Former McEnroe Mentor Blasts Nicolas Massu’s Collaboration With Thiem - UBITENNIS
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Former McEnroe Mentor Blasts Nicolas Massu’s Collaboration With Thiem

Larry Stefanki has also slammed current players Grigor Dimitrov and Eugenie Bouchard.



Nicolas Massu all'angolo di Dominic Thiem - Indian Wells 2019 (foto @Sport Vision, Chryslène Caillaud)

The man responsible for overseeing two players rise to world No.1 during the late 1990s has launched an attack on Dominic Thiem’s new coach.

Larry Stefanki, who has worked alongside a series of top players on the men’s tour, has said that Nicolas Massu is a ‘cheerleader’ and does not class him as a coach. Massu joined Thiem’s team earlier this year during the North American hard court swing. During their time together, the Austrian has won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, as well as the Barcelona Open.

“The coach is not just a good cheerleader, but he sees the basics of the game, the movement of the legs, the physical theme, what is needed to get to the top. I do not call Nicolas Massu a coach.” Stefani reportedly said earlier this week.

Continuing with his criticism, the American said that Massu should not receive any recognition if Thiem tops the world rankings. The 25-year-old is currently at a ranking best of fourth in the world. So far in his career, Thiem has won 13 ATP titles and reached his first grand slam final at the French Open last year.

“Maybe Dominic is going to be the next number one and I think he will be … but do not say it was because of the coach because he does not have that experience,” he stated.

Stefanki guided both Marcelo Rios and Yevgeny Kafelnikov to the world No.1 place on the men’s tour. His resume also includes stints working with John McEnroe, Tim Henman, Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez.

Besides attacking Massu’s coaching abilities, he has also criticised his career as a player. The Chilean is a former top 10 player best known for winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. He is also a former French Open semi-finalist and won six ATP trophies before retiring in 2013.

“If he looks at his history, he indicates that he could have been a much better player if he had learned to hit the backhand well.”

Dimitrov, Bouchard also slammed

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Massu wasn’t the only person to fall victim to unflattering comments from the 61-year-old. He has also accused Grigor Dimitrov and Eugenie Bouchard of both caring more about their appearance than playing tennis. Both are former top 10 players, but neither have won a grand slam. Dimitrov’s biggest achievement yet was winning the 2017 ATP Finals. Meanwhile, Bouchard was a Wimbledon finalist back in 2014.

“Grigor Dimitrov wanted to train with me, but I did not see him with the willingness to work that was required. He was more concerned to look like Federer. Much worse was the case of Eugenie Bouchard, who preferred the photo sessions to trainING. Number 5 in the world, then, a player can not prefer to pose in a bikini to hit the ball, you’re a tennis player or a model, you can not do both.” He said.

When asked to compare McEnroe with Rios, Stefanki ranks his fellow American as the better player of the two. They were childhood friends before Stefanki became McEnroe’s coach on the tour.

“Both have an incredible talent, but I put McEnroe over Rios for the number of tournaments he won and the time he remained as number one. McEnroe played with admirable ease, like Rios, but he stayed in the elite for much longer, McEnroe was a special guy, but he loved tennis, Rios was more unpredictable, although he was a very intelligent guy,” he concluded.

Stefanki achieved a ranking high of 35th on the ATP Tour in 1985.

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Jannik Sinner reaches the first grass final of his career in Halle



Jannik Sinner overcame Zhang Zhizhen 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to reach the first final of his career on grass at the Terra Wortmann in Halle. Sinner achieved his best result on this surface when he reached the semifinal at Wimbledon in 2023. 

Sinner will face a final against his friend Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in the first semifinal. The Italian player converted his only break point in the ninth game and fended off the only break point he faced at 5-6 in the second set with a forehand winner, one of his winners of the match. 

The Italian player earned an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead. Zhang Zhizhen pulled the mini-break back. Sinner earned two mini-breaks in the fourth and eighth points to win the tie-break 7-3. Sinner won the first of the four tie-breaks he played this week.

Sinner finished the match in straight sets after clinching three consecutive three-set wins at the start of his campaign at this year’s edition of the Terra Wortmann in Halle. 

The world number 1 player won three titles on hard court at the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Miami this year. 

“It means a lot. I had four tough matches to go to the final. It was a good match today. Definitely more rallies than yesterday. And that’s definitely what I needed today. I am happy and let’s see what’s coming tomorrow”, said Sinner.  

Earlier this week Zhang Zhizhen had previously beaten Danil Medvedev in the second round and came back from 2-5 down to beat Christopher Eubanks in the quarter finals. 

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Hubert Hurkacz beats Alexander Zverev to reach the second final of his career in Halle



Hubert Hurkacz moved past this year’s Roland Garros finalist Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in 1 hour and 33 minutes to reach the second final of his career at the Terra Wortmann in Halle. Hurkacz will be aiming to win the second title of his career at this tournament two years after his triumph. 

Hurkacz fired 17 aces and saved all four break points he faced in the first game of the opening set to clinch his fifth top 10 win on grass. The Pole won 81% of his first serve points. 

The first set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Hurkacz earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. Hurkacz his only break in the third game of the second set to win the second set 6-4. 

“I really love grass. The game suits my game and the atmosphere here, having the full crowd is incredible. It brings so much joy to the players”, said Hurkacz. 

Hurkacz improved to 1-3 in his head-to-head matches against Zverev. The Polish player will aim to clinch the ninth ATP Tour title of his career in his 11th ATP Tour final. 

Hurkacz won the Halle tournament in 2022 and reached the semifinal at Wimbledon in 2021. 

Zverev holds a record of 37 wins to 11 defeats this season. 

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Jannik Sinner beats Jan Lennard Struff to reach the semifinal in Halle



Jannik Sinner battled past Jan Lennard Struff 6-2 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-3) to reach his second tour-leve semifinal on grass at the Terra Wortmann Open in Halle. Struff hit 18 aces and saved 16 of the 18 aces he faced, including all 11 in the second and third sets. 

Sinner has scored his third consecutive three-set win at this tournament after beating Tallon Griekspoor and Fabian Maroszan in the first two rounds. 

Sinner broke twice to win the opening set 6-2 in 30 minutes. The Italian player won 67% of his second serve points in the first set. 

Sinner saved a break point in the fourth game of the second set. Struff fended it off with an ace and three more chances two games later as the set headed towards towards a tie-break. 

Struff earned the first mini-break to race out to a 4-0 lead in the tie-break. The German 34-year-old player made a serve and volley at 5-1 to earn a set point. He converted it as Sinner made a backhand error. 

Struff created his first break, when Sinner made two double faults at 2-2 after two hours. 

Sinner earned two break points in the ninth game of the third set, but Struff saved them with his serve and forced Sinner twice to serve to stay in the match. The set was decided by a second tie-break. Struff played his 10th consecutive tie-break in the 2024 season. Earlier this week won a 12-10 final-set tie-break against Luciano Darderi in the opening round before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the next round on 

Sinner opened up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The 2024 Australian Open champions earned four match points in the second tie-break and converted his second chance, as Struff netted a backhand. Sinner won his third head-to-head match against Struff in 2024. 

Earlier at this tournament Sinner came back from a set down to beat Tallon Griekspoor 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 6-2 before beating Hungary’s Fabian Maroszan 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-3. 

“It was a very tough match. I had chances in the second set, had chances in the third set, but I could not use them. It was 0-40 in the third set. I jus try to accept these kind of challenges. It has been very tough, also mentally. I am very pleased to be in the next round. I played a lot today, I played a lot yesterday, two and a half hours on grass. It’s a long time”, said Sinner. 

Alexander Zverev rallied past Arthur Fils 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Terra Wortmann in Halle. The two-time Halle finalist is aiming to win his first grass title.

Zverev becomes the first player since Roger Federer to reach back-to-back semifinals in Halle. 

The first set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Fils earned his first mini-break to take a 2-0 lead in the tie-break. Zverev pulled back on serve, but Fils got a second mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5. 

Zverev raised his level in the second set breaking Fils at 3-2 with a streak of eight winning consecutive points.  

Zverev sealed the third set 6-4 with a break in the seventh game winning 83% of his first serve points. Fils saved two match points in the ninth game, as he was serving to stay in the match. Zverev served out the win at love in the 10th game. The German player was not broken in the entire match. 

Zverev now leads 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Fils. 

Zverev lost to Carlos Alcaraz in five sets in the final of Roland Garros. 

“After the French Open, I was hoping on grass I would a lot quicker and not play for two and a half, three hours every single match, but I am continuing what I always do”, said Zverev. 

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