“Five-Setters Are Tough For The Body” Says Marathon Man Medvedev - UBITENNIS
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“Five-Setters Are Tough For The Body” Says Marathon Man Medvedev

Russian third seed spends a record 24 hours on court and admits “I will be dead for a week”

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Daniil Medvedev claimed an unwanted record of becoming the first player to lose a Grand Slam final twice having won the first two sets, after going down to Italian superstar Jannik Sinner 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in a thrilling five set epic approaching four hours. 

Before today’s title match Medvedev had already spent six hours more on court than his opponent, having had comeback wins in the quarter finals against Hubert Hurkacz and also with Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, as well as four other gruelling wins. By going the distance in the fifth set, it meant he had now played 31 sets in this year’s tournament – a record in the Men’s Open era for any player across all Slams.

As Medvedev reflected further on his latest Grand Slam loss, he admitted that playing four five-setters in the tournament was simply too much even for the so-called Marathon Man to handle. He spent a mind-boggling total exceeding 24 hours on court in his seven matches including going to sleep at 5am after his semi-final win. Today he realised it was simply not sustainable:

“Five-setters are tough for the body. It’s crazy, but I would say the worst I felt was the day after the Hurkacz match, and the day after Zverev’s match. Yesterday when I was in practice, I was like, ‘Damn, how I’m going to play the final, how I’m going to move’. We really worked hard with my physio especially, he did a tremendous job every time when I stepped on court, I was ready again. During the match, after two sets, my energy level was dropping because I didn’t have a perfect sleep, I was playing long before. So, let’s call it my fault because I needed to win easier matches, but sometimes it’s tough.”

This was the first time Medvedev faced an opponent other than Nadal or Djokovic in a Slam final and he started off bravely by playing high risk tennis from closer to the baseline, hitting winners from both sides and breaking serve four times. Shortening the points clearly paid dividends. The bold tactics paid off as he stormed to a two-set lead in under ninety minutes. However, it was almost inevitable that the exertions of previous matches would catch up on the 27-year-old. From 5-1 ahead in the second set, things slowly began to change.

“I think what happened is he started to play better, a little bit different tactically, because I proposed to him something different in the beginning of the match, which was very aggressive. I knew there was still going to be long points but I needed to make the points as short as possible. I didn’t really do bad mistakes. In the fifth set I was, like every other match, trying to be proud of myself, and I was fighting, I was running. [I told myself]: if tomorrow I don’t feel my legs it doesn’t matter, I’m going to try everything I can today until the last point, and I did. I got a little tired physically, but Jannik didn’t really. He didn’t seem as tired as my opponents before. He started playing better. I got a little bit tired. Serve went a little bit worse. So, the momentum changed and I really tried in my mind to change it back again, because that’s what tennis is about. But I didn’t manage to do it, and that’s why he’s the winner and has the trophy.”

Medvedev did not believe his painful loss to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final – where he was two sets and a break up – played on his mind during today’s match. “I didn’t think much about the Rafa match, because I really tried to leave it behind, so I don’t think it had any issues. Otherwise there would be many, many matches during the season where I would lose. And today, I didn’t feel like suddenly when I was two sets to love up, I stopped playing and went behind the baseline and started doing lobs.”

Although having played each other nine times already, Sinner had won the past three including title wins in Vienna and Beijing. This was their first Grand Slam encounter and coming into the final, Sinner had only dropped serve twice and owned a 27-2 record since the US Open. One statistic which clearly highlighted improvements in his all-round game since working with renowned coach Darren Cahill was that he only missed 20% of returns against Djokovic in the semi-final – proving he was getting many balls back in play and not giving away cheap points. 

As Sinner’s blistering match-point winner made him the first ever Italian champion of the Australian Open, his victory sparked the enticing prospect for tennis fans globally of a new young rivalry between him and Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz who has already won two Slams. When asked about Sinner’s chances, Medvedev replied:

“Right now, he’s No. 1 in the race. He continues playing like this, continues winning tournaments like this, he’s going to be No. 1 in the world. But we never know what can happen. Many, many things can happen in the tennis career. That’s why I think tennis is a beautiful sport because you cannot look in the future.”

Despite his defeat, Medvedev appreciated the massive support and sympathy he received after the match and vowed to carry on dreaming, firmly believing he can add to his grand slam tally.

“My volley was pretty impressive this tournament, and I’m happy about it, so yeah, I think I can do it more often. I still think the main core of my game is going to stay, try to put as many balls in the court, make my opponent work. Now I’m dreaming more than ever, probably not today, but in general in life. It’s not anymore as a kid who is dreaming: it’s me myself right now, a 27-year-old who is dreaming, and who’s doing everything that is possible for my future and for my present. I love it. That’s why I made it to the final.”

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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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