Jozef Kovalik the highest casualty as the third seed in Australian Open qualifying crashes out - UBITENNIS
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Jozef Kovalik the highest casualty as the third seed in Australian Open qualifying crashes out

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Frances Tiafoe of the United States avoided an upset by progressing into the second round of qualifying with a three-set win over Marco Cecchinato, though a number of other seeds did not share his fortune (Image via Zimbio.com)

In a day where a number of seeds fell in early exits, it was Jozef Kovalik (3) who suffered the ignominy of being the highest ranked player knocked out on day one of Australian Open Qualifying.

The third seed fell in straight sets to the unseeded Argentinian Marco Trungelliti. Trungelliti enjoyed a sensational run at the tournament last year, qualifying and making it through to the third round. The rest of his year did not meet early high standards and the rest of his 2016 was disappointing. He has got off to a great start in Melbourne once again though.

Other high seeds struggled, with Radek Stepanek (1) and Frances Tiafoe (2) both dropping the second sets in their respective wins over Sekou Bangoura and Marco Cecchinato. Tim Smyczek (25) who is in Tiafoe’s section, progressed easily after defeating Jordi Samper-Montana in straight sets, whilst Stepanek’s draw is now devoid of other seeds after Norbert Gombos’ (27) loss to Kenny de Schepper.

Go Soeda (29) escaped a tight first set where Ruben Bemelmans had served for the set, by breaking back and then taking the tie-break ten-eight before running away with the second set. There was more good news for the American contingent as Bjorn Fratangelo (6) and Ernesto Escobedo (21) both negotiated tough first round matches against Grega Zemlja and Maximilian Marterer in straight sets. There was disappointment though for Stefan Kozlov (7) who was blown away by the in-form Yuki Bhambri. Joao Souza (9) also fell losing to Brazilian compatriot Andre Ghem in three close sets.

Early play saw the loss of seven seeded players.

Results:

(1) Radek Stepanek defeats Sekou Bangoura 63 67 62

Blaz Kavcic defeats Matteo Donati 62 33 ret.

John-Patrick Smith defeats Agustin Velotti 76 63

Kenny de Schepper defeats (27) Norbert Gombos 64 57 97

(2) Frances Tiafoe defeats Marco Cecchinato 63 57 75

Yannik Reuter defeats Steven Diez 63 26 64

Mohammed Safwat defeats Pedro Sousa 76 64

(25) Tim Smyczek defeats Jordi Samper-Montana 63 63

Marco Trungelliti defeats (3) Jozef Kovalik 63 63

Peter Gojowczyk defeats Saketh Myneni 60 62

Adrian Menendez Maceiras defeats Daniel Brands 36 76 64

(29) Go Soeda defeats Ruben Bemelmans 76 63

(22) Peter Polansky defeats Tristan Lamasine 62 64

(6) Bjorn Fratangelo defeats Grega Zemlja 64 76

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Gavin van Peperzeel 62 61

Hiroki Moriya defeats Harry Bourchier 62 63

Uladzimir Ignatik defeats (19) Vasek Pospisil 36 63 64

Yuki Bhambri defeats (7) Stefan Kozlov 61 64

Pedja Krstin defeats Zdenek Kolar 36 61 75

Tatsuma Ito defeats Daniel Masur 64 76

(21) Ernesto Escobedo defeats Maximilian Marterer 76 75

Miljan Zekic defeats (8) Benjamin Becker 64 57 108

Di Wu defeats Maverick Banes 61 61

Ivan Dodig defeats Amir Weintraub 62 62

Laslo Djere defeats (24) Andrej Martin 60 62

Andre Ghem defeats (9) Joao Souza 62 57 86

Yuya Kibi defeats Brian Baker 63 76

Akira Santillan defeats Elias Ymer 63 76

(31) Thomas Fabbiano defeats Bradley Klahn 64 67 63

(10) Lukas Lacko defeats Jeremy Jahn 62 63

Maximo Gonzalez defeats Enrique Lopez-Perez 76 76

Darian King defeats Jose Hernandez Fernandez 62 62

(18) Denis Kudla defeats Luke Saville 64 75

(11) Evgeny Donskoy defeats Dmitry Popko 36 61 97

Matthew Ebden defeats Andrey Golubev 61 62

Noah Rubin defeats Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 57 64 64

Marcelo Arevalo defeats Scott Jones 62 62

Alexander Sarkissian defeats (23) Henri Laaksonen 64 61

(13) Taro Daniel defeats Aldin Setkic 75 64

  • Some late matches to be updated.

 

Grand Slam

French Open: WTA Made No Push To Schedule Women’s Matches In Prime Time Slot, Says Chief Mauresmo

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The fallout over the decision to schedule only men’s matches in the evening sessions at this year’s French Open has been defended by tournament director Amelie Mauresmo.

In a deal with Amazon Prime, the Grand Slam schedules one match to take place at 7pm on their premier Philippe Chatrier court every day until the quarter-finals. This year was the first time that no women’s matches were played in the slot since the deal was established in 2021. Overall, there have been 43 night sessions in the tournament’s history with 39 of them being awarded to the men’s draw.

Recently the WTA issued a statement to Reuters news agency calling for there to be more balance in the scheduling. A spokesperson said ‘fans want to see the excitement and thrill of women’s tennis on the biggest stages and in the premium time slots.’ However, it has now been claimed that the governing body was involved in the allocation of matches in the tournament. 

Mauresmo, who is a former world No.1 and previously coached Andy Murray, said there was never any ‘push’ for women’s matches to be held in this spot which some players don’t want due to its time. 

“When we do the scheduling, the WTA is in the room as well as the ATP, the Grand Slam supervisor, TV, we are all together,” Mauresmo said on Sunday.
“I did not see any push also to have the women’s match in the evening. I think it’s a very complicated decision. 
“It’s not easy having one match (at night) but again I never say it’s gonna be never (to having women’s matches).”

Elaborating further on the topic, Mauresmo argues that men’s matches usually last longer due to their best-of-five format. Making these more valuable for fans attending in terms of duration. The idea of playing two matches at night has been dismissed because it would ‘create other problems’ such as extremely late finishes. Novak Djokovic didn’t end his third round match until after 3am.

“It’s not a matter of how interesting the matches can be or could be. For us, it’s a matter of the length of the matches.”She said.
“In terms of the people that are coming to watch the match, the 15,000 people that are coming. It’s complicated for us to think that maybe it’s going to be very, very short. So we try our best, and it’s not easy.”

This year’s Olympic tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. That event will also have a night session but two matches will take place as they will all be best-of-three sets. 

More than 650,000 spectators came to the French Open over the past three weeks. A review of the event will start in a couple of weeks.

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Focus

Roland Garros Daily Preview: Carlos Alcaraz Plays Sascha Zverev in the Men’s Final

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Carlos Alcaraz on Friday in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The championship matches in men’s singles and women’s doubles will be played on Sunday.

19 years ago, a young Spaniard named Rafael Nadal started a legendary relationship with Roland Garros, winning his first of a record-breaking 14 titles at this event.  Now in the same year that Nadal seemingly bid farewell to the French Open, another young Spaniard looks to begin his own Parisian legacy.  On Sunday, Carlos Alcaraz plays for his third Major title, and his first on the surface he grew up on.

Four years ago, Sascha Zverev reached his only other Major final, in an empty stadium during the 2020 US Open.  Despite holding a two-set lead, Zverev lost that championship match to Dominic Thiem in a fifth-set tiebreak, after some extremely nervous play.  On Sunday, a confident and self-described more mature version of Sascha returns to the last round of a Major, this time in a sold out stadium, and looking for a different result.

Also on Day 15, in the women’s doubles championship match at 11:30am local time, it will be Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini (11) vs. Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova (5).  After losing the women’s singles final on Saturday, Paolini vies for Grand Slam glory alongside Errani, who is a five-time Major champion in women’s doubles.  Between singles and doubles, Gauff is 0-3 in Slam finals, which includes a runner-up appearance here two years ago in both disciplines.  Siniakova owns seven Major titles in women’s doubles, all of which came with Barbora Krejcikova.


Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Not Before 2:30pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Alcaraz has only played 29 matches this year, with a record of 24-5, as he missed several big events due to a right arm injury.  That included absences at two of the ATP’s biggest European clay court events, Monte Carlo and Rome.  Yet despite the injury and lack of match play, Carlitos has advanced to his third Major final with the loss of just three sets, two of which came against Jannik Sinner in Friday’s semifinals. 

By contrast, Zverev has been the healthiest of the top seven ATP players during this clay court season.  He is 34-9 in 2024, and comes into this match on a 12-match winning streak, after taking the Masters 1000 title in Rome three weeks ago.  Sascha endured a complicated path to this championship match, which included a pair of five-setters.  And he surely values his bodily health after the awful ankle injury he suffered in the semifinals of this event two years ago.  He would love to continue creating more positive memories on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Zverev holds a narrow 5-4 edge in their head-to-head, though on clay, Alcaraz leads 2-1.  However, Sascha’s sole victory on clay came in their only previous meeting at this event, in the 2022 quarterfinals.  And the German is 2-1 against the Spaniard at Majors.

Alcaraz has a definitive edge in speed as well as on the forehand side, while Zverev will look to use his serve to dictate play, and possesses a more formidable backhand.  But the biggest difference between these two is how they play in big matches.  Carlitos is 7-1 in finals at Majors and Masters 1000 tournaments, with his only loss coming in an epic championship match last summer in Cincinnati against Novak Djokovic.  Sascha is just 6-6 in finals at those same levels, and his record of 2-6 in Major semifinals speaks to how passively he often plays in big matches.

And if the match goes the distance, that is a distinct advantage for Alcaraz, who is 10-1 lifetime in five-setters.  While Zverev’s mark of 23-11 is actually pretty strong, many of those wins came against players ranked outside the top 100, and in matches where Sascha arguably should have won without going five.

Plus, trying to accomplish the sport’s biggest feat, winning a Major title, when you have not only never done so before, but actually choked when you were so close to doing so, is a lot to overcome.  While I don’t expect Zverev to play as nervously in his second Major final as his first, Alcaraz remains the freer swinger at crucial moments.  Carlitos should be favored to win his third Major title on Sunday in Paris.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP

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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