US Open: How the players rated in the men's competition - UBITENNIS
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US Open: How the players rated in the men's competition

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TENNIS US OPEN – Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori have been the best two players at this tournament. Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fabio Fognini were the biggest disappointments. Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem the two surprises, for different reasons, that didn’t reach the final.

It has been a strange US Open in the men’s singles event. For the first week there were hardly any surprises and many thought that we were headed for a Djokovic Federer final with little excitement before the final. In the second week though, the tournament came alive with captivating matches, upsets and an unexpected finish. Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori are the players of the tournament as well as the two biggest surprises, but they weren’t the only ones to impress. Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem also left their mark in the tournament. On the other hand there were a few disappointments like the French duo Gasquet Tsonga and the Italian Fabio Fognini. (Marks out of 10)

Marin Cilic 10 – The Goran Ivanisevic effect has been great on Cilic and it showed. The mild mannered Croat played a sensational tournament. The quality of his tennis increased as the tournament progressed as did his confidence in his abilities. The highlight of his tournament must be the thrashing of Federer in the semifinal. Cilic had never beaten the Swiss before, making the semifinal win even more impressive. Federer was reduced to the role of spectator as Cilic powered his way into the final in 3 quick sets. The difficult part starts now for the Croat, he will have to handle the extra fame and expectations, but there is time for that.

Kei Nishikori by Art Seitz

Kei Nishikori by Art Seitz

Kei Nishikori 9 – The Japanese player earned one point less than his rival because he didn’t win the final. Nishikori’s main regret must be that he failed to leave his mark on the final, but he played a fantastic tournament considering that he didn’t know whether he was going to travel to Flushing Meadows at all becuse of a foot injury. Luckily he decided to play. In the tournament he defeated three top 10 players, Raonic, Wawrinka and Djokovic before the final that he played with an empty tank of energy. Once the disappointment for the lost final has gone he will look back on an amazing couple of weeks that may have changed his career.

Novak Djokovic 7 – It was obvious that the World Number One wasn’t focussed on tennis, but marriage and a baby on the way are excellent excuses not to be focussed 100% on tennis. The two Master 1000 tournaments played, badly, before the US Open were a warning sign, but he played well during the opening rounds of the Major until he met Nishikori in the semifinals.

Roger Federer by Ray Giubilo

Roger Federer by Ray Giubilo

Roger Federer 6.5 – He gets half a point less than Nole as he already has a wife and kids (four) and he should be used to it by now. The comeback against Monfils was spectacular but it deprived him of the energy to counter Cilic’s onslaught in the semis. Another chance to win a Major title gone for Federer.

Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka 6 – It was a mediocre couple of weeks for both as they never managed to play their best tennis, but they did lose to the finalists. I expected better tennis from them even if their result wasn’t that bad.

Milos Raonic by Art Seitz

Milos Raonic by Art Seitz

Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov 5.5 – For quite some time now these two were considered to be the players most likely to unseat the current top players, but they were beaten to it. They both made it to the last 16 but it is fair to expect more from them. Hopefully watching Cilic and Nishikori inspired them to do better next time round.

Andy Murray 6 – The Olympic Champion is still far from the player capable of winning the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon the following year. The recovery from his back surgery is taking longer than expected, but initially the Scot didn’t think he would also have to replace Lendl as coach. The win against Tsonga and the first couple of sets played against Djokovic should encourage him even if he is now out of the top 10.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 5 – The win at the Rogers Cup raised hopes and expectations for the French player. Before the Toronto tournament, JWT had a poor season and hopes were that the Canadian event was the start of a better end of season, but it didn’t happen. He never really clicked and was easily beaten by Murray

Gael Monfils by Art Seitz

Gael Monfils by Art Seitz

Gael Monfils 8 – There is something in New York that inspires Monfils. In this event he was able to play good tennis, entertain and enjoy himself. He defeated Gasquet, Dimitrov and came close to ending Federer0s tournament. It’s a shame he only plays like this occasionally.

Dominic Thiem 8 – This was the US Open of the new generation also because of the Austrian’s performance. The 21 year old was playing in his first US Open (fourth slam). He reached the fourth round defeating his friend Gulbis and the experienced Feliciano Lopez on the way. His run was ended by Berdych, but hopefully he saw the two finalists as examples of how to grow and improve.

Nick Kyrgios 7 – Another positive tournament for the Australian. At Wimbledon he beat Nadal and started to get noticed by the general public and in New York he showed more of his talent. He shouldn’t be a one hit wonder and has the potential to become a very good player.

Andreas Seppi vs Nick Kyrgios by Art Seitz

Andreas Seppi vs Nick Kyrgios by Art Seitz

Richard Gasquet 3 – A year ago he was in the semifinals, a result that allowed him to qualify for the end of year Masters in London. A year later he looks lost. The separation from his coach Riccardo Piatti has hit him hard and he now looks confused as to how to play. Injuries don’t help, but he should be doing better with the talent he has at his disposal.

Fabio Fognini 2 – No offence to Adrian Mannarino, but a player of Fabio’s talent should not lose against the Frenchman, especially in a tournament like the US Open. What makes t worse is the manner of the defeat. Once the Italian fell behind in the score he didn’t fight back, but he started to pick fights with everyone as usual.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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