Mubadala World Tennis Championships In Quotes: Ruud’s Goal, Alcaraz’s Memories Of Ferrero And Norrie’s Expectations
During this year’s exhibition tournament in the Middle East, Ubitennis asked an array of questions to some of those participating.
For over a decade the Mubadala World Tennis Championships has been a regular fixture in the tennis off-season.
Starting in 2009, the annual event has featured some of the biggest names in men’s tennis with previous winners including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Since 2017, organizers have also held an exhibition women’s match with this year’s clash seeing Ons Jabeur ousting 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu in three sets.
As for the men’s tournament, four out of the six participants this season are currently ranked in the world’s top 10. Ahead of the final day of action, Ubitennis quizzed some of those players in Abu Dhabi about a variety of topics ranging from their experience of the tournament to their ultimate goal in the sport.
Borna Coric had fun but not as much as his team
Coric came in as a late replacement for Frances Tiafoe who was forced to pull out due to an unspecified injury. Playing in the tournament for the first time, he suffered back-to-back defeats to Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals and then Cameron Norrie in the fifth place play-off.
Reflecting on his experience, the Croat has only good things to say about the city. Even though he was unable to explore it as his team did.
“I enjoyed my time here. It is a very nice city. I haven’t done much to be honest because I arrived in the late afternoon and practised on my first day. Then I had a couple of things to do with the tennis side so I couldn’t really do much. My team went to the Ferrari World and the mosque so they had a much better time than me.”
Ruud slowly adjusting
Does Casper Ruud ever rest? After playing at the ATP Finals in Turin, he traveled across South America to play in a series of exhibition matches against 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal. Ruud, who played 73 ATP Tour matches in 2022, unsurprisingly had issues adjusting to the conditions in the Middle East after playing across Europe and South America.
“The court is a little bit different and it took some time for me to get used to it because I have been playing mainly indoors in recent weeks. Especially in South America where I was playing exhibition matches against Rafa (Nadal) indoors. Took me a bit longer to get used to the warmer weather but I’m feeling a bit better day by day.”
On Sunday, Ruud defeated world No.1 Alcaraz 6-1, 6-4, to win the third-place play-off.
Norrie aiming high
After reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final in July, Cameron Norrie is hungry for even more. This year he has won titles in Delray Beach and Lyon, as well as finishing runner-up at two other events. However, Norrie is far from satisfied with his performance.
“I think last year wasn’t a surprise because I felt good and I had a really good year. This year has been good but I do wish I could have done a bit better. But I think that is just how my expectations change. I finished 10th or 11th last year. So it is tough to finish around the same this year with Wimbledon not awarding points. Maybe I could have been a bit better this year. Overall, it was a good year with a lot of good wins. My expectations (for 2023) go up and up so I am going to have to fulfill those.”
This week the Brit lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas before beating Coric at the exhibition event.
Alcaraz vividly remembers watching his mentor plays
Juan Carlos Ferrero has been the driving force behind Carlos Alcaraz’s meteoric rise in the sport which has seen the youngster end 2022 as world No.1 despite being only 19. Unsurprisingly he has been named Coach of the Year by the ATP.
There is a strong bond between the two but does Alcaraz remember much of Ferrero as a competitive player?
“I don’t remember too much about the first time I watched Juan Carlos Ferrero play in real life. I watched a lot of videos of him playing at his best level at his best tournaments. However, I don’t remember much about watching him in real life or on TV.”
In all fairness to Alcaraz, he was just nine when Ferrero retired from professional tennis in 2012.
Ruud: Give me a Grand Slam, not the No.1 spot
Ruud has been agonizingly close to the two biggest milestones in tennis – becoming world No.1 and winning a Grand Slam. The two-time major finalist is currently ranked No.3 in the world and is 1000 points behind leader Alcaraz. But if he could choose, which one would he pick?
“It has to be to win a Grand Slam for me. The Grand Slam trophy is something you can keep forever. Whilst the No.1 position is something you can have temporarily but you can not have it forever. Ok, you can have the career-high No.1 ranking forever but to me, the biggest goal for me and many other players is to try to win a Grand Slam.”
The Mubadala World Tennis Championships concluded on Sunday with Stefanos Tsitsipas defeating Rublev 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, in the final.
Note: all questions asked by Ubitennis were during the players’ press conferences by Andras Ruszanov who is the founder of www.db4tennis.com.
Casper Ruud Topples Rune To Reach French Open Semis
Casper Ruud came out on top in his all-Scandinavian clash with Holger Rune to seal his place in the semi-finals of the French Open.
Ruud, who is seeded fourth in the draw, battled to a 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, win over his Danish opponent in what was a topsy-turvy encounter on the Philippe Chatrier Court. It is the second year in a row that the Norwegian has defeated Rune in the last eight of Roland Garros and he now leads their head-to-head 6-1. He is through to the last four of a major for only the third time in his career.
“I’m very relieved. I came into this match trying to not play with pressure but it is not easy when you’re playing a big match against Holger who is never easy,” Rune said during his post-match interview. “He is very aggressive. Luckily for me the first two sets he wasn’t feeling it too well. He made a lot of errors and I got a lot of points for free.’
“That helped settle my nerves but he fought back in the third set. In the fourth set, I was lucky to keep that break.”
The highly anticipated nighttime clash began in one-way fashion with Ruud claiming 12 out of the first 15 games with relative ease as an erratic Rune struggled to find his game on the court, hitting a total of 40 unforced errors during the first two sets.
It wasn’t until the third frame that Ruud finally faced some resistance on the court as his opponent orchestrated the crowd to get behind him. Prompting the 20-year-old to hit a series of impressive shots to revive his hopes.
However, Rune’s comeback was short-lived as Ruud broke once more midway through the fourth set as he moved to a game away from victory. He earned his first match point at 5-2 following a double fault from his rival but failed to convert. Two more opportunities then came and went for Ruud before he managed to serve the match out in the following game.
“I think I did well,” he replied when asked about how he handled his nerves. “I kind of looked at it (the match) as if he was the favourite. He won the last time we played and he has had a better year than me so far.’
“He was hoping to get into his first (Grand Slam) semi-final and I was hungry to get into another semi-final. Luckily it worked out well for me.”
Awaiting the 24-year-old in the semi-finals on Friday will be Alexander Zverev who defeated Tomás Martín Etcheverry in four sets. He trails their head-to-head 1-2 but they have never faced each other on clay.
“Ruud has been there before. He was in the final here last year, so he knows exactly what it means and what it takes,” Zverev told reporters.
Ruud is now 16-5 this season when it comes to playing matches on the clay. Since the start of 2020, he has registered 86 wins on the surface which is more than any other player on the ATP Tour.
Roland Garros Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Coco Gauff in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final
The quarterfinals conclude on Wednesday in Paris.
A year ago in the women’s singles championship match, Iga Swiatek defeated Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to win her second Roland Garros title. Swiatek leads their head-to-head 6-0, having claimed all 12 sets they’ve contested. Can Coco provide any real resistance on Wednesday?
In the other WTA quarterfinal, Ons Jabeur and Beatriz Haddad Maia vie to reach their first French Open semifinal.
On the men’s side, we have another prominent rematch from last year’s tournament. A year ago in this same round, Casper Ruud eliminated Holger Rune in a contentious Scandinavian battle. Yet in 2023, Rune has been the better player. Who will prevail this time around?
And one year after the serious ankle injury Sascha Zverev suffered in the semifinals of this event, he looks to return to that round, and faces a surprising quarterfinalist in Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) vs. Ons Jabeur (7) – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier
Jabeur is only 15-6 on the year, after missing time this season due to multiple leg injuries. But she has rounded into strong form at a good time, dropping only one set to this stage. This is the farthest Ons has ever advanced in Paris, as she plays for her third Major semifinal, all within the past year.
Haddad Maia had never previously advanced beyond the second round of a Slam, with an 0-7 record in that round. Yet here she is in her first Major quarterfinal, on the surface where the least amount of previous success had come. Beatriz has survived three consecutive three-setters, including an over three-and-half-hour one in the last round against Sara Sorribes Tormo.
These players met just two months ago in the same round on the same surface, with Jabeur easily prevailing 6-3, 6-0 in Stuttgart. Ons will surely be the fresher player, and has an obviously huge edge in experience. I like Jabeur’s chances of achieving her first Roland Garros semifinal.
Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Not Before 12:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier
In their 12 aforementioned previous sets, most have not even been close. Only one, their very first, has gone to a tiebreak, and Gauff has averaged just 2.4 games per set.
Coco is also yet to play her best this year. While her record of 23-8 is far from embarrassing, she had not reached a quarterfinal in three months before this fortnight. She continues to tinker with her forehand and serve, and has made recent changes to her coaching team.
Swiatek is 32-6 this season, and has lost only nine games through four rounds, though she did receive an unfortunate retirement in the last round from an ill Lesia Tsurenko. So while Gauff always remains a threat, a Coco upset on Wednesday would be a bit of a shock.
Sascha Zverev (22) vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier
Zverev arrived in Paris with little form, and even admitted to feeling emotional returning to the scene where such a devastating injury happened a year ago. But he has played excellently through four rounds, dropping just one set against his only opponent seeded higher than him (Tiafoe). Sascha is playing for his third straight semifinal in Paris.
Before this year, Etcheverry had never won a match at a Major, and only owned four career victories at ATP level. But the 23-year-old has won 19 tour-level matches this season, and reached two clay court finals (Santiago, Houston). Tomas Martin is yet to drop a set this tournament, defeating three seeded players (de Minaur, Coric, Nishioka).
But in their first career meeting, Zverev is a huge favorite. His power and experience should allow him to comfortably dictate matters on Wednesday.
Holger Rune (6) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier
Ruud got off to a modest start in 2023 after achieving his first two Major finals in 2022, and accumulating 51 match wins. But he’s now 15-5 on clay this season, and took three tight sets from Nicolas Jarry in a straight-set fourth round match that lasted nearly four hours. Casper is 2-0 in his previous Slam quarterfinals.
Rune has been on a tear since last fall, reaching seven ATP finals, and winning three of them. That includes three clay finals within the last two months (Monte Carlo, Munich, Rome). He survived a grueling round of 16 contest against Francisco Cerundolo, decided by a fifth-set tiebreak. This is Holger’s second Slam quarterfinal, after losing in four sets here a year ago to this same opponent.
These two men exchanged words both at the net and in the locker room after that quarterfinal. Casper, like many players, has voiced how immature he finds Holger’s on-court behavior to be. Ruud won their first four meetings, but just two weeks ago in the semifinals of Rome, Rune came from behind to win in three. All five of those matches took place on clay.
Holger appeared physically fatigued during much of his match on Monday against Cerundolo. The outcome on Wednesday may heavily depend on his physical condition. But if he’s feeling close to 100%, I give Rune the slight edge to achieve his first Major semifinal.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Argentina’s Tomas Etcheverry Pays Tribute To Sister After Milestone French Open Win
Moments after booking his place in the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time, Tomas Etcheverry paid tribute to his sister who passed away last year.
The world No.49 overcame a tough opening set before storming past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6(8), 6-0, 6-1, on Monday night. His win continues what has been a fairytale run for the 23-year-old who is yet to drop a set in Paris. Prior to the tournament, he had only ever won one main draw match at a Grand Slam in his career.
Speaking to ESPN after his victory, Etcheverry mentioned his sister Magui who died in 2022 at the age of 32 following a two-year battle with breast cancer. She had two children called Galo and Juana.
“The truth is that lately I’ve been asking my sister for strength a lot… Today, before a serve, I asked her: ‘Magui, please help me’. And she helped me. I hit an ace,” Etcheverry said.
Etcheverry has already shown his credentials on the clay this season by reaching the final of ATP tournaments in Houston and Santiago. However, he has at times struggled for consistency. Coming into this year’s French Open, he had failed to win back-to-back matches at four consecutive tournaments before reaching the final of a Challenger event in Bordeaux.
Besides Nishioka, the Argentine has also recorded convincing wins over Alex de Minaur and Borna Coric at the French Open. Making it the first time in his career that he has defeated players currently ranked in the world’s top 20. His next opponent will be Alexander Zverev who he has never played before on the Tour.
“In the next round it’s going to be tough,” Etcheverry said in his press conference. “Sascha Zverev, I think he has a lot more experience than me, but I feel really good to play against him.’
“I am playing incredible tennis this week, and just I have to focus on my game and try to do the same.”
Should Etcheverry upset Zverev, he will become the first Argentine to reach the last four at Roland Garros since Diego Schwartzman in 2020.
Casper Ruud Topples Rune To Reach French Open Semis
Alexander Zverev Reaches French Open Semis 12 Months After Horrific Injury
Ons Jabeur Admits Rushing Back From Injury After Roland Garros Exit
Iga Swiatek Downs Gauff To Set Haddad Maia Semi-Final At Roland Garros
Beatriz Haddad Maia Produces Stunning Comeback Over Jabeur To Reach Roland Garros Semi-Finals
France’s Hugo Gaston Hit With Huge Fine For Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Novak Djokovic Denies Being Roland Garros Favourite, Praises Alcaraz
(EXCLUSIVE) Ukrainian Journalist Reacts To Controversial Booing Of Marta Kostyuk At French Open
Holger Rune Says Djokovic Still The Man To Beat At French Open
Sara Sorribes Tormo Responds To Allegations Of Poor Sportsmanship At French Open
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink Talks Djokovic’s Fitness, Nearest Rivals And Future Of American Tennis
EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime’s Coach Fredric Fontang – ‘Felix Can Win Wimbledon This Year’
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink On Sabalenka’s Rise, Swiatek’s Tough Year Ahead
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