Dominic Thiem Among Trio Of Former Grand Slam Champions Handed US Open Wildcards - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Among Trio Of Former Grand Slam Champions Handed US Open Wildcards

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Dominic Thiem reacts to winning the 2020 US Open Men's title (image via US Open Twitter)

Dominic Thiem will play his first US Open match since lifting the title almost two years ago after he received a wildcard into the main draw from organizers on Wednesday. 

The former world No.3 is one of three former Grand Slam winners to have received a pass into the tournament which will get underway later this month. Thiem won his first and so far only major title in New York back in 2020 by coming back from two sets down to defeat Alexander Zverev in a marathon encounter. Since then, the Austrian has been blighted by a wrist injury and was forced to miss last year’s US Open due to the injury. 

Thiem, who decided against using his protected ranking to play in the tournament, is currently ranked 228th in the world. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 7-9 on the ATP Tour with his best result being a run to the semi-finals of the Gstaad Open. He has reached the quarter-final stage or better at his three more recent tournaments. 

Other recipients include Tour veteran Sam Querrey who will make his 16th appearance in the main draw. Querrey reached the quarter-finals back in 2017 before losing to Kevin Anderson. French world No.155 Ugo Humbert and Australian world No.199 Rinky Hijikata have also secured a place through the reciprocal agreements between the USTA, the FFT and Tennis Australia. 

Ben Shelton, who won his first Masters 1000 match on Wednesday at the Western and Southern Open, is among a group of home players that have secured their places. J.J.Wolf, Emilio Nava and Learner have also received wildcards.  

The return of venus

In the women’s tournament, Venus Williams will return to New York on what will be the 25th anniversary of when she made her debut at the Grand Slam. A two-time champion in 2000 and 2001, the 42-year-old missed the tournament last year due to a leg injury. She has won 79 matches at the US Open so far in her career. 

2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin joins Williams in the main draw as she continues her comeback from a foot injury. The 23-year-old didn’t play after Wimbledon last year due to injury and catching COVID-19. As for this season, Kenin hasn’t won a match since January but didn’t play any tournaments between April and July. 

After winning a WTA 125 event in Massachusetts earlier this month, Coco Vandeweghe is also heading into the US Open. She won the doubles title back in 2018 with Ash Barty. Harmony Tan, who defeated Serena Williams at Wimbledon earlier this year, and Jaimee Fourlis have also been selected. Other wildcards go to Elizabeth Mandlik, Peyton Stearns and Eleana Yu who will all be making their debut. 

The US Open will get underway on August 29th. Daniil Medvedev and Emma Raducanu are the defending champions.  

Full list of wildcards

WOMEN

  • Jaimee Fourlis USA
  • Sofia Kenin USA
  • Elizabeth Mandlik USA 
  • Peyton Stearns USA
  • Harmony Tan FRA
  • Coco Vandeweghe USA
  • Venus Williams USA
  • Eleana Yu USA 

MEN

  • Rinky Hijikata AUS
  • Ugo Humbert FRA
  • Emilio Nava USA
  • Sam Querrey USA
  • Ben Shelton USA
  • Dominic Thiem AUT
  • Learner Tien USA
  • J.J. Wolf USA

Qualifying wildcards (all American)

WOMEN

  • Kayla Day, 22
  • Valerie Glozman, 15
  • Catherine Harrison, 28
  • Liv Hovde, 16
  • Elvina Kalieva, 19
  • Ashlyn Krueger, 18
  • Christina McHale, 30
  • Whitney Osuigwe, 20
  • Katrina Scott, 18

MEN

  • Murphy Cassone, 19
  • Oliver Crawford, 23
  • Martin Damm, 18
  • Brandon Holt, 24
  • Aleks Kovacevic, 23
  • Bruno Kuzuhara, 18
  • Alex Rybakov, 25
  • Ethan Quinn, 18
  • Zach Svajda, 19

Grand Slam

French Open: WTA Made No Push To Schedule Women’s Matches In Prime Time Slot, Says Chief Mauresmo

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The fallout over the decision to schedule only men’s matches in the evening sessions at this year’s French Open has been defended by tournament director Amelie Mauresmo.

In a deal with Amazon Prime, the Grand Slam schedules one match to take place at 7pm on their premier Philippe Chatrier court every day until the quarter-finals. This year was the first time that no women’s matches were played in the slot since the deal was established in 2021. Overall, there have been 43 night sessions in the tournament’s history with 39 of them being awarded to the men’s draw.

Recently the WTA issued a statement to Reuters news agency calling for there to be more balance in the scheduling. A spokesperson said ‘fans want to see the excitement and thrill of women’s tennis on the biggest stages and in the premium time slots.’ However, it has now been claimed that the governing body was involved in the allocation of matches in the tournament. 

Mauresmo, who is a former world No.1 and previously coached Andy Murray, said there was never any ‘push’ for women’s matches to be held in this spot which some players don’t want due to its time. 

“When we do the scheduling, the WTA is in the room as well as the ATP, the Grand Slam supervisor, TV, we are all together,” Mauresmo said on Sunday.
“I did not see any push also to have the women’s match in the evening. I think it’s a very complicated decision. 
“It’s not easy having one match (at night) but again I never say it’s gonna be never (to having women’s matches).”

Elaborating further on the topic, Mauresmo argues that men’s matches usually last longer due to their best-of-five format. Making these more valuable for fans attending in terms of duration. The idea of playing two matches at night has been dismissed because it would ‘create other problems’ such as extremely late finishes. Novak Djokovic didn’t end his third round match until after 3am.

“It’s not a matter of how interesting the matches can be or could be. For us, it’s a matter of the length of the matches.”She said.
“In terms of the people that are coming to watch the match, the 15,000 people that are coming. It’s complicated for us to think that maybe it’s going to be very, very short. So we try our best, and it’s not easy.”

This year’s Olympic tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. That event will also have a night session but two matches will take place as they will all be best-of-three sets. 

More than 650,000 spectators came to the French Open over the past three weeks. A review of the event will start in a couple of weeks.

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Focus

Roland Garros Daily Preview: Carlos Alcaraz Plays Sascha Zverev in the Men’s Final

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Carlos Alcaraz on Friday in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The championship matches in men’s singles and women’s doubles will be played on Sunday.

19 years ago, a young Spaniard named Rafael Nadal started a legendary relationship with Roland Garros, winning his first of a record-breaking 14 titles at this event.  Now in the same year that Nadal seemingly bid farewell to the French Open, another young Spaniard looks to begin his own Parisian legacy.  On Sunday, Carlos Alcaraz plays for his third Major title, and his first on the surface he grew up on.

Four years ago, Sascha Zverev reached his only other Major final, in an empty stadium during the 2020 US Open.  Despite holding a two-set lead, Zverev lost that championship match to Dominic Thiem in a fifth-set tiebreak, after some extremely nervous play.  On Sunday, a confident and self-described more mature version of Sascha returns to the last round of a Major, this time in a sold out stadium, and looking for a different result.

Also on Day 15, in the women’s doubles championship match at 11:30am local time, it will be Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini (11) vs. Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova (5).  After losing the women’s singles final on Saturday, Paolini vies for Grand Slam glory alongside Errani, who is a five-time Major champion in women’s doubles.  Between singles and doubles, Gauff is 0-3 in Slam finals, which includes a runner-up appearance here two years ago in both disciplines.  Siniakova owns seven Major titles in women’s doubles, all of which came with Barbora Krejcikova.


Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Not Before 2:30pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Alcaraz has only played 29 matches this year, with a record of 24-5, as he missed several big events due to a right arm injury.  That included absences at two of the ATP’s biggest European clay court events, Monte Carlo and Rome.  Yet despite the injury and lack of match play, Carlitos has advanced to his third Major final with the loss of just three sets, two of which came against Jannik Sinner in Friday’s semifinals. 

By contrast, Zverev has been the healthiest of the top seven ATP players during this clay court season.  He is 34-9 in 2024, and comes into this match on a 12-match winning streak, after taking the Masters 1000 title in Rome three weeks ago.  Sascha endured a complicated path to this championship match, which included a pair of five-setters.  And he surely values his bodily health after the awful ankle injury he suffered in the semifinals of this event two years ago.  He would love to continue creating more positive memories on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Zverev holds a narrow 5-4 edge in their head-to-head, though on clay, Alcaraz leads 2-1.  However, Sascha’s sole victory on clay came in their only previous meeting at this event, in the 2022 quarterfinals.  And the German is 2-1 against the Spaniard at Majors.

Alcaraz has a definitive edge in speed as well as on the forehand side, while Zverev will look to use his serve to dictate play, and possesses a more formidable backhand.  But the biggest difference between these two is how they play in big matches.  Carlitos is 7-1 in finals at Majors and Masters 1000 tournaments, with his only loss coming in an epic championship match last summer in Cincinnati against Novak Djokovic.  Sascha is just 6-6 in finals at those same levels, and his record of 2-6 in Major semifinals speaks to how passively he often plays in big matches.

And if the match goes the distance, that is a distinct advantage for Alcaraz, who is 10-1 lifetime in five-setters.  While Zverev’s mark of 23-11 is actually pretty strong, many of those wins came against players ranked outside the top 100, and in matches where Sascha arguably should have won without going five.

Plus, trying to accomplish the sport’s biggest feat, winning a Major title, when you have not only never done so before, but actually choked when you were so close to doing so, is a lot to overcome.  While I don’t expect Zverev to play as nervously in his second Major final as his first, Alcaraz remains the freer swinger at crucial moments.  Carlitos should be favored to win his third Major title on Sunday in Paris.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP

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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