Djokovic loses cool, wins match against Fritz in Rome rain

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ROME — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic shouted at the umpire before regaining his cool to see out his rain-delayed second-round match against Taylor Fritz at the Italian Open.

With conditions worsening during the second set and rain getting heavier, the defending champion’s temper boiled over and he roared, “How much more do you want to play?” at the umpire. He added: “I asked you three times and you are not checking anything.”

Djokovic, who has won the Italian Open five times, went on to beat the American 6-3, 7-6 (5).

“I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match,” Djokovic said. “When I came back, I thought we were quite even actually till the last point.

“I’m glad that I managed to finish off this match in straight sets. I know I can play better.”

Djokovic, back in action after sitting out the Masters tournament in Madrid, was leading by a set and a break but was unable to serve out at 5-4 in the second.

Play was then suspended for approximately three hours. Fritz held his service game after the resumption to force the tiebreaker, but Djokovic closed out the win on his first match point.

“It was a very strange match with strange conditions,” Djokovic said. “Obviously … it is challenging for both me and him.

“I thought that I had an advantage there because the conditions were slower which allows me to return his serves, because he’s got really big serves,” Djokovic continued. “So I kind of kept the match under my control for most part of the two sets, then served for the match. Very sloppy service game. He played well, made a great passing shot to come back.”

Last year, Djokovic was disqualified from the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.

Djokovic will next play a qualifier in either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who upset 16th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6 (2), or Cameron Norrie.

Daniil Medvedev’s scheduled showdown with fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev was among the matches postponed.

Earlier, ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini rallied to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 – less than 48 hours after losing the final in Madrid. Fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego also advanced, celebrating his birthday by beating 14th-seeded Gael Monfils 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

Kei Nishikori was handed a walkover in his second-round match against 11th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta. Eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who moves into the third round.

In the women’s tournament, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko ousted 16th-seeded Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-1 and Kristina Mladenovic upset 10th-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4.

Madison Keys rallied to win an all-American derby against Sloane Stephens 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Fans are being kept out of the Foro Italico during the early rounds of the tournament as part of restrictions during coronavirus pandemic, but the main arenas will be up to 25% filled from the round of 16.

Tiafoe beats Tsitsipas to give Team World 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — Frances Tiafoe staved off four match points to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8 and clinch victory in the Laver Cup for Team World over Roger Federer’s Team Europe for the first time.

Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American, performed with the same crunch-time success and wide-smiling showmanship he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open this month.

The victory over 2021 French Open runner-up Tsitsipas allowed the group of 20-somethings on Team World to go up 13-8 in the three-day competition against Team Europe, which in addition to Federer – the 20-time major champion who just retired – featured Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Djokovic had wins in singles and doubles to put Team Europe up 8-4. The last day’s matches were worth three points each, with the first squad to 13 earning the trophy named for Rod Laver, the only man to win the calendar-year Grand Slam twice.

Team World took the lead on the final day at the O2 Arena, thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He defeated 21-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Jack Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Team Europe came into the week having won all four previous editions of the Laver Cup, which was founded by Federer’s management company.

This one served as a celebration of the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career. His final match before retirement came when he and Nadal lost in doubles to Tiafoe and Sock.

Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker. On the first, at 6-5, Tsitsipas netted a forehand to close a 22-stroke exchange. Tiafoe erased the second, at 9-8, with a volley winner. And Tsitsipas sailed backhands long on each of his last two chances to close it out, at 10-9 and 11-10.

Tiafoe went a record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient in the big moments this time. When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end the match – and the competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket, then fell to his back on the court, where his teammates piled on top of him.

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.