TENNIS – Nineteen of the top 20 best ranked players feature in the Sony Open in Miami including World Number 1 Rafa Nadal, defending champion Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, respectively champion and finalista t last week’s Indian Wells. The possible quarter finals are Nadal- Del Potro, Wawrinka- Berdych, Federer- Ferrer (or Dimitrov) and Djokovic- Murray Diego Sampaolo
Nadal, who is looking to his first Miami title, has been drawn in the first quarter and could face either Juan Martin Del Potro or Milos Raonic in the quarter final. Nadal will make his debut against either Lleyton Hewitt, who is looking to reach his 600th milestone career match win, or Dutchman Robin Haase.
Nadal has been drawn in the same quarter as two rising stars born in the 1990s Jerzy Janowicz and Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Juan Martin Del Potro. Nadal’s possible third round rival could be Italian top player Fabio Fognini who will face either Jerzy Janowicz or Roberto Bautista Agut. .
Del Potro will start his campaign against either Ryan Harrison or Federico Delbonis.
The second quarter of the draw features this year’s Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and 2010 Miami finalist Tomas Berdych who may square off in the quarter finals. It could be a re-match of this year’s Australian Open semifinal.
Wawrinka faces a tough path as he may play against Marin Cilic, who won two tournaments and 20 matches in 2014, in the third round and last week’s Indian Wells semifinalist Aleksander Dolgopolov in the fourth round. Dolgopolov beat Rafa Nadal in the third round and lost against Roger Federer in the semifinal in the Californian desert. The Ukrainian player could face Bernard Tomic in the second round and German veteran Tommy Haas.
Berdych is in the same quarter section as US John Isner, who lost against Novak Djokovic in the Indian Wells semifinal last Saturday. Isner could meet either Carlos Berloq or Donald Young in the second round and either Nicolas Almagro or Sam Querrey in the same round.
Nadal and Wawrinka may square off in the semifinal in a potential re-match of this year’s Australian Open final.
Roger Federer, who won two consecutive Miami titles in 2005 and 2006, will start his chase of his third Miami title against Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic and may meet Fernando Verdasco in the third round and Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. The Swiss legend, winner in Dubai and runner-up in Indian Wells last week, could face either last year’s Miami finalist David Ferrer or Bulgarian rising star Grigor Dimitrov (what a match could be between the Basel Maestro and his Bulgarian heir) in the quarter final. Federer has the chance to move up to World Number 4 overtaking Ferrer in the ATP Ranking.
Dimitrov may meet Kei Nishikori in the third round.
Novak Djokovic may face Andy Murray in the quarter final in a clash between two Miami winners of 2011 and 2013. Djokovic, who is bidding to score his second Indian Wells-Miami double after 2011 and his fourth win in Florida, will make his debut against either Jeremy Chardy or Juan Monaco. He could meet Florian Mayer in the third round and in-form Ernests Gulbis in the fourth round. Gulbis is an unpredictable player and could pose a threat to everyone if he is in form as he showed in Indian Wells where he reached the quarter finals after beating Grigor Dimitrov.
Murray, who opens against either Lukas Kubot or Matthew Ebden, will be looking to win his third win in Miami (his traditional training base) after lifting the Trophy in 2009 and 2013. He will defend his title won last year against David Ferrer. In the third round Murray may renew his clash against Czech rising star Jiri Vezely who forced the Dunblane star to the third set last week at Indian Wells. Murray, who has ended his succesful relationship to Ivan Lendl this week, may play against Feliciano Lopez in the third round Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the fourth round.
“I am grateful to Ivan for all his hard work over the past two years, the most successful in my career so far. As a team we have learned a lot and it will be definitely be a benefit in the future”, said Murray-
“Working with Andy over the past two years has been a fantastic experience for me. He is a first class guy. Having helped him achieve his goal of winning major titles, I feel liei t is time to concentrate on some of my own projects moving forward, including playing more events around the world, which I am really enjoying. I will be always in Andy’s corner and wish him nothing but great success as he too goes into a new phase of his career”, said Lendl.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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