Roland Garros Daily Preview: Swiatek, Krejcikova, Azarenka, Andreescu Play on Tuesday - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Swiatek, Krejcikova, Azarenka, Andreescu Play on Tuesday

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A look at the grounds of the French Open (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Day 3 in Paris sees the conclusion of first round singles play.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka plays US Open champ Bianca Andreescu in a matchup that headlines Tuesday’s Order of Play.  Day 3 also features the 2023 Roland Garros debuts of the two most recent women’s singles champions: Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova.  Other action includes standouts from this season such as Daniil Medvedev, Elena Rybakina, and Holger Rune.  Plus, last year’s singles finalists, Coco Gauff and Casper Ruud, will both play their opening matches.

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


Lesia Tsurenko vs. Barbora Krejcikova (13) – Second on Court 7

Krejcikova was the champion here two years ago in both singles and doubles.  An elbow injury derailed her career last season, but she’s 20-10 in 2023, having won a WTA 1000 title in Dubai.  However, she’s only 5-4 this year on clay, so she does not arrive in Paris with much momentum.

Tsurenko celebrates her 34th birthday on Tuesday, and was a US Open quarterfinalist in 2018.  She is an impressive 25-8 this season at all levels (including qualifying matches, which don’t officially count).  At Indian Wells, the Ukrainian withdrew from her match with Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, citing a panic attack after what she described as shocking comments regarding the war in Ukraine from WTA CEO Steve Simon.

Their first career meeting is a tricky first round draw for the 2021 champion.  Yet Krejcikova remains the favorite to advance, and is a potential fourth round draw for the 2020 and 2022 champion, Iga Swiatek.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Cristina Bucsa – Third on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Swiatek is 28-6 on the year, and 12-2 on clay.  She’s 21-2 lifetime at Roland Garros, having won 42 of 48 sets contested.  But is Iga 100% healthy?  Just over a week ago in Rome, she retired during the third set of her quarterfinal against Elena Rybakina, citing a thigh injury.  However, she’s indicated it is not a considerable injury.

Bucsa is a 25-year-old from Spain who upset Bianca Andreescu at the last Major in Melbourne, coming from a set down to win 6-4 in the third, after saving a match point in the second.  But in the very next round, she only managed one game against her opponent on this day, Swiatek.

On Tuesday, a similarly-comfortable victory should be expected from Iga.


Holger Rune (6) vs. Christopher Eubanks – Third on Court Simonne-Mathieu

Rune made his big breakthrough at this tournament a year ago, achieving his first Major quarterfinal thanks to upsets over Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  And the recently-turned-20-year-old has continued to make strong strides ever since, winning the Masters 1000 event in Bercy by outlasting Novak Djokovic in the final, and reaching two Masters finals on clay this season.  Holger is now 27-10 in 2023.

Eubanks made a breakthrough of his own two months ago in Miami, where he came through qualifying and advanced all the way to the round of 16, achieving a career goal of cracking the top 100.  The 27-year-old is now ranked 74th, but has still spent the majority of the past year on the Challenger circuit.  The tall American has a big serve, and is not the easiest of opening round draws.

In their first career meeting, Rune is a clear favorite.  However, I am curious to see how Holger handles this moment, as this is the first time in his young career that he is defending a result quite as big as his quarterfinal appearance from 2022.


Victoria Azarenka (18) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Last on Court Simonne-Mathieu

This is a marquee first-round encounter, though neither player comes into this tournament with much form, nor would either refer to clay as their favorite surface.  Azarenka is 13-9 on the year, and just 2-2 on clay, after withdrawing from Rome due to a right leg injury.  Andreescu is just 9-9 on the year, and 0-2 on clay, coming off a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome.

Vika is 28-15 lifetime in Paris, having reached a semifinal 10 years ago.  Bibi is only 2-2 in Paris, and is yet to advance beyond the second round at any Major outside of New York.  So in another first-time meeting on the day, Azarenka must be favored to advance.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Elias Ymer (Q) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Ruud reached two Major finals last season, but is just 16-11 in 2023, and would fall out of the top five with an early loss in Paris.  Elias is the elder brother of another tennis pro, Mikael, and his only career win at a Slam came at this event.  When they met four years ago at a hard court Challenger in Phoenix, Casper prevailed in three sets.

Thiago Seyboth Wild (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (2) – Medvedev is a stellar 39-5 on the year, and coming off a surprising Masters 1000 title on clay in Rome.  Seyboth Wild has accumulated 36 match wins at all levels this year, all on clay.

Rebeka Masarova vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Gauff is 19-8 this year, yet is yet to win back-to-back matches in 2023 on clay.  But Coco did win a hard court title to begin this season, defeating 23-year-old Masarova in the final of Auckland by a score of 6-1, 6-1. 

Elena Rybakina (4) vs. Brenda Fruhvirtova (Q) – Rybakina is 30-7 this season, and just a week ago claimed the WTA 1000 title in Rome.  Brenda and her sister Linda are two teenage Czech teenagers making strong strides in the sport at a very early age.


Tuesday’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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