Wimbledon 2015: Why Wawrinka is no Federer's understudy - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon 2015: Why Wawrinka is no Federer’s understudy

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TENNIS – Stan Wawrinka definitely can win Wimbledon. Why not? Roger Federer’s former understudy appears to be the best player in the current men’s game. James Beck 
Novak Djokovic still wins against almost everyone simply because he plays rope-a-dope better than anyone else. The “Flex Man” also probably moves better than almost anyone on the planet, and not just tennis players. But when Stan The Man is consistently hitting well-guided bombs with his serve and backhand, even Djokovic may not be in Wawrinka’s class. But this is grass? All the better for Wawrinka. 
STAN CONSISTENTLY OVERPOWERS OPPONENTS
Wawrinka plays with a passion. He normally shows very little emotion. He just steps up to the line and consistently  overpowers opponents. Someone with the weapons and awesome power of Marin Cilic might be able to take Wawrinka down on a perfect day such as last year’s U.S. Open triumphs. But Djokovic or Andy Murray would have to be at the top of their games to handle Wawrinka.

KYRGIOS MAY BE WAWRINKA’S BIGGEST OBSTACLE
Believe it or not, Nick Kyrgios may be Wawrinka’s biggest obstacle in the next few years as he chases a career Grand Slam. After all, Wawrinka is 30 years old, and a few years are about as long as anyone can expect Wawrinka to maintain his current level of play.
Kyrgios should be a factor in the men’s game for much of the next decade. As long as he maintains his carefree attitude in clutch situations.
But we all know that likely will change once the 20-year-old Australian becomes the Grand Slam champion he appears destined to become in the near future.
Wawrinka is a rare breed, probably because he waited so long to find his current level of success. He appears to be immune to pressure.
EVEN RAFA IS FEELING PRESSURE
Even Rafa Nadal is feeling pressure these days. At times, Rafa looks like the player who has won 14 Grand Slam titles. But the Spanish left-hand continues to flinch on the big point — the open-court forehand that sails long, the deft lob off a drop shot that somehow loses its way or the double doublefault that costs Nadal “on-serve.”
All of those happened in Nadal’s four-set loss to Dustin Brown’s school-yard approach to tennis. For the fourth straight year Nadal fell victim to the luck of the draw. Brown had just the right game to rock Nadal’s nerves and serves. But don’t blame Brown. Nadal did nothing to break Brown’s speed-centered rhythm. Instead, Nadal had no rhythem. He never changed tactics. Never made Brown think.
MAYBE MAC’S RIGHT: NADAL MIGHT NEED A REAL COACH
Perhaps, John McEnroe is right. It’s heartless and thankless, but maybe Rafa does need to find a real coach — a Boris Becker or a Stefan Edberg like. Someone who can really understand what’s happening on the court and what Nadal needs to do to avoid disaster.

And that starts with being aggressive. Nadal has to level out his strokes, go for more winners, and stop leaving serves and groundstrokes so shallow in the box.
The serve is a problem area. Too many second serves.
When Rafa was winning multiple Grand Slams in a year’s time, he could count on his serve in pressure situations. It was money in the bank.
THE BIG LOSSES TO TALL OPPONENTS
Maybe the loss to Dustin Brown was something of a fluke. But in hindsight the 2014 loss to Kyrgios may not be that big a deal, and even the 2012 loss to Lukas Rosol may be reasonable. Both Kyrgios and Rosol were, and still are, tremendously big hitters who like Brown had nothing to lose. All just blasted away with their huge serves, then stepped up inside the court to blast Nadal’s high-kicking groundstrokes for outright winners.
Those are the losses, along with the 2013 Wimbledon loss to Steve Darcis (who?), that have defined the last four years for Nadal. Never mind the fact that Nadal has won four Grand Slam titles in that time — the same number as Djokovic; and as many as Federer, Cilic and Murray combined in the last four years. Three of Nadal’s last four conquerors at Wimbledon also fit the same description as Nadal’s 2009 conqueror, Robin Soderling. Rosol, Kyrgios and Brown are all 6-4 or taller, just like Soderling.
REMEMBER 2010
So, maybe the world is being a little harsh on Rafa Nadal. The skepticism is out of line.
Nadal just turned 29 years old. Washed up? Don’t count on it. He remains as talented as anyone in the men’s game. Remember 2010? The skeptics already had written Nadal’s tennis epitaph when he won the first of three straight Grand Slams in 2010.
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James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Iga Swiatek Demolishes Aryna Sabalenka To Seal Third Rome Title

Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title after a dominant victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

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Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title by dominating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to send a big message of intent ahead of Roland Garros.

The world number one completed the Madrid and Rome double with a sensational performance.

Now Swiatek is the titleholder for the three biggest clay court titles as she will aim to defend her Roland Garros title.

The contest was a rematch from the Madrid final but this was far from the three hour contest that was produced in Spain.

Swiatek raised her level of play while Sabalenka committed way too many unforced errors throughout the contest.

The Pole broke on two occasions to wrap up a comfortable 37 minute set as her forehand was doing a lot of damage.

There was a comeback in the second set from the Australian Open champion as she produced effortless and consistent power, making the second set very competitive.

The world number one was forced to save break points as she just managed to be more stable on big moments.

A more controlled second set from Swiatek was rewarded towards the end of the set as once again Sabalenka crumbled under pressure when it mattered.

Two late breaks of serve completed the Swiatek surge as the Pole enters the second Grand Slam of the season in dominant form.

As for Sabalenka it’s a disappointing performance that she will look to put right at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros starts on the 26th of May where Swiatek is defending champion.

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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev Plays Nicolas Jarry for the Men’s Singles Championship

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Nicolas Jarry on Friday night in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

Sunday features three championship matches: the finals in men’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles.

On Sunday in Rome, Sascha Zverev will play for his first Masters 1000 title in over two years, while Nicolas Jarry will play in his first-ever final above ATP 250 level.  Zverev leads their head-to-head 4-2, but they are tied at 2-2 on clay.  Which man will walk away with the title?


Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Nicolas Jarry (21) – Not Before 5:00pm on Center Court

Zverev is 27-9 this season, and lost only one set on his way to this championship match.  That came in the semifinals against another Chilean, Alejandro Tabilo.  This is Sascha’s first ATP final since September of last year, and he’s playing for his first Masters 1000 title since 2021 in Cincinnati.  Zverev will soon go on trial in his home country of Germany, as he faces charges of domestic abuse.

Just like eventual champion Andrey Rublev in Madrid, Jarry arrived in Rome on a four-match losing streak.  And he had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at a Masters 1000 tournament, so this result is quite surprising.  But 28-year-old Jarry is a tall presence (6’7”) who thumps the ball.  As per Tennis Channel, he was averaging 89 mph on his forehand during his three-set semifinal victory over Tommy Paul.  Nico has claimed a trio of three-setters on the way to the biggest match of his career, most notably upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.

Zverev certainly has a huge edge in experience at this level, and in finals.  This is his 33rd ATP final, where he holds a record of 21-11.  And it’s his 11th Masters 1000 final, where he is 5-5.  Jarry has only previously appeared in six finals, all at 250-level, where he is 3-3.  But clay is the Chliean’s specialty, as all seven of his career finals have come on this surface.

Yet sometimes experience has a negative impact, particularly when you have suffered some painful losses.  Zverev has lost four of his last six Masters 1000 finals, and he is infamously 1-6 in Major semifinals.  So he has a lot of recent scar tissue from high-profile matches.

In that way, Jarry may benefit from a lack of experience.  While he’ll certainly be nervous on this big occasion, Nico has displayed plenty of confidence and composure against more experienced players throughout this event.  And he owns two prior victories over Zverev.  But when these two met in another final, five years ago in Geneva, Sascha saved two championship points to prevail.  That’s a result that sticks with both players throughout their rivalry.

However, I’m picking Jarry to pull off the upset and win the biggest title of his career on Sunday.  Zverev has a history of getting tight and playing more defensively in crucial moments.  Jarry’s aggressive mindset can take full advantage of such passive play.  And with so many top ATP players currently battling injuries, Zverev will likely feel a lot of pressure to win this title ahead of Roland Garros, especially as the much higher seed on this day.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (1) vs. Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic – The top seeds are playing for their sixth Masters 1000 title as a team, and own a record of 5-1 in finals at this level.  Arevalo and Pavic are vying for the first Masters 1000 title of their new partnership for 2024.  Both teams are yet to drop a set this fortnight. 

Coco Gauff and Erin Routliffe (3) vs. Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini – This is the first tournament for the team of Gauff and Routliffe, though both have won big doubles titles with other partners.  This is the biggest final to date for the Italian team of Errani and Paolini, though Errani won five WTA 1000 doubles titles alongside Roberta Vinci a decade ago, while Paolini won the WTA 1000 event in Dubai earlier this year in singles.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Criticises Gender Pay Gap And Responds To Critics Ahead Of Roland Garros

Emma Raducanu has criticised the gender pay gap in tennis as Rome’s prize money for the women’s tournament was significantly lower than the men’s tournament.

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Emma Raducanu has criticised the gender pay gap after the tournament in Rome significantly payed less to it’s female athletes than it’s main counterparts.

Although Roland Garros and the tournament in Madrid offered the same pay to the winners of both female and male competitions, the same cannot be said for Rome this week.

The winner between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka will get 250,000 Euros less than the winner of the men’s final between Alexander Zverev and Nicolas Jarry.

It’s a statistic that is damning on the sport and Emma Raducanu has criticised the figure as she states that the women’s game is technically better than the men’s game, “A lot of women’s players are technically better,” Raducanu told The Times.

“They rely on speed, agility and brain rather than brute strength. The prize money gap is huge on the ATP tour, which I don’t necessarily think is fair, but equally playing three sets in the slams is a lot better than the men’s five, which is brutal.”

Meanwhile as for Raducanu, the Brit is preparing for Roland Garros qualifying next week as she missed out on a wildcard into the main draw.

Despite Raducanu’s gradual improvement over the last few weeks the trolls on social media have failed to go away as the former US Open champion continues her commercial commitments.

Speaking out on the critics Raducanu stated that they don’t see the work of an athlete behind the scenes, “There are those who see me doing a shoot or posing for a commercial and they don’t see the seven hours before that at the training centre, doing physio, gym, hitting balls,” Raducanu explained.

“But if on a rare evening I go to a premiere and I get photographed, that’s my downtime.”

Next week’s appearance in Paris will only be Raducanu’s second Roland Garros having reached the second round two years ago.

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