Atp Finals: 3 Spots Up For Grabs In A Hot Autumn Of Tennis - UBITENNIS
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Atp Finals: 3 Spots Up For Grabs In A Hot Autumn Of Tennis

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TENNIS – The race for the ATP Finals is really heating up. Three players Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have already booked their berth for the end-of-season ATP Finals. Wawrinka is currently fourth in the ATP Ranking and can already plan in advance his second consecutive travel to the British capital. The other surprising Grand Slam champion Marin Cilic, has almost secured his ticket to London. The three remaining spots for the great season-finale are up for grabs. The race is wide open. Diego Sampaolo

It will be a hot autumn for tennis fans, as the race for London will be decided in the tournaments starting from the Asian Swing.

The Asian Swing starts this week with two ATP 250 Tournaments in Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen. Next week features two ATP 500 in Beijing and Tokyo, followed by the Master 1000 in Shanghai. China will host tournaments in all three categories (250, 500 and Master 1000). After the Asian Swing the circuit will return to Europe with a series of Indoor tournaments (Stockholm, Vienna, Moscow, Valencia, Basel) before the last Master 1000 Tournament in Paris Bercy.

Kei Nishikori starts his Asian campaign this week in Kuala Lumpur in search for points for the ATP Finals after his first Grand Slam final at the US Open. It will be his fourth appearance in the Malaysian Open. Nishikori is also planning to play in Tokyo and Shanghai. The Florida-based player will be bidding to become the first Asian player in history to qualify for the ATP Finals. Nishikori has made a real breakthrough this year reaching his first Master 1000 final in Madrid (where he came close to beating Nadal but had to surrender to injury problems on his back). The Japanese player has reached his first ever Grand Slam final after overcoming very tough and long battles against Milos Raonic after a marathon five-set match in the fourth round that lasted until 2.30 in the night, Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final and Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. The question is to see how the injury-prone player has recovered from these efforts.

World Number 6 Nishikori leads the field at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur where he will face Number 13 Ernests Gulbis, who won in Marseille and Nice and reached the semifinal in the Roland Garros and is just one match-win away from equalling his career best after winning 36 matches this year.

The Malaysian Open will also feature Joao Sousa who won this tournament last year after saving a match point against Julien Benneteau. Sousa finished runner-up this year in Bastad last July and in Metz last week where he lost against David Goffin.

Andy Murray has received a wild-card to play in Shenzhen this week and Beijing next week to look for points to stand a chance to qualify for London. The Scotsman will be looking to win his first tournament of the year in Shenzhen against a strong field featuring against David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet and Tommy Robredo.

It was a season of ups and downs for Murray following a back injury and his change to coach Amelie Mauresmo. Murray has accepted a late wild-card to play in Shenzhen and a win in the Chinese tournament could boost his confidence for the final part of the year after dropping to World Number 11 in the ATP Ranking. Ironically he reached his best result of this season on his less favourite clay surface at the Roland Garros where he qualified for the semifinal after two five-set matches against Phillip Kohlschreiber in the third round and in the quarter final against Gael Monfils. He reached the third round at the Queen’s and the quarter final at Wimbledon where he lost to Grigor Dimitrov. He reached three quarter finals in Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open

Murray is looking to lift his first title since his Wimbledon triumph in 2013. He is currently ranked 11th with 3155 points, 355 points behind Tomas Berdych who is currently ranked eighth with 3510. In 2011 Murray won three tournaments in a row in the Asian Swing in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai.

“I want to try and get some energy and get the winning feeling feeling back. That was the reason why I added this tournament to my schedule. You have to try and approach these tournaments wanting to win the event. I managed to do that once before a few years ago in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai when I played three of the best weeks that I have ever played. I am not expecting to do that this time but I am going to try”, said Murray.

Murray has played well in the Chinese tournaments in the most recent years. In Shanghai he won two titles in 2010 and 2011 and lost against Novak Djokovic in 2012 after a fantastic final in which the Serbian player saved five match points in a second-set tie-break. At Flushing Meadows he lost to Novak Djokovic after beating Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the fourth round.

In the second week of the Asian Swing Murray will face a star-studded field at the China Open in Beijing which features Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal who makes his come-back from a wrist injury which has sidelined from the North-American hard-court season, US Open champion Marin Cilic and two strong contenders for ATP Finals points like Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov.

Djokovic will be looking to win his third consecutive title in the Chinese capital where he triumphed four times in the last five years.

On the same week as Beijing, the calender features another ATP 500 Tournament in Tokyo where Nishikori will be looking to win his second title in the home tournament in front of his home fans. The player coached by Michael Chang and Dante Bottini will face a very tough task against David Ferrer, Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka. The Tokyo tournament has been won by different players every single year since 1996 when Pete Sampras clinch his third title in the Japanese capital.

The third week of the Asian Swing will be highlighted by the Shanghai Master 1000 where Novak Djokovic won the last two editions in 2012 against Andy Murray and in 2013 against Juan Martin Del Potro. Federer will return to the court three weeks after leading Switzerland to the historic second Davis Cup final against Italy in Geneva. Federer said after Geneva that his two major goals for the end of the year are the Davis Cup final against France in Lille and the ATP Finals in London. The goal to win the first Davis Cup title in Swiss history could change his plans for the end of the year

Who are the favourite players to book a ticket for the O2 Arena? Nishikori is currently ranked sixth in the ATP Ranking with 3675 points with a slight lead over David Ferrer (3535), Tomas Berdych (3510 points), Milos Raonic (3440 points), Grigor Dimitrov (3335 points) and Andy Murray (3155 points) in what promises to be a close battle for just three berths for the ATP Finals in London.

Tomas Berdych is not in his best form as he showed last week in the Davis Cup semifinal in Paris against France where he lost in three sets against Richard Gasquet in what he described as “his worst Davis Cup match”.

David Ferrer lost the Cincinnati final against Federer but lost in the third round against Giles Simon in the US Open but he is an experienced player at this level and has still chances to qualify for London. The Spanish player will be trying to win for the fifth consecutive year and the sixth overall. He won in Buenos Aires earlier this year against Fabio Fognini and has clinched at least one title every year since 2010.

Grigor Dimitrov, a quarter finalist at the Australian Open and a semifinalist at Rome and Wimbledon, has still a good chance to qualify for his first ATP Finals. More recently he lost the semifinal against eventual winner Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the semifinal in Toronto but he lost in the second round against Jerzy Janowicz. At the US Open he lost against Gael Monfils in three close sets.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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