‘My Best Level Since The US Open’ - Casper Ruud Beats In-Form Auger-Aliassime At ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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‘My Best Level Since The US Open’ – Casper Ruud Beats In-Form Auger-Aliassime At ATP Finals

After failing to win back-to-back matches at his four previous tournaments, the 23-year-old is hoping to end 2022 on a high at the end-of-year tournament.

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Casper Ruud (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Casper Ruud has kicked-off his campaign at the ATP Finals by edging out Felix Auger-Aliassime in two closely contested sets.

Ruud, who has reached two Grand Slam finals this season, defeated the Canadian 7-6(5), 6-4, to record his 49th win of the year. It is the third consecutive time he has beaten Auger-Aliassime and the second in 2022. In his latest match, he hit 16 winners and won 75% of his first service points.

“The serve is extremely important on this surface (at the ATP Finals). One break in the whole match is enough to win, so you really have to be focused on your serve,” Ruud said afterwards. 

“I was serving well today. I have been recently struggling a little bit with my serve in the past weeks so I am very happy.”

Historically Ruud has been an Achilles heel for Auger-Aliassime after winning two out of their three previous meetings. In fact, his dominant 6-1, 6-2, triumph at the Canadian Masters earlier this year was the heaviest loss Auger-Aliassime has ever suffered as a professional player.

However, since then 22-year-old has become a formidable force on the Tour after winning 17 out of his past 18 matches played, capturing titles in Florence, Antwerp and Basel. Heading into this week’s tournament he has won more indoor matches than any other player on the ATP Tour this year.

Taking to the court in Turin for their latest encounter, the two players were almost inseparable throughout the opener. The first 12 games went by with no break point opportunities arising as both men won more than 80% of their service points.

The tussle continued into the tiebreaker where Ruud grabbed early a mini breaky for 4-2 following a double fault for Auger-Aliassime. However, two points later he lost his advantage after hitting a passing shot which narrowly landed out. In what was a test of nerves, Auger-Aliassime was the one who faltered at the worst possible moment after hitting a backhand error, his seventh of the match, to hand Ruud another break and more crucially a set point. Ruud converted on the next point with the help of another error from his opponent, this time from the forehand side.

Continuing to tame the threat coming from across the court, Ruud had all the answers asked of him by a frustrated Auger-Aliassime. In the fourth game of the second set, the Norwegian was taken to deuce on his serve for the first time but still came out on top. Then at 3-3, he broke for the first time after three consecutive errors from the world No.6 who started to implode on the court. That break gave Ruud enough of a margin to close out the match after just under two hours of play. He sealed victory on his first match point with a serve out wide which his rival returned out. 

“This is some of my best level since the US Open. The last couple of months have been a bit of a struggle but you have to accept it as well,” said Ruud, who hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the US Open.

“You will face difficult moments in your career and maybe these last few months have been one of those. Let’s see if I can turn it around.

“Today was a great win. Felix has been on a roll this fall and I knew he was going to come out strong. I played well and found some of my best level. I’m extremely happy with that. I knew if I wanted to have a chance I had to bring my A-game and I did just that.”

It is only the third time in 2022 that Ruud has beaten a top-10 player. At the ATP Finals, he will play Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz later in the week who will face each other on Sunday evening.

“The next match is going to be tough no matter who I play. At least I have a win in the bag. I’m sure there have been people who have won their first match and then lost their next two at the tournament so I am not going to count on anything. I’m just going to focus on the next matches.” The two-time Grand Slam finalist concluded. 

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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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