A Bumper Bank Holiday of Action
ATP MONTE CARLO MASTERS
The Monte Carlo Masters was an action-packed opening ATP 1000 event on the clay. With plenty of upsets throughout, the volatility of the current ATP landscape continued and Fabio Fognini became the 8th Masters 1000 first-time winner in the last 17 tournaments. Previous to that, it took a massive 86 tournaments for there to be just 7 first-time winners. Fognini overcame the unseeded Dušan Lajović in straight sets to record his landmark win! Amazingly, since the creation of the Masters 1000 series in 2009 it was only the third time in 92 events that neither player in the final were seeded in the top 10. It was a tournament full of upsets as Nishikori and Čilić both exited in the last 32. They were promptly followed by Zverev, Thiem and Tsitsipas in the last 16. Djokovic was removed at the last eight stage before Nadal was beaten by Fognini in the semis. The lack of consistency in results makes this week’s Barcelona Open particularly interesting. While it is not a 1000 event, most of the major names are competing and it should act as a good guide to whether this clay season is going to prove problematic on a regular basis for the highly ranked players. With Nadal’s ongoing injury worries, the coming months will prove crucial in seeing if Rafa can keep his throne as ‘King of Clay.’ Victory in Barcelona will help to appease many fears that injuries are halting Nadal’s ability to consistently compete at the top level.
WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIPS - ROUND 1
The Betfred World Snooker Championships have returned to The Crucible for another year. Defending champion Mark Williams kicked off his campaign against Martin Gould and came through with a comfortable 10-7 victory. Shaun Murphy, 2005 World Champion, pulled off only the second whitewash in Crucible history. It was the first whitewash since John Parrott beat Eddie Charlton 10-0 in 1992 and Murphy left Luo Honghao with the unfortunate record of scoring the lowest amount of points in the tournament’s 43-year history. Luca Brecel and Gary Wilson broke another World Championship record when playing the longest frame in Crucible history. The 79-minute 31-second frame happened in the decider of their epic tussle and it was Wilson who eventually broke the deadlock and won the game 10-9. In doing so registering the second first game to go the full 19 frames in the first round.
Yet despite all these records and drama, the biggest story of Round 1 is that Ronnie O’Sullivan has been knocked out of the tournament at the hands of amateur James Cahill. Cahill at the age of 23 became the first amateur to qualify for the World’s and he now has managed to defeat The Rocket by 10 frames to 8. It will go down as one of the greatest upsets in Snooker history and it will be fascinating to see how the youngster from Blackpool will progress in the tournament. Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby now head the market for Crucible glory. If the remaining rounds are even a patch on Round 1, we are in for a treat.
The Euroleague has reached the play-off stage of the competition and three of the four ties are finely poised after two games. Fenerbahce vs Zalgiris, Anadolu Efes vs Barcelona & CSKA vs Baskonia are all square at 1-1. Efes/Barcelona looked set to be an incredibly tight tie on paper and it is proving so in reality - the remaining games in the matchup should be a brilliant spectacle. Baskonia will be looking to cause an upset by beating CSKA and being level after two away games will make them more confident of achieving this feat. Victory would give them a Final Four place at their home stadium in Vitoria-Gasteiz and that would be an enormous thrill for their supporters. The game that has been less well contested is Real Madrid vs Panathinaikos and if the Greek side doesn’t triumph in the next game, the tie will be over.
STANLEY CUP PLAY-OFFs
As the upsets continue, three more teams advanced to the Stanley Cup quarter-finals over the weekend. The final three ties that go to decider will determine which teams will take part in the next round of the Stanley Cup. They are due to take play tomorrow 24th April.
Dallas Stars beat Nashville Predators to win the tie 4-2
St Louis Blues beat Winnipeg Jets to win the tie 4-2
Colorado Avalanche beat Calgary Flames to win the tie 4-1
Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals to force a decider
San Jose Sharks beat Vegas Golden Knights to force a decider
Boston Bruins beat Toronto Maple Leafs to force a decider
The race for a top-four spot in Serie A is really hotting up as Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atalanta, Roma, Torino and Lazio could all feasibly claim a spot and merit Champions League football for next season! It was a particularly good weekend for Atalanta who beat second-place Napoli away from home. The same cannot be said for Lazio who were beaten by Chievo at home. Lazio were given two red cards during the game which made their task far harder and also makes their quest for a top-four spot more difficult with suspensions imminent!
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