Dominic Thiem: Only One Tennis Ball At A Time, Please - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem: Only One Tennis Ball At A Time, Please

Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier columnist reflects on Dominic Thiem’s Australian Open run.




What’s up with this?


One of the ATP Tour’s most macho individuals takes only one tennis ball for each serve, first second or third and beyond. That takes us back to a time when most of the women on the WTA Tour accepted only one tennis ball at a time.

Most of the women, it appears, now take two balls before serving.

Macho Man Dominic Thiem does take two balls, at least initially, but then returns the second ball to the ball boy or girl. If Thiem hits a second serve, the ball person simply delivers another ball to him.

The only exception appears to be if Thiem’s opponent, Alexander Zverev in this case in the Australian Open semifinals, taps or hits the ball back to him in case the first serve is a fault. Thiem might catch the ball hit by his opponent, and the ball person gets a break. In this scenario, Thiem rather quickly is ready to serve the second serve.


What about all of the ball selection process by Rafa Nadal and others? Maybe the balls really are all  pretty much alike in liveness. So, what’s the deal with all of those balls?

Of course, in Nadal’s case it’s just part of his routine. And I really don’t mind it, especially when you consider Rafa is my favorite player to the extent that my little black Dachshund’s name is Rafa.

Thiem seems to wear shorts that fit tighter in the leg area, so it might be a little more difficult to put a ball in his pocket and probably even tougher to get a ball out quickly.

At least, Thiem’s process probably takes away the possibility of the ball falling out of his pocket during the point and possibly costing him the point.


Thiem, of course, is a finalist at the Australian Open. And he may be the only man on the planet, who has a legitimate shot to shoot down’s Novak Djokovic’s plan to celebrate a 17th Grand Slam title.

With any kind of luck in Melbourne, London and New York City, Djokovic could move close to Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles and Nadal’s 19. Federer and Nadal can only watch this time.

But there’s that Macho Man Thiem to worry Novak. Although Novak holds 6-4 edge in head-to-head meetings, Thiem has won four of the last six meetings and has beaten Djokovic in their last two head-to-heads.


As Thiem demonstrated in his four-set victory over Nadal in the quarterfinals, he has the power to knock anyone off the court but yet the quickness and mobility to play Djokovic’s game of sometimes just keeping the ball in play with side-to-side rallies from the baseline. That’s always been Djokovic’s secret against Nadal while making life so difficult for Nadal in their confrontations.

But Thiem can handle everything Novak throws his way. And, yes, Dominic is a bigger hitter than Novak.

In this particular final, it’s all about whether Thiem keeps his head and avoids letdowns as he did on a few occasions in his four-set win over Zverev on Friday night.

It may boil down to just what type of physical condition Thiem is in after his difficult matches against Nadal and Zverev.

The fact Djokovic has all of those Grand Slam titles is in his favor. The Serbian should be much looser than he was against Federer when both players sported such rigid game faces.

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at See his Post and Courier columns at


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.




Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

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.

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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…




Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

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.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Sidesteps Question Over Vaccination Status

The Greek also jokes that he will be having less bathroom breaks in Indian Wells due to one particular reason.




Stefanos Tsitsipas has declined to confirm if he has received a COVID-19 vaccination despite previously saying he planned to do so later this year.


The world No.3 was questioned about the vaccination during his pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Earlier this year Tsitsipas came under fire after saying he doesn’t see a reason why somebody his age needs to be vaccinated and expressed concerns over the potential side effects. He also added that young people catching COVID-19 is a good thing as it helps build up their immunity. Prompting criticism from various people, including a spokesperson for the Greek government.

However, in recent weeks Tsitsipas has changed his stance on the issue and recently told Antenna TV that he will have his first dose by the end of this year. When asked by a reporter in Indian Wells if he has had it yet, the French Open finalist declined to answer.

I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide any of my medical records,” he said.

Player vaccination rates in tennis are becoming a growing issue amid reports that the Australian Open may only allow fully vaccinated players to participate due to a health mandate which has been implemented by the local government. There is yet to be a formal announcement by Tennis Australia regarding their entry requirements. However, The Age newspaper reports that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that only vaccinated players will be allowed entry by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

Tsitsipas’ immediate focus is on this week’s BNP Paribas Open where he is the second seed behind Daniil Medvedev. Speaking about the conditions, the 23-year-old joked it was ‘very dry’ and therefore he will be having less bathroom breaks during matches. Referring to the recent criticism he has received from some of his peers over the timing of breaks he takes.

“It’s very dry here,” Tsitsipas said.
“That is good for me because I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints. So a very good sign so far,” he added with a smile.

The hope for Tsitsipas is that he will be able to build on his recent experience at the Laver Cup where he helped Europe secure their fourth consecutive title. The event provides players with the opportunity to work alongside each other in a team format. Something Tsitsipas relished but he is ready to get back to singles duty.

“I think team competitions are necessary for our sport and we don’t get to be united a lot,” he said. “We always kind of focus on ourselves and our things and environment and that is what you usually see on Tour. Players doing their own thing. Not much socialising.
“At the Laver Cup, we all get to have dinners together and all get to hang out with each other. Of course, though, we all have our competitiveness and if we get stuck around we might share too much with one another, that is the mentality behind it.”

Tsitsipas is yet to win a main draw match in Indian Wells. He will start his 2021 bid against either qualifier Roberto Marcora or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.

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