Rafael Nadal Reaches Fifth Miami Open Final Following Victory Over Fabio Fognini - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal Reaches Fifth Miami Open Final Following Victory Over Fabio Fognini

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Rafael Nadal skakes hands with Fabio Fognini at the net.

Rafael Nadal booked his place in his fifth Miami Open final after seeing off Fabio Fognini in straight sets 6-1, 7-5 in one hour and 30 minutes.

The Spaniard looked solid as a rock on serve and did not face any break points throughout the match. The fifth seed raced away with the opening set as Fognini appeared to be hampered by an arm injury which prevented him from hitting through the ball. The Italian showed great resistance in the second set and continued to hold serve despite facing break points, but it always looked to be the case of when and not if he would drop serve. Nadal made the breakthrough he had been craving in the eleventh game and had no trouble closing out the match.

Heading into this contest Nadal was seeking to reach his fifth final in Miami, while Fognini was looking to become the first Italian in history to reach the final. The Spaniard led their head to head 7-3 and made it three wins in a row over the Italian, who had caused him some problems in the past, but not on this occasion.

Nadal made a strong start, dropping just one point on his own serve in his opening couple of service games. The fifth seed led 0-30 in his opponent’s first service game and pushed him to deuce, but was unable to capitalise on this occasion. The next time Fognini stepped up to the line the Italian threw in an awful service game, packed with unforced errors as he dropped serve to love. 10 points in a row quickly took the Spaniard into a 4-1 lead.

In the next game, Fognini, who was appearing in just his second semifinal at a Masters 1000 level event, had a strong lead on serve, but allowed Nadal to work his way back in and earn a shot at securing a double break. In the rally which then ensued the Spaniard was at his best on the defence, making the Italian play one more ball, which led to Fognini dumping his attempted overhead into the net.

With the double break secured, Nadal held firm on serve, winning 83% of points behind his second serve, compared to just 11% for Fognini. The fifth seed closed out the first set 6-1 after just 25 minutes.

Things looked to be going from bad to worse for Fognini at the start of the second set as he returned from his bathroom break to find himself having to face break point. The Italian found the mark with his first serve as Nadal hit the net with his return and he was able to escape with the hold.

Fognini continued to struggle on serve but managed to hold on, saving a break point the next time he served, before securing another hold in a marathon fifth game, which lasted over nine minutes.

In the eighth game Nadal faced his toughest challenge on serve in the match after Fognini strung together a couple of good points to move to 30-30. The Italian was inches away from earning his first break point opportunity of the match after his attempted backhand cross court pass went just wide, getting caught by the wind at the last moment. The Italian managed to push his opponent to deuce but the Spaniard held firm and levelled the score at 4-4.

With that opportunity having passed Fognini by, it proved to be his final stand. The Italian recovered from 0-30 to get to 30-30 and narrowly missed a forehand which have brought up game point. Following that miss, Fognini double faulted to hand the break to Nadal, granting him the chance to serve for the match.

Nadal duly obliged and closed out the match to love, finishing with an unreturned serve to book his place in the final. The Spaniard dominated on serve throughout the match, winning 83% of points behind his first serve and 80% of points behind his second serve. The fifth seed will be hoping to go one step further this year and lift the trophy for the first time when he faces Roger Federer on Sunday.

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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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