Fernando Verdasco Hits Out At Madrid Open Owners IMG Over Wild Card Policy - UBITENNIS
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Fernando Verdasco Hits Out At Madrid Open Owners IMG Over Wild Card Policy

The tennis veteran says ‘it makes no sense’ giving a pass to France’s Luas Pouille instead of him.

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MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 15: A general view of Manolo Santana centre court during Rafael Nadal of Spain against Nicolas Almagro of Spain in their semi final match during the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 15, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Fernando Verdasco has claimed the decision to not award him a wild card to play at the Madrid Open was down to IMG despite efforts made by the tournament director.

The 38-year-old is among a series of Spanish players who have expressed dismay over the allocations of main draw passes this year. Out of the nine main draw wild cards which were up for grabs in both the men’s and women’s main draws, the only local player to receive one was Carlos Gimeno. In response a group of players issued a statement on April 20th criticizing the lack of support given to Spanish tennis. Among the supporters are world No.2 Paula Badosa who reached the Madrid semi-finals last year as a wild card.

“We find it surprising, as well as very frustrating, that the biggest tennis event in Spain shows such little (or no) support for Spanish tennis players with the invitations granted, especially to the main draws.” The statement reads.
“We understand that some of them (tournament organizers) give them (wild cards) at their own discretion, but not that in all of them their commercial interests prevail over Spanish sport and totally leaving the trajectory followed in previous years. We have many tennis players who have remained at the gates of being able to participate, and have been ignored in their requests to receive an invitation.”

In 2021 a total of six wild cards was given to home players – two in the women’s draw and four in the men’s. However, since then the tournament has changed ownership with IMG completing their takeover from Super Slam Ltd and its affiliates. Romania’s Iron Tiriac was the former owner.

Speaking about the situation following his second round win at the Estoril Open, Verdasco believes the blame lies with IMG over the lack of main draw wild cards for home players. The Madrid-born player had made 18 consecutive appearances at the Masters 1000 event and the last time he didn’t play was back in 2002 (excluding 2020 when the tournament was cancelled). His win-loss record currently stands at 19-18 with his best run being to the quarter-finals on two occasions.

“It’s my city, I played it for 17 years and now that I need it they give wild cards to a World No. 500 and one French. Pouille is my friend, but it makes no sense. It’s like Paris-Bercy giving me a wild-card instead of him.Said Verdasco.

Verdasco, who is currently ranked 118th in the world, says tournament director Felciano Lopez tried to help get him a wild card but was unable to do so.

“Feliciano is my friend and I know by what he told IMG that he tried everything to help me get a wild card, but they told him no. So I’ll always defend him, but I have to be disappointed with the tournament and his boss, who now works for IMG.” He concluded.

List of 2022 Madrid Open main draw wildcards

Men
Andy Murray GBR
Jack Draper GBR
Carlos Gimeno ESP
Lucas Pouille FRA

Women
Naomi Osaka JPN
Linda Fruhvirtova CZE
Monica Puig PUR
Marta Kostyuk UKR
Qinwen Zheng CHN

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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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