-Aliassime will therefore have to be ready for the challenge if he is to reach the second round once again. Last year, the Canadian soared to the quarter-finals at The Championships, defeating Nick Kyrgios and Germany’s Alexander Zverev en route.

Earlier this month, Auger-Aliassime advanced to the semi-finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the quarter-finals in Halle, holding a 30-15 record on the season. The 21-year-old will need to return well if he is to earn his 31st win of the season on the lawns in London.

Paul Jubb vs. Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios will look to continue his good play this grass-court season when he takes on British wild card Paul Jubb in the first round. The Australian, who advanced to the quarter-finals on debut at Wimbledon in 2014, reached consecutive semi-finals in Stuttgart and Halle this month, earning a victory against Top 10 star Stefanos Tsitsipas along the way.

Jubb, currently No. 219 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, will have to bring his top tennis if he is to earn his first victory at Wimbledon. In a match that will be played in front of a vocal British crowd, Kyrgios will look to rise to the occasion to book his spot in the second round for the seventh time.

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Djokovic Could Meet Alcaraz In Wimbledon QFs

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Djokovic Could Meet Alcaraz In Wimbledon QFs

Nadal and Berrettini in same half

Top seed Novak Djokovic could face #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a blockbuster quarter-final clash at Wimbledon, following the release of the draw on Friday.

The Serbian is aiming to capture a fourth consecutive Wimbledon crown in London and will begin his title defence against South Korean Soonwoo Kwon on Centre Court on Monday, with Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis or Pole Kamil Majchrzak awaiting in the second round.

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Rafael Nadal anchors the bottom half as the second seed and will start his bid for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam trophy against Argentine Francisco Cerundolo, with 2017 finalist Marin Cilic a potential fourth-round opponent.

The Spaniard is seeded to meet Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals, in what will be a rematch from Roland Garros. Canadian Auger-Aliassime, who advanced to the last eight in 2021, faces a tricky opening test against American Maxime Cressy.

Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas could clash in the other quarter-final in the bottom half. Last year’s finalist Berrettini, who triumphed on grass in Stuttgart and London this month, opens against Cristian Garin, while fourth-seeded Greek Tsitsipas plays Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard.

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In the top half, fifth seed Alcaraz is making his second appearance at Wimbledon and starts against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, with third seed Casper Ruud playing Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Ruud, who has yet to win a main draw match at Wimbledon, is projected to face Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals. The Pole arrives in London off the back of a run to his maiden grass-court title in Halle and begins against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Last season, Hurkacz defeated Roger Federer en route to the semi-finals.

The 10th seed Jannik Sinner meets former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in a popcorn first-round match, while two-time champion Andy Murray plays Australian James Duckworth. Murray, Sinner and Wawrinka are all in Djokovic’s quarter alongside 15th seed Reilly Opelka, who starts against Spaniard Carlos Taberner.

Other intriguing first-round matches include Nick Kyrgios against British wild card Paul Jubb, last year’s semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz against #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

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How Murray, Djokovic Cut Down Big Servers On Grass

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

How Murray, Djokovic Cut Down Big Servers On Grass

Only three players clear the 25 per cent mark in grass-court returns game won

Grass-court tennis traditionally favours big servers, with the slick bounce off the turf adding to the arsenal of heavy hitters. But with Wimbledon rapidly approaching, keep an eye on two of the most successful grass-court players of all-time, who have found success by nullifying that potent threat on the surface.

Although two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and six-time winner Novak Djokovic are more than capable on serve, it is their return games that lift them to historic heights on the grass. Djokovic leads all active players with a 26.4 per cent win rate in return games on the surface, while Murray is a close second at 26.3 per cent, according to statistics from the Infosys ATP Performance Zone.

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As a result, those two men have claimed more grass titles than any active player other than Roger Federer, whose 19 tour-level titles are the most on the lawns since records have been kept. Murray has won eight such titles, while Djokovic has claimed seven.  

Diego Schwartzman is the only other active player to surpass the 25 per cent mark (25.3%) in grass-court return games won, with Denis Kudla fourth on the list (23.9%).

Career Return Games Won % On Grass (Active Players)

 Player  Return Games Won
 1) Novak Djokovic  26.4%
 2) Andy Murray  26.3%
 3) Diego Schwartzman  25.3%
 4) Denis Kudla  23.9%
 5) Roberto Bautista Agut  23.8%

When considering all surfaces, Djokovic and Murray win 32.2 per cent and 31 per cent of their return games, respectively. That still puts them in elite company, but slightly behind active leaders Rafael Nadal (33.6%) and Schwartzman (32.4%). Seventeen active players eclipse 25 per cent in that statistic.

A similar gap can be seen in serving statistics as well. Just three men have held serve at a rate better than 90 per cent throughout their careers: Ivo Karlovic (92%), John Isner (91.8%) and Milos Raonic (91.2%). Federer is the next-best at 88.8 per cent. But narrow the scope to just grass courts, and 12 men surpass 89 per cent, including Djokovic.

The Serbian is seventh in hold percentage across all surfaces (85.8%) and ninth on grass (89.4%). Murray clocks in at 24th overall (81.8%) and 14th on the grass (88.4%).

Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is seventh among active players in grass-court hold percentage with a rate of 89.8 per cent. That leaves him just below Matteo Berrettini (90.9%) and Nick Kyrgios (90%).

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Nadal Hits Centre Court At Wimbledon Before Continuing Grand Slam Pursuit

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Nadal Hits Centre Court At Wimbledon Before Continuing Grand Slam Pursuit

Spaniard is a two-time champion at the grass-court major

Rafael Nadal arrives at Wimbledon in a position he has never been in.

Before this year, the Spaniard had never triumphed at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same season. Now he is halfway to becoming the first men’s singles player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic claimed the first three majors of the year before falling in the US Open final. Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will try to move closer to achieving the feat at SW19, where he will be the second seed.

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The lefty will also attempt to move further clear of his chief rivals in the race for the most major titles. Nadal earned his 22nd Slam at Roland Garros, while Djokovic and Roger Federer own 20 each. It is the 36-year-old’s first appearance at The All England Club since 2019, when he lost in the semi-finals against Federer.

Both Nadal and Djokovic practised on Centre Court Thursday, a historic moment at Wimbledon. It was the first time that the tournament has allowed practice on Centre Court and No. 1 Court before the first day of the event. Organisers permitted it in order to help the players get used to the conditions and break in the courts.

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Nadal trained with Italian Matteo Berrettini, who advanced to his first major final at Wimbledon one year ago. The Italian underwent right hand surgery in March, but has quickly returned to form on the grass. Berrettini has won all nine matches he has played since his nearly three-month absence, lifting trophies in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club.

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Djokovic is 79-10 at the grass-court major and has won its past three editions. The top seed will chase his seventh Wimbledon trophy and 21st major crown over the coming fortnight.

The Serbian practised on Centre Court with former Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic. The Croatian has found some of his best form in recent weeks, having reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and The Queen’s Club.

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