Bronx Open Recap: Andrea Petkovic Brings the Fun, While Yulia Putintseva Brings the Drama - UBITENNIS
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Bronx Open Recap: Andrea Petkovic Brings the Fun, While Yulia Putintseva Brings the Drama

For the first time since 2012, the WTA is back in the Bronx, replacing the tournament that previously took place in New Haven, Connecticut.

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NEW YORK: In the first match of the day on Victor Kiam Stadium, Andrea Petkovic took on Shuai Zhang. Petkovic is a former top 10 player, but finds herself ranked 89th in the world with an 8-14 record this season. With that ranking, she’s been forced to play qualifying at many tournaments. Painfully, she’s failed to qualify at six tournaments this year despite winning the first round of qualifying at all of those events. She’s directly into this new, smaller WTA event. But in the opening round faced a tough draw in the fourth seed Zhang, who was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon just last month.

 

In the first set, the players would trade three straight breaks, with Petkovic breaking twice thanks to some penetrating forehands. After serving out the first set, the 31-year-old German would break two more times to open the third, yet Zheng returned the favor to even the second at 3-3. Much like the first set though, a few crucial forehand winners would get Petkovic the break to go up 5-4. All that was left was a Petko hold, followed by a Petko dance, to cap off a satisfying win in straight sets.

After missing some critical serves earlier in the first set, Petkovic would say tell the on-court interviewer that her ace on set point was out of frustration. “Sometimes you’ve got to use violence, I guess,” she cheekily said in the post-match interview. Andrea will faYce another recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist in the next round in Camila Giorgi, who comfortably defeated Margarita Gasparyan today in the second match on the Bronx Open’s main court.

The crowd was rather sparse to start the day, not surprising for a new event about an hour outside midtown Manhattan at 10:00am local time on a Monday. However, there were a few vocal Petko fans, who Andrea came over to thank after the match. Contrarily, Yulia Putintseva wouldn’t have quite as much fun on this day.

In the second match of the day on Pershing Square Stadium, Putintseva faced Lin Zhu, a 25-year-old qualifier from China. It all started off well for Yulia, who moved Zhu all around the court with drop shots, lobs, and passes, gaining herself the break in the third game. But it all started to unravel when she attempted to serve out the set at 5-4, as a few close line calls didn’t go Putintseva’s way. She had no recourse as there is no Hawkeye at this tournament, and the chair umpire would not overrule.

After getting broken for 5-5, Yulia would call the trainer to have her right arm and shoulder worked on. She’d earn three break points immediately following the medical timeout, but after failing to capitalize on any of them, Yulia would become even more frustrated. She would complain about another close line call, and regarding the ball kids not retrieving her towel quickly enough. She’d eventually toss her racket against the wall, as well as slam it down on the ground after serving a double fault in the tiebreak. When she went down 5-1 in the tiebreak, she hit a ball in the direction of her coach. Her coach spent much of this time looking down at his nails, especially when she sought his eye contact. Zhu would take the first set tiebreak 7-2.

The second set would see drive Putintseva find even more things to complain about: more close line calls, more ball kid frustration, fans talking in the crowd, and police sirens. She would even mock Zhu’s team for cheering their player on, feeling they were cheering her errors. In between service points, Yulia could be heard saying, “Unbelievable, this tournament is unbelievable.” That was shortly followed by, “God help me.” Putintseva would lose the second set and the match, and immediately gripe to the chair umpire regarding the conditions she had to play under. That may have been both the first and the last match in the Bronx for Putintseva.

In other action on Monday, American CoCo Vandeweghe continued to fight her way back from a foot injury that sidetracked her 2018 season and caused her to miss most of this season as well. Two years ago, she reached the quarters or better at three of the four Majors. Now she finds herself ranked 466th in the world, and received a wild card into this event. Today in just her third match of 2019, she took just three games at the hands of Anna Blinkova. It’s going to be a long road back for CoCo, was just 19 months ago was ranked inside the top 10.

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Do Your Players Understand The Tennis Score System? – If They Don’t, They’ll Struggle Mentally

The more unrealistic expectations players have got, the more they are going to struggle with their thoughts and emotions.

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A frustrated coach calls. Asks for a mental tool to help “fix” their player’s mentality. But it’s not always a mental tool that is required. Often, it’s about going back to the basics. It’s about educating players about the realities of tennis. First step is getting players to know how to count. Second step is educating players about the score system. Close to every coach gets the first step done properly. The second step, not so much. And let me be the first to say, I have not been any better myself. 

 

So how do we start to educate players about the score system of tennis? 

A bold but true statement, that needs to be taken into account. “Tennis players are a bunch of losers” as Kelsey Anderson once entitled a blog post of hers. The reality is that tennis players lose a lot when playing matches. 

Craig O’Shannesy has made statistics in tennis easy to understand and digest. Craig’s work is a cornerstone in helping players with more realistic expectations. More realistic expectations equal less frustration and anger on court. 

So, let’s have a look at a key static to help educate the player you are coaching. 

Roger Federer
-103 titles
-1200+ match wins.
-20 Grand Slams
-Nearly $130 million in prize money

Undeniably one of the best tennis players to ever live. 

How many percentages of the points he has played in his professional career has he won? 

Before I knew the statistic, I guessed 70% or even 75%. After all, we are talking about Roger Federer.

I was wrong!

55%. 

Meaning that Roger Federer has lost 45 % of the points that he has played in his professional career. Almost half the points he has played. I was astonished the first time I heard this statistic! 

We are not talking about your average professional, it’s a player that has dominated the sport together with the rest of the so called “big three”. 

Talking about “the big three”. Interestingly Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the only 2 other players to equal Federer on 55 % of points won in their professional career. 

So what does this statistic mean to players?

A lot of players believe that they should be winning 8/10 points to win a match. That they have to destroy the other player. They play 3 good points and then miss an easy put-away forehand and yell “I’m sooooo bad!”. 

The reality is that if a player is only messing up on every 4th point, they are doing an unbelievable job. Tennis is a game of mistakes. No matter how hard players try they can’t avoid making mistakes. We want to minimize unforced errors but player’s thinking that they can go through a match without making mistakes and losing a lot of points is simply unrealistic. 

When a player’s internal reality is different from the reality they are faced with in matches, it will lead to frustration and anger. The frustration and anger will be termed as bad behavior and a mental problem. The mental problem is often attempted to be fixed with mental tools. Could be a physical routine or a breathing technique. While the mental tools can treat the symptom and be very helpful in acute situations, it’s important to address the cause of why the frustration and anger arises in the first place. 

From the 55% statistic on Federer how is it possible to help the players with more realistic expectations? 

Here are 2 coaching advice to reinforce to players:

“Expect to lose almost every other point even in the matches that you are winning” 

“If you can keep you opponent from winning 2 points in a row for long enough – eventually you’ll win”

Remember that unrealistic expectations lead to players experiencing frustration and anger. The better we educate players about the realities of tennis, the more realistic expectations they will have. The more realistic expectations the more focus and mental energy can be spent focusing on their gameplan and executing their shots. The more focus on executing their shots, the bigger opportunity of performing well. The better the player perform, the bigger the opportunity of winning the match. 

By Adam Blicher
Danish Sport Psychologist Consultant Adam Blicher is a member of the International Sport Mental Coach Association

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Gael Monfils Joins Forces With Former Long-Time Coach Of Dominic Thiem

Will the Frenchman return to his best form with the help of his new mentor?

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Tennis star Gael Monfils will start the 2021 season with a new team setup after confirming the appointment of a new coach.

 

The former US Open semi-finalist has paired up with the renowned Gunther Bresnik who is best known for his time spent working alongside Dominic Thiem for over a decade until their split in 2019. Thiem is now coached by Nicolas Massu. Bresnik is the former Davis Cup captain of Austria and has worked with numerous top names such as Ernests Gulbis, Jerzy Janowicz, Boris Becker and Henri Leconte.

Monfils has been training with Bresnik during the off-season but only now has it been confirmed that the two have formed an agreement to work together. However, over the coming weeks Monfils will be guided by another Austrian. Co-coach Richard Ruckelshausen will work with the world No.11 in Australia and has been appointed as the captain of the French ATP Cup team.

“I’ve known Gaël for a long time,” Bresnik told krone.at on January 9th. “With Ernests Gulbis and Stefan Lochbihler’s son, he worked on his shape here in Spain (during the off-season).”

The 34-year-old will be looking to get back on top form following what was a roller-coaster 2020. Monfils started last year by winning 16 matches within a three-month period. However, following the pause in tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic he struggled to regain that form. Ending the season with three consecutive first round losses.

Monfils had been working with Liam Smith. The upcoming Australian Open will be his 54th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He has only reached the quarter-finals at the Melbourne major once which was back in 2016.

So far in his career Monfils has won 10 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

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Tennis Australia Revamps Tournament Schedule Following Lockdown Quarantine

A series of changes have been implemented after dozens of players was placed into a strict quarantine after being deemed a close contact of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19.

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One extra tournament and a slight delay of three others have been approved by officials to help support players who have been forced into strict quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.

 

72 players in Melbourne are currently prohibited from leaving their room for a 14-day period after they were deemed to be a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19. A Series of flights en route to the city detected positive tests and all of those on board have been ordered to isolate by health officials. Among those affected are Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Kei Nishikori.

In a bid to help support those who have been unable to train in recent days, Tennis Australia has confirmed that a third WTA event will take place during the week leading up to the first Grand Slam of the season. The Grampians Trophy will take place between February 3rd-7th and will only be open to those who have been affected by the quarantine. Like the other two, it will be classed as a WTA 500 event.

On the ATP Tour there will be no extra tournaments taking place but all three of their lead-up tournaments will start a day later. This applies to two ATP 250 events, as well as the ATP Cup.

“This has been a particularly challenging time for the athletes in hard lockdown and we, along with the WTA and ATP, aim to do everything we can to help,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement.
“These changes to the lead-in events have been made to give the 72 players a little bit of extra time to help them prepare. We also will prioritise them for things like practice sessions, gym and ice baths.”

Andrea Gaudenzi, who is the chairman of the ATP Tour, said players will also receive priority over practice and preparation. During strict quarantine all players have been provided with gym equipment that they can use in their rooms.

We are eager to start what I am sure will be a fantastic summer of tennis in Melbourne in front of our great Australian fans.” said Gaudenzi.

In total six tournaments will take place prior to the Australian Open which will start on February 8th.

New schedule of events

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