Jack Draper Into Stuttgart Final; Faces Berrettini in Title Match - UBITENNIS
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Jack Draper Into Stuttgart Final; Faces Berrettini in Title Match

British 22-year-old left-hander serving bombs, on cusp of first ATP tour title



Jack Draper - (foto X @atptour)

New British number one Jack Draper reached the final of the Boss Open in Stuttgart following an impressive 6-3, 6-3, victory over American’s Brandon Nakashima and now faces former champion Matteo Berrettini in tomorrow’s final.

The young Brit put in another commanding serving display, winning a stunning 94% of points behind his first serve, as well as mixing in strong returns and delicate drop shots to dispatch his opponent in just 72 minutes. 

“I’ve been putting together some really good tennis this week, I’m playing as well as I can, I feel really confident in my game,” said Draper on court after the match. “You got to take your chances at this level because all these players are here to beat you and they believe they can beat you. So, you have to believe that extra.”

Draper held a breakpoint in the opening service game but could not take advantage. In the next game he was 0-30 down on his serve, but in a sign of things to come he pulled out three aces to signal his intent. The next few games were more even but at three games all Draper put Nakashima under serious pressure and finally broke through after his fourth breakpoint in the game, clenching his fist to his team. He broke again to take the first set 6-3 allowing him the advantage of serving first in the second set.

Draper made his move in the when 3-2 up; a lovely drop shot, then a nice net exchange forced an error from his opponent. Nakashima hit his third double fault and Draper’s strong backhand down the line won him the game. Another easy service game with two more aces followed and Draper stormed to a 5-2 lead in just 23 minutes. Nakashima held the next game from 0-30 down forcing Draper to serve out, and despite missing two volleys he closed the match with his thirteenth ace. 

In his press conference after the match, Draper spoke about how comfortable he feels on the grass: “I reached the junior final at Wimbledon. A few years ago, I played my first professional tournaments on grass, had good and not so good results. Last year I completely missed the season. This year it was new, just because I’m British doesn’t mean I’m automatically good on it. But it suits my game, my service is good and I want to build on that.”

Draper follows in Andy Murray’s footsteps who also reached the final two years ago and spoke about his influence in his journey to the top of the British rankings: “obviously, I have been looking up to Andy since I was a little kid, and I remember going to watch him all over the world and I am very proud to be following in his footsteps. I didn’t think too much about [the rankings]. I always wanted to be one of the best players in the world. When that comes with the home No. 1, of course it’s great. I had Murray and Norrie as role models, they helped me a lot. It’s a great honour now and a great boost for my career.”

Draper now has the chance to win his first tour level title, and looking ahead to tomorrow’s final, he spoke about his new aggressive mindset: “[I need to] recover well, rest well and give it my all, that’s all I can do. Everyone here is an incredible player; anyone can beat anyone. Matteo plays at such a high level, but I have to play my A-game to have a chance. I lost the last two finals in close 3-set matches against good players. Hopefully I’ll play the game differently now. I was waiting for mistakes back then, now I’ve developed. I’ll do my best and see what comes out.”

Draper also spoke about how he feels totally at home at the tournament, one of the smaller events on tour allowing fans much closer access to the players who regularly walk past without layers of security and bodyguards.

“The German tournaments are so friendly. It’s nice to be in a clubhouse, you’re treated well, lots of fans and kids come,” said Draper. “This atmosphere makes it incredible to play here, whether you win or not. It’s important to me to feel at home at a tournament and they’ve done that really well here. I don’t speak much German. Thank you, that’s it. I like the country, the food is good, the people welcome you. They love tennis here, they like the players, it’s a nice atmosphere and I like being there for the fans.”

Berrettini awaits 

In the final, he faces two-time former champion Matteo Berrettini, who came through a tough first set and was triple breakpoint down when serving for it before running away with the match 6-4, 6-0 against compatriot Lorenzo Musetti, courtesy of 17 winners and a healthy 77% points won at net.

“I am very happy,” said the Italian afterwards. “It feels more difficult every time but then I find a way to play better. There must be something here. I’ve always played successfully here. I really missed the feeling of playing successfully. It means a lot to me to be back in the final here.”

The 28-year-old has won four titles on the faster surface and is now going for his third Stuttgart title. “It’s just special here,” he said. “There is a bit of altitude, but you can definitely feel it. I felt at home here from the very first time. Then there’s my BOSS family and there are a lot of Italians here. It’s a big Italian community. Even the ball kids are growing up with me. I can still remember when they were smaller. It means I’m getting older too, but that’s fine. I like being here.”

In his press conference, Berrettini opened up on how he has been able to deal with missing so much of the tour due to injury: “what I missed most because of the injuries was the competition. That also made me sad because I missed so much. That I couldn’t play Rome for three years in a row, for example. Now I’m going to miss Paris/Olympics, that was always my lifelong dream. It’s very hard as an athlete. At the same time, our season is very long with many important tournaments. When I missed the clay season, I told myself that I would enjoy the grass season all the more. I try to see the glass half full, not half empty. It was the right move to let the sadness come first, that’s normal. Then you pull yourself out of it.”

Finally, as he looked ahead to tomorrow’s final, he recognised the threat posed by the young Brit: “First time against Draper: I haven’t even practiced with him yet, if I’m not mistaken. He has a lot of talent, serves great and is a lefty. You don’t beat players like that easily. It will be a tough match, but at the same time a first meeting and a final. I hope that my coaches have studied him. I will definitely enjoy the final.”


Wimbledon Daily Preview: Jasmine Paolini Plays Barbora Krejcikova for the Ladies’ Singles Championship



Jasmine Paolini after winning her semifinal on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 13 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, and gentlemen’s doubles.

It’s cliché, and usually untrue, to say “No one expected these two finalists.”  But in this case, it is absolutely true.  Prior to this fortnight, Jasmine Paolini had never won a match at The Championships.  And Barbora Krejcikova arrived at SW19 with a losing record on the year.  Yet both will play in their second Major singles final on Saturday, after inspired play during this tournament.

Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

After failing to advance beyond the second round in her first 16 appearances at Majors, Paolini is now 15-2 in her last three, and is the first WTA player to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.  Jasmine is 30-12 on the year, and has won 14 of her last 16 matches.  She has been taken to three sets twice during this event, most recently outlasting Donna Vekic in a third-set tiebreak during Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova has also required three sets in two of her six matches to this stage, upsetting 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the semis.  That was the third win in a row for Barbora over a higher-seed, after ousting two other big hitters, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko.  She’s accomplished all this despite being just 7-9 this season before this tournament began.  Injuries have plagued her career since her 2021 Roland Garros singles title, including a back injury earlier this year. 

Paolini is 2-4 lifetime in singles finals at WTA level, while Krejcikova is 7-5.  However, when you consider their appearances in Major finals between singles and doubles, Paolini is 0-2, having lost both the women’s singles and doubles finals last month in Paris, while Krejcikova is an amazing 11-1.  That’s a huge contrast in success at Grand Slam level.

These players also possess contrasting styles.  Paolini has been crushing her forehand, using it to come forward and show off her great hands at the net.  Krejcikova has a good serve, as well as both power and guile on her groundstrokes.  She loves using her slice to keep her opponents off-balance.  However, that will be more difficult to do against such a great mover like Jasmine.  And Barbora’s forehand has become unreliable in some crucial moments during this fortnight, which the Italian can target.

But on this surface, and considering her history in Major finals, I give the edge to Krejcikova to win her second Major singles title.  Plus, Barbora has already won two ladies’ doubles titles on this same court.  And she would surely cherish the chance to honor her late coach and mentor Jana Novotna by holding the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft on Centre Court, just as Jana did in 1998.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) vs. Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten – This is a fourth Major final in men’s doubles for Purcell, who won this title two years ago alongside another Aussie, Matthew Ebden.  Thompson had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major in either men’s singles or doubles until this run.  Patten is also a Major final debutante, while Heliovaara won last year’s US Open in mixed doubles.

Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Siniakova is playing for the ninth Major title in women’s doubles, while Townsend is playing for her first, after going 0-2 in previous finals.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and Routliffe will become the new World No.1 in women’s doubles on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s result.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Daniil Medvedev Calls For Video Replays After ‘Small Cat’ Insult At Wimbledon Umpire



Daniil Medvedev - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Daniil Medvedev admits the use of his words against the umpire in his Wimbledon semi-final match was not pleasant but he believes he didn’t cross a line. 

The world No.5 was issued with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct during the first set of his clash with Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev was visibly irritated when umpire Eva Asderaki ruled there was a double bounce before he returned a ball during a rally. He was then caught on camera mouthing an insult to Asderaki who consulted with the tournament supervisor before issuing him with a violation. Verbal abuse towards match officials can lead to players being defaulted from matches. 

Medvedev went on to win the first set before losing in four to Alcaraz. After his exit from the tournament, he was quizzed about what he said. 

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” he said without elaborating any further.

Continuing to defend his actions, the 28-year-old said he had previously been involved in a similar incident involving Asderaki where a double-bounce call was made against him at the French Open. Medvedev says memories of what happened were triggered today. 

“I don’t know if it was a double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago at Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that it was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the phrase ‘small cat’ as an insult. During a heated match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2022 Australian Open, told umpire Jaume Campistol he would be a small cat if he did not take action against claims that Tsitsipas was being coached illegally during the match.

The former US Open champion says he did not fear being defaulted from his latest match before going on to say video replays should be allowed in the sport. A comment that was also made by Coco Gauff during the French Open earlier this year after she was caught up in a dispute concerning a double-bounce.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he replied when asked if he was concerned he might be disqualified for what he said on Friday.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it. 

“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why we don’t use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

Medvedev’s focus will now turn back to the clay ahead of the Olympic games which will be held at Roland Garros. 

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Novak Djokovic Claims 375th Major Win To Reach Wimbledon Final



Image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic is a win away from a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title after beating a spirited Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-3, in the semi-finals on Friday. 

The second seed was challenged by his 22-year-old but had all the answers to the questions that were asked of him. Djokovic dropped serve twice in his latest match but managed to come out on top with the help of 34 winners. He is through to his 10th Wimbledon final which is the second-highest tally in history among male players after Roger Federer (12).

I have said it many times Wimbledon has been a childhood dream for me to play it and to win it. It is worth repeating I was a seven-year-old boy watching the bombs fly over my head and dreaming of being on the most important court in the world which is here in Wimbledon.” Djokovic said afterwards.
“I was constructing Wimbledon trophies out of any material in the room!
“I have the tremendous support from my family and my wife has been with me for many years and my children too – it has been an incredible journey.
“I try not to take it for granted every time I find myself on this unique court. Obviously during the match it is business time and trying to do your work and I try out play my opponent.
“I am satisfied and pleased, but I don’t want to stop here – hopefully I get my hands on the trophy.”

The seven-time champion first drew blood six games into the match. A roller-coaster rally between the duo ended with Musetti hitting an unforced error that granted Djokovic a break for 4-2. Immediately afterwards he tried to generate more support from the crowd which triggered mostly cheers, as well as some booing due to what he said earlier in the tournament. Meanwhile, on the court, Djokovic looked to be in control when leading 5-3, 40-15, before Musetti unexpectedly broke back. Despite the blip, he sealed the 6-4 lead in the following game.

Djokovic continued to be sternly tested by Musetti, who produced moments of brilliance with his shot-making to rightfully earn the 3-1 lead in the second frame. But once again, he managed to fight back against the Italian by claiming three games in a row. With little to separate both players, proceedings headed into a tiebreaker after Musetti fought off a set point.

It was largely one-way traffic in the tiebreaker as Djokovic surged to a two-set lead by hitting a smash. However, the best point was undoubtedly produced by his rival who hit a stunning around-the-post winner that clocked in at 103 mph.  

Closing in on a record 375th win in a Grand Slam tournament, the 24-time Grand Slam champion broke once in the third set before sealing after a shot from his rival landed beyond the baseline.

“There was plenty of doubt. I came into London eight days before the tournament stared. I didn’t know [if I would play] and I was keeping everything open until the day of the draw,” said Djokovic who had knee surgery last month.
I have played a couple of practice sets with top plays and that proved to me I was in a good enough state to not just be in Wimbledon, but to go deep into the tournament. 
“That kind of mentality is there and is ever present. Thank you to the team members for helping me.”

The Serbian has broken another Open Era record to reach the title match at SW19. He is the first player to reach this stage on three separate occasions after turning 35. He will next take on Carlos Alcaraz in what will be a rematch of last year’s title match. Alcaraz came back from a set down to beat Daniil Medvedev earlier in the day. 

“Last year it was a really difficult match. He put me in real trouble,” Alcaraz said of his 2023 final clash with Djokovic.
“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. I’ve played a few times in Grand Slams, the final of Master 1000, multiple times against him. 
“I know what I have to do. I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me. It’s going to be a really interesting one”

Djokovic leads Alcaraz 3-2 on their head-to-head but only one of his wins have been in straight sets.

“He’s a great example of someone as a young player who has a well balanced life. A good family… a lot of charisma… carries himself well on and off the court.” He said of his next opponent.
“He’s deservedly one of the greatest 21 year olds we’ve ever seen in this sport. We’re gonna see a lot of him in the future no doubt. He’s gonna win many more grand slams. Hopefully in 2 days, not this one.”

Should Djokovic win the title on Sunday he would become the oldest player to ever do so at the age of 37.

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