Madrid Open Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals

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Borna Coric on Wednesday in Madrid (twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen)

The men’s singles semifinals will be played on Friday, as well as the women’s doubles semis.

Carlos Alcaraz is two wins away from becoming the first man to defend the Madrid Open title since Rafael Nadal in 2014.  But on Friday, he faces a surging Borna Coric, who is looking to reach his second Masters 1000 final within the past 12 months, after winning the title in Cincinnati last summer.

The other men’s semifinal sees a qualifier play a lucky loser for the first time in Masters semifinal history.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.


Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Borna Coric (17) – Not Before 4:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Alcaraz is 27-2 in 2023, 9-0 on clay, and 19-0 in his last 19 matches in his home country.  He’s defeated three straight seeds in straight sets to advance to this semifinal: Grigor Dimitrov, Sascha Zverev, and Karen Khachanov.  And Carlitos is celebrating his 20th birthday on Friday.

Coric had a losing record on the year before arriving in Madrid, but perhaps this semifinal run will turn his year around.  His biggest test came against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, when he got quite lucky, as a dead net cord winner at 5-5 in the third-set tiebreak went his way.  Outside of this run and his Cincinnati run last August, Borna had failed to advance beyond the second round in his last 17 Masters 1000 appearances.

This is the first career meeting between Carlitos and Borna.  Of course, Alcaraz is a considerable favorite.  He is a generational talent, playing in his home country, and on arguably his best surface.  But it will be interesting to see if Coric can use his impressive backhand to counteract the Spaniard’s superior forehand.


Jan-Lennard Struff (LL) vs. Aslan Karatsev (Q) – 8:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Struff has now won 33 matches this season at all levels, just a year after he missed the entire clay court season due to a right foot injury.  At the age of 33, the German is into his first Masters 1000 semifinal, after winning four consecutive three-setters, including a quarterfinal victory on Thursday evening over Stefanos Tsitsipas.  However, Jan-Lennard is a dismal 1-9 lifetime in ATP semifinals.

Before this tournament began, Karatsev was 2-7 at tour level this year.  Yet since the start of qualifying, he’s won seven matches, six of which were in straight sets.  His most impressive upset was over good friend and second-seeded Daniil Medvedev.

This is a first Masters semifinal for both men, and a rematch from… the same tournament?  Indeed, these two met just 10 days ago in the last round of qualifying in this very event, with Aslan prevailing in straight sets.  That match doesn’t even officially count in their head-to-head, so this will technically be their first career meeting. 

Players who meet twice within the same tournament, usually ones with round-robin play, often split those matches.  But based on their form these past two weeks, and the fact that Struff’s quarterfinal was much more strenuous and went late into the evening, I favor Karatsev to advance to Sunday’s final.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula (1) vs. Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse – Gauff and Pegula have already won two titles this season.  Kostyuk and Ruse are a semi-regular partnership who are yet to face a seeded team this fortnight.

Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia (OSE) vs. Leylah Fernandez and Taylor Townsend – This is Azarenka and Haddad Maia’s first tournament as a team.  This is the fourth event for the partnership of Fernandez and Townsend, and their second time advancing to the semifinals, after reaching the championship match in Miami.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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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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