ATP Champions Tour: Ivanisevic wins, McEnroe steals the show - UBITENNIS
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ATP Champions Tour: Ivanisevic wins, McEnroe steals the show

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TENNIS ATP CHAMPIONS TOUR – Goran Ivanisevic beat Ivan Lendl in the final of the “Grande Sfida”, the Italian leg of the ATP Champions Tour held on two days of fantastic tennis in Genoa and Milan in front of enthusiastic crowd who came in great numbers to cheer four legends. John McEnroe beat Michael Chang 6-3 6-3 in the final for third and fourth place stealing the show when he entertained the crowd with some spectacular shots. From Milan, Diego Sampaolo

The ATP Champions Tour made its return to Italy after six years and it lived up to the expectations of the fans who filled the 105 Stadium in Genoa on Friday evening and the Assago Forum in Milan creating a magic atmosphere. The two days attracted a total of 13000 spectators. Even the four stars John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang were surprised by the huge support from the crowd. The first evening at the 105 Stadium in Genoa attracted 5000 enthusiastic spectators on an emotional evening which followed a tragic week in which the city was hit by a devastating flood.

On Friday Ivanisevic, Wimbledon champion in 2001, beat McEnroe 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in the first semifinal. In this match the Croatian player showed his powerful serve, his favourite weapon which made him the second player in the world. Ivan Lendl won in straight sets over Michael Chang in a “re-match” of the famous fourth round clash of the 1989 Roland Garros where the then 17-year-old Chang won a epic five-set match and went on to clinch his first Grand Slam title beating Stefan Edberg in the final.

McEnroe was the most cheered player by the 8500 spectators who packed the Assago Forum during the presentation of the four players before the matches. “Super Mac” showed some spectacular shots which made him so famous in the Eighties when he won seven Grand Slams and 77 ATP titles. After a very long sixth and spectacular game in which McEnroe saved a break point at 2-3, the 55-year-old player broke serve in the seventh game for 4-3 with a fantastic forehand passing shot en route to winning the first set. McEnroe got another break in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead before holding serve in the next game. He wrapped up the match with 6-3.

In the final for first and second place Lendl went to the lead with 4-3 in the first set but Ivanisevic won five consecutive games en route to leading 6-4 2-0 at the start of the second set with a series of big serves and took control of the match and clinched the second set with 6-4. Forty-three year-old Ivanisevic is still able to hit his serves at 220 km/h !

The four stars received the awards from Italian tennis Ambassadors Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli during the award ceremony.

Apart from the results the Grande Sfida was a huge success with many families and children in the stands to support the four legends.

Goran Ivanisevic by Diego Sampaolo

Goran Ivanisevic by Diego Sampaolo

“I was surprised to see so many people this weekend in Genoa and Milan. There were more spectators today than in 1997 when I beat Sergi Bruguera in the ATP Tournament in Milan! People have missed tennis for a long time. It was really special to play in front of such amazing crowd. I have a special relationship to Italy and Milan. I love going shopping and I enjoy Italian food. The surface was very fast. I could have played at the same level with Marin Cilic for one set on this fast court. The win at Wimbledon in 2001 has changed my life. I could have won more Grand Slams but I am proud of my career”, said Ivanisevic.

McEnroe returned to Milan after so many years but he was still the most popular player among spectators who admired him when then they were children in the Eighties.

John McEnroe by Diego Sampaolo

John McEnroe by Diego Sampaolo

“I have made a lot of history in Milan. It’s great to be back. The crowd was fantastic. They made me feel special. I am old and grey but it was a special weekend for me. I have a lot of good memories in Italy. I played here against Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis in 1978 during some exhibition matches. I love the food. This city is one of the best places where I have been playing for a long time. I definitely want to come back. It’s pretty good to be loved by young people.”

The US tennis legend paid tribute to his big rival Ivan Lendl during the post-match press conference for his decision to leave his native city Ostrava and become US citizen. “Ivan took a tough decision to walk away from his family and live in the USA. I give credit to him”, said McEnroe.

Lendl also made his return to Milan where he played at the start of his career at the Bonfiglio and Avvenire Tournaments. He won three editions of the Milan Indoor Tournament.

“A lot of people watched me and John when they were kids and they still want to watch us.I played so many times in Milan and I enjoyed to come back here. I played my first ever five-set match at the Bonfiglio Tournament”

Asked what he felt playing for the USA and not for his native Czechoslovakia, Lendl said: “I have the double citizenship. There are so many people who live in a different place from where they were born. I still enjoy going back to my native town and to recognize the place where I was used to practice at the start of my career”, said Lendl

Chang remembered his past years as professional player and talked about his life after the end of his career during the post match press conference.

“I was part of a special generation of players like Pete Sampras and André Agassi. I had the opportunity to play with different generations and I am looking forward to have more opportunities to play tennis. I got married to a wonderful wife in 2008. I have two beautiful girls. I also work with my Foundation”, said Chang

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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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