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Alcaraz Charges Into Third Round In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Alcaraz Charges Into Third Round In Miami

World No. 1 plays Cressy or Lajovic next

Returning as defending champion at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time, Carlos Alcaraz picked up where he left off at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Friday.

The Spaniard raced to a 6-0, 6-2 win against Facundo Bagnis in just 65 minutes in Florida. Alcaraz, who needs to lift the trophy in Miami to prevent Novak Djokovic from replacing him as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, cruised to victory against an opponent who was chasing his maiden Top 10 victory and who never really settled into the second-round clash on Hard Rock Stadium.

“I knew that I needed to be focused for my first match,” said Alcaraz after his win. “To start a new tournament is never easy, [and in] different conditions. I have to be ready to get used to these new conditions, but I was really focused on the match from the beginning, and I’m happy with the way that I played. I try to improve every day.”

Now a three-time Masters 1000 winner after he lifted the BNP Paribas Open trophy in Indian Wells last Sunday, the 19-year-old Alcaraz will become the youngest man to win the coveted ‘Sunshine Double’ with another title run in Miami. Standing in his way next in Florida will be 30th seed Maxime Cressy or Dusan Lajovic.

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Five days ago, Alcaraz delivered an imperious performance to snap Daniil Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak and lift his second title of the season in Indian Wells. The Spaniard did not need to reproduce his level from that match during his Miami opener, however. He lost just seven points in the first set as a wayward Bagnis made a nightmare start to his first Masters 1000 match for a year.

Alcaraz then quickly opened a 2-0 lead in the second set as his opponent continued to struggle against the teenager’s all-around abilities. Although Bagnis dug deep to convert his second break point of the match and level at 2-2, that was as good as it got for the Argentine. Alcaraz powered through the final four games to claim a comfortable win and extend his ATP Head2Head series lead against Bagnis to 2-0.

Alcaraz struck 12 winners and won 81 per cent (17/21) of points behind his first serve for his 15th tour-level win of the year. The Spaniard will expect a greater test in his next match against Cressy or Lajovic, but his outing against Bagnis could prove useful in helping him adapt to the different conditions in Miami compared to Indian Wells.

“The court is faster, there is more humidity,” acknowledged Alcaraz. “Let’s say it’s a little bit tougher too, to get used to the conditions in a short period of days. For me, it’s a totally different tournament.”

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Have You Seen Tony Finau & Rajeev Ram In The Same Room?

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Have You Seen Tony Finau & Rajeev Ram In The Same Room?

Doubles star discusses his lookalike, Finau

Have you ever seen ATP Tour star Rajeev Ram and Tony Finau, one of the best golfers in the world, in the same room?

A laughing Ram confessed he is often confused for the PGA Tour standout.

“A lot more than I can count. I play a fair bit of golf and whenever I go to a golf course, there’s a good chance that somebody will say something like, ‘Has anybody ever told you you look like Tony Finau?’” Ram said. “I have my standard response of, ‘Yeah, I do, until they actually watch me play.’”

The professional athletes have never met. Ram has attended golf events where Finau was competing, like the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin two years ago. But in those situations, the tennis player has never been confused for the golfer.

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Fans of Netflix’s Full Swing might have made the connection when watching the episode that features Finau. Ram has not watched the show, but he sees Finau on television often.

“Golf is definitely on in our house more than tennis, so I watch him all the time. I love watching golf. It’s probably my favourite sport to watch to be honest, so I definitely root for Tony whenever he’s playing,” Ram said. “It’s kind of weird to be honest because sometimes you have that feeling when someone says, ‘Oh that looks like you’, and you don’t really see it. But I genuinely see it and I feel like when I watch him on TV I’m like, ‘Man that looks like it really could be me out there.’

“I think it’s cool just because he plays a sport that I love. I love watching it. I don’t know him, but he seems like a top-notch guy.”

When Ram is home, he tries to play golf daily. The American has become known in tennis for his serve, which looks identical to Pete Sampras’. But he does not think he can mimic Finau’s golf swing.

“I probably would say [my handicap is] a 12. I wish I was better. I should be better at certain things that I feel like I have a skill for in tennis, [but] I’m not very good at in golf like some touch and some feel,” Ram said. “I think my imitation skills stop in tennis. I can’t emulate anything in golf out of anyone. If I could I would pick him for sure, but I can’t do anything. I feel like I’m lucky to make contact a lot of the time in golf.”

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Ram’s longtime friend and former professional tennis player Prakash Amritraj, a current commentator for Tennis Channel, has long believed the tennis player looks like Finau.

“I had to be the first guy that told him. I mean Tony Finau is his doppelganger. I texted him the minute I saw Tony Finau and I said, ‘What are you doing, you’re supposed to be at Indian Wells, but it looks like you’re playing at The Players right now,’” Amritraj said. “I mean, he wouldn’t buy it. But as soon as you point it out, I have no idea how anybody else doesn’t see only that. It’s wild.”

As funny as the Finau-Ram connection is to the tennis player, he is fully focused on the court, where he partnered Joe Salisbury past Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini on Thursday to reach the second round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“It’s been a little bit of a tough stretch for me. I took all of February off after Davis Cup, didn’t do anything at all except try to rehab my achilles,” Ram said. “The last couple weeks have been tough, but feel like we’re starting to sort of round back into form and play alright. Any time you get a win against those guys is pretty nice just because they’ve been around a while.”

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Sinner, Fritz Ease To Opening Wins In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Sinner, Fritz Ease To Opening Wins In Miami

No. 1 American Fritz to meet Shapovalov next

Is Jannik Sinner set for another deep run at the Miami Open presented by Itau?

After surging to the final on his event debut in 2021 and reaching the quarter-finals last year, the 21-year-old Italian kick-started his 2023 campaign on Friday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Laslo Djere.

Although Sinner struggled to find his best level at times during his 84-minute triumph at the ATP Masters 1000 event, the 10th seed’s sharp returning proved enough to move past the World No. 58 Djere. Sinner converted five of 10 break points to improve his season record against opponents outside the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to 13-0.

It was Djere who forged the first break of the match in the seventh game on Court Butch Buchholz, but Sinner responded in style with some trademark clean hitting off both wings. The Italian reeled off six games in a row from 3-4 to take charge of the second-round clash, and another three-game streak from 3-2 in the second set sealed his win.

Sinner and Djere are now split at 2-2 in their ATP Head2Head series. The Italian has won both meetings on hard courts, while Serbia’s Djere has prevailed twice on clay.

The seven-time tour-level titlist Sinner, who fell to Hubert Hurkacz in the 2021 Miami final and reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells last week, is chasing his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami. He now holds a 9-2 record at Hard Rock Stadium, where his third-round opponent will be 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov or qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff.

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The No. 1-ranked American Taylor Fritz also put together a big mid-match streak en route to a 6-4, 6-1 win against his countryman Emilio Nava. The ninth seed reeled off seven games in a row from 4-4 in the first set to take control of his meeting with 21-year-old Nava, who had beaten former Miami champion John Isner for just his second tour-level win in the first round.

The one-sided scoreline masked some early difficulties for Fritz, who was broken in the opening game as Nava’s ultra-aggressive tactics initially paid dividends on Hard Rock Stadium. Fritz, who reached the fourth round in Miami in 2021 and 2022, reclaimed the break in the next game and then effectively adjusted his tactics to accelerate to a 60-minute triumph.

“He was basically going either clean winner or miss,” said Fritz when asked about Nava’s fast start. “It didn’t rally matter what shot I hit, so I felt like I just had to put as many balls in the court as possible and just hope that later on in the set, applying pressure at 5-4 up or if it were to go to 6-5, that he wouldn’t be able to just keep hitting winners.”

Fritz is chasing his second ATP Masters 1000 title. The 2022 BNP Paribas Open champion fell at the quarter-final stage in his Indian Wells title defence last week, but says he is feeling the same sort of pressure to perform in Miami despite never having lifted the trophy there.

“The way I am looking at it, it is just the race,” said Fritz, who broke the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in 2022 and made his debut at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals last November. “Last week, this week, it’s the same importance as far as what it’s going to do for the rankings. I definitely feel good about how I played [today], so that helps a lot.”

The 25-year-old Fritz faces another North American, Denis Shapovalov, in the third round in Florida. Canada’s Shapovalov, who defeated Guido Pella 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 earlier on Friday, leads Fritz 5-3 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.

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Resilient Rublev Takes Down Wolf In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Resilient Rublev Takes Down Wolf In Miami

Ruusuvuori, Shapovalov also advance at ATP Masters 1000 event

Andrey Rublev kept his cool in the face of a stern opening test from J.J. Wolf on Friday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where the sixth seed earned a 7-6(3), 6-4 second-round victory.

Rublev was broken by home favourite Wolf in the opening game of the match and trailed for much of the first set on Grandstand, but his aggressive game ultimately proved too much for the No. 50-ranked American in fast conditions at Hard Rock Stadium. The 25-year-old Rublev fired 36 winners, including 16 aces, to notch a one-hour, 41-minute win and reach the third round at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami for the third time.

“It’s a great feeling, because I didn’t know what to expect and it was my first match here,” said Rublev after his win. “I didn’t have much time to adapt. I know he’s dangerous, that he can play really well and really aggressive.

“As soon as we started to play I was losing, so it was not easy. At the end I was happy that I was able to keep calm inside, and I was just waiting for my moment [in the first set]. As soon as I had the moment I was able to make it, and then I started to play a bit better and I started to feel more confident.”

Although Rublev made the worst possible start to his Miami campaign by dropping his serve in the opening game, he put those early difficulties behind him quickly. The World No. 7 stayed dialled in from the baseline and that persistence helped him crucially reclaim the break to level at 5-5.

Rublev carried that momentum through to dominate a first-set tie-break in which he regularly pulled his opponent around the court with some fiery forehand hitting, and he kept his composure impressively again in the second set to complete the win. The 2021 Miami semi-finalist saved all five break points he faced in the second set and claimed a decisive break in the seventh game to improve his record for 2023 to 12-7.

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“I played him once [before] and he played completely different in that match,” said Rublev, when asked about the effectiveness of his down-the-line backhand against Wolf. “I guess he changed tactic, and the tactic was to try and play as much as he can with the forehand and to play everything to my backhand.

“In the end he was open a lot down the line, so as soon as I had a chance I was trying to go for it, because he was obviously too much on the backhand side.”

Rublev’s third-round opponent will be 29th seed Miomir Kecmanovic or Ugo Humbert. Rublev is a 12-time tour-level titlist, a tally which includes five ATP 500 crowns, but is chasing his first Masters 1000 title in Florida.

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In other early-Friday action, Emil Ruusuvuori notched a straight-sets victory against Roberto Bautista Agut for the second consecutive tournament by prevailing 6-4, 7-6(5) against the Spaniard on Court 5.

The Finn backed up his win against Bautista Agut in Indian Wells two weeks ago by outhitting the 22nd seed by 28 winners to 20 in a two-hour, 12-minute encounter in Miami. Ruusuvuori will face Alexander Zverev or Taro Daniel next as he looks to reach the fourth round at Hard Rock Stadium for the second time.

The 24th-seeded Denis Shapovalov also enjoyed a second-round victory, but the Canadian was made to battle before downing Guido Pella 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. The 2019 semi-finalist Shapovalov held on in an all-lefty battle for his first Masters 1000 victory of the year. The 23-year-old next faces ninth seed Taylor Fritz or wild card Emilio Nava.

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After Eight Hours Stuck On The Runway, Foki Is Ready To Fly In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

After Eight Hours Stuck On The Runway, Foki Is Ready To Fly In Miami

Spaniard recalls nightmare journey

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

In an attempt to temper the on-court mental rollercoaster, finding emotional equilibrium is a key part of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina’s life on the ATP Tour. The Spaniard and his team have discovered that there is no better place to train this than in everyday life. In fact, after a great campaign at the BNP Paribas Open, he had the perfect opportunity to put his training into practice.

Davidovich knew he had to be careful of the explosion of joy that came with reaching his first quarter-finals in the desert and guaranteeing himself a place in the Top 25 of the Pepperstone ATP Ranking for the first time.

“It’s a result of all the hard work,” Davidovich Fokina said. “But sometimes these things make you feel euphoric and excited, and you have to handle it calmly, because otherwise you can come back down with a crash. You have to stay level.”

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But his excellent performance in Indian Wells was not the only reason he had to be wary of his emotions. He also had to draw on his new-found mental strength during his journey from California to Florida, when he was stuck in a plane at the airport for over eight hours. It was a test of the Spaniard’s new-found mental fortitude, leaving his hotel in Indian Wells at 8:15 a.m. last Wednesday only to eventually arrive at his accommodation in Miami at 11:00 a.m. the following day… without any luggage!

“The day after losing to Medvedev [in Indian Wells], we had a flight at 11:00 a.m. to Dallas and then another from Dallas to Miami,” remembers ‘Foki’ as he begins to recount his ordeal. “And halfway along they tell us that we have to divert to Austin because there was a tornado in Dallas. And we had to wait for it to go in order to continue the journey. In the end we were sitting on the plane not doing anything for eight hours.”

He spent less time competing in the California desert, and he was there for an entire fortnight. During his matches in Indian Wells, where he defeated Wu Yibing, Karen Khachanov and Cristian Garin, he spent a total of just over seven hours on court. Little did he know that he would spend almost nine trapped in a stationary plane.

At one point, the reason they were unable to take off stopped being the tornado. Their new foe became the air traffic in Austin, then fuel and poor weather and, finally, there were no new pilots available. “It was driving us all round the bend!” explains Jorge Aguirre, Davidovich’s coach, who was sitting one row in front of his understudy. “Every so often, the pilot would say, ‘We’ll be taking off soon’. And that went on for almost nine hours. It was also a small plane. Just imagine!”

Davidovich was sitting with his girlfriend, doing his best to deal with the frustration of confinement and uncertainty. “We were both fed up, telling each other that it looked like we would be there for a while. So we acted as if we were at home, watching things on the iPad,” said the 23-year-old.

The people close to him have been key to his quest for balance, and the experience of that journey is a prime example. “Everyone around me, my team, my girlfriend, my family… they are all there to keep my feet on the ground,” explained the Spaniard.

“We know that we have to help him manage his emotions in his daily life so that he is well drilled on court when it comes to dealing with things calmly, rather than angrily or emotionally,” Aguirre revealed. “The goal is for him to kind of see situations as challenges to allow him to handle them with a better perspective.”


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The challenge presented by his trip to Miami is an example, and it is one that Davidovich Fokina overcame with aplomb. After the exhausting wait in Austin, they disembarked and took another direct flight to Miami, which took off at 5:30 a.m. However, once they had landed, they discovered they had no luggage. It arrived three days later!

“In the end, we decided to spend those days resting in Miami, so there were no problems in that respect,” concluded Davidovich.

Having come through the challenge of his travel nightmare, avoiding tornadoes and other setbacks, the Spaniard is now ready for his next one at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he will play his opener against American Brandon Nakashima. His objective there is to continue to pick up points for the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

“We’re really focused on the Race [Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin]. On this US swing, we’re concentrating on the goal of getting into the top group to try and be part of the peloton,” explains Jorge Aguirre. “The fact that he’s also now in the Top 25 of the Race is great and it shows we’re on the right path.”

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Ruud Reveals Favourite WTA Player To Watch

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Ruud Reveals Favourite WTA Player To Watch

Norwegian discusses bromance with ATP star

Casper Ruud reached the final at the Miami Open presented by Itau last year. The Norwegian is back at the hard-court event this week and chasing his maiden tour-level title of the season.

Before his opening match against Ilya Ivashka, Ruud caught up with ATP Uncovered and answered questions fans put to him. The 24-year-old discussed his bromance with Italian Matteo Berrettini, revealed his guilty food pleasures and picked his favourite player to watch on the Hologic WTA Tour.

“I think she plays fun from the current generation,” Ruud said. “She has been dominating for the past year or so.”

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Many fans think Ruud has a famous lookalike in the form of a singer. While unsure of the comparison himself, the Norwegian is eager to play a round of golf with the Irishman.

“I have seen this comparison a couple of times. I don’t see it as much as some others do,” Ruud said. “I have seen videos of him playing golf, so it would be fun to get a round in with him. Maybe people would have a tough time seeing who is who.”

Tune into the video to hear Ruud’s answers.

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Guillermo Coria On Alcaraz’s Drop Shot: 'I’m In Awe Of The Way He Does It'

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Guillermo Coria On Alcaraz’s Drop Shot: ‘I’m In Awe Of The Way He Does It’

Argentine analyses Alcaraz’s drop shot

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

Although Guillermo Coria left behind an incredible legacy that includes nine tour-level titles and a spell at No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2004, many remember him for one of his signature moves: the drop shot. Who better to ask, then, about one of its biggest proponents in today’s game, Carlos Alcaraz?

During his visit to the Miami Open presented by Itau, a tournament where he reached the final in 2004, ‘The Magician’ analysed one of the key shots in the armoury of the current World No. 1.

“Alcaraz’s drop shot is amazing,” Coria told “He’s a very intelligent player, who reads the game very well. He plays drop shots right when they should be played. He always sets up well and, best of all, he disguises it so well.

“That makes it even more complete. I’m in awe of how he plays drop shots. I love and celebrate the fact that there’s a player with so much potential who has such a good drop shot,” he adds with a hint of nostalgia in his voice. His favourite shot is now a rarity on the ATP Tour, but seeing the World No. 1 use it so frequently brings a smile to his face.

Most amazing of all is that Alcaraz can pull it off on every surface. Even on fast courts, where the ball bounces the most, increasing an opponent’s chances of reaching it. Also, Alcaraz is brave enough to utilize this weapon under the utmost pressure, when the nerves are jangling.

For Guillermo, the elder brother of Federico —who is playing this week in Miami— Alcaraz is one of the three players with the best drop shots in today’s game.

“I would put him right up there. Andy Murray also has a very good one, as does Djokovic,” Coria said. “They both use it as a tool to surprise the opponent. Those two and Alcaraz are the players I enjoy most when they play drop shots.”

Coria’s opinion was relayed to the man himself during Alcaraz’s first press conference in Miami. He replied: “It really is a great compliment for him to say that I’m one of the best at that. It’s incredible to hear that from Guillermo. It’s true that it’s a weapon I try to use quite a lot. I have very powerful shots, and combining them with the drop shot makes for a very good combination. I’ve had it since I was little, it’s something that comes from within.”

The statistics back him up. The drop shot played a fundamental part in Alcaraz’s title campaign at the 2022 ATP Masters 1000 in Miami. In the tournament, the Spaniard played 50 drop shots in six matches, and he won the point with 70 per cent of them. In fact, he won 16 of those points consecutively in his second-round clash (d. Cilic) and in the quarters (d. Kecmanovic).

Coria, who retired in 2009 and currently captains the Argentine Davis Cup team, explains why Alcaraz has such a high success rate when he decides to play a drop shot.

“When his opponent is on the defence, you can’t tell if Alcaraz is going to hit the ball on one side or the other, or if he’s going to play a drop shot,” the 41-year-old Argentine said. “In general, they are expecting the ball to come back hard. That’s why it’s a surprise.

“Also, he hits it very well on both sides, with his backhand and forehand. And he has a very good drop shot with both. My drop shots, for example, were on my forehand. I very rarely played it on my backhand.”

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Again, his observations are backed up by the statistics; last year in Miami, the Spaniard played 30 drop shots with his forehand (winning 22) and 20 with his backhand (winning 13).

There is another important factor in Alcaraz’s success with this shot. He plays so deep and with such power that he gradually pushes his opponent back in the middle of the point. This creates the perfect space required to play drop shots. Argentinian Sebastian Baez can attest to that after two losses against the world No. 1.

“With all the power he has, he pushes you back, and when he hits the drop shot, whether it’s good or not, you’re really far back,” Baez said. “He uses that to gain time and sometimes it’s not even worth running. It’s a great resource among the other thousands he has.”

He made a statement with it last year, and this fortnight in Miami he will be bidding to demonstrate that he has become even more adept with this weapon over the last 12 months.

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Coaches Corner: Stine's 'Backwards Progression' To Propel Paul Forward

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Coaches Corner: Stine’s ‘Backwards Progression’ To Propel Paul Forward

Former coach of Courier, Anderson and more discusses Paul’s progress

Tommy Paul has been one of the breakthrough stars of 2023. The American has clawed to the Australian Open semi-finals and the championship match in Acapulco, putting himself in sixth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin ahead of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Brad Stine, who has coached Paul since 2020, spoke to about his charge’s progress, how they reshaped his game, what it will take to continue his ascent and more.

Last year you said one of the big things you were working on with Tommy was trying to get him to move forward a little bit more. How happy are you with his progress?
I think after Tommy’s first match here, he was interviewed on court and he was asked what he and I might be working on right now and he said, ‘Well, I’ll just tell you that I never come to the net enough for Brad. No matter how much I come in, he would always prefer if I would come in more.’ I jokingly say every single match Tommy plays he could have come in more than what he probably came in. So I think it continues to be a work in progress.

That being said, I think Tommy’s identity as a player has developed into what I would describe, I think a lot of guys on Tour would describe, as an aggressive all-court player. I don’t know that I would describe him as or that he would be described as an attacking player. But he’s an all-court player that can mix in serving and volleying, that can attack off the ground and come forward and finish at the net. He does that enough to keep his opponents off balance and not comfortable.

If they’re giving up any kind of short balls or anything that he can attack, then he’s going to put pressure on them coming forward. He can keep them off balance on his serve. Even against some of the best returners, he can keep them off balance with some serving and volleying. All that stuff I think has definitely improved and become kind of a staple of his game. He’s not Maxime Cressy. I wouldn’t expect him to be Maxime Cressy. But he’s coming forward a fair amount for sure.

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How much time did it take when you started with him for him to start buying into that idea?
Since I started with Tommy, there have been different phases and progressions that we’ve gone through and we didn’t really get to a major focus on that until probably midway through our second year together and then we started focusing a little bit more on the volley. I always think that trying to get someone to become more of an attacking-style player is a backwards progression.

You have to help them with the volley and get them to be a good volleyer. Hopefully, potentially, a great volleyer before you can ask them to start transitioning, attacking and coming forward. If you do it the other way around and they come in and they don’t have very much success because they’re not as comfortable with the volley itself and they’re losing a lot of points, then they’re probably not going to want to continue to come forward.

We spent quite a bit of time just focused on him working on volleys. That alone, him getting more comfortable with the volley, the feel of the volley, where he’s supposed to be in the court. Those kind of things translated to him coming in more. Then we started talking more about transitioning, options and plays that he can make to come forward and try to get in. It took a while I would say to get to the point. I wouldn’t say that either of us is necessarily completely satisfied with where he’s at. He can still do a better job with some of his transition plays. He can still do a better job sometimes with the volleys and or his positioning and stuff like that. There’s always room for improvement.

When Tommy’s been having the results he’s been having lately, how much does that help you with his buy-in?
It’s obviously in his mind! We at least know that he’s aware of it or maybe he’s at least listening to something I’m saying. At the level that these guys are competing at and playing against the best players in the world, you go through periods where it can be very difficult to create opportunities to come forward, especially from the backcourt.

Off of groundstrokes guys hit the ball so big nowadays and with so much depth and penetration and weight on the ball with the racquet materials and the strings and everything, that sometimes it’s hard to get a ball to attack, so that becomes very difficult. That being said, you can always serve and volley and you can always attack second serves. So that’s become a staple of Tommy’s game and I think everyone is aware of that. The crush and rush.

In the olden days we used to talk about chip and charge, but guys with very good two-handed returns off both sides, you can take the ball very early and take the ball up the line on the deuce side or go cross or up the line off the ad side and come in behind those balls. Tommy’s been very, very, very good and very successful on that with a lot of guys, especially on faster hard courts, grass or indoors. Those plays are really effective plays.

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With the coaching trial, do you like having the ability now to have mini conversations with him during matches?
I like it. I personally like it. I think there are interesting dynamics to it. I think that there’s been a lot less coaching than I think people would have expected. Overall, I think that for us personally, just for us individually, Tommy and I, it took us a little bit of time, at least two or three matches when we first started doing it, to get it into a comfortable rhythm.

Tommy the first couple times when he had it available to him, because I was openly able to communicate with him, he was using the box a little bit more in a way to kind of vent his frustrations, which he didn’t normally do. But it was like, ‘Oh, that’s open now? I can go there?’ We actually had to have a conversation like, ‘That’s not the purpose of it.’ You still need to maintain your calm and concentration on the court.

One of the things we talked about is Tommy needs to maintain more of his eye focus within the lines of the court like he normally would when you weren’t allowed to coach. He can maintain that and still hear me. As long as he’s hearing my voice and hearing what I’m saying to him, that’s fine.

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Tommy’s made deep runs lately and his Pepperstone ATP Ranking is getting up there. What will it take to make the next step to a Grand Slam final, the Top 10, or whatever that might be? Is it incremental improvements on what you’ve been working on or something different?
It’s always small steps. I think since we’ve started, Tommy’s made very consistent progress. Obviously people see Australia where he made a semi. They think that’s kind of like oh Tommy Paul had a major breakthrough and all this stuff, but for me it wasn’t really a major breakthrough.

Last year I think he made eight or nine quarter-finals, fourth round at Wimbledon, he made quarters for the first time at a Masters 1000. The year before that he won his first title. He hasn’t won a title again — to me that’s a little bit disappointing. I think that’s another big incremental step for him, whether it’s a 250 or 500, I’d like to see him go deep in one of these [Masters 1000 events]. To realistically have a chance to keep going deep consistently at the Slams, maybe have a chance to make a final or something like that, you need to be in the position that he was in Australia, playing someone like Novak in the semis.

Getting through the matches like beating Taylor in the semis in Acapulco is a perfect training ground for him to prepare for those kinds of matches at the Grand Slam level. You need to put yourself in that position more and more and more and more often so that you’re playing those guys. That’s one of the goals. In order to do that, you’ve got to go deep consistently.

Last year he was doing that, he played a lot of top guys because he was making at least quarter-finals. Hopefully he can take another step or two farther this year, which we have already. Last year it was like a running joke with us at a point after you’ve gotten to like three quarters, four quarters, five quarters, you’re like okay quarters is our deal, we’re not making it farther than quarters.

I actually said to him after he made the quarters, I think he beat Rafa in Paris to make the quarters. I don’t even remember who he played in the quarters, I remember he beat Rafa in the Round of 16. I came into the warmup area afterwards and I was like, ‘Dude, should I just book our flights for tomorrow? Because you know we’re not going past the quarter-finals.’ He was laughing, but then he loses in the quarter-finals and we’re like ‘Geez’. We were joking, ‘This is going to be the year of the semi-finals’ and then he made the semis in Australia and then in Acapulco I actually said to him, ‘You know what, let’s make it semis or better, not just semis.’

But it’s been a good start to the year, that’s for sure. We’ll see where it goes.

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Cerundolo & Etcheverry Score Slam Dunk Meeting With Manu Ginobli

  • Posted: Mar 24, 2023

Cerundolo & Etcheverry Score Slam Dunk Meeting With Manu Ginobli

NBA legend visited season’s second ATP Masters 1000 event Thursday

It was a slam dunk of a day for Argentine tennis Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau. National icon Manu Ginobli, a Basketball Hall of Fame NBA player for the San Antonio Spurs, spent time with some of his country’s stars.

Ginobli met 2022 semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo and Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who earned a first-round win against Pavel Kotov.

“[It was] fantastic to get to know Manu. He’s an amazing player. He’s one of the best athletes in Argentine sports, so he’s an idol for me,” Cerundolo told “He’s a great basketball player. I know he is a tennis fan. He likes tennis, so it’s a pleasure to meet him and get to know him. I remember watching him in the Olympic games, playing for the Spurs, so there are a lot of memories that come to my mind.”

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Ginobli was more than a basketball star for his country. He transcended sport as an icon, not just a four-time NBA champion. Cerundolo was thrilled to meet him in person for the first time.

“It’s fantastic because for [someone from] Argentina to get to the NBA and be one of the best players in many years of the NBA and win championships, it’s super tough, so he’s an inspiration for me and for all other athletes in any other sport,” Cerundolo said. “Most of the people look up to him because he’s also a really nice guy. He’s always happy. We can always talk to him. He’s an example for everyone.”

It created for a special atmosphere in Miami when Ginobli became a fan in the stands for Etcheverry during his straight-sets victory. Having a legendary athlete made the World No. 73’s first ATP Masters 1000 match win even more memorable.

“Here in Miami it’s incredible because there are lots of Argentines, and to have someone like Manu there and Pico Monaco, a lot of people that had a great career in their lives from Argentina, it was incredible,” Etcheverry said. “It was incredible to have him in my team there supporting me. I was really motivated. It’s a dream come true to have this legend in my team in the [stands].”

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