Halle Champions Record Book - UBITENNIS
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Halle Champions Record Book

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Roger Federer (zimbio.com)

ATP tournaments, other than those with major sponsor names in their titles, build prominence in many different ways. The time of year an event takes place and the ambience found in the event’s setting is always a part of the magical appeal potion. The surface on which it is contested adds to the interest it draws. But, after all the secondary factors are examined, a tournament’s notoriety, in essence, its identity, is based on the names engraved on the championship trophy.

The Gerry Weber Open, the grass court mid-June tennis extravaganza staged in the picturesque town of Halle, Germany, has had a Hall of Fame collection of singles winners during its twenty-four-year history.

By count, players from seven different countries have claimed the prestigious title. Anyone worthy of the appellation “tennis aficionado” is well aware that Roger Federer of Switzerland is the leader of the winners’ group having earned eight singles trophies (and he has also been a finalist on three occasions). Russia’s Yevgeny Kafelnikov is No. 2 on the champions list with three.

Of the twenty-four trophy tussles played on the Gerry Weber Stadion Court, fully half have gone the three-set distance. As the saying goes – There are three-setters, then there are “three-setters.” The 1997 contest between Kafelnikov and Peter Korda of the Czech Republic was epic. The Russian, after dropping a three-set contest to Nicklas Kulti of Sweden a year earlier, slithered away with his first Halle title, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6. Two years earlier, Marc Rosset’s victory over defending champion, Michael Stich was almost as dramatic. The Swiss standout downed his German opponent, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6.

In 1999 and 2000, two German cookie-cutter finals took place. Nicolas Kiefer was 6-3, 6-2 better than Kulti in the first. In the second, countryman David Prinosil downed Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands by an identical score.

Another Halle curiosity is, from one year to another, those who have entered their names in the “Lose One, Win One” ledger. As noted, Kafelnikov was the first performer, in 1996 and ’97, to notch the unique “reversal”. Tomáš Berdych of the Czech Republic joined the club with 2006 and ’07 performances. (Stich, as has been pointed out, reversed the reversal winning in three sets in 1994 and losing by the same count in ’95.)

Federer has been the foremost player in Gerry Weber Open history. In a four-year stretch between 2003 and ’06, the tournament served as his Wimbledon warm-up. He won four consecutive Halle crowns then moved on to London and did the same. Taking the story further, in back-to-back years, (’03 and ’04), he set the tournament standard losing the fewest game in a final. He was at his invincible best, dismissing Kiefer (who had been a finalist the year before to Kafelnikov), 6-1, 6-3, and the following year, he was even better dispatching Mardy Fish, the only US competitor to ever reach the final, 6-0, 6-3.

Though the Gerry Weber Open is merely one of thirteen ATP World Tour 500 series championships, it is like no other because the list of those who have captured its high-status singles title clearly indicates tennis’ best at their best.

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Milos Raonic Beats Norrie; Holger Rune Falls to Thompson on Day 1 at Queens

MIlos Raonic hit 47 a record 47 aces on his way to victory as Frances Tiafoe retires against Hijikata, but Dimitrov goes through.

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Canada’s Milos Raonic blasted a record-breaking 47 aces on his way to a nail-biting 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(9) over home hope Cameron Norrie at the cinch Championships in London.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Raonic won 86% behind first serve, and saved both breakpoints he faced, but the 47 service winners was the most on the ATP tour for over 30 years and he squeezed through the two-hour fifteen-minute contest saving two match points in the final set tie-breaker.

“[Serving] is a big part of my game,” he said after the match “If I didn’t have my serve my career would be very different. My serve has always been the most important shot to me. This small record, it’s something special, something meaningful. So overall, a very positive thing and a fun stat to be proud of.”

Meanwhile Norrie remained upbeat despite the loss and firmly believes his form will turnaround soon: “I’m feeling great about my game but not getting results. It’ll come good, I have a lot to be positive about and won’t dwell on it.”

In the upset of the day, Australia’s Jordan Thompson sent seventh seed Holger Rune packing with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 win putting him into the second round and a possible meeting with Andy Murray. In the first meeting between the two players, it was the 30-year-old who is ranked 43 in the world who played the important points better and got more balls back in court compared to Rune, who slipped on court and complained to the umpire about the surface being too wet.

In other results, qualifier Rinky Hijikata went through when Frances Tiafoe retired at the start of the third set with an injury to his right hip after a fall. The American took the first set 7-5 but the Australian hit back taking the second 6-4.

First on court today was former champion Grigor Dimitrov who cruised through against Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour, breaking the Frenchman’s serve five times, while the final match of the day was suspended and will be completed tomorrow. Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo was leading Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-0 in the decider having split the first two sets.

“I was very happy with the way I started the match. I think I set the bar high and wanted to be steady the whole time,” Dimitrov said after his match. “Serve and return I just tried to focus on, they are the fundamentals of this surface. As the match went on, I felt more solid and more secure, so I am very happy.”

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Carlos Alcaraz Feeling Fresh Ahead Of Queen’s Club

Carlos Alcaraz will look to defend his Queen’s Club title.

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Carlos Alcaraz is raring to go ahead of the grass court season as he prepares for his Wimbledon title defence at Queen’s Club.

The Spaniard is living in a dream right now having won his third Grand Slam title at Roland Garros followed by the news he will team up with Rafael Nadal at the Olympics.

It’s been an incredible last month and Alcaraz reflected on his title run in Paris and spoke about his vacation in Ibiza as he refreshed himself ahead of the grass court season, “I had a few days off. I went to Ibiza with a group of friends. I had fun. It was a great time celebrating Roland Garros,” Alcaraz told the ATP website.

“For me as a player, I need this kind of thing. Every player is different but for me to reach my best tennis I have to separate the professional part from the personal part. I have some days off to forget a little bit that I am a professional player. Being with my friends and family means I can rest a little bit.

“Roland Garros was a fantastic two weeks for me, a dream come true lifting the trophy.”

However tennis is a brutal sport and now Alcaraz’s attention turns to the grass court season where he had amazing memories last year.

The Spaniard won a five set thriller with Novak Djokovic to win his maiden Wimbledon title as he enters this year as defending champion.

Now Alcaraz is ready to attack the grass court season and is only focused on the next month ahead, “I have more matches in my bank on grass and now with the great run I had last year at Queen’s and Wimbledon I know a little bit on how to play and understand the game a little bit on grass,” the Spaniard explained ahead of Queen’s Club.

“I am more mature playing on this surface. The first practice I have done here, my movement wasn’t as good as last year but it is a slow process, so I have to be really focused in every practice and every match. We have to be focused on the tournament that we are playing right now.

“But right now my mind has to be here on the grass to be ready. As soon as I can to play good tennis and to get ready for Wimbledon. Right now my focus is on the grass and then after that, my mind will be on clay again to be at my best for the Olympics.”

Alcaraz will aim for a big run at Queen’s Club and will begin his campaign against Francisco Cerundolo on Tuesday afternoon.

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Aryna Sabalenka Announces Olympics Withdrawal

Aryna Sabalenka will miss the Olympic Games in Paris.

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Aryna Sabalenka has announced that she will miss the Olympic Games this year as she prioritises her health.

The world number two would still be allowed to play the Olympic Games despite Belarus being represented under a neutral name and flag.

However Sabalenka has decided to withdraw from the Olympics as she said it’s not healthy to keep changing surfaces.

Speaking ahead of her first grass court tournament in Berlin, Sabalenka explained her decision and spoke about the need to look after her health, “Especially with all the struggles I’ve been struggling with the last months, I feel I have to take care of my health,” Sabalenka told the WTA website.

“It’s too much for the scheduling and I made the decision to take care of my health. I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts. I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts.”

Sabalenka was a finalist at last year’s US Open before losing to Coco Gauff and now feels it’s right to prepare in the best way possible in order to go one step further this year.

Health has been a problem for Sabalenka this season as was shown in her quarter-final clash with Mirra Andreeva at Roland Garros with the Australian Open champion struggling with stomach problems.

Now playing her first tournament since Roland Garros Sabalenka detailed the exact problems in Paris and how she plans on winning her first title on grass, “It was the worst experience I had in my life on court,” Sabalenka shockingly said.

“I’ve played while being ill, I’ve played with injuries, but when you have a stomach bug and you don’t have any energy to play and you’re in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, that was really terrible experience. But it is how it is.

“I think my body was just asking for some rest. I managed to find a couple of days to chill and recover after the tough months. We just don’t play enough time on grass so I don’t have enough time to win a title.

“It’s not like I feel bad, I’ve made some good results on the grass and I feel really good. I think grass actually suits my game really well. So it’s not about the surface, it’s about the month of tournaments, the amount of opportunities that I have on a grass court.”

Sabalenka will begin her campaign in Berlin against Daria Kasatkina.

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