Novak Djokovic Wins First Round at Roland Garros in Straight Sets Again - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Wins First Round at Roland Garros in Straight Sets Again

Serbian delivers in the key moments: “I played a great tiebreak and stayed focussed.”

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A slightly rusty Novak Djokovic made hard work of his first-round match but came through unscathed against wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 for his 93rd career win at Roland Garros. 

The three-time winner in the French capital broke early to go 2-1 ahead and held throughout to take the first set 6-4 in 37 minutes. But the world number one has been in patchy form this year and was clearly searching for form during the match – sometimes appearing to move slowly sideways as well as not reacting well to drop shots. However, as he has shown throughout his career, he was clutch during key moments and won the points that mattered.

“I thought it was a good performance for me, solid,” said Dkojovic. “Of course I could have done better, I think, on return games, but also credit to him for serving very well, for changing things up, for seeing every time I would step back for second serve to give him a little bit different look – he would see that, he would come in.”

The second set went with serve until the tie-break where Djokovic took a 3-0 lead with the aid of an excellent wrong-footing backhand volley at the end of a gruelling 25-shot rally – which led to the first sustained fist pumps from the top seed. Herbert dumped a forehand in the net when 6-3 down and found himself two sets to love behind with a mountain to climb. 

The third set also went with serve and contained some beautiful points, to the delight of the home crowd who tried to raise more support for Herbert. But the Frenchman lost the match on his seventh double fault, and only won 51% of points on second serve and was passed eighteen times overall. Still, he regularly troubled the Serbian with his kick serve and received praise for his efforts: “His kick is tremendous,” described Djokovic. “Honestly, one of the best kick serves I have faced. [He’s] very talented, mixing things up. He can come to the net, just very crafty with his hands.”

That high-bounce off the serve perhaps explained why the Djokovic return was not at its usual high standard, but even though the Serb was short of his customary ruthlessness, he still kept calm and composed himself for the key moments, particularly the second set tie-break which he won convincingly.

The 37-year-old, who slipped when chasing a drop shot in the final game and was inexplicably booed by the home crowd for taking his time dusting off the clay, revealed the importance of the Majors as his career nears its end: “Grand Slams are the ones that are basically getting me up from the bed every day and knowing that I have to hit the practice courts. I always think about what I can do in Grand Slams. So here I am. Hopefully I can have another deep run.”

Djokovic is surely going to improve as the tournament progresses. He managed 68% of first serves in and won an impressive 84% of those points as well as 73% of second serves. He ended the match with four aces and an excellent 79% of points whilst at net. Remarkably, he has now won every first-round match since 2011 in straight sets, and has not lost before the quarter-finals since 2010.

Afterwards, Djokovic also spoke about being courtside for Sunday’s first-round blockbuster between Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev: “I don’t recall last time I actually watched a set of any match live on that level, other than Davis Cup,” he said. “It was great. Iga was there, Alcaraz was there, and we all wanted to get a glimpse of the atmosphere, you know, of that possibly unique moment, that could be his last. But Rafa was a bit unlucky with the draw, because Zverev, he is in a great form, winning Rome, and he was serving extremely well. It’s tough to play Sascha when he’s feeling the ball so well. But it was great to watch.”

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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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