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’S THE DEAL WITH ALL OF THOSE BALLS?
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 MAY HAVE EDGE AGAINST NOVAK
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.
DOMINIC HAS THE GAME TO OUT-HIT DJOKOVIC
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 Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at
Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman
The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.
Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired.
The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona.
Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori.
“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”
The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas.
Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33.
“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said.
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”
The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match.
Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup
Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar. Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup. Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first.
Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time. And each match on Sunday is worth three points.
Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm
Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles. So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday. Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday. Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist. If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.
Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)
Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles. While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever. Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.
Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay. It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1). And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday. Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary
Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games. He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts. However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.
Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary
Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday. If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.
The full Laver Cup schedule is here.
Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday
In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2. And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit. With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup?
Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day. Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm. And each match on Saturday is worth two points.
Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm
These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions. Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event. Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati. Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup. Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.
Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session
Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play. Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive. Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17. Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon. They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets. Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.
Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm
Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday? He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock. Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios. The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.
Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5. Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York. Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets. Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day. But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.
Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session
Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here. This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals. Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2. De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.
The full Laver Cup schedule is here.
Novak Djokovic sets up blockbuster final against Marin Cilic in Tel Aviv
Holger Rune reaches his second ATP Tour final at the Sofia Open
Denis Shapovalov sets up final against Yoshihito Nishioka in Seoul
Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana
All-Estonian Match In Tallinn Headlines WTA Semi-Finals
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
Carlos Alcaraz Is Playing At 60% Of His Potential, Says Coach Ferrero
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty Reacts To Federer’s Retirement
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE): Novak Djokovic Battles Past Norrie, Faces Kyrgios In The Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal
Focus2 days ago
Iga Swiatek Annoyed By Scheduling Dilemma Ahead Of Season Finale
Latest news2 days ago
Novak Djokovic cruises into the quarter final in Tel Aviv
Focus1 day ago
Kei Nishikori Confirms Safety Amid Hurricane Ian, Sets Out End of Year Plans
Latest news2 days ago
Jannik Sinner continues his winning streak at the Sofia Open
Focus2 days ago
Novak Djokovic Praises ‘Passionate’ Tel-Aviv Crowd Ahead Of Quarter-Finals
Latest news2 days ago
Yoshihito Nishioka upsets Casper Ruud to reach the semifinal in Seoul
Latest news1 day ago
Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin
Latest news1 day ago
Novak Djokovic reaches the semifinal in Tel Aviv