ATP Finals Daily Preview: Alcaraz, Zverev Vie for the Final Semifinal Spot - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Alcaraz, Zverev Vie for the Final Semifinal Spot

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Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday in Turin (twitter.com/atptour)

Round-robin play concludes on Friday, with one more spot in the singles semifinals to be decided.   

Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, and Novak Djokovic have already qualified for Saturday’s semifinals, with Carlos Alcaraz and Sascha Zverev still having a chance to qualify, as they both hold a record of 1-1.  On Friday, Alcaraz plays Medvedev, while Zverev faces Andrey Rublev, who has already been eliminated from advancement with an 0-2 record.

Here are Friday’s advancement scenarios:

  • Zverev advances if:
    • Medvedev defeats Alcaraz, and Zverev defeats Rublev.
  • Alcaraz advances if:
    • Any other combination of results take place in Friday’s singles matches.

So Alcaraz has many different scenarios where he can advance, while Zverev needs two specific results on Friday in order to advance.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup, while highlighting the other matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play begins at 12:00pm local time.


Carlos Alcaraz (2) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Not Before 2:30pm

They have split four previous meetings, three of which occurred during 2023.  And all their matches this year have been prominent ones.  In the championship match of Indian Wells, Alcaraz easily defeated a tired Medvedev, who had won three hard court titles in as many weeks heading into the event.  In the semifinals of Wimbledon, Carlitos again prevailed in straight sets.  But in the semis of the US Open, as most were anticipating another Djokovic/Alcaraz final this summer, Daniil prevented that from happening, taking out Carlitos in four sets.

Alcaraz is now 64-11 on the year, and 1-1 in his ATP Finals debut, after losing to Zverev in three sets, then beating Rublev in two.  However, Carlitos has not been the same player since losing to Novak in their epic Cincinnati final three months ago.  Alcaraz has now lost four of his last six matches, and he remains an unproven commodity on indoor hard courts, a setting in which he’s played less than 30 matches in his career.

Medvedev is now 66-16 this season, and 11-7 lifetime at this event, after beating both Zverev and Rublev in straight sets.  In his fifth consecutive appearance, this will be his third time advancing out of round-robin play.  He went on to win the title in 2020, and was the runner-up to Zverev the year after.  Daniil is now 11-2 this year on indoor hard courts, and has won 91 indoor hard court matches in his career.

Based on their recent form, as well as their contrasting amounts of experience on indoor hard courts, Medvedev is the favorite to defeat Alcaraz on Friday afternoon.  But if Carlitos can serve a high % of first serves, and use that to attack Daniil’s deep return position, as he did earlier this season, Alcaraz could easily hand Medvedev his first loss of the week.  Regardless, this should be a fascinating contest between two of the sport’s best players, in a match with a lot on the line: considerable money and ranking points, as well as semifinal placement.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (2) vs. Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden (3) – Both teams are 1-1 thus far, so the team that wins this match will advance to the semifinals, while the losing team will be eliminated.  These teams have played five times this year, with Koolhof and Skupski holding a 3-2 edge, with their most notable victory coming in the Wimbledon semifinals.  However, the only hard court meeting this season between these two teams, at Indian Wells, went to Bopanna and Ebden.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (6) vs. Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler (8) – Ram and Salisbury are 2-0 and have already qualified for the semis, while Hijikata and Kubler are 0-2 and have been eliminated, so this is a dead rubber.

Andrey Rublev (5) vs. Sascha Zverev (7) – This could also be a dead rubber, if Alcaraz defeats Medvedev earlier in the day.  Zverev claimed their first five meetings, but the last three went to Rublev, all of which took place during this season.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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