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.
“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.
“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
Stefanos Tsitsipas starts his Australian Open campaign with a straight-set win over Salvatore Caruso
Last year’s Australian Open semifinalist and ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas dropped just five games in his 6-0 6-2 6-3 win over Italy’s Salvatore Caruso after 1 hour and 43 minutes.
Tsitsipas earned three consecutive breaks to cruise to a bagel win in the opening set. Caruso saved the first break point and held his first service game to draw level to 1-1, but she Tsitsipas converted his third break point chance at deuce to open up a 3-1 lead. The Greek player earned his second break at love in the eighth game.
Tsitsipas went up a break at love in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Caruso saved three match points in the eighth game at 2-5 to prolong the match, but Tsitsipas served out the win at 30 with an ace down middle the court in the ninth game after 1 hour and 45 minutes setting up a second round match against either Phillip Kohlschreiber or Marcos Giron.
“Today I tried to stay calm. That was something that I had really in the back of my head, trying to stay calm, be aggressive on and off the court. I would describe the match the match as very stable. Throughout the match I was very focused. I was in the zone, and I am very happy with my first set. It was almost perfect. I don’t remember the last time that I won a set 6-0. It was a good quality tennis. Let’s not forget the people here. The people that bring the energy. I will give it to them”, said Tsitsipas in the post-match interview.
Matteo Berrettini cruises past wild card Andrew Harris to advance to the Australian Open second round
Number 8 seed and 2019 US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini cruised past Australian wild card Andrew Harris 6-3 6-1 6-3 in the first round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Berrettini converted five of his nine break points and hit 38 winners. The Italian player won the opening set 6-3 with a break in the second game at deuce and the second set with three consecutive breaks.
Berrettini came back from 0-40 down by winning five consecutive points in the sixth game of the third set to earn the break at deuce for 4-2 when Harris hit a forehand into the net. Berrettini sealed the win with a big forehand on the match point after 1 hour and 55 minutes.
Berrettini will take on either US Tennys Sandgren or Argentine qualifier Marco Trungelliti.
“It’s always tough because I played my last official match in November. I figured out how to play my best tennis, so I am really happy with my performance. Like always, I am going round by round. I am happy that I am healthy and playing well”, said Berrettini.
Last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannick Sinner was leading 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 4-4, before the match was suspended due to rain. The Italian rising star converted four of his eight break points. Sinner went down a break in the seventh game to trail 3-5 in the opening set, but he broke back in the 10th game before winning the tie-break 7-2. Sinner broke twice to win the second set 6-2. Sinner went up a break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, but Purcell broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Sinner, who is making his first appearance at Melbourne Park, holds a 15-30 lead at 4-4 in the third set.
Sam Querrey stunned Borna Coric 6-3 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, who eased past Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-2 6-2.
Guido Pella edged Australian wild card John Patrick Smith 6-3 7-5 6-4 to secure his spot in the second round, where he will face France’s Gregoire Barrere, who came back from one set down to beat Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Safwat 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 7-6 (7-5).
Grigor Dimitrov Causes A Stir At Australian Open With Crazy Outfit
The world No.20 has split opinion about what he is wearing at Melbourne Park.
Grigor Dimitrov’s first round match at the Australian Open didn’t centre round how or who he was playing. It was about what he was wearing on the court.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist triggered a mass reaction on social media when walking into the Melbourne Arena wearing a navy blue Nike spotted tracksuit. A decision by the Bulgarian that has split opinion among tennis fans. Although Dimitrov has no regrets about the outfit, which he helped design along with Nike.
“It is! I just don’t wanna be a vanilla. I love being different,” the 28-year-old told reporters when asked if it was a fashion statement.
Dimitrov a set down to Londero — which he deserves just because of this. https://t.co/VEbLhe7LYH
— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 20, 2020
Besides the tracksuit, the 18th seed also caught the attention of fans with what he was wearing underneath. His abstract T-shirt featured a combination of white, black, pink and red. Drawing more questions about the decision behind what he is wearing on the courts in Melbourne. His shorts are more orthodox with just a plain navy blue colour.
Dimitrov's outfit. pic.twitter.com/OdE0BjTzZj
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 20, 2020
In his first round match, Dimitrov battled back from a set down to edge out Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4. During the at times roller coaster encounter, the world No.20 hit 17 aces and blasted 47 winners past his opponent. Recording his third win of the season following his two singles victories during the ATP Cup.
“I was just trying to get my rhythm. It was a very tough first set. I was unable to find my striking zone and did a lot of unforced errors.” A critically speaking Dimitrov commented during his on-court interview.
Dimitrov will play either Tommy Paul or Leonardo Mayer in the second round.
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