Novak Djokovic Brilliantly Passes His First French Open Test - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Brilliantly Passes His First French Open Test

An apparently comfortable match awaited Djokovic on the first of the 10 sold out night sessions at the French Open. Yet it was not a true moonlight match, due to the closed roof in a nippy and rainy Parisien soirée.

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ATP NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Novak Djokovic has begun his title defence at the French Open in clinical fashion after defeating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-1, 6-0, in his opening match. 

Nishioka had never ventured beyond the second round at Roland Garros, which he reached in 2019, 2020, 2021. In the first occasion he lost to Del Potro in 5 sets, then to Gaston, and in 2021 to Musetti after previously disappointing French crowds putting away Tsonga in the first round. On Monday evening he walked onto the Philippe Chatrier court still to win a match on clay in the ongoing season.

With Djokovic looking to revive his goosebumps of his 2021 triumph and thriving with form, not an easy endeavour for the 26 year-old Japanese, ranked 99 with a career best of 48.

Nishioka started his match not only putting up a brave resistance but turning it into aggression.  Such strategy earned him three break points in the opening game. The first was saved by Djokovic with an inside-out forehand winner after a 21-shot rally. The second and third were erased just as emphatically with an ace and a flying volley. Djokovic closed the game off with 2 aces.

In the early stages Djokovic appeared slightly bothered by Nishioka’s left handed lifted balls and aggressive returns on second serve, as well as struggling with a dissatisfactory racquet grip.

He did not lose focus though, while tailoring his game to find the tactical key 

The set went with serve until the sixth game when Nishioka, in spite of some great scuttling, lost his serve with a double fault. 

Djokovic by then was successfully choosing to counter lift rather than dictate from the start of the rallies, eliciting more unforced errors and setting up points with the Japanese’s balls falling shorter and easier to pounce and pound on.

After missing a first set point on Nishioka’s serve in the eighth game, Djokovic pocketed the set  6-3. His six aces perhaps the most impressive statistical figure.

The storyline in the second set was quite different with two drop shots giving the Serb an early break.

Nishioka still found the grit to reach break point in the second game but Djokovic once more erased it with his seventh ace and went on to hold. This time cracks appeared in his opponent’s resistance and he took a second and third break. A concentration lapse by the Serbian when serving at 5-0 allowed Nishioka to avoid the bagel, but not a fourth following break which handed the set to the top seed.

The third set turned out to be a competitive training session, with Djokovic mixing up his game and enjoying occasional forays to the net, as well as polishing his drop shots. He just had to save a break point in the third game, which arrived out of the blue from a brief string of unforced errors. After that glitch Djokovic seemed determined not to concede further chances, reasoning and fighting on each point, alternating defence and aggression, pace and direction, proving that no shot is missing in his repertoire. In the fourth game Nishioka valiantly saved three break points but surrendered on the fourth. A few minutes later Djokovic closed his impressive night performance with a leaping smash, vintage champagne tennis. 

I have to be pleased with the start. It was difficult to go through him until I got used to and adapted to his game. He’s very quick, one of the quickest players on the tour,” said Djokovic.
This is the first time that we have 100% capacity, so of course it was fun. At night, usually in all slams, all tournaments, the atmosphere is more energetic, more electric, and the crowd gets into it. It was a good experience.” He added

In his next match Djokovic will be facing either Federico Coria or Alex Molcan. Both are well suited to clay and will deliver a tougher challenge. 

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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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