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Gerry Weber Open “Tidbits”

Here are some of the talking points in the first couple of days including Roger Federer’s form.

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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.

Federer Thoughts…

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

Alexander Zverev (zimbio.com)

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.

 

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Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut reach the doubles semifinal at the ATP Finals in London

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Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut secured their spot in the semifinal of the ATP Finals doubles tournament with a 7-5 7-6 (7-3) win over Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies in 1 hour and 33 minutes. The French teeam won 75 % of their first serve points and fended off three of the five break points.

 

The French doubles team earned the early break to race out to a 5-2 lead. Krwietz and Mies fended off a set point and broke back to draw level to 5-5. Herbert and Mahut held serve at love before breaking serve in the 12th game to win the opening set 7-5.

In the opening game of the second set Herbert made a double fault to drop serve. Mahut and Herbert broke back to draw level to 4-4. Herbert earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3.

“We didn’t know before the match that we needed to win in straight sets to qualify tonight. We just wanted to come on court and win this match”, said Mahut.

 

 

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Alexander Zverev Denies Using Phone During Match At ATP Finals

The world No.7 has insisted that he didn’t break any rules at the season-ending event.

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LONDON: Reigning ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev has denied allegations that he was swiping through his phone during a sit down in his latest match in London

 

A series of Twitter users posted footage of the German placing his hand in his bag. It appeared as if he was using a phone or some sort of electronic device. Using his thumb to either press a button or swipe something. Despite the allegations, Zverev has denied any wrongdoing. 

“My phone was in the locker room. I always leave it there. I don’t know what they saw, but it was definitely not a phone.” Zverev replied when quizzed in his press conference. 

Under rules set out by the ATP, it is an offence for players to use their phones during matches and they could potentially be penalised. The rule is in place as part of fight against match-fixing in the sport. 

“A player is not allowed to use any electronic devices (e.g. CD players, mobile phones, etc.) during matches, unless approved by the Supervisor.” The 2019 ATP rulebook states. 

Despite the 22-year-old stating his innocence, questions remain about what he was looking at inside his bag. Which is located next up the chair of the match umpire. Asked to explain, he said it might have been ‘an empty water bottle.’ 

 

Zverev will play his final match of the round-robin stage at the ATP Finals against Daniil Medvedev. He is currently 1-1 in the group after defeating Rafael Nadal before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday. 

“Days like this happen. It’s just how it is in sports.” Said Zverev after his latest loss. “Against Rafa, I played a great match. Today I didn’t. This is just how it is sometimes, even though I have to give credit to him. He played really well.”
“There are a lot of things that I did not do great, and I have to change that to have a chance on Friday.”

There are three possible scenarios in which Zverev can qualify for the semi-finals. The most simple is that if both he and Nadal or Tsitsipas win their next matches. He can also qualify if he loses to Medvedev in three sets and Tsitsipas wins. 

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ATP Finals Comeback The Wrong Example To Focus On, Insists Rafael Nadal

The world No.1 spoke bluntly about his latest performance at the ATP Finals in London.

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LONDON: Relieved, but not complacent is the best way to describe Rafael Nadal’s feelings following his turbulent win at the ATP Finals on Wednesday afternoon.

 

In what was a rematch of the US Open final, the Spaniard hit back at Daniil Medvedev to clinch a critical win. Coming back from a set behind and then a 1-5 deficit in the decider. The win was his first victory on the tour since withdrawing from the Paris Masters due to an abdominal injury.

“It was not one of the best performances of my career. Not at all. I really hope that I can play better.” The 33-year-old reflected after.
“I was better than the other day, of course. I have been playing a better level of tennis than the first day in general terms. To win this match was a combination of a lot of things: luck, some mistakes by Daniil and some good moments from myself at the end.”

It is understandable as to why a perfectionist like Nadal was far from pleased with his latest win. Despite it reviving his chances of winning the season-ending tournament for the first time in his career. His 26 winners were canceled out by 27 unforced errors. Furthermore, his second service winning rate dropped at the match progressed from 62% in the first set to 45% in the second.

“In general terms, knowing that I was not able to practice the way that I would like before the tournament, to be able to increase the level since two days ago to today like this is a very positive thing and I’m very happy with this.” The Spaniard affirms.
“Winning or losing is another thing.” He added.

The implications of Nadal’s win not only means that he extends his perfect record of winning the decisive tiebreakers at the ATP Finals (3-0), his quest to end the season as world No.1 has also been helped. Although a certain Novak Djokovic could spoil the party if he wins the tournament this week.

The 19-time grand slam champion has been praised numerous times for his fighting spirit displayed on the court. Illustrated by his latest win on the tour. However, he believes this shouldn’t be the example for rising stars of the game should focus on.

“The example is not the comeback. The example, in my opinion, is not breaking a racquet when you are 5-1 (down) in the third or not lose your self-control when things are not going the right way.” Nadal explained.
“Just staying positive, staying on the court, accepting that the opponent is playing a little bit better than you and accepting that you are not that good. That’s the only example.”

Nadal will next play Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday. He has now won 52 matches on the tour this season.

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