Novak Djokovic’s Italian Open Defeat Raises Questions About Tournament Scheduling - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic’s Italian Open Defeat Raises Questions About Tournament Scheduling

Did the organisers of Italy’s most prestigious tennis tournament have a negative impact on the men’s final?

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Novak Djokovic (photo by @Gianni Ciaccia)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic said he was ‘running out of fuel’ during his clash with Rafael Nadal in the final of the Italian Open amid criticism over the organisation of the tournament by some.

Djokovic suffered a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1, loss to rival Nadal on Sunday at the Foro Italico. The lacklustre match saw the top seed fail to reach his best level as he hit a series of unforced errors and struggled to match the intensity of his opponent’s shot-making. Resulting in a considerably more consistent Nadal claiming a record ninth title at the tournament and his first of the season.

The loss comes after what has been a hectic week for both Djokovic and other players. Midway through the tournament, an entire day was wiped out due to poor weather. Meaning that Djokovic and his rivals had to play both their second and third round matches on Thursday. Following on from that, the Serbian then played back-to-back late night matches at the tournament against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman.

“I really always try to respect the win of my opponent. I don’t like to talk about it too much. It is what it is.” Djokovic replied when questioned about the scheduling of his matches.

Whilst trying to play down the debate, Djokovic believes officials at the tournament should make improvements for the future. Speaking out about one of the men’s doubles matches that took place on Saturday and didn’t finish until 1am. 13 hours before they were due to play the final. The players involved were Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who went on to win the title.

“The schedule can be improved, in my opinion.” He said.
“I think also there was a situation with the doubles match. They finished yesterday, after I ended up my semifinals around 11, and the doubles match was almost 1 a.m. They went out on the court to play their finals at 2 p.m. Those things are a little bit concerning for players. You start asking yourself, How are they making the schedule?”
“It has been like that for singles at least for a while. I accept it. I respect whatever I have in front of me.”

Djokovic is not the first person to criticise the event this year. Dominic Thiem said that he ‘disliked how players were getting treated’ after crashing out in the second round to Fernando Verdasco.

Time for a change?

The Italian Open follows immediately after the Madrid Open. Both tournaments are only seven days long, which forces organisers to try and cram in all the matches. Out of the nine Masters tournaments, Indian Wells and Miami are the only two that takes place over two weeks.

In the past, there has been rumours about both Madrid and Rome, expanding their tournaments to a bigger draw and taking place over 10 days. However, is yet to be given the green light by the ATP. Djokovic acknowledges that such a move with have a knock on effect on the men’s calendar.

“I understand why this tournament or Madrid want to have additional few days. I understand. But then it affects some other weeks or other tournaments. You have to try to find a balance.” The 15-time grand slam champion said.
“It is complicated. I think change is going to happen. That’s my feeling. I don’t know whether this tournament and Madrid will get 10 days. I don’t think one will get, another one will not. So it’s either both or none. That’s my opinion.”

No changes will be made to the events next year with the 2020 calendar already finalised by the ATP. The back-to-back Masters events will take place over 14 days, starting in Madrid on May 5th.

“The schedule and the calendar is very complicated. You gain something, but then you lose and maybe hurt another two or three smaller tournaments.” Explained Djokovic.
“That can create a lot of trouble for ATP as a legal entity.”

The Italian Open has been open to professional players since 1969 and has been held annually every year since.

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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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