Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 10th of March 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 10th of March 2014

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TENNIS – Elena Baltacha is diagnosed with liver cancer. Murray wins 300 on hard courts. Ward’s luck in California. Laura Robson announces Mauricio Hadad as her new coach. Hutchins lands prestigious job and the 2014 inductees for the Hall of Fame are announced. Joshua Bosco

Good luck Baltacha
After suffering with a chronic liver condition from the age of 19, former British No.1 Elena Baltacha has now been diagnosed with liver cancer.
In a statement released on the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) website, the 30 year old ex-tennis player said “I’m currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have”.
Baltacha retired from the game in November 2013 and married her former coach Nino Severino, who also used to be a kick-boxing champion, a month later.

300 for Murray, 599 for Hewitt
While Lleyton Hewitt has been denied a 600th career win with a 7-6(5), 6-4 loss to South African Kevin Anderson, British No.1 Andy Murray notched up his 300th win on hard courts with a hard-fought win against Lukas Rosol in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Murray now stands 6th in the active hard-court match wins rankings, topped by Roger Federer with 575 wins, and is just 24 wins shy of Rafael Nadal’s 5th spot.
Hewitt, on the other hand, is looking to become just the third active male player to reach the 600th win milestone, the other two being Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Lucky Ward, unlucky Delpo
Last year’s finalist Juan Martin del Potro has been forced to withdraw from Indian Wells due to his ongoing wrist problem, which had already caused him to retire during his match against Somdev Devvarman in Dubai last week.
His place in the second round match against Feliciano Lopez has been taken by lucky loser James Ward, hero of Great Britain’s Davis Cup tie with USA in February.
Del Potro has also switched places in the rankings with Roger Federer as a result of points lost with his withdrawal. The Argentinian is now eighth and Federer is seventh, close on the heels of No.6 Tomas Berdych.

Another new coach for Laura
British No.1 Laura Robson has once again changed coach. After just 9 months with Zeljko Krajan, 4 months with Miles Maclagan and only 2 months with the newly appointed Nick Saviano and Jesse Witten duo, she has now hired Mauricio Hadad, a Colombian with Lebanese origins, a former tennis player who reached his highest ranking at No.78 in 1995.
In the past he coached Maria Sharapova, helping the then-17 year old Russian to her surprising 2004 Wimbledon title. He also worked with Heather Watson, who won her first WTA title (in Osaka) under his guidance.

Ross Hutchins lands new job
Ross Hutchins has been named tournament Director for the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club.
The 29 year old, who returned to action in January after recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, will not play in the event which starts on June 9 but he will be responsible for tennis decisions and player/ATP relations.
The British player added that Colin Fleming, his regular doubles partner, will partner someone else at Queen’s but assured that they would play together for the rest of the season.

Class of 2014
Last Monday the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced the “Class of 2014”, a list of five new inductees that will join the other 235 people honoured in the organisation’s 60-year history.
The five inductees are:
Lindsay Davenport: a six times Grand Slam champion (3 titles in singles without losing a set and 3 titles in doubles), the former American player has reached the World No.1 spot in both singles and doubles. She also has an Olympic Gold Medal to her name, won in Atlanta in 1996.
Nick Bollettieri: after founding the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978, the American tennis coach has guided 10 players to No.1 in the world.
John Barrett: a former British No.5 and BBC Sports Commentator, he reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon four times. One of the sport’s premier historians and authors, he is only the 8th journalist to be honoured by the organisation.
Chantal Vandierendonck: the first female wheelchair tennis player to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, she is a five-time Paralympic gold medallist and three-time ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Champion.
Jane Brown Grimes: a former reporter/researcher for Life magazine, she has been involved with tennis for more than 30 years. She has held executive leadership roles with the WTA and the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Joshua Bosco

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Roland Garros 2024: Rafael Nadal Faces Alexander Zverev In Blockbuster Opening Round

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will meet at Roland Garros in the first round with Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in the opening round.

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Rafael Nadal has been drawn against Rome champion Alexander Zverev in the opening round of Roland Garros.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion will most likely be making his last appearance at the event where he has such a great history at.

It’s been a mixed clay court season for Nadal who built gradual momentum in Madrid but suffered an early exit in Rome to Hubert Hurkacz.

Now the Spaniard has been drawn to take on the champion of Rome, Alexander Zverev, in the opening round.

The match is a repeat of the 2022 semi-final where Zverev broke his ankle losing almost a year of his career.

This contest headlines the second quarter of the draw which also features Karen Khachanov, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev.

In the other quarter of the top half of the draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic will begin his Roland Garros campaign against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

There is also a potential third round clash with either Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti for Djokovic, who is currently in Geneva gaining extra match practice ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season.

The Serb could have a repeat of last year’s final in the quarter-finals with Casper Ruud as the Norwegian begins his campaign against Jakub Mensik.

In the bottom half of the draw Jannik Sinner plays his first tournament since suffering a hip injury in Rome as he takes on Christopher Eubanks in the opening round.

Sinner could face Cameron Norrie in the third round with the Brit taking on Pavel Kotov in his opening round before playing the winner of the battle of the Grand Slam champions between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray and Wawrinka will clash for the fourth time at Roland Garros with Wawrinka leading their head-to-head 2-1 in Paris.

This section also includes in-form players such as Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Tabilo and Rome finalist Nicolas Jarry.

Finally Carlos Alcaraz will begin his Roland Garros campaign against a qualifier before potentially playing Jack Draper in the second round.

Another exciting clash awaits Alcaraz in the third round in the form of Sebastian Korda with Andrey Rublev or Stefanos Tsitsipas being potential quarter-final opponents.

This is the full draw with Roland Garros beginning on Sunday.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Return To Top Four After Winning Italian Open

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Alexander Zverev has clinched his first Masters title since 2021 after downing Nicolas Jarry in straight sets at the Italian Open.

The world No.5 surged to a 6-4,7-5, victory at the Faro Italico to become the 10th player in the Open Era to win the Rome trophy on multiple occasions. He also won the tournament in 2017. Zverev’s latest win was aided by an impressive service display from the 27-year-old who also hit 15 winners against eight unforced errors. He is now 22-1 against players ranked outside the top five at the tournament with his only loss being to Matteo Berrettini five years ago.

“It means a lot. Winning my first (Masters) title and winning my first after my injury in Rome. Rome is a very special place for me,” the new champion said afterwards. 
“I said at the beginning of the week if Rome is the place of firsts for me I’m extremely happy about it. It’s a very special week.” 

Playing in his first Masters 1000 final since 2022, Zverev produced a serving masterclass throughout the opening set with the German winning 20 out of 21 points. In contrast, Jarry experienced more difficult but valiantly fought back with the Chilean saving two straight break points at 4-4. Eventually, the third seed sealed the opener two games later with the help of some costly shots coming from across the court. A deep shot towards the baseline was unsuccessfully returned by Jarry, handing Zverev a set point which he converted.

Continuing to pile the pressure on in the second set, Zverev had a double chance to break for a 3-1 lead but failed to capitalise on that opportunity. The opportunities continued to come and go. Back-to-back double faults from Jarry at 4-5 handed Zverev two championship points but once again he failed to take advantage. Eventually, he sealed victory two games later with the help of a forehand shot that Jarry returned out. Prompting Zverev to raise his hands in delight before later paying tribute to his rival. 

“He’s playing huge. You can see that by the opponents he beat and how he beat them,” he said of Jarry. 
“I told him if he continues playing like that he is going to have many more chances. I’m happy to be the winner.”

As a result of his Rome triumph, Zverev has secured a top-four seeding for the French Open. On Monday he will rise in the PIF ATP rankings to No.4 which will be his highest position since August 2022. During that same year, he sustained a serious ankle injury which sidelined him for months. 

“The focus is on Paris, that’s for sure. but let me enjoy this one for a day or so and then I will have my full focus on Paris,” said Zverev.

Zverev has now won six Masters 1000 titles which places him in joint-ninth on the all-time list along with Daniil Medvedev. 

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Novak Djokovic Accepts Geneva Wildcard Ahead Of Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic has accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva as he looks to improve his form ahead of Roland Garros.

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Novak Djokovic has shockingly accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva.

The world number one hasn’t had the best season so far having yet to reach a final at any of his events this season.

There was hope for Djokovic that his fortunes would change on clay and the Serb started his clay court season by reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo before losing to Casper Ruud.

However Djokovic’s clay court hopes were dashed in Rome as he lost in the third round to in-form Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

This has meant that Djokovic risks being undercooked for the second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros.

Therefore the Serb has had no option but to take a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 in Geneva.

Djokovic will join Casper Ruud, Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz in next week’s event.

Next week’s appearance will be the first appearance in Geneva in Djokovic who will be the top seed in Switzerland.

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