TENNIS BITS & PIECES – Bouchard to miss Washington. Stephens hires a new coach. Florian Mayer will miss the US Open. Argentina concerned for their Davis Cup tie in Israel and Bernard Tomic is back in the top 100. Angelo Lo Conte
Wimbledon runner-up Bouchard withdraws from Citi Open
Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard withdrew Thursday from the Citi Open next week.
Tournament officials didn’t provide a reason for Bouchard’s decision to pull out of the Washington event. The No. 7 in the world hasn’t played on tour since losing to Petra Kvitova in the final at Wimbledon on July 5. Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova will replace Bouchard as the Citi Open’s top seed.
Stephens working with Thomas Hogstedt
Sloane Stephens has stopped working with Paul Annacone following an eight-month partnership, from now on she will be coached by Thomas Hogstedt. A statement from Stephens’ management company called the split “amicable,” and the 21-year-old American called it an opportunity for a “fresh start.” Reports at Wimbledon said Annacone and Stephens would end their coaching relationship, and Stephens said the decision had been taken following the tournament.“Based on the conversations Paul and I had after Wimbledon, we both feel like it would be a good idea for me to have a fresh start leading into the summer hard-court swing,” Stephens was quoted as saying. “I’ve learned a lot over our past eight months together and now just need to meld them into my long-term plan. Paul is one of the top coaches in the world and will remain a close friend and confidant. I can’t thank him enough for his time and continued support.” Annacone, who had most recently worked with Roger Federer, cited Stephens’ up-and-down play as a reason for the break, and said the timing would allow Stephens to adjust. The new Stephens’ coach Thomas Hogstedt is an established trainer on the WTA tour, including recent stints with Maria Sharapova (for three years) and Caroline Wozniacki (for three months).
Florian Mayer pulls out of U.S. Open.
Florian Mayer has pulled out of the U.S. Open. The 62nd-ranked German hasn’t played since March, when he withdrew from his match against Novak Djokovic at Key Biscayne because of a groin injury. He missed the French Open and Wimbledon. His withdrawal from the U.S. Open was announced Thursday.
Argentina requests change of venue for Davis Cup tie vs. Israel
The Argentine Tennis Association (AAT) has requested a change in venue for its Davis Cup playoff tie against Israel in September. With the tie scheduled to be played at Tel Aviv, the AAT says it has security concerns about the region because of the growing conflict in Gaza.“We are concerned. We have communicated with the ITF, which promises to make a decision about Davis Cup by Friday,” said AAT president, Arturo Grimaldi, speaking to sports channel TyC Sports. There were “two possibilities” if the location of the tie is changed, he said. “One is that Israel will give up home advantage if we cede ours in future. The other is that the location is changed to Greece [Athens] or Cyprus.” However, added Grimaldi, the Argentine team will play the tie wherever the ITF decides. “We will wait till Friday and if they say the tie is in Tel Aviv, we will [play],” he said.
Tomic back in ATP Top 100
Bernard Tomic is back in the ATP top 100 in style. After his Wimbledon performance dropped him to No. 124, the 21-year-old Australian rose 54 spots in the rankings to land at No. 70 after winning his first title of the year in Bogota, Colombia. Tomic’s tournament victory, the second of his career, came the same week he missed the cut-off for the main draw of the U.S. Open and was dropped by his management company. With just 55 points to defend over the summer, he should put himself in good position for a U.S. Open wild card.
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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