Tomas Berdych overcomes tests both on and off the court to reach the Shenzhen final - UBITENNIS
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Tomas Berdych overcomes tests both on and off the court to reach the Shenzhen final

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Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych moved to one match away from his first title this year after defeating Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-4, at a rain-plagued Shenzhen Open.

Earlier this year the world No.5 annihilated the Spaniard in Cincinnati by taking the match 6-1, 6-0. Their Chinese encounter seemed destined for a similar outcome as the Czech impressively won 74% (26/35)  of the total points played during the first set. Robredo could only win 38% of his service points compared to Berdych’s 84%. As the top seed overwhelmed the world No.30, he cruised to take the first set after twenty-one minutes.

The opening set dominance by Berdych was wiped away during the first part of the second set  as Robredo regained his service consistency. With both players holding their service, Robredo had his first break point chance whilst leading 3-2. During the long game, which consisted of four deuces, Robredo had two chances to break to move ahead 4-2 but failed to convert. The failure enabled Berdych to keep the set on serve at 3-3 before the rain started.

Throughout the week Robredo has been experiencing problems with his wrist, but the issue didn’t appear significant as the players finally returned to the court after an extensive rain delay. Berdych took the early initiative by breaking straight away to lead 4-3. Robredo tried to respond in the following game, but fell short, squandering two break point chances. The match continued on serve with Berdych firing an ace down the line to reach his fourth final this year.

Awaiting Berdych in the final will be another Spanish player, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The 32-year-old upset second seed Marin Cilic, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. As the match got underway, the 2014 US Open champion went off guns-blazing by breaking Garcia-Lopez two consecutive times to cruise to a 5-0 lead. The world No.29 finally got himself onto the scoreboard in the sixth game but it was too late the Cilic took the first set after twenty-four minutes.

Garcia-Lopez has beaten Cilic earlier this year in the second round of the Rome Masters. Despite the first set dominance by Cilic, the Spaniard was finally able to find his game on the court as he broke the Croat serve to lead 3-0 in the second set. The lead was squandered a couple games later as Cilic retrieved the early break to level the set at 4-4, thanks to the help of three break points. The set was one point away from going into a tie-breaker before Garcia-Lopez edged himself to a set point opportunity whilst the Croat was serving 5-6. As the clouds began to darken, he successfully converted to take the match into a deciding set. The momentum generated by the Spaniard was then halted as the rain fell.

Ranked 15 places below Cilic. Garcia-Lopez maintained the positive momentum when he returned to the court. In the fourth game of the final set he broke the Croat with his second break-point to move ahead 3-1 before consolidating the break in the following game. Cilic has no answer to the Spanish player as Garcia-Lopez served the match out to love.

Garcia-Lopez will now play in his third final this year. He has already won titles in Zagreb, Croatia and Bucharest, Romania.

Due to the weather, the final has been postponed until Monday. The two could face another day battling against the elements with the threat of thunderstorms on Monday. Going into Monday’s final, Berdych has played Garcia-Lopez six times before with the head-to-head being level at 3-3. Their latest meeting was in the third round of US Open earlier this year where Berdych won in four close sets.

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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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