Stefanos Tsitsipas' COVID-19 Vaccine Stance Causes A Stir In His Native Greece - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas’ COVID-19 Vaccine Stance Causes A Stir In His Native Greece

Health officials and even the government have responded to Tsitsipas’ comments in which he said it is ‘good’ for young people to get the virus in order to build up their immunity.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas - Credit: AELTC/David Gray

Stefanos Tsitisipas’ recent comments concerning the COVID-19 vaccination had attracted widespread media interest but perhaps the most critical responses have come from his native country.

Earlier this week the world No.3 said he would not have a COVID-19 vaccine unless it was mandatory to do so on the Tour. On Thursday he spoke further about the matter when questioned in Greek about his view at the Western and Southern Open. Tsitsipas argued that he doesn’t want to receive it yet because it has ‘not been tested enough.’ He went on to say young people catching the virus is ‘good’ because it helps build up their immunity to the virus. Making reference to the concept of herd immunity which is when a substantial amount of the population is immune to a pathogen, either by vaccination or prior infection, stopping infection numbers from growing. However, in the case of COVID-19, it is debatable about the effectiveness of this approach due to the various variants of the virus.

It was Tsitsipas’ latest remarks which caused a backlash in his home country of Greece with even a member of the government addressing what he said. Spokesman Giannis Economou said the tennis star didn’t have the relevant knowledge to question the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is a great athlete, his skills in sports and his contribution to sports in the country is unquestionable,” said Economou. “What is at stake, however, is his ability to assess the need for vaccinations or whether the vaccine has been tested for a sufficient period of time. And it is questionable why he has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion about it.”
“Those who through their excellent presence and performance in other places are also a point of reference for wider social groups, it would be good to be doubly careful in expressing such views.”
He added.

The criticism of Tsitsipas didn’t just come from the government with various health officials also speaking out on the matter. Mina Gaga is the director of the 7th Pulmonary Clinic of Sotiria hospital in Athens. In a post on Facebook, she called out her compatriot for saying it was a good thing for young people to contract the virus.

The last three months (we) needed to treat 229 young people up to (the age of) 29 years. They had severe pneumonia, needed oxygen support, high flow and non-invasive ventilation and yet 9 needed ICU. The United States counts more than 2,500 deaths at this age. They are a few; Aren’t young people at risk?” Gaga wrote.
“Stefan, be strong and keep playing tennis, that’s where you make us proud.”

Athanasios Exadaktylos is the president of the Panhellenic Medical Association and is a member of the health’s ministry’s advisory committee. Speaking to skai.gr, he said it would have been better if Tsitsipas never spoke about the topic. He adds that hospitals in the country are ‘full of unvaccinated people who are seriously ill.’

“We were saddened by Mr. Tsitsipas’ statements, it would have been better if he had not (commented),” said Exadaktylos.

Responding to the criticism, Tsitsipas’ father Apostolos Tsitsipas spoke with public broadcaster ERT where he argued that athletes have a strong enough immune system to deal with any issue such as COVID-19. Therefore, it isn’t as vital for them to be vaccinated compared to others in his view.

He did not have to get the vaccine, like most of his fellow athletes. Athletes have a strong enough immune system to deal with any challenge that may arise. They take the necessary measures (masks, controlled movements), are in a controlled environment and do PCR and ANTIGEN TESTS almost every day as each of us imagines when needed,” Apostolos told ERT.
“Everyone, depending on their needs, appreciates the conditions and acts. “As for the need for vaccines, I believe we have a large number of great scientists and great doctors and I am convinced that they can and must inform citizens about what they need to do to protect their health.”

Tsitsipas beat Lorenzo Sonego in three sets to reach the third round of the Cincinnati Masters on Thursday. He will next play Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Note: quotes obtained via news outlets Gazzetta.gr/SDNA/ERT/SKAI

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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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