By Mark Winters
There are many stories to tell about the Gerry Weber Open, the ATP 500 event, taking place this week in Halle Westfalen, Germany. For this reason, today’s column will take a different path and offer “tidbits”, a collection of behind-the-scenes items that provide a unique look at players and the tournament itself.
Mention Of Halle Or Gerry Weber Open
When asked what was the first thing that came to mind when Halle or the Gerry Weber Open was mentioned, Roger Federer, the defending champion said, “I have been coming here for so long now, and I have been so successful. It’s been, maybe, the most successful tournament in my life. It’s one of my favourite tournaments during my career. So, there you go. It’s fairly simple actually.”
Men’s Slam Winners Are Now Older
When it was mentioned that the last seven men’s Grand Slam singles titles were won by players over the age of thirty, Federer noted, “I’m not exactly sure what the secret is that the older guys are doing so well. I think it could happen again that 17, 18, 19-year olds can win Grand Slams. I just think it depends on the generation.
“I don’t care how much work you put in, you also need to have luck. The talent must be there, the framework and support of parents and coaches, and maybe the country, and the support you have from the federation. It all just works out perfectly and you win a Grand Slam final like what (Michael) Chang did, or (Pete) Sampras did, or (Bjorn) Borg, or Rafa, and Becker also, when they were teenagers. It’s amazing to me to win Slams at such a young age.
“And I think as players stay hungrier for longer and have also taken care of their bodies more professionally than the generations did in the past, which is [a] natural [progression]. We have the means to travel easier, to have a physio or a massage therapist, a fitness coach and so forth. I think it all kept us on the tour for longer and healthier. We can play for a longer period of time which the older generation didn’t have [the resources to do]. They all retired between the age of 28 and 32 and now we all play into our mid-thirties almost. We have opportunities and, maybe, because of this we give younger players a more difficult route to success. I’m not sure that I can explain it. But, that’s my take anyway.”
Happy With First Round Victory
After defeating Aljaz Bedene of Slovakia 6-3, 6-4 in the first round, Federer admitted, “I think I got out of the blocks well. I felt good right away. The court here in Halle is easier to play on than last week in Stuttgart. It’ a bit harder, so the ball bounces up more. So, it was nice to get balls in my strike zone. I was connecting well on the return right away. I was able to read the serve quite well but, after a while, that kind of went away. Then I was just trying to figure out how to break him. After I did I was able to hold serve all the way.
“I’m very happy with my serving and my play from the baseline. For a first round match, having hardly any play on these courts, I’m very happy actually.”
Nike Or Uniqlo Or…
Federer, who has been a stylish advertisement for Nike tennis since 1994, has been playing, since March, without a clothing and shoe contract. Supposedly, Uniqlo, the Japanese company that Kei Nishikori represents, would like to sign him to a mega-million-dollar deal.
The 36-year-old, who has been asked again and again, what he plans to do, responded, “I answered the question last week (in Stuttgart) and I explained that my contract ran out back in March. So, naturally there is a lot of talking going on and there is nothing really, I have to add to it. When the time is right and there is something to say, I will. But, until then I don’t really enjoy talking about it to be honest. Not that there is a problem, but it is just one of these situations you wished was resolved a long time ago.”
Zverev Practically Mute
Normally, Alexander Zverev of Germany is loquacious in interviews. At Roland Garros, after scoring a five-set second round win over Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, he asked a journalist, who posed a question, “Where are you from buddy?” When he was told, “Yorkshire in England”, Zverev left everyone in hysterics after smiling and saying jokingly, “Nice. If they ever hold a tournament there, I’m coming just because of that accent. I love it. I didn’t understand a word you’re saying, but it is not important.”
Yesterday, after last year’s finalist and No. 2 seed was surprised 6-1, 6-4 in the first round by Borna Coric of Croatia, he was much less glib. With no humor, he offered, “My preparation for this tournament was one practice and one doubles match. That’s it. That’s all I played on a grass court. So, it’s not going to be a secret that I’m not going to play my best. I hoped for an easier first round to get into a tournament, but I think I had one of the toughest first rounds any seed can get.”
Is Molleker Germany’s Future?
Rudolf Molleker is a seventeen-year-old who was born in Sievierdonetsk, Ukraine, and settled in Oranienburg, Germany, with his parents Roman and Tanja, when he was three. Given a Gerry Weber Open wild card, he lost today to Lucky Loser Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, 6-4, 7-6. Following the contest, the No. 286 ranked performer candidly said, “In my opinion, I didn’t have a good junior career. It was pretty hard for me to play on that level mentally. I had too many expectations for myself. Playing here was easier for me. I had no expectations. Today, proves that I can play on this level. It was a good experience for me. I still have to work a lot, and hopefully, get much better.”
Sponsor Count Up
The Gerry Weber Open has enjoyed success for over a quarter of a century. Community support and involvement is essential in this setting. But, the real key to success is, actually a double (not doubles) team. Elite players such as Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and Lucas Pouille of France, to name of few of the international stars participating in this year’s event, draw notice and are key to filling the stands. Ticket sales are then an obvious result.
Not to be overlooked, in holding a tournament is sponsor support. In 2018, the Halle sponsor count is fifty-nine. Four companies – Richard Mille, Harting Technology Group, Christinen Brunnen and Lubbering – are involved for the first time.
As the saying goes, “The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts” and annually this is holds true in Halle Westfalen at the Gerry Weber Open.
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.
The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.
Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.
There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.
“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”
Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.
“Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.
Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.
“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.
Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Arthur Rinderknech beats Federico Delbonis to reach the second round in Antwerp
Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status
Marin Cilic overcomes Damir Dzumhur at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow
Andrey Rublev defends his title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow
Jannik Sinner leads the line-up in Antwerp
REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval
WTA Luxembourg Open Axed Over Disagreements Between Tour And Organisers
Injured Roger Federer Says The ‘Worst Is Behind Him’ As He Targets Comeback In 2022
EXPLAINED: Why Novak Djokovic’s Latest Trip To Bosnia Has Caused Controversy
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