Mats Wilander Addresses Andy Murray Wild Card Criticism As Ex-Coach Lendl Speaks Out - UBITENNIS
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Mats Wilander Addresses Andy Murray Wild Card Criticism As Ex-Coach Lendl Speaks Out

The former world No.1 had previously implied that it was wrong for Murray to have used a wild card to play at the French Open this year.

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Former Swedish tennis star Mats Wilander says he is ‘100 per cent‘ pulling for Andy Murray after previously criticising him for using a wild card to play at the French Open.

Wilander, who won seven Grand Slam titles during his career, accused the former world No.1 of ‘thinking about himself’ following his first round loss at Roland Garros. Murray was brushed aside 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, by Stan Wawrinka in what was his joint-worst loss at a major in terms of games won. Speaking shortly after Murray’s performance, Wilander questioned if it was right for the Brit to have taken a wild card into the tournament which could have been given to a younger player. Prompting backlash from some over his comments.

‘I worry about Andy Murray. I would love to hear him say why he is out there, giving us a false sense of hope that he going to come back one day,’ said Wilander who was commentating for Eurosport at the time.
‘I keep getting a little bit disappointed, is it his right to be out there doing that? Why? I did it and I shouldn’t have, it was the biggest mistake I did in my career. I think Andy Murray needs to stop thinking of himself and start thinking about who he was. Does he have a right to be out there taking wildcards from the young players?’

Murray, who has been blighted by injury trouble in recent years, responded by uploading a screenshot of the comments on his Instagram story with the caption ‘love this.’ The 33-year-old has undergone two hip surgeries and has only played in four majors since the start of 2018.

https://twitter.com/josemorgado/status/1310381239057121281

Speaking on Eurosport’s Tennis Legends podcast earlier this week, Wilander acknowledged that his view on Murray got him in ‘a little bit of trouble.’ Nevertheless, the Swede has insisted that he fully backs the former world No.1.

“I’m pulling for him 100 percent. He has deserved it,” he said. “I think the interesting question is passion. Does Andy have the passion? And I think he does. I am 100 percent sure. But are you supposed to show it every time you go on court?”

Speaking on the same podcast as Wilander, former coach Ivan Lendl says he disagrees with the previous comments and argued that the history of wild cards doesn’t justify that they should be handed out to younger players. Lendl has worked with Murray during two separate periods. Between 2012-2014 he guided him to winning Wimbledon, the US Open and an Olympic gold medal.

“I think players like Andy Murray or Pete Sampras, before he won his last US Open, everybody was asking me, shouldn’t Pete Sampras retire? And I said, Pete Sampras has earned the right to retire when he wants to retire,” the 60-year-old commented.
“Let’s go a little bit back in the history of wild cards. The wild cards in general were given to the sponsors to get attractive players for the tournament. It turned somewhat towards young players, which is fine as well. But it’s nowhere written that it needs to be a young player, not somebody older.’
“To me, Andy Murray has earned the right to play when he wants to play, as long as he has a passion for it.”

After another season marred by injury, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, Murray has only managed to play in four tournaments this year. Overall, he has won three out of seven matches played with his best run being at the Western and Southern Open where he defeated Alexander Zverev en route to the third round.

Murray is currently ranked 19th in the world.

Murray’s 2020 season

Western and Southern Open, New York
R1: Def Frances Tiafoe USA 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1
R2: Def Alexander Zverev GER 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
R3: Lost to Milos Raonic CAN 2-6, 2-6

US Open, New York
R1: Def Yoshihito Nishioka JAP 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-4
R2: Lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime CAN 2-6, 3-6, 4-6

French Open, Paris
R1: Lost to Stan Wawrinka SWI 1-6, 3-6, 2-6

Bett1Hulks Indoors, Cologne
R1: Lost to Fernando Verdasco ESP 4-6, 4-6

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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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