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.
Monte Carlo Breakthrough Leaves Andrey Rublev With Mixed Emotions
The world No.8 takes confidence from his latest run but admits it is ‘impossible’ to play at his very top level every week on the Tour.
After achieving a career milestone at the Monte Carlo Masters, Andrey Rublev was sent crashing down to earth on Sunday.
The Russian tennis star broke new territory at the tournament by reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final at the age of 23. However, he was denied the title by Stefanos Tsitsipas who produced a clinical performance to seal victory in just 71 minutes. Ending Rublev’s run of winning seven finals in a row.
“I feel happy with the week, and I feel super sad with the final, that I couldn’t show my game,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Of course, I’m happy with the week because I beat so many great players and I beat one of the best players in history. It’s a special week.”
Earlier in the tournament Rublev stunned the draw when he upset Rafael Nadal in three sets en route to the semi-finals. Making it the fourth time in his career he has scored a win over a player ranked No.3 in the world. He is also the first player in history to come back from a set down to defeat Nadal at the tournament.
Besides the king of clay, Rublev also dismissed Roberto Bautista Agut and Casper Ruud. He has now won 24 matches on the ATP Tour this season which is more than anybody else. However, he is reluctant to link all of his match play with his latest performance.
“I feel tired after all the matches that I play, exhausted. But this is not excuse. He was just better than me, and that’s it,” he stated.
“Not always everything goes your way. It happened today. I was completely exhausted. Stefanos, he showed great game. He was just better than me, and that’s it.”
Despite his recent success, Rublev is eager to not get too far ahead of himself heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam where he has only played in the main draw twice before, including last year where he reached the quarter-finals.
“I would like to play really good in Madrid and I would like to play really good in Rome. I would like to play all of the weeks good. But it’s impossible,” he explains.
“Some of the weeks for sure will be better, some will be worse and some will be amazing.’
“For the moment I’m playing really consistent. I’m really happy I’m playing my best season so far. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Rublev is set to return to action next week at the Barcelona Open where he will be the third seed.
Former Australian Open Semi-Finalist Kyle Edmund Undergoes Surgery
It has been reported that the world No.69 may not be able to return to the Tour for ‘several more months.’
British world No.69 Kyle Edmund is set to be sidelined from the Tour for some time after having surgery to treat a long-standing problem in Switzerland.
The former British No.1 has confirmed he had a ‘small procedure’ on his knee after being hampered with issues in the area ever since 2018 when a scan revealed that he had fluid behind his left knee. Details of the surgery have not been disclosed by the person who conducted the operation was Dr Roland Biedert, according to BBC Sport. A specialist Orthopaedic surgeon who has also operated on Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro.
“I had a small procedure on my knee. I’m currently rehabbing. The recovery is going well and I hope to be back on court as soon as possible.” Edmund said.
Currently ranked 69th in the world, Edmund hasn’t played a competitive match since losing in the first round of qualifying at the Vienna Open last October due to his knee. 2020 saw mixed fortunes for the 26-year-old. After winning the New York Open during February of that year, he lost seven out of 10 matches played during the rest of the season. Including five defeats in a row.
No return date has been outlined by Edmund or his team following the surgery. However, British media have reported that he may be out for ‘several more months.’ Casting doubts over his chances of being ready in time for Wimbledon which starts on June 28th. He hasn’t been absent from a Wimbledon main draw since 2012.
Edmund has been ranked as high as 14th in the world with his best Grand Slam run being to the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. Overall, he has won two ATP titles and has earned more than $5.7 in prize money.
Grigor Dimitrov Blames Poor Monte Carlo Performance On ‘Big Infection’
The 29-year-old reveals the reason behind his error-stricken performance at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Thursday.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov said he simply ‘didn’t play’ in his latest match at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning just two games against Rafael Nadal.
The world No.17 fell 6-1, 6-1, to the 20-time Grand Slam champion in less than an hour on Thursday. He won 48% of his first service points and 32% of his second, as he hit 32 unforced errors. A dismal performance from Dimitrov who had beaten Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy earlier in the tournament.
Whilst it was never going to be easy playing somebody of Nadal’s calibre, Dimitrov has revealed that he had been troubled by an issue away from the court. He has been suffering from a ‘big infection’ in his tooth which has had an impact on his preparation for the match.
“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days,” he said. “I have a big infection in my tooth. It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that.’
“I was bearing it for a while this whole week.”
It is another case of bad luck for Dimitrov on the Tour this season. At the Australian Open he reached the quarter-finals in what was his best Grand Slam performance since the 2019 US Open. However, in his last eight showdown with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev he was hindered by a back injury.
“It’s straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately,” he commented on his tooth. “Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is.’
“At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.Hopefully it’s not too serious and I’ll be able to come back as soon as possible.”
Speaking in his press conference, Nadal said he ‘felt sorry’ for his opponent who ‘played a bad match.’ During the match the world No.3 wasn’t aware of Dimitrov’s problem but was told about it afterwards.
“I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a good friend. I just hope the situation is to improve as soon as possible,” he said.
Nadal, who is seeking a record 12th title in Monte Carlo, will play Russia’s Andrey Rublev next.
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