Vagnozzi: "At 19 the Fab3 were not as strong as Alcaraz, but Sinner can play at his level" [EXCLUSIVE] - UBITENNIS
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Vagnozzi: “At 19 the Fab3 were not as strong as Alcaraz, but Sinner can play at his level” [EXCLUSIVE]

Exclusive interview with Jannik Sinner’s coach, Simone Vagnozzi

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by Vanni Gibertini

We meet Simone Vagnozzi on the lawn of the Hard Rock Stadium at 2.30 pm, just after Jannik Sinner has finished his training session with Marton Fucsovics on Court 12. Sinner will be taking on Laslo Djere in his first match in Miami so it’s a chance to speak about his excellent first part of season, the semifinal in Indian Wells lost against Alcaraz, and his expectations for the next weeks. 

How does Sinner’s team evaluate the performance and result obtained in Indian Wells?

 We are definitely happy. He has been very consistent in the last period, at Australian Open, Rotterdam and Montpellier. In Indian Wells he reached the semi-finals and played a very close match with Alcaraz, who then went on to win the tournament. This means that we are on a good path and that we must continue working hard without easing pressure because our ultimate goal is not to get to the semifinals but to try and win one of these tournaments.

Speaking about the match with Alcaraz, in a match that seems to be becoming a tennis classic, what could have been done differently?

Surely the first set could have gone either way, and if Jannik had won that first set maybe the match could have taken a different direction. Looking back, we could have done something more, although we cannot reveal our moves for the future. The service was an important feature of the match, but not the only key. I don’t think Jannik lost the first set just due to the serve, because if we analyze the details, at the end Jannik won more points than Alcaraz, so you can’t win more points if you are serving badly.

Jannik had a few chances, but as in the past with Alcaraz the match took a turn in a few points. And we must also take into account that Carlos comes from more important experiences, he has won a Slam, three Masters 1000, so even if he is younger he is probably more ready to play this kind of matches. Alcaraz is ahead at the moment, but if we get to play against him, we stand a chance.

Sinner often remains far behind the baseline to return serve: do you think this position may have impacted the result of the match with Alcaraz, since also in the final against Medvedev, who stands even further back than Jannik, he took full advantage of this position?

I don’t think Sinner stands so far back. For example, on the second serve he always moves forward, at least in 95% of cases. He has worked on this aspect. On the first serve it depends on the player he’s facing, but I don’t think his position is so far back, it’s a bit more like Djokovic’s position.

We were talking about a path with Jannik, and also when we talked to him in Indian Wells it was clear he is aware that it will take at least another couple of years before reaching his full physical maturity. What benchmark do you use to understand where you stand and what is your point of arrival?

Since last year we have embarked on a new path with Jannik, adding new elements, technical, tactical and physical, and this path needs time to be completed. If we make a comparison with Alcaraz, he is two years younger, but he has been doing the same things since he was 15, so at the moment he is more complete. Jannik needs a little more time, although no one knows exactly when his development will be completed. I am sure, however, that in 2-3 years Jannik will be physically stronger than he is now. We must not overdo it, we must not risk, we must do everything at the right time, and I am convinced that this path will yield important results.

The same considerations can be made about Jannik’s serve: the stats tell us that it’s improving, the direct points with the service, aces and winning serves, are rising. Obviously there will be days when he will just serve 50%, but the important thing is that during the year, considering 60-70 matches, the numbers show he’s growing.

When you say that “Alcaraz has always played the same way since he was 15, what do you mean exactly?

If you watch a match of Alcaraz when he was 15 years old you see that he could do more or less all the things he does even now: he plays dropshots, he comes to the net, he does serve and volley; it’s a path he is been completing over time.

So he got there sooner? Or was he just born like this?

Well, we’re talking about a phenomenon. At 19 years old, nobody played like that, not even the all-time greats, such as Djokovic, Rafa or Federer. No one was as complete as he is when they were 19 years old.

So now that his game is already so complete will it be difficult to improve?

He is surely going to improve, and be at the top for many, many years. But we have to focus on Jannik, trying to make him the best player possible. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Both Carlos and Jannik said that playing against each other will make them better players. Each match seems like the next move in a chess game. Is it a feeling you share as well?

I think so, but we do the same with all the players. Every time you play a match you try to introduce elements that can unsettle your opponent, and your opponent does the same. Then of course Carlos, Jannik, and even Musetti are the most prominent young players so these things are more noticeable.

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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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