Jiri Vesely stuns Novak Djokovic to reach the third round in Monte-Carlo - UBITENNIS
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Jiri Vesely stuns Novak Djokovic to reach the third round in Monte-Carlo

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Jiri Vesely stuns World number 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4 2-6 6-4 in just over two hours in the second round of the Rolex Masters in Monte-Carlo at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where the Serbian star won two of the past three editions and trains every day. Djokovic has suffered his second defeat of the year and his earliest loss on the ATP Tour since losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the second round in Madrid in 2013.

Except from a shock exit in this year’s Dubai quarter finals against Feliciano Lopez, when he was forced to retire due to a eye infection, Djokovic has won 9 of his 10 tournaments since the Cincinnati final in 2015 when he lost to Roger Federer. Since then he has won 22 consecutive matches at Masters 1000 level. He won 14 matches in a row including his back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami. He had clinched 18 of his last 20 matches in Monte-Carlo.

The defeat of Djokovic means that both last year’s Monte-Carlo finalists have been knocked out of the tournament after just two rounds.

Vesely lost just one point in his first four service points in the first eight games of the first set. Vesely earned three break points and broke serve in the ninth game for 5-4 on a forehand error. Vesely brought up a double set point with a backhand into the corner and served out at 15 to clinch the first set 6-4. Vesely played a very solid first set in which he dropped just two points in five service games and won 20 of his 22 points played on his serve.

Djokovic bounced back by breaking in the sixth game of the second set for 4-2. Vesely double faulted to face a double set point on his serve. The Czech saved the first break point with ace but sailed a forehand beyond the baseline to drop his serve on the second set point.

Vesely broke Djokovic in the first game of the decisive set, but the Serbian star broke straight back in the next game. Vesely broke again in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and held his next service games. Vesely backed up his break for 3-1 with a backhand drop volley. Vesely fired his fourth ace to pull away to 4-2.

Djokovic saved a match point at 3-5 with a backhand volley inside the sideline in the 9th game to force Vesely to serve out for the match. The young Czech player served out for the win at 5-4 in the 10th game to claim the biggest victory of his career. Serving for the match, Vesely hit a backhand drop shot from behind the baseline. Vesely followed it up with a serve winner. Vesely claimed the win on the second match point as Djokovic’s forehand landed wide.

Vesely claimed the inaugural ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2013 before reaching two finals in 2015. He won his first title as a qualifier in Auckland and lost to Guillermo Garcia Lopez in the Bucharest final in 2015. Earlier this year he won just one match in seven tournaments but he returned to his best form recently when he reached the semifinals in Marrakesh where he lost against Borna Coric. Vesely will take on either Gael Monfils or Paolo Lorenzi in the third round. He had never advanced beyond the first round in Monte-Carlo. Vesely has scored his first win against a top-10 in his career in eight attempts.

“It’ s something amazing. When I went on court, I had completely different thinking. I hoped to win a game, hoped to do well. I really didn’t think I could beat Novak today. Novak was not at his best level  He made a lot of mistakes from the beginning. That’s what gave me a little bit more confidence creating the rallies. I didn’t give him too much rhythm”, said Vesely.

Djokovic had won nine of his last 10 tournaments, including two Grand Slams and four consecutive Masters 1000 titles.

“I was playing really bad. I wasn’t feeling any freshness. There is the proof that nobody is unbeatable. It’s not easy to lose the match in terms of accepting it, but I have to congratulate my opponent. I will get a long break. The time off will serve me mentally mostly. I have to move on. It’s already behind me. I have had already an incredible start to the season and this match will not disturb my preparation for the rest of the season”, said Djokovic.

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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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