Jack Sock Sets Up A Shock Final Clash With Roberto Bautista Agut In Auckland - UBITENNIS
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Jack Sock Sets Up A Shock Final Clash With Roberto Bautista Agut In Auckland

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Jack Sock in action at the 2016 ASB Classic (image via Photosport)

Jack Sock has continued his recent surge in form by stunning top seed and defending champion David Ferrer 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, in the semifinals of the ASB Classic.

As the match got underway, Ferrer appeared on course to clinch his fifth Auckland title when he broke Sock in the sixth game of the match before taking the opening set after only 28 minutes. The world No.8 initially appeared as the dominant force in the match after winning 84% of his first service points during the opening set.

After dropping the first set, Sock responded by playing some of his best tennis to bring himself back into contention. Clinching two consecutive breaks of Ferrer’s serve, the American world No.26 charged to a 5-0 lead. Ferrer did manage to prevent the bagel, however, it wasn’t enough to disrupt Sock’s momentum. The American produced back-to-back aces to clinch the opening set with his first set point.

Sock’s dominance continued throughout the third set against the 33-year-old. In the first game of the final set, Ferrer produced an error-stricken performance to hand Sock an early break point. The break was then gifted to the American following a costly double fault from the world No.8. As Ferrer’s first serve dropped to a match low of 47%, Sock was dominating the rallies by bossing the Spaniard around the court. This resulted in the American grabbing another break to extend his lead to 4-1. There was no way back for Ferrer. A poor unforced error at the net handed Sock three match points. The 23-year-old sealed the impressive win with a 222 Km/h serve out wide.

The triumph over Ferrer almost didn’t happen for Sock as he contemplated withdrawing from the semi-final due to suffering from flu-like symptoms in the morning.

“It was a difficult day. I woke up with some flu-like symptoms. I didn’t know if I was going to play”. Sock said.
“I ended up coming out and playing some of the best tennis of my career. Maybe I can stay sick through Melbourne and play like this.”

During his semi-final encounter, Sock produced 13 aces and converted 4/6 break points. It is only the second time in Sock’s career that he has beaten a top-10 player.

In his third ATP final, Sock will play another Spanish player, Roberto Bautista Agut. Bautista Agut staged an epic comeback to upset second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4. The world No.25 was trailing by a set and 0-2 before breaking back to level. Then serving behind 5-6, Bautista Agut saved a match point with a solid forehand as he clinched the second set.

There was little to distinguish between the two players during the majority of the final set as nine consecutive games went with serve. Bautista Agut had a double chance to break Tsonga for 5-3 but failed to convert. As Tsonga served to stay in the match, Bautista Agut played some inspired tennis. After failing to capitalize on his first match point, the Spaniard grabbed another after hitting a stunning forehand down the line. He took the win after a lengthy rally resulted in Tsonga hitting the ball into the net.

The victory over Tsonga has ended Bautista Agut’s run of 17 consecutive losses to top 10 players. The world No.25 will be aiming to clinch his third ATP title in Saturday’s final.

Sock has played Bautista Agut on four previous occasions. Despite the head-to-head being even at 2-2, the American won their two most recent encounters last year in Houston and Indian Wells.

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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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