Weary Andrey Rublev Hails Doctors After Ousting Auger-Aliassime In Epic to win Madrid Masters - UBITENNIS
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Weary Andrey Rublev Hails Doctors After Ousting Auger-Aliassime In Epic to win Madrid Masters

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Image via https://twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen/

Andrey Rublev shrugged off concerns about his health by staging a marathon comeback to win the Madrid Open on Sunday. 

The Russian world No.8 looked far from his best early on in his final showdown against Felix Auger-Aliassime before fighting back to win 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, after almost three hours of play. In what was a rollercoaster battle, Rublev dropped serve twice but could only convert three out of his 11 break point opportunities. Furthermore, he hit 25 winners against 26 unforced errors.

Shortly after winning the tournament, Rublev shed light on his recent health struggles for the first time when speaking to Sky Tennis. He had been struggling with throat inflammation and received injections to help treat the issue. During this period, he was eating ‘baby food’ due to the pain. Then he suffered from inflammation in his finger and feet which also required treatment. The exact illness or issue he has been suffering from is yet to be diagnosed. 

“There are no words. If you knew what I have been through the last nine days you would not imagine that I would be able to win a title,” the new champion told Tennis TV. 
“I was (considering withdrawing from the tournament) because there were a few issues that I couldn’t fix but I have to give full credit to the doctors. They are magic because they were doing some tricky things and somehow I was able to play at least.
“I have never seen this in my life. They are the best so far in all the tournaments I have played in.”

After losing four out of the first five games played, a slow starting Rublev gradually got his momentum back. Following the first set, the match was a case of fine margins with the Russian coming out on top when it mattered. Leading 6-5 in the second frame, a deep return forced Auger-Aliassime to produce an unforced error which enabled him to draw level in the match. Then in the deciding set, with no breaks of serves after 11 games played, Rublev pounced once again by winning a gut-busting rally to set up championship point which he converted at the expense of a double fault from his opponent. 

“This is the proudest title of my career,” said Rublev who was on a four-match losing run coming into Madrid. 
“I was almost dead every day. I wasn’t sleeping the last three, four days.” 

Rublev’s triumph means Canada’s wait for a first Masters 1000 champion goes on. At one stage in the match, Auger-Aliassime was just a game away from the title in what had been a bizarre event for him. Earlier in the tournament, the 23-year-old won two matches via retirement against Jakub Menšík in the third round and Jiri Lehecka in the semi-finals. Between those encounters, he received a walkover in the quarter-finals following the withdrawal of top seed Jannik Sinner. Despite his unorthodox run, Aliassime also produced a straight-sets win over Casper Ruud which is his first win over a top-10 player on clay since 2021. 

“I know it’s very disappointing to lose the match like this. I know the feeling. I’ve said this many times and I won’t be tired to say it again. You’re a true inspiration to me as a player, for the spectators and kids, how professional and humble you are.” Rublev said in tribute to Auger-Aliassime.
“How nice of a person you are. I just want to wish you all the best and that you always have great people around you and that they treat you well. Hope you’ll have much more success together.”

Rublev has become only the fifth active player to have won multiple ATP Masters events on clay. Overall, he has won 16 titles on the ATP Tour and will now rise to No.6 in the PIF ATP Rankings on Monday. He has won more Masters 1000 titles than Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, David Ferrer, Grigor Dimitrov and Tomas Berdych. 

The 26-year-old is set to undergo a medical assessment on Monday following his recent health problems. It is unclear if he still intends to play in Rome.

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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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