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FRENCH OPEN

Nadal in Doubt for French Open

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Defending champion Rafael Nadal remains a doubt for the French Open after pulling out of next week’s Monte Carlo Masters with an ongoing hip injury.

The Spanish world number 14 has won the tournament in Monaco 11 times but is not fit to return to action.

The 36-year-old has not played since his straight-set second-round defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January.

World number two Carlos Alcaraz is also out of Monte Carlo through injury.

The Spaniard, who is chasing Novak Djokovic for the number one ranking, has hand and back problems.

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“After two months abroad I am happy to return home, but sad because I finished my last match in Miami with physical discomfort,” said Alcaraz, who lost to Jannik Sinner in the last four of the Miami Open, on Twitter.

“I will not be able to go to Monte Carlo to start the clay-court tour. I have post-traumatic arthritis in my left hand and muscular discomfort in the spine that needs rest to prepare for everything that is to come.”

Nadal had expected to be out for six to eight weeks after an MRI scan following his Melbourne loss showed a tear in his left psoas muscle.

But missing the start of the European clay-court season leaves him short of match practice before the Roland Garros event he has won a record 14 times, which begins on 28 May.

“I’m still not ready to compete at the highest level,” Nadal said on Twitter.

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“I will not be able to play in one of the most important tournaments of my career, Monte Carlo.

“I am not yet in a position to play with the maximum guarantees and I continue my preparation process, hoping to return soon.”

Canada’s world number seven Felix Auger-Aliassime will also miss next week’s event with a left knee issue, but has said he hopes to be back for the Madrid Open which starts on 26 April.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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FRENCH OPEN

Coco Gauff wins her first Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open

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Coco Gauff (L) and Siniakova of Czech Republic pose with the trophy after winning the women s doubles final on Sunday (AP)

Coco Gauff won her first Grand Slam doubles title by teaming with Katerina Siniakova for the French Open trophy on Sunday.

Gauff, a 20-year-old American who won the U.S. Open singles title last year, and Siniakova, who is from the Czech Republic, defeated Italians Jasmine Paolini and Sara Errani 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was Gauff’s third women’s doubles final after losing championship matches at Roland Garros in 2022 and the U.S. Open in 2021.

Gauff and Siniakova both kissed the Coupe Simonne Mathieu — the winners’ trophy.

“Third time’s a charm. Thank you, Katerina, for playing with me. We decided two days before the tournament to play together,” Gauff said. “Thank you to the fans. I know 11:30 Sunday morning is early for most people. It’s early for me.”

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Paolini was also the runner-up in the singles final at Roland Garros to four-time champion Iga Swiatek on Saturday. Swiatek beat Gauff in the singles semifinal.

“The last two weeks were very nice, very emotional,” Paolini said. “I have a lot of memories. I can’t wait to be back.”

Siniakova owns a career Slam in women’s doubles alongside partner Barbora Krejcikova and has won eight majors — including the French Open in 2018 and 2021.

Errani also owns a career Slam in doubles alongside her former partner Roberta Vinci. The Italian pair won the French Open title in 2012 — the year Errani lost the singles final.

“It’s really special to be in this court again. I don’t know how many more years I have to play. But it’s always special to play these kinds of matches,” the 37-year-old Errani said. “It will be special to play the Olympics here in this place. So I’ll see you in one month.”

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Paolini was playing in her first final in women’s doubles.

Errani’s serve was broken twice in the first set, and Paolini stayed on the baseline to compensate in the 11th game. The tactic worked as Errani held serve.

Gauff and Siniakova took the first set when Errani’s volley at the net went long and raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set, with Paolini 0-30 down on her serve.

The Italians fought back to 4-3 with a service game to follow, but Errani’s serve was broken again and their momentum was lost.

-AP

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FRENCH OPEN

French Open toughest to win, making Paris record more special, Djokovic says

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Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 11, 2023 Serbia's Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after winning the French Open REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Novak Djokovic said winning a record 23rd men’s singles Grand Slam title at the French Open after beating Norway’s Casper Ruud 7-6(1) 6-3 7-5 on Sunday was special given that it was always his toughest one to win.

The Serbian has now won the most Grand Slams of any male player and is the only one to have won each of the four – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open – at least three times.

But of the 23 Grand Slams, only three have come at the French Open with rival Rafael Nadal, who has 22 majors, dominating on clay with 14 wins in Paris.

Djokovic has also won ten times in Australia and three times at the U.S. Open while triumphing seven times at Wimbledon.

“It is no coincidence that I won the 23rd Grand Slam here in Paris because this tournament was really in my entire career the toughest to win,” Djokovic, who has played in the Paris final seven times, said to a cheering crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier.

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“A lot of emotions here on this court, also off the court,” he said, after lifting the trophy aloft.

“Thanks one more time for a special atmosphere, a marvellous one. I am very happy to share this special moment of my career with you in this special stadium.”

The 36-year-old won the title without Nadal in the tournament, with the Spaniard missing the Grand Slam due to an injury and surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the year.

Djokovic, who also eclipsed Nadal as the oldest champion in Paris after a tough fortnight, has now won 21 consecutive Grand Slam tournament matches.

He won last year’s Wimbledon, missed the U.S. Open and won in Australia in January before Sunday’s triumph in Paris.

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“I am being fortunate in my life to win 23 Grand Slams. It is an incredible feeling,” he said.

“Whatever you are pursuing, tennis or anything else, I was a seven-year-old dreaming I would win Wimbledon and become No. 1 one day.

“One thing is for sure I felt I had the power to create my own destiny. I felt it with every cell in my body.”Djokovic can now extend his lead in Grand Slam victories with the season moving over to grass and Wimbledon, where he will bid for an eighth title

-Reuters

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FRENCH OPEN

French Open: Doubles pair disqualified after ball girl is hit

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Japan’s Miyu Kato and Indonesia’s Aldila Sutjiadi were disqualified from the French Open after Kato struck a ball down the court between points, hitting a ball girl, during their women’s doubles third-round match on Sunday.

Umpire Alexandre Juge gave Kato a warning before Czech Marie Bouzkova and Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, on the other side of the net, asked for their opponents to be disqualified.

“No, no, let me explain to you. She (Kato) didn’t do it on purpose, she (the ball girl) didn’t get injured,” Juge said.

“She didn’t do it on purpose? She’s crying,” Sorribes Tormo said.

“And she has blood,” Bouzkova added, prompting the umpire to go to see the ball girl, who was sobbing.

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After speaking to the girl, the umpire went back up to his chair and announced the end of the match with the disqualification of Kato and Sutjiadi.

Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo were leading 7-6(1) 1-3 at the time.

-Reuters

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