Roland Garros Daily Preview: Inspiring Stories Abound on Wednesday - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Inspiring Stories Abound on Wednesday

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Stan Wawrinka on Monday in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Second round singles action begins on Wednesday in Paris.

Top names like Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Aryna Sabalenka, and Stefanos Tsitsipas will all be considerable favorites on Wednesday, so this preview will focus on what are likely to be Day 4’s more competitive matchups.  And they include some inspiring stories: a 38-year-old former champion fighting back from injury for one more deep run at a Major, the American No.1 playing while thinking about her seriously ill mother, and a former top 10 player from France who has battled his way back from depression and alcohol issues.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Camila Giorgi vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – 11:45am on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Earlier this year in an essay for The Players’ Tribune, Pegula divulged the healthy crisis her family has been enduring.  Her mother, Kim, went into cardiac arrest last June and nearly died.  Kim’s has improved considerably, but she’s still battling significant health issues a year later.  Jess has spoken about how her mom’s fight has inspired her tennis in recent months.

Pegula sits at a career-high ranking of No.3 in singles, and is No.2 in doubles.  The 29-year-old American has advanced to the quarterfinals at four of the last five Majors, including this one a year ago.  Jess also claimed her first WTA 1000 title last October is Guadalajara.

Giorgi is also a WTA 1000 champion, having won at that level two years ago in Canada.  She is 14-9 on the year, and ousted France’s Alize Cornet in straight sets in the first round. 

They have met nine times at all levels, with Pegula leading 7-2, taking their last four encounters.  Giorgi’s last victory over Pegula came during that 2021 Montreal title run.  Jess is the superior clay court player, and should advance comfortably despite the always-dangerous power the Italian possesses.


Marketa Vondrousova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Second on Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Vondrousova was a surprising runner-up here four years ago as a 19-year-old.  But multiple surgeries have disrupted her young career, with her only final since that 2019 French Open run coming at the Tokyo Olympics, when she took home a silver medal after losing to Belinda Bencic.  Yet Marketa is back in strong form, with a record of 20-8 this season, and recent clay court victories over the likes of Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu.

Kasatkina may be a top 10 seed, but she is only 13-12 in 2023.  A semifinalist here a year ago, Daria would drop out of the top 10 with a loss on Wednesday, which puts a lot of pressure on her shoulders.

This should be a fun matchup, with both players possessing plenty of variety in their games.  And they have split four prior meetings, and are 1-1 on clay.  But based on recent form, Vondrousova is a slight favorite to take out the ninth seed.


Stan Wawrinka vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (WC) – Second on Court Simonne-Mathieu

Wawrinka’s title run in Paris came eight years ago, with recent years filled with surgeries and a whole lot of rehab.  Yet that made his first-round five-set victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas all the more satisfying.  Stan is looking to reach the third round of a Major since this tournament in 2020.

Kokkinakis’ career has been sabotaged by injuries from a very young age.  But the 27-year-old Australian has been enjoying the healthiest stretch of his career across the last few seasons.  Thanasi is 24-12 this year at all levels, and upset Dan Evans in straight sets in the first round.

Their first career meeting feels like it could go either way.  The much-younger Kokkinakis should be the fresher player on the day.  However, in the second round of the last Major, Thanasi suffered an excruciating loss to another aging Slam champ, in a near six-hour affair with Andy Murray.  That is the kind of loss that sticks with you for a long time, especially when it happens at your home Major.  With that in mind, I favor the Stanimal to pull out another tight victory on Wednesday.


Lucas Pouille (Q) vs. Cameron Norrie (14) – Last on Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Currently ranked 675th in the world, Pouille has won four matches since the start of qualifying, even defeating lucky loser Jurij Rodionov twice, once in qualifying and once in the main draw.  Both of his victories over Rodionov were emotional: one was spent shedding tears of joy while holding his young son, the other spent singing La Marseillaise along with the Parisian crowd.  After the demons Lucas has faced in recent years, each victory is as sweet as a French crepe.

Meanwhile, Norrie has become one of the sport’s most reliable performers since upping his physical fitness a few years ago.  The 27-year-old is 28-10 in 2023, and survived a five-setter in the opening round against another Frenchman, Benoit Paire.

They have split their two prior meetings, both of which took place at Majors, and both of which were close.  Five years ago at this tournament, Pouille prevailed in a fourth set tiebreak.  Two years ago at Wimbledon, Norrie prevailed 7-5 in the fourth.  In the rubber match on Wednesday, Cam must be favored despite what any French heartstrings may say.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Roberto Carballes Baena vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) – Tsitsipas required four sets, and was nearly pushed to a fifth, against Jiri Vesely on Sunday.  Carballes Baena won in straights, and won at ATP title on clay last month in Marrakech.  When they met five years ago on clay in Estoril, Stefanos narrowly prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taro Daniel – Alcaraz dropped just seven games on Monday, in his first match at a Major as a Slam champion and World No.1.  Daniel also prevailed in straight sets, and is now 8-6 this year at tour level.  At a clay court Challenger tournament two years ago, Carlitos defeated Taro in three sets.

Iryna Shymanovich (Q) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka easily won her opener on Sunday, while 25-year-old qualifier Shymanovich claimed her first victory at a Major in her debut at this level.  Aryna could become the new World No.1 this fortnight depending on how far she and Iga Swiatek advance.

Novak Djokovic (3) vs. Marton Fucsovics – Djokovic claimed his 86th French Open victory on Monday in straight sets.  Fucsovics claimed his seventh, and is 0-4 against Novak, though he’s taken a set in three of their four meetings.


Wednesday’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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