Andrey Rublev Ousts Former Champion Medvedev In ATP Finals Thriller - UBITENNIS
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Andrey Rublev Ousts Former Champion Medvedev In ATP Finals Thriller

After missing golden opportunities and getting frustrated with officials, the Russian managed to come out on top in the 150-minute epic.

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Image via ATP Twitter

Andrey Rublev has become the fourth player this year to win a 50th match on the men’s Tour after outlasting Daniil Medvedev in a dramatic encounter at the ATP Finals.

Rublev, who is the only player in his group yet to win the season-ending event, overcame some tough mental and physical moments to defeat the former US Open champion 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(7). In the opener, he failed to convert seven set points before falling behind and throughout the match, he was visibly frustrated with some of the calls from officials regarding his shots. Nevertheless, he managed to grind out the win with the help of 38 winners and nine aces. 

“I was thinking about the US Open. When we played in the 2020 quarter-finals I had a similar lead in the tiebreak and when I lost that set I couldn’t play anymore,” Rublev reflected afterwards.
“I was thinking that it can’t happen again. I have to change something and keep playing because if I lose in three sets it is good (here at the ATP Finals). In the group, you have to fight for every game and every point.”

It was a case of so near but so far for Rublev throughout the opener. The world No.7 got off to a strong start with the use of some blistering shotmaking which continuously placed his opponent in the offensive position. He first drew blood in the fourth game after hitting back-to-back forehand winners en route to a 40-0 lead on the Medvedev serve. Rublev then sealed the break for a 3-1 lead with a forehand volley at the net. 

However, the 25-year-old failed to maintain his lead after faltering at the worst possible moment. Leading 5-3, 15-0, nerves started to get the better of him as Medvedev clawed his way back by breaking with a passing shot en route to drawing level at 5-5. 

Rublev’s frustrations continued as more golden opportunities came and went during the closing stages of the opener. He failed to convert two set points whilst leading 6-5 and then saw a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker disappear. Meanwhile, Medvedev weathered the storm to snatch the first set on his first opportunity to do so. 

“Two f**king points in the f**king tiebreak.” A livid Rublev shouted at umpire Mohamed Lahyani when complaining about some incorrect calls made by the lines officials. 

The rollercoaster continued with the lower-ranked Russian yet again getting the early break in the second frame but this time he was able to seize the moment. Medvedev appeared at times to be tentative with his serve and struggled with his consistency, winning just three out of 13 points behind his second serve and committing seven double faults. One of those double faults was on set point which enabled Rublev to take the match into a decider.  

With all to play for in the round-robin competition, the scrappy encounter continued with both players refusing to go down without a fight. 12 games went by with only one break point opportunity arising, which was in Rublev’s favour but he failed to convert. 

Heading into the decisive tiebreak, it was a case of deja vu with Rublev suffering more frustration after seeing four match points come and go. Nevertheless, he continued fighting to nudge ahead 8-7 after a Medvedev unforced error. He prevailed on his fifth time asking by blasting a winning forehand down the line. Prompting him to drop to the ground out of sheer delight. 

“The final tiebreak was crazy. When we had a 30-shot (rally) I was already cramping but I was saying (to myself), ‘no, one more, you have to keep playing. If you have a chance go for them,’ and in the end, I was able to win.” he said of the victory.  

The challenge doesn’t get any easier for Rublev and his bid to reach the semi-finals. Later this week he will play five-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2019 winner Stefanos Tsitsipas with only the top two players progressing to the knockout stages. 

“I beat one former champion, it’s enough. I can go home now,” Rublev jokes
“It’s tough. I am in the worst group. I don’t know what I am doing there.”

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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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