Category Archives: Tennis

Novak Djokovic reaches 50th Grand Slam quarterfinal

Two-time defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic reached his 50th Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating Christian Garin of Chile 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday.

Djokovic earned his 12th quarterfinal berth at Wimbledon, which ties him with Arthur Gore for third place on the men’s all-time list, behind Roger Federer’s 18 and Jimmy Connors’ 14.

The top-ranked Serb lost just three points on his first serve in the match and saved the only two break points he faced.

Djokovic is looking for his sixth title at the All England Club and a record-tying 20th Grand Slam trophy.

“Confidence levels are very high after winning the French Open,” said Djokovic.

“It was one of my biggest wins in the circumstances — two five-setters, two four-setters in the second week.

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“They took a lot out of me but they also gave me wings.

“The further I go in the tournament, the more comfortable I feel and I look forward to the next challenge.”

Djokovic, the six-time Wimbledon champion and chasing a record-equalling 20th major title, is halfway to a calendar Grand Slam.

Only two men have swept all four majors in the same year with Rod Laver the most recent back in 1969.

Garin was playing on Centre Court for the first time and was broken five times.

American Sebastian Korda, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, lost a marathon fifth set that featured 13 breaks of serve. Karen Khachanov of Russia won the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 to reach the quarterfinals.

Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian man in 23 years to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals by easing past unseeded Ilya Ivashka 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

The seventh-seeded Berrettini landed only 53% of his first serves but was broken only once in the match. He concluded with 37 winners to 16 for Ivashka, and broke his opponent six times.

Berrettini won the Queen’s Club grass-court tournament last month and has dropped only one set so far at Wimbledon. He is the first Italian to reach the quarters at the All England Club since Davide Sanguinetti in 1998.

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Serena Williams out of Wimbledon after slipping on Centre Court, injuring leg

Serena Williams retired from her first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday versus Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a right leg injury.

Holding a 3-1 lead in the first set, Williams slipped and needed to take an injury timeout at the game’s conclusion to receive treatment. She returned to the court, but her movement was visibly limited.

Williams was serving in the fifth game at Centre Court when she lost her footing near the baseline while hitting a forehand. She winced and stepped gingerly between points, clearly troubled.

After dropping that game, she took a medical timeout and tried to keep playing. A crying Williams bit her upper lip and covered her face between points as the crowd tried to offer support and encouragement. But eventually, the 39-year-old American dropped to her knees, and the chair umpire came over to check on her.

The match ended at 3-all in the first set.

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, gave an emotional wave to the crowd and held her hand over her heart as she fought back tears before she exited the court.

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Williams did not speak to the media afterward, though she offered some reaction on Instagram thanking the fans.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” she wrote. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on — and off — the court meant the world to me.”

This marks just the second time in Williams’ storied career she has retired from a match at a major. The other incidence was in the third round at the All England Club in 1998.

“Of course I’m so sad for Serena; she’s a great champion,” Sasnovich said. “It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best for her and her recovery.”

Williams entered the tournament in search of her 24th major title, which would have tied her with Margaret Court for the most ever. She last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017 and has made four finals since returning after giving birth, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019. She made the semifinals at the Australian Open earlier this year as well as the fourth round at the French Open last month.

Her departure makes a wide-open women’s draw even more so. As it was, defending champion Simona Halep and four-time major champ Naomi Osaka withdrew before the tournament started.

Williams was the second player on Centre Court on Tuesday to slip and suffer an injury. Adrian Mannarino, who was playing versus Roger Federer, also was forced to retire as a result of a similar fall. Due to rain, the roof had been closed.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof,” Federer said after his match. “I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down. “This is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.”

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Barbora Krejcikova wins women’s doubles with Katerina Siniakova to complete Paris title sweep

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova completed a rare title sweep at Roland Garros as she acquired a third women’s doubles major trophy with fellow Czech teammate Katerina Siniakova on Sunday.

Less than 24 hours after she claimed her first singles Grand Slam title, Krejcikova became the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to lift both trophies at the clay-court major. Only seven women have completed the title sweep at Roland Garros.

“Right now after all of this happened, this last two weeks, last two days, I feel really relieved and relaxed,” Krejcikova said.

“I just know from now on I can really enjoy because I have pretty much achieved everything I really wanted. Now I can just improve. That’s the only thing I can do, just improving.”

In addition to her pair of trophies, Krejcikova will reclaim the No. 1 spot in the doubles rankings next week.

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“We will have a little bit glass of champagne,” Krejcikova said. “I already said I don’t really drink, but I think it’s a time to actually celebrate it. I think we going to really enjoy.”

Krejcikova, 25, who overpowered Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the women’s singles title Saturday, also became the first player to sweep both titles at any Grand Slam tournament since Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.

Krejcikova and Siniakova are both 25 but have extensive experience playing together, having started their partnership in the juniors in 2013.

It clearly showed in their 6-4, 6-2 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek in Sunday’s final as they converted five of their seven break points.

After racing to a 4-0 lead in the opening set, they resisted a late comeback with an efficient display at the net. Krejcikova served out the set at love as Mattek-Sands missed a tough backhand volley.

The Czech pair won the final four games and sealed the game with Siniakova’s final backhand winner.

Siniakova and Krejcikova had already won in Paris in 2018 and claimed the Wimbledon trophy the same year.

“I’m just really happy that we have another title, and looking forward we going to continue with our cooperation in Wimbledon and also for the Olympics,” Krejcikova said.

“I hope there’s going to be a bright future for us.” Swiatek was the defending singles champion in Paris but bowed out in the quarterfinals this year.

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal advance to French Open quarterfinals

For two sets and more than two hours at the French Open on Monday, Novak Djokovic found himself being outplayed by a 19-year-old rival from Italy making his Grand Slam debut.

And yet, to hear Djokovic tell it afterward, he had the kid right where he wanted him. Which turned out to be true.

Rafael Nadal also faced an Italian who’s just 19 in the fourth round — and also took a bit of time to get going. Nadal’s trouble lasted all of eight games and less than 45 minutes Monday before he took control, ran his Roland Garros streak to 35 straight sets and joined Djokovic in reaching a record 15th quarterfinal at the clay-court major tournament.

After dropping a pair of tiebreakers, Djokovic suddenly went from a big deficit to his best tennis. He won 13 games in a row before Lorenzo Musetti stopped playing because of lower back pain and cramps while trailing 6-7 (7), 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0.

“I like to play young guys in best-of-five, because I feel even if they are leading a set or two sets to love, as it was the case today, I still like my chances,” said the top-seeded Djokovic, who is 34, “because I feel like I’m physically fit and I know how to wear my opponent down.”

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Nadal, who turned 35 last week, trailed 5-3 early on versus the 18th-seeded Jannik Sinner, who served for the first set at 5-4.

“I was playing a very good player with a big future,” Nadal said.

But 13-time French Open champion Nadal took eight games in a row and, after a blip in the second set, resumed his excellent play and closed his 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 win on a 10-game run.

Musetti, a talented Italian so good at the outset with his one-handed backhand and tremendous touch, is hardly used to this best-of-five format at the majors, and he took a medical timeout after the fourth.

“It didn’t make sense to keep playing. I couldn’t win any points or stay in the rallies. It was hard for me to move,” Musetti said. “I was at my limit.”

Djokovic wound up 9 for 9 on his break-point chances and with a 53-30 edge in winners.

Eventually, Djokovic earned his fifth career comeback from two sets down by limiting his mistakes and making Musetti look like what he is: Someone with plenty of promise but not much experience.

Djokovic’s 49th major quarterfinal will come against another Italian, No. 9 seed Matteo Berrettini, who advanced without needing to swing his racket.

That’s because the man Berrettini was supposed to face, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, withdrew Sunday in order to let his surgically repaired right knee and the rest of his 39-year-old body recover with an eye to Wimbledon, which starts June 28.

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Naomi Osaka fined $15K for not speaking to French Open media, could face tourney default for avoiding press

Naomi Osaka has been fined $15,000 after skipping her required news conference following her first-round victory at the French Open on Sunday and could face stiffer punishment, including default from the tournament, if she continues to avoid speaking to the media.

In a joint statement from the four Grand Slam tournaments, the organizations said they had written to Osaka after she revealed she would not be participating in her media obligations during the fortnight and reminded her of the consequences stated in the 2021 rulebook should she opt out.

The four tournaments, which also involve Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, said there would be further and greater consequences if she continues to decline her media obligations.

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“As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.),” the statement read.

The Slams said the decision was a matter of fairness.

“We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement,” read the statement.

“As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honor their commitments.”

The organizations called the engagement of players with the media a “core element of the Grand Slam regulations” and an essential part of the sport’s continued growth.

The statement also referenced Osaka’s citing of her mental health in her decision to not speak with the media and said it was a priority of the tournaments. The second-seeded Osaka defeated Patricia Maria Tig 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday.

She participated in an on-court interview following the victory and called her game on clay a “work in progress.”

She will face Ana Bogdan on Tuesday in the second round.

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‘Rusty’ Federer beaten on ATP tour return in Geneva Open

A rusty Roger Federer was defeated 6-4 4-6 6-4 by Spaniard Pablo Andujar on his return to the ATP Tour at the claycourt Geneva Open on Tuesday, but there were still plenty of positives for the Swiss in his performance.

Federer missed nearly the entire 2020 season after twice having knee surgery. He returned to the Tour at the Qatar Open in March, but had not played since losing in the quarter-finals in Doha.

On Tuesday, the 39-year-old went toe-to-toe with Andujar in their first-ever meeting, showing plenty of encouraging signs with his shot-making and on-court movement ahead of the French Open.

After bouncing back in the second set, Federer looked poised to run away with the contest before an uncharacteristic lapse in concentration put paid to his hopes of an extended run at his home tournament.

Andujar, ranked 75th in the world, made a strong start, while Federer struggled to settle into his serving rhythm early on.

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The top seed landed just 40% of his first serves in the first set, but still never looked like being broken until a wobble in his final service game permitted Andujar to capitalize on two consecutive unforced errors and take the opener.

The second set was a different story.

Federer broke early to take a 2-1 lead and, with his serve finally firing, began imposing himself on proceedings, shortening the rallies with his serve-and-volley game and moving his adversary about at will.

Federer earned himself two set points with his first ace of the match and forced the contest into the decider with a powerful crosscourt forehand.

The third set followed a similar pattern to the second.

After both players held their opening service games Federer edged ahead to take a 2-1 lead, earning the break with a glorious passing shot at full stretch.

He held his next two service games to love, but it was Andujar who provided the late twist, breaking back to level the match at 4-4 and then holding to go 5-4 ahead.

Federer, under pressure and serving to stay in the match, handed the Spaniard two match points with a pair of unforced errors. He saved both, but Andujar regained the advantage when Federer struck a forehand wide off the frame of his racket.

The Spaniard sealed the victory when Federer sent another forehand wide, celebrating by clasping his head in his hands, with a stunned look on his face, before running to the net to shake hands with his opponent.

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Rafael Nadal wins 10th Italian Open title with victory over longtime rival Novak Djokovic

Rafa Nadal warmed up for the French Open with a battling 7-5 1-6 6-3 victory over world number one Novak Djokovic as the Spaniard claimed a record-extending 10th Italian Open title in Rome on Sunday in the latest chapter of their rivalry.

After a mid-match wobble, Nadal turned up the heat in the decisive moments of his 57th meeting with top seed Djokovic – the pair’s ninth in Rome – to secure the triumph over the defending champion in two hours and 49 minutes.

“I was lucky in some moments, especially against (Denis) Shapovalov,” Nadal said, referring to the round of 16 match he won in a tiebreak in the decider.

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“And then I think I played a good tournament, I have been playing better and better, finding my rhythm on clay. I had a very positive week and I’m very happy.

“It’s amazing to have this trophy in my hands for the 10th time. It’s something impossible to imagine but it happened so I’m super happy and can’t thank my team enough.”

Nadal broke to go ahead 6-5 in a tight opening set and staved off a late comeback attempt from Djokovic to take the early advantage in the contest with a searing inside-out forehand that caught the Serbian off guard.

But Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in their previous meeting in the Roland Garros final last year, pounced in the second set to race ahead 5-1 as the Spaniard’s intensity dropped and quickly leveled the match at one set apiece.

Second seed Nadal then saved two break points at 2-2 in the decider and fired an emphatic shot down the line to hold, before switching gears to complete the win and match Djokovic’s record of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Nadal will now target a 14th French Open crown when the claycourt Grand Slam starts on May 30.

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Rafael Nadal cruises past teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid Open

In a much-anticipated clash of generations, Rafael Nadal showed he is still clearly the man to beat in Spanish tennis, cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the second round of the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

Nadal, seeking his sixth title in Madrid and looking to regain top form ahead of the French Open, was never threatened by Alcaraz, who turned 18 on Wednesday.

In the women’s draw, Paula Badosa defeated Belinda Bencic 6-4, 7-5 to become the first Spanish woman to reach the semifinals in Madrid. She will face top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, who got past Petra Kvitova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

The 120th-ranked Alcaraz was coming off his first victory at a Masters 1000 event and had called the match versus his idol a “dream come true.” He has been touted by many as the successor to the 34-year-old Nadal.

After the crowd at the “Magic Box” center court sang “Happy Birthday” to him, Alcaraz squandered a break point in the first game and then struggled to keep up with the 20-time Grand Slam champion. The wild-card entry was hampered by unforced errors, earning his lone break toward the end of the second set.

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Alcaraz needed medical attention in the third game after losing a long rally, apparently hurting his arm or shoulder while going for an overhead smash.

The two Spaniards had never played a match against each other but practiced together at the Australian Open, where Alcaraz reached the second round.

“It was a difficult match against a youngster who has been playing very well and who has an enormous potential ahead of him,” Nadal said Wednesday. “All he needs is some time. In addition to being a great tennis player, he also has great values, which is something society needs right now.”

After the match, tournament director Feliciano Lopez, who lost to Alcaraz in the Andalucia Open last month, brought out a birthday cake, and Nadal also joined the celebration.

“It’s amazing to spend my birthday playing against Rafa, learning from him,” Alcaraz said. “It could (be) better if I could win, but I really enjoy (it). I think this match made me grow up as a player.”

Nadal will next face Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin, who defeated Jannik Sinner 7-6 (5), 6-2. Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Nadal in the Barcelona final, advanced to the third round by beating Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-2.

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Basilashvili claims fifth ATP Tile at Munich Open

Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili claimed the fifth ATP Tour title of his career and the second in 2021 with a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Jan-Lennard Struff after 86 minutes at the BMW Open in Munich. Basilashvili did not a set in five matches this week. 

Basilashvili won eight of the first nine points and broke Struff in the first game. The match was suspended by rain, when Basilashvili was leading 4-2.

The Georgian player never looked back and dropped just three service games to close out the first set after 35 minutes.  Struff did not convert one break point in the sixth game of the second set, which went on serve en route to the tie-break.

Both players went on serve in the tie-break until the ninth point, when Basilashvili earned the decisive mini-break at 4-4 when Struff hit a backhand into the net.

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Basilashvili sealed the 14th match of his campaign on his second match point with a forehand winner.

Basilashvili has already won a title on German clay in Hamburg in 2019.

Earlier this year he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha and beat Struff 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the quarter finals of the Sardegna Open in Cagliari. 

“It wasn’t easy and I was super tight at the end. It was very difficult. It’s never easy to play against Jan. He is a very big fighter and serves well. I am super happy. It seems like German conditions suit me. This is my fifth ATP Tour title and i twill give me confidence for the upcoming season”, said Basilashvili. 

Struff, who was playing in his ATP Tour final, was bidding to become the seventh different German champion at the ATP 250 in Munich after Jurgen Fassbender in 1974, Rolf Gehring in 1980, Michael Stich in 1990, Phillip Kohlschreiber in 2007, 2012 and 2016, Tommy Haas in 2013 and Alexander Zverev in 2017 and 2018. 

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Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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