TENNIS GERRY WEBER OPEN – Roger Federer won the Gerry Weber Open Singles final. Andre Begemann of Germany and Julian Knowle of Austria captured the Doubles, and Tournament Director, Ralf Weber kicked off the day summarizing the 2014 event and talked about the 2015 expectations when Halle becomes an ATP 500…From Halle, Mark Winters
A set routine is always followed on the final Sunday at the Gerry Weber Open, in Halle, Germany. It has been the same for the twenty-two years that the tournament has been held. Several hours before Roger Federer defeated Alejandro Falla of Columbia 7-6, 7-6 to earn his seventh title, dapper Tournament Director, Ralf Weber addresses the media. At these gatherings, he discusses the event that is about to conclude as well as some of the plans for the next championships (and the “progress” that will be made is always part of the Ralf Weber “Performa”).
Not only does he organize the Halle tennis operation, as if he was a symphony orchestra conductor, Weber appreciates the way professional tennis is played along with its captivating moments. He noted, “The Tie-Break that decided the Dustin Brown and Philipp Kohlschreiber match was electrifying and is one which none of us will ever forget.” He also enjoyed the performances of international stars, such as Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils, as well as the German professionals who participated.
“They always tend to be able to get the best tennis out of themselves here at the Gerry Weber Open,” he said. “That is facilitated also by the way the venue is set up with the players always a short walk (during the tournament they stay at the Sportparkhotel) from everything. The concept of an oasis of well-being is spot on here.”
Weber was particularly pleased with Roger Federer reaching his ninth final saying, “He’s simply phenomenal”, as well as the performances of German wildcards, Peter Gojowczyk and Brown. As for Rafael Nadal, who lost to Brown, 6-4, 6-1 in the second round after receiving a first round Bye, Weber said: “It’s always saddening when the top seed goes out after the first match, and it is a bit disappointing too, but he came up against an opponent who rose above himself. Next year, there will be a full week between the end of the Roland Garros (French Open) and the start of the Gerry Weber Open and that will make the conditions more balanced and fairer for all of the players.”
Weber mentioned that ATP Executive Chairman and President, Chris Kermode visited Halle for the first time and told the Tournament Director that the experience was an “eye-opener.” Weber added, “He was hugely impressed and said it was an inspiration for how to stage a modern tennis event. By that, he meant what we offer above and beyond just tennis matches.”
As an aside, Weber called attention to the fact that television audiences were provided with exceptional coverage by Eurosport and the viewing numbers were similar to those realized in 2013.
The Gerry Weber Open mantra could be “Tennis for the people.” The Webers have always evidenced awareness and concern for, as Ralf said, “Helping people who may lead their lives in the shade of others.” He continued, “The social involvement of the tournament is an indispensable part of this event, and much more than merely fulfilling a duty.”
Over the years, the tournament has received accolades from the ATP and the tennis community for reaching out to the local community. Weber said of the effort, “It is an inspiration to go about this wonderful work with even greater dedication. Our players are also right behind these activities – they visit critically-ill children or handicapped people, gifting them with moments of joy and happiness.”
The close cooperation with Federer, in this regard, was also praised. “For ten years, the Gerry Weber Open has been supporting the work of the Roger Federer Foundation with another donation handed over to the Swiss player this year. At the start of the tournament, Federer paid the Bodelschwinghschen Foundation in Bielefeld a second memorable visit. Over all, the sum of donations to charitable organizations, in the tournament’s history, has now reached 1,243,772 Euros.”
The Weber tournament marketing magic continued as he admitted, “We managed to sell all the 80 VIP boxes we could sell, and 7,000 VIP tickets changed hands. We gained new global brands as sponsors. Recently, even Microsoft and EBay became involved. Furthermore, partnerships with Melitta, Dr. Oetker, Storck, Schüco and Mercedes-Benz continue to grow.”
In 2015, the Gerry Weber Open will be a week later on the tennis calendar (meaning two weeks after Roland Garros) and more importantly, it will become an ATP World Tour 500 series event. Weber said: “We’re very confident dealing with this challenge. We’re planning to expand the facilities here, including a park for families and children. We’re already in talks with sports article manufacturers and sports associations.
“Another project, in the pipeline, is the modernization and improvements to Court 1, which will be made fully accessible to television cameras. It should also receive Hawkeye technology. The capacity will be increased by 1,000, and Court 2 will increase its seating by 600-700 places.
“Even more world-class players will be invited to participate, but costs will be kept under control. With an extra million dollars in prize money, which we are going to have to put up, we have got to have enter into serious negotiations about appearance fees. I’m sure that we will have an even stronger field next year. The tournament is going to receive even more international recognition, even if it is only by the fact it will be broadcast in 120 countries.
“Furthermore, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki is going to take part in the 2015 Champions Trophy (an exhibition match played in the Gerry Weber Stadion on the Sunday before the tournament begins). Last year’s Wimbledon finalist has spent the past few days training in Halle.”
Weber concluded saying, “The 22nd Gerry Weber Open was fantastic, thrilling experience for the spectators. The atmosphere, all over the venue, was fantastic from the first to the last minute. I was really able to see the pleasure many visitors were having – pleasure in this great sport and great entertainment. Indeed, the number of spectators was exceptional with around 50,000 passing through the gates over the Whitsun weekend (Pentecost) alone. Including Sunday’s finals day, 110,700 will have paid a visit of the tournament, which is a new record. Having famous German celebrities such as Tim Bendzko, Christina Stürmer, Milow, Marlon Roudette, VoXXclub and Rea Garvey all appeared. This is just a free extra that we like to give to the spectators and it is something that nobody else provides. This is done in order to facilitate things for the fans next year, and tickets will go on sale even earlier, starting this September.”
(Federer, who was looking to duplicate his 2005 Gerry Weber Open double win came up short with Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland, losing in a dramatic doubles final to Andre Begemann of Germany and Julian Knowle of Austria, 1-6, 7-5, 1-0 (12-10).)
A new documentary, and the rekindling of Serena Williams’ tryst with 2018 US Open destiny
It’s almost a year since Serena Williams got embroiled in a war of words with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the 2018 US Open final. The subject is yet to ebb entirely from memory though. The first episode of ESPN’s new documentary series Backstory – featured on the incident involving the 23-time Grand Slam champion – does its bit to ensure that on the eve of the 2019 US Open, attention is centred on what occurred a year ago.
Titled Serena vs the Umpire, the episode is an extrapolation of the match’s progression and what transpired within it. It presents facts through the pros and cons of Williams and Ramos’, and also of Patrick Mouratoglou’s actions that charted the match. Yet, in spite of this, the program makes Williams out as the wronged one.
First, by her coach, Mouratoglou, who displayed his commitment as a mentor by using hand signals to try and guide her. Then, by Ramos who penalised her for the Frenchman’s infraction. Without heeding her vehemence that she was not a party to her coach’s decision-making. The narrative of the program puts it out that regardless of Williams’ behaviour that saw her scream and rant at the umpire and call him a liar and thief, she did not deserve to be termed as the pariah of the match.
The program’s one-sided leaning does not change the problematic aspects of Williams’ and Mouratoglou’s behaviours. Williams, in protesting her innocence about receiving (and accepting) coaching, did cross the line with her aggressiveness. There was – and is – no denying her disrespect towards the authority on the chair officiating the match. And, rationales like the momentousness of the occasion getting to her do not justify her stance at all. Rather, they hinted at her being ill-equipped to handle the scenario in what turned out be the proverbial repeating of history, at the same tournament.
Mouratoglou’s near-immediate (after the end of the match) admission that he tried to help her – and his maintaining to do so, even now – also debilitates Williams’ position. The 49-year-old’s statements about what he thought was Ramos’ inability in letting the match spiral out of bands, is a bemusing segue as well.
“Ramos’ job is also to keep the match under control. He totally lost control of the match, completely, because he reacted with emotions. And he’s not supposed to — he’s a chair umpire, he’s not a player,” Mouratoglou said. Ironically, had Ramos lashed out emotionally instead of abiding the rules, the repercussions would have been far serious for Williams for name-calling him and for continuously challenging his authority.
Mouratoglou’s comments are revealing of how the program does not consider the ramifications of that fracas for Ramos.
Since the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) rules do not permit Ramos from speaking to the media – including to ESPN for this program – the 48-year-old has been short-changed as he cannot present his point-of-view countering the acclaimed coach. Also, in the year that has almost gone by, the veteran official’s on-court calls have been scrutinised and compared with his umpiring of that match. Moreover, Ramos will not be umpiring any of Williams’ matches at Flushing Meadows in 2019. All of these are indicative of how Ramos’ professionalism has been denigrated.
Players have the right to request to not have certain umpires officiate their matches and many have done so for reasons of their own. The avoidance of the tension between such a player and umpire is undeniably a positive to come out of the move. Yet, what does it leave the umpire with, since, irrespective of how a player behaves with the official, the latter does not have the same means to put forth his officiating preference.
Speaking of preferences, proffering his concluding thoughts on the match, Mouratoglou opined, “It was horrible for us. It was horrible for Serena. It’s fantastic for tennis. It was unbelievable, that was the best moment in tennis of the past 10 years. Tennis was everywhere. You don’t have any drama in tennis. We have drama in all the other sports, but not tennis. People should be allowed to be herself and show emotion. You want passion, that’s why people watch sport. They want things to happen. They want to feel emotion, they want to root for someone, they want to be shocked, they want to be happy, they want to be sad. That’s what they want and everybody felt something that day.”
Indeed, the match prompted reactions from everybody who watched it. Nonetheless, its proceedings overshadowed the game of tennis so much so that the bigger picture was not that of the sport but that of egoism.
Janko Tipsarevic retires from tennis
Janko Tipsarevic has announced that he will retire from professional tennis at the age of 35 next November. The Belgrade native enjoyed his best seasons in 2011, when he qualified for the ATP Finals, and in 2012, when he reached the quarter final at the US Open for the second consecutive year. In 2012 he reached the quarter final or better in 14 tournaments, including the semifinal at Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Toronto.
He reached his best ranking of world number 8 in April 2012 after qualifying for the quarter final in Miami. He won four titles in his career and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australian Open.
He returned to action at the Australian Open last January after a long absence of 16 months following two harmstring surgeries. The Serbian player lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Australian Open. Later this year he reached the quarter final in Houston.
Tipsarevic is planning after the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next November.
“It has been a great 16 years. After a lot of sour searching and thinking what is important to me in this stage of my life and what does make make me happy, I have decided to retire from professional tennis. My last competition will be the Davis Cup in Madrid. In the following years my focus will be my family, franchising our Tennis Academy and International coaching for several weeks per year. Thank you for your ongoing support”, announced Tipsarevic via social media.
Cincinnati Open Final Preview: Will Kuznetsova And Medvedev Achieve Double Glory For Russia?
It’s Championship Sunday in Cincy, with two unlikely yet intriguing singles finals.
Both world No.1’s were upset on Saturday by Russian opposition, opening up a golden opportunity for today’s singles finalists. For three of the four, it’s a chance to win the biggest titles of their careers to date. And for the fourth, it’s a chance to win their biggest title in a decade.
Madison Keys (16) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (WC)
15 years ago, Kuznetsova was a teenage who shocked the tennis world by winning the US Open. Five years and three Major finals later, she’d win a second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. But recent times haven’t been as kind to Svetlana, who has struggled with injuries, coaching changes, and visa issues. As per the WTA’s Courtney Nguyen, Sveta missed the beginning of the US hard court swing due to those visa issues, and contemplated retirement with her ranking at risk of dropping outside the top 200 due to her inability to travel. But just a few weeks later, she’s into her biggest final in over two years, thanks to four victories this week over players ranked 11th or higher. But in today’s final, she faces a competitor she’s never beaten. Keys owns a 3-0 record in their head-to-head, with all three of those matches played on hard courts. Madison is yet to drop a set to Svetlana. And just like Kuznetsova, Keys has looked really strong this week. She’s been just clubbing the ball, and taking the match completely out of her opponents’ hands. But as a player who has choked in big matches before, can Madison maintain her form in this final? Based on how well she’s fought this week and made slight adjustments when needed, and with a boisterous American crowd behind her, I think Keys will be ready for this moment.
Daniil Medvedev (9) v. David Goffin (16)
After a set-and-a-half against Novak Djokovic yesterday, it appeared the world No.1 would be cruising to a straight set victory. Novak had been dominating opponents all week, and Daniil was receiving treatment on his right arm, which looked quite painful. But it seemed the 23-year-old Russian decided if he was going down, he was going down swinging. Medvedev started going for his second serves, striking some just as hard if not harder than his first serves. He’d hit a total of 16 aces in the match. That, combined with his strong ground game which suddenly wouldn’t miss, infuriated Djokovic to the point where it seemed the world No.1 just wanted off the court before the final game had even been decided. Danill is now into his third final in as many weeks, but lost in the final of his last two tournaments. His opponent today capitalized on an extremely open half of the draw. But the tennis gods definitely owe Goffin some luck after the bizarre injuries that have recently sidetracked his career. He injured his eye when a ball glanced off his racket, and injured his ankle when he slipped on the tarp at the back of the court at the French Open. These two have met twice before, with both matches occurring earlier this year. Medvedev prevailed in straight sets at the Australian Open, while Goffin outlasted Daniil 7-5 in the fifth at Wimbledon. This will be Medvedev’s 16th singles match within the past 20 days, which is a ton of tennis no matter your age or your level of fitness. And coming back less than 24 hours after a thrilling victory over the world No.1 is never easy. But against an opponent that hasn’t been playing with much confidence, and who is also vying for the biggest title of their career, I suspect Daniil will power his way to the winner’s circle again today.
Other notable matches on Sunday:
In the men’s doubles final, Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek, who were Wimbledon semifinalists.
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