The Tennis Hall of Fame of September

Sep 27, 2022, 6:00:00 AM | by Quentin Ballue

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal et Roger Federer
It's back to school time and at 19, Carlos Alcaraz is already reciting his lessons while Fruhvirotva sisters have nothing to be ashamed of either. Here is a look back at a particularly hot September, which became extremely humid with the retirement of Roger Federer.

MVP of the month: Carlos Alcaraz 

A boss from A to Z. Juan Carlos Ferrero's protege made history by winning the US Open after a wild ride. The Spaniard was forced to play three matches in five sets in a row, but he got into the thick of things in the round of 16 against Marin Cilic, whom he defeated in 3 hours and 53 minutes. He followed this up with an anthology quarter-final against Jannik Sinner, which ended at 2.50 am, after 5 hours and 15 minutes of fighting (the second longest match in the history of the tournament, only eleven minutes behind the Edberg-Chang match in 1992). Then a long half of more than four hours against a Frances Tiafoe in chewing gum mode. Back in the arena for a final against Casper Ruud, Carlos Alcaraz proved unstoppable (6-4, 2-6, 7-6 [1], 6-3), certainly inspired by his evening on TV the night before watching the film 300 with his brother Álvaro. At 19 years and four months old, Alcaraz became the youngest person in history to sit atop the ATP rankings, erasing Lleyton Hewitt and his mark of 20 years and eight months from the charts. The icing on the cake in an exceptional year that also saw him triumph in Rio, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid. This even earned him a visit from King Felipe VI. "I don't want to set any limits for myself. I want to remain number one in the world for many weeks, years I hope," he told L'Equipe with a smile. "But I don't want to change anything about the way I've played this tournament and the way I've played tennis since I was a kid. With a smile and pleasure on the court. I want people to see the same kid that played when I was 10 years old." Like a child with eyes of light.

Farewell of the month: Roger Federer

The end. Roger Federer announced the end of his sporting career on 15 September on social networks. At 41, the Swiss player, hampered by physical problems, is saying goodbye after 1,750 matches and more than two decades on the circuit. "My knee wasn't letting me down, I wasn't progressing well enough, and then I got the result of a scan that wasn't very satisfactory. I said to myself that it was over," he explained to RTS. The man with 103 ATP titles, including 20 Grand Slam titles, has been away from the circuit since his quarter-final loss at Wimbledon on 7 July 2021. He offered himself a final treat during "his" Laver Cup by playing a doubles match with Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray looked on, so that all the Avengers could be together one last time. Like Carlos Alcaraz, who live-tweeted the match, the eyes of the tennis world were riveted on the O2 Arena. The legendary pair ended up losing to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, despite a match point in the super tie-break (6-4, 6-7 [2], 9-11). "It was a wonderful day - I'm happy, not sad," the Maestro insisted on the microphone, between sobs shared with the equally emotional Nadal. Damn dust in the eye.

Sibling of the month: Fruhvirtova's sisters

Linda Fruhvirtova is coming off a fine US Open, where she made it through the qualifying rounds and into the second round of the main draw. There, the Czech took out three top seeds, Varvara Gracheva, Magda Linette and Rebecca Peterson, to win the best title of her young career, at 17 years and 140 days. Fruhvirtova, winner of the 2019 Little Aces, has now broken through the door of the top 100 to reach 74th place. At the same time, her younger sister Brenda, 15, won her 25th consecutive ITF Tour title at Santa Margherita di Pula. You're right, Brenda, you shouldn't let yourself go.

Frenchman of the month: Corentin Moutet

Coco-rico! Capable of anything, Corentin Moutet was at his best in September. The situation was not looking good after his elimination in the third round of the US Open qualifiers against Yibing Wu from China. However, Novak Djokovic's withdrawal gave him a second chance, and the left-hander took it in stride. The Francilian tornado took out world number 22 Botic van de Zandschulp (6-4, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4), but also Stan Wawrinka and Pedro Cachin. The first lucky loser to reach the last 16 at Flushing Meadows, and the first lucky loser to reach this stage of the Grand Slam since Stéphane Robert in Melbourne in 2014, Moutet was stopped in his tracks by eventual finalist Casper Ruud, to whom he nevertheless took a set (6-1, 6-2, 6-7 [4], 6-2). The high-speed Moutet went on to win his second title of the year and reach a career-high ranking of No. 64 in the world at the Szczecin Challenger 125. The MGV is due at the station, and there is no question of being late.


The rant of the month : 

The "new" Davis Cup is still not unanimous, three or four years later. Sparse stands, mixed atmospheres, five-set matches eliminated, criticized format... The Kosmos-style competition is far from having found its place, even if the organization congratulated itself on having registered 113,268 spectators during the group phase, played between Glasgow, Bologna, Valencia and Hamburg in mid-September. "What's happening is a joke," said Gilles Moretton, president of the French federation, in comments reported by AFP. "The anecdotes are so numerous, we don't really know where to turn, both on the scheduling of matches, where the host countries have protected programming, and on the surfaces. (The group stage) was supposed to be played indoors, that's what I was told in January, except that we were allowed to play on outdoor courts like the Hamburg centre court.

Ahead of Germany and Australia in Group C, Les Bleus missed the train to the Final 8. In front of their TV sets, they will watch Italy, the United States, Germany, Canada, Spain, Croatia, the Netherlands and Australia battle it out in Malaga in November for the Silver Salad. Gilles Moretton is adamant: "The current Davis Cup is a blind alley. Good for the people who are happy. I must say that the FFT and the players, not just the French, are not happy to see our Davis Cup getting worse every year. We need to change things, and I'm ready to fight for that." From there to bring Kosmos back down to earth?

The surprise of the month: Daniel Galan

Daniel Galan created a sensation by ousting Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round of the US Open. It was his first win over a top 20 player and the first victory by a Colombian over a top 5 player since Iván Molina defeated Manuel Orantes in 1975. He didn't stop there, scalping Jordan Thompson in the second round and then catching Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. "I was thinking a lot about the top 100 last year. I put a lot of pressure on myself," he told the ATP website. "It was like an obsession, which pushed me to play more, so I didn't rest. I didn't stop, it was very hard." The Colombian learned from his mistakes, and it paid off as he climbed to 69th in the world rankings. Partly thanks to his brother, who is always by his side for tennis, and for everything else. Especially when it comes to playing Fortnite. "We play together, and we blame each other when we lose. I think I'm just better than him," laughed Xando, his hermano. On the court, however, there's no contest.


Comeback of the month : Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka had not won on the main tour since the first round of the Queen's tournament in June. After three months without a win and a series of six consecutive defeats, the Swiss was back on top in Metz. In Lorraine, the former world number 3 defeated Laslo Djere and Zsombor Piros in the qualifying rounds and then made a stunning entrance into the main draw of the Moselle Open. The 284th ranked player in the world was authoritative against João Sousa and then set the Metz arena on fire by beating the current number 4 Daniil Medvedev (6-4, 6-7 [7], 6-3), almost three years after his last victory in a top 5 tournament. Mikael Ymer also went down to the wire. His body stopped the Swiss, who was forced to retire in his semi-final against Alexander Bublik, but there is more to remember. The encouraging, and above all infuriating, defeats, such as the one against Andy Murray in Cincinnati (7-6 [3], 5-7, 7-5), are over. I'm far from the level I was at before. "I'm far from the level I'd like to be at, but I'm fighting hard and I'm convinced I'll get back to a good level. There is still a margin, I see it, I feel it," he confided to L'Equipe. "The older I get, the longer it takes to put the puzzle back together. I am lucid about my current level, I had won a match in five months... I'm not saying I'm going to win a Grand Slam, but I see every day what I'm still capable of doing. I'm not saying I'm going to win a Grand Slam, but I see every day what I'm still capable of doing. I've spent a lot of hours on the court and in fitness. I know it will pay off. Next year I'll be back to a level that suits me." Stanimal is just waiting to escape the cage.

Express appearance of the month: Naomi Osaka

After four straight losses, Naomi Osaka got back to winning ways by getting through the first round of the Tokyo tournament. But not in the way she would have hoped. Her match against Daria Saville lasted barely fifteen minutes, due to the unfortunate injury of her opponent. The Australian hurt her knee in the second game and had to retire after only eleven points had been played. Her season was over as the cruciate ligament was affected. The Japanese public unfortunately did not see Osaka again after that as the former world number 1, suffering from abdominal pain, withdrew just before her second round match against Beatriz Haddad Maia. When it doesn't feel right...


Bold of the month: Alexander Bublik

It's hard to say what was going through Alexander Bublik's mind on the Patrice Dominguez court on Sunday 25 September. Trailing 6-7, 1-3, 30-40 to Lorenzo Sonego, the Kazakh, in a position to smash a double break point, decided to play the ball... with the handle of his racket. It was a daring move, but it didn't pay off, as the Italian won the point and opened up a path to the title (7-6 [3], 6-2). That still deserves a 20/20 on the nerve scale.