A Year After Contemplating Hip Surgery, Kevin Anderson Reaches US Open Final - UBITENNIS
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A Year After Contemplating Hip Surgery, Kevin Anderson Reaches US Open Final

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Kevin Anderson (zimbio.com)

Kevin Anderson has become the first South African player to reach the final of the US Open since 1965 after defeating Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-3,6-4, in the semifinals.

Playing in the last four of a major time for the first time in his career, the 31-year-old recovered from a tentative start to tame his rival, who didn’t drop a single set heading into their last four meeting. Anderson’s tally of 22 aces and 58 winners was enough to cement his place in this history books. Becoming the first player from his country to reach a grand slam final since John Kriek at the 1982 Australian Open.

“It’s been a long road. These grand slams are tough. We’ve been privileged enough to play with some of the best players to ever play the game.” Anderson told ESPN after the match.

The long road the Johannesburg-player refers to is one filled with injury. At the start of the year Anderson dropped to as low as 80th in the world after experiencing issues with his knee and hip. At the end of 2016 he was told there was a ‘probable’ chance that he would require hip surgery. A procedure that could take up to a year to recover from. Instead, the 31-year-old defied the odds and eventually got his long awaited reward in New York.

“This is why we work so hard. It was an unbelievably tough match for me.” He said. “I was pretty nervous starting out, I’m sure Pablo was the same.”

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The encounter was one for the record books. Two first time semifinalist haven’t clash in a grand slam since the 2005 French Open. It was evident that nerves would become a factor in the match and it was Anderson who was first to buckle. Despite leading their head-to-head 2-0, the error-stricken South African struggled to break down a relentless Carreno Busta early on.

Midway through the opening set, a nightmare service game from the 28th seed secured the breakthrough Carreno Busta sought. A double fault followed by a duo of forehand errors from Anderson enable the Spaniard to break for a 4-3 lead. In control of proceedings, nerves didn’t appear to trouble a determined Carreno Busta, who sealed the 6-3 lead with the help of a speedy unreturned serve out wide. Prompting a mighty roar from him.

Seeking redemption for his lacklustre start to the match, which featured 18 unforced errors in the opening set, Anderson relaxed more in the match. Spurring himself on with numerous outbursts of ‘Come On,’ he battled to turn his fortunes around. Exchanging breaks during the early stages of the season set, his tennis soon frustrated Carreno Busta. A double fault by the Spaniard at 5-6 rewarded Anderson a golden chance to get back into the match by level at a set apiece. It was an opportunity sized as the 28th seed drew level with the help of a double-handed backhand winner.

Anderson’s comeback resulted in his opponent rapidly fading on the Arthur Ashe stadium. The following two sets consisted of him pilling on the pressure without facing a single break point as his opponent struggled to find a solution. Carreno Busta might be the higher ranked player, but his game plan wasn’t enough to get the win he wanted. Glimmers of the Spaniards brilliance were on display, but unfortunately for him that all it was.

A game away from the biggest final of his career, Anderson’s win was far from certain. Serving for the place in the final, the first point saw Carreno Busta prevail in marathon a 38-shot rally to electrify the crowd. Still, it was not enough to derail the former top-10 player. A smash down the line elevated Anderson to match point before the milestone victory was concluded with a Carreno Busta unforced error.

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In the midst of victory, people could have been forgiven for thinking he had won the entire tournament. In a somewhat unorthodox move, he went straight towards the stands to celebrate with his team. Providing his own version of Pat Cash’s memorable climb into the crowd when he won the Wimbledon title. It could have been an over the top reaction, but it was fitting to the mood. Finally the injury-stricken Anderson has got his break, nine years after his grand slam debut.

Anderson in the lowest ranked player to reach a grand slam final since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008. Awaiting him will be either Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro. Two players he has never beaten before.

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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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