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Exclusive: Ferrero On Alcaraz's Rise

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2021

You’ll rarely find him without a smile on his face. On court, around the corridors of Flushing Meadows or in the press room. Carlos Alcaraz has plenty of reasons to wear one at the moment, one of them being his performance at the US Open. The 18-year-old Spaniard revealed another after reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam and defeating a Top 3 player for the first time in his career; his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, recommended he do so.

In just nine months, the Murcian has gone from aspiring to enter the Top 100 to “trying to compete head to head against all the best players in the world.” A day after Alcaraz’s greatest performance to date, the former No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings takes a look back at the achievements of his player’s early career in this interview with

Arthur Ashe Stadium, Stefanos Tsitsipas on the other side of the net. Victory in the fifth-set tie-break. Were we watching Alcaraz’s presentation to the world?

Obviously yes. I think playing on center court at the US Open and against the opponent he had in front of him made Carlos’s victory more noticeable. Without a doubt, it was his presentation to the world showing everyone that he has great potential and a great level. He has to continue in that line to try to compete head to head against all the best.

“Juan Carlos always tells me that I have to have a good time on the court. With a smile on my face I play better, and we have proved that”. These were Alcaraz’s words, after the match.
I tell him this to try not to be tense in the match and to enjoy what is happening, so he can see things clearly. If he is happy and relaxed, he will see things much better than if he is tense and nervous.

Against Tsitsipas he seemed to follow your advice. He not only enjoyed himself but also demonstrated an ability to play with determination and maturity in critical moments such as the third set or the end of the match.
I think he had been playing very good matches against great opponents like Rafa [Nadal], [Daniil] Medvedev and [Alexander] Zverev, but his level always went down a bit after the second set. Yesterday the goal was to maintain that level, and except in the fourth set with the problems he had with his leg, he was at a good level. It was what we were looking for.

He himself highlighted those three matches that you mentioned against Zverev in Acapulco; Nadal in Madrid; and Medvedev at Wimbledon.
All the matches that he is playing are giving him experience, especially those against the best in the world and in big stadiums. He has to accumulate experiences and having played against Rafa, Zverev and Medvedev surely helped him to approach things in a better way.

What do you tell him before matches like that?
It doesn’t change much from what I tell him in other matches: great attitude, fight until the end, try to be himself on court and not be intimidated by where he is playing or against whom. From there, let him fight to the end.


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After the match, he looked excited when he hugged Albert Molina [Alcaraz’s manager].
Yesterday’s match was very emotional. There was a lot of tension throughout the match. I was happy that he had reached the tie-break at the end, but in that situation, it is heads or tails. Obviously, having it so close you always want to win, but the goal was accomplished: to continue growing against an opponent like him. I really enjoyed the match. The end of the match with the victory, even more so.

The kid you started this journey with three years ago has grown up.
He is in a process of maturity and the match against Tsitsipas will surely help him approach everything differently, believing more in himself in the matches that have to come on this kind of court against this type of player.

Now he’s facing Peter Gojowczyk in the fourth round.
Now we must continue. I think you have to give it due importance that it has [a victory like this] on the day it happens, but the tournament goes on. This Sunday we have a very tough opponent and once again we have to keep our feet on the ground, do things well and play the tennis he is capable of.

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Medvedev Cruises Into US Open QF

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2021

Second seed Daniil Medvedev continued to lay his claim Sunday as the man most likely to stop World No. 1 Novak Djokovic from capturing the Grand Slam at the US Open as the Russian moved past Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.

The 25-year-old is yet to drop a set in New York and has been in strong form since the Tokyo Olympics, winning his fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Toronto, before reaching the semi-finals in Cincinnati. Medvedev’s one-hour 43-minute victory over Evans, in which he hit with great depth and struck 24 winners, means he now holds a 15-2 record since Wimbledon.

“Today I liked my serve better,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “But there was one forehand return that for me was the best shot of the match, so if we take one shot it has to be this one, but if we take the whole match it has to be the serve.”

The Australian Open finalist, who has captured titles in Marseille and Mallorca this year, is aiming to win his first major at Flushing Meadows, a tournament in which he has fond memories at. In 2019, the 12-time tour-level titlist rallied from two sets down to force a fifth set against Rafael Nadal in his maiden major final, before not dropping a set en route to the last four last year.

“First time when I came back last year [after the Russian’s final defeat to Nadal in 2019] I had some good memories,” Medvedev added. “Now, I just want to make it to the final again to have another one to remember and hopefully a better one.”

Medvedev now leads Evans 1-0 in their ATPHead2Head Series and will face qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the last eight as he aims to reach his fourth major semi-final after the Dutchman upset 11th seed Diego Schwartzman in five sets.

In a strong performance, the Russian sat just behind the baseline as he soaked up Evans’ pressure while also imposing his aggressive game, stepping inside the baseline to rifle his flat groundstrokes through the court as he dictated play.

After committing just six unforced errors in the first set to lead, Medvedev fired 12 winners in the second set to move towards victory. The Russian then did not drop a point behind his first serve (12/12) in the decider as he manoeuvred Evans around the court to secure his victory.

Evans was competing in the fourth round at the US Open for the first time in his fifth main draw appearance in New York. The 24th seed overcame Australian Alexei Popyrin in a fifth-set tie-break in the third round to set up his meeting with Medvedev.

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How Ferreira Is Helping Tiafoe Walk The Fine Line Between Fun & Focus

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2021

Frances Tiafoe earned a big win in the early hours of Saturday morning when he upset fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the third round of the US Open.

Later in the day, spoke to Tiafoe’s coach, former World No. 6 Wayne Ferreira, about the American’s progression, finding the fine line between fun and focus, and more.

You’re often very calm during Frances’ matches, but during the fifth set even you were out of your chair. How was it seeing the way he responded?
There are so many different things we’re working on with him that he has to overcome. For example, being up a break in the fourth set, then losing his serve, losing his serve again and then losing the set. We’ve seen that happen a few times and then he’s come out and played a poor next set, letting that get a handle on him.

But I think he responded exceptionally well last night. Having that little downfall, losing that fourth set, coming out and playing as well as he did in the fifth set, for me it was all exciting. He’s starting to implement some of the work that we’ve been putting in, trying to overcome some of those things. He did a fantastic job coming through the adversity. It was really exciting for me.

You’ve spent so much time working on improving his focus, so was it like that work came to fruition last night?
Very much so. I was a little bit disappointed given he had been up a break in the fourth set. He got a little bit tight and then let the next game get control of him, but for him to overcome it and rectify it and play such a good fifth set was very, very encouraging.

Frances Tiafoe
Photo Credit: Pete Staples/USTA
Was the game plan to try to get on top of Rublev to prevent him from controlling play?
Take away completely his strategy. His strategy is to get the ball in play and look for the forehand. He stands in that backhand corner and hits forehands all over the place. The strategy was to attack second serves, which he did phenomenally well last night.

The other play was to change the direction a lot and go to the forehand early so that he could open up the backhand and not allow him to sit in the backhand corner. Frances did a fantastic job last night of changing directions. He played a very smart match.

Do you believe that was his best win with you?
Yes, but I would also say the win over [Stefanos] Tsitsipas at Wimbledon in straight sets and not losing his serve in that match, that was an incredible, incredible win. We’re starting to have some good ones. There are starting to be a lot more matches where a lot of the work he’s been putting in is starting to come together. It’s probably one of the top three wins we’ve had so far.

Frances was in this position at last year’s US Open, reaching the fourth round. What is the difference between the Frances of last year and this year?
He has definitely made a big stride forward this year compared to last year. Last year he did well, but the matches weren’t as clean as he’s had this year. There were some ups and downs with the [John] Millman match and then an unbelievable match against [Marton] Fucsovics. It was a disappointing match with [Daniil] Medvedev. Last year there were too many ups and downs.

This year has been pretty good. His first round, second and third round have been very solid. He’s done everything the right way. It’s been very, very clinical to a certain degree. I’m hoping with everything we’ve been working on that he’s now able to move it to the fourth match, because obviously to win a major you need to win seven matches and that’s a lot of work to do.

Was there a point when you realised he made those strides?
It’s been gradual. We have pros and cons every week. Every week there is some good that we’ve done and improved on and there is still some poor that we have to overcome. It’s an ongoing process. We have a lot of things that we’re working through and we’re taking them step by step.

He’s knocking a few of them off the list, but there are going to be bad weeks. We’ve had some good matches and we’ve had some bad ones still, so it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But we’ve got to just keep working on it.

Is his focus still the big task at the moment?
The focus of course, absolutely. No question. Keeping the focus and the intensity, not letting things get on top of you. That’s why the fifth set was such an impressive set last night. There were so many times he would have let that fourth set get a hold of him and he would have gotten disappointed and lost his commitment, his drive. The focus is still going to be key.

A match like he has with [Felix] Auger-Aliassime, it’s going to be very important for him to be focused all the time. He has to serve really well. If he can get through his service games, he’ll give himself a really good chance.

Frances Tiafoe
Photo Credit: Getty Image
If the game plan was to attack Andrey’s second serve, Felix has also had some issues there sometimes. How different is the matchup with Felix?
In my opinion, fairly similar in a lot of ways. Felix does have problems with his second serve, but his second serve is a lot bigger, it’s a lot more penetrating, it’s much harder to attack. But I do think he needs to try to put pressure on the second serve.

As far as the groundstrokes, they both hit the ball very hard, very solid, play very, very well from the back. The ball is going to come back quickly again, he’s going to have to defend a lot. He’s going to have to try to change directions, mix things up. From that aspect, I think it will be similar.

The serve is going to be key again. I think if Frances serves well or if he can get on top of Auger-Aliassime’s serve, the key is going to be the serve and return.

We saw how much Frances played to the crowd. How much does being at home help him?
With his personality, it’s something that he really likes to do. We’ve been working very hard on finding that happy medium of having fun, but focusing at the same time. I’ve always said that if he was able to mix the two really well, it would be really good for him because that’s what he wants. He wants the crowd to be involved, he wants to have fun.

His personality is so outgoing, he wants to enjoy himself. I think he actually did it pretty perfectly yesterday in regards to enjoying himself, getting the crowd involved, but keeping focused. And if he’s able to do it at that level, I think that’s the type of player he is. It’s like a [Gael] Monfils in a way. He wants to get the crowd involved, have fun, but you also have to be careful not to let that get a handle on you.

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How fine of a line is it to avoid drifting too far into that and losing focus on the tennis?
That is the key, trying to find a way to make that not happen. That’s the difficulty with him. I want him to enjoy himself, but he also has to learn to switch on and shut off. Go and enjoy with the crowd, but then make sure you shut off.

Last night, I think he did a great job. I think there are going to be times when it’s going to get the better of him. This is something we’re trying to work on, but it’s a difficult thing to work on because you can only work on it during matches. Yesterday was good. Hopefully he can control himself and have fun with the crowd in the next one, but make sure it doesn’t get the better of him and lose focus. But yesterday’s match was good.

How much fun are you having on this journey with Frances?
It’s great, because he’s such a nice guy. We have such a nice time together. He has so many improvements to make and so much that he can do. It’s a really cool project, because he has the ability to be so much better and he wants to do it. It’s nice that he’s open to learning and to do his best. There are a lot of changes we have to make and it’s really a lot of fun spending time with him, being with him and seeing everything go in the right direction.

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Zverev Advances To Sinner Showdown After Sock Retires

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2021

Jack Sock played a sensational opening set Saturday evening to get the Arthur Ashe Stadium fired up. But an upper right leg injury prevented him from maintaining that level, and he was forced to retire during the fourth set. Fourth seed Alexander Zverev advanced to the fourth round of the US Open 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-1.

“If Jack would have continued playing the way he was playing in the first set it would have been done in an hour-and-a-half and I would have planned my holidays and I would have had a good time next week somewhere in the south of France,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “Jack is an incredible player. He’s been Top 10, he’s beaten me multiple times, he’s beaten top players multiple times. He’s a Masters 1000 champion and he showed it in the first set.

“He hit three-thousand winners and zero unforced errors in that first set, so when he’s playing like that, I’ve actually never seen that before. I’ve never played against anybody who was playing at that level, so I hope he can get healthy again and he’ll be at the top of the game very soon.”

The German is into the Round of 16 at Flushing Meadow for the third consecutive year. On his last visit to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center last year, Zverev came within two points of lifting his first major trophy in the final against Dominic Thiem.

Zverev is arguably playing the best tennis of his career, extending his winning streak to 14 behind 33 winners. The German made just 10 unforced errors.

Sock crushed a jaw-dropping 18 winners in the first set, dominating play with his forehand. But after the first game of the second set, the American had ATP physiotherapist Clay Sniteman wrap his upper right leg, and the tone of the match changed.

Zverev dropped well behind the baseline for most of the match and forced Sock to play extra balls and test his fitness. In the second-to-last point of the match, Sock leapt to try to reach a backhand lob, appearing to aggravate his injury again. One point later, after Zverev broke his serve, the home favourite retired.

“It’s difficult to sometimes play someone who is not 100 per cent. I think everybody saw that Jack was really struggling physically,” Zverev said. “You have to keep your focus. At the end of the day we are all competitors and we have to somehow bring the match to the end.”

The Tokyo Olympics singles gold medallist and Cincinnati champion will next play #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner, who battled past Frenchman Gael Monfils in five sets earlier in the day.

“I think my fourth-round match against Jannik Sinner is going to be extremely entertaining because he’s a very young guy who is very hungry and I feel like that is going to be a high-level match,” Zverev said. “I do know that I’m playing okay, but I do know that other players are playing extremely well as well, so I’m hoping to keep my form and give myself the best chance.”

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Serve Bot? So Not! Opelka Charts New Path to US Open R4

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2021

Reilly Opelka has spent much of the summer embracing an identity as a ‘Serve Bot’ in self-deprecating banter with fellow American John Isner. After charging into the US Open fourth round Saturday night, the 6′ 11″ Florida resident is in need of some new shtick.

Yes, the 24-year-old thundered an obligatory 20+ aces, but he raised eyebrows with five breaks of serve against Nikoloz Basilashvili in a 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4 win. Opelka played his brand of ‘Big Man’ tennis, clubbing 52 winners, including 21 aces. He took big cuts on service returns and won 12 points at net.

And in even better news for Opelka, he thinks there is further improvement left in his game in the second week. “I wasn’t too happy with how I played,” he said. “I think I got off to a slow start. I hit my forehand poorly. I think there’s a lot of good things that come from that. I found a way to win in straight sets against a great player, playing slightly below my average.

“I don’t think I served my best. One thing I think I did a great job of was I came in at the right time and I volleyed unbelievably well in big moments.”

Opelka, who joins countrymen Frances Tiafoe and Jenson Brooksby in the round of 16, will next play Lloyd Harris.

The South African extended Denis Shapovalov’s summer of discontent at the US Open Saturday night when he upset the Canadian for the second time this year to reach the second week of a major for the first time in his career. The 24-year-old South African broke serve five times and hit 26 winners to oust the seventh seed 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes.

After back-to-back semi-finals on grass at Queen’s and Wimbledon, Shapovalov had suffered three consecutive opening-round losses before finding form at Flushing Meadows. The Bahamas resident seemed to have turned around his form with two straight-sets wins heading into his third-round meeting with Harris, but 40 unforced errors proved his undoing.

Harris, who also beat Shapovalov earlier in the year in Dubai, said, “The fourth round is obviously a major accomplishment for me, it’s my first one ever, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I can’t wait to be back. Everything has been coming together this season. I feel confident in my game and I want to keep the momentum going.”

Harris, who is at a career-high No. 46 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, made just 23 unforced errors as he improved to 23-17 on the year.  

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Krawietz/Tecau Move Through At US Open

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2021

Sixth seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau continued their quest for their first major title as a team as they edged past Frederik Nielsen and Vasek Pospisil 7-6(12), 7-6(4) on Saturday to reach the third round at the US Open.

The German-Romanian tandem won 81 per cent (44/54) of their first-serve points to advance after two hours. They will next face Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni after the Mexican-Argentine team defeated 11th seeds Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(7).

Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey hit 13 aces as they upset 14th seeds Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez 7-6(5), 6-4 in 88 minutes. The unseeded pair reached the semi-finals in New York as a team in 2015.

The 10th seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Wesley Koolhof also advanced with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory against Americans Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson, while 13th seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ivan Dodig overcame Hugo Nys and Arthur Rinderknech 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

British-Pakistan team Jonny O’Mara and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi booked their spot in the third round with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) victory against 16th seeds Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, while 15th seeds Andrey Golubev and Andreas Mies defeated Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic 7-5, 6-2.

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