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Mondays with Bob Greene

 

STARS

Alexander Zverev beat Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia men’s singles in Rome, Italy

Elina Svitolina beat Simona Halep 4-6 7-5 6-1 to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia women’s singles in Rome, Italy

Vasek Pospisil beat Go Soeda 6-1 6-2 to win the Busan Open Challenger in Busan, South Korea

Steve Darcis beat Rogerio Dutra Silva 7-6 (2) 4-6 7-5 to win the BNP Paribas Primrose 2017 in Bordeaux, France

Marketa Vondrousova beat Veronica Cepede Royg 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Empire Slovak Open 2017 in Trnava, Slovakia

 

SAYING

“If he serves this well and this efficiently, it’s tough to play him on any surface.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Alexander Zverev in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia men’s singles final.

“Every single day, everyone is working very hard. They are waiting for these kind of moments when there is a right moment and the right day.” – Elina Svitolina, after winning the women’s singles in Rome.

“I never like to give up during the match. I don’t want to stop the matches. So I just wanted to try to win the second set.” – Simona Halep, who injured her ankle late in the first set of a three-set loss to Elina Svitolina in the Italian Open women’s final.

“I’m just not playing good tennis and I need to try and work out how to turn that around. I believe I will. And I need ideally to do it quickly, because there are some pretty important tournaments coming up.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Fabio Fognini.

“If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, every day. No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.” – Maria Sharapova, after being denied a wild card entry into the French Open.

“It’s a very tough situation in tennis. I mean, you have a big win and the next day there is (Novak) Djokovic or (Juan Martin) del Potro waiting.” – Dominic Thiem, after his quarterfinal victory over Rafael Nadal.

“The start to the year has been magical for me, but I need to recognize that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward.” – Roger Federer, announcing his withdrawal from the French Open to concentrate of getting ready for the grass and hard court seasons.

“Thanks for what tennis gave me: education, discipline, friendship and unforgettable moments.” – Juan Monaco, announcing his retirement.

“He’s a legend of our sport. He’s made a mark in this sport forever. He’s won everything there is to win in tennis.” – Novak Djokovic, talking about his new coach, Andre Agassi.

 

SIGN OF THE FUTURE?

Is Alexander Zverev the wave of the future? The 20-year-old German won the Italian Open by defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets, becoming the youngest player to win a Masters 1000 event since Djokovic won in Miami a decade ago when he was 19. “I don’t know what to say,” Zverev admitted during the trophy presentation. “Coming into this week I never thought I could be standing here in the finals or getting this trophy.” The big-serving Zverev never was really challenged as he broke Djokovic in the very first game. In the match, which lasted 1 hour, 21 minutes, Djokovic committed 27 unforced errors to just 14 for Zverev. With the biggest title of his career, Zverev has moved up in the rankings to 10th in the world. “If I have only half of the career Novak has had, I’ll be fine,” said Zverev, who finished with 16 winners. The German ended the match by breaking Djokovic for the third time. The Serb double faulted to give Zverev a match point, then sailed a backhand long. Zverev is the first player born in the 1990s to win a Masters 1000 title. And he is the fourth German to win a Masters 1000 title, joining Tommy Haas, Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

 

SVITOLINA TRIUMPHANT

Elina Svitolina outlasted Simona Halep to capture her fourth title of the year and the most prestigious trophy of her career. “Everything just came together and I’m very happy that it’s happened in such a big tournament, the 22-year-old Ukrainian said. Halep, trying to win her second title in as many weeks, ran out to a 5-2 lead in the opening set before rolling her right ankle. A trainer treated her ankle twice and it visibly affected her game, especially in the third set. “Sorry guys for the third set,” Halep told the crowd. “It was a little tough for me to get through, but Elina played great.” Svitolina also required medical treatment midway through the second set as the trainer worked on her left leg. “Hopefully we’ll recover, me and Simona, because we’re struggling a bit physically,” Svitolina said.

 

STREAK ENDED

Dominic Thiem learned a thing or two when he lost to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona and Madrid. The Austrian put those lessons into action in Rome, shocking the Spanish left-hander 6-4 6-3 in a quarterfinal matchup. “I came in with a very aggressive game style, because I knew that I wanted to have a chance, then I would have to do something different and be more aggressive,” Thiem said. “I knew that if it goes in, everything, maybe I have a chance. If not, maybe I also lose easy.” The loss ended Nadal’s 17-match clay-court winning streak. The left-hander had won three straight tournaments on the red dirt. “Today was one of these days where I really felt the ball great on the racquet,” Thiem said, “and a lot of risky shots went in.” It was Thiem’s second victory in six meetings against Nadal.

 

SKIPPING PARIS

Roger Federer has decided to skip the clay court circuit entirely and prepare for the upcoming grass season. “I’ve been working really hard, both on and off the court, during the last month, but in order to try and play on the ATP World Tour for many years to come, I feel it’s best to skip the clay court season this year and prepare for the grass and hard court seasons,” the 35-year-old Swiss great said. After missing the last half of last season with an injury, Federer has sparkled this year, winning the Australian Open along with Indian Wells and Miami. “My team and I concluded today that playing just one event on clay was not in the best interest of my tennis and physical preparation for the remainder of the season,” he said.

 

SHE’S OUT

Despite twice winning the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay, Maria Sharapova will miss this year’s French Open. After a 15-month suspension for failing a drug test, Sharapova doesn’t have a high enough ranking to gain direct entry into either the main draw or the qualifying. So, when French Tennis Federation President Bernard Guidicelli announced the tournament would not give her a wild card, it meant the Russian would miss the two-week event. “I’m very sorry for Maria, very sorry for her fans,” Giudicelli said. “But it’s my responsibility, it’s my mission to protect the game and protect the high standards of the game.” Sharapova received wild card entries into Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome. “Because of my improved ranking after the first three tournaments of my return, I will also be playing the qualifying of Wimbledon in Roehampton and will not be requesting a wild card into the main draw,” Sharapova said.

 

SQUEAKING BY

Winning their first ATP World Tour doubles title of the year, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers in the Rome final. “It’s good to enjoy being on the court so much, it’s been a while since I felt we were close,” Herbert said. “It’s nice to live this together. From the start to the end, the attitude was very good. We stayed together and were calm all the time.” It was the first title in 10 months for the French pair. And it was a struggle. They saved a match point to win their second-round match over Brian Baker and Nicholas Monroe. The Frenchmen had to stave off four match point to slip past Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas in the quarterfinals, then won their last two matches in match tiebreaks, stopping brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals before downing Dodig and Granollers. It was their eight tour-level doubles title as a team. “Pierre-Hugues really held it for us at the start of the week, and I’ve had my best match in the final, I think,” Mahut said. “It’s a great reward for us.”

 

STUMBLING AGAIN

The horrible season continues for the world’s top-ranked player. Andy Murray suffered yet another bad defeat. This time it was Italy’s Fabio Fognini who ousted the defending Italian Open champion, 6-2 6-4. That was the fifth of Murray’s unexpected losses this year: Mischa Zverev at the Australian Open, Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells, Albert Ramos-Vinolas at Monte Carlo, Borna Coric at Madrid, and now Fognini. While admitting he has not been moving well the past couple of weeks, Murray praised Fognini’s play. “He was taking the ball early, hitting the ball close to the lines and dominating most of the points,” Murray said. “The only chance I really got was when he was making errors.”

 

SICK BAY

Garbiñe Muguruza retired from her semifinal match while trailing eventual champion Elina Svitolina 4-1 in the opening set. Muguruza’s normally solid ground strokes were not in evidence as Svitolina easily broke her Spanish opponent’s serve. After the fifth game, Muguruza called for the trainer. She had a lengthy talk with the tournament doctor before retiring from the match citing a neck injury. “I just want to wish a fast recovery to Garbiñe, she has such a big tournament ahead in Roland Garros, which is very tough as she’s the defending champion,” Svitolina said. “It’s going to be very tough for her and hopefully she will recover quickly.”

 

SUPER PAIR

Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan are at the top of their game just as they prepare for the French Open. The pair won their fourth title as a team at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, stopping Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final. That ran their victory string to eight straight matches.

 

SEEKING HELP

Andre Agassi is coming, hopefully to rescue Novak Djokovic’s game. The former world number one said Agassi will coach him at the French Open. “I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone and we decided to get together in Paris,” Djokovic said. “So, he’s going to be there. We’ll see what (the) future brings. We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us.” According to the Serb, Agassi “will not stay the whole tournament. He’s going to stay only to a certain time, and then we’ll see after that what’s going to happen.” The second-ranked Djokovic split with his longtime coach Marian Vajda, fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic at the start of the month. Djokovic also was coached by Boris Becker the past three seasons, but they split last year. “Andre is someone that I have tremendous respect for as a person and as a player,” Djokovic said. “He has been through everything that I’m going through. On the court he understands the game amazingly well.”

According to the French sports newspaper, L’Equipe, Sebastien Grosjean will become a part-time coach of Nick Kyrgios. The newspaper reported the 22-year-old Australian will have Grosjean help him at some of the bigger events and during training periods. Grosjean, who once coached Richard Gasquet, is a former Top 10 player. Kyrgios has been without a coach since 2015, but has won three titles and reached the Top 15 since.

 

SAYONARA

Juan Monaco has retired. “Although it creates me a lot of nostalgia, I am sure I am making the right decision,” said Monaco, who once was ranked as high as 10th in the world.  The 33-year-old Argentine won eight of his nine career titles on clay, including four in 2012. He also won three doubles titles, including Doha in 2015 when he teamed with Rafael Nadal.

 

SON BORN

Winning the US Open may be only the second-best thing that has happened to Flavia Pennetta. The Grand Slam tournament winner and her husband, ATP player Fabio Fognini, gave birth to a son. Fognini had another big moment during the week, upsetting top-ranked Andy Murray before losing to Alexander Zverev, the eventual winner of the Rome tournament.

 

SO YOUNG

When Marta Kostyuk won the XIXO Open in Dunakeszi, Hungary, she became the first 14-year-old to win an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Pro Circuit singles title since 2015, when American Claire Liu captured a pro tournament. “I was a little nervous since this was my first ITF final,” the Ukrainian teenager said. Kostyuk beat American Bernarda Pera 6-4 6-3 in the title match and did not drop a set all week. “I am very thankful for the organizers giving me a wild card,” Kostyuk said. “Without that I could not make it.” A number of other players have won tournaments when they were 14, including Hall of Famer Justine Henin, Anna Kournikova and Dinara Safina.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Bordeaux: Purav Raja and Divij Sharan beat Santiago Gonzalez and Artem Sitak 6-4 6-4

Busan: Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Peng Hsieh-Yin beat Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana 7-5 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Rome (men): Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers 4-6 6-4 10-3 (match tiebreak)

Rome (women): Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 7-5 7-6 (4)

Trnava: Naomi Broady and Heather Watson beat Chuang Chia-Jung and Renata Voracova 6-3 6-2

 

SURFING

Geneva: http://http//banqueericsturdzagenevaopen.com/

 

Lyon: http://http//openparc.com/

Nürnberg: www.nuernbergercup.de/

Strasbourg: www.internationaux-strasbourg.fr/en

Paris: www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

 

MEN

$588,203 Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, Geneva, Switzerland, clay

$588,203 Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon, Lyon, France, clay

 

WOMEN

$226,750 Nürnberger Versicherungs Cup, Nürnberg, Germany, clay

$227,750 Internationaux de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, clay

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN and WOMEN

French Open, Paris, France, clay (first week)

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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