Daniil Medvedev latest to crash out of Italian Open after loss to Tommy Paul

US Tommy Paul plays a forehand return to Russia's Daniil Medvedev during the me's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome. ( AFP)
Short Url
Updated 15 May 2024
Follow

Daniil Medvedev latest to crash out of Italian Open after loss to Tommy Paul

  • The second-seeded Medvedev has never successfully defended a title and he failed again as he lost to American Tommy Paul
  • In the women’s tournament, top-ranked Iga Swiatek reached the final four when she swept aside former finalist Madison

ROME: The curse of the defending champion struck again for Daniil Medvedev.

The second-seeded Medvedev has never successfully defended a title and he failed again on Tuesday as he lost 6-1, 6-4 to American Tommy Paul to become the latest top player to crash out of the Italian Open.

“It’s disappointing, to be honest,” said Medvedev, who has won 20 tour-level titles. “I wanted to do better here. I was not even close. What can I say? The more titles I win, the more chances I have to defend.

“So the more tournaments in a year I’m going to play where I already won, maybe not defend, but at least win twice the same tournament, that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

The opener lasted just 28 minutes as the 14th-seeded Paul broke Medvedev on all three of his service games and then served out the set to love.

“Was a tough one. Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said. “I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.”

Medvedev improved slightly in the second set when he broke immediately but Paul broke straight back and never looked back, securing his spot in the quarterfinals when Medvedev sent a backhand long.

The second-seeded Medvedev followed 10-time champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic with early exits in Rome.

The only other players to have won the men’s tournament at the Foro Italico in the past 19 years are Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev.

The third-seeded Zverev, who won in 2017, eased past Nuno Borges 6-2, 7-5 and will face Taylor Fritz.

Fritz reached the men’s quarterfinals for the first time after recovering from losing a lengthy second-set tiebreaker — during which he let slip match point — to see off Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-7 (11), 6-1.

Alejandro Tabilo backed up his stunning third-round win against Djokovic by edging Karen Khachanov 7-6 (5), 7-6 (10) to reach a Masters quarterfinal for the first time. He will face Zhang Zhizhen, who ousted Thiago Monteiro 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Paul will play Hubert Hurkacz after the seventh seed — who eliminated Nadal in the second round — beat Sebastian Baez 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4. The other quarterfinal pits Stefanos Tsitsipas against Nicolas Jarry.

In the women’s tournament, top-ranked Iga Swiatek reached the final four when she swept aside former finalist Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 with the same score she achieved against the American in the Madrid semifinals two weeks ago.

The 16th-ranked Keys grew more frustrated at her inability to convert break points — racking up 10 without converting a single one — and at one point hit her racket against the clay.

Swiatek won the Madrid Open and is attempting to become the first player to win the “dirt double” since Serena Williams and Nadal both did so in 2013.

The two-time champion will next face third-seeded Coco Gauff after the American beat Qinwen Zheng 7-6 (4), 6-1.


Alcaraz defeats Zverev in final for his third Grand Slam title

Updated 09 June 2024
Follow

Alcaraz defeats Zverev in final for his third Grand Slam title

  • Carlos Alcaraz is a 21-year-old from Spain who grew up watching countryman Rafael Nadal win trophy after trophy at Roland Garros — a record 14 in all

PARIS: Carlos Alcaraz came back to defeat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday and win the French Open for his third Grand Slam title.

Alcaraz is a 21-year-old from Spain who grew up watching countryman Rafael Nadal win trophy after trophy at Roland Garros — a record 14 in all — and now has eclipsed Nadal as the youngest man to collect major championships on three surfaces. Nadal was about 1.5 years older when he did it.

Sunday’s victory — in which he trailed two sets to one, just as he had in the semifinals against Jannik Sinner on Friday — allowed Alcaraz to add the clay-court championship at Roland Garros to his triumphs on hard courts at the US Open in 2022 and on grass at Wimbledon in 2023. Alcaraz is now 3-0 in Grand Slam finals.

Zverev dropped to 0-2 in major title matches. The 27-year-old from Germany was the runner-up at the 2020 US Open after blowing a two-set lead against Dominic Thiem.

This time, Zverev lost after surging in front by reeling off the last five games of the third set. Alcaraz’s level dipped during that stretch and he seemed distracted by a complaint over the condition of the clay at Court Philippe Chatrier, telling chair umpire Renaud Lichtenstein it was “unbelievable.”

But Alcaraz reset himself and surged to the finish, taking 12 of the last 15 games while being treated by a trainer at changeovers for an issue with his left leg.

No. 3 Alcaraz and No. 4 Zverev were making their first appearance in a French Open final. Indeed, this was the first men’s title match at Roland Garros since 2004 without Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

Nadal lost to Zverev in the first round two weeks ago; Djokovic, a three-time champion, withdrew before the quarterfinals with a knee injury that required surgery; Federer is retired.

There were some jitters at the outset. Zverev started the proceedings with a pair of double-faults — walking to the sideline to change rackets after the second, as though the equipment was the culprit — and eventually got broken. Alcaraz lost serve immediately, too, framing a forehand that sent the ball into the stands — which he would do on a handful of occasions — and double-faulting, trying a so-so drop shot that led to an easy winner for Zverev, then missing a backhand.

Let’s just say they won’t be putting those initial 10 minutes in the Louvre. A lot of the 4-hour, 19-minute match was patchy, littered with unforced errors.

Alcaraz managed to come out strong in the fourth set, grabbing 16 of the first 21 points to move out to a 4-0 edge, including one brilliant, sliding, down-the-line forehand passing winner that he celebrated by thrusting his right index finger overhead in a “No. 1” sign, then throwing an uppercut while screaming, “Vamos!”

No, he is not ranked No. 1 at the moment — Sinner makes his debut at the top spot on Monday — but he has been before and, although a “2” will be beside Alcaraz’s name next week, there is little doubt that he is as good as it gets in men’s tennis right now.


Paolini beaten again as Gauff, Siniakova win French Open doubles

Updated 09 June 2024
Follow

Paolini beaten again as Gauff, Siniakova win French Open doubles

  • Coco Gauff, the reigning US Open singles champion, wins her first Grand Slam doubles title

PARIS: French Open singles runner-up Jasmine Paolini suffered another defeat in Sunday’s women’s doubles final as she and partner Sara Errani lost 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova.
Gauff, the reigning US Open singles champion, won her first Grand Slam doubles title. The 20-year-old American was a losing finalist at the 2021 US Open and 2022 French Open in doubles.
Siniakova, 28, captured her eighth Grand Slam doubles crown and third at Roland Garros. She claimed the other seven titles with fellow Czech Barbora Krejcikova.


Swiatek dismantles Paolini to win third straight French Open title

Updated 08 June 2024
Follow

Swiatek dismantles Paolini to win third straight French Open title

  • Swiatek’s 21st straight victory at her happiest hunting ground put her in fourth place in the list of longest winning streaks at Roland Garros
  • The diminutive Paolini went toe to toe with Swiatek from there but cracked in the sixth game

PARIS: Iga Swiatek strengthened her reputation as the queen of clay by capturing a third straight French Open crown with a crushing 6-2 6-1 victory over 12th seed Jasmine Paolini on Saturday to claim her fifth Grand Slam title.
Swiatek’s 21st straight victory at her happiest hunting ground put her in fourth place in the list of longest winning streaks at Roland Garros in the Open era behind only Chris Evert (29), Monica Seles (25) and Justine Henin (24).
The 23-year-old, who arrived in Paris in the form of her life having lifted titles in Madrid and Rome, extended her run of victories on clay this year to a career-best 19 matches and celebrated with her fourth French Open title in five years.
Swiatek came out all guns blazing early in the contest but after narrowly missing the chance to break from 0-40 down in the second game, the top-seeded Pole made heavy weather of the next to surrender her serve, before bouncing right back.
The diminutive Paolini, only the third Italian woman after Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani to reach the Roland Garros final since the sport turned professional in 1968, went toe to toe with Swiatek from there but cracked in the sixth game.
With the momentum shifting, claycourt specialist Swiatek began to dominate the exchanges from the baseline, superbly working the angles and sealing the opening set in 37 minutes after winning 20 out of 24 points since going down a break.
A shell-shocked Paolini smiled and soaked up the support and applause from the crowd on the main showcourt when she won the odd point early in the next set, but her challenge faded in the afternoon sun as Swiatek broke twice to build a 4-0 lead.
Swiatek, who dropped only one set throughout the tournament in a second-round epic with Naomi Osaka, won 10 successive games before Paolini got on the scoreboard, but there was to be no late comeback drama and the knockout blow was not long in coming.
Swiatek closed out the victory when Paolini sent a shot long and rejoiced by dropping to her knees and pumping her fists, letting out a huge roar, before joining her entourage in the stands for another round of celebrations.


Alcaraz outduels Sinner to reach French Open final

Updated 07 June 2024
Follow

Alcaraz outduels Sinner to reach French Open final

  • Alcaraz, 21, will play fourth seed Alexander Zverev or two-time Roland Garros runner-up Casper Ruud on Sunday
  • “It’s one of the toughest matches I’ve played for sure,” said Alcaraz

PARIS: Carlos Alcaraz beat incoming world number one Jannik Sinner 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday to reach the French Open final and continue his bid for a third Grand Slam title.
Alcaraz, 21, will play fourth seed Alexander Zverev or two-time Roland Garros runner-up Casper Ruud on Sunday after becoming the youngest man to reach Grand Slam finals on all three surfaces.
“It’s one of the toughest matches I’ve played for sure,” said Alcaraz.
“The toughest I’ve played in my short career have been against Jannik. I hope to play many, many more like this.”
“You have to find the joy in suffering,” the Spaniard added.
Alcaraz has won both of his two previous major finals — at Wimbledon last year and the 2022 US Open. Victory on Sunday would see him head to the Australian Open next January seeking a career Grand Slam.
Both Alcaraz and Sinner arrived in Paris under an injury cloud, gradually finding their best level over the course of the tournament to set up a meeting billed as the match “everybody wants to see.”
The ninth chapter of an enthralling rivalry destined to shape the future of the sport was the youngest Grand Slam semifinal pairing since Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal at the 2008 US Open.
It was their first Grand Slam meeting since a spectacular five-set quarter-final two years ago in New York, and while perhaps not as exhilarating this one was no less gripping.
Alcaraz, who was hampered badly by cramp in last year’s semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic, had said that playing Sinner was like running a marathon, and it was the Spaniard doing much of the chasing early.
Sinner pinned Alcaraz on the back foot straight away as he broke in the very first game, blending impenetrable defense with searing groundstrokes as he went on the attack.
After holding with ease the Australian Open champion belted a forehand winner for another break opportunity in the third game, sweeping 3-0 in front following an Alcaraz miscue.
Alcaraz finally got on the board in the fifth game before retrieving a break, but he handed it right back and Sinner bagged the first set when the Spaniard dumped a drop-shot into the net.
Sinner began the second set in identical fashion, earning another break after a loose Alcaraz service game and consolidating for a 2-0 edge on a picture-perfect day in Paris.
Alcaraz belatedly spluttered into life though as Sinner struggled to maintain his sky-high standards from the opening set and presented his rival three break points with a double-fault.
A brilliant cross-court winner hauled Alcaraz back on serve, with the Spaniard soon accelerating 5-2 ahead following another break as Sinner sprayed his forehand wide.
Sinner temporarily slowed the Alcaraz charge, ending his five-game winning stretch, but the third seed levelled up the match the next game.
The early onslaught from Sinner felt a distant memory as Alcaraz pounced to break for a 2-1 lead in the third set, flicking a sublime backhand passing shot beyond a powerless Sinner.
Yet the momentum was quickly back with Sinner.
He ripped a blistering one-two combination of forehands to get back on serve and then resisted four break points in a lengthy fifth game before holding for 3-2.
Sinner received a massage from the physio for apparent cramp in his right forearm, but he brushed off any physical issue as he hammered a backhand return past Alcaraz to break again.
A tame Alcaraz forehand into the net handed Sinner the third set. A sense of calmness enveloped the fourth, with not a single break point on offer until a sizzling Alcaraz backhand brought about a set point.
He didn’t flinch and sent the match to a decider with a winner into the open court.
Alcaraz’s approach to grind Sinner down coupled with timely shotmaking allowed him to strike the critical blow in the second game of the fifth set.
Sinner, while visibly flagging more than his re-energised rival, did not go down without a fight, but Alcaraz finally put him away after four hours of another seismic showdown.


Swiatek downs Gauff to reach French Open final, Djokovic has surgery

Updated 06 June 2024
Follow

Swiatek downs Gauff to reach French Open final, Djokovic has surgery

  • World number one Swiatek extended her winning run in Paris to 20 matches and advanced to a fourth Roland Garros final in five years
  • The Pole withstood break points in her first two service games, before striking again to move up a double break at 4-1

PARIS: Iga Swiatek closed in on a third successive French Open title Thursday as she defeated Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals, while Novak Djokovic said surgery on his injured knee “went well.”
World number one Swiatek extended her winning run in Paris to 20 matches and advanced to a fourth Roland Garros final in five years, with 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva or Italy’s Jasmine Paolini standing between her and another title.
Swiatek, who had won 10 of her previous 11 meetings with Gauff in straight sets, wasted no time in grabbing the initiative as she broke the US Open champion in the opening game of the match.
The Pole withstood break points in her first two service games, before striking again to move up a double break at 4-1.
She closed out the first set without trouble, but third seed Gauff threatened a fightback when she nosed 3-1 ahead in the second set after wiping away tears following an argument with the chair umpire over the timing of a line call.
Swiatek though responded the very next game and won four in a row to surge to the cusp of victory.
Gauff saved two match points to make Swiatek serve it out, which the top seed eventually did at the fourth time of asking.
“It was intense. In the second set it was tight because we were breaking each other,” said Swiatek.
“I was consistent with my tactics, didn’t overthink stuff and just went for it in the end.”
Swiatek improved to 34-2 at the French Open after beating Gauff at Roland Garros for the third tournament in a row.
She has won all four of her previous Grand Slam finals and could become only the fourth woman to win four Roland Garros titles in the Open era — after Justine Henin, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.
Swiatek is also on track to join Serena Williams as the only women to complete the treble of French, Madrid and Rome Open titles in the same year.
Russian Andreeva, the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since Martina Hingis in 1997, takes on the unheralded Paolini in the other last-four encounter.
Andreeva stole the headlines in the quarter-finals with a shock victory over world number two Aryna Sabalenka, who was hit by a stomach bug, becoming the youngest woman to reach a Slam semifinal since Hingis at the US Open 27 years ago.
She will now bid to back up that statement performance against 12th seed Paolini, who also got through with a surprise win against former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
Both Andreeva and Paolini had never reached the quarters at a major tournament before this week, but are now just one match from the final.
With another win, Andreeva will also be the youngest Slam finalist since Hingis, who won the 1997 US Open aged 16.
The pair met for the only previous time earlier this year in the Madrid Open last 16, when Andreeva came out on top in two tight sets.
“I remember our match in Madrid. I remember that it was tough,” said Andreeva. “She played really good tennis, and after I was able to catch up a little bit.
“I’m sure that it will a great match.”
Paolini had never got past the second round at a Grand Slam before this year, but the 28-year-old has been much improved in 2024, also reaching the Australian Open last 16.
“She’s so young but she’s so, so good mentally, and she can defend very well,” Paolini said of her upcoming opponent.
“It’s going to be a tough match, but we are in the semifinal, so there is no chance to get easy matches.”
Djokovic confirmed Thursday he had undergone an operation on his right knee he injured during his last-16 win.
The 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was forced to withdraw ahead of his Roland Garros quarter-final against Casper Ruud after a scan revealed a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.
“In the past day, I had to make some tough decisions after sustaining a meniscus tear during my last match,” he posted on social media.
“I’m still processing it all but I am happy to update you that the surgery went well.”
The 37-year-old made no mention of whether he would be fit to take part at Wimbledon which begins on July 1 but added that he was going to “do my best to be healthy and fit to return to the court as soon as possible.”