ATP Champions Tour: Ivanisevic wins, McEnroe steals the show - UBITENNIS
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ATP Champions Tour: Ivanisevic wins, McEnroe steals the show

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TENNIS ATP CHAMPIONS TOUR – Goran Ivanisevic beat Ivan Lendl in the final of the “Grande Sfida”, the Italian leg of the ATP Champions Tour held on two days of fantastic tennis in Genoa and Milan in front of enthusiastic crowd who came in great numbers to cheer four legends. John McEnroe beat Michael Chang 6-3 6-3 in the final for third and fourth place stealing the show when he entertained the crowd with some spectacular shots. From Milan, Diego Sampaolo

 

The ATP Champions Tour made its return to Italy after six years and it lived up to the expectations of the fans who filled the 105 Stadium in Genoa on Friday evening and the Assago Forum in Milan creating a magic atmosphere. The two days attracted a total of 13000 spectators. Even the four stars John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang were surprised by the huge support from the crowd. The first evening at the 105 Stadium in Genoa attracted 5000 enthusiastic spectators on an emotional evening which followed a tragic week in which the city was hit by a devastating flood.

On Friday Ivanisevic, Wimbledon champion in 2001, beat McEnroe 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in the first semifinal. In this match the Croatian player showed his powerful serve, his favourite weapon which made him the second player in the world. Ivan Lendl won in straight sets over Michael Chang in a “re-match” of the famous fourth round clash of the 1989 Roland Garros where the then 17-year-old Chang won a epic five-set match and went on to clinch his first Grand Slam title beating Stefan Edberg in the final.

McEnroe was the most cheered player by the 8500 spectators who packed the Assago Forum during the presentation of the four players before the matches. “Super Mac” showed some spectacular shots which made him so famous in the Eighties when he won seven Grand Slams and 77 ATP titles. After a very long sixth and spectacular game in which McEnroe saved a break point at 2-3, the 55-year-old player broke serve in the seventh game for 4-3 with a fantastic forehand passing shot en route to winning the first set. McEnroe got another break in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead before holding serve in the next game. He wrapped up the match with 6-3.

In the final for first and second place Lendl went to the lead with 4-3 in the first set but Ivanisevic won five consecutive games en route to leading 6-4 2-0 at the start of the second set with a series of big serves and took control of the match and clinched the second set with 6-4. Forty-three year-old Ivanisevic is still able to hit his serves at 220 km/h !

The four stars received the awards from Italian tennis Ambassadors Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli during the award ceremony.

Apart from the results the Grande Sfida was a huge success with many families and children in the stands to support the four legends.

Goran Ivanisevic by Diego Sampaolo

Goran Ivanisevic by Diego Sampaolo

“I was surprised to see so many people this weekend in Genoa and Milan. There were more spectators today than in 1997 when I beat Sergi Bruguera in the ATP Tournament in Milan! People have missed tennis for a long time. It was really special to play in front of such amazing crowd. I have a special relationship to Italy and Milan. I love going shopping and I enjoy Italian food. The surface was very fast. I could have played at the same level with Marin Cilic for one set on this fast court. The win at Wimbledon in 2001 has changed my life. I could have won more Grand Slams but I am proud of my career”, said Ivanisevic.

McEnroe returned to Milan after so many years but he was still the most popular player among spectators who admired him when then they were children in the Eighties.

John McEnroe by Diego Sampaolo

John McEnroe by Diego Sampaolo

“I have made a lot of history in Milan. It’s great to be back. The crowd was fantastic. They made me feel special. I am old and grey but it was a special weekend for me. I have a lot of good memories in Italy. I played here against Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis in 1978 during some exhibition matches. I love the food. This city is one of the best places where I have been playing for a long time. I definitely want to come back. It’s pretty good to be loved by young people.”

The US tennis legend paid tribute to his big rival Ivan Lendl during the post-match press conference for his decision to leave his native city Ostrava and become US citizen. “Ivan took a tough decision to walk away from his family and live in the USA. I give credit to him”, said McEnroe.

Lendl also made his return to Milan where he played at the start of his career at the Bonfiglio and Avvenire Tournaments. He won three editions of the Milan Indoor Tournament.

“A lot of people watched me and John when they were kids and they still want to watch us.I played so many times in Milan and I enjoyed to come back here. I played my first ever five-set match at the Bonfiglio Tournament”

Asked what he felt playing for the USA and not for his native Czechoslovakia, Lendl said: “I have the double citizenship. There are so many people who live in a different place from where they were born. I still enjoy going back to my native town and to recognize the place where I was used to practice at the start of my career”, said Lendl

Chang remembered his past years as professional player and talked about his life after the end of his career during the post match press conference.

“I was part of a special generation of players like Pete Sampras and André Agassi. I had the opportunity to play with different generations and I am looking forward to have more opportunities to play tennis. I got married to a wonderful wife in 2008. I have two beautiful girls. I also work with my Foundation”, said Chang

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Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice

The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.

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This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.

 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.

Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.

“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.

As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.

“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”

Del Potro’s comeback delayed again

There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.

However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.

Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.

Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.

RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

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Vasek Pospisil dispatches James Ward in Eastbourne

Vasek Pospisil is into the second round at Eastbourne.

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Vasek Pospisil (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

The Canadian won his first match on grass of the year beating the local favourite James Ward.

 

Vasek Pospisil is through to the second round of the Viking International ATP 250 in Eastbourne after beating the Brit James Ward in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes on court number two.

“It was a good match, I played pretty well, I thought I served well and he is a tough opponent on grass because he has a tough first serve but I was pretty sharp and played well when I needed to and happy to get the win”.

It was the Canadian who had the first chance to break at 1-1 and he got the early break and that one break was good enough for him to serve out the first set.

The second set was much of the same and actually was identical to the first with the world number 66 getting the break to take a 2-1 lead but faced a breakpoint when consolidating the break.

Again that one break was enough for him to serve out the match and book his spot in the next round. This is Pospisil’s first win since the month and after the match, he spoke about how the last couple of months have been for him.

“It was good I just took a break from the tour just to refresh the mind and the body and I hadn’t seen my family in nine months so it was a good reset and I felt I needed a break to kinda be excited about touring and the covid conditions and now I’m back and I am happy to be back and I am playing well so it was a nice break.”

Pospisil will now face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the next round after the Spaniard beat the Swede Mikael Ymer in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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