Dominic Thiem Ends Nadal’s Perfect Run On The Clay In Shock Madrid Win - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Ends Nadal’s Perfect Run On The Clay In Shock Madrid Win

The Austrian has stunned the 10-time French Open champion to claim only his second win against a No.1 player in his career.

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MADRID: Dominic Thiem has become the first player to defeat Rafael Nadal on the clay this year after stunning the top seed 7-5, 6-4, in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open. Meaning that Roger Federer will return back to world No.1 on Monday.

Thiem, who has lost his two most recent meetings against the Spaniard in straight sets, applied an aggressive game plan from the start. Holding firm on the baseline and pushing his rival around the court. Hitting 29 winners to 28 unforced errors. A stark contrast to Nadal’s tally of 12 and 29. Furthermore, Thiem also converted five out of his 12 break point chances in the match.

“I had to really increase my level compared to Monte-Carlo to beat Rafa here. He’s in a really great form. He won 21 matches on clay (in a row) and 50 sets. This is amazing. So I had to play an extraordinary match, and that’s what I did.” Said Thiem.
“I moved well. I was physically tough. But always against him, there are long rallies. You get out of breath. But it was a good thing, as well, today.” He added.

In what was a repeat of last year’s final, the quality displayed by both men was at its highest level to begin with. Nadal, who entered the clash on a 14-match winning streak, faced a stern test from the onset. 24-year-old Thiem demonstrated some of his best tennis to wow the crowd on Court Manolo Santana. Including a breathtaking 162kph forehand winner.

The courageous efforts of the Austrian paid off in the sixth game of the match. After failing to break early on, he finally broke Nadal down as the Spaniard hit back-to-back errors. Elevating Thiem to a 4-3 lead.  Holding serve, he was on the brink of taking a set off Nadal on the clay. Ending the Spaniard’s record run of 50 consecutive sets won on the surface. Tasked with the mission, Thiem missed out on his first golden opportunity. A forehand drifting long squandered his set point before another unforced error a couple points later enabled the top seed to fight back and level 5-5.

Despite falling short, another opportunity soon beckoned for the fifth seed after another lacklustre Nadal service game resulted in his second break of the match. Serving once again for the set, Thiem triumphed with the help of some heavy hitting deep into the court. Clinching the 7-5 lead with an ace out wide and ending Nadal’s unbeaten run.

On the verge of a shock victory at the Caja Magica, Thiem continued to outplay and trouble the 16-time grand slam champion. Who grew more and more frustrated on the court. A forehand landing out from the Spaniard secured Thiem a break during the early stages of the second set, moving him closer towards a place in the last four.

Exchanging further breaks in the match, just two games stood in the way of Thiem clinching his best win of the season (by ranking). Battling on to 7-5, 5-3, the Austrian then recovered from 0-40 to deuce against the Nadal serve. Shortly after Thiem went on to seal the victory with another forehand cross-court winner.

“I tried to come back. I tried to do it. I tried to do it a couple of times. But I haven’t been good enough today.” Said Nadal. “He was better than me today. That’s the end of the story. Some days you don’t play as good as you would like to play. Also when that happens it’s because your opponent is doing really well.

Set to lose the No.1 ranking next week, Spaniard praised Thiem following their latest match. This week he was bidding to win his fourth consecutive title on the ATP Tour and his 78th overall.

“I am playing against one of the best players of the world. He played well. We played in special conditions. The ball flies more here.” Nadal evaluated. “It was a little bit more difficult to have the control of the ball. I was not under control of the point almost never during the match.”

Playing in the semi-finals of the tournament for a second consecutive year, Thiem will take on Kevin Anderson next. Who defeated Dusan Lajovic in his match earlier in the day. The South African joked after his win that he would rather play Thiem than Nadal.

“I’m happy that I play him tomorrow the first time on clay. We always played on pretty fast hard courts. But still, he serves great. His serve is also working very well here in the altitude I think.” Thiem said about Anderson.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be completely different, like today, obviously against Kevin. But I try to go in the same way, to have the same attitude like today. I think then it can be a good match for me.”

Thiem trails Anderson 0-6 in their head-to-head.

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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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