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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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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