Berrettini keeps title defense alive at Queen’s Club

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LONDON – Defending champion Matteo Berrettini stayed on course for back-to-back grass-court titles by recovering from a set down to beat lucky loser Denis Kudla and reach the Queen’s Club quarterfinals on Thursday.

Berrettini won 3-6, 7-5 (5), 6-4 and will be one of just two seeded players in the quarterfinals.

The second-seeded Italian, who beat Andy Murray in the Stuttgart final on Sunday, has only recently returned from three months out because of hand injury and was sluggish with his groundstrokes throughout a hard-fought match in balmy conditions in west London.

Berrettini’s booming serve, which took him to the Wimbledon final last year, eventually bailed him out after Kudla – ranked No. 82 – won the first set without facing a break point.

Three aces from Berrettini helped him win the second-set tiebreaker, after which he called for the trainer.

Berrettini broke for 3-2 in the third set, was immediately broken himself, then benefitted from a unforced error at the net by Kudla – an Ukrainian-born American – to break again for 5-4.

The Italian saved a break point in the next game, during which he sent down a serve at 140mph (225mph), and clinched the match at the first attempt with a winner from a backhand volley.

Berrettini, who had 22 aces and 33 unforced errors, beat Cameron Norrie in last year’s final of the Wimbledon warmup and has now won 17 of his last 18 matches on grass. Norrie is one of six – of eight – seeded players already out before the second round has even finished.

No. 7 Marin Cilic is the only other seeded player through.

Berrettini next faces Tommy Paul, who beat three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-4 earlier Thursday. Paul beat sixth-seeded Denis Shapovalov in the first round.

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic, who beat 2010 champion Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, and British wild-card entry Ryan Peniston, a 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 winner against Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”