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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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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