ATP

Tsitsipas will refuse vaccine until mandatory on ATP Tour

By Sports Desk August 17, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas has indicated he will only get the COVID-19 vaccine if it becomes mandatory to participate on the ATP Tour.

World number three Tsitsipas revealed he has not yet been jabbed against coronavirus with the tennis world divided on the issue. 

The ATP Tour have publicly encouraged players to get vaccinated, but Novak Djokovic is among the high-profile players to have stated it should not be compulsory to compete.

When asked ahead of the Western and Southern Open if he would get the vaccine, Tsitsipas told a media conference he still had reservations.

"No one has told me anything. No one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated," the Greek said.

"At some point I may have to, I'm pretty sure about it, but so far it hasn't been mandatory to compete, so I haven't done it, no."

Tsitsipas received a bye through to the second round in Cincinnati, where he will play either Sebastian Korda or Laslo Dere.

The 23-year-old, who has a tour-high 45 wins this season, climbed up to third in the world rankings last week and boldly targeted overhauling Djokovic in top spot.

"The rankings are there for a reason. They signify something important," he added.

"I think that the very next step would be the number one spot, which I hope I can get to one day.”

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    Carlos Alcaraz put on a mesmerising show for the late-night Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd as the teenage sensation of men's tennis raced into the French Open fourth round.

    In a performance described by former British number one Tim Henman as "an absolute clinic", Alcaraz swept to a 6-4 6-4 6-2 win against American Sebastian Korda.

    Korda, 21, is widely expected to be a star of the men's tour for years to come, and he beat Alcaraz on clay in Monte Carlo only last month.

    This time he found 19-year-old Spaniard Alcaraz too hot to handle on the surface, with the fast-rising world number six demonstrating the form that has brought him a tour-leading four titles in 2022 already.

    Tournament organisers were giving the Paris crowds a glimpse into the future by handing Korda and Alcaraz the hot-ticket night session slot. They are both becoming increasingly a factor in the present, too, and Alcaraz is rated a strong contender for the title this fortnight.

    Victory made him the youngest man to reach round four at the French Open since Novak Djokovic in 2006, the ATP said. After winning titles in Barcelona and Madrid, Alcaraz is on a 13-match winning run.

    It took him two hours and six minutes to get the job done this time, flashing 18 passing shot winners past his opponent, the son of one-time Roland Garros runner-up Petr Korda.

    "It's amazing to play in front of such a great crowd, a great atmosphere here in Philippe-Chatrier," Alcaraz said. "I think the night session is fun to play, the whole people enjoyed the match, and I'm grateful to play in front of such a good crowd.

    "Of course, in early matches I'm trying to have fun out there. I love playing this kind of tennis court. I love playing in France. I'm enjoying every single second."

    Baseliner Alcaraz surprised many by bringing out a rush of serve-volley points, and revealed that was at the behest of coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

    He also revealed how Ferrero, who was briefly a world number one and won the 2003 French Open men's title, remained in great nick on the practice courts at the age of 42.

    "I think not too far away, a couple of months ago or a year ago, he beat me in a training set," Alcaraz said. "He's in good shape, and he could beat a lot of players now in a training set."

    Henman, analysing the match for Eurosport, said Alcaraz was the complete package. It was a performance that suggested Alcaraz's five-set struggle against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in round two was a blip.

    "I thought his performance was absolutely incredible," former world number four Henman said. "Korda perhaps didn't play as well as he would have liked, but he wasn't allowed to play because of the sheer quality of Alcaraz in every area.

    "All credit to Alcaraz, it was an absolute clinic out there."

    Henman said the youngster turned "defence into attack in the blink of an eye", adding: "I think he came in expecting a really difficult match, and he destroyed Korda."

    Alcaraz reached round three on his Roland Garros debut last year, and has now gone a step further, with Russian Karen Khachanov awaiting him next.

    Swedish great Mats Wilander, who won the French Open three times in the 1980s, said Alcaraz on the backhand was "very much like Novak Djokovic".

    "The forehand side I'm not really sure, I can't explain it," said Wilander, "because the speed of his arm and when he decides to go full... when he goes full it is unbelievable when the ball hits the clay and bounces."

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    Toni Nadal's loyalties will be split between nephew Rafael and current charge Felix Auger-Aliassime after the French Open served up a delicious last-16 clash.

    Known popularly on the tour as Uncle Toni, the man who was at superstar Nadal's side for so many of his greatest triumphs signed up to coach Canadian Auger-Aliassime last year.

    Nadal and 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime have had just one past competitive meeting, three years ago on clay in Madrid, but they will go head to head in Paris in the fourth round, and the prospect could hardly be more appetising.

    According to Rafael Nadal, who says he has "zero problem" with the scenario, Uncle Toni "wants the best for me".

    But Toni Nadal has been hired by Auger-Aliassime, so in theory, he should want the best for the man who grew up in Quebec, too.

    Auger-Aliassime earned a hard-fought 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 win over Serbian Filip Krajinovic on Friday, while Nadal fended off Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp for the loss of only nine games.

    There is seemingly no prospect of the Nadals staying away from one another ahead of the tussle.

    "I already talked with Toni after my match," said Rafael Nadal after sinking the hopes of Van de Zandschulp.

    "For me, it's very simple. He's my uncle. I don't think he will be able to want me to lose, without a doubt, but he's a professional and he's with another player.

    "I don't know what's gonna happen, if he's gonna stay in the box or not, but I don't care. I have zero problem with that. So it's not a story at all for me. I know what the feelings are that we have between each other. I know he wants the best for me."

    Nadal said he had no issue with Uncle Toni working for another player, adding: "He's old enough to make his own decisions, no?

    "I can't thank him enough for all the things that he did for me during so many years. I don't have any problem with any position that he's making. I want the best for him, and he wants the best for me. We are family more than anything else.

    "Not only family; we are a family that stay together all the time. We are in the same village. We spend time in the academy together. We lived incredible emotions together. So he's not only an uncle. He's more than that."

    All of which may have made for interesting listening for Auger-Aliassime, who has joined Nadal in the world's top 10 since their meeting three years ago, with the Canadian at a career-high ninth in the rankings.

    Auger-Aliassime's clay-court form has been patchy this season, and it would be a major surprise if he took the scalp of the 13-time French Open champion, who is defying ongoing foot pain to keep his career going.

    Toni Nadal joined Frederic Fontang in Auger-Aliassime's coaching set-up, and it may be the latter who does much of the tactical planning for the next match.

    "I don't know if I need insight on how Rafa plays, to be honest," said Auger-Aliassime. "I think we all know what he does well.

    "It was black and white from the first time we started working together. We knew it was a possibility that eventually I would play Rafa when I'm working with Toni. And actually now he's present here in this grand slam. But I think Toni will watch from a neutral place and enjoy the match.

    "From my part it's another match, another opportunity to try to play a good match and win, but of course it's very difficult. I don't know how Toni feels. Maybe we should ask him, but he hasn't talked to me about it."

    Auger-Aliassime called for observers to consider the "bigger picture", and what Toni and his nephew, the record-holding 21-time men's grand slam winner, achieved together.

    "It's one match, let's play, but his career and everything is much bigger than this," said the Canadian.

  • French Open: Nadal aims to attend Madrid's Champions League final despite Roland Garros schedule French Open: Nadal aims to attend Madrid's Champions League final despite Roland Garros schedule

    Rafael Nadal intends to attend the Champions League final between his beloved Real Madrid and Liverpool, despite the ongoing French Open.

    Paris' Stade de France plays host to the Champions League showpiece on Saturday, with Madrid aiming for a 14th European Cup as Liverpool look to add to their EFL Cup and FA Cup successes this season.

    Meanwhile, across the city in the French capital, Nadal remains in contention at Roland Garros after defeating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Friday.

    Madrid great Zinedine Zidane was in attendance as the Spaniard cruised to victory, with the 35-year-old setting up a last-16 clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

    While Nadal did not get to converse with Zidane, he was aware of the Frenchman's presence as the record 21-time grand slam winner outlined his plans to make the short trip to support Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid.

    "I didn't see him, but I knew it was him, I knew he was there because I was listening to the crowd shouting his name all the time," Nadal told reporters when asked about Zidane. 

    "So I imagine he was there, but I didn't have the chance to see him after my match or talk with him at all.

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    "But if nothing happens, and I expect nothing happens, and if I'm able to have the right practice tomorrow, my intention and my goal is to be there [at the Stade de France]."

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