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.
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development
Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.
Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.
The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.
Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.
Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.
“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”
It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.
One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.
Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.
“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.
“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.
“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”
Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.
Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain
The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans.
Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.
Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying.
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.
“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’
Will Kyrgios play?
Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity.
“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …”
Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment.
“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”
The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions.
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