Dominic Thiem ‘Far Away’ From Joining Big Three Despite Career Milestone - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem ‘Far Away’ From Joining Big Three Despite Career Milestone

The 27-year-old assesses how close he thinks his level is to that of Novak Djokovic and Co.

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On Saturday at the ATP Finals Dominic Thiem achieved a unique record in the sport which has only ever been done by Andy Murray before.

Taking to the court for his semi-final match against Novak Djokovic, the Austrian prevailed in a tightly contested three-set showdown. Not only did the win elevate Thiem into the final of the year-end championships, it marked his 16th victory over a member of the Big Three. A trio contesting between Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Thiem has now defeated each of them at least five times.

“To beat every single of the three best players of all time five times each, it’s something great for me,” the world No.3 said.
“But still every single match against them is a huge privilege. It’s a huge opportunity to learn. Of course if you beat these guys, it gives you a huge boost of confidence.”

Despite the season being heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Thiem has managed to continue his rise in the sport. At the US Open he won his first Grand Slam title after coming back from two sets down to defeat Alexander Zverev in the final. He was also runner-up at the Australian Open to make it the first season where he had featured in multiple major finals.

It is due to those achievements why some believe the 27-year-old is the most likely to take over the reign on the Big Three in the future. Although Thiem believes the concept of him turning the Big Three rivalry into the ‘Fab Four’ with him included is something that is still a long way away.

“If you compare us, especially the big titles, I’m so far away. I have one slam, one Masters 1000, and that’s it,” he explained.
“But I love to play against them. It’s such a huge thing every single match against them. We younger players can feel super happy that these three living legends are still around and we can compete with them. Every match against them is a great opportunity.”

Ironically, it can be argued that part of Thiem’s success is linked to the inspiration he has got from the top guns. Following his triumph over Djokovic, he said he has been studying the Serbian’s game in tiebreakers which has helped him on the Tour.

“I took him as an example because he has won so many important tiebreaks in his career,” he said of Djokovic. “I have the feeling that when he’s going into the tiebreaker, he just refuses to miss.That’s what I tried to do as well, especially from the restart of the tour. I tried to do that and it’s working out super well.”

Thiem, who has now won 300 matches on the Tour, will play Daniil Medvedev for the ATP Finals trophy on Sunday. He leads their head-to-head 3-1.

Thiem Vs the Big Three

  • Rafael Nadal: He trails their head-to-head 6-9 but has won three out of their four most recent meetings.
  • Novak Djokovic: Djokovic leads 7-4 but they are 2-2 since the start of 2019.
  • Roger Federer: The only member of the Big Three Thiem has a positive record against after winning five out of their seven clashes.



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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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