Alexander Zverev beats Thiem to win the Mutua Madrid Open - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev beats Thiem to win the Mutua Madrid Open

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Mutua Madrid Open - Day Nine

Alexander Zverev has won the Madrid Open title with a comprehensive 6-4 6-4 victory over Dominic Thiem in just 78 minutes here at La Caja Majica.

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Nine

It was a display of utter dominance and authority by the 20 year old, second seeded German who was once again invulnerable on serve. Having not dropped his delivery all week, he held serve from start to finish, breaking the Thiem serve at the start of each set.

The fifth seeded Austrian held a 4-1 record against Zverev coming into the match, which included a perfect 3-0 record on clay. However, the two had not played on clay since 2016, and back then Zverev had managed to win a set in each of the losing encounters, and he has grown exponentially in stature as a competitor since then. Thiem was searching for his first Masters 1000 title having lost in the final of Madrid last year to Rafael Nadal, and having put out the defending champion in the quarter-finals this year, he was fancied to win the title and become the first Austrian to win a Masters 1000 since the former world No.1 Thomas Muster won Miami in 1997.

The 24 year old Austrian held 9 career titles against Zverev’s 7, with an ATP ranking of 7 to Zverev’s ranking of 3.

Zverev now has three Masters 1000 titles having won his first Masters 1000 in Rome last year beating Novak Djokovic and following that up with a second in Montreal where he accounted for Roger Federer in the final. Although he unexpectedly faltered in the final of the Miami Open final against John Isner, he was not going to allow another to slip through his fingers in quick succession.

Thiem started the match nervously with two off forehands going well wide to go two break points down, after Zverev had stepped in and crunched a menacing forehand return winner up the line that must have had the Austrian shaking in his boots. A double fault handed the German an immediate break of serve, and the grateful Zverev never in turn offered so much as a sniff of a break point throughout the remainder of the set. He closed out the 32 minute set on his second set point with a roar of “Come on!” as Thiem’s mistimed forehand return off a short second serve sailed well long.

Thiem started the second set on serve just as tentatively as he had started the first, with unforced errors flowing from his racket after Zverev had opened up with a forehand cross court winner that clipped the side line. The German wasted no time in converting his break point opportunity when he ran around his backhand and thumped a ferocious forehand up the line which the scurrying Austrian at full stretch on his forehand wing was powerless to return. Zverev let out a scream of elation as the sight of a first trophy in the Spanish capital beckoned.

Although Thiem managed to push Zverev to deuce on his serve at 2-3 down, the German quickly battened down the hatches with a huge service winner up the centre and duly held for 4-2.

Thiem did well to force Zverev to serve out for the match when he came back from a 0-30 deficit with a backhand winner up the line and two consecutive aces which the swaggering German grudgingly conceded on inspection.

He would not be denied on serve however. He closed out for his first Madrid Open title with the kind of authority he has shown all week; setting up championship point with a delightful serve and forehand drop volley winner and sending a ball flying out of the Manolo Santana Stadium when he won championship point as Thiem’s attempted backhand chip return sailed long.

Thiem was magnanimous in defeat at the presentation ceremony, acknowledging his opponent as a worthy champion.

“Congratulations to Alex. You were very impressive and you were obviously the best player this week”, Thiem said. “Very well done and also to your team. You were great!”

“Losing a final is always really difficult and tough, but still I made two finals in a row here and so I obviously feel really comfortable and great in Madrid. Everybody who makes this tournament amazing, thank you for that.”

Zverev was quick to praise the titanic efforts of his vanquished opponent who had removed the biggest obstacle to his title aspirations.

“I want to congratulate Dominic on an amazing week. Beating Rafa (Nadal) in Spain on clay is an amazing achievement. Not many people have done that, so credit to you and also to your team. You guys are doing great. I’m very sure in the future you are going to win multiple of these events.”

“I want to thank my team as well. Without them nothing would be possible. We spend three hours a day in the gym trying to build some muscle which you still can’t see on me”, he said laughing. “But we are getting there slowly.”

My dad is the most important person in my team. Making me grow up, not only on the court, but the man who I am today is a lot because of you and because of my brother who is already in Rome, and because of my mum who is at home right now. Everything I do on court, you are probably the biggest reason for it. Thanks a lot for that.”

 

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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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