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Daniil Medvedev gets last laugh in Mallorca, while Novak Djokovic reaches doubles final
In the upset of the day, Camila Giorgi toppled top seed Aryna Sabalenka in Eastbourne.
Published Jun 24, 2021
Daniil Medvedev is kicking his Wimbledon preparation into high gear at the Mallorca Championships, where he outlasted an in-form Casper Ruud, 7-5, 6-1, to reach the semifinals.
The top seed endured a bumpy start in his transition from clay to grass when he took an opening-round loss to Jan-Lennard Struff in Halle, but showed marked improvement against the Norwegian to make the final four at an ATP tournament for the first time since March.
“It was a tricky match,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “I think the court is getting a little bit tougher. There were a lot of tricky bounces, so many games felt like they were about who would get the bounce in important moments. It was kind of a funny match because it may not have been the highest level, but I’m really happy to win and be in the semis. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ruud was one to watch throughout the European clay swing, reaching semifinals in Monte Carlo, Munich and Madrid before winning his second career title in Geneva. By contrast, Medvedev bemoaned his bad luck on the surface through early exits, but enjoyed a Roland Garros renaissance when he surged into the quarterfinals.
There were a lot of tricky bounces so many games felt like they were about who would get the bounce in important moments. It was kind of a funny match... Daniil Medvedev
“I don’t think grass is Casper’s best surface, but in the first set he was playing at top level and I couldn’t get a break point," said Medvedev. "As soon as he started to serve a bit worse and make some errors, I tried to use it as fast as I could. It was important to win the first set and not go to a tiebreak. I got a boost of confidence and that was enough for the second set.”
While the first 10 games went with serve, the Russian scored the lone break of the opening set and emerged unscathed from an exchange of breaks early in the second to advance in under 80 minutes on center court.
Standing between Medvedev and a first final since winning his 10th career title in Marseille is Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta, who has similarly yet to drop a set this week in Mallorca.
“It’s definitely not easy, but at least I don’t think he’s from Mallorca, so maybe that can help me a little bit,” Medvedev joked of the No. 4 seed. “He’s a great player and I actually saw his matches here. He’s playing really good tennis, so it’s not going to be easy.
“The more Russian fans, the better. I heard some of the ball kids are Russian, as well, so it’s a nice atmosphere here, and having the crowd back here and some of the next tournaments we’ll play—besides the Olympics—is definitely good for tennis and we’re all happy about this.”
Djokovic shines on doubles court with Gómez-Herrera
Fresh off winning his 19th Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic is enjoying a relaxed but winning week in Mallorca after opening to only enter the doubles event with good friend Carlos Gómez-Herrera.
“I don’t think we expected to reach the finals,” Djokovic said after knocking out No. 3 seeds Oliver Marach and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in straight sets on Thursday. “But if we play well, we can return very well, we serve very well, and I think we have a quite solid net game.”
Like the rest of the Big 3, Djokovic is a rare fixture on the doubles circuit, last playing the discipline at a Grand Slam in 2007. Into his first ATP doubles final since 2010, the world No. 1 has an opportunity to win a second career title should he and Gómez-Herrera defeat either No. 2 seeds Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald or No. 3 seeds Simone Bolelli and Máximo González.
“All around, everything clicked quite amazingly in the last several days for us,” Djokovic said. “I’m just super thrilled to share the court with him and to reach our first final together.”
Giorgi out-guns Sabalenka in Eastbourne
With her blistering ground game, Camila Giorgi has long been one of the toughest outs in tennis, and brought the heat to upset top seed Aryna Sabalenka, 7-6 (5), 0-6, 6-4 at the Viking International.
The enigmatic Italian, who won her first WTA title on grass in 2015, has come out on the wrong end of her share of thrillers in 2021, but rediscovered her world-beating form in Eastbourne, roaring through qualifying and knocking out defending champ Karolina Pliskova before pulling off the stunner on Sabalenka on Thursday.
Shrugging off a second-set bagel, Giorgi won five of the final six games to reach her first semifinal since Palermo last summer. Awaiting her there is Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who won a similarly dramatic quarterfinal against Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5.
Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Ostapenko joined Giorgi and Kontaveit after surviving a surging Daria Kasatkina, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. The fiery Latvian made 38 winners to 14 against Kasatkina to edge through in one hour and 46 minutes.
In Bad Homburg, former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka handed Sara Sorribes Tormo a walkover into the semifinals after incurring an abdominal injury en route to saving four match points to overcome Alizé Cornet on Wednesday.