The Wimbledon Men’s Draw: Djokovic Faces Possible QF Clash With Alcaraz, Nadal To Start On Tuesday - UBITENNIS
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The Wimbledon Men’s Draw: Djokovic Faces Possible QF Clash With Alcaraz, Nadal To Start On Tuesday

Here is everything you need to know about this year’s men’s tournament at The All England Club.

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General view of Centre Court during the Gentlemen's Singles Final of Andy Murray (GBR) vs Novak Djokovic (SRB) at The Championships 2013. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club. Day 13 - Saturday 07/07/2013. Credit: AELTC/Thomas Lovelock.

Novak Djokovic will kick off his campaign at Wimbledon on Monday with the entire top half of the men’s draw playing their first round matches.

Defending champion Djokovic is the top seed for the fourth time in a row. This year he is seeking to win his seventh Wimbledon title. Something which has only ever been achieved by Pete Sampras and Roger Federer in the Open Era. He will get his campaign underway against South Korea’s Kwon Soo-Woo who is currently ranked 75th in the world. The Serbian could then have to take on Thanassi Kokkinakis followed by a potentially tricky encounter against compatriot Memoir Kecmanovic.

After winning the first two major events of the season, Rafael Nadal enters Wimbledon with the shot of achieving a Calendar Slam for the first time in his career. In his 14 previous appearances at The All England Club, he has lifted the trophy twice with his most recent triumph being back in 2010. Seeded second and therefore on the other side of the draw to Djokovic, he will play Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo in the first round. Cerundolo is currently at a career-high of 42nd in the world but has failed to win back-to-back matches at his three previous tournaments. If he wins, Nadal will play either Sam Querrey or Ricardas Berankis in the second round. Former finalist Marin Cilic is a potential fourth round opponent.

Casper Ruud joked during the Miami Masters in March that ‘grass is for golf players.’ Little did he know at the time that he would end up being a top-three seed at Wimbledon following his breakthrough run to the final of the French Open and the subsequent ban of world No.1 Daniil Medvedev due to the Ukraine war. The Norwegian is yet to win a main draw match at SW19 after suffering two straight first round losses. He will be hoping to end the losing streak against Spanish veteran Albert Ramos Vinolas who has only ever won five matches at Wimbledon in his career out of eight appearances.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has had plenty of practice on the grass after playing three tournaments on the surface within the past month, including this week’s Mallorca Open. He begins his Wimbledon bid against Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard who will be playing in a Grand Slam main draw for the first time at the age of 28. Further in the draw, he could play Nick Kyrgios in the third round who he recently lost to in Halle.

Rising star Carlos Alcaraz was ranked 75th in the world when he made his Wimbledon debut 12 months ago. Since then, he has shot up the world rankings following a sensational first half of 2022. The Spaniard is high in confidence despite his inexperience on the surface or the fact he was seen wearing heavy strapping on his arm. Opening up against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, he faces the possibility of playing Fabio Fognini in the second round. Then another Italian, Jannik Sinner, could be a possible fourth round opponent before a potential showdown with Djokovic.

Other players to look out for include Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz who recently produced some of the best tennis of his career to crush Medvedev in the Halle Final. The Pole has already impressed at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals in 2021. Hurkacz opens up against Alejandro Davidovich Forkina. 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini is another title contender who is high in confidence after winning back-to-back grass-court titles in Stuttgart and Halle. The Italian plays Chile’s Christian Garin in the first round.

As for home players, Cameron Norrie is seeded ninth in the draw and will play Pablo Andujar. He is only the third British man to have a top 10 seeding at the tournament over the past 20 years after Tim Henman and Andy Murray. Dan Evans, who is seeded 29th, opens up against Jason Kubler.

Outside threats include Murray who recently reached the final of the Stuttgart Open where he lost in three sets to Berrettini. However, the former world No.1 has recently been hampered by a minor abdominal injury but is hopeful that he will be fit in time. Murray will play James Duckworth and could face John Isner in the last 64.

Australia’s Kyrgios faces Paul Jubb in his opening match. The unpredictable world No.45 can beat the best players in the world if he is in top form. He has beaten a top 10 player 24 times in his career. Like Murray, he has also suffered a minor injury setback after withdrawing from the Mallorca Open due to an abdominal issue.

Other notable first round matches to look out for include Sinner against three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Diego Schwartzman, who has never gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon, faces a stern test against Borna Coric. Finally, Lorenzo Musetti’s clash with Taylor Fritz could be a very intriguing one.

At this year’s draw, there will be no ranking points after the ATP decided to remove them in response to the suspension of Russian and Belarussian players. However, this year’s champion will win £2M in prize money.

The draw in detail

Sections and seeds (1-4 is the top half, 5-8 in the bottom)

SECTION 1: N.Djokovic (1), M.Kecmanovic (25), N.Basilashvili (22), R.Opelka (15)

SECTION 2: J.Sinner (10), J.Isner (20), O.Otte (32), C.Alcaraz (5)

SECTION 3: C.Ruud (3), S.Baez (31), F.Tiafoe (23), P.Carreno Busta (16)

SECTION 4: C.Norrie (9), G.Dimitrov (18), T.Paul (30), H.Hurkacz (7)

SECTION 5: M.Berrettini (8), J.Brooksby (29), A.De Minaur (19), D.Schwartzman (12)

SECTION 6: D.Shapovalov (13), R.Bautista Agut (17), F.Krajinovic (26), S.Tsitsipas (4)

SECTION 7: F.Auger-Aliassime (6), D.Evans (28), H.Rune (24), T.Fritz (11)

SECTION 8: M.Cilic (14), B.Van de Zandschulp (21), L.Sonego (27), R.Nadal (2)

Note: 16 players per section with only one progressing to the quarter-finals

Projected matches (based on seedings)

Round 4

Djokovic vs Opelka
Sinner vs Alcaraz
Ruud vs Carreno Busta
Norrie vs Hurkacz
Berrettini vs Schwartzman
Shapovalov vs Tsitsipas
Auger vs Aliassime-Fritz
Cilic vs Nadal

QF

Djokovic vs Alcaraz
Ruud vs Hurkacz
Berrettini vs Tsitsipas
Auger-Aliassime vs Nadal

SF

Djokovic vs Ruud
Tsitsipas vs Nadal

The full draw can be seen HERE.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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