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Gerry Weber Open To Feature An All-German Final

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Alexander Zverev (image via Zimbio.com)

By Cheryl Jones

 

For only the second time since the Gerry Weber Open has been contested, there will be an all-German final. In 2011, Philipp Kohlschreiber came out on top when he faced countryman Philipp Petzschner on the final Sunday of the weeklong grass court tournament that since 1993 has been a magnificent precursor to Wimbledon. Now five years later teenage sensation Alexander Zverev will take on underdog Florian Mayer.

Saturday’s matches began promptly at Noon, with the stadium filled to capacity. The crowd was there to watch the opening act with eight-time tournament winner Roger Federer. He faced Alexander Zverev in the first of the semifinal contests. The crowd was animated in their support for both players. Zverev is nineteen and one of the youngest players on the men’s professional tennis tour. He was born in Hamburg, spends time in Florida and since early spring, has a residence in Monaco. To the fans in Halle, he will always be German, though.

Zverev swooped on the scene last year after winning kudos as a junior when he won the Australian Open Boys Singles in 2014. His ranking has steadily climbed to its highest point right now. He is in the top fifty, with a ranking of 38 as of the sixth of June. He will move even higher after today, no matter what happens in the final on Sunday. He defeated Federer 7-6, 5-7, 6-3 in just a couple of ticks over two hours. It was quite the victory for young Zverev. It was his first win over a top ten player. He said after the match, “I can’t grasp it at the moment. It is unbelievable to play in front of such an audience.” (As an aside, Zverev was a year-old when Federer began his professional career.)

Federer thought that Zverev had the goods. He complemented and congratulated the young man in his own after-match interview. The Swiss tennis maestro made no excuses for his loss. He simply said, “He played better and deserved to win.” Federer indicated that he was planning to head back to Switzerland for a few days and prepare for Wimbledon, now with a bit of extra time to execute a specific schedule.

Sunday will give Zverev a chance to be the star of the show when he steps on the court for the final showdown. There will be another contestant for that starring role, though. It will be Florian Mayer.

Mayer is a bit older than Zverev, thirteen years to be exact. The thirty-two year-old was born in the former West German town of Beyreuth – now it is just Germany. Today’s match against Dominic Thiem should have been a bit more even but Mayer easily slipped by the Austrian dynamo, 6-3, 6-4. Last weekend, Thiem was involved in a lengthy final in Stuttgart. He must have been exhausted, but he said, “I’m happy that it’s over a little bit. …then for sure we’re going to have a very good practice in London. Then we’ll see the draw and for sure from Friday on everything is focused on the first round in Wimbledon.” (Since he and Federer are both headed for Wimbledon, it might be worth a look-see if they might be meeting in an opening round match.)

Mayer has been injured. He had a torn tendon in his right adductor. It seems to be healed at this point, as he was scrambling around the court with little effort. As for his Wimbledon plans, he is hoping that his win today will result in a Wild Card, because he was unable to request a direct entry by the deadline that is set at six weeks previous to the tournament.

Tomorrow’s final will begin at three in the afternoon. The all-German challenge for the title will likely fill to capacity the 12,300 available seats. In the 2011 final, Kohlschreiber took home the trophy in a disappointing 7-6, 2-0 Retired, final. This time, everyone is hoping for a match that is without injury to either of the men.

Will it be the 6’6” youngster from Hamburg or will it be the 32 year-old who has managed to come back after a serious injury? Mayer said after the match, “Yes, a great feeling for me of course, also in the late autumn of my career. I am very happy.” By definition, happiness is a state of mind. A few hours on the lawn on a Sunday afternoon in a small town in Germany will reveal just whose mind will be the happiest?

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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