Rafael Nadal maneuvers himself past a challenging Diego Schwartzman - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal maneuvers himself past a challenging Diego Schwartzman

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Rafael Nadal (image via USA Today)

September 2nd 2015,
By MJ

Under the summer heat at day 3 of the US Open, Nadal’s 2nd round match was against the 23 year old Argentinean. Their previous meeting Nadal won easily 6-2 6-2. Today Nadal did not have as smooth a day as the 9-time French Open champion overcame a series of difficulties to beat the world number 74, 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5.

Schwartzman was aggressive from the very start, moving Nadal around side to side before going down the line to win points. On his own first service game however, he played nervous and immediately gifted Nadal the break to go up 2-0. For his part, the lefty Spanaird was quite sluggish himself throughout the match, hitting the slice a lot more on the backhand side as he tried to ease himself into the zone. He was able to hit his heavy topspin forehand forcing Schwartzman to take every ball early. With his 5′ 7″ stature, it often meant making contact around shoulder height for the underdog. He was able to maintain his timing despite such difficulty. In the long rallies, he actually prevailed in the majority with an unforced error from Nadal. Therein was the issue however. For every break point he fought so hard to earn, Schwartzman was unable to convert. As Nadal held his service games, the set seemed over at 5-2. Then the inexplicable happened.

Almost in the blink of an eye, Nadal found his nervous self to get the better of him, and soon it was level at 5-5. Despite missing a couple routine forehands, he managed to hold at love to go up 6-5. The unforced errors continued to pile up, however, and thus the set went to tiebreak. With a bunch of close points, Nadal finally was a gifted set point off a missed volley from Schwartzman, who berated himself more and more between points. Nadal took quick advantage with a big forehand winner to secure the first set 7-6 (5), but it certainly could have gone either way. As the year’s results have established already, the 14 time Grand Slam Champion has yet to discover his old form.

At the beginning of the 2nd set, Schwartzman stuck to the game plan and stayed aggressive, breaking for an early 2-0 lead. This became a true test for Nadal, who also experienced similar struggles in his first round match against Coric. He chose to rise to the occasion, however, and takes the 2nd set 6-3. Again, the score was a lot closer than it indicated. In most of the rallies Schwartzman showed his defiance by staying close to the baseline and timing the ball well, often leaping to hit his groundstrokes as the ball kicked up.

By the beginning of the third set, the sun had started to set, and so the chances of an upset as well. Unbeknowst to the Argetinean, Nadal has a perfect record when up 2 sets to none at Grand Slam events. Not before some hitches however. In the 5th game, Nadal fought back from 0-30 to even it at 30-30, but Schwartzman stayed his aggressive course and made a service return winner for yet another break point. This time, Nadal pushed his forehand long to squander the game, and the lead. It was then he chose to get to work, and soon Schwartzman was down 4-5 serving to stay in the match. He held to level the set at 5-5, a deja vu from 2 sets ago. The inverse relationship of his first serve percentage and Nadal’s first serve speed proved to be the deciding factor in this set: Nadal went for bigger and bigger, with a few serves in the 120 mph range while Diego struggled to win points off his own serve. Nadal comes away with a straight set win, or escaped rather. For his next match, the escape may prove to be even tougher against Fabio Fognini, which remains to be seen. Vamos!

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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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