Federer & Nadal Are The Names, But Others Share Quiet Importance At Halle - UBITENNIS
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Federer & Nadal Are The Names, But Others Share Quiet Importance At Halle

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TENNIS ATP HALLE – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the featured names at the Gerry Weber Open, but Federer will face Alejandro Falla in tomorrow’s singles final. He will also team with Marco Chiudinelli against Andre Begemann and Julian Knowle in the doubles, but others share quiet importance…From Halle, Mark Winters

 

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are hugely popular tennis players and well known world personalities. They are a major reason the Gerry Weber Open, in Halle, Germany, has broken attendance records each of its twenty-two years. Gerry Weber, the event’s founder, and his son, Ralf, the Tournament Director, could hold “How To Do It” seminars about organizing a tennis championship because theirs is so successful.

As with any endeavor, there are multiple pieces required to make a puzzle a perfect fit. Staging an ATP tournament in an area fit for an Impressionist’s painting helps, and so does the fact that the Gerry Weber Stadion Center Court has a closeable roof, which means, unlike the AEGON Championships (Queen’s) in London, there are never any, “Rain, rain, go away…” chants. It also helps that annually the Webers improve the look and set-up of their Gerry Weber World facility. But, the major component of the feel and ambience that makes Halle, Halle is the commitment of the local people.

They use their yearly vacations, or simply take time off from real jobs to participate. They do it because, (and it is a sincere belief), the Gerry Weber Open is their tournament.

For some this may appear to be an overly optimistic wish or hope if you will, but to those behind-the-scenes, it is their reality. That certainly is true of the eclectically interesting array of special people involved with the tournament’s Transportation Service. Were Guido Kriete, not Dr. Kriete at Georg-August-Universitaet at Goettingen, where he is a Senior Scientist working in the field of Plant Genetic Research, he could be the Gerry Weber Open GPS unit. He has been part and parcel of the driving effort for the event’s entire twenty-two years, and knows the roads hither and yon throughout the area.

Daniel Hartwig has been part of the “team” for eleven years. Kriete, though he said, “Mentor is too strong a word to use”, brought Hartwig up to speed when he began. “I have tried to help people and find out what they do not know,” Kriete said. “It is important that they know there are rules and how to manage a situation that they have not previously faced.”

Hartwig, an IT specialist, played tennis as a hobby, and used to attend the tournament when he was a youngster. The players were impressive, but the fact that they were transported from here to there in a Mercedes-Benz made an impact. “When I saw that people drove for the tournament and they used Mercedes-Benzes, that impressed me. So did the atmosphere. The drivers all seemed to be friends, and it is fun to drive.”

Lionel Brathwaite and Dorthe Peperkorn Photo by Mark Winters

Lionel Brathwaite and Dorthe Peperkorn Photo by Mark Winters

Lionel Brathwaite spent twelve years with the British Forces in Germany. Though he retired from the service, he works as a BF Transportation Coordinator when not motoring around for the Gerry Weber Open. Having been involved in every event, the personable Brathwaite, who is another “Mr. GPS”, has stories to tell. “Two years ago, when the Gerry Weber Open celebrated its 20th Anniversary, twenty to twenty-five of us, who had been involved with the tournament, were all going to Dusseldorf,” he said. “We were at the train station trying to get on, in the car where our suits were, as people were getting off the train, it was very crowded, so seeing that it was I, along with three others in the group, went to another entry door. But, just as we were about to get on, it closed. We were left behind, but two of the women worked for Gerry Weber so we went into the station, explained what had happened and were able to take the next train. Of course, we called the others to tell that what had happened because we knew they would worry about us, and we are all part of the team.”

During the Gerry Weber Open, Dorthe Peperkorn rarely has an opportunity to rest. The eighteen-year veteran of the Transportation Service has, for the past three years, been in charge of the operation. She is respectfully called, “The Chief.” She is up early every morning, not only during the week-long tournament, but also during the week prior when players are just getting into town and the qualifying takes place. Her days often end when the next one begins, meaning 12:00 or later, is not an oddity.

I like to drive,” she said with a smile. “I like to organize. I like everyone on the team. I think my job is all about ‘learning by doing’.”

Brathwaite clearly defined what it is like to be a member of the driving team when he said, “Some of us don’t see one another except for once a year, during the tournament. We meet and become a big happy family. Then we wait for another year to pass so we can do it again.”

In tomorrow’s singles final, Roger Federer, the six-time tournament champion, who defeated Kei Nishikori of Japan, in one of today’s semifinals, 6-3, 7-6 will face Alejandro Falla of Columbia, who surprised fan favorite Philipp Kohlschreiber, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4. Federer will be looking to double his Gerry Weber Open trophy collection and duplicate the victory he scored in 2005, with countryman, Yves Allegro, when he and Marco Chiudinelli, also from Switzerland, take on Andre Begemann of Germany and Julian Knowle of Austria in the doubles wrap up.

While the players have been featured throughout the 2014 Gerry Weber Open, and will be the focus of attention on Sunday, people such as Guido Kriete, Daniel Hartwig, Lionel Brathwaite and Dorthe Peperkorn share quiet importance.

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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid’ – Nick Kyrgios Offers Support To Those Struggling During Covid-19 Pandemic

The bad boy of tennis says he will support those in need by delivering essential supplies.

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Former top 20 player Nick Kyrgios has urged members of the public to reach out to him if they require any help during the covid-19 pandemic in a social media post.

 

The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has offered to deliver food to those who are struggling during the current crises, which has suspended the ATP and WTA Tours until at least July. It is estimated by economists that more than 500,000 people in Kyrgios’ home country of Australia will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. There have been more than one million cases of the coronavirus worldwide with many countries currently placed in a lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

‘If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,’ Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.
‘Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or some milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked.’

In Australia there have been 5687 cases of Coronavirus as of Sunday which has resulted in 34 deaths. This is according to figures provided by chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

It is not the first time Kyrgios has offered to support those in need. Earlier this year he was an instrumental figure in helping raising money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Donating AUS$200 for every ace produced during the first month of the season and participating in a series of exhibition matches. According to 7 News, Kyrgios raised in the region of AUS$100,000 for the bushfire fund.

Kyrgios is currently ranked 40th in the world and has won six out of his nine matches played earlier this season. At the Australian Open he reached the fourth round before falling in four sets to Rafael Nadal.

 

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Diego Schwartzman On Playing The Big Three And Who He Believes Is The Best

The top-20 player pays tribute to the three tennis legends as he cast his vote in the greatest of all time debate.

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When it comes to taking on the Big Three in tennis, Diego Schwartzman is perhaps one of the best players to provide an insight into how frustrating it can be.

 

The Argentine world No.13 has played a member of the illustrious trio no less than 18 times in his career, but is yet to gain a single victory to his name. Consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big three have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. Between them, they have won the last 13 grand slams and at least one of them has featured in 58 out of the past 60 major finals. Since February 2004, Andy Murray is the only player outside of the group to have held the No.1 position.

Schwzrtman’s record against the big guns has seen him lose to Nadal nine times as well as succumbing to both Djokovic and Federer on four occasions. Nevertheless, the three-time grand slam quarter-finalist isn’t bitter as he hails their achievements in the sport.

“Against Nadal you always come in hope of giving him a fight on any day and on any surface, but you quickly realize that it is almost impossible to defeat him.” Schwartzman said during an Instagram live chat with journalist Danny Miche.
“Djokovic makes me feel that in the second game of service I no longer have lungs. It’s unbelievable.’
“Federer gives you more air (time), but you don’t seem to know how to play tennis. It’s amazing how he hits the ball.’
“The three are unbelievable, in different ways.”

There is also the ongoing debate as to who should be named the greatest of all time. Each player has their own credentials. Federer currently has the all-time lead for most grand slam titles at 20. Nadal has won more ATP tournaments on the clay than any other player in history. Meanwhile, current world No.1 Djokovic has won more prize money in the sport than any other player – male or female.

Weighing on the debate, Schwartzman has given the edge to Djokovic. Prior to the suspension of the tour due to covid-19, Djokovic started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. Claiming titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“At his best, Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal many times on the clay and Roger Federer many times on the grass. So maybe I would say that he is slightly above the other two.” He explained.
“Let’s see if you can reach the records, now it was packed and saw that pace being broken. But Djokovic knows that he has to keep the level, because if he doesn’t win he will win the other two.”

Schwartzman started the year by winning nine out of 14 matches played. His best performance of the season so far took place on home territory when he reached the final of the Cordoba Open before losing to Christian Garin.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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