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Many Happy Returns: Alcaraz's Historic Statistic Against Serve

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

Many Happy Returns: Alcaraz’s Historic Statistic Against Serve

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers reveal the Spaniard’s return prowess

There are four ways a point starts in tennis. Carlos Alcaraz is the best-performing player in more than a decade in one of them. Which one do you think it is?

The four ways a point starts are:

  1. Your first serve.
  2. Your second serve.
  3. Opponent’s first serve.
  4. Opponent’s second serve.

Alcaraz is currently No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and has amassed a formidable 47-4 record this season, including six titles, coming into the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto.

So, where is he currently the peak performer so far in 2023? An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis uncovers precisely where the 20-year-old Spaniard sits alone at the top of the mountain.

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2023: Alcaraz Category Ratings (Before Toronto)

  • 1st – First Serve Return Points Won (36.87%)
  • 2nd – Second Serve Return Points Won (54.33%)
  • 3rd – Second Serve Points Won (55.95%)
  • 21st – First Serve Points Won (72.75%)

Alcaraz is winning an eye-opening 36.87 per cent (924/2506) of first-serve return points from 51 matches this season. He is the only player on the ATP Tour to break through the 35 per cent threshold in 2023. The four players who have won north of 34 per cent are:

Carlos Alcaraz – 36.87%
Novak Djokovic – 34.47%
Francisco Cerundolo – 34.36%
Daniil Medvedev – 34.22%

Alcaraz’s first-serve return win percentage so far in 2023 is the highest since 2012, when Rafael Nadal won 37.84 per cent. Spanish players have dominated this specific stat since official match statistics were first recorded in 1991. Spanish players to finish year-end No. 1 in this category include Nadal (2005, 2008, 2014, 2016-19), David Ferrer (2015), Fernando Vicente (1999), Alex Corretja (1997), Carlos Costa (1996) and Javier Sanchez (1993).

A secret to Alcaraz’s success in winning points against first serves may very well be his adaptability to find the sweet spot of where to stand based on the surface he is playing. The following data comes from the Infosys ATP Stats Second Screen. 

Alcaraz: Average Contact Point Behind Baseline vs. First Serves

Queens – Grass Court
Final vs. De Minaur = 1.84 m
SF vs. Korda = 1.48 m 
QF vs. Dimitrov = 1.29 m
R16 vs. Lehecka = 1.16 m
R32 vs. Rinderknech = 1.69 m
Average = 1.49 m

Indian Wells – Hard Court
Final vs. Medvedev = 1.52 m
SF vs. J. Sinner = 1.49 m
QF vs. F. Auger-Aliassime = 1.54 m
R16 vs. J. Draper = 1.73 m
R32 vs.T. Griekspoor = 1.84 m
R64 vs. T. Kokkinakis = 2.18 m
Average = 1.71 m

Madrid – Clay Court
Final vs. Struff = 5.0 m
Semi vs. Coric = 5.77 m
QF vs. Khachanov = 4.26 m
R16 vs. Zverev = 4.74 m 
R32 vs. Dimitrov = 4.01 m
R64 vs. Ruusuvuori = 5.26 m
Average = 4.84 m

Alcaraz made contact just 1.49 metres on average behind the baseline against first serves to take the title at Queens. He adjusted further back to win on hard courts at Indian Wells, averaging 1.71 metres behind the baseline. He then moved more than double that distance further back to take the title in Madrid, making contact an average of 4.84 metres behind the baseline.

Alcaraz’s clean, simple, and ruthlessly efficient technique is ideally suited to return powerful first serves. His court savvy also helps him find the bliss point of where to stand.

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'I Lost Everything': Berrettini's Journey To 'Feeling Alive'

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

‘I Lost Everything’: Berrettini’s Journey To ‘Feeling Alive’

Italian reflects on his return from injury

“I just felt alive again.”

Matteo Berrettini said that last month at Wimbledon. After several months of injury struggles that prevented the Italian from thrilling fans with his powerful game, the 27-year-old finally felt like himself. A former finalist at the grass-court major, a run to the fourth round was a victory.

“Just feeling alive, it means that it’s you. You’re doing it for [yourself] and you’re not thinking about anything else,” Berrettini told “This is what you love to do.

“That’s what I lost a little bit [with the] many injuries that I had. I lost the joy for the sport. I lost everything… That’s for me what makes me feel alive.”

At his best, the Rome native is a force on the tennis court. His serve and forehand are among the biggest in the sport. But as he struggled physically, those traits meant little.

One of the most difficult blows came at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, where Berrettini withdrew before facing Holger Rune in the third round due to an oblique injury.

“Monte-Carlo was really tough for many reasons, because I started to feel good again. I enjoyed the [second-round] match and it was my birthday, and I got injured. I couldn’t believe it,” Berrettini said. “I had to miss the clay season again, [the] Rome tournament that for me is really special. So that one was really bad.”

Berrettini made his return early in the grass-court season in Stuttgart. But the Italian was far from top form against close friend and countryman Lorenzo Sonego. Berrettini won just three games in the match and in a jarring scene, he covered his eyes and suppressed tears as he walked off court gingerly.

“I felt not ready, I felt really kind of sad on court and at Queen’s [Club] I felt my ab again. So I was like, this is a never-ending story. I saw everything dark,” Berrettini said. “I thought there was going to be no chance that I was going to be able to play again, missing Wimbledon again after last year COVID. [I had] so many thoughts, negative thoughts.”

In that difficult moment, Berrettini relied on his family, girlfriend and team. They helped him find a different state of mind.

“They kind of put me in a position where I had to fight again. And in that moment, you don’t really want to fight anymore. You just want to let it go and go somewhere else,” Berrettini said. “But I fought through and that was, I think, the turning point.”

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Bouncing back from such a low made Berrettini’s effort at Wimbledon that much more rewarding. After earning revenge against Sonego, the Italian ousted Alex de Minaur and Alexander Zverev in straight sets before pushing eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz to four sets.

“I think with Carlos, he’s really good and deserved to win the tournament. But I felt like I could have done better and I just didn’t have enough tennis, enough training and he was just better than me on that occasion,” Berrettini said. “Leaving the court thinking about what I could have done better was like a dream a few weeks before. I was like, I wish I could think about what I can improve on court [with] my forehand, backhand, whatever, and not just focus on, ‘Okay, I have to be healthy.’

“That was also a moment of joy even though I lost.”

Although Berrettini is a fierce competitor who wants to win, he was able to put things into context in the days after his loss to Alcaraz. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist was not worrying about his body, but his game.

That is why Berrettini is so happy this week at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto, where he defeated Gregoire Barrere on Monday in straight sets to reach the second round.

“It feels good, brings back good memories. I didn’t play many tournaments in a row in a long time. I’m getting used to it again,” Berrettini said. “The other day, I was thinking about the fact that I kind of lost the travel part, being away from home for a long time, and I’m getting used to it again.

“That’s what I do, that’s what I like. I like to do what makes me feel happy.”

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How Davidovich Fokina Discovered The Power Of Smiling

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

How Davidovich Fokina Discovered The Power Of Smiling

Spaniard reflects on his new hobby: reading

One of the most stunning moments of Wimbledon came in a third-round match between Holger Rune and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Serving at 8/8 in a final-set tie-break, Davidovich Fokina was tight. Out of nowhere, the Spaniard used an underarm serve, which backfired. Rune quickly won the point before closing out the match for a place in the fourth round.

Davidovich Fokina, Rune, the fans at the All England Club and viewers from around the world were shocked by the Spaniard’s decision to resort to an underarm serve in one of the most important moments of his career. It was a selection that could have made a painful loss even more difficult.

But Davidovich Fokina revealed on Monday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers that while he was disappointed, he shrugged it off by the time he reached the locker room. The Spaniard bantered with his opponent that they had split two crazy matches after defeating Rune in a final-set tie-break earlier in the year in Madrid.

“I was dead, because it was a tough match. But I was okay. Life continues,” Davidovich Fokina told “I was a little bit sad obviously, because I wanted to play the next round. I was feeling very good and playing very good. But in the end, I’m here in Toronto and growing my game.”

That attitude is the culmination of a mindset shift Davidovich Fokina has made in the past couple of months. Instead of spending his free time on social media — “I saw that I was wasting a lot of time,” he said — the 24-year-old has turned his attention to reading.

“I started this summer. My coach and my team, everything that they [have] told me, I read that [in the] books. But when you don’t read it by yourself, you don’t realise that you have to do [it] that way,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I’ve already read three books in a couple of months and I was always saying that I couldn’t read one book or one page. Now I did three books!”

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All three are personal transformation books: Atomic Habits, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*** and The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude.

One of Davidovich Fokina’s biggest takeaways was the importance of enjoying himself while competing. One of the most entertaining players on the ATP Tour, the No. 37 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings has often been up and down on court. He is making a concerted effort to smile more during matches.

“I have to smile more and more because when I smile, it’s like my game is going through my body. If I’m happy, my game is going. If I’m angry, I cannot win one point,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I’m trying to be happy, not only on court. Off court, I have to do the same, because when you go on court, you have to be more focused and more on tennis things. But of course, you have to be happy, be humble with all the other [people] [and] to be smiling.

“At the end, we are humans and we are not higher [than] the other ones. We have to be like this.”

Instead of allowing a devastating defeat at Wimbledon to hurt the rest of his season, Davidovich Fokina has flipped his mindset and emerged more positive.

“It’s more than winning and losing. It’s a game. You will lose and you will win. You will win a five-hour battle or you will lose that five-hour battle,” Davidovich Fokina said. “You have to know that it’s going to be like this all your life. When you agree, and you know that it’s going to be like this and you accept it, it’s going to be easier for you.”

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Raonic Rallies To Claim Inspiring Upset Of Tiafoe

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

Raonic Rallies To Claim Inspiring Upset Of Tiafoe

Former Wimbledon finalist was playing first hard court match in two years
Former World No. 3 Milos Raonic turned back time in what may be his farewell tournament on Canadian soil with a stunning three-set upset of ninth seed Frances Tiafoe at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto on Monday night.

After dropping the first set in a 26-point tie-break that ended with a bizarre incident involving Tiafoe touching the net outside the singles post, the 32-year-old rallied to take the second set in a tie-break before racing to a 3-0 lead in the third en route to closing out a 6-7(12), 7-6(4), 6-3 win.

“Two years away, five years from playing in Toronto, a whole four years since I got to play in front of my parents, who were there for the majority of my matches as junior and a majority of my matches as a pro. All of these things came together for a great night for me and I’m incredible grateful for it,” Raonic said.

Raonic, who as the first Canadian to crack the Top 10 of Pepperstone ATP Rankings has inspired the current generation of countrymen including Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, dropped 37 aces in his first appearance on home soil since 2019 and in his first hard-court match in more than two years.

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Tiafoe Wins First Set Against Raonic After Bizarre Net Incident

More to follow…

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Tiafoe Wins First Set Against Raonic After Bizarre Net Incident

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

Tiafoe Wins First Set Against Raonic After Bizarre Net Incident

Chair Umpire Fergus Murphy makes correct call in first-round match

Just when fans thought an edge-of-your-seat 26-point first-set tie-break between Frances Tiafoe and Milos Raonic couldn’t get any more dramatic, the match went into near uncharted territory at the ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Toronto.

Tiafoe, who was leading 13/12, chased down a high netcord from behind the baseline to angle a low cross-court winner past Raonic, but his momentum carried him into the net before the ball bounced twice, leaving many – including Raonic – to believe that the Canadian would be awarded the point.

Chair umpire Fergus Murphy initially called the net touch but quickly corrected himself and called the point for Tiafoe because the ninth seed touched the net outside of the singles stick. Since Murphy’s initial call and correction did not impact the winner, the shot stood and was not replayed as a let.

“Frances, wait, this is complicated…. This section of the net doesn’t count as a touch,” Murphy said as both players approached the chair. “Only after the singles post [does a touch count], Milos.”

Playing in what he has said might be his farewell appearance on home soil, Raonic has received treatment on his lower back during the match but claimed an early break in the third set to turn up the heat on Tiafoe.

Section S in Chapter VII of the ATP Rulebook addresses miscellaneous officiating cases and decisions. It reads as follows:

Player Touches Net Outside of Singles Stick
Case: A player runs for a drop shot and returns it into the opponent’s court and then runs into net between net post and singles stick. What is the ruling?

Decision: Play continues. This part of the net is considered a permanent fixture.

Tournament Referee Tony Cho said: “Tiafoe touched the area between the singles stick and net post. This area is considered a permanent fixture, so not part of the net.”

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Speed Kills: Monfils' Hustle Blunts Eubanks' Power

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

Speed Kills: Monfils’ Hustle Blunts Eubanks’ Power

Frenchman finishes strong after missing chances in second set

Gael Monfils produced a commanding third-set revival after squandering two match points in the second set to oust Christopher Eubanks 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-1 at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto on Monday night.

The French showman had Canadian fans in the palm of his hand as he produced a series of dazzling hot shots while breaking the recent Wimbledon quarter-finalist three times in the decider as he produced one of his best sets of tennis for the year.

Monfils served for the match at 5-3, earned two match points on return at 6-5 and also led 4/1 in the second-set tie-break.

“It was a tough match, but I picked up a little confidence last week [in Washington]. It’s always good to beat top players. I am very happy,” Monfils said.

“I served for the match and had a couple of match points, so I had to refocus on the simple stuff, use my quick feet and be more aggressive as I had been tense and let him dictate too much. I was happy with my speed on the court and felt my coverage was a key today.”

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Entering the tournament on a protected ranking, World No. 276 Monfils made just 20 unforced errors to Eubanks’ 62. He also won a healthy 35 per cent of points on Eubanks’ first serve en route to setting a second-round showdown with freshly minted Los Cabos champion, World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Playing deep behind the baseline, the former World No. 6 was able to run down many of Eubank’s heavy groundstrokes and built his victory around putting more balls in play than his 27-year-old opponent and his ability to come up with spectacular passing shots against the net-rushing American, including a low half-court forehand to claim a double break at 4-1 in the decider after scurrying all over the court.

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The Rise Of Tallon Griekspoor

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

The Rise Of Tallon Griekspoor

Dutchman provides exclusive insight into his 2023 surge

The Top 20 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin is littered with some of the biggest stars in tennis, from Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev to former Nitto ATP Finals champions like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov.

One player in the elite group who might be unfamiliar to some fans is 18th-placed Tallon Griekspoor of The Netherlands. A finalist last week at the Mubadala Citi DC Open, an ATP 500 event, the Dutchman is soaring higher than ever.

“That feels great. That’s something really nice. If you look around the names around you in the ranking, those are big names,” Griekspoor told “Those are the names you want to play with, play against every week. So yeah, that’s something great.”

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At the end of the 2022 season, Griekspoor, then No. 96 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, was most concerned with gaining entry into the main draw of the Australian Open. He was prepared to play an ATP Challenger Tour event at the end of the year to secure his spot if necessary.

But instead, Griekspoor began the new season by flying to Pune, India. Entering the tournament, he had never advanced to a tour-level semi-final and had lost seven of his past eight matches. The Dutchman stormed to the title with the loss of just one set, setting the tone for 2023.

“You have a good preseason, you go to Pune, and six days later, you lift the trophy there of an ATP, and all of a sudden the season looks a lot different and brighter for the whole year. It gave me such a big confidence there,” Griekspoor said. “To be able to win an ATP gave me a lot of confidence and I think I showed that in the weeks after. I would definitely say Pune helped me a lot achieving the things I’ve achieved now.”

Griekspoor made the third round of the Australian Open and maintained his momentum by advancing to his first ATP 500 semi-final on home soil in Rotterdam, a performance that confirmed for the Dutchman that his early-season form was more than just a solid stretch. His first five defeats of the year came to top players in Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

“We’re seven months in now [and] I’ve won two ATPs, I played a final in a 500. Being close to the Top 20 in the world, I didn’t expect these kinds of things,” said Griekspoor, who claimed his second tour-level crown on home soil in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. “But at the same time, I always believed in working hard and hard work pays off. And it somehow all comes together this year. It’s clicking and I’m enjoying it a lot so far.”

Watch Highlights Of Griekspoor’s ‘s-Hertogenbosch Victory:

Two years ago, Griekspoor set the record for most ATP Challenger Tour titles in a season with eight. In his first full season at tour-level, he tallied a 17-25 record in 2022. But this year, he is 27-13 and full of confidence.

“I think the belief is there. The belief is there every match,” Griekspoor said. “I’m serving a lot better than I used to. The serve is helping me a lot, especially against tough opponents. If you can lean on the serve a little bit, sometimes it’s nice. So yeah, I would say the serve is the biggest thing.”

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According to Infosys ATP Stats, Griekspoor has made improvements in all major serving statistics in 2023. Most notably, he ranks eighth on the ATP Tour in service games won at more than 86 per cent, placing him ahead of Christopher Eubanks, Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune and Andrey Rublev among others. There were no changes in technique, just hard work on the practice court and steady improvement.

On Monday afternoon, Griekspoor did pre-tournament interviews at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto, something that will only become more common the more the Dutchman sustains his performance. But the 27-year-old is not allowing the success to get to him.

“I’m the same guy in front of the TV as I am in the locker room… I don’t think there are many secrets about me,” Griekspoor said. “If I think something about you, I will tell you. So yeah, I don’t think I have many secrets. It’s just what you see is what you get.”

Griekspoor will try to continue his surge up the Live Race when he plays two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Zverev in the Toronto first round.

“If you can play finals, if you play for trophies on the weekend, it motivates you a lot. It’s something I enjoy, playing those kind of matches. It’s something you work for,” Griekspoor said. “And if you get paid off by playing finals, that’s special and it keeps you motivated to work even harder and keep going. I’m motivated more than ever.”

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Tsitsipas, Philippoussis Reunite: 'I Want To Maximise My Career'

  • Posted: Aug 08, 2023

Tsitsipas, Philippoussis Reunite: ‘I Want To Maximise My Career’

The Greek is seeded fourth in Toronto

Fresh off his first title of the season in Los Cabos, Stefanos Tsitsipas arrives at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers with a familiar voice in his corner. Former World No. 8 Mark Philippoussis is taking the lead on coaching the Greek, while the 24-year-old’s father, Apostolos, is taking a break.

“My father right now, I gave him some time off. He hasn’t had time off since I’m 12 years old,” said Stefanos in his pre-tournament press conference. “I think for him, it’s very healthy to take some time away from the court and feel refreshed again.

“Parents can get emotional sometimes, and I completely understand that. I’m not a parent myself, but I can imagine how difficult it can be at times seeing your child give it their all and to be going through so much during a match.

“I love him and I want him to be part of that journey that we have built together, and he’s not going anywhere. He’s still with us, and he’s still there following our path and journey.”

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Philippousis, a former Wimbledon and US Open finalist, initially joined Tsitsipas’ coaches’ box in the second half of last season. The Australian announced on Instagram in May that he and Tsitsipas were splitting. They have since joined forces again, with Philippoussis alongside the Athens native last week in Los Cabos and now in Canada, where Tsitsipas was a finalist in 2018.

“It’s time to keep exploring new things,” Tsitsipas said. “And I’m open minded and I want to learn as much as I can to maximise on my career because I have felt at times stagnant.

“Mark is a parent himself. He’s not my father, but he’s been through a lot of moments in his own personal career that he can identify and capture better in certain ways. He is an incredible human being. He has helped me a lot. He has been there for me. Even when people didn’t see him around, he has been there behind closed doors in private. And he’s a big addition to our team.”

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Tsitsipas was crowned champion last week in Los Cabos, where he dropped just one set all week. Boasting a 39-13 season record, Tsitsipas looks to maintain his form this week in Toronto.

“I’m happy that I’ve been collecting some good, beneficial points for me in the last few weeks, and I hope I can keep going,” Tsitsipas said. “I have big standards in terms of finishing the year strong, and I want to deliver on that promise of mine. I want to finish the year and go on a nice vacation and say that I’ve tried my best these last few months to maximise as much as I can and have a big impact on the tour at the end of the year.”

A 10-time tour-level titlist, Tsitsipas is fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Tsitsipas has qualified for the coveted Nitto ATP Finals four times, including a title run in 2019. Seeded fourth in Toronto, Tsitsipas will open against Christopher Eubanks or Gael Monfils. The American Eubanks stopped Tsitsipas in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

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