Cilic - Nishikori Final at 2014 US Open Shows Rough Road Ahead for Men's Tennis - UBITENNIS
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Cilic – Nishikori Final at 2014 US Open Shows Rough Road Ahead for Men's Tennis

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TENNIS US OPEN – They figured it out a long time ago in Hollywood and just across the river from here on Broadway: You need a star. You become a hit by selling entertainment, not Shakespeare. You become a hit by putting big names on the marquee. The final of the U.S. Open Monday night didn’t have those names. What it had was Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

They figured it out a long time ago in Hollywood and just across the river from here on Broadway: You need a star. It didn’t really matter if a famous actor could act, only if he was famous.

Whether that was because of what he did on or off the screen was insignificant.

You become a hit by selling entertainment, not Shakespeare. You become a hit by putting big names on the marquee.

The final of the U.S. Open Monday night didn’t have those names. What it had was Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori.

They are talented, dedicated and successful. They aren’t much of an attraction, and they didn’t have much of a match. In only one hour and 54 minutes, Cilic crushed Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Arthur Ashe Stadium was sold out, but there were a good number of unfilled seats, with people choosing not attend when the matchup didn’t meet their standard. After all, this is New York—not Peoria, Illinois.

Sure, the match started at 5:08 p.m. ET. Sure, it was held on a Monday. Sure, the weather was cool and breezy. But you just know if Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic—or, best of all, both—had been playing, the place would have been filled.

The semifinals had the big guys, but the little guys—figuratively speaking, since Cilic is 6’5″—knocked them out. The reaction of some was, “Great.” But not from CBS-TV, which was showing the tournament one last time.

ESPN will cover the tournament starting next year.

We need new faces in tennis or golf, we’re told, but when the faces show up, the public does not—even if, in this case, most of the 24,000 seats at Ashe were sold out in advance.

A barometer for this one was the report in Bloomberg on Monday morning that a dip in secondary prices for tickets, the brokers, the scalpers “could lead to a quiet evening in the seats and among television viewership.”

That’s a kind way of saying, “If you haven’t unloaded your tickets by now, you’re going to take a bath.”

According to SeatGeek (via Newsday’s Neil Best), after Federer and Djokovic were upset in the Saturday semifinals, the price for resale tickets plummeted.

Ever check the covers of People or US Weekly, or the content of Entertainment Tonight or Inside Edition? They don’t attract attention with a story on some studio technician or production assistant. They feed us a diet of Jennifer Lawrence and George Clooney, Beyonce and Jay-Z.

A-listers make us turn the pages or pick up the remotes. Surprise finalists do not.

It’s not the fault of Cilic or Nishikori that they upset the big names. That’s sports. That’s also a possible box-office disaster.

Individual sports are the opposite of team sports, where people pull for the underdog—although they watch the games with top teams, such as Michigan, Alabama and Florida State.

Maybe someday, Cilic, who missed last year’s Open because of a drug suspension, will be as well-known as Rafa Nadal or Federer.

Cilic certainly can move a tennis ball (17 aces against Nishikori), but for the moment, he just doesn’t move the needle.

You want to know why ESPN is always showing Peyton Manning, Tony Romo or LeBron James? Because those players raise the ratings.

In team sports, at least, there’s a feeling of loyalty to the hometown 11 or the old school. It’s different for tennis and golf.

If Cilic or Nishikori were American, maybe more people other than the tennis purists would have taken note. But they’re not American, and that makes it even worse.

Federer has been so good for so long—although he’s 33 and in decline—he’s deservedly celebrated everywhere, transcending borders.

The guy in the stands and the woman in the streets want Federer to win the way they want Nadal and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to win. They don’t want to ask, “Who’s he?”

Golf’s U.S. Open in June at Pinehurst, North Carolina, had the same trouble as tennis’ U.S. Open in September: A non-American, relative non-entity—Martin Kaymer—took the trophy. Two majors for Kaymer. No excitement about Kaymer.

Cilic, at No. 16, (seeded No. 14) is the lowest-ranked man to win the Open since Pete Sampras, ranked 17th in 2002. However, Cilic and Sampras are about as far apart as Croatia (Cilic’s home country) and California (Sampras’ residence).

Pete not only is a U.S. citizen, he had already won 15 Grand Slams previously.

The Australian Open this year had a surprise champion, Stan Wawrinka. The guy he beat, however, was hardly a surprise (Nadal). Then Nadal, as scripted, won the French, beating Djokovic. The Wimbledon final matched Djokovic against Federer. So far, so good. Glamour, glitz, greatness.

Djokovic is only 27, Nadal is 28 but frequently hurt. Who knows how long Federer can play at a high level?

The days of the Big Four—let’s throw in Andy Murray—may not be over, but they are slipping away. We’re probably headed for more of the new kids, or the kids who are almost new but hardly stars.

This is problematic for men’s tennis, as the U.S. Open showed that interest wanes considerably when the four players who have defined the era exit early.

The last Grand Slam of 2014 had everything it needed, until the final act. Would it be possible to shoot the scene again with another ending?

Article from bleacherreport.com

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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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