Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 31st of March 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & Pieces from the World of Tennis: 31st of March 2014

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TENNIS – Andy Murray gets slimy. Miami sets an unwelcome record. Serena Williams becomes the fourth woman to win 7 titles at the same event. The men prepare for Davis Cup duty and the women play in Charleston and Monterrey. Joshua Bosco

 

Murray gets gunked

Andy Murray got more than he bargained for during his press conference at the Crandon Park Tennis Center last week. Buckets of green goo were thrown all over him as a publicity stunt for Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2014.

 

I feel incredibly privileged to receive Nickelodeon’s UK History Maker Kids’ Choice Award […]. Getting slimed is definitely the most outrageous award acceptance I’ve ever done – it was pretty good fun” said Murray afterwards.

Tennis History in the making

Tennis history was in the making in Miami last Friday. Both the men’s semi-finals scheduled for that day were resolved with a walkover, with World No.1 Rafael Nadal and World No.2 Novak Djokovic advancing to the final of the Sony Open without having to play a single point.

According to the ATP, It’s the first time in the Open Era (since 1968) that both semi-finals at a tour-level event end in walkovers.

The first player to withdraw from his match was Kei Nishikori: the Japanese player, after a successful week in which he defeated Grigor Dimitrov, David Ferrer and Roger Federer (all ranked higher than him), was forced to forfeit the semi-final due to a left groin injury.

In the second walkover of the day  Tomas Berdych was forced to pull out of his match against Nadal with gastroenteritis. Despite his withdrawal the Czech player will now rise to No.5 in the ATP rankings, matching his career-best reached in August 2013.

Yesterday’s final marked the 40th match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard, after last night’s 6-3 6-3 loss, still leads 22-18 in the Head2Head. Worthy of mention is the fact that  Nadal and Djokovic are now defending champions in all nine  ATP World Tour Masters 1000, with 5 titles to Djokovic’s name (Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Shanghai and Paris) and Nadal trailing with just 4 (Madrid, Rome, Canada and Cincinnati).

7 times Serena

After winning the Sony Open in Miami on Saturday, World No.1 Serena Williams became just the fourth woman to win the same tournament at least seven times. She managed to do so thirteen years after her first triumph there in 2002, a straight sets victory over the then-World No.1 Jennifer Capriati.

She joins Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert in this elite club: Navratilova has won 8 different tournaments seven or more times (including 12 titles in Chicago in a fifteen year span and 9 Wimbledon titles), while both Graf and Evert have won “only” 2 different tournaments at least seven times (Wimbledon and the German Open for Graf, Roland Garros and the Family Circle for the American).

Davis Cup weekend

No major tournament will take place this week in the ATP World Tour as players will be busy with the Davis Cup quarterfinals and Zone Group I and II ties this weekend.

Japan vs Czech Republic will feature Miami’s semi-finalist Kei Nishikori and two-times Davis Cup champion Radek Stepanek;
France vs Germany will see a full-powered French team (Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils and Benneteau) take on a German side missing its four best-ranked players;
Italy vs Great Britain Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will have to defend himself against Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi on clay;
Switzerland vs Kazakhstan World No.3 & No.4 Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer will be hoping to reverse the result of the 2011 Davis Cup when Kazakhstan beat Switzerland 5-0 and reach the semi-finals for just the third time in over 90 years.

Some fascinating encounters can also be found in Zone Group I and II ties: the most anticipated is Poland vs Croatia, which will see World No.21 Jerzy Janowicz and formidable doubles team Fyrstenberg/Matkowski take on Marin Cilic and junior sensation Borna Coric.
Colombia will put faith in their consolidated quartet, made up of Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Falla and doubles Miami finalists Cabal/Farah, for their Colombia vs Dominican Republic tie and World No.15 Grigor Dimitrov will play in Athens this weekend in Greece vs Bulgaria.

Family Circle & Monterrey

The WTA Tour, however, won’t stop this week:

In Charleston, World No.1 and Sony Open winner Serena Williams will try to win her third successive Family Circle Cup (and fourth in total) but will have to compete against a tough field including her sister Venus, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani, Sabine Lisicki, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard and Lucie Safarova. Nadia Petrova received a wildcard while Alize Cornet, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have withdrawn before the start of the tournament.

In Monterrey players including Flavia Pennetta, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Kirsten Flipkens and Garbine Muguruza will try to take advantage of the absence of last year’s winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and World No.4 Victoria Azarenka to take home the title.

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Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal

The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.

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Novak Djokovic (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.

 

Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.

“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.

Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.

Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.

He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.

Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”

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Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months

The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.

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Borna Coric - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.

 

The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.

It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”

Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.

“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.

Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.

In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.

Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.

Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.

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Felix Auger Aliassime Wins First Ever Roland Garros Match In Five Sets

Felix Auger-Aliassime earned his first ever victory at Roland Garros.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@MatchPointCAN - Twitter)

The Canadian found himself down two sets to none but fought back to pull off the comeback in a thrilling five set victory.

 

Felix Auger Aliassime is into the second round of the French Open for the first time in his career after battling back to beat the Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas in five sets 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and 14 minutes.

The Montreal native finished the match serving 14 aces and hitting 52 winners in a match that featured a lot of long rallies from behind the baseline.

“It was a dream for me to play here, it was an honor and my first time on Phillipe Chatrier and my first win at Roland Garros and I had to work hard to get it and credit my opponent he played very well today.”

The Peruvian started the match by breaking the number nine seed right out of the gate and at 3-1 managed to turn that break into a double break as he served out the first set with ease.

The first two games of the second went on serve but again the world number 122 seemed to play better as the Canadian looked stunned, searching for answers.

The Lima native once again took an early lead to take a 3-1 lead and again that seemed like enough for the Peruvian as he served out the second set and was one set away from an improbable upset.

The third set is where the Canadian started to turn things around and his groundstrokes seemed to have more precision. At 2-1 it was the Montreal native who got the first break of serve.

After consolidating the break the world number nine was hungry for more and turned that break into a double break and it looked like the match was turning in his favour.

The Canadian served out the third set to send it to a fourth looking to send it to a decider.

The Montreal native rode the momentum from winning the third into the fourth set where after holding the opening service game got the early break once again taking a 2-0 lead.

At 5-3 with the Peruvian looking to stay in the set, Auger Aliassime managed to get another break to win the set and send the match to a fifth set.

The fifth set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the Canadian had four chances to break and at the fourth time of asking he was able to break and serve out the match to complete the comeback.

After the match in his on court interview he was asked about the adjustments he made in the third set to turn the match around and pull off the win.

“I tried to give myself some more space and a little more time, my opponent at the beginning was playing very quick, aggressive, and flat so I tried a couple things and I also served better and after that it was easier.”

The Canadian will next face either Aslan Karatsev or Camilo Ugo Carabelli in the next round.

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