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 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.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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