Britain’s Male Players Shine At US Open - UBITENNIS
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Britain’s Male Players Shine At US Open

Cam Norrie and Dan Evans enjoy comfortable wins and join Andy Murray and Jack Draper. Like in 2020, four British men players make second round of US Open

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

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Cameron Norrie – Benoit Paire 60 76 60

Can a match be over after the first game? Well, if the most erratic player is up against the most consistent it can happen. If the first has also recently been taking a break off tennis, while the latter has been thriving since his Wimbledon run to the semifinals, it comes as no surprise that one game can tell the story of a whole match.

Paire lost serve in the first game of the match. In spite of scoring three points with his first serve he undid it all with unforced errors pouring in from every domain. Neither were the errors spurred by attempts to construct points. It was just unforced errors, often coming from sluggish moving. It appeared clear that Norrie just had to keep the ball in play and wait. When Paire did try a shift in tactics in the second game, charging to the net, Norrie did not blink and hit a comfortable passing shot down the line. After 20 minutes the set was over. 

But there are many kinds of Benoit Paire and a different one started the second set. The one endowed with a unique tennis genius. More enterprising and error-free, he held serve and was unleashing unretrievable backhands down the line as well as mixing up pace. Slightly unsettled Norrie fended off a break point in the fifth game but surrendered his serve two games later, the Frenchman pressuring from the baseline and with forays into the net. However he tightened up when serving the set out and let Norrie back in. No more twists occurred and it was tiebreak time. Benoit Paire set up a glamorous stop volley to win the first point, then gave the floor to his former self and was no longer a match for a buoyed Norrie, who won seven straight points to secure the tiebreak, and the next six games to pocket the match. 

“It’s tricky, especially how Benoit plays. He obviously plays with a lot of flare, he can come forward very well and serve well at times.  And he’s dangerous. So for me, I was just trying to concentrate and stay locked in,” said Norrie. “It was a tough second set. He played really, served well, and returned. That one game, I didn’t make many first serves and he took it to me and broke me Norrie said after the match.  In the third set it was all going very quickly, but I’ll take it. You know, it was pretty hot out there, and nice to get it done in straight (sets).”

Norrie will take on Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the second round.

Dan Evans – Jiri Vesely 

Dan Evans has been playing some dream tennis throughout his American summer, underpinning his shot variety with consistency and physical brilliance. Opposed to Jiri Vesely, ranked 68 he displayed remarkable ease and closed the match in three comfortable fuel-saving sets, 64 61 61.  He continuously mixed up service placement and did not concede breakpoints.  However it must be said that the Czech never came up with the tennis he stunned Djokovic with in Dubai, when he put away the number one of the world in two sets, one of the greatest upsets of the season. 

In the first set both players exhibited enjoyable and airy tennis. Evans earned his first chances in the opening game, effectively steering his lifted backhands to elicit errors or set up winners. However Vesely saved four breakpoints and held, assisted by his first serve and opening up the court for winning groundstrokes. 

Evans breezed through his first service game and snatched the break soon after, with two deep returns which Vesely couldn’t cope with. From then on Evans maintained his lead, never conceding breakpoints, and sealed the first set 64.

The match had taken its turn. Evans rushed away with an early break in the second set. Vesely proved unable to endure long rallies and was missing within few shots, most often when trying to hit through the Brit’s lifted, floating backhands. Evans gained two further breaks and won the second set 61.

Evans never relented pressure and focus on every point. The way he celebrated when an exquisitely delicate inside out forehand set up two match points, witnesses his determination and self-belief.  An eleventh ace closed off the third set 61. 

“I played very well. It was nice to get back on the match court. It’s been quite a while since Cincinnati but it was nice to get out and I played very well,” said Evans.
“I played well the week before and I didn’t play great in Cincinnati but it’s the first round and the start of a new tournament and you have to start building again.
“I didn’t do too much running, I served well and dictated pretty well.”

His next opponent will be Aussie James Duckworth and it will be their first ever encounter.

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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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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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