Nadal Into 14th French Open Final As Zverev Quits With Horror Injury

Germany's Alexander Zverev (C) shakes hands with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein (L) as he walks on crutches after being injured during his men's semi-final singles match against Spain's Rafael Nadal (R) on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Germany’s Alexander Zverev (C) shakes hands with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein (L) as he walks on crutches after being injured during his men’s semi-final singles match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal (R) on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal reached his 14th French Open final on Friday when Alexander Zverev was forced to quit their semi-final after suffering a sickening right ankle injury.

Zverev had to leave the court in a wheelchair after turning his ankle as he chased down the ball in front of the players’ boxes on Court Philippe Chatrier where his team and family were sitting.

The German was trailing 7-6 (10/8), 6-6 after more than three hours of play at the time of the horror injury.

As his piercing screams of pain echoed around the 15,000-seater court, a tearful Zverev was helped from the court by medics.

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Minutes later, the 25-year-old returned on crutches and conceded the match, with Nadal embracing his heartbroken opponent.

“It’s very tough and very sad for him. He was playing an unbelievable tournament and he’s a very good colleague on the tour,” said Nadal.

“I know how much he’s fighting to win a Grand Slam. For the moment, he was very unlucky. I’m sure he’ll win not one, but much more than one. I wish him all the best.

“It had been a super tough match. Over three hours and we didn’t even finish the second set. It’s one of the biggest challenges on the tour when he’s playing like he did today.”

Germany's Alexander Zverev falls injured on court during his men's semi-final singles match against Spain's Rafael Nadal on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Tomas Stevens / AFP
Germany’s Alexander Zverev falls injured on court during his men’s semi-final singles match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal on day thirteen of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 3, 2022. Tomas Stevens / AFP

 

He added: “For me, to be in the final of Roland Garros is a dream, without a doubt, but at the same time, for it to finish that way… I have been there in the small room with Sascha and to see him crying like that — I wish him all the best.”

Nadal, chasing a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title, will play either Marin Cilic or Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final.

Until the dramatic end of the match, Zverev had been pushing Nadal all the way.

In a rollercoaster, 91-minute first set, Zverev broke in the opening game before Nadal levelled at 4-4.

The Spaniard, dripping with sweat under the closed roof on Court Philippe Chatrier, saw three set points come and go in the 10th game as the German’s all-or-nothing hitting kept him in the match.

Nadal, celebrating his 36th birthday Friday, then saved four set points in a knife-edge tiebreak, one of them off a spectacular running crosscourt forehand.

A blistering forehand pass gave him the opener on a sixth set point.

Zverev, playing in the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the second successive year, hit 25 winners and 26 unforced errors in the set.

The second set was punctuated by eight breaks of serve. When Nadal broke for 2-1, he did so on the back of an exhausting 44-shot rally.

Zverev also collected a warning for bad language as the set headed towards another tiebreak.

However, that became quickly irrelevant when his attempt to reach a second Grand Slam final ended in such dramatic circumstances.

Nadal becomes the second oldest man to make the final in Paris after 37-year-old Bill Tilden who was runner-up in 1930.

Victory gives Nadal, who knocked out world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, a 111-3 record at the French Open.

 

AFP

Zverev And Tsitsipas Move Into Rome Quarter-Finals

 

 

Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas made it through to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open on Thursday, increasing the prospect of a last four clash between the pair.

World number three Zverev saw off Alex de Minaur 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) in the early match on centre court at the Foro Italico to set-up a last-eight clash with either Cristian Garin or Maran Cilic.

The German was unruffled in his victory over Australian De Minaur as he looks to bounce back from being trounced by teenage phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid final on Sunday.

 

Germany’s Alexander Zverev returns to Australia’s Alex De Minaur during their third round match at the ATP Rome Open tennis tournament on May 12, 2022 at Foro Italico in Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Zverev had complained about always playing late into the night in Spain and he has been allocated two morning matches in the Italian capital.

“I prefer to play at 11am (0900 GMT) rather than 1am (2300 GMT). I think every player would say that. Something in between would also be nice I think,” Zverev told reporters.

Tsitsipas meanwhile was forced to work harder for his 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over former Paris Masters winner Karen Khachanov.

Russian Khachanov, whose best results have come on hard court, deservedly took the first set against sluggish world number five Tsitsipas.

The Greek, who is a contender in Rome after winning this year’s Monte Carlo Masters, bounced back in the second set and once he broke in game two of set three Khachanov’s fate was sealed.

In the last eight Tsitsipas will take on either Filip Krajinovic or local hero Jannik Sinner, the only Italian left in the men’s tournament after he saw off countryman Fabio Fognini on Wednesday night.

 

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas returns to Russia’s Karen Khachanov during their third round match at the ATP Rome Open tennis tournament on May 12, 2022 at Foro Italico in Rome. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

 

“I think loosening up a little bit and trying to concentrate a bit more on that gave me the win today,” Tsitsipas said.

“It hasn’t been easy the last two matches but I can only take the good side.”

Djokovic Remains Number One Despite Australian Open Absence

In this file photo, Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2022. Mike FREY / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal’s record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title in winning an epic Australian Open final frustrated Novak Djokovic’s hopes of being the first to do so, but the Serb remains world number one in the rankings released Monday.

The 34-year-old was unable to play in the first Grand Slam of the year after being deported from Australia over Covid-19 vaccination issues but he extended his record-breaking run as number one to 358 weeks.

Nadal’s beaten opponent in the Melbourne final, Daniil Medvedev, stays second but the Russian moves to within 1,000 points of Djokovic.

Djokovic will keep the points he earned from winning his ninth Australian Open title last year till February 21 as last year’s tournament was played at the later dates of February 8-21.

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Nadal remains fifth in the rankings despite his record-breaking title and the only movement in the top 10 sees Italy’s Matteo Berrettini — who lost to the Spaniard in the semi-finals in Australia — rise one place to sixth.

Spain’s Pablo Carreno and Taylor Fritz of the United States enter the top 20 in 17th and 20th respectively.

Rankings

1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 11015 pts

2. Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 10125

3. Alexander Zverev (GER) 7780

4. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7170

5. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6875

6. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 5278 (+1)

7. Andrey Rublev (RUS) 4830 (-1)

8. Casper Ruud (NOR) 4065

9. Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 3923

10. Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3705

11. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3336

12. Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 2930 (+2)

13. Cameron Norrie (GBR) 2865 (-1)

14. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2640 (-1)

15. Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 2633

16. Gaël Monfils (FRA) 2553 (+4)

17. Pablo Carreño (ESP) 2475 (+4)

18. Christian Garín (CHI) 2420 (+1)

19. Roberto Bautista (ESP) 2385 (-1)

20. Taylor Fritz (USA) 2310 (+2)

Tiafoe To Face Zverev In Vienna ATP Final

Frances Tiafoe from the US reacts during the men’s singles semi-final match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner (not pictured) during the men’s singles semi-final match at the Erste Bank Open Tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria on October 30, 2021. VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

 

American qualifier Frances Tiafoe battled from a set and 3-0 down to stun in-form Jannik Sinner and reach the Vienna ATP final on Saturday, crediting his victory to telling jokes to the Austrian crowd.

Tiafoe, the world number 49, clinched a hard-fought 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win to reach his first final of the season where he will face German second seed Alexander Zverev who downed Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3.

“It has been a long week for me,” said Tiafoe after taking 11 of the last 13 games against Italian Sinner, the champion in Antwerp last weekend and chasing a spot in the ATP Finals.

“I tried to have fun with it and get the crowd involved and could see if he would get a little nervous.

“I know how to get the crowd behind me, few jokes and that and then I started to play unbelievably. The crowd made the difference. I felt because of them I started to lock in harder.”

Germany’s Alexander Zverev celebrates after winning against Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime (not pictured) during the men’s singles match at the Erste Bank Open Tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria on October 29, 2021. GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP

 

World number four Zverev ended Alcaraz’s Austrian adventure in straight sets.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz stole the show this week on his way to a first-ever ATP 500 semi-final appearance.

He had held his nerve in the final set tiebreak in Friday’s quarter-finals to beat Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini 6-1, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5).

But he was unable to deal with a dominant Zverev who secured victory with an ace after one hour and eight minutes.

Zverev is on the hunt for his fifth title of the season.

Favourites Zverev, Tsitsipas Exit ATP Indian Wells Masters

Alexander Zverev of Germany returns a shot to Taylor Fritz during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on October 15, 2021, in Indian Wells, California. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev and French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas slumped to shock quarter-final exits in the ATP Indian Wells Masters, losing in three sets at the main stadium on Friday.

American Taylor Fritz survived two match points to come from behind and eliminate third-seeded Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) while second-seeded Tsitsipas was shown the door 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 shortly after by world number 36 Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The exits of Zverev and Tsitsipas means Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who is seeded 21st, is the top seed left in the final four.

The semi-finals are now set with 31st seeded Fritz facing Basilashvili and Norrie going up against 23rd seeded Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in Sunday’s championship match at the Tennis Garden in the California desert.

Germany’s Zverev jumped out to a big lead in the final set and appeared to be heading to victory before he started to struggle mightily on his second serve.

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“This one hurts because I knew that after Stefanos lost this morning, I was kind of the favourite to win this tournament,” said Zverev. “But my tennis wasn’t there.”

He blasted a 135 mph ace to get to match point but then immediately double-faulted and Fritz won the next point to take the game and cut the lead to 5-4.

Crowd favourite Fritz dominated the third-set tiebreaker clinching the match with a cross-court forehand winner.

“I put myself in a situation to get back into it and I did,” said Fritz, of San Diego. “I just kept fighting and went after my shots and kept playing my game.”

This was just the second loss for Zverev since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Zverev is 20-2 over that stretch.

Tsitsipas also fell in three sets to the 29th seeded Basilashvili, who recorded one of his biggest career wins.

Georgia’s Basilashvili beat Tsitsipas for the first time in three career meetings and recorded his first win over a world number three player.

He defeated Roger Federer en route to the Doha title in March when the Swiss great was playing just his second match since a 13-month injury absence.

Leading up to Indian Wells, Basilashvili said he had been working on polishing his serve.

“I am not surprised. I have been playing good tennis for a long time especially in practices,” he said. “I just didn’t have the kind of first serve. It was missing. I had big minus in my serve.

“I improved my serve a lot lately. That’s why I’m in the semis now.”

Basilashvili had never won a round in Indian Wells until this year’s tournament.

High Energy

Tsitsipas, of Greece, blasted 10 aces but made two double faults and was undone by unforced errors in the two-hour, 10-minute match in the main stadium.

Basilashvili jumped out to early leads by breaking Tsitsipas in the opening games of the first and third sets. He won four of the final five games in the third and clinched the match when Tsitsipas blasted a backhand wide.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a forehand before falling to the floor against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia during their quarterfinal match on Day 12 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on October 15, 2021, in Indian Wells, California. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/AFP

 

“I was under stress. My energy level was going up and down but I am happy with the way it ended and I kept my energy level up,” said Basilashvili, the son of a Georgian national ballet dancer. “At the end, I was really tired but I was physically able to stay on the court.”

Besides saving a match point to beat Federer on the way to the title in Doha, Basilashvili also won his fifth career title in Munich in May.

After Friday’s win, Basilashvili said beating his hero Federer had been a springboard.

“My win against Roger meant a lot to me because he was my idol,” Basilashvili said. “Roger’s win was very important in my career. Beating Stefanos today was as well, a really, really important match.”

Novak Djokovic’s Golden Slam Hopes For Comeback Win At Olympics, Dashed

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic leaves the court after being defeated by Germany’s Alexander Zverev in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles semifinal tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

 

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a calendar Golden Grand Slam was dramatically ended by Alexander Zverev in the Olympics men’s singles semi-finals on Friday.

The world number one collapsed from a set and a break ahead as German fourth seed Zverev won 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 to set up a Sunday final against Russian Karen Khachanov.

The 34-year-old Djokovic has never won the Olympic singles title.

The Serbian star had already captured the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon trophies this year and needed Olympic gold and the US Open crown to emulate Steffi Graf, who achieved the feat in 1988, by winning the Golden Slam.

But his attempt to make history came to a close as Zverev powered 30 winners past the usually impregnable Djokovic in a stunning display.

It was yet more heartbreak for the 20-time Grand Slam champion at the Olympics, where his best result is a bronze medal in 2008.

He lost to eventual winner Andy Murray in the semi-finals in London nine years ago, and was in tears after a first-round exit to Juan Martin del Potro at the 2016 Rio Games.

Zverev is looking to become the first German to win singles gold since Graf in Seoul after winning 10 of the last 11 games against Djokovic.

– Djokovic makes fast start –
Djokovic, roared on by a large contingent of his Serbian Olympic teammates, took the first set in trademark fashion by winning most of the big points.

The score made it look comfortable, but he was taken to deuce in his first three service games and had to save an early break point.

Zverev again put Djokovic’s serve under pressure in the early stages of the second set, but the top seed wriggled out of trouble in the fourth game and broke in the next.

Zverev dumped a simple volley into the net on break point and hammered the ball into the empty stands in frustration.

That looked to be the final nail in his coffin, but the 24-year-old bounced back immediately with a break to love as Djokovic uncharacteristically played an error-strewn game at a vital time.

The momentum had suddenly swung in Zverev’s favour and he quickly broke again, before taking his second set point to force a decider with a run of four straight games.

Any thoughts that Zverev would feel the tension were dispelled in the opening game of the third set as he broke once more.

He dug deep to consolidate his breakthrough and make it six consecutive games, saving four break points, the third of which after a stunning rally, finished off by a backhand passing shot up the line.

That proved to be the decisive moment, as Zverev then sealed a double break to put one foot in the final, with Djokovic reacting angrily after shanking a groundstroke long.

He finally snapped an eight-game losing streak, but his Olympic dream was already in tatters, and Zverev sealed a final place on his second match point with a rasping backhand.

Djokovic could still win multiple medals, with the bronze-medal match against Pablo Carreno Busta to come on Saturday after his mixed doubles semi-final with Nina Stojanovic against Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev later Friday.

– Khachanov sees off Carreno Busta –
Khachanov, a former top-10 player who has struggled for consistency in the last three seasons, produced an impressive display earlier to dispatch Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3.

Khachanov is bidding to become the first Russian champion in the men’s singles since Yevgeny Kafelnikov struck gold in Sydney 21 years ago.

“It’s just pure happiness, pleasure to be here to live those moments, these kind of memories will stay forever,” the 25-year-old, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals earlier this month, said.

Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus became New Zealand’s first Olympic tennis medallists for 109 years, beating Americans Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in the men’s doubles bronze-medal match.

Women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty’s third and final attempt to win a gold medal was ended after defeat alongside John Peers in the mixed doubles semi-finals against Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas Becomes First Greek To Reach Grand Slam Final At French Open

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after winning against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their men's singles semi-final tennis match on Day 13 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 11, 2021. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after winning against Germany’s Alexander Zverev during their men’s singles semi-final tennis match on Day 13 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 11, 2021. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final on Friday when he defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev in a bruising five-setter at the French Open.

Fifth-seeded Tsitsipas won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 and will face either 13-time champion Rafael Nadal or world number one Novak Djokovic in the championship match.

However, the 22-year-old will have his work cut out on Sunday — he is 2-7 against Nadal and 2-5 playing Djokovic.

“All I can think of is my roots, a small place outside Athens where I dreamed to play on the big stage at the French Open,” said a tearful Tsitsipas on making his first final at the majors, secured on a fifth match point.

“It was nerve-wracking, so intense, I stayed alive. I went out there and fought. This win means a lot, it’s the most important one of my career so far.”

Tsitsipas took a 5-2 career lead over Zverev into the semi-final and he was the first to pounce with the only break of the opening set in the second game.

The rock-solid Greek didn’t give up a single break point although in an indication of the fine margins, Tsitsipas only hit one winner.

Zverev, bidding to become the first German man since Michael Stich in 1996 to reach the final in Paris, raced into a 3-0 lead in the second set.

However, Tsitsipas’ greater composure saw him rack up six consecutive games to move two sets ahead.

The Greek had come into the semi-final certainly sharper having seen off three seeded players to get this far.

Zverev had needed five sets to beat his 152nd-ranked compatriot Oscar Otte in the first round and hadn’t faced a player inside the top 45 before Friday.

But Zverev carved a break in the third game of the third set and this time backed it up despite a lengthy, foul-mouthed rant at the umpire over a disputed line call.

The 24-year-old German, now fired up, broke in the opening game of the fourth set and levelled the semi-final in the 10th game on the back of a brutal 27-shot rally.

Tsitsipas, playing in his third consecutive semi-final at the majors, crucially saved three break points in the first game of the decider.

He made the most of the escape, breaking the German for 3-1 and quickly securing the advantage for 4-1.

In a 10-minute eighth game, Zverev saved four match points, the second of which with a drop shot, the third with an ace.

However, Tsitsipas held his nerve and claimed victory after over three and a half hours on court with his eighth ace of the match.

Serena Looks To Take Advantage Of Open Draw At Roland Garros

Serena Williams of the US serves the ball to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu during their women’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

 

 

Serena Williams will continue her latest bid for an elusive 24th Grand Slam singles crown later on Wednesday at a French Open now without two of the world’s top three-ranked women’s players, while Alexander Zverev reached the men’s third round.

The 39-year-old Williams has already seen two of her likeliest title challengers, who have both beaten her in major finals in recent years, either fail to start the tournament or pull out in unprecedented circumstances.

World number three Simona Halep, the 2018 Roland Garros champion who defeated Williams a year later in the Wimbledon final, withdrew before the event with injury.

The biggest story of the French Open so far has undoubtedly been world number two Naomi Osaka’s shock withdrawal after a press boycott, saying she has been suffering with “bouts of depression” since her breakthrough victory over Williams in the controversial 2018 US Open showpiece match.

Serena, who has been one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Slams since winning the Australian Open four years ago, faces Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round.

 

Serena Williams of the US returns the ball to Romania’s Irina Begu during their women’s singles first round tennis match at the court Philippe Chatrier on Day 2 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 31, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

The American, seeded eighth, saved two set points in the first set of her opening win over Irina-Camelia Begu — the first ever Roland Garros night match.

“I have to say it was pretty cool to be able to play the first night session ever here at Roland Garros. That was something I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Williams, who is back on Chatrier but during the day session against Buzarnescu.

That means she will play in front of a crowd for the first time this week, as the night sessions are currently being played behind closed doors due to the French government-imposed 9pm curfew.

Zverev battles through

Men’s sixth seed Zverev was in scratchy form but did enough to see off Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin in straight sets.

 

Germany’s Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Russia’s Roman Safiullin during their men’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

 

The German, last year’s US Open runner-up, will take on Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the third round after a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) victory.

Zverev had needed to fight back from two sets down in his opening match against qualifier Oscar Otte.

“I’m happy to be through in three sets,” he said. “I’m happy not to have played another five-setter. I think it’s going to be important for me during the course of this tournament.”

Norwegian youngster Casper Ruud continued his excellent year by easing past Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

The 15th seed, who won the title in Geneva last month and has reached three other semi-finals on clay this season, next faces Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Three-time quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan edged out Russian 23rd seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 after three hours and 59 minutes on Chatrier, setting up a last-32 encounter with Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen.

 

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic returns the ball to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina during their women’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

In the women’s draw, Swiss 10th seed Belinda Bencic failed to improve her poor French Open record as she lost 6-2, 6-2 to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

Bencic has still never made the second week in five appearances.

Later on Wednesday, second seed Daniil Medvedev will be hoping to back up his first-ever French Open win by going deep into the tournament.

The two-time Grand Slam runner-up is in the half of the draw without any major champions — with Dominic Thiem dumped out at the first hurdle and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all in the opposite side.

The Russian, who had lost in the opening round on all four of his previous appearances, will face Tommy Paul of the United States for a place in round three in the evening match.

 

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas returns the ball to Spain’s Pedro Martinez during their men’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

 

Despite Medvedev’s loftier ranking, Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is probably the favourite to reach the final from the bottom half.

The 22-year-old lost an epic five-set semi-final in Paris last October to Djokovic and also made the last four of the Australian Open in February.

He will take on 103rd-ranked Spaniard Pedro Martinez in round two.

ATP Finals: Djokovic Beats Zverev To Match Federer Record

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts as he beats Germany's Alexander Zverev in straight sets in their men's singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 20, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts as he beats Germany’s Alexander Zverev in straight sets in their men’s singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 20, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic out-battled Alexander Zverev to qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Friday, staying on track to match Roger Federer’s record of six titles at the end-of-season event.

The Serbian top seed, who was beaten comprehensively by Daniil Medvedev in his second round-robin match, was again below his best at London’s O2 Arena but did enough to win 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

The five-time winner finishes second in Group Tokyo 2020 behind Medvedev and will play third-seed Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Saturday.

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Second-seed Rafael Nadal, seeking his first win at the elite eight-man event, will face Medvedev in the other semi-final after finishing second in Group London 2020.

Djokovic broke Germany’s Zverev at the first time of asking in the empty stadium and raced into a 3-0 lead, threatening to run away with the match — a repeat of the 2018 final, which Zverev won in straight sets.

The 33-year-old looked focused after his uncharacteristic mauling by Medvedev, serving himself out of trouble when he found himself trailing 15-40 in the seventh game.

That proved to be the last chance for Zverev in the set and 17-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic hammered a backhand winner down the line to take it 6-3.

Djokovic handed Zverev a break point in the fourth game of the second set after double-faulting but the German could not capitalise.

The 23-year-old fifth seed saved two break points on his serve in the following game, letting out a roar as he kept his nose in front.

The set went to a tie-break. Zverev earned an early mini-break but Djokovic levelled and the pressure was back on the German, who faltered to hand the Serbian victory.

The top seed said he had managed to find the right shots at the right time, in contrast to his performance against Medvedev, saying it was “anybody’s game for most of the match”.

He said Thiem, who won his first Grand Slam at the US Open in September, would be a tough opponent.

“Obviously earlier in his career he played his best on clay but of course being one of the hardest workers on the tour, the most dedicated players, Dominic found his ‘A’ game on all other surfaces,” added Djokovic.

“His first Slam came on hard courts earlier this year in New York. I played him last year here — I lost 7-6 in the third set. It was really a thrilling match. Hopefully we can have another great match but this time with a different outcome.”

Djokovic, who recently equalled Pete Sampras’s record of six year-end world number one finishes, has the chance to end the coronavirus-truncated 2020 season on a high by joining the absent Federer on six titles.

Medvedev will take on eighth-seed Diego Schwartzman, in the evening match, which is a dead rubber.

The O2 Arena is hosting the event for the 12th and final season before the championships move to Turin.

 

AFP

Dominic Thiem Beats Zverev To Win US Open For First Grand Slam Title

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Dominic Thiem of Austria celebrates with championship trophy after winning in a tie-breaker during his Men’s Singles final match against Alexander Zverev of Germany on Day Fourteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 13, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP.

 

Dominic Thiem produced a historic comeback to beat Alexander Zverev in a nervy five-setter and win the US Open on Sunday for his first Grand Slam title.

The second seeded Austrian beat the fifth seed 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) in 4hr 2min inside a near-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It marked the first time in the US Open’s Open era history that a player had recovered from losing the opening two sets to win the title.

It was also the first time the final had been settled by a tie-break.

“I wish we could have two winners today. I think we both deserved it,” said Thiem.

The title is the 27-year-old Thiem’s maiden Grand Slam trophy after three previous defeats in finals of tennis majors.

Thiem was runner-up at the Australian Open earlier this year and also lost in the last-two showdowns at the French Open in 2018 and 2019.

He also becomes the first new Grand Slam champion since Croatian Marin Cilic won at Flushing Meadows in 2014.

Thiem is also the first Grand Slam champion other than Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer since Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka won the third of his majors at the 2016 US Open.

“I achieved a life goal, a dream of myself, which I had for many, many years,” said Thiem.

Zverev, 23, smashed four aces and 16 winners in the first set as he displayed an impressive serve and volley game to take a 1-0 lead in just 30 minutes.

The German was helped by some sloppy serving from Thiem, who hit three double faults as he was broken twice, in games three and seven.

In set two, Zverev wasted three set points while 5-1 up but held on to take a 2-0 lead on his fifth set point.

The tide was beginning to turn though as Zverev’s play became increasingly cagey as his suspect second serve got slower and his forehand, another weakness, became more defensive.

– ‘Tough battle’ –

After Thiem took set four, Zverev found himself serving for the championship at 5-3 in the fifth set.

But he could not hold and soon Thiem found himself 6-5 ahead. He took a medical timeout before it was his turn to serve for the championship.

However, like Zverev moments earlier, Thiem failed to clinch the match and it went to a tie-break.

He found himself 5-3 up after two double faults by Zverev but Thiem, by now exhausted and limping, blew two championship points.

He won the title and the winner’s cheque of $3 million on his third after Zverev hit a backhand wide.

Thiem collapsed to the ground with his head in his hands before the pair, who are close friends, embraced on the court.

“It was a tough battle,” said Zverev, who burst into tears during his runner-up speech.

“I wish you would have missed a little bit more so I could have hold that trophy up,” he added.

Zverev said losing in a tie-break after being two sets and a break up “is not easy,” but said his time would come.

“I don’t think it’s my last chance. I do believe that I will be a Grand Slam champion at some point,” he told reporters.

The match was watched by just a few dozen people, mostly officials, journalists and event staff after the coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be held behind closed doors.

It was a scrappy, timid affair, with both players desperate to win their first Slams.

Zverev smashed 15 aces compared to Thiem’s two. But the German also hit 15 double faults, with Thiem hitting eight.

Zverev hit more winners 52 to 43, but also more unforced errors, with 65 to 55.

This year’s field at the Billie Jean King US National Tennis Center in New York was depleted by the absence of Swiss legend Federer and defending champion Nadal.

The tournament was also blown wide open by the disqualification of world number one and heavy favourite Djokovic in the last 16 for hitting a line judge with the ball.

AFP

Osaka, Zverev Into US Open Last Four

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan serves during her Womens Singles quarter-finals match against Shelby Rogers of the United States on Day Nine of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images /AFP

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka sailed into the semi-finals of the US Open on Tuesday as Alexander Zverev of Germany booked his spot in the last four of the men’s draw.

Osaka, the tournament’s fourth seed, swept aside unseeded Shelby Rogers in straight sets to set up a match with Jennifer Brady for a place in Saturday’s final.

The 22-year-old Osaka required just 1hr 20 min inside an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium to defeat the 27-year-old Rogers 6-3, 6-4.

Osaka, the world number 9, said her victory was payback for three previous defeats to the 93rd-ranked Rogers.

They included a 2017 loss on clay in Charleston that Osaka said had left “a really bad aftertaste in my mouth.”

“Honestly, I just felt like she had the upper hand because I’ve never beaten her,” Osaka said.

“And those memories are stuck in my head so I consider this a little bit of revenge,” she added.

Osaka’s dominant service game contributed to a comfortable runout for the 2018 US Open champion.

She won 83 percent of points on her first serve and 70 percent on her second.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08: Alexander Zverev of Germany reacts during his Men’s Singles quarterfinal match against Borna Coric of Croatia on Day Nine of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP.

 

In contrast, Rogers managed only 66 percent and 33 percent respectively. Rogers hit 29 unforced errors compared to just eight committed by Osaka.

Brady conquered some serious nerves to defeat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva and reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.

The American 28th seed needed just 1hr 9 min to blow away her 23rd-seeded opponent 6-3, 6-2.

“Coming into the match today, honestly I was feeling like I was going to poop my pants. I was very nervous,” said the 25-year-old Brady.

“I just tried to really stay calm and keep it cool as a cucumber out there,” she added.

Brady is yet to drop a set and has lost only 24 games during her march to the semis, the fewest of anyone left in the draw.

Osaka said Brady would be a formidable opponent.

“I think she’s a really amazing player she has the variety that I wish I had, so I’m a bit jealous,” said the Japanese.

Zverev bounced back from a shocking start to oust 27th-seeded Croatian Borna Coric in four sets.

– ‘Hungry’ –

The 23-year-old German prevailed 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 in 3hr 25min.

He began playing more aggressively after finding himself a set down, and 4-2 behind in the second set.

“I thought to myself I’m down 6-1, 4-2, I have nothing to lose at the moment,” Zverev.

The German will play Spain’s 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta for a place in Sunday’s final.

The Spaniard defeated 12th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 0-6, 6-3 in an epic five-setter that ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

The disqualification of top seed Novak Djokovic on Sunday has blown the men’s competition at Flushing Meadows wide open.

His departure means the US Open will crown a first-time Grand Slam winner on Sunday.

“I know that all the young guys are hungry for it. It’s going to be interesting,” said Zverev, who will play either 12th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov or Spain’s Pablo Carrena Busta in the last four.

Zverev, who is in his second-consecutive Grand Slam semi-final after reaching the last four at the Australian Open this year, said he was yet to kick into fifth gear.

“I feel like I can still improve a few more things and that only gives me confidence,” he told reporters.

On Wednesday, second seed Dominic Thiem faces Australian Alex de Minaur and third seed Daniil Medvedev plays compatriot Andrey Rublev for the other semi-final spot.

In the women’s draw, Serena Williams faces unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova and former world number one Victoria Azarenka takes on 16th seed Elise Mertens in the remaining quarter-finals.

AFP

US Open: ‘Medical Issues’ Delay Mannarino, Zverev Match

A photo combination of Alexander Zverev and Adrian Mannarino.

 

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev won a mystery-laden US Open match that was delayed by three hours Friday after New York state apparently staged a last-minute intervention to try to prevent opponent Adrian Mannarino from playing. 

France’s Mannarino said he was about to go on court for his 2:30 pm (1630 GMT) start when tournament organisers told him the state’s health department had contacted them to say he should be quarantined in his hotel room.

“That was big news for me. I mean, I was ready to go on court,” Mannarino told reporters after Zverev defeated him 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to progress to the last 16 at Flushing Meadows.

Mannarino was one of several players put under enhanced safety protocols earlier this week after compatriot Benoit Paire was withdrawn from the US Open on Sunday following a positive test for coronavirus.

Up to 11 players who had been in contact with Paire signed an agreement with New York City authorities placing them under tighter restrictions in exchange form them being allowed to remain in the tournament.

They were to be tested every day, rather than every four days and were only allowed to leave their hotel room to travel to the US National Tennis Center.

Previously they had been allowed in communal areas.

Mannarino said tournament organizers told him that New York state authorities had intervened in the case and ruled that he was now not allowed to play.

Tennis officials explained to him that they were making some calls to try to get the decision changed.

“It was a weird situation for me. I was just laying on the sofa still trying to be focused just in case I would go on court,” he said.

Mannarino found out at 4:40 pm that he was permitted to play, after all, he explained.

The players started their match inside Louis Armstrong Stadium 40 minutes later, with Mannarino taking the first set.

But the Frenchman quickly flagged and blamed a groin injury rather than the disrupted buildup for his loss.

“I was just kind of happy, in my situation to be able to play,” he said.

– Quarantine –

Two hours after the match was supposed to start, with no sign of either player, intrigue over whether it would take place deepened inside the US National Tennis Center.

Then an update said the contest would commence “not before 5:00 pm.” Soon afterward, the United States Tennis Association put out a statement.

“The Zverev-Mannarino match was delayed while a collaborative dialogue with health officials was conducted today,” the body said.

“Communication with the players was ongoing during the afternoon to keep them updated at all times. Given the sensitivity of the medical issues involved, the USTA is not able to provide further details,” the body added.

The intrigue deepened further when Novak Djokovic later said he had spent much of the afternoon working contacts and even tried to reach the governor of New York to get the decision overturned.

“In the end, to be honest I don’t know what exactly happened. They just told me that finally Adrian was allowed to play,” the world number one said after his straight-sets victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.

Zverev, who will play unseeded Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the last 16, said he had been told there was “very little chance” the match was going to go ahead.

“I was just kind of waiting around. At the end of the day, we are professionals and we have to deal with it,” he added.

AFP