Monday, April 22, 2019

Weekend Tennis Roundup


The Associated Press makes it sound very sweet:
On the clay courts where he once practiced as a youth with big dreams, Fabio Fognini won the biggest title of his erratic career by beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Monte Carlo Masters final.

The local lad from nearby San Remo, a 40-minute drive away along the Mediterranean coast and over the Italian border, made a breakthrough at the highest level so far at the age of 31. Lajovic lost the first final of his career at age 28.

Although it was Fognini's ninth career title, it was his first at Masters level and will help him push closer to the top 10 when he climbs six places up to 12th in the rankings.

''I was born in San Remo, and I was practicing here when I was young. I know really well this tennis club,'' Fognini said. ''My friends and family are happy now, because I have my name on this tournament that it's something that when I was really young I was dreaming about.''
But to the rest of us, it was more of a WTF?


For Djokovic fans, it became painfully obvious that Novak 2017 was really back. While I agree that he is more focused on the majors than anything else now, you can't lose to people you shouldn't have for three months in a row and then expect to win a tournament you were lucky to have won once.


For Nadal fans it was galling that he would end up losing a tournament he always wins -- especially after his top rival got "upset." For non-Nadal fans it was more of a sign that he did pretty well in his first tournament back in ages -- and happened to draw someone who has been a strange nemesis for him. I sill see Rafa as the odds-on favorite at Roland Garros and will only get better from this loss.


The men keep their bizarre record of 22 different tournament winners in 23 events.


Meanwhile, the women were embroiled in high-stakes Fed Cup action.


Sports Illustrated reports that Caroline Garcia held her nerve on serve in the decisive doubles match as France reached the Fed Cup final with a nail-biting 3-2 win Sunday against a Simona Halep-inspired Romania.

Teaming up with Kristina Mladenovic for the first time in two years in the Fed Cup, Garcia sealed victory on her first match point as the French pair rallied to beat Halep and Monica Niculescu 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 on clay at the Kindarena in Rouen, northwest France.

France has won the Fed Cup twice while Romania, which beat defending champion Czech Republic in the last eight, was looking to reach its first final.

Instead, the French will play Australia, which beat Belarus and will host the Nov. 9-10 final.


Samantha Stosur bounced back from a singles drubbing and perhaps exorcised a few demons with a composed performance in front of her home Brisbane crowd in the deciding doubles to send Australia into the Fed Cup final.

The Aussies battled past Belarus to win their semifinal 3-2 in a five-match tie that went down to the third set of the final doubles fixture at Pat Rafter Arena.

Thanks to the win by Stosur and Ash Barty, Australia has a chance to win its first Fed Cup title since 1974 (its eighth overall) when it meets France in November, marking the first time green and gold will feature in the final since Australia's 1993 loss to Spain.

World number nine Barty was perfect all weekend, winning both her singles matches against Sabalenka and Azarenka in straight sets before lining up in the doubles, and she needed to be.

The knock on Sam, of course, has always been that she struggles in front of Australian crowds, as she has been unable to get out of the first round of the Australian Open in her last four outings and never made it past the fourth round, despite a career-high ranking of four.

The hometown wobbles appeared to have returned in her singles rubbers -- first a three-set loss to world number 10 Aryna Sabalenka, then a 6-1, 6-1 demolition at the hands of former world number one Victoria Azarenka on Sunday.

She had just half an hour to compose herself after that drubbing before being back on court with Barty and, alongside Australia's top-ranked player, Stosur made amends in a big way, with her experience, skill and composure on display in the 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win.


But beside the drama on court, there was plenty off thanks to Ben Rothenberg and Brett Haber, when the Tennis Channel cut away from the deciding match in the Romania-France Fed Cup tie.


Ben Rothenberg merely pointed out what everyone watching -- including Chris Evert -- was thinking. ...

 

To which a thin-skinned Brett Haber delivered this juvenile response ... 


Which prompted this zinger of a comeback from Ben. Meow!


In the World Group Playoff tie, Sloane Stephens and Sofie Kenin sealed the U.S. spot with a win over Switzerland down in San Antonio! (Madison Keys is still a disaster.) 

Around the net ...


Chrissie cheered on her pint-sized CrossFit hero ...


And last but not least, Dominic Thiem (like everyone else) was upset by Dusan Lajovic in Monte Carlo. But it seems he's put that behind him, moving on to bigger and better things in Barcelona!


Like spending time with Marton Fucsovics ... and members of FC Barcelona ...


I wonder if Gerard Pique -- aka Mr. Shakira -- hugged and consoled Dom about his loss ...


Luis Suarez puts the meat in this ATP sandwich ...

(With wire services)

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