Tennis Stars Discuss Challenges of Winning Elusive 'Dirtball Double'

Maria Sakkari says the extended format of the Madrid and Rome clay-court tournaments makes it tougher to achieve the "Dirtball Double". Andrey Rublev has achieved the feat, winning the Madrid Masters and advancing to the third round in Rome despite health issues.

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Nitish Verma
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Tennis Stars Discuss Challenges of Winning Elusive 'Dirtball Double'

Tennis Stars Discuss Challenges of Winning Elusive 'Dirtball Double'

The 'Dirtball Double,' a feat achieved by winning both the Madrid and Rome clay-court titles in the same season, has proven to be an elusive accomplishment in the world of tennis. Only two women and three men have managed to secure this prestigious double, with players citing differences in altitude, court surface, and tournament format as major obstacles.

Maria Sakkari, the world No. 8, recently spoke about the challenges players face when competing in back-to-back WTA 1000 events in Madrid and Rome, which have been extended to two weeks. "I think it's tougher now that it's two weeks. Maybe we, the players, do get more days off, but especially if you're from overseas and you're from Europe... It can get a little bit too much," Sakkari stated, emphasizing the toll the extended format can take on players, particularly those from overseas.

Sakkari also pointed out that the extended format lessens the likelihood of a player winning both clay titles within the same season. The Greek player, who is aiming to reach her fifth WTA 100 final in Rome and her first on clay, has had a successful clay season thus far, reaching the semi-finals in Charleston and the fourth round in Madrid.

On the men's side, Andrey Rublev, the No. 4 seed, recently achieved the 'Dirtball Double' by winning the Madrid Masters and is now moves, third, round in the Rome Masters. Despite his success, Rublev struggled with his emotions during his second-round match against American Marcos Giron, edging out a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 victory. "I don't know. I was super angry with myself that I let a lot of emotions out today..." Rublev admitted after the match.

Rublev's journey to the 'Dirtball Double' has not been without its challenges. The Russian player spent two-and-a-half days in the hospital after winning the Madrid Masters due to a peritonsillar abscess. "I'm lucky I'm able to play here. It's already a good present. We'll see. Now I'm able to get a second chance after this match to still be in the tournament. We'll see if I make a good lesson out of it or not," Rublev stated, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to continue competing in Rome.

As the clay-court season continues, tennis fans eagerly await to see if any player can overcome the challenges and secure the elusive 'Dirtball Double' in 2024. With the French open, despite on the horizon, the pressure mounts for those seeking to etch their names in tennis history by conquering the clay courts of Madrid and Rome.

Key Takeaways

  • Only 2 women and 3 men have achieved the 'Dirtball Double' in tennis history.
  • Maria Sakkari says the extended 2-week format makes it tougher to win both Madrid and Rome titles.
  • Andrey Rublev recently achieved the 'Dirtball Double' by winning the Madrid Masters.
  • Rublev overcame health issues, including a hospital stay, to compete in the Rome Masters.
  • The pressure is on for players to secure the 'Dirtball Double' before the French Open.