Monte Carlo: Jannik Sinner Stays Grounded Despite Blistering Start To 2024 - UBITENNIS
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Monte Carlo: Jannik Sinner Stays Grounded Despite Blistering Start To 2024

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It is rare to hear a player say they are going to treat a Masters 1000 event as a training week but this is exactly what Jannik Sinner plans to do in Monte Carlo. 

The in-form Italian comes into his first clay event of the 2024 season regarded as the best player currently on the Tour based on results. Sinner has won 22 out of 23 matches played so far this year with his only loss being to Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals in Indian Wells. He captured his first major trophy at the Australian Open before then going on to win titles in Rotterdam and Miami. 

However, it remains to see how the 22-year-old will fair on the European dirt. Out of his 13 ATP titles, only one of those was achieved at a clay tournament which was back in 2022 at the Umag Open. 

“The expectations are not that high for this for this beginning of clay,” Sinner said during a pre-tournament press conference on Sunday
“The goal is to be ready for Rolanda Garros and then hopefully the Olympics. This is…I guess for all the players the goal, to try to be in top form there.
“We will take this week as a practice week, playing with matches, hopefully, more than one match but you know, it’s it’s gonna be interesting to see. I’m just happy to be here. It’s a special tournament and hopefully I can perform in a good way.”

Whilst the majority of his success has been on a hardcourt, Sinner is confident that he can be a threat on other surfaces. He is a former French Open quarter-finalist back in 2020 and also reached the last four in Monte Carlo 12 months ago. 

“I feel more comfortable on hard courts, which doesn’t mean that I that I’m not a good player on clay. I played my first Grand Slam quarter-finals on clay, at Roland-Garros, I made quarters in Rome.” He stated. 
“So let’s see. Talking about last year, (it) was not my best season on clay. Hopefully I can change it this year. But you know, I’m confident that I can be a good player also on clay. It takes time for sure. 
“I used to practice a lot on clay when I was 14 to 20. But then after most of the tournaments, they were hardcourt tournaments. So you play a little bit less but you know, I’m very excited to be here. I think if you make the clay with a good friendship, it can help.”

Sinner comes into Monte Carlo having already registered nine victories over top-20 players since the start of January. Overall, 18 out of his 22 wins so far this season have been in straight sets. He now finds himself ranked No.2 in the PIF ATP rankings, which is the highest position ever achieved by a player from Italy in the history of the rankings system. 

As for Monte Carlo, the growingly popular Sinner is banking on support from the crowd with the tournament taking place not too far from his homeland.

“I really like this tournament,” Sinner said. “I live here, so I always come here to practise. Seeing the site in a different way is very special. The crowd is usually very good, lots of Italians. It is going to be an amazing tournament. I love to play here.” 

Sinner will face either Sebastian Korda or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match.

note – quotes via Tennis Majors/Monte Carlo official website

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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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