TENNIS – The race for the ATP Finals is really heating up. Three players Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have already booked their berth for the end-of-season ATP Finals. Wawrinka is currently fourth in the ATP Ranking and can already plan in advance his second consecutive travel to the British capital. The other surprising Grand Slam champion Marin Cilic, has almost secured his ticket to London. The three remaining spots for the great season-finale are up for grabs. The race is wide open. Diego Sampaolo
It will be a hot autumn for tennis fans, as the race for London will be decided in the tournaments starting from the Asian Swing.
The Asian Swing starts this week with two ATP 250 Tournaments in Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen. Next week features two ATP 500 in Beijing and Tokyo, followed by the Master 1000 in Shanghai. China will host tournaments in all three categories (250, 500 and Master 1000). After the Asian Swing the circuit will return to Europe with a series of Indoor tournaments (Stockholm, Vienna, Moscow, Valencia, Basel) before the last Master 1000 Tournament in Paris Bercy.
Kei Nishikori starts his Asian campaign this week in Kuala Lumpur in search for points for the ATP Finals after his first Grand Slam final at the US Open. It will be his fourth appearance in the Malaysian Open. Nishikori is also planning to play in Tokyo and Shanghai. The Florida-based player will be bidding to become the first Asian player in history to qualify for the ATP Finals. Nishikori has made a real breakthrough this year reaching his first Master 1000 final in Madrid (where he came close to beating Nadal but had to surrender to injury problems on his back). The Japanese player has reached his first ever Grand Slam final after overcoming very tough and long battles against Milos Raonic after a marathon five-set match in the fourth round that lasted until 2.30 in the night, Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final and Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. The question is to see how the injury-prone player has recovered from these efforts.
World Number 6 Nishikori leads the field at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur where he will face Number 13 Ernests Gulbis, who won in Marseille and Nice and reached the semifinal in the Roland Garros and is just one match-win away from equalling his career best after winning 36 matches this year.
The Malaysian Open will also feature Joao Sousa who won this tournament last year after saving a match point against Julien Benneteau. Sousa finished runner-up this year in Bastad last July and in Metz last week where he lost against David Goffin.
Andy Murray has received a wild-card to play in Shenzhen this week and Beijing next week to look for points to stand a chance to qualify for London. The Scotsman will be looking to win his first tournament of the year in Shenzhen against a strong field featuring against David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet and Tommy Robredo.
It was a season of ups and downs for Murray following a back injury and his change to coach Amelie Mauresmo. Murray has accepted a late wild-card to play in Shenzhen and a win in the Chinese tournament could boost his confidence for the final part of the year after dropping to World Number 11 in the ATP Ranking. Ironically he reached his best result of this season on his less favourite clay surface at the Roland Garros where he qualified for the semifinal after two five-set matches against Phillip Kohlschreiber in the third round and in the quarter final against Gael Monfils. He reached the third round at the Queen’s and the quarter final at Wimbledon where he lost to Grigor Dimitrov. He reached three quarter finals in Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open
Murray is looking to lift his first title since his Wimbledon triumph in 2013. He is currently ranked 11th with 3155 points, 355 points behind Tomas Berdych who is currently ranked eighth with 3510. In 2011 Murray won three tournaments in a row in the Asian Swing in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai.
“I want to try and get some energy and get the winning feeling feeling back. That was the reason why I added this tournament to my schedule. You have to try and approach these tournaments wanting to win the event. I managed to do that once before a few years ago in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai when I played three of the best weeks that I have ever played. I am not expecting to do that this time but I am going to try”, said Murray.
Murray has played well in the Chinese tournaments in the most recent years. In Shanghai he won two titles in 2010 and 2011 and lost against Novak Djokovic in 2012 after a fantastic final in which the Serbian player saved five match points in a second-set tie-break. At Flushing Meadows he lost to Novak Djokovic after beating Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the fourth round.
In the second week of the Asian Swing Murray will face a star-studded field at the China Open in Beijing which features Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal who makes his come-back from a wrist injury which has sidelined from the North-American hard-court season, US Open champion Marin Cilic and two strong contenders for ATP Finals points like Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov.
Djokovic will be looking to win his third consecutive title in the Chinese capital where he triumphed four times in the last five years.
On the same week as Beijing, the calender features another ATP 500 Tournament in Tokyo where Nishikori will be looking to win his second title in the home tournament in front of his home fans. The player coached by Michael Chang and Dante Bottini will face a very tough task against David Ferrer, Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka. The Tokyo tournament has been won by different players every single year since 1996 when Pete Sampras clinch his third title in the Japanese capital.
The third week of the Asian Swing will be highlighted by the Shanghai Master 1000 where Novak Djokovic won the last two editions in 2012 against Andy Murray and in 2013 against Juan Martin Del Potro. Federer will return to the court three weeks after leading Switzerland to the historic second Davis Cup final against Italy in Geneva. Federer said after Geneva that his two major goals for the end of the year are the Davis Cup final against France in Lille and the ATP Finals in London. The goal to win the first Davis Cup title in Swiss history could change his plans for the end of the year
Who are the favourite players to book a ticket for the O2 Arena? Nishikori is currently ranked sixth in the ATP Ranking with 3675 points with a slight lead over David Ferrer (3535), Tomas Berdych (3510 points), Milos Raonic (3440 points), Grigor Dimitrov (3335 points) and Andy Murray (3155 points) in what promises to be a close battle for just three berths for the ATP Finals in London.
Tomas Berdych is not in his best form as he showed last week in the Davis Cup semifinal in Paris against France where he lost in three sets against Richard Gasquet in what he described as “his worst Davis Cup match”.
David Ferrer lost the Cincinnati final against Federer but lost in the third round against Giles Simon in the US Open but he is an experienced player at this level and has still chances to qualify for London. The Spanish player will be trying to win for the fifth consecutive year and the sixth overall. He won in Buenos Aires earlier this year against Fabio Fognini and has clinched at least one title every year since 2010.
Grigor Dimitrov, a quarter finalist at the Australian Open and a semifinalist at Rome and Wimbledon, has still a good chance to qualify for his first ATP Finals. More recently he lost the semifinal against eventual winner Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the semifinal in Toronto but he lost in the second round against Jerzy Janowicz. At the US Open he lost against Gael Monfils in three close sets.
Tennis Player Disqualified From Shanghai Qualifying Match Two Points Away From Victory
It will be a match that Australia’s Marc Polmans will never forget but for all the wrong reasons.
The World No.140 looked to be on the verge of victory against Italy’s Stefano Napolitano when leading their match 7-6(3), 6-6(6-5), in the final round of qualifying at the Shanghai Masters. However, disaster struck at the next point when Polmans temper got the better of him and subsequently cost him.
With match point, he approached the net to hit a backhand shot but it ended up in the net. Prompting the frustrated 26-year-old to hit a tennis ball that unfortunately hit the umpire. As a result of that action, he was automatically disqualified from the match which handed Napolitano the victory and a place in the main draw.
It is not the first time a tennis player has been disqualified for such an incident. During a 2017 Davis Cup tie between Canada and Great Britain, Denis Shapovalov was disqualified for firing a tennis ball that hit the umpire’s eye. Novak Djokovic was also disqualified from the 2020 US Open after hitting a ball that accidentally struck a lines judge.
“Players shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw
a tennis ball while on the grounds of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match (including warm-up),” the 2023 ATP rulebook outlines.
“For purposes of this rule, abuse of balls is defined as intentionally or reckless- ly hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with disregard of the conse- quences.’
“Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine of up to $350 for each violation. In addition, if such violation occurs during a match, the player shall be penalized in accordance with the Point Penalty Schedule.”
It is a tough lesson for Polmans to learn. He was on the verge of playing in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career. He is currently the 10th highest-ranked Australian player on the ATP Tour and reached the final of a Challenger event in Guangzhou, China last month.
Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup
Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day
After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.
Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”
American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.
“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”
After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:
“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”
The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:
“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”
Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”
Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.
Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.
T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
Zhizhen Zhang Handles Home Pressure As Murray Exits Shanghai
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‘Bulls**t’ – Expert Involved In Simona Halep’s Anti-Doping Case Blasts Four-Year Ban
Maria Sakkari ‘Scared’ Of Anti-Doping Testing Measures After Halep Ban
Gutsy Novak Djokovic Prevails In Grueling Battle With Medvedev To Win US Open
Iga Swiatek Says Her Priority Is Form, Not Reclaiming No.1 Spot
Iga Swiatek Dismisses Criticism Over Recent US Open Exit
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