‘Losing Early Doesn’t Seem Like An Option’ - Taylor Fritz Aiming High Ahead Of US Open - UBITENNIS
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‘Losing Early Doesn’t Seem Like An Option’ – Taylor Fritz Aiming High Ahead Of US Open

The world No.24 says he has been ‘killing himself’ in practice ahead of the Grand Slam.

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American tennis star Taylor Fritz has proclaimed that he is currently in the best shape of his career ahead of his return to professional tennis next week.

The world No.24 has set his sights on becoming the highest ranked player in his country as well as what he hopes will be a breakthrough run in the upcoming US Open. Fritz started the 2020 season by winning nine out of 16 matches played prior to the Tour break due to COVID-19. In Acapulco he recorded his best run of 2020 so far by reaching the final before falling in straight sets to Rafael Nadal.

During the pandemic-related break, Fritz has kept himself in shape by taking part in an exhibition event, as well as the World TeamTennis Cup. Although these matches are somewhat different to what he will encounter on the ATP Tour, the 25-year-old remains full of confidence heading into the New York bubble. For the first time the Western and Southern Open will take place in the same venue as the US Open.

“It’s tough to set expectations right now, but my expectations are so high. If I don’t do really well at both tournaments, I’ll be disappointed,” Fritz told The Olympic Channel.
“I’m fully expecting to go in and go deep in both. Losing early just doesn’t seem like an option for me, even though I know it is because you have bad days, you know… things happen. But that would be really disappointing. My expectations are very high.”

A former US Open boy’s champion, Fritz is currently at a ranking best of 24th in the world. His resume so far consists of five appearances in ATP Finals with his only title triumph occurring on the grass at Eastbourne last year. Although in the Grand Slams he is yet to progress beyond the third round in 15 appearances.

Nevertheless, Fritz is confident that his hard work done in recent weeks will pay off for him. Saying that he has been ‘absolutely killing himself’ with his training schedule. He is currently coached on the Tour by David Nainkin and Paul Annacone. Annacone is best known for his work with former world No.1 Pete Sampras.

“I’ve really stepped it up with this being the first time ever that we’ve had more than a month of not playing tournaments. I really feel like I’ve made big strides in my fitness on my game in the last two months,” said Fritz.
“I’ve been having three-hour practices and then some days go and do tennis again or go and do gym (a second time). It just depends if it’s like a double gym day or a double tennis day. I’ve just been absolutely killing myself these last couple weeks.”

Closing in on his top 20 debut, the fast-serving American is not setting a limit on how high he believes he can rise. It seems like the surge in confidence from Fritz is also echoed by Annacone.

“I know I’m in by far the best shape my life. Paul last week said that it was the best week of practice we’ve ever had. I can just see the difference in my body and tennis.”

This year’s US Open will be unlike any other due to the pandemic. There will be no fans, players will be subjected to regular COVID-19 testing and restricted as to where they can go to in the city. Some players have voiced concern that the conditions could have a negative impact on them. However, Fritz believes the element of seclusion could be an advantage for him.

“The good news about the bubble is it suits people like me who love to just stay in the (hotel) room and just watch shows and do nothing. I actually think it’s going to give me a bit of an advantage,” he commented.
“I think staying in the room and ordering in every night and relaxing… I don’t mind it. It will be more boring, but it’s actually not going to be too different to what I normally do at a tournament anyway.”

Fritz will start his campaign at the Western and Southern Open against a qualifier. If he wants a deep run, he could have to play Christian Garin in the second round followed by Daniil Medvedev.

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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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