ATP Finals: Djokovic with Wawrinka and Cilic, Murray and Nishikori with Federer - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals: Djokovic with Wawrinka and Cilic, Murray and Nishikori with Federer

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TENNIS ATP FINALS – The draw ceremony of the ATP World Tour Finals was held on Monday afternoon in London. Defending champion Novak Djokovic has been drawn in the Group A against two Grand Slam champions Marin Ciic, Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych. Roger Federer has been drawn into a very tough Group B against Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, who are enjoying a good period of form during the indoor season. Diego Sampaolo

Novak Djokovic won the Paris Bercy Indoor Master 1000 last week for the third time in his career extending his lead over Roger Federer to 1310 point in the ATP Ranking and has a good chance to end as the World Number 1 player for the third time in his career. Federer’s hopes to overtake Djokovic have been dashed after his defeat in the quarter final against Milos Raonic in Paris Bercy.

Djokovic is looking to win the ATP World Tour Finals title for the third consecutive year after beating Federer in 2012 and Nadal in 2013.

The ATP World Tour Finals will feature three newcomers Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic who have reached the end-of-year tournament for the first time in their careers after their outstanding season. Cilic won the US Open following in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanisevic, who won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 2001. The Croatian player beat Kei Nishikori in the US Open final. The Japanese player is the first Asian player to play at the ATP Finals

Group A

Djokovic is the strong favourite to win the Group A as the only player in his group who beat him this year was Wawrinka. The Swiss player won their quarter final clash at last January’s Australian Open and went on to clinch his first ever Grand Slam Tournament. The Belgrade player has extended his winning streak indoors to 27 consecutive matches and had more time to rest between Shanghai and Paris Bercy and reaches London well-rested and with a strong motivation after becoming father of his first son Stefan two weeks ago.

“Two consecutive wins in London in the last two years give me reason to believe that I can do well. It helps that I am playing well and that I am feeling well about myself on the court playing indoors. Every match that I play gets me closer to holding the Number 1 spot at the end of the year”, said Djokovic

The A group features the two Grand Slam champions of this year Cilic and Wawrinka and 2010 Wimbledon finalist Stan Wawrinka.

Djokovic has a combined winning record of 41-5 in his head-to-head matches against Wawrinka, Cilic and Berdych and never lost in his 10 career matches against Cilic. The Serbian player had to dig deep to beat Cilic in five sets in the quarter final at Wimbledon last July. Djokovic won six ATP titles this year, more than anyone else. He triumphed at Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Wimbledon (after a fantastic five-set match against Federer), Beijing and Paris Bercy. Djokovic secures the World Number 1 spot at the end of the year if he wins all his three matches in his group or reaches the final with at least one win in the round-robin group.

Berdych is the slight favourite for second place in the round-robin Group A as he showed recent good form winning in Stockholm and reaching the semifinal in Paris Bercy where he lost to Milos Raonic in three sets. Berdych is more experienced in this kind of tournament as he will play for the fifth time, On the contrary Wawrinka has qualified for the second time in his career after reaching the semifinal last year. Cilic will make his debut in the end-of-season after winning his first Grand Slam of his career at the US Open and three more tournaments in Zagreb, Delray Beach and Moscow and lost the Rotterdam final against Berdych last February after beating Andy Murray in the quarter finals. Cilic skipped Paris Bercy because of a right arm injury. The Croatian player beat Berdych twice in two Grand Slam tournaments this year at Wimbledon and at the US Open but doesn’t have a winning record against any of his rivals in his group.

Wawrinka won the Australian Open and Monte-Carlo but he has won just one match since he reached the quarter final at the US Open. The Lausanne player suffered three first round matches against Tatsuma Ito in Tokyo, Giles Simon in Shanghai and Mikhail Kukushkin in Basel and won only against Dominic Thiem in straight sets in Paris Bercy before losing in the next match against Kevin Anderson after serving for the match

Berdych has secured his spot for London for the fifth consecutive year with his win in three sets over Kevin Anderson in the Paris Bercy quarter finals. The Czech player won two indoor titles in Rotterdam and Stockholm and played in three more finals at Dubai, Oeiras and Beijing “Qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals is always the proof of having a great season, especially in this era of tennis when you have the guys like today. So you have to fight”, said Berdych

Group B

Roger Federer, winner of five tournaments this year at Dubai, Halle, Cincinnati, Shanghai and Basel, starts as the favourite in the Group B against very strong rivals who have recently played very well during the indoor season Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic.

Federer has won the end-of-season tournament six times but has not won this title since 2011. He has reached the semifinals every year except from 2008 when he suffered from a back injury.

Federer boasts a 19-14 winning streak against the rivals in his group. He is tied 11-11 against Andy Murray but the Basel player won all his two head-to-head matches against the Scotsman this year in quarter final matches at the Australian Open and Cincinnati.

Federer is tied 2-2 in his head-to-head matches against Kei Nishikori. This year Nishikori beat Federer in the Miami quarter final but Federer took his re-match against the Florida based Japanese player in Halle.

The young Japanese player won four titles in Memphis, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo and reached the final in Madrid against Rafa Nadal. He came close to winning his first Master 1000 Tournament but he was hampered by a back injury. At the US Open he beat Novak Djokovic in the semifinal to become the first ever Asian Grand Slam finalist. If he is fit without injury worries Nishikori could be a threat for every player. Last week Nishikori reached the semifinal in Paris Bercy where he lost to Djokovic after a marathon match against David Ferrer.

Federer won six career matches against Milos Raonic but the young Canadian broke his losing streak against the seventeen-time Grand Slam champion last week in the quarter final at Paris Bercy. This defeat put an end to his winning streak of 17 consecutive matches. Raonic played his second career Master 1000 one year after Toronto. Raonic showed consistency throughout the year reaching the semifinal in Rome and at Wimbledon.

Murray will have time to rest after playing 23 matches in six consecutive weeks winning three titles in Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia after dropping out of the top 10. The reigning Olympic champion and 2013 Wimbledon winner lost his most recent match in the quarter final in Paris Bercy against Djokovic. .

“Winning the ATP World Tour Finals would be the goal but I know it will be difficult. A lot of guys, especially Novak and Roger are going in with a lot of motivation and would go in as the strong favourites. The guys with big serves Raonic, Berdych and Cilic enjoy playing indoors. It’s going to be an interesting tournament. If I play well, I give myself a good chance. I am definitely match fit. I won’t go in there undercooked”, said Murray.

Nishikori leads 4-1 on his head-to-head matches against Raonic this year. Murray has won all his three matches against Nishikori but he won only one of his four clashes against Raonic.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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