WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Major Champions Swiatek and Vondrousova Square Off - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Major Champions Swiatek and Vondrousova Square Off

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Iga Swiatek during media day in Cancun (twitter.com/wta)

The 2023 Roland Garros champion faces the 2023 Wimbledon champion on Monday in Cancun.

Three of the four women who won Majors this year will play their first matches of the 2023 WTA Finals on Monday.  French Open champ Iga Swiatek faces Wimbledon champ Marketa Vondrousova, while US Open champ Coco Gauff takes on three-time Major runner-up Ons Jabeur.

Meanwhile in Paris, the last ATP Masters 1000 event of the season gets underway on Monday.  And it’s a blockbuster field, featuring all of the world’s top 16 players.  With the ATP Finals just two weeks ago, three spots remain open for that event.  Plus, the year-end world No.1 ranking is still to be decided, with Novak Djokovic currently leading Carlos Alcaraz by 500 points.  A full breakdown of the current rankings race can be found here

Monday’s play in Bercy also features a meeting between Major champions, as Stan Wawrinka battles Dominic Thiem.  Plus, Andy Murray faces a player he is 0-5 against, Alex de Minaur.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup from both the WTA Finals and the ATP Paris Masters.  Monday’s play in Paris begins at 11:00am local time in Paris, and at 2:30pm local time in Cancun.


Stan Wawrinka vs. Dominic Thiem (Q) – Not Before 8:30pm in Paris

This is a matchup between two Major champs with one-handed backhands who have struggled to regain their form after significant injury layoffs.  Both men though did reach their first ATP final in some time this past summer on clay. 

Wawrinka is 26-21 this year at tour level, yet comes into this tournament having lost six of his last eight matches on hard courts.  On three occasions, Stan has reached the quarterfinals or better in Bercy, including just three years ago.

Thiem is only 17-22 this year at tour level, yet he won qualifying matches on both Saturday and Sunday to get into this draw.  This is Dominic’s first appearance in Bercy since 2019, at an event where he is just 7-6 lifetime, but he was a semifinalist here five years ago.

Wawrinka leads their head-to-head 3-1, though they haven’t played in nearly seven years, well before the injury woes both have suffered more recently.  Neither man has been in good form across the last few months, and this fast-playing surface in Paris does not allow either the time they prefer to set up their big strokes.  But after gaining two confidence-building qualifying wins over the weekend against players ranked just outside the top 50, I give Thiem the slight edge on Monday.


Iga Swiatek (2) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (7) – Not Before 5:00pm in Cancun

It’s been another great season for Iga Swiatek.  A year after going 67-9, she’s 63-11 in 2023.  However, she trails Aryna Sabalenka by 630 points in the race for the year-end No.1 ranking, so she needs a very strong performance this week in Cancun if she wants to finish the season as the No.1 player for the second straight year.  In 2022, she reached the semifinals of this event, while two years ago she failed to advance out of the round-robin stage.

This is the WTA Finals debut for Vondrousova, who is 40-14 in 2023.  She reached just one final this year, but of course it was a big one: Wimbledon, where she claimed her first Major title.  Marketa has only played one match since the US Open, while Iga is coming off a WTA 1000 title run just a few weeks ago in Beijing.  Vondrousova is one of many players that has recently suffered an arm injury, and cited the changes to the tennis balls being used as the reason why.

Swiatek is 2-0 against Vondrousova, and won both of their meetings in straight sets.  One of those contests took place this year on a hard court in Cincinnati, where Iga prevailed comfortably after claiming the first set in a tiebreak.  On Monday, Swiatek is a considerable favorite to make it 3-0 against Vondrousova.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Andy Murray vs. Alex de Minaur (13) – Three of Murray’s five aforementioned losses to de Minaur have come this season, the latest taking place a month ago in Beijing, where the Australian came back from 2-5 down in the third to win, saving three match points.  Andy won this event in 2016, but is 0-2 here since, and arrives in Paris having lost four of his last five matches.

Coco Gauff (3) vs. Ons Jabeur (6) – Gauff is 49-14 on the year, with four titles, three of which came during her excellent run this summer.  But a year ago in her WTA Finals debut, she went 0-3 in round-robin competition, losing all three matches in straight sets.  Jabeur is just 35-15 in a season where she battled multiple injuries, yet won two titles.  She went 1-2 during last year’s WTA Finals, which was also her debut.  Coco leads their head-to-head 3-2, and 1-0 on hard courts.


Monday’s full Order of Play for the WTA Finals is here, and for the ATP Paris Masters 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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