Seven-Time Major Champion Names Carlos Alcaraz 'Most Inspirational’ Player In Men’s Tennis  - UBITENNIS
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Seven-Time Major Champion Names Carlos Alcaraz ‘Most Inspirational’ Player In Men’s Tennis 

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Image via US Open Twitter

Carlos Alcaraz shouldn’t be compared to the prestigious Big Three but there is one thing that sets him apart, according to tennis great Mats Wilander. 

 

19-year-old Alcaraz has burst onto the scene during a season where he has finished as the youngest-ever year-end No.1 in ATP history. Within the past 12 months, he has won two ATP 500 titles and two Masters 1000 tournaments. Then at the US Open, he claimed his first Grand Slam title after defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud in the final. Overall, he has won 57 out of 70 matches played in 2022, scoring nine wins over top-10 opposition.

Alcaraz’s rapid rise has generated a surge in praise towards him, as well as a comparison to the three heavyweights of men’s tennis. Especially compatriot Rafael Nadal who he idolized growing up. 

“He doesn’t have to be considered the greatest player, but one thing is for sure: it is fun as hell to watch him play tennis when he’s that good and he’s laughing at the same time,” Wilander said of Alcaraz during an interview with Eurosport.
“He’s the most inspirational tennis player that we have because of what he did in 2022 and most of all because of the way he did it.
“Never compare him to Rafa, Roger and Novak, the way he did it I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Unfortunately for Alcaraz his fairytale year didn’t have a happy ending after an abdominal injury forced him to miss the prestigious ATP Finals which Novak Djokovic won for a record-equalling sixth time without losing a match.

Wilander believes the most crucial thing for the world No.1 now is learning to adapt to his new status as a top player in the men’s game. It was only at the start of last year when Alcaraz played in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. 19 months ago he was yet to crack the top 100. 

“I think it will be really hard to digest 2022 for Alcaraz,” he commented. “But I also think [coach] Juan Carlos Ferrero is going to know exactly what they need to do.
“I think that there’s a validation process that has to happen for Carlos. ‘Am I really No. 1 in the world?’ That was an unbelievable year. But hold on. There’s Holger Rune. There’s Djokovic. There is Daniil Medvedev.
“I mean, ‘what you’re putting me as No. 1 as a 19-year-old?’. So I think there’s going to be a bit of doubt there, and I think that you have to take care of that doubt by working really hard physically and mentally and really finding how he needs to play tennis when he is not feeling good.”

Warning sent to another rising star

Besides Alcaraz, Danish tennis sensation Holger Rune has also caught the attention of many on the Tour following his shock run to the Paris Masters title where he scored five consecutive wins over top-10 players. Now at a ranking high of No.11, the 19-year-old recently said during an interview with TV2 Sport that he believes reaching No.1 by the end of 2023 is a realistic goal. 

However, Wilander believes Rune’s big aspirations for the new season could potentially be counterproductive if things don’t go his way.  

“Rune said he’s going to be No. 1 in the world and this might generate disappointment, if it does not happen right away,” he said.
“Imagine if Casper [Ruud] would have gone out and said that last year. Then had this year where he made three finals. People would say ‘whoa, yeah, he can never, ever win a big tournament. There’s no chance, he’s lost three finals in one year.’
“So my first reaction would be to say it’s wrong and it’s dangerous [to say you will be No. 1], but if it motivates you as a player, then go ahead.”

As for improvements, the Swede believes Rune needs to work on how he conducts himself on the court. He can be at times very animated on the court which is a characteristic many players his age also have. 

“He must probably have to clean up his body language slightly on court, which he will, because he’s only 19 and he’s an unbelievably quick learner, for sure,” he continued.
“I think it will help his tennis to be a little bit more settled and maybe neutral in terms of showing good vibes and bad vibes because other guys are going to start picking up on it and there’s going to be people in the crowd that some people are going to say ‘whoa, this is a bit unusual in a way’. But at the same time, the fight that he puts up is incredible. So we don’t really know.”

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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Fernando Verdasco Given Two Month Doping Ban

Fernando Verdasco has been banned from tennis until the 8th of January.

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Fernando Verdasco (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Fernando Verdasco will miss the first week of the 2023 season after being provisionally suspended for two months after testing positive for the drug methylphenidate.

 

The former world number seven tested positive for the drug at the Challenger event in Rio De Janeiro and has accepted a voluntary ban until the 8th of January.

As well as testing positive for the drug methylphenidate, Verdasco had also forgot to renew his Therapeutic Use Exemption despite the Spaniard admitting that he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In a statement published today the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), explained why his ban has been shortened from two years to two months, “The ITIA accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” they said in a statement on his website.

“In the specific circumstances of this case, based on the player’s degree of fault the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme allows for the applicable period of ineligibility to be reduced from two years to two months.”

The 39 year-old will as a result miss the first week of the new season with the Spaniard being currently ranked at world number 125.

In 2022, Verdasco’s best results on the ATP tour were quarter-final performances in Buenos Aires and Estoril while he also won a challenger title in Monterrey in March.

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‘I Hope I Can Keep Up’ – Alexander Zverev Speaks Out Ahead Of Return From Injury

After suffering a horrific accident at the French Open, the German is once again raring to go. 

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Alexander Zverev - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Alexander Zverev says he has missed his fellow rivals as he prepares to return to the court at an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia in just over a week. 

 

The former world No.2 has been absent from the sport since June after badly injuring his ankle in his semi-final match against Rafael Nadal at the French Open. A scan later revealed he had torn various ligaments in his foot and he was later diagnosed with bone edema which is where there is an abnormal amount of fluid around the bone area. He had originally hoped to return to action earlier in the season but was unable to recover in time. 

Instead, Zverev’s first taste of competitive tennis in his comeback will be at the extravagant Diriyah Tennis Cup which features 12 players with the singles champion winning $1M in prize money. 

“I’m just looking forward to being back on court and being back on a competitive court because it’s been a very long time for me,” Zverev said during an interview for the event. “The best players in the world are there so it’s gonna be a high level tournament and I think everybody’s in form because they’re still either coming from Davis Cup or they just came from the ATP Finals so everybody will still be playing great tennis and I hope I can keep up with them.”

Also playing at the event will be Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Daniil Medvedev. It will be far from an easy return to action for Zverev after his lengthy absence from the sport. However, he is looking forward to being reunited with his peers. 

“I’ve also missed those guys to be honest even though we’re competitors but I have great friends there as well. You know, I missed seeing those guys on tour,” he said.
“I feel like me and Dominic (Thiem), we haven’t seen each other for almost two years now because he was injured in 2021 And I was injured in 2022. So we missed each other in a way. Yeah, so I’m just looking forward to being back on tour and I’m just looking forward to getting matches.”

Prior to his injury setback, the 25-year-old has won 29 out of 39 matches played this season with his best run being to the finals of events in Montpellier and Madrid. Out of those 29 wins, only three were against top-10 opposition.

Explaining his decision to play in Saudi Arabia, Zverev said it was important for him to play matches against the best in the world ahead of the new season. Some players have been criticized for playing in the country due to its human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been accused of sportswashing which is the process of staging sports events to improve the image of a country which has been tarnished by wrongdoing. 

“You don’t want your first event to be back in Australia, because you then feel like okay, you may be fit physically, you may be in the best shape of your life, but if you haven’t played matches in seven months, it’s still a different fitness level it is still a different, mental stress as well,” Zverev explained. 
“So you want to play before the Australian Open and I think that’s why Saudi Arabia fits in so well this year.” 

The Diriyah Tennis Cup will begin on December 8th. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaCyGMghDMM

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