Either Dominic Thiem or Sascha Zverev will win their first Major title on Sunday.
Dominic Thiem spent much of his career categorized as a clay court specialist who struggled outside the terra boute. The 27-year-old has claimed 10 clay titles, and reached the semifinals or better the last four years at Roland Garros. But over the last few years, his results have drastically improved on hard courts. He was the champion at Indian Wells last season, and a finalist at both the ATP Finals and the Australian Open. Thiem has now reached his second consecutive Major final, and his fourth overall. As he mentioned in Friday’s post-match interview, he is looking to avoid joining players like Andy Murray in losing their first four Slam finals. This is the best opportunity he’s had yet, in his first Major final without Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic as opposition.
Sascha Zverev has long been expected to be a future Major champion. But his previous performances at the Slams were disappointing. Between 2017 and 2019, Zverev won three Masters 1,000 titles, was a finalist at three other Masters events, and claimed the 2018 ATP Finals. During that same span, he only reached two Major quarterfinals, both at Roland Garros. But that changed this year, when he advanced to his first semifinal in Melbourne. And now he has taken advantage of an open draw to reach his first championship match at a Major.
Dominic Thiem (2) vs. Sascha Zverev
These two friends have played nine times, with Thiem prevailing on seven of those occasions. Zverev’s only two victories have come in best-of-three matches. At Majors, Thiem is 3-0. On hard courts, Dominic leads 3-1, with Sascha’s win occurring four years ago. They also met at the most recent Major, with Thiem winning in four sets at January’s Australian Open. Based on their history, and their individual Slam experience, Thiem is the favorite. However, both men are well aware of that, which may impact their play. Dominic knows this is easily his best chance to win a Major, and that he’s expected to do so. And while a Slam final is new territory for Sascha, the German may play more freely knowing the pressure is more on Thiem. Unlike Friday’s semifinal against Pablo Carreno Busta, where Zverev played an extremely tight first two sets as the heavy favorite, I suspect he’ll be much tougher from the start today.
As ugly as that semifinal was, Sascha should be applauded for fighting back from two sets down. And notably, he’s reached his first Major final without his father/coach with him in New York, and without the presence of his team’s newest member, David Ferrer. While Zverev is surely in close contact with them, securing six wins without their attendance exhibits growth. But over the course of five sets, Thiem is usually the steadier player. Zverev can often regress to his passive, error-prone ways. And Sascha’s second serve remains an issue, especially under pressure. Through six rounds, Zverev has struck 49 double faults. That won’t work against a player who has broken serve 32 times during this fortnight. While the pressure will be more on Thiem, the Austrian has plenty of experience in the latter stages of Majors. Dominic is the favorite to become the ATP’s first maiden Slam winner since Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open.
Five things to know about the final
- Thiem is seeking to become the second Austrian man to win a major title after Thomas Muster at the 1995 French Open.
- Zverev is the youngest major finalist in men’s tennis since Novak Djokovic at the 2010 US Open. Victory would make him the youngest Grand Slam winner since Juan Martin del Potro’s triumph in New York back in 2009.
- Whoever wins will become the 150th male player in tennis history to win their maiden major title. The last person to do so was Marin Cilic back in 2014.
- Heading into the final Zverev has spent a total of 17 hours and 16 minutes on the court during his six previous rounds. This is almost four hours more than Thiem’s tally of 13 hours and 28 minutes. Furthermore, the German has only faced one top-25 seed in his previous rounds compared to Thiem who has played three.
- Thiem leads their head-to-head 7-2 and has won all three of their previous meetings in grand slams.
The head-to-head breakdown
|Outdoor Hard||SF||Dominic Thiem||36 64 763 764|
|2019||Nitto ATP Finals|
|Indoor Hard||SF||Dominic Thiem||75 63|
|Outdoor Clay||QF||Dominic Thiem||64 62 61|
|2018||ATP Masters 1000 Madrid|
|Outdoor Clay||F||Alexander Zverev||64 64|
|Indoor Hard||R32||Dominic Thiem||36 63 64|
|Outdoor Hard||R32||Alexander Zverev||46 61 63|
|Outdoor Clay||R32||Dominic Thiem||674 63 63 63|
|Outdoor Clay||F||Dominic Thiem||64 36 60|
|Outdoor Clay||SF||Dominic Thiem||46 62 63|
Fanless Wimbledon Still On The Cards For Next Year, Says Organisers
The grass-court Grand Slam, which was first held in 1877, has outlined it’s plans for the coming months.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club has vowed to hold next year’s Wimbledon Championships even if it means the tournament taking place behind closed doors.
This year’s grass-court major was axed for the first time since World War Two due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was the only Grand Slam to be cancelled. Although unlike the other three premier events, Wimbledon had the luxury of a pandemic insurance to cover some of its costs. The policy cost in the region of £1.5 million per year and was paid for more than 15 years in a row. Although full details of the payout has not been made public.
However, it will be a different scenario next year with the tournament being unable to be insured by the same policy due to the ongoing pandemic. Now organizers are looking at three options regarding hosting the event with the possibility of a full capacity, reduced capacity or no fans at all. The US Open was held behind closed doors earlier this year but the French Open did allow a limited number of fans. Any decision will be influenced by government policy around the time the event will take place.
“Staging The Championships in 2021 is our number one priority and we are actively engaged in scenario planning in order to deliver on that priority,” AELTC Chief Executive Sally Bolton said in a statement.
“I would like to thank the government and public health authorities for their ongoing advice which will continue to be invaluable as The Championships 2021 draws closer. At the same time, we are delighted to demonstrate confidence in Wimbledon with the renewal of several partnerships across our commercial programme which play a significant contribution to the successful staging of The Championships both in 2021 and in the future.”
Amid the uncertainty, Wimbledon is still managing to maintain a strong corporate portfolio with Rolex recently agreeing to extend their partnership. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has been working with the Grand Slam since 1978 when it was named the official timekeeper. The AELTC have also renewed deals with Jaguar, IBM, Robinsons and Pimm’s. Meanwhile, Sipsmith has been named the first official gin of the Championships.
As well as planning for next year, Wimbledon has also reiterated their commitment to support those during the pandemic via its charitable foundation. The Wimbledon Foundation has set up a £1.2m Coronavirus Fund to help people living across Merton and Wandsworth, London, as well as other parts of the country. £750,000 has already been donated to local charities and organisations. Furthermore, 30,000 towels meant to be used at this year’s tournament has been redistributed for alternative use by the Foundation. For example 4000 towels were given to the homeless charity Crises.
“Since the cancellation of The Championships 2020, we have worked hard to make a difference to those in our local community and beyond as the coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on people’s lives,” said AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt.
“As the winter period begins, we are pleased to be extending our hot meals programme to continue to help those in need locally for the challenging months ahead. We are committed to using the collective strength of Wimbledon – all the many facets of the Club, The Championships and our Foundation – to play our part.”
The 2021 Wimbledon Championships is set to take place between Monday, 28th June and Sunday, 11th July.
Crunch Time Beckons For 2021 Australian Tennis Season, Warns Tiley
The tennis chief speaks out about the challenges he faces in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the new tennis season.
The head of Tennis Australia admits that plans for tournaments at the start of next year are still up in the air as he waits to hear back from local government officials.
Craig Tiley will be overseeing the string of events which also include the premier Australian Open. Prior to the Grand Slam officials are hoping to stage a series of tournaments around the country like it has done in previous years. Although due to the COVID-19 pandemic some states still have border restrictions which makes travelling more challenging.
The ongoing restrictions will be the most troublesome for the ATP Cup which is a multi-team men’s event that took place across three cities this year with Novak Djokovic guiding Serbia to the title. Tiley remains optimistic that everything can go ahead as planned but admits the decision is out of his hands.
“We’re getting to crunch time now. We need commitments from the governments and the health officers,” he told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
“We need to kind of know in the next two weeks, maybe a month, that this is what can happen: borders are going to open and then we can have a multi-city event.
“If we cannot have a multi-city event, we’ve got to reconsider everything.”
Another key issue will be the 14-day quarantine process players will have to go through. Something they didn’t have at either the US Open or French Open. The hope is local authorities will relax their rules and allow players to train during this period. Enabling Tennis Australia to create a ‘bubble’ for them to live within.
“Right now the challenge we have is the borders are still closed,” he said.
“So we’ve got a plan on the basis that there will be all open borders.
“So we’re working with all state governments. We completely accept that everyone coming from overseas has got to have two weeks in quarantine.
“What we are negotiating, or what we’re trying to have an agreement on, is that we set up a quarantine environment where they can train and go between the hotel and the courts in those two weeks.
“That’s similar to the AFL.
“The difference we have with the AFL is we are bringing in players from overseas so the stakes are higher.”
If players are not allowed to train during this period, Tiley has reportedly ruled out staging the event all together.
“If a player has to quarantine and be stuck in a hotel for two weeks just before their season, that won’t happen,” he stated on Thursday.
“You can’t ask players to quarantine for two weeks and then step out and be ready to play a grand slam.”
According to the AAP, the Melbourne major is set to take place with 25% of its usual crowd capacity and players will be allowed to travel with three members of their team.
The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 18th. Djokovic and Sofia Kenin are the reigning champions.
A Solitary Stroll Through Roland Garros
The small number of spectators reveals glimpses of the Parisian system that are often hidden
PARIS – Seeing the avenues that connect the various fields of a relatively deserted Slam tournament is an experience that rarely happens during the course of the tournament, and is normally limited to the days or periods in which access is allowed only to staff members. During the 2020 French Open, however, it was quite common to see the areas in front of the various courts almost completely empty.
What you see below is the area between the southern Grandstand of the Philippe Chatrier court and the various commercial stands that border the area reserved to camera crews. When a match has just finished on the main court, that area becomes very crowded and going from the beginning to the end of that stretch, more or less 50 meters long, could take up to ten minutes.
At the bottom of this passage is the new “Musketeers Square”, an open space that was enlarged for the 2020 edition thanks to the demolition of the old Court 1, the famous “bullring”, which was inaugurated in 1980 but has now been replaced by the Court Simonne Mathieu as the third most important court of the Roland Garros.
A giant screen has been placed in this area (to mimic Wimbledon’s notorious “Henman hill” and the US Open’s “main plaza” opposite the main entrance of Arthur Ashe Stadium), as well at tables for spectators and the main commercial stands for the sponsors of the tournament.
In the background of the Musketeers Square, to the left of this image is the tournament’s official Boutique, where the official Roland Garros merchandise is sold, while the gateway leading to the Serre d’Auteuil and the Court Simonne Mathieu is at the bottom, after the commercial stands and courts 2 and 4.
The Court Simonne Mathieu, inaugurated in 2019, was built as a compromise between the expansion of Roland Garros and the conservation of the Auteuil greenhouses. The court is surrounded by greenhouses, one on each side, which symbolize the ecosystem of four continents of the earth with plants typical of each of these habitats.
Returning to Philippe Chatrier, courts 2 and 4 can be seen – they are among those that have the smallest stands and are typically used for training during “standard” editions of the tournament. This year, however, players were not allowed to enter the facility on the days when they were not supposed to compete, and therefore these courts were used almost exclusively for matches.
Looking beyond the Philippe Chatrier court, you can see the unmistakable profile of the Court Suzanne Lenglen, in front of which there is a high relief dedicated to the unforgettable champion of the 1920’s.
Part of the area in front of the second main court is currently a construction site, as two of the courts are being rebuilt as part of the project that will see a mobile roof built over the Suzanne Lenglen to allow the tournament to have a second court with a retractable roof and to prepare the facility to host boxing matches during the 2024 Paris Olympics.
During this year’s tournament, all the refreshment stands around the Suzanne Lenglen court were not opened due to the particularly low number of spectators (only 1000 per session allowed by the French authorities), including one that allowed order through the tournament’s app and to collect it without having to queue like in traditional stores.
Behind the Suzanne Lenglen, the newest area of the facility is to be found, with courts numbered from 12 to 14, plus two training courts, number 15 and 16. All of these courts have been equipped with artificial lighting mounted on telescopic pylons so that they can be lowered during the day and thus not cause the characteristic shadows on the court that can disturb the players.
As a gift to the authorised press members, and to try to increase the turnover of the present bar, journalists were given the opportunity to access the catwalk on the sixth floor of the Philippe Chatrier, usually reserved for stand-up TV sports shows. A rather peculiar view of the matches on the main court is to be had up here – the area has some tables to the work as well as a fully functional air conditioning system.
Translated by Andrea Ferrero; edited by Tommaso Villa
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