Rolex Paris Masters Remembered… - UBITENNIS
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Rolex Paris Masters Remembered…

In the past, the ATP tournament season came to an end with the Rolex Paris Masters. This year, memories of those bygone days are examined from a different perspective, which Mark Winters brings out in his story…

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Venue of the Paris Masters (image via https://twitter.com/RolexPMasters)

Normally, the ATP tournament season ends with the Rolex Paris Masters. It is contested in the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy, which is in the city’s 12th arrondissement. The facility sits on the edge of Parc de Bercy whose tranquility is made even more appealing because of all the benches that offer a front row seat as life passes before your very eyes. The area is wonderfully Paris “funky” and nothing is more appealing before attending the matches than taking time to watch the skateboarders use the sloping sides of the arena to showcase their amazing collection of acrobatic moves on their boards. Nearby streets have a tantalizing array of cafes, shops and restaurants that are inviting and interesting to boot. The neighborhood doesn’t send out “Visit Me” vibes like locations such as the Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre, but it has its own distinct appeal that says, “this is Paris and we live here…”

We, (my wife Cheryl Jones is also a tennis journalist), have always loved traveling to Paris in November for the tournament. There is a charm that is particular to the autumn. There is a bit of bite in the air, which is often accompanied by fits of rain – and maybe even a flurry of tiny snowflakes that seldom last beyond their collision with the ground. Over all the setting has a much different “feel” than Paris during Roland Garros in the spring. The days are less frenetic. It is an opportunity to really savor experiences without the hustle and bustle of tourists on photographic safaris. 

Of course, these are remembrances from “normal” times and 2020 has not even come close, on any level, to being normal. I wonder though if looking back is a good way to prepare for the future. For us, there was more to the forty-ninth staging of the event than listing the names of the winners.

That doesn’t mean Russian Daniil Medvedev’s 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Germany’s Alexander Zverev, in the final, should not be praised. The same applies to unseeded Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz, the Canadian/Polish tandem’s, surprising Matic Pavic of Croatia and Bruno Soares of Brazil, 6-7, 7-6, 10-2 for doubles honors. 

The singles finalists and the winning doubles team have a lot in common.  

Medvedev is twenty-four and stands six-foot, seven-inches tall – which is just a shade over two meters. Zverev is a year younger and an inch shorter. At twenty, Auger-Aliassime is the youngest of the group and being a mere (this is a joke) six-foot-four is the shortest of the quartet because Hurkacz is six-foot, five inches tall and is twenty-three years old. 

The Rolex Paris Masters finals showcased the game’s future in terms of age, height and sheer athleticism. 

This year, COVID-19 ravaged society and sports. It called attention to a “new normal” in which social distancing and mask wearing have become practices that everyone should have adopted by now. For us, the pandemic, along with the 2020 tournament results, created a special awareness. We have treasured our Bercy adventures of yesteryear and now we appreciate those memories even more. 

Looking ahead, we realize that in life and in tennis there are new rules to play by. Travel, tournaments and tennis journalism have been altered permanently. Being flexible and adapting are essential “musts” every day, for everyone… But isn’t this exactly what the game is all about? Analyzing what is taking place, deciding on the necessary adjustments to make then looking forward to enjoying what will take place. In short, making the best of what is and not getting caught up in what could have been. 

There wasn’t a full stadium roar from the crowd when Medvedev won. There wasn’t a cadre of journalists and photographers eliciting comments from and recording Auger-Aliassime and Herkacz’s astounding victory as an unseeded team. Still, the jubilation they all felt was very real. The history books won’t have an asterisk by their names; their victories will be noted across from the designation 2020. 

Looking ahead, no one knows what to expect as the virus continues to pillage individuals and countries. But one thing is certain – Time will have all the answers. It always does.

ATP

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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