French Open - two Italian players in quarer-finals, Paolini on the left and Sinner on the right

French Open – Paolini and Sinner remain in singles tournaments

News Sport

Italy’s hopes are being carried by no.2 seed Jannik Sinner and Jasmine Paolini, no.12 seed, in the men’s and women’s singles tournaments at the French Open this week.

Elisabetta Cocciaretto faced a tough challenge in the fourth round of Roland Garros as she went up against No.3 seed Coco Gauff, who secured a 6-1, 6-2 victory in exactly one hour.

Cocciaretto, ranked World No.52, had shown strong form in her previous matches, upsetting higher-ranked players Beatriz Haddad Maia and Liudmila Samsonova. However, against the US Open champion, she struggled to find the same level of play. Gauff started the match with an aggressive approach, quickly establishing a 5-0 lead by dropping only four points in the process.

Despite the early onslaught, Cocciaretto fought to regain some footing, managing to break Gauff’s serve once in the second set. However, Gauff immediately broke back and maintained control, using her powerful serves and sharp defense to keep Cocciaretto at bay. The Italian’s forehand, which had been a crucial weapon in her earlier victories, was less effective against Gauff’s speed and consistency.

Gauff’s performance was marked by 19 winners compared to Cocciaretto’s seven, and the American committed fewer unforced errors (15 to Cocciaretto’s 21). Although Cocciaretto showcased her fighting spirit, it was Gauff’s day, and she advanced to her fourth consecutive Roland Garros quarterfinal.

Reflecting on her performance, Gauff acknowledged the challenging conditions: “This week I feel like I’ve been managing and playing well. It’s definitely, I feel, tough conditions to play in. It’s just really slow and muggy. The weather makes you maybe not as hyped up for your match just naturally. This week at Roland Garros has been a little bit different than the past first weeks.”

Cocciaretto will look to build on her positive run at Roland Garros as she continues to climb the rankings, having demonstrated her potential with notable victories and a commendable fight against one of the tournament’s top contenders.

Paolini to face Rybakina in quarter-finals

Jasmine Paolini is experiencing a career-best season. Recognised for her progress, she was nominated for the Most Improved Player award in the year-end WTA Awards in 2023 after breaking into the Top 30. This year, she has built upon that success.

In January, Paolini advanced to the fourth round of a major for the first time at the Australian Open. She followed this with her first WTA 1000 title in Dubai in February.

In her quest to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Paolini faced Elina Avanesyan, shouldering the burden of being the higher-ranked favourite. Initially, Paolini struggled to impose her game, getting drawn into Avanesyan’s preferred style of high, looping topspin rallies and committing numerous errors.

After falling behind 4-0, Paolini changed her approach by stepping into the court and taking control of the points earlier. This shift in strategy proved effective. Though she conceded the first set, with Avanesyan serving it out on her second chance, Paolini took command in the following two sets, hitting 20 of her 29 total winners.

“I felt a bit disconnected from the match at first,” Paolini reflected in her on-court interview. “I focused on winning one game at a time to get back into the match and find a better rhythm. By the second set, I was fully engaged.”

Paolini faces the no.4 seed Rybakina in the quarters, the Kazhakstani beat the no.15 seed Elina Svitolina in the previous round.

Sinner overcomes shaky start

Jannik Sinner overcame an early challenge from home favourite Corentin Moutet to secure a place in the quarter-finals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 victory on Sunday at Roland Garros.

In a captivating opening set, the No. 79-ranked Moutet had the Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd fully behind him, impressing both fans and Sinner with his diverse and tricky left-handed play. Moutet came close to completing a rare bagel, leading 5-0, 40/15, but ultimately took the set 6-2 and even broke early in the second set to lead 1-0. This is when Sinner’s resurgence began.

Sinner, the Australian Open champion, demonstrated his consistency and resilience from the baseline, gradually overpowering Moutet, who despite his spirited efforts, found it difficult to match Sinner’s strength in the subsequent sets. Unfazed by the fervent support for Moutet from the French Open home crowd, Sinner closed out the match in two hours and 41 minutes, setting up a quarter-final clash with Grigor Dimitrov.

“It was very tough for me. I think he played very, very well in the first set,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “I had some chances, but he played much better than me, so I had to adjust a little bit. He had an amazing run here at Roland Garros. The atmosphere as always was amazing.

“He plays differently to most of my opponents, so it was tough for me. He is also a lefty. You don’t play so many times against left-handers, so I’m happy to be in the next round.”

Arnaldi almost made it past the fourth round

Matteo Arnaldi made a strong impression at Roland Garros on Sunday, giving Stefanos Tsitsipas a serious challenge. The Italian player dominated early on, leading 6-3, 5-3 and showcasing his formidable skills. However, Tsitsipas eventually clawed his way back to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the fourth time.

Arnaldi’s performance was particularly impressive in the first set, where he consistently outplayed Tsitsipas on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. His heavy-hitting from both wings and relentless defense frustrated the Greek star. Arnaldi held three set points at 5-3 in the second set, but Tsitsipas saved all of them, breaking back to level the score at 5-5. From there, Tsitsipas managed to close out the set and eventually secure a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2 victory.

“I had to push today. It was one of the craziest comebacks I have had,” Tsitsipas said. “The momentum seemed to be going his way the entire match. It was very frustrating on my end because I thought I was trying my best, trying to make him move, but nothing really seemed to be working.”

Arnaldi, a 23-year-old rising star, had dictated much of the early play, but Tsitsipas’s resilience and experience began to show as the match progressed. After leveling the score, Tsitsipas improved in the third and fourth sets, while Arnaldi’s intensity waned.

Despite the loss, Arnaldi’s journey to the fourth round was notable, including an upset victory over World No. 6 Andrey Rublev in the third round. The World No. 35 had previously reached the last 16 at a major during the 2023 US Open, demonstrating his potential to become a significant player on the tour.

Djokovic crushes Musetti in final set

Lorenzo Musetti experienced more heartache at Roland Garros as he succumbed to a remarkable comeback by Novak Djokovic. Despite leading the 37-year-old Serbian by two sets to one, the young Italian couldn’t maintain his momentum, ultimately falling 7-5, 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in a gruelling third-round match that extended into the early hours.

Musetti, 15 years Djokovic’s junior, displayed his usual flair and resilience, particularly in the first three sets. He dazzled with his one-handed backhand and utilized a series of drop shots to keep the seasoned champion on his toes. The Italian seemed on the brink of a career-defining victory, much like his memorable clash with Djokovic at Roland Garros in 2021, where he also led by two sets before the Serbian staged a comeback.

The match, which began after 10:30 p.m. due to a delayed schedule, captivated fans with its high drama and intense exchanges. Musetti’s aggressive play and the energy from the crowd pushed him to take a set-point opportunity in the second-set tie-break, but he couldn’t capitalize. As the match progressed into the fourth set, Djokovic found a second wind, breaking Musetti’s serve and taking control.

Reflecting on the challenge, Djokovic noted, “I had to push today. It was one of the craziest comebacks I have had.”

Despite the eventual loss, Musetti’s performance in the early sets was nothing short of spectacular. He dominated mid-length rallies and showcased his potential against one of the game’s greats. His ability to ride the crowd’s energy and challenge Djokovic with varied tactics kept the match pulsating for most of its duration.

As the match wore on, Musetti began to tire, and Djokovic’s experience and consistency from the baseline took over. The final set saw Musetti commit a series of unforced errors, unable to match Djokovic’s renewed intensity.

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