Gerry Weber Open: Practice, Practice! - UBITENNIS
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Gerry Weber Open: Practice, Practice!

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TENNIS GERRY WEBER OPEN – When Roger Federer and his good friend from Basel, Marco Chiudinelli received a doubles Walk Over from Martin Emmrich of Germany and Andreas Seppi of Italy, who became ill. “Practice” took on a special meaning as Federer and Chiudinelli took the time to entertain “Ladies Day” fans. From Halle, Mark Winters

 

Almost every National Basketball Association (NBA) fan knows about Allen Iverson’s one-of-a-kind ability. He was, for a player alleged to be six feet tall, but who seemed to be closer to five feet, ten inches in height, a prolific scorer. He won the scoring title four times, was the Most Valuable Player in 2001, and has been rated the fifth greatest shooting guard of all-time. He had a fashion sense that turned “baggy” clothes into a “cool” look. But, for many, Iverson is best known for his U-Tube popularized rant, following his team’s (the Philadelphia 76ers) early loss in the 2001-02 NBA play-offs. He pointed out that he was the 76ers “franchise player”, yet he was being criticized for missing “practice…” In his epic soliloquy, he used the word “practice” more than twenty times.

Today, at the Gerry Weber Open, (though Iverson was not in Halle, Germany), the afternoon was all about “Practice.” Roger Federer and his good friend from Basel, Marco Chiudinelli were supposed to play doubles against Martin Emmrich of Germany and Andreas Seppi of Italy. Unfortunately, for the fans hoping to see the No. 2 singles seed, Federer’s first tournament match, Seppi became ill, which gave the Swiss tandem a Walk Over.

Gerry, the tournament founder, and his son, Ralf, the Tournament Director, have not made their event so successful by not being intuitively flexible. Federer has a lifetime contract with the tournament, and an understanding of the game beyond merely hitting winners. Rather than leave Court 1 empty for a period or move the Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Robert Linstedt of Sweden, the top seeded doubles team’s contest with Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei and Oliver Marach of Austria, which was scheduled not before 3:00 p.m. Federer suggested that a public “practice” session take place.

As readers can imagine, every one of the 4,500 court seats (and more) were filled to watch Federer and Chiudinelli practice.

Having written about the game for a quite some time, I had to reach deep into my memory to find remember such a stands-filled practice session. Federer, of course, is magic when it comes to drawing appreciative fans, and I recalled clogged aisles at the All England Lawn Tennis Club when he practiced on the revered lawns. In the days, when he was a perpetual Wimbledon semifinalist, Tim Henman was “Our Tim” and crowds flock to his practice sessions, as they do to those of current Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray.

But, this was no ordinary practice. Annually at the Gerry Weber Open, Wednesday is “Ladies Day”, which meant that the grounds, at the tournament facility, were teeming with ladies anxious to see tennis and even more ready to watch Federer go through an entertaining practice. Taking full advantage of the years they have spent on the court together, Federer and Chiudinelli put on a practice session that was choreographed to perfection.

Roger Federer Photo GERRY WEBER OPEN (Halle in Westphalia_Germany) by Mark Winters

Roger Federer Photo GERRY WEBER OPEN (Halle in Westphalia_Germany) by Mark Winters

The spectators loved it. Even more meaningful, they left with a better understanding of what is involved in hitting tennis balls and the talent that it takes to do so on with professional skill.

Roger Federer and Marco Chiudinelli deserve kudos. But, the former once again proved why he is so unique by even proposing the “practice”. It is one that turned what could have been a disaster into a memorable experience for Gerry Weber Open tennis fans.

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Mikael Ymer overcomes Richard Gasquet to advance to the second round in Marseille

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Swedish 21-year-old Next Gen player Mikael Ymer edged past Richard Gasquet 6-3 3-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach the second round at the Open 13 in Marseille.

 

Ymer fended off 7 of the 10  break points he faced and broke serve in the third match point in a marathon third game setting up a second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ymer raced out to a 4-0 lead with two consecutive breaks. Gasquet pulled back one break in the seventh game to close the gap to 2-5, but Ymer served out the first set in the ninth game with an ace.

Ymer saved three break points in the sixth game, but Gasquet earned the break on his third chance in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3.

Ymer got an early break in the second game of the third set to open up a 3-0 lead. Gasquet broke back in the ninth game and held serve to draw level to 5-5. Ymer converted his third break point at deuce to seal the third set 7-5 in the 12th game.

Benoit Paire beat Gregoire Barrere 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in the all-French match. Paire earned his only break of the match in the third game of the opening set. He saved two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break, where Paire cruised through to a 7-1 win.

Ilya Ivashka overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-1 3-6 6-4. Ivashka broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Popyrin earned one break in the fourth game to clinch the second set 6-3. Popyrin got an early break at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Ivashka broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players went on serve until the 10th game when Ivashka sealed the win with a break.

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Alexander Zverev Going In The Right Direction, Says Becker

The German tennis legend gives his verdict on Zverev’s current form following his grand slam breakthrough.

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Former world No.1 Boris Becker believes Alexander Zverev’s recent run at the Australian Open was confirmation that he belongs at the top of men’s tennis.

 

Last month the 22-year-old achieved his best ever grand slam performance by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne Park before losing to Dominic Thiem. At the tournament he scored wins over Andrey Rublev, who won two consecutive titles prior to the event, and former champion Stan Wawrinka. Zverev has been tipped as a future world No.1 in recent years and remains the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three or more Masters trophies. Although he has previously struggled to shine in the biggest events of the sport.

“Alexander Zverev has made a great step forward with his first participation in a grand slam semi-final.” Becker told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. “Although he had difficult weeks before, for which there were reasons.”

At the start of the year it looked as if the world No.7 was in trouble. At the ATP Cup he lost all three of his matches played. A performance Becker blames on his off-season training. During November and December Zverev played a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer across South America and China.

“He didn’t train enough during the winter break and came to Brisbane unprepared.” He said.
“We exchanged some serious words off the court and he took them to heart.’
“Of course I’m happy he had such success. This is also a confirmation for him that he belongs at the top of the world (in tennis).”
“But the competitors never sleep, that’s a never ending story. He has to confirm this again and again.”

So far in his career, Zverev has won 11 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as third in the world. His biggest triumph occurred towards the end of 2018 when he won the ATP Finals in London.

Reflecting on his Melbourne run last month, Zverev believes he managed to achieve the milestone thanks to a new approach he took to the event. Instead of looking at the whole tournament, he narrowed his focus to match-by-match.

“I went here in a different way. I went match by match. Didn’t look very far. I just knew I had opponents in front of me. I had to play well to beat them. That was it.” He said last month. “Whenever I won, I’d sit down in the locker room and somebody told me who I’m playing next.’
“I went step by step, match by match. Usually I [haven’t done] that in Grand Slams.”

Zverev will return to action next week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. A tournament where he finished runner-up 12 months ago. Becker believes his compatriot could do some damage on the hard courts over the coming weeks with two prestigious North American events taking place next month in Indian Wells and Miami.

“The next tournaments are on hard courts in America. He will play there as well. There he can take a lot of points.” Becker concluded.

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New York Open Sunday Recap: Kyle Edmund Wins His Second Career ATP Title

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Kyle Edmund raising the trophy at the New York Open (newyorkopen.com)

And in an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, runner-up Andreas Seppi of Italy reveals he is pulling out of Delray Beach next week due to an injury suffered in the final.

 

In Sunday’s championship match, neither player faced a break point until 6-5 in the first set.  In that twelfth game, Seppi struggled to make first serves, with Edmund hitting winners off both sides to break and secure the first set 7-5.

Kyle would break again to open the second, as Seppi played another loose game with neutral ball errors and a double fault. Up a set and a break, Edmund began to swing freely. Despite that, Seppi was able to survive a barrage of Edmund groundstroke winners to save multiple break points at 0-3. Edmund would then hold at love to make it 4-1, when Seppi left the court for a medical timeout. When Andreas returned, Edmund broke again by outlasting Seppi in the longest rally of the match. Kyle then closed out the match 7-5, 6-1 to win the second ATP title of his career.

When I spoke with Andreas after the match, he told me he felt something in his left hamstring as he was running for a drop shot in the fifth game of the second set.  Seppi shared he will be skipping the Delray Beach event next week due to the injury, and will head home a week earlier than expected to rest and await the arrival of his first child.

“I just felt like I could really never put him under pressure today,” Seppi told me, when asked about how difficult it was to get into Edmund’s service games.

Edmund had a great serving day, striking 11 aces and facing no break points.  He won 94% of first serve points in the match (31/33), against a player in Seppi who had won 36% of his return games this week prior to today’s final.  I asked Kyle about how crucial his serving was in Sunday’s victory.

“When I got my first serve in I lost a couple points on it, so it really worked well for me. When you get that first strike in- I mean that big first serve in- when I can get on my forehand, that’s where I want to be, and I was winning a lot of points like that this week,” said Edmund.

Kyle also spoke about how important this title is to him.

“When you’re young and training, or playing tennis, these are the sort of things you imagine: wanting to win professional titles,” said Edmund.

In the doubles final, Dominic Inglot and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi won their first title as a team, defeating Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson 7-6(5), 7-6(6). Inglot and Qureshi initially served for the championship at 5-4 in the second, yet failed to close out the match. In the eventual second set tiebreak, Johnson narrowly missed a forehand down the line at 6-6. On the next point, an unreturned Inglot serve ended the American team’s quest for a title on home soil. Inglot and Qureshi were also finalists last week in Montpellier.

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