The Webers Believed In Magic - The Story Of The Gerry Weber Open - UBITENNIS
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The Webers Believed In Magic – The Story Of The Gerry Weber Open

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Written by Mark Winters

 

Twenty-four years ago Gerry and Ralf Weber believed in magic and launched the Gerry Weber Open in the small German town of Halle. Read why the now ATP World Tour 500 series event continues to be a magical experience.

Halle, Westfalia, Germany – In 1965, the Lovin’ Spoonful released “Do You Believe in Magic.” It was the lead song, written by John Sebastian, on the folk-rock album of the same name. Twenty-eight years later, Gerry Weber and his son, Ralf, believed in magic. They launched the Gerry Weber Open in 1993.

Initially, an International Series event, it has become an ATP World Tour 500 series championship. Deciding to hold a grass court tournament in Germany was an intriguing idea. Staging it in Halle, the town in Westfalia that can’t be found on a map and is not to be confused with the Halle in the former East German Republic or even the Suesser See lakeside resort, seemed to be “Are you out of your mind?” curious.

But, as John Sebastian wrote:

“…I’ll tell you about the magic and it’ll free your soul
But it’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger ’bout rock and roll
If you believe in magic, don’t bother to choose
If it’s jug band music or rhythm and blues
Just go and listen, it’ll start with a smile…”

The Gerry Weber Open, which is now 24-years old takes place from June 13th until June 19th, has become a premier pre-Wimbledon warm-up showcase. This year’s draw features Roger Federer of Switzerland, Kei Nishikori of Japan, Dominic Thiem of Austria, Tomáš Berdych of the Czech Republic, David Goffin of Belgium, David Ferrer of Spain, Viktor Troicki of Serbia and Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. These performers are the Top 8 seeds for 2016. When it comes to Gerry Weber Open titles, Federer is the grass surface master, having won the singles eight times. Berdych was the champion in 2007 while Kohlschreiber took the trophy home in 2011.

Magic is the perfect word to use to describe the essence of Halle. Weber, who built his clothing manufacturing business in the area and became beyond successful financially, believed in the people of the town. They, in turn, feel that the Gerry Weber Open is their tournament and each year they must join forces to show the tennis world that the best grass court tennis is played there.

The attitude is clearly justified based on what they and the Webers have accomplished. Because rain is a match June, the Center Court has a closeable roof (the first tennis facility with one), which means a sudden downpour doesn’t stop play. The practice courts are also covered so that competitors don’t have to while away time, waiting for a break in the showers. Add the fact that a state-of-the-art sports park/hotel/multi-purpose complex was built a good lob’s distance from the main court only substantiates the specialness of the facility. So does the fact that the Center Court grass is raised on palates on the grounds during the year; then prior the start of the tournament, they are moved, in sections, into position creating a surface that appears to be truly magic.

Borrowing again from the poet Sebastian:

“…Yeah, believe in the magic of a young girl’s soul
Believe in the magic of rock and roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free…”

And the Webers certainly believed. Magic now waits for the first ball to glide over the net, showing that it still lives in Halle.

The main draw

Projected quarter-finals

(1) Roger Federer SUI Vs (5) David Goffin BEL
(2) Kei Nishikori JAP Vs (6) David Ferrer ESP
(3)Diminic Thiem AUT Vs (8) Philipp Kohlschreiber GER
(4) Tomas Berdych CZE Vs (7) Viktor Troicki SRB

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Maria Sharapova Announces Retirement From Tennis

Maria Sharapova has announced the end of her 18 year long tennis career.

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Maria Sharapova (@WeAreTennisFR - Twitter)

Five time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis after a career lasting 18 years. 

 

The Russian burst on the scene in 2004, when she won her first grand slam title at Wimbledon beating Serena Williams at the age of 17.

What followed after that was 36 WTA titles, four more grand slam titles which included winning the career grand slam and becoming world number one at the age of 18.

Off the court, Sharapova became a commercial phenomenon and a pioneer for sponsorship deals and clothing deals in the women’s game.

However the latter stages of her career where tarnished by being caught positive with Meldonium, which was handled with atrocity by her management team.

In an essay written in Vanity Fair, Sharapova says it’s time to say goodbye to the game she has played since she was four years old, “I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis—I’m saying goodbye,” Sharapova said in her long piece.

“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I’ll miss it everyday. I’ll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court’s gate before I hit my first ball of the day. I’ll miss my team, my coaches. I’ll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes—win or lose—and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best.”

In the announcement, Sharapova also revealed that it was at the US Open last year before her match against Serena Williams that she first had thoughts of retirement, “Listening to this voice so intimately, anticipating its every ebb and flow, is also how I accepted those final signals when they came,” Sharapova explained.

“One of them came last August at the U.S. Open. Behind closed doors, thirty minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match. Shoulder injuries are nothing new for me—over time my tendons have frayed like a string.

“I’ve had multiple surgeries—once in 2008; another procedure last year—and spent countless months in physical therapy. Just stepping onto the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.”

Maria Sharapova had lived out her dream to be a champion, in a career lasting nearly two decades, but her chances of being a tennis icon and legend were tarnished by her reputation by taking a performance enhancing drug.

Although tennis will miss Maria Sharapova and Maria Sharapova will miss tennis, the divorce between the two will be not acknowledged by many tennis stars as Tennis continues to evolve and live without the Russian.

 

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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