French Open Champions Wilander, Chang Give Their Verdicts On Alcaraz And Sinner - UBITENNIS
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French Open Champions Wilander, Chang Give Their Verdicts On Alcaraz And Sinner

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Jannik Sinner (left) and Carlos Alcaraz (right) - Indian Wells 2024 (photo Twitter X @BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Over the past couple of years, a rivalry has formed between two players that many are backing to dominate the men’s game for the foreseeable future. 

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz have both enjoyed a fairly rapid rise on the Tour with success coming to them quicker than expected. 22-year-old Sinner claimed his maiden Grand Slam title in January at the Australian Open and has only lost two matches coming into the quarter-finals of the French Open. Alcaraz, who is a year younger than his Italian rival, has already held the No.1 ranking with two out of his 13 ATP titles being won at major events. 

The question is how do the two players compare against each other and who has the better game? 

Speaking to reporters at Roland Garros on Monday, Mats Wilander and Michael Chang weigh in on the discussion. Both men have claimed the Paris title with Wilander triumphing in 1982 followed by Chang in 1989. The duo have first-hand experience of dealing with pressure at a young age with each of them making their Grand Slam debut before turning 18. 

“With Alcaraz, I think we know where Alcaraz is going. We know that he’s going to be the best player in the world at times because he’s so good. But he’s most probably going to be a little more up and down because it’s a risky kind of game that he’s playing.” Wilander explained. 
“When he’s down, Jannik is going to be there. And when Carlos is up, maybe Carlos is potentially maybe slightly better but I’m not sure.”

Whilst Wilander hails both players, he has also voiced some concerns about Sinner when it comes to playing on clay.He has won one title on the surface so far in his career which was coincidentally against Alcaraz at the 2022 Croatia Open. 

“On clay, the only thing I’m worried about with Jannick is his defending on the backhand side,” he said.
“It’s an open stance which Novak does. It’s very difficult to do that and get enough on the ball. 
“So I think for him to play well on clay I think there needs to be a little bit of an adjustment in his going forwards backwards more than left to right.” 

As for former world No.2 Chang, he sees no reason why Sinner can’t become a dominant force on clay like he is on a hardcourt. The American attended his fourth round match against Corentin Moutet which he had to win by coming back from a set down. 

“There is no reason why he wouldn’t become a great clay court player,” he said.
“I watched him play (against Moutet) and I think he got outplayed in the first set. But if you watch that match the way that I did, you can see that Sinner is very mentally tough. He analyzes the situation, doesn’t count himself out and continues to plug away.”
“I think his coaching staff has done a phenomenal job. To bring Darren Cahill on his team has been very good for him.”

Regarding Alcaraz, the American believes his rivalry with Sinner is likely to stand out in the coming years. They have already played against each other eight times with their head-to-head split at 4-4.

“This is probably going to be one of the great rivalries to watch over the next 10 years. There is going to be a lot of great rivalries with a lot of great players but I think Alcaraz and Sinner are the ones people are going to take note of.”He concluded. 

Wilander – ‘I didn’t like being No.1’ 

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Depending on how top seed Novak Djokovic fairs in Paris amid new concerns about a knee injury, Sinner is in contention for claiming the PIF ATP No.1 ranking. Should he do so he would become the first Italian to achieve this milestone since the system was introduced in 1973. 

Wilander held the top spot for 20 weeks between 1988 and 1989. Reaching the pinnacle of the standings is an achievement many players dream of but for the Swede, it was a somewhat different experience.

“I was number one because I felt I was better than everybody after the US Open,” he recounted. 
“Then I went to one more tournament in Palermo and I didn’t like being number one. I’m not sure what happened. 
“I think it depends on when you become number one, and under what circumstances. For me it happened to be we played a match from number one, I’d never won the US Open and then bang, number one, and now we have four months off before the Australian Open pretty much. It didn’t motivate me.”

Despite his frank admission about his career, he doesn’t foresee Sinner being in a similar scenario. 

“I think for Jannik he’s young enough, where he can lose and maybe feel the pressure to lose some motivation. But then he has enough time to turn around, maybe six months, that might not be good.” Wilander said.
“It’s not a warning. Number one in the world, It’s amazing. He’s (Sinner) gonna be number one many, many, many, many, many, many times in my eyes.”

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

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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Carlos Alcaraz Beats Fiery Medvedev To Reach Second Wimbledon Final

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Image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz has become the second Spanish man in history to reach multiple Wimbledon finals after beating Daniil Medvedev who had a run-in with the umpire during their semi-final clash. 

The defending champion battled back from a set down to beat his opponent 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Making it the fifth time in a row he has defeated a top-five player at Tour-level events. Alcaraz has now won 18 out of 20 matches played at Wimbledon so far in his career.

Meanwhile, ex-US Open champion Medvedev produced a solid fight early on before getting outmanoeuvred on the court. The world No.5 got caught up in a dispute with umpire Eva Asderaki concerning one call which resulted in him receiving a code violation. Whilst his exact words were not picked up on camera, it appeared that he used offensive language against Asderaki. 

(It was) Different conditions, but I’m happy with my performance today.” Said Alcaraz.
“He (Medvedev) was dominating the match and playing great tennis with his serves. It was difficult for me and he tried to pull out all the shots. 
“It was helpful to be up 2-1 (in sets) and after that I could enjoy the match. In general I think I played a good match.”

A roller-coaster opening set saw Medvedev start by coming through a six-minute service game before his defensive shot-making began to draw a series of unforced errors from Alcaraz, who was struggling to find the right balance in his powerful hitting. Three consecutive breaks of serve midway through the set moved Medvedev to a 5-2 lead.

However, another twist unfolded on Centre Court with Alcaraz clawing his way back to level. It was during this period that the Russian landed himself in hot water. During a rally, the umpire called a double bounce against the 28-year-old, who then appeared to swear multiple times at the official. Following a brief discussion with the supervisor, he was hit with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“If you use a swear word you’re going to get a code violation and a warning and a fine, but if you verbally abuse the umpire, that’s when there’s a question mark. It could be a default,” The I quoted Tim Henman as telling the BBC.
“Just from where we’re sitting to see the umpire get down off the umpire’s chair, to see the umpire and the supervisor to go on the court, that doesn’t happen unless something has gone on.”

The controversy did little to unsettle the fifth seed who cruised through the tiebreaker by winning seven out of eight points.

Urging the crowd to cheer him on by putting his finger to his ear, Alcaraz produced a clinical fightback in the second frame to turn the match around in his favour. A three-game winning run guided him to level the match. 

The Spaniard continued to weather the storm with the help of back-to-back Medvedev forehand errors handing him a break for 3-1 in the third. It wasn’t a perfect performance from Alcaraz, who made the occasional mistake such as a mishit on a smash which would have given him a set point when leading 5-3. Nevertheless, it was enough for him to extend his lead to two sets against one. 

Closing in on victory and elevating the quality of his tennis, he dismantled the Medvedev two more times before converting his first match point by hitting a forehand shot that his rival returned out.

I tried to play long rallies and tried to play to the net as much as I can. I tried to not play his game.” He said of his tactics used against Medvedev.
“There were a few points that were really long rallies, but I tried to put my own game [on the match]. It was difficult to break the wall!”

Alcaraz is bidding to become the first player outside the Big Three to defend the men’s Wimbledon title since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. 

“I feel like I am not new anymore,” he commented.
“I know how I feel before the final I have been in this position before – I will try to do the things that I didn’t do last year and be better. 

In the final, he will play either Novak Djokovic, in what will be a repeat of last year’s title clash, or Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti. 

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Alex De Minaur Speaks About Kyrgios’ Retun After Wimbledon Withdrawal

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios is expected to return to action in the coming weeks with an appearance at the US Open on the cards, according to his compatriot.

Alex de Minaur told reporters at Wimbledon on Wednesday that he believes the former top 20 player will return to action at some point during the upcoming US hardcourt swing. Marking the end of his lengthy absence from the sport due to various injury issues. 

Kyrgios underwent surgery on his left knee in January 2023 before suffering another injury blow with a wrist issue. The last Tour-level match that he played was at the Stuttgart Open in June last year. He has only been able to play six tournaments since reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2022. 

“I’m trying to have some hits with the players who are here to see where my wrist is at. It’s been 10 months since my surgery, so I’ll try to work my way back onto the court,” Kyrgios told the UTS website in June.

“I’ll be playing doubles in the next month (on the ATP Tour). It will be exciting. I’ll probably start there and hopefully, if everything is OK, I’ll move to singles and then I’ll see how long I’ll hang around for.

“I missed competing, I missed hearing the crowd, my fans. Even the people that hate me, I miss them, I miss them all. I can’t wait to be back.”

It is yet to be confirmed when Kyrgios will be returning to the court as he commentates on this year’s Wimbledon Championships for the BBC. He had recently held a hitting session with Novak Djokovic and in De Minaur’s view, the tennis star is certainly improving. 

“I’ve seen him hitting. I think it looks like he’s feeling a little better. As far as I know, I think the U.S. hard court is when he’s planning to return.” He commented.

“I don’t know the exact specifics, but it will all depend on his injury and how he’s feeling.”

Unfortunately for De Minaur his Wimbledon run has come to a sad end after the Australian pulled out of his quarter-final encounter against Novak Djokovic on Wednesday due to what he describes as a ‘freak injury’ with his hip. He is estimated to be sidelined from action between three and six weeks. 

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