July 12, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Top o’ the mornin’ !!

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We’re heeding suggestions that the Dailiy Drill come out at the start of the day rather than the end, to make it more timely for more people who are outside North America.

So here we go.

Dodging the drops

It’s grass season. But with the possible exception of Mallorca in a few weeks (it’s almost always nice in Mallorca) we’re getting “grass-court weather”. Which will make the tennis somewhat tricky this weekend even as they’re already a bit behind.

(Forecasts from Weather.com)

‘s-Hertogenbosch forecast: It’s all over the map today.

Sunny, cloudy, possibly rainy, windy with gusts over 50 km’hour. Cool.

Nottingham forecast: Rain, for awhile

On the plus side, it should clear up by 3 p.m. and Sunday looks … not too bad!

Stuttgart forecast: not too bad!

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Andreescu to first SF since Jan. 2023

It’s just her second tournament back aftermore than nine months away with a stress fracture in her back.

And Canadian Bianca Andreescu is into the semifinals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, with a winnable match against Hungarian qualifier Dalma Galfi Saturday.

It’s her first semifinal since Feb. 2023, when she reached the final four at the WTA 250 in Thailand, right after the Australian Open, but retired down 5-7, 0-4 to Lesia Tsurenko.

This one comes after an impressive 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) win over Naomi Osaka in a clash of former Grand Slam champions trying to return to prominence.

Thre was a lot of anticipation for this match, only their second career meeting and their first since Oct. 2019. And it delivered.

From Osaka being up a mini-break in the deciding tiebreak, Andreescu ran the the table with the generous help of errors from Osaka.

To say the least, Osaka was exasperated by the end. She came awfully close against Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros, too (even closer). And clay and grass are by far not her best surfaces.

“I think the level from both of us was very high today. I just told myself, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ I just want to give my best and I’m very happy,” Andreescu said in a post-match interview on court. “I think I did well with my serve and my return. But tomorrow she could have won, so I guess it was just my day.”

Andreescu has been a big-match player in her career. So it’s not a surprise that she seized the moment in this one, which was definitely under the spotlight. The big challenge for her will be to come back today against a qualifier, where she’s expected to win.

Nestor to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame

Daniel Nestor already has all the tennis honours he could want. But on October 23, he’ll be part of the Class of 2024 and receive the Order of Sport, Canada’s highest sporting honour.

Beyond playing 28 years on tour, Nestor, who ended his career in 2018 in Davis Cup right after his 46th birthday, has done it all. During those lean years on the Canadian professional tennis scene, he was the one who brought Canadian tennis late into the second week at majors, like clockwork.

He was ranked No. 1 in doubles for a total of 108 weeks, and has won everything at least once: all four majors, all the Masters 1000, the ATP Four Finals, and the Olympics with 91 titles in all.

Here’s an Open Court look back at some of his moments around the world.

Next up for Raonic? Queens

A positive return for Milos Raonic in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where he won two solid matches before falling to the top seed, Alex de Minaur, 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Next up is Queen’s Club, where he is using his protected ranking as he awaits the wild-card announcements from the All-England Club next Wednesday.

Report: Alcaraz to cash big Nike cheque

Per an unsourced report in Relevo.com, Carlos Alcaraz is set to cash in with clothing sponsor Nike – and that was true even before he won Roland Garros last weekend.

The company’s contract terms rarely get leaked. But we’re talking a decade, likely at least $15 million a year.

Nike did the same with now-No. 1 Jannik Sinner. So they have the two top young stars in tennis locked up for, basically, their careers.

They did the same with Roger Federer (for 23 years) and Rafael Nadal back in the day; Nadal is still with Nike. And it’s clear they’ve shifted their focus considerably, especially as tennis really isn’t a money-maker for them.

We were once told by a solid source that even back in peak Federer days, the brand made less from his eponymous merch than they were paying him. But of course, it was great promotion for the brand in general to have both he and Nadal on board.

And it’s made it a lot easier for the company, which has for years signed just about any junior with potential, to execute a serious culling in recent years. Players like Iga Swiatek, Caroline Garcia, Félix Auger-Aliassime and many more have gone elsewhere.

But they have the biggies.

Tsitsipas trainer takes his leave

It’s pretty rare that a physical trainer will leave a plum ATP Tour job with a top-10 player.

(A notable recent exception was longtime Alexander Zverev trainer Hugo Gravil, who dumped him for Félix Auger-Aliassime last year. But it’s … complicated in Zverev land).

But according to Vicky Georgatou, who is the only Greek media to regularly follow Stefanos Tsitsipas, his physical trainer Christos Fiotakis is gone.

Fiotakis (back right, in black) on the practice court with Tsitsipas at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. He’s now out.

And she’s got him on the record (Translation through Google, so go with the gist and not be literal).

“The results and goals I had set as a coach did not come. However, we made Stefanos get back on his feet, be a healthy athlete and be competitive at a high level, after the injury he had. From there, there are some things that are outside of my control. The team’s climate does not match my own energy and, unfortunately, they have other priorities,” Fiotakis said.

“I don’t think his absolute focus is to play tennis and climb to the highest step in the standings or win Grand Slams. That’s why I can’t travel seven months in a row, with only 25 days at home, when the targets are not high and I travel only to travel.”

Wozniacki “qualifies” for the Olympics

There are going to be a lot of familiar faces in next month’s Paris Olympics event who have not been seen much on Tour in recent years.

And that includes Caroline Wozniacki, who retired, returned, and is currently ranked No. 117.

The Dane hasn’t played since losing in three sets to qualifier Sara Errani in the first round of the Madrid Open.

She didn’t get a wild card into Roland Garros (of course, if you weren’t French, that was almost a given). And it’s hard to know what she’s really up to beyond having played an exhibition with countryman Holger Rune and love duo Gaël Monfils and Elina Svitolina in Denmark last weekend.

So to proudly boast that she has “qualified” is somewhat of a stretch.

But she’ll be there.

Wozniacki also will be in Birmingham this week, to meet No. 5 seed Elise Mertens in the first round. With that, you’d expect she’s expecting a WImbledon wild card.

The Ilkley Wild Card race

With Wimbledon being a little more democratic in its distribution of coveted wild cards, it has traditionally given a last-minute one to the winner of the Challenger in Ilkley, which takes place this week. (Draw is here)

That’s perhaps why Denis Shapovalov had originally entered it; he will use his protected ranking at Wimbledon. But why not save one. In the end, Shapovalov withdrew after a couple of rough initial weeks on the grass in Surbiton and Stuttgart.

Lloyd Harris, the former No. 31 on the comeback trail from injury, will be aiming for a wild card in Ilkley.

But among the candidates who could really use it are a couple of veterans: No. 2 seed Lloyd Harris, and No. 6 Richard Gasquet.

Harris (who has never done well at Wimbledon, ironically), isn’t even among the top 20 alternates this year. But he’ll be amongst the top seeds in the qualifying, because he moved up more than 30 spots and back into the top 100 by winning the Surbiton Challenger two weeks ago.

Hopefully, in his case, he didn’t peak too soon.

For Gasquet, a semifinalist in 2015 when he defeated Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka (11-9 in the fifth set) before losing to Novak Djokovic, it’s a similar situation. He’ll be seeded – barely – in the qualifying and isn’t even close to getting into the main draw at this point.

As the draw gods would have it, the two could square off in the Ilkley quarterfinals, with this at stake.

When your social media manager gets it horribly wrong

As Ana Ivanovic embarks on a Gwyneth Paltrow-like quest for the “health and beauty” space – and sort of reconnects with tennis – she probably needs her social manager to sharpen their editing skills

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