Alexander Zverev Wins Vienna Open, Tells Runner-Up Tiafoe To 'Keep His Sh*t Together' - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev Wins Vienna Open, Tells Runner-Up Tiafoe To ‘Keep His Sh*t Together’

The world No.4 was full of praise after claiming his fifth trophy of the season.

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Alexander Zverev (GER); Copyright: e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Christian Hofer

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the first ATP player born in the 1990s to win an 18th Tour title after beating a spirited Frances Tiafoe in the final of the Vienna Open.

The world No.4 produced a dominant service display to oust the underdog 7-5, 6-4, after an hour and 36 minutes of play. Against Tiafoe, he won 80% of his first service points and produced 19 aces. Making him only the second player this season to win a fifth ATP trophy after Norway’s Casper Ruud. Earlier this year Zverev won titles in Mexico, Madrid, the Tokyo Olympics and Cincinnati.

“It’s great. I didn’t start the week off very well. I didn’t feel like I was playing well but the last few matches were great,” Zverev told TennisTV afterwards.

Clashing against each other on the Tour for the seventh time in their careers, Zverev has only ever lost to his American opponent on one previous occasion. However, this week Tiafoe had been the man to beat after producing three consecutive wins over a top 20 player. Something the qualifier had never done in a tournament until now.

Fittingly the opening set saw both men produce some of their best tennis to the delight of the animated Vienna crowd. Second seed Zverev was the first to draw blood after breaking for a 3-1 lead. Although his advantage was short-lived with a resilient Tiafoe fighting back by winning seven points in a row. Eventually the two would be separated by just a couple points. As Tiafoe served to stay in contention at 5-6, the German worked his way to his first set point but was denied by an ace. However, Zverev prevailed on his second attempt with the help of a shot from his opponent landing out.

Heading into the second frame Tiafoe tried to get into the mind of the multiple Grand Slam finalist by toying with his standing position on the court and joking with the crowd. However, Zverev’s concentration throughout the final remained unbroken. In a match of fine margins the 24-year-old had multiple break point chances during the second frame but was denied by Tiafoe who produced some emphatic tennis. However, like the opener Zverev triumphed at the most critical time. With Tiafoe serving to stay in the final, he stormed to a 40-0 lead with a trio of championship points in his favour. He prevailed on his fist with a clean backhand winner.

“I won the Olympic Games, that’s the biggest thing you can win in sport. I also won two Masters series and two 500 events (in 2021). It’s very tough to beat that but I still have two more tournaments to come and I hope I do well there as well,” said the Vienna champion.

There is a silver lining for Tiafoe who will rise to 41st in the rankings on Monday which will be his highest position since July 2019. Earlier in the tournament he scored his first ever win over a top three player by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas. He also scored wins over Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman.

“Man, I’m tired,” Tiafoe joked during the trophy ceremony. “I just want to thank the crowd. You guys were unbelievable the whole week, you guys have been getting behind me like crazy. This is the best week I’ve had in my career so far.’
“Sascha I’ve known him for so long since I was ten, eleven years old. We are going to know each other for many more years and hopefully battle many times (on the Tour). I think he’s going to be a hall of famer, he’s going to win a ton of Grand Slams and be number one in the world – this guy is special.” He added.

Returning the praise, Zverev also spoke highly of his longtime friend who hadn’t reached a Tour final for more than three years until this week. The German believes Tiafoe has want it takes to reach the top of the men’s game if he ‘keeps his sh*t together.’

“You’ve been improving every single week and you’re gonna climb up the rankings extreme fast I think, if you keep your sht together,” he said to the 23-year-old. “On a serious note, I’ve told you before that you are one of the most talented young guys on the Tour. I don’t only want to see you in the top 30, top 20. I want to see you in the top 10. I want to battle the biggest finals against you. Right now at the stage where tennis is, tennis needs you so from all of us (the sport) keep you sh*t together and we will see you in the top 10 soon hopefully.”

Zverev has now won 52 matches this season which is the second highest on the ATP Tour after Tsitsipas who leads with 55.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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