Monday, March 22, 2021

Weekend Tennis Diary

Nice wins for Alexander Zverev, Aslan Karatsev, Daria Kasatkina and Leylah Annie Fernandez. Plus all sorts of action off the court HERE.

Matt Ebden gets physical

Alexander Zverev battled past Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Acapulco final on Saturday night, 6-4, 7-6 (3), coming from 4-1 down in the first set to win his biggest title since capturing the season-ending ATP Finals in 2018. It wasn't always pretty and once again had me asking if any of these NextGen players even want to win.

And with domestic abuse charges still hanging over him -- and does that sombrero count as cultural appropriation? -- I only have eyes for brother Misha (and the guy to his left), anyway. 

It’s difficult to think of a rise as meteoric as Aslan Karatsev's in 2021. On Saturday morning, the Russian continued his breakout season, brushing aside Lloyd Harris and his Bozo hair, 6-3, 6-2, to capture his first ever ATP singles title in Dubai. The King of the Calves improved to 12-2 on the season, with his only losses coming to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne and Dominic Thiem in Doha. Just 12 tournaments ago, Karatsev was ranked No. 253 in the world, but will crack the ATP Top 30 with his victory.

Daria Kasatkina became the first player to win two WTA tournaments in 2021, capturing her fourth career title at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy when Margarita Gasparyan retired with a lower back injury trailing 6-3, 2-1. Already a champion last month at the Phillip Island Trophy, Kasatkina's record this year is now 15-4, and she has spent the week underlining her renaissance on home soil. Although I was pleased for her, I would be lying if I didn't admit I kind of hoped the two other semifinalists -- Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva -- would reach the final for old time's sake!

What a breath of fresh air to watch Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez capture her first WTA title, defeating Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic 6-1, 6-4 in the Monterrey Open final Sunday. She looked calm and confident throughout the match. And while many commentators were saying she doesn't appear to have the necessary weapons to win a major, all I could think to myself was: Does Sofia Kenin? (Also enjoyed seeing Golubic's one-handed backhand, something the tour has been sorely missing since Carla Suarez Navarro left the game. )

More about Fernandez's hunky coach, Romain Deridder, to come! 

In doubles, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah clinched their first title in 18 months on Saturday, when they defeated Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 7-6(0), 7-6(4) to win in Dubai. 

Does this mean Robert is back to eating Colombian "meat"?

Still, I'd be hard-pressed to call these two "losers" ...

Ken and Neal Skupski won their first title of the year with a victory over top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos on Saturday in Acapulco. The mixed-attractiveness brothers, who hail from Liverpool, parted ways in 2019 after a long partnership, with 31-year-old Neal going on to play with countryman Jamie Murray and 37-year-old Ken pairing with Santiago Gonzalez. They reunited to start this season, and celebrated their fourth trophy as a team on Saturday.

Can they do it again in Miami? 

Elsewhere around the net ...

I don't know about you, but I was wondering why the censors allowed Tennis Channel to show sweat-soaked Dominik Koepfer and Lorenzo Musetti playing their respective semis on a steamy night in Acapulco ...

I almost had to call the trainer, too

It didn't help that Koepfer was playing sexpot Cameron Norrie, who finally got a decent haircut 

After getting everyone hot 'n' bothered, the 19-year-old Italian took some time to cool down ...

Reilly Opelka is one of the coolest guys on the tour. Here's hoping his results start to match his heart

After a humiliating loss to Lloyd Harris, this practice session with Hubert Hurkacz turned out to be the highlight of Dominic Thiem's trip to Dubai

Quentin Halys came up short against Luca Pouille in the quarters of the Biella Challenger. But the prize seemed to be waiting for him back home.

Guido Pella and Antonio Mazzello: You know what I like about Argentina? You get the hotness of Italian men without having to deal with Italian men ...

Airport cruising 

Jan-Michael Gambill's is one cute mama's boy!

And court time with Malek Jaziri? This really was Cabal's week!

Lloyd Glasspool followed up last week's first Tour level doubles win with another Challenger title. 

He and Matt Reid edged Tristan-Samuel Weissborn and Purav Raja in a match tiebreak in Biella.

Sloane Stephens seems to have joyfully traded in her tennis career for the life of an influencer, and something tells me Tommy Paul is right behind her ...

Marcos Giron: Woof!

Ukrainian Illya Marchenko keeps 'em guessing ...

The Croatian cuties nursed their wounds with loved ones ...

Love, Benjamin Lock

Benoit Paire tried to say he played so poorly (aka didn't try) because there was no audience in Santiago. So what was his excuse for making a fool out of himself in front of fans in Mexico? 

Tommy Fabbiano had a fun time in Dubai ...

But hitting with Roger had to be the highlight!

Looks like everyone in the Farah-Cabal camp enjoys getting worked on by Jayson Mathiou

Kevin Krawietz and Jan-Lennard Struff nearly beat Cabal-Farah in the Dubai semis ...

But I'm sure Kevin's regular partner -- Andreas Mies, still recovering from knee surgery -- is happy things didn't go too well (again) 

Vasek Pospisil came up short in his Dubai jizzfest versus Marton Fucsovics

With so many top players dropping out of Miami, will Marton make his move?

The Balkan Bunch

Sam Groth is the Australian J.J. Wolf -- hot friends up the ying-yang!

Speaking of which: Hello, Bobby Brokamp!

There was a lot going on in Aslan Karatsev's box ...

Filip Krajinovic is feeling hashtag blessed

Tommy Haas looking hot in Fila

Matt Ebden retired from his match in Dubai ...

Aljaz Bedene flaunted it in Dubai 

Nino Serdaruuic: As if Croatia needed more hunky players

Future influencer Christian Harrison 

Daniel Masur edged Matthias Bachinger for the Challenger title in Biella

Since girlfriend Madison Keys refusing to win, Bjorn Fratangelo picked up a trophy in Cleveland

And last but certainly not least: Lloyd Glasspool whips it out

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