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Scouting Report: Medvedev Defends US Open Title, Nadal Seeks Third Slam Of Year

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Scouting Report: Medvedev Defends US Open Title, Nadal Seeks Third Slam Of Year

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the US Open

The ATP Tour’s finest head to New York this fortnight for their final opportunity to claim Grand Slam glory in 2022 at the US Open.

Daniil Medvedev defends his 2021 crown at Flushing Meadows, where the World No. 1 is seeking to hold off four rivals who have a chance of replacing the 26-year-old in top spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. That group includes second seed Rafael Nadal, who is chasing his third Grand Slam crown of the season following his victories at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. looks ahead at 10 things to watch this week.

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1) Medvedev Defends Title: The World No. 1 defeated Novak Djokovic to lift his maiden Grand Slam trophy in New York a year ago. The 26-year-old is chasing just his second title of 2022 at Flushing Meadows, but he can look to a 20-4 career record at the final major of the year for confidence as he prepares to face home favourite Stefan Kozlov in the opening round.

2) Four-Time Champ Rafa: Nadal arrives in New York having played just one match during the North American hard-court swing due to an abdominal issue. He lost that lone match to eventual champion Borna Coric in Cincinnati. Despite his disrupted preparations, the Spaniard knows better than anyone how to raise his game on the big stage — he is chasing his third Grand Slam of 2022 (following victories at the Australian Open and Roland Garros) and a record-extending 23rd major overall.

3) Alcaraz’s Grand Slam Moment?: Carlos Alcaraz appeared to take a liking to the US Open a year ago, when he surged to the quarter-finals on tournament debut at Flushing Meadows. The Spaniard has backed that run up in style with a standout 2022 season during which he has claimed four ATP Tour titles, including two ATP Masters 1000 crowns. Can the 19-year-old add his first Grand Slam title to that tally in New York?

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4) Top 10 Stars Seek Maiden Major: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and Felix Auger-Aliassime are established members of the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but all three are chasing their maiden Grand Slam crown in New York.

Tsitsipas and Ruud have never been past the third round at the US Open, but both have reason to be confident. Tsitsipas found form to reach the final in Cincinnati a week ago, while Ruud can look to his championship match run at Roland Garros in June as proof of his ability to perform on the Grand Slam stage. Auger-Aliassime will hope memories of his 2021 semi-final run can inspire him to another strong fortnight at Flushing Meadows.

5) Five-Way Battle For No. 1: Five players — Medvedev, Nadal, Tsitsipas, Alcaraz and Ruud — could potentially finish the US Open as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. All but Nadal must reach the championship match to have a chance of leaving New York as World No. 1. Should 19-year-old Alcaraz climb to top spot, he will become the youngest No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history. More On Key Matches In Battle For No. 1.

6) Kyrgios & Kokkinakis Face Off: Close friends, doubles partners, and now Grand Slam opponents.

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have already tasted success at a major in 2022, lifting the doubles crown together at the Australian Open in January. Now they meet in the first round of the singles in New York, where Kyrgios seeks to back up his strong recent form that includes a run to the Wimbledon final in July. It will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting.

7) Zhang & Wu Make History: No Chinese man has ever competed in the US Open main draw in the Open Era, but that is about to change after both Zhizhen Zhang and Yibing Wu battled through rainy conditions to qualify for the main draw in New York. World No. 178 Wu has strong pedigree at Flushing Meadows, where he won the boys’ singles title in 2017, and he takes on 31st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round. The No. 138-ranked Zhang faces Tim van Rijthoven.

8) Turin Chase: Plenty of all-important points are on offer this fortnight as the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin heats up. Leader Nadal, second-placed Tsitsipas and third-placed Alcaraz seek to consolidate their spots as they bid to qualify for November’s Nitto ATP Finals, while Hubert Hurkacz (ninth), Taylor Fritz (10th) and Cameron Norrie (11th) are among those trying to break into the qualification spots with strong runs in New York.

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9) #NextGenATP Contenders: Top young talents looking to make their mark in New York include Hamburg champion Lorenzo Musetti, Munich winner Holger Rune and the in-form Jack Draper, who reached his third tour-level quarter-final of 2022 in Winston-Salem this week.

Musetti, Rune and Draper sit third, fourth and fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan, respectively. Among those also attempting to boost their qualification chances for November’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals are Jiri Lehecka, Brandon Nakashima and Chun-Hsin Tseng.

10) Ram/Salisbury Top Seeds: Defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury found their form a week ago in Cincinnati, where they lifted their second ATP Masters 1000 title of the season. Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah are the only other former champion team in the draw, while Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings leaders Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski seek to continue their stellar 2022 season with a maiden Grand Slam crown.

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Botic Ready To Repeat US Open Run

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Botic Ready To Repeat US Open Run

Dutchman looking for another deep run at Flushing Meadows

What a difference a year makes.

Twelve months ago Botic van de Zandschulp set foot on American soil for the first time when he fronted up to play qualifying at Flushing Meadows. This year the 6′ 3″ Dutchman returns as the No. 21 seed after a dramatic rise that began with a fairytale run into the US Open main draw and ended with a second-week showdown with eventual champion Daniil Medvedev.

“It was really nice when I landed in New York for the first time last year,” he said. “I like the big city. I saw New York sometimes from movies or a series, so to finally be here was great. And this year should be even more interesting from last year when things were quieter due to Covid.”

Van de Zandschulp comes into the Open at a career-high No. 22 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and with a 28-21 record on the season. Last year, as the World No. 117, he rallied from a set down in all three qualifying matches, survived a five-setter in the first round of the main draw and then stunned then-World No. 11 Casper Ruud in the second round.

He also took out Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round before pushing Medvedev to four sets in the quarter-finals during his career-changing run. As he found time to reflect on the charge while vacationing in Dubai, where he went quad-biking, spent time at a water park and attended a friend’s wedding, it all began to sink in.

“The first couple days afterwards, I couldn’t really get it,” he recalled. “It’s tough; you go from 120 to 60 in the world in just a couple of weeks, you beat some great players there and for the first time you make quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. When I was done with the season, and I was on vacation and I had some more time to reflect on it, I could see how amazing it was then.”

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If van de Zandschulp is a late-blooming Dutch tulip, it may be because he prioritised school over tennis during his teenage years. “I didn’t play the juniors, except for tournaments in Holland and once in Germany. I only started playing professionally when I was 19. For me and my parents it was more important for me to finish high school than [to play] tennis. In other countries, that’s different I think.

“But hopefully I still have a long career ahead. You see a lot of guys in their mid-30s still making good results. I want to play as long as I can on the Tour.”

For inspiration, van de Zandschulp need look no further than 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, who at 36 has the opportunity to reclaim the World No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking at the US Open. After a strong run to the semi-finals at Queen’s, van de Zandschulp used his all-court game to charge into the Wimbledon fourth round, where he fell to the left-handed Spaniard.

“That was amazing. A first time for me on the Centre Court of Wimbledon, one of the best courts there is,” he said. “I played him already twice this year, you play such a big guy, he achieved so much during his career so it’s a great opportunity to play one of the Big Four.”

Van de Zandschulp says that he’s “living more like a professional than I did before,” focusing on better warm-up and cool-down routines and being more disciplined with his diet. More success has also opened up the opportunity to build a stronger team, which began with the hiring of former Dutch federation coach Peter Lucassen soon after last year’s US Open.

“I’m looking at some options for next year to work with a physio or physical guy,” he said. “In Holland, I practise with a guy from the National Tennis Federation; he does my physical stuff. Most of the time I’m travelling with Peter; my girlfriend is there sometimes. For now, the team is pretty small.

“I started working with Peter after the US Open. He was working at the Federation and we both wanted to work together and now he’s travelling full-time with me privately. Before the US Open, I had to be with the Federation to afford a coach; after the US Open I had more options. From there on, Peter and I are working together and it’s going well. Peter is a great coach, he is so detailed in tennis, he loves tennis, he has so much passion for it. I think we have a really good connection.”

Van de Zandschulp opens his 2022 US Open campaign Monday against Czech qualifier Tomas Machac and could potentially face former champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round.

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Fighter Brooksby On Hard Work & Big 3 Education

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Fighter Brooksby On Hard Work & Big 3 Education

American has reached three tour-level finals

When you play Jenson Brooksby, you know you will be in for a battle.

Since the American broke onto the Tour last July, fans have become accustomed to watching him chase down every shot and fight for every point, with hard work and commitment the foundations of his all-around game.

Next week, the 21-year-old competes on home soil at the US Open, where he is No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Just 18 months ago he was outside the Top 300, signifying the nature of his rapid rise.

“I think it has exceeded expectations a little bit in how fast I went up,” Brooksby told when reflecting on the past year. “Not really in the level that I have got to because it is something I have believed I can get to from a young age, but just how fast I reached that level.

“It is really important to stay present and treat the whole process of how I got here the same and continue to build. I don’t want to get complacent with what I have done, with everyone being happy. You have to have your own standards with your team and yourself to push on again.”

Brooksby’s game has lit up courts over recent months as he combines his two-handed backhand slice with flat hitting and deft drop shots to outmanoeuvre opponents, often leaving them in a spin.

The American revealed that his funky playing style has come as a consequence of his hard work, with Brooksby and his team looking to play to his strengths as he seeks further improvement during the North American hard-court swing.

“The fitness and the cardio is something we have been working on a lot. It is something that some other guys still have better than me. But I think I have caught up a lot,” Brooksby said. “It is important for my playing style to be able to do that over the course of tournaments. If you want to go deep and compete for the biggest titles each week it is something I have to get a lot better at. I am glad I am aware of that.

“I try and play a physical game style and I think the strategies we come up with when we face opponents bring that aspect out as a result of the strategy. It is something I didn’t have naturally when I was younger. It is something I have worked on a lot. I feel I have a somewhat clear picture on court that because of how we train. We always have a clear game plan, which helps me see the court really well.”

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Aged 21, Brooksby grew up watching Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal dominate the Tour. The World No. 37 revealed that although he admired them when he was younger, he never understood their dedication levels until he broke through himself.

Now, Brooksby is eager to learn from them, with the standards Djokovic, Federer and Nadal set driving him on.

“When I was young, it was the Top 3 guys I liked to watch: Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. When I was younger, I didn’t really understand what it took to be that good consistent over the course of those years as I do now, though. I really appreciate that work ethic now,” Brooksby admitted.

“I respect it even more with how consistently they do what they do to get where they are at. And they have done it for over a decade and I am trying to learn from them. My team and I are really big in doing what we believe in, but my coach watches them and sees what he thinks they do best and I can learn from that.”

Last September, Brooksby gained the opportunity to have a crack against Djokovic after he surged into the spotlight by reaching the fourth round at the US Open.

The 21-year-old clinched the opening set 6-1, before he eventually faded and lost in four. It is a match that will live long in his memory and has motivated him as he aims to compete on the sport’s biggest stages for years to come.

“Playing Djokovic was an amazing experience. It was a high level of tennis for a good amount of the match,” Brooksby recalled. “I had played three physical matches before that and then had a fourth one against him too.

“I just saw how tough it is physically to produce that kind of tennis and he is amazing at. That comes from all the discipline of how hard you train and eating correctly and pushing yourself and moments like that are when those results will show.”

The American defeated Mikael Ymer and countryman Taylor Fritz at Flushing Meadows, before he rallied to edge Aslan Karatsev in five sets. For Brooksby, it was a run that helped him connect with his home supporters, leaving him excited to play at the hard-court Grand Slam again this year.

“It really does give you a big push from the crowd. It gives you a lot of energy and has even made the difference for me in a couple of matches, like at the [US] Open. “It lifts you and even if it doesn’t it is great to have. It gives you more motivation.”

With 13 Americans currently inside the Top 100, tennis in the United States is in a good place. Countryman Reilly Opelka, currently No. 17 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, knows better than anyone what it is like to have success on home soil, having won all four of his ATP Tour titles in the United States.

The 24-year-old has been impressed with what he has seen from Brooksby.

“Jenson is such a great competitor and has a great skillset,” said Opelka, who holds a 1-1 ATP Head2Head series record against Brooksby. “He can do lots on the court and works hard. I am a big fan of Jenson.”

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Having advanced to tour-level finals in Dallas and Atlanta this season, expectations will be higher for Brooksby when he competes at the US Open. However, the American won’t let the pressure faze him as he looks to break new heights throughout the rest of the season.

“You always try and take the pressure in your stride. There is a little bit more expectation. It is expected. On the good side, opponents know what they are in for more and they know what I can bring to the table,” Brooksby said.

“I want to keep finding the enjoyment and the physicality to enjoy competing every day. That is what I pride myself on and it can be hard on some training days to go off track from that. In terms of results, I know I am close to the top. The Top 32 would be great to be seeded at Slam and tournaments. I also want my first title soon.”

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Alcaraz: Hard-Court Hero In 2022

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Alcaraz: Hard-Court Hero In 2022

Spaniard has won Tour-leading 54.12 per cent of points on hard courts this year

Who has the upper hand on hard courts in 2022?

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of hard court tournaments leading into the US Open identifies Carlos Alcaraz as the peak performer, winning a tour-leading 54.12 per cent of points played on the surface. The data set includes players who have competed in a minimum of five hard-court matches so far this year.

The leading five players in the category are:

2022 Hard Courts Percentage Points Won
1. Carlos Alcaraz = 54.12% (1583/2925)
2. Daniil Medvedev = 54.04% (2685/4969)
3. Rafael Nadal = 53.85% (2042/3792)
4. Novak Djokovic = 53.40% (204/382)
5. Alexander Zverev = 53.36% (1301/2438)

Alcaraz is 14-4 on hard courts in 2022, including winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami. Alcaraz impressively defeated three Top 10 players (No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 8 Casper Ruud, No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz) to take the title while only dropping one set for the entire tournament (to Miomir Kecmanovic)

That Masters 1000 victory came on the heels of reaching the semi-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells, where he extended Rafael Nadal to three sets in the semi-finals. When you aggregate Alcaraz’s data from both of these events, you clearly see that his aggressive game style is what creates his competitive advantage.

2022 Indian Wells & Miami Combined (11 matches)

Rally Winners
• Alcaraz = 265
• Opponents = 121

This jaw-dropping stat shows how the Spanish teenager can take the racquet out of his opponent’s hands and dictate the flow of play from the back of the court. Alcaraz hit more than double (265-121) the number of winners than his opponents. The five most lopsided totals were:

• Alcaraz 21/Bautista Agut 1
• Alcaraz 18/Monfils 5
• Alcaraz 41/Kecmanovic 18
• Alcaraz 26/Tsitsipas 12
• Alcaraz 36/Nadal 18

What also stops you in your tracks is that Alcaraz also committed fewer rally unforced errors than his opponents.

Rally Unforced Errors
• Alcaraz = 218
• Opponents = 234

Alcaraz was always looking to strike more forehands over backhands from the back of the court.

Rally Forehands/Backhands — Alcaraz
• Forehands 58% (1391)
• Backhands 42% (1009)

Alcaraz’s explosive hard-court prowess will next be on show at the US Open. The Spaniard has recently surged to a career-high of No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and has a chance to take the No. 1 spot. If he does take over as No. 1, then he will be the youngest No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history.

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Murray, Norrie & Evans Praise Draper: 'He's A Top Player'

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Murray, Norrie & Evans Praise Draper: ‘He’s A Top Player’

The Britons reflect on Draper’s rapid ascent

Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie and Daniel Evans have been standouts for Great Britain for years. They each have thrilled fans with different game styles and personalities.

One thing they all share is a belief that the future of #NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper is bright.

Draper, who is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, has proven a favourite to earn a spot at this year’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Murray, Norrie and Evans are not surprised.

“He’s always had lots of potential,” Murray told “A lot of ability.”

This time last year. Draper’s Pepperstone ATP Ranking was not high enough to enter US Open qualifying. Now the 20-year-old lefty is on the verge of the Top 50 and a dark horse at Flushing Meadows.

Part of the reason why Draper has exploded onto the scene this year is because he has consistently been on the court. Past injuries, including one to his ankle, and the Covid-19 pandemic had prevented him from taking advantage of good performances. But in 2021, he has earned 11 of his 13 tour-level victories and is primed for more.

“For 20, he’s actually quite a young 20-year-old as well,” Murray said. “[There were] six months of the pandemic when he didn’t get to compete… Although he’s 20, he’s not competed loads in the past few years, but he’s a top player.”

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It has been clear that Draper is not shy of the big stages. While Draper has lifted four ATP Challenger Tour titles this season, he has also earned wins in four of his seven matches against Top 20 opponents. According to Evans, that does not solely have to do with his game.

“I think he’s obviously very grounded, he’s had good people around him for quite a long time. I know his current coach, [James Trotman], is a very ‘never too high, never too low’ sort of guy and that obviously really helps in big moments,” Evans said. “He obviously has a massive game and it’s no real surprise that once he’s put it all together, he’s been very effective on the Tour.”

Norrie remembers practising with Draper once when the #NextGenATP star was 17. At the time Norre said, “he was a little bit all over the place”. But over the past few years he has watched the rising star evolve.

“I knew he had a big game and he was a big kid already, and I immediately got on well with him and could see how competitive he was. For me, what he’s done is not a surprise at all and I’m just glad he’s really professional now, he’s taking care of everything and he’s winning some big matches and playing his best tennis in those big matches,” Norrie said. “[I] have a lot of respect for the guy, I really love his game and I’ve practised a lot with him in London. He knows my game pretty well and we’re also pretty good friends… It’s really great seeing him do well, especially in big tournaments.”

<a href=''>Jack Draper</a> and <a href=''>Cameron Norrie</a>
Photo Credit: Paul Harding/Getty Images for LTA
Draper’s biggest run yet came in Montreal, where he advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. The lefty upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets, won the first set against Gael Monfils before the Frenchman retired due to injury, and challenged eventual champion Pablo Carreno Busta in a tight two-setter.

“I think Montreal showed it didn’t bother him which tournament it was, if it was a big one or a smaller one,” Evans said. “He really just took to it.”

Murray added: “[He] got the opportunity against Tsitsipas and played a good match. I thought the match with Carreno Busta as well the level of tennis was very high.

“I think he enjoys those moments and it’s always a little bit easier in some ways when you’re younger because it’s fresh, a new experience and not as much pressure on you. But just looking at his game, when he plays well [you see] how he matches up against the best players. I think there are some really good, positive signs for the future.”

Players are often associated with certain traits. For example, Rafael Nadal is known for his incomparable fighting spirit, Juan Martin del Potro his thunderous forehand and so on. According to Murray. Draper has the whole package.

“He doesn’t have huge weaknesses in his game. For a lot of guys his size that are lefties that I’ve played against in the past, maybe [they] don’t return that well. But he is a good returner for a big guy,” Murray said. “The two most important fundamental shots in the game he does well. He serves well, returns well.

“For a big guy, he moves pretty well also and then from the back of the court, his backhand is a very solid shot. [He] rarely makes unforced errors on that side and then on the forehand, he plays with a lot of spin. When he’s got time he can finish points. He’s got a big forehand when he’s got time to load up on it and he’s a smart player as well and a good competitor. He’s got lots of things going for him.”

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Draper’s journey is just beginning, with the next step his first-round match against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori. It is another opportunity for the Briton to continue his growth. As much as Draper has improved this season, Murray said there are always things to refine.

“At that stage, I don’t think there is just one thing [he has to focus on]. I think it’s the total package. You should be spending time working on the physical side, you should be spending time working on improving your game,” Murray said. “[You need to work on] the mental side and dealing with the distractions and maybe a little bit more pressure that will come in the next period as well and just learning how to deal with those things. It’s important.

“For me there isn’t one that’s more important than the other at that age. It’s just all about developing and progressing all parts of your game, becoming more professional, eating better, sleeping better, training better. All those things.”

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Thiem Returns As US Open Champion: 'It Will Never Get Old'

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Thiem Returns As US Open Champion: ‘It Will Never Get Old’

Austrian reflects on 2020 title and his comeback from injury

Dominic Thiem calls the US Open one of his favourite tournaments and New York one of his favourite cities. This year, the Austrian is as excited as ever to arrive at Flushing Meadows.

After missing the 2021 edition due to a wrist injury, Thiem will return to the venue as US Open champion for the first time.

“It doesn’t get old and I think it will never get old [saying that]. It will always be special and it will always be there, which makes me very happy,” Thiem told “But at the same time, sports is a very fast business and everybody is hungry every day. I have zero advantage because of being a champion.”

Two years ago, Thiem was soaring higher than ever. In his fourth major final, the Austrian battled past Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) to lift the trophy in New York. He had also defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the semi-finals and was the No. 3 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Later that season, Thiem defeated Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals.

<a href=''>Dominic Thiem</a>
Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
But the past 14 months have been difficult for the 17-time tour-level titlist. Last June, Thiem suffered a wrist injury while competing in Mallorca that kept him away from competition for nine months.

Fans are used to Thiem dominating opponents using his physical baseline game, which features relentless attacking with heavy groundstrokes leading the way. But in 2022, it has taken time for Thiem to return to his best. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance, the 28-year-old’s deepest run was to the semi-finals in Gstaad.

It is a moment that requires perseverance, a quality Thiem has shown plenty of in the past. His play at Flushing Meadows has proven it. All it takes is looking at his time in New York two years ago.

Thiem lost to Filip Krajinovic 2-6, 1-6 in his opening match at the Western & Southern Open, which that year was held at Flushing Meadows.

“The score was devastating, 2 and 1,” Thiem remembered. “It was difficult because normally you lose, you go to another place. You make the reset, but there everything stayed the same. I remember I took one or two days off. Obviously there was a bubble so I just stayed in the hotel, I watched some TV, trying to find some stuff to distract me.”

Thiem confidently shook off the disappointment of that defeat and reached the US Open final with the loss of just one set. He woke up on 13 September 2020 like it was any other day. After falling short in his first three Grand Slam finals, Thiem had another chance to earn major glory.

“I remember [that morning] quite well, actually. I just remember it was a normal morning. The warmup was very good with [coach] Nico Massu. I had a great feeling. It was not that different to the other three Grand Slam finals that I played,” Thiem said. “The bad things started when the match started. I was all of a sudden unbelievably nervous, unbelievably tight.”

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A great opportunity to achieve a dream suddenly was slipping away. Zverev surged to a 6-2, 6-4 lead inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, where there were no fans because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The last thing Thiem was going to do against Zverev was stop giving it his all, no matter the deficit he faced.

“I tried to relax myself and say to myself, ‘If I don’t relax now, if I don’t release now, I’m going to lose anyway’,” Thiem recalled. “That’s kind of the last chance I have to release the hand brake, to play more aggressive, to play more fast.”

Thiem had to win three consecutive sets to claim the biggest victory of his career. He managed to secure a break in the third and hold onto it, taking the first step of his comeback. His coach, Nicolas Massu, remembers seeing the momentum of the match turn at that moment.

“I think that changed everything for him. Maybe when you are two sets to zero down, you look at the match and start to think that you are far,” Massu said. “When you make the break and are almost close to winning the third set and are two-sets-to-one down, you don’t see things so, so far away. If you win the third set, you have a chance.”

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Thiem fully seized the momentum and stormed through the fourth set. But the roller coaster was nowhere close to coming to a stop, despite it being the final set. Zverev served for the championship at 5-3, before Thiem recovered and served for the trophy at 6-5. Neither man converted. Massu was out of his seat after almost every point.

“The [players] had the feeling that, ‘Maybe this is my moment to win a Grand Slam.’ That’s also why I think it was a tight match from both sides. Dominic was more tight at the beginning and Sascha was playing better at the beginning,” Massu recalled. “Then Dominic started to play better and Sascha started to get tight when he was close to winning. But at the end, the only difference in the match was two points. Sometimes these two points go to your side and sometimes they go to the other side.

“The good thing for us and for Dominic was that this time, it was for him.”

Despite letting slip a 6/4 lead in the final-set tie-break, Thiem won the battle of wills and fell to his back in disbelief after Zverev missed a final backhand wide.

It was an example of what is possible if you do not give up. That is why, despite the past 14 months being difficult, Thiem is excited to continue pushing to not just return to his best, but to strive for even better.

“The lesson I learned was that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even when you don’t think there is, even when things are very, very tough, when there’s a lot of pain or when it seems like there is no way forward,” Thiem said. “I had this feeling quite a lot, especially in the beginning of the wrist injury. But somehow after a while, there is always a little step forward.

“To see those little positive things, it’s very important and it’s not only in tennis or sports, but all of life.”

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Mannarino Makes History With Winston-Salem Title

  • Posted: Aug 28, 2022

Mannarino Makes History With Winston-Salem Title

Frenchman downs Djere for second tour-level singles title

Adrian Mannarino started his week by saving four match points in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open. After surviving three tie-breaks in his opening match, the Frenchman did not drop another set on his way to his second tour-level title.

With a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory against Laslo Djere in Saturday’s final, the 34-year-old became the oldest champion in the tournament’s history, as well as its first French champion.

“I’m just happy I won the tournament, no matter who won before or who’s going to win after,” Mannarino said post-match. “It’s just something that I’ve [accomplished] for now and I’m really happy with that.”

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Mannarino saved two break points to avoid going down a double break in the opening set before converting on his first break chance to level at 4-4. He then sprinted into the lead by winning the final six points of the tie-break.

“I had some trouble today to see the ball,” the Frenchman said of his slow start. “The conditions last night, playing at night with the cold weather was so different than playing today with hot weather and clear blue skies.

“So it took me a little bit of time to get used to it but I was able to keep my nerve and just be focussed on what I had to do. I was able to break back at 4-3 and then I kept being consistent until the end. I knew that Laslo had a really exhausting week and probably if we were going to have a tough battle I would get the win because physically I was a little bit fresher.”

Set two opened with four love holds before the Frenchman made the crucial breakthrough in the set’s seventh game. After missing out on a match point on return at 5-3, he clinched victory with his fourth love hold of the one-hour, 44-minute match.

Finishing with 20 winners, Mannarino was dominant behind first serve, winning 83 per cent (30/36) of points on his first delivery. After growing into the match, he commanded the late stages against Djere, who played three sets in each of his first four matches before a gruelling two-set semi-final victory against Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler.

The Frenchman dropped serve just four times in six matches on the week, and twice in his last five matches.

For some added history, Mannarino is also the second left-hander to win the Winston-Salem title after Jurgen Melzer in 2013. Melzer was the event’s oldest champion at 32 until Mannarino’s victory.

The Frenchman is the fourth lefty to win a tour-level title this season (Rafael Nadal, 4; Cameron Norrie, 2; Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 1). With his title run, he has moved up 20 places this week to No. 45 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Djere was competing in his first hard-court final and posted a 5-2 record in tie-breaks this week after a previous mark of 1-18 on the season.

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