Steve Flink: Roland Garros 2024 Lives Up to High Expectations - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Hot Topics

Steve Flink: Roland Garros 2024 Lives Up to High Expectations

Published

on

Image via https://x.com/ATPTour_ES/

The greatest players in the game of tennis define themselves by how they perform when it matters the most. They step up to the largest occasions and succeed in the ultimate analysis by being unafraid to lose.

Carlos Alcaraz is an excellent case in point. The 21-year-old is now the youngest ever male player to win major titles on three different surfaces. Only six other male players have managed to collect major titles on three different surfaces. Rafael Nadal was 22 in 2009 when he joined that club. In 1988, Mats Wilander got there at 23. Jimmy Connors was 26 in 1978 when he made it into that realm. Rounding out the list are Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi. It took Federer until he was 27, and both Djokovic and Agassi were 29 when they sealed the deal. 

Two years ago, Alcaraz was victorious at the U.S. Open on hard courts. Last year, he won Wimbledon on the lawns of the All England Club. And now the charismatic Spaniard has added the French Open title on red clay to his swiftly growing collection. To be sure, Alcaraz was a worthy champion in every sense, but the fact remains that he had to fight back from close to the brink of defeat in both the semifinals and the final at Roland Garros in five set clashes, rescuing himself from two sets to one down against Jannik Sinner in the penultimate round before replicating that feat versus Alexander Zverev in the title round contest.

No one had done that at Roland Garros since the redoubtable Rodney George Laver realized the extraordinary feat in 1962, when he went on to win the last two majors for his first of two Grand Slams. Moreover, no one had finished off any major with two five set triumphs in a row since Roger Federer at the 2017 Australian Open.

Alcaraz commenced his final round contest with Alexander Zverev at Roland Garros in fine fiddle. His timing from the baseline was exquisite. He was handling the windy condition at the outset decidedly better than the German. And he confounded Zverev with his return of serve positioning, standing so far back that he might as well have been Daniil Medvedev.

The two competitors exchanged service breaks at the beginning of the final, but thereafter Alcaraz settled into the proceedings and kept Zverev constantly off balance and ill at ease. From 1-2 on serve he won five of six games to secure the opening set. On his way to 4-2, Alcaraz garnered 12 of 14 points. After Zverev held in the seventh game from 15-40, the Spaniard promptly took two games in a row at the cost of only three points, breaking his big serving adversary for the third time in the set. He was thoroughly outmaneuvering Zverev.

But the 27-year-old German seemed to start anew in the second set. The first indication of change in the air was when Alcaraz served to open the set. The Spaniard was ahead 40-0 but that game turned into an ordeal for Alcaraz. There were six deuces. Zverev had three break points. Both men fought fiercely, but Alcaraz held on with a game concluding winner.

From 1-2 in that set, however, it was all Zverev. He held at love with heavy hitting and excellent serving, broke Alcaraz at 30 as the Spaniard miss-hit a forehand with wind gusts making life difficult for both players, and then Zverev held in a strenuous game for 4-2.

Alcaraz led 40-15 in the seventh game but Zverev’s depth off the forehand and aggression off that side were instrumental in enabling him to break again, this time on a double fault from Alcaraz. Zverev collected his fifth game in a row with a love hold to close out the second set 6-2 and reach one set all.

The third set was the most gripping in the match. Alcaraz broke Zverev at love for 4-2 and then saved three break points before moving on to 5-2. Zverev served to stay in the set in the eighth game and was down 15-30 but he swept three consecutive points to hold on, concluding that game with an ace. When Alcaraz served for the set in the following game he went from 0-30 to 30-30 but sent a routine two-hander long. On break point, Zverev laced a backhand pass crosscourt into the clear. He then held at love with three service winners followed by an ace. It was 5-5.

Embed from Getty Images

Alcaraz was strangely subdued in the eleventh game and was broken at 15. Now Zverev was serving for the set and he built a 30-0 lead. Alcaraz had altered his return of serve positioning for a while, moving in much closer to the baseline. But now he retreated, which allowed him to start lofting high trajectory, looping balls again with good depth. He got back to 30-30 but Zverev aced him out wide to earn a set point which Alcaraz saved prior to advancing to break point. Zverev erased  it with a service winner down the T. He put away an overhead for a second set point opportunity and then, after Alcaraz retrieved a smash from the German, Zverev angled a forehand winner crosscourt. Set to Zverev, 7-5.

For the second time in his career, Zverev was a set away from a first major singles crown. At this stage, Alcaraz seemed physically depleted, emotionally down and mentally below par. It was incumbent upon Zverev to make Alcaraz keep working hard, to let the Spaniard know that he was ready to stay out there as long as it took to realize a lifelong aspiration.

And yet, Zverev did not pursue that policy. In the first four games of the fourth set, the German took only five points. At 4-0, Alcaraz was broken and then was treated at the changeover for a groin issue. But Zverev, despite a game point, was broken for the third time in the set. Alcaraz saved three break points in the following game to seal the fourth set 6-1.

It had all come down to one last set for the premier clay court tournament of them all, and Zverev had the advantage of serving first. He held at 15 for 1-0 but Alcaraz answered with an easy hold of his own. But then Zverev played his worst game of the match when he could least afford such a flagrant lapse. He sent a down the line backhand volley long with Alcaraz stranded on the other side of the court. Then Zverev netted an easy forehand volley, followed by a double fault for 0-40. He was broken at 15 on a backhand unforced error.

Alcaraz had been gifted that break, but soon he was down 0-40 in the fourth game. He saved one break point but then the linesman called his second serve wide at 15-40. The double fault call would have brought Zverev back to 2-2 but the umpire came  down to the court to check the mark and said the ball had hit the line. Alcaraz won the replayed point and eventually held on for 3-1 after saving four break points. Zverev saved a break point in the following game with an acutely angled backhand crosscourt winner, holding on in that fifth game. Now the 6’6” German gave himself one last chance when he reached break point for 3-3, but Alcaraz saved it with a well executed serve-and-volley point. He moved on to 4-2 and then conceded only one point in the last two games, closing out the account 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

Alcaraz has now won his first three major finals, and next January he will be hoping to complete a career sweep of the four majors. When Roland Garros began, Alcaraz seemed genuinely guarded and borderline pessimistic about his chances of taking the title, but he came away deservedly with a crown he had been targeting for three years. Two years ago, he was beaten by Zverev in the quarterfinals. Last year he was beset by cramps all over his body in a four set semifinal loss to Djokovic. Now he is the French Open champion.

Embed from Getty Images

Both finalists had their work cut out for them en route to the final in Paris, but it was Zverev who had to endure many more trials and tribulations. His first round contest with 14 time Roland Garros victor Rafael Nadal required rigorous preparation emotionally for the German. Nadal, of course, had lost only three matches in his 18 previous appearances at the clay court shrine of the sport, bowing out twice against Novak Djokovic (in the 2015 quarterfinals and the 2021 semifinals), and once versus the swashbuckling Swede Robin Soderling (2009 round of 16). In 2016 Nadal had to default his third round match with an injury.

Zverev and Nadal had been on court in the penultimate round at the French Open two years ago for over three hours and had not even completed two sets. Nadal had rallied to secure the opening set in a 10-8 tie-break and the two warriors were in another tie-break to settle the second set outcome when Zverev severely injured his ankle and was forced to retire. They had not played since as Zverev gradually worked his way back to the top of his game.

For Zverev, this skirmish with Nadal must have felt much more like a final than a first round match. Nadal was understandably apprehensive in the opening game. He was broken at love, making a couple of errors and double faulting once. Zverev exploited that opening, rallying from 0-30 for 2-0, recouping from 15-40 to reach 3-1. When Nadal served to stay in that opening set, he lost a four deuce game on an errant high forehand. Zverev had sealed the opening set 6-3.

Early in the second, Nadal came alive. Serving at 1-2,15-40, he angled a backhand sharply crosscourt that was too good, and then he followed with an ace down the T. A service winner and a forehand winner lifted Nadal to 2-2. He broke Zverev for the first time in the following game with a drop shot winner off the forehand and soon held for 4-2.

Serving at 4-3, 15-30, Nadal made a stupendous forehand stab volley winner and he held on for 5-3. When Zverev served to stay in the set, he was behind 15-30 but responded with two aces and got the hold. Nevertheless Nadal served for the set at 5-4 but did not garner a single point. Zverev took command forcefully, putting away an overhead, rifling down the line winners off both sides, unleashing a searing forehand that was unmanageable for Nadal.

Nadal had been remarkable in coming so close to taking the second set and perhaps altering the complexion of the contest. Now it was 5-5. Yet Zverev was tense. He double faulted to trail 15-40, but then a first serve to the Nadal backhand drew an errant return from the Spaniard. An ace out wide brought Zverev back to deuce. He held on steadfastly before Nadal made it to 6-6. The Spaniard had won 22 of 28 career tie-breaks in his sterling Roland Garros career, but this one did not go his way.

Nadal made some questionable decisions from the baseline during this crucial sequence and not once did he have a lead. The Spaniard did connect sublimely with a running forehand passing shot winner to get back to 4-5 on serve. That shot was reminiscent of the Nadal of 2008, but on the following point he hit an abysmal drop shot that sat up and enabled Zverev to routinely roll a backhand down the line for a winner. Zverev then put a first serve in that caused Nadal to net a backhand return. The German had taken a two set lead by virtue of his 7-4 tie-break triumph.

Embed from Getty Images

Surely dismayed by his plight, Nadal nonetheless competed honorably in the third set, building a 2-0 lead. After Zverev won the next two games, Nadal held on for 3-2 after five deuces, erasing three break points against him. It was a brave stand, but Zverev was imperturbable. He promptly held at love with his most potent serving and then broke Nadal in the seventh game. Serving at 4-3, Zverev tightened up with a double fault for 15-40 but Nadal could not take advantage of it. He made an unforced error off the backhand and then Zverev clipped the sideline with a backhand crosscourt winner. That was only one of many lines that Zverev hit in a stirring display. He completed that hold for 5-3 with another scorching backhand crosscourt winner on the stretch, and then broke Nadal to complete a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over the greatest clay court player the game has ever known.

After accounting for the declining Belgian David Goffin 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-2 in the second round, Zverev confronted the dangerous Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, who seemed on the verge of a stunning third round upset. The No. 26 seed was leading by two breaks in the fifth set, serving at 4-1, poised for the most important victory of his career. In the sixth game, he came from 0-40 to 30-40, only to send a backhand volley into the net which he should have kept in play. Zverev held at 30 in the seventh game and then Griekspoor was broken again to make it 4-4. He double faulted twice in that eighth game.

They moved on to a final set tie-break, and Zverev dropped the opening point on his own serve. Unruffled, he took ten of the next twelve points to win that tie-break 10-3, closing out the account with an ace. He was fortunate to escape from so far down in the final set. Griekspoor froze with a win seemingly within his reach.

Next on his agenda was a duel with the No. 13 seed Holger Rune, and once more the German was precariously close to defeat. Behind two sets to one, Zverev was taken into a tie-break but met that propitious moment forthrightly. With Rune serving at 1-2, Zverev was the better player in a 34 stroke exchange. He never looked back, taking that tie-break seven points to two. The fifth set brought out Zverev at his best. After Rune erased four break points to hold for 1-1, Zverev took the next three games and 12 of 14 points for a 4-1 lead. He came through that harrowing encounter 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-2. Not only had he been the victor in a second straight five set showdown, but Zverev had rallied this time from two sets to one down.

The back to back five set matches were advantageous to Zverev. Being pushed to the brink in each of those battles, he was now more than ready for the industrious and enterprising Alex De Minaur. The No. 11 seed from Australia had upended No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev in a come from behind four set round of 16 meeting, but De Minaur was not able to replicate that form against Zverev.

After Zverev had secured the opening set, De Minaur had his chance in the second. He had a set point with Zverev serving at 5-6 but did not convert. The Australian surged to a 4-0 lead in the ensuing tie-break and later led 5-3, but Zverev collected four consecutive points to establish a two sets to love lead. Zverev eventually came through 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

That win lifted him into the semifinals against 2022 and 2023 Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud. The Norwegian saved a break point in the opening game of the first set and soon took control with his formidable forehand and improved backhand. Time and again he was timing the ball sweetly and outmaneuvering Zverev from the backcourt. Moreover, his return of serve was outstanding. He broke the German at love for a 2-0 lead and at 15 to stretch his lead to 5-2. That first set went swiftly to Ruud 6-2.

But he was having issues with a stomach ailment. Zverev, meanwhile, was finding his range and starting to crush his backhand down the line. He took the second set 6-2. Serving for the third set at 5-4, Zverev double faulted consecutively to turn a 30-15 lead into a 30-40 deficit, but he pulled himself out of that predicament with a service winner and a pair of aces. Set to Zverev, 6-4. In the fourth set, Zverev was now controlling the climate of the match thoroughly, winning 16 of 20 points on serve, breaking twice, leaving Ruud helpless. In the first set of the match, Zverev put only 44% of his first serves in play. He moved that figure up to 63% in the second set and then connected with 80% the last two sets. In turn, he released 19 aces. It was a stellar performance across the board. Zverev was a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victor.

Embed from Getty Images

As for Alcaraz, he had a relatively easy journey across the first five rounds. He opened against lucky loser J.J. Wolf, dismissing the American predictably 6-1, 6-2, 6-1. He did have some difficulties in the second round against qualifier Jesper De Jong before advancing 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. The dynamic Spaniard next took on No. 27 seed Sebastian Korda of the U.S. Korda challenged Alcaraz commendably, but in the end Alcaraz had too many options. He prevailed 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

The immensely appealing Felix Auger-Aliassime had a good run to the round of 16 but he was no match whatsoever for Alcaraz. The Spaniard took apart the No. 21 seed 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 and that sent him into a quarterfinal appointment with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Alcaraz owns the Greek stylist in their series. He now has a 6-0 career head to head lead over the 2021 French Open finalist. Moreover, Alcaraz has lost only one set to his adversary since their first ever meeting at the 2021 U.S. Open which the Spaniard took in a fifth set tie-break.

In this showdown, Tsitsipas was down a set and 2-4. Alcaraz had won 28 of 37 points on serve and was marching along relentlessly on his delivery. But Tsitsipas made it back to 4-4 and eventually to a tie-break. But Alcaraz was not missing in that sequence. He came through 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4 for a semifinal slot.

Embed from Getty Images

His confrontation with Jannik Sinner in the penultimate round was eagerly awaited by fans and players alike. That both men lived up to their seedings was remarkable in light of their recent woes. Alcaraz had played only one clay court tournament  en route to Roland Garros, bowing out against Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals of Madrid. Alcaraz aggravated his ailing arm during that Masters 1000 event, and so he did not compete again until Paris. Sinner had lost to Tsitsipas in the semifinals of Monte Carlo  snd then reached the quarterfinals of Madrid. But he was burdened by a bad hip and defaulted against Auger-Aliassime. He also was sick in the weeks leading up to the French Open, losing valuable time on the practice court.

But still Sinner dropped only one set on his way to the semifinal duel with Alcaraz. The 22-year-old Italian who now resides for the first time ever at No. 1 in the world seemed self assured in the early stages against his formidable rival. Sinner came out of the blocks striking the ball beautifully and hardly putting a foot out of line, while Alcaraz had not yet found his range. In establishing a 4-0 first set lead, Sinner not only broke Alcaraz twice but did not concede a point on his own serve. He was on song and Alcaraz was sorely off key.

Alcaraz did manage to take the next two games and even had a 40-15 lead at 2-4. But Sinner broke him again there and served out the set in the eighth game. The Italian broke immediately to start the second set as Alcaraz remained mired in mistakes, and then Sinner held for 2-0. Having won eight of ten games up to that juncture, he was up a set and a break. It could not have been a better start for the No. 2 seed.

But now Alcaraz found his range and he replicated Sinner’s run, sweeping eight of ten games himself to seal the second set and fashion a service break lead in the third at 2-1. Sinner broke back for 2-2, but he was cramping in his right hand while enduring an arduous following game.  Somehow Sinner wiped away four break points in a five deuce game and held on for 3-2 before getting assistance from the trainer at the changeover.

No one knew it at the time, but Alcaraz revealed later that he, too, was suffering from cramps. In any case, Sinner gradually improved his play. At break point in the sixth game, Sinner realized that Alcaraz was playing serve-and-volley, sending his backhand return sharply crosscourt for a dazzling winner. To 4-2 went Sinner, and he held on for 5-2 at 30 by going in behind his first serve and eliciting an errant return from the Spaniard.

Two games later, Sinner served for a two sets to one lead. An ace down the T took the Italian to 40-15 and he held at 15 to win the set 6-3. For the second time in the match, Sinner seemed in command.

All through the fourth set, both players were sedulously holding onto their serves. In his five service games, Alcaraz dropped only seven points. Sinner won 16 of 19 points in his first four service game. A tie-break seemed entirely possible to settle the outcome of that set. In the tenth game, Sinner moved in front 30-0. Then he approached deep to to the Alcaraz forehand but the Spaniard magically produced a topspin lob down the line, taking the net away from his opponent. Alcaraz finished off that point with a drop volley winner with Sinner stranded behind the baseline.

At 30-15, Sinner was poised to put away an overhead taken on the bounce, but, going down the line, he missed it wide as Alcaraz stayed home. Next Alcaraz drove a penetrating two-hander down the line to force Sinner into an error. Suddenly, Sinner stood at 30-40 and found himself set point down. He laced a forehand down the line but slipped slightly on the follow through. Alcaraz easily sent a backhand crosscourt into a wide open space for a winner. He won the set 6-4.

That was the pivotal moment in the match. A buoyant Alcaraz advanced to 3-0 in the fifth set, breaking Sinner in the second game. That five game surge from the Spaniard from 4-4 in the fourth to 3-0 in the fifth was a momentum shift that Sinner could not reverse. Alcaraz kept holding the rest of the way. At 5-3 he struggled when he served through the shadows but, despite two lost match point opportunities, Alcaraz finished the job on his third to win 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, defeating his chief adversary for the second time in a row and the fifth time in nine career meetings. 

Embed from Getty Images

It was an outstanding French Open for the men in many ways. The other major storyline was the spirited run to the quarterfinals made by the defending champion Novak Djokovic. The 37-year-old seemed revitalized in winning back to back five set matches to reach the last eight. First he rallied from two sets to one down to defeat Lorenzo Musetti. The 22-year-old Italian had taken the first two sets from the Serbian three years ago at Roland Garros before losing. This time around, Musetti led two sets to one in a night match that commenced at 10:40 in the evening and did not end until 3:07 AM.

Down two sets to one and locked at 2-2 in the fourth set, Djokovic, spurred on by a festive crowd, captured ten of eleven games to complete a 7-5, 6-7 (6) 2-6, 6-3 6-0 victory.  He returned 37 hours later and made a similarly spirited comeback to overcome No. 23 seed Francisco Cerendulo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 but he needed treatment during that match for a knee injury. He was given pain killers to get through and performed spectacularly in the latter stages after trailing 2-4 in the fourth set. But the next day it was determined that he had a torn medial meniscus and he immediately had surgery.

It is highly unlikely that Djokovic will get the green light to play Wimbledon, but it is entirely possible that he could be ready to return at the Olympic Games later in July back on the Parisian clay.

Meanwhile, Carlos Alcaraz will be eager to defend the Wimbledon title he won so memorably over Djokovic last July. After the confidence boost he just gave himself at Roland Garros, the feeling grows that this estimable Spaniard will be heading out onto the lawns in Great Britain fully expecting to hold onto his crown on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. 

Embed from Getty Images

Hot Topics

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

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading

Focus

Novak Djokovic Starts Rehab Ahead Of Ambitious Wimbledon Return

Novak Djokovic could make an ambitious return to Wimbledon.

Published

on

(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Novak Djokovic has started his rehab after having surgery on a meniscus injury he suffered at Roland Garros.

The Serb suffered the injury during his fourth round clash with Francisco Cerundolo where Djokovic came back from two sets to one down to claim victory.

However Djokovic played no further part at Roland Garros as he suffered a bad meniscus injury and had to withdraw from the tournament.

It resulted in Djokovic having to have surgery the following day in Paris as he gave up his world number one ranking to Jannik Sinner.

Now the road to recovery starts for Djokovic as he posted on Instagram the start of his rehabilitation programme.

Usually the programme takes three weeks to six months to recover from but Djokovic’s injury wasn’t as bad as first reported.

It remains to be seen as to whether Djokovic will make his return at Wimbledon or whether he will wait until the Olympic Games to make his return.

Last year Djokovic reached the final at Wimbledon before losing to Carlos Alcaraz in a five set epic.

However it would be no surprise to see Djokovic withdraw as the one thing the Serb is yet to achieve is to win Olympic Gold.

A fully healed Djokovic could be tough to stop in Paris as he looks to achieve a lifetime goal.

Wimbledon starts on the 1st of July while the Olympics starts on the 27th of July.

Continue Reading

Focus

Determined Andreescu Ready To Maintain Consistency After Defeating Osaka

Bianca Andreescu is back to her best after defeating Naomi Osaka in s-Hertogenbosch.

Published

on

(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Bianca Andreescu is ready to maintain consistency as her form continues to improve with her latest victory coming against Naomi Osaka in S-Hertogenbosch.

In a battle of the former US Open champions, Andreescu defeated Osaka 6-4 3-6 7-6(3) to move into the semi-finals.

The Canadian is only playing her second tournament this year after her run to the third round at Roland Garros, losing to eventual finalist Jasmine Paolini.

However that hasn’t stopped Andreescu from producing incredible performances as has gone back to the variety that earned her the US Open title five years ago.

Speaking about the match Andreescu praised her consistency on return as she admitted that she really wanted to the victory, “So the key for. me was to stay as consistent as possible,” Andreescu told the WTA website.

“My return today, the goal was to just bunt it back and then take control of the second serve. At 5-2, I might have let up a little bit on my serve. I was saying to myself ‘Go for it’ but the other side of myself said ‘Calm down’. So I got a bit conflicted with that.

“But really could have gone either way. It was two points difference maybe, in the whole match. I never give up. I ran a lot today. More than her for sure. I really wanted it. I really wanted it today and I think that made the big difference.”

Since that US Open title win five years ago, Andreescu has failed to live up to her potential as she has gained the reputation of being one of the most injury prone players on the tour.

Now the Canadian is aiming to find some consistent playing time as she aims to rebuild her ranking.

Speaking ahead of the semi-finals in Holland, Andreescu is not getting to far ahead of herself, “These are the reason we play this sport,” Andreescu commented after beating former world number one Osaka.

“Winning against players like this, at least for me, it really shows me where my level is at. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because every day is different. I just want to take it in and use it to my advantage.”

Next for Andreescu will be Dalma Galfi in the semi-finals as she plays her first WTA semi-final since January 2023.

Continue Reading

Trending