Karatsev saves match point to earn Djokovic meeting in Rome

By Sports Desk May 08, 2022

Aslan Karatsev staved off a match point to earn a meeting with Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia. 

After coming from a set down to force a decider against Lloyd Harris in his opening match in Rome, Karatsev held serve when facing match point in a back-and-forth tie-break. 

The Russian had already missed a chance to break for the match but did not fail at the second attempt, completing a 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7) win to book a date with world number one Djokovic.

Djokovic will be eager to get back on track after suffering a defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

Filip Krajinovic's reward for a 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-4) victory over Frances Tiafoe is a showdown with Andrey Rublev, while Cristian Garin will take on the in-form Alcaraz following a 6-3 6-2 success over wildcard Francesco Passaro. 

Marin Cilic was the other main-draw winner on Sunday, cruising past Matteo Arnaldi 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes. 

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    Novak Djokovic can complete his ascent to the top of tennis history by claiming a 23rd grand slam title at the French Open on Sunday.

    Since inserting himself into the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal duopoly, Djokovic has been playing catch-up, but victory over Casper Ruud would see him out on his own as the most successful men’s singles player ever.

    And, with Federer retired and Nadal heading in the same direction, it would appear a decisive move.

    Djokovic would also become the first man in history to win at least three titles at each slam and would be within one of Margaret Court’s all-time record.

    The Serbian arrived in Paris after a less-than-stellar clay-court season but has made no secret of the fact it is the slams that keep him out there and he has once again risen to the occasion when it matters.

    After outlasting a cramping Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals to win a 20th consecutive grand slam match, Djokovic said: “I have said it many times this year during the clay season that Roland Garros is where I want to peak on clay, where I want to play my best tennis.

    “So I put myself in another really ideal position to win a grand slam. That’s basically what still drives me when I wake up in the morning and think about the season and think about things I want to achieve.

    “I won the first grand slam this year and now I’m in the finals of a second one, so I couldn’t ask for more than that.

    “As far as all the records that are on the line, it’s flattering, it’s great, but I need to win in order to make sure to be on that list. So I know what I need to do.

    “I’ve been very fortunate that most of the matches in tournaments I’ve played in the last few years, there is history on the line. I like the feeling. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to make history of the sport that I truly love and that has given me so much.

    “The motivation is very high, as you can imagine. There is one more to go, and hopefully I’ll get my hands on the trophy.”

    Djokovic and Ruud have played four times before, with the Norwegian yet to win a set, and there is no doubt he is a huge underdog.

    The fourth seed has played himself nicely into form on the Parisian clay, though, to make it back-to-back finals and will be the fresher having defeated Alexander Zverev for the loss of only seven games on Friday.

    Zverev believes Ruud can take confidence from Djokovic’s only previous attempt to surpass his great rivals at the US Open in 2021, when nerves got the better of him and he was beaten by Daniil Medvedev.

    “Novak is one of the best players in the world, that’s for sure, but, when you’re on the brink of history, I think that adds a little bit of pressure,” said Zverev.

    “You remember the US Open final he had with Medvedev after beating me in the semis. The pressure – we are all human. Novak is human. We all feel it. So I think, for Casper, that’s the best scenario, to be honest.”

    Ruud is playing in his third slam final in a year having reached the title decider here 12 months ago and at the US Open.

    He was given a lesson by idol Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros before losing out in four sets to Alcaraz in New York and hopes he can write a different ending this time.

    “It’s going to be tough, for sure,” said the 24-year-old. “He’s playing for his 23rd, I’m playing for my first. So I’m going to just try to play without pressure and just try to enjoy the moment.

    “I think that was my mentality last year as well and it didn’t go my way. Obviously I would like to try to do better than last year. Let’s see if I have learned something from the two previous ones that I played.

    “It just feels great to be back. I didn’t think or necessarily believe in the beginning of the tournament that I was going to be in the final.”

  • Katie Swan to face Yanina Wickmayer in Surbiton Trophy final Katie Swan to face Yanina Wickmayer in Surbiton Trophy final

    Katie Swan secured her place in the final of the Lexus Surbiton Trophy, but Katie Boulter’s hopes of an all-British showdown were ended by defeat to veteran Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.

    For the first time in the tournament’s history, Great Britain had three women’s players through to the semi-finals.

    Swan was in determined mood for Saturday’s opening match on Centre Court as she completed an impressive 6-1 6-0 victory over British number seven Lily Miyazaki in just over an hour.


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    The 24-year-old, who had knocked out first seed Tatjana Maria in the last round, built on an early break to swiftly open up a 5-0 lead before closing out the opening set.

    It remained one-way traffic in the second as Swan kept the pressure on Miyazaki’s serve with three straight breaks.

    Miyazaki looked like she would break back in the sixth game, but Swan – who can secure the British number one spot by going on to win the title – twice recovered to level at deuce before clinching the match when a return went into the net.

    “Today was probably one of the best matches I’ve played in my career – it was near perfect,” Swan said in her court-side interview broadcast by the LTA.

    “I am really happy that I was able to produce that and I can’t wait to play in the final tomorrow.”

    Boulter was in pole position to go on and cement her place as British number one, but Wickmayer proved too strong as the 33-year-old closed out a 6-3 6-2 win.

    The opening set remained on serve with no break opportunities until the eighth game when Wickmayer capitalised on some wayward returns from Boulter to take a decisive lead and then close things out 6-3.

    Boulter made an important hold in the first game of the second set, but the Belgian kept the pressure on to break in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead as another return from the Briton flew wide.

    Wickmayer – who won the doubles title with Sophie Chang on Friday – held and then battled back from 15-40 down to break Boulter again in the seventh game.

    Although Boulter saved one match point, it was only delaying the inevitable as a return into the net saw Wickmayer progress to Sunday’s final against Swan.

    “I am really enjoying my time on the grass, so am really happy to have gotten a lot of matches this week,” Wickmayer said following her win.

    “I am really happy to be in another final here and just going to enjoy one more.”

  • Andy Murray to play at Nottingham as preparations continue for Wimbledon Andy Murray to play at Nottingham as preparations continue for Wimbledon

    Andy Murray will continue his preparations for Wimbledon by playing at the Rothesay Open Nottingham next week.

    The former world number one has taken a wildcard entry for the challenger event after selecting to play there rather than at the Stuttgart Open.

    Murray, who has advanced to the semi-finals of the Lexus Surbiton Trophy this weekend, last year chose to play in Stuttgart and beat top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios on his way to the final before losing to Matteo Berrettini.

    He had been weighing up a return to Germany, but had said he was tempted by Nottingham as it would cut down on travel, while the playing surface is more similar to Queen’s and Wimbledon.

    British number two Dan Evans, who has won the title in two of the last three editions, had already been confirmed for Nottingham.

    Murray reached the last four in Surbiton with a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Australian Jason Kubler on Friday.

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