‘Freedom Is Stronger Than Tennis’ - Pierre-Huges Herbert Backs Djokovic’s Vaccine Stance - UBITENNIS
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‘Freedom Is Stronger Than Tennis’ – Pierre-Huges Herbert Backs Djokovic’s Vaccine Stance



Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

Novak Djokovic’s recent declaration that he is prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments rather than be forced to have a COVID-19 vaccination has caused a stir in the sport but there is at least one player who has his full support.

On Tuesday a BBC interview with the 20-time Grand Slam was released in what was the first time he has spoken in public since being deported from Australia following an argument over the legitimacy of his visa. The Australian government made a decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa with one of the main reasons being that he could trigger unrest with anti-vax protesters. An allegation that he firmly denies. The world No.1 says his reason for not having a vaccine is because he has reservations about what it could do to his body in the long term. However, more than 95% of the men’s top 100 are fully vaccinated with very few reporting any adverse effects.

“I was never against vaccination but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.” Said Djokovic.
The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.” He later added.

Djokovic said that his hope is that others respect his view, even if they do not understand the logic of his stance with the possibility of his 2022 season being disrupted due to different countries rulings on vaccines upon entry.

Another player who missed the first Grand Slam of the season due to being unvaccinated was France’s Pierre-Huges Herbert. A top 10 doubles player who has won five major titles alongside compatriot Nicolas Mahut. Unlike Djokovic, he didn’t travel to Australia because he had no valid reason which would have allowed him a medical exemption in order to play.

“Freedom is stronger than tennis and everything else. I found myself a lot in the interview he (Djokovic) gave. Great respect for his position. He has convictions, respect,” Herbert told L’Equipe following his first round win at the Open 13.

Herbert has started his season by playing a series of Challenger and Tour events in his home country. He had previously said that getting vaccinated is a ‘personal choice.’ The ATP has in recent weeks been urging their players to have a vaccination but is unable to issue a mandatory requirement. This is because players are perceived as contractors of the Tour and not actual employees.

“I’m just super happy to be able to play in my situation,” he said. “It’s certain that I had very little future at the end of last year, so I’m just very happy to be on the court and to be able to play tournaments in France. We want to play in front of our public, that’s what motivates me and makes me want to be a tennis player.”

It is unclear if Herbert, who contracted COVID-19 last month, plans to to be vaccinated in the near future.

As for Djokovic, he is set to return to action next week at the Dubai Tennis Championships in what will be his first tournament of the year. Dubai currently has no rules in place regarding the entry of unvaccinated members of the public.


Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two



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



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.


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.


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.


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



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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