Stan Wawrinka's Too Close for Comfort encounter - UBITENNIS
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Stan Wawrinka’s Too Close for Comfort encounter

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Stan Wawrinka

September 4th 2015
By Jillian Wright

At noon local time today around the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, there were easily dozens of matches spread out for one to enjoy. One could have easily walked past Louis Armstrong Stadium where Wawrinka was just warming up for this match against the up and comer Hyeon Chung in pursuit of a less lopsided match. As it turned out however, it was anything but lopsided as one may have expected. Wawrinka emerged in straight sets to victory (7-6, 7-6, 7-6), but it was a very hard battle that demonstrated the level of competition the players face at the year’s final Grand Slam.

Hyeon Chung hails from South Korea, and at 19 years of age had just turned pro last year. He is already ranked #69, yet has stayed relatively unknown on tour. The way the match unfolded, it was obvious the young Korean had yet to register on the Swiss’s radar as well until today. They both wore blue for their match, and it would be easy to mistakenly assume the similarities ended there. For Chung, without the sort of fancy endorsements afforded to Grand Slam Champions,  was using a discontinued Dunlop M 3.0 racket without stencil. But he pushed the #5 seed to the brink over and over again in a very tense 2nd round match.

From the very first ball Chung was hitting big right away going for his shots, which Stan responded in kind.  One quickly saw why the underdog has risen so high in the rankings after just a year on tour, as he showed good anticipation, quick footwork, and early preparation on both wings to hit with pace. The man from Switzerland was unfazed however, and quickly broke for a 2-0 lead. Unable to put Stan’s big serving in play, Chung quickly fell behind 0-3. It looked like a routine match at this point for the fairly empty stadium in Armstrong, which boasts a very intimate atmosphere.

Not to be discouraged, Chung continued to pound his groundstrokes, and managed to get on the scoreboard. Then, just like that, Wawrinka sprayed a forehand out of the air easily 10 ft out, and then committed another unforced error to give back the break. It became evident that the Swiss was playing tight with plenty of nerves, as Chung continued to play his high risk low percentage game, which paid off when Stan floated a slice long to level at 3-3. In the next game, Chung held onto the momentum by securing his first break point chance, but a forehand clips the net and landed out to give Stan the hold. With the set back on serve, Wawrinka began to play very odd, taking all pace off with sliced shots off both wings, and it looked like he was changing the game plan to throw off his opponent’s rhythm. Chung remained unfazed, and holds easily. Scraping the new tactic, Stan immediately goes back to hitting big on his service game which pushed Chung way back from the baseline. Even then, he had to serve 3 straight aces just to hold. Although Chung was consistently hitting 2nd serves, Stan never sought to capitalize on the Korean’s weakest point, instead choosing to slice the return.  He then allowed the first ace from Chung to take the set to a tiebreak.

The buzz was beginning to fill the air around the grounds at this point. Trying to assert himself, Stan finally started to play pro actively, much like Chung had been doing all match. When it came to both guys crushing the ball, the distinction was revealed: the younger player lacked the consistency of his elders. Chung began to miss his high risk shots, one down the line followed by yet another backhand into the net to give Stan the set.

The 2nd set Stan continued to show signs of nerves, and gave Chung the early break for 2-0, then 3-0. Struggling to hold, Stan saved a handful of break points to make it 3-1. His body language remained very negative, and combined with sluggish footwork Chung found himself up 4-1. It wasn’t until the 7th game during a long backhand exchange that seemed to wake up the Swiss back into the match, and he converted the break point at 0-40 to 3-4. It was back on serve. At 5-5 however, Stan squandered another break point chance and was forced to hold serve for another tiebreak. Once again, Chung kept to the game plan with big hitting and risky play, which was perfect against the frustrated and unmotivated Swiss, but the lack of execution secured the bow on the gift box to Stan once more.

The 3rd set saw the stadium packed now, as many wanted to witness the inspired play opposite the bottled frustration for the last 2 hours. In the 2nd game, Stan missed a break point chance and showed his growing frustration by tossing the racket. The negative body language continued, as Stan remained passive staying far behind the baseline even on 2nd serve returns, content to slice it back down the middle. Here both players seemed to feel the weight of the match, trading rally balls crosscourt back and forth and kept games on serve. This went on for 9 whole games, especially for Stan who looked like he was merely going through the motions. (It is fair to point out that he could hit one hand backhands in his sleep). Finally at 6-5 Chung’s forehand clips the net which lured Stan out of his sleep to the net, and he earned match point.  Chung refused to go away quietly, and woke up as well, saving break points to take it to yet another tiebreak. The two then chose to gift each other mini breaks. At 5-6, ad side, Stan gathered the courage he needed all match, and hit a massive kicker out wide to stay in the set. He followed it up with a forehand winner down the line for match point. This time, he secured the set, and the win. It was, as anyone watching would conclude easily, too close for comfort.

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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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