TENNIS ATP FINALS – Novak Djokovic won in three sets against Kei Nishikori 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 to book his place in the final of the end-of-year event for the fourth time. He now waits to find out if he will face Federer or Wawrinka. From London, Paul Sassoon
Novak Djokovic is still on course to be the first player since Ivan Lendl to win three consecutive end-of-year tournaments since Ivan Lendl did it between 1985 and 1987. He booked his place for Sunday’s final by winning his 14th consecutive match at this event (last defeat in 2011 against Tipsarevic), his 30th in a row in indoor events by defeating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 3-6, 6-0, in 1 hour and 27 minutes of play. The Japanese player managed to snatch a set from the world number one which is a feat in itself as he had lost just 9 games in 6 sets played so far.
The world number one was uncharacteristically nervous on court today. When he lost his serve at the beginning of the second set some people in the crowd cheered. Usually the Serb is able to let these things slide, but today he reacted and he did provoke some jeers. In the press conference he had an exchange with Ubaldo Scanagatta. He asked why he reacted to the crowd and his reply was a bit edgy, “Why did I react bad? In what way?” Ubaldo explained himself further and he replied, “Yes, I did. It was my fault. It was my fault that I allowed it. mean, look, the end of the day, I cannot blame the crowd. The crowd has a right to do what they want, to cheer for whoever they want. Some individuals that were going over the line throughout the whole match, some provocations that I usually don’t react on, but I did. It was my fault. You know, I lost the concentration. I lost the break because of that. I allowed myself to be in the situation to lose the set, maybe even lose the match. So, yeah, generally it was my fault and I should know better.”
The first set started with three consecutive serve holds , but at his second service game Nishikori lost his on serve game. After just 13 minutes there was the feeling that the match was headed towards another blow-out which was confirmed when the serb made a second break in the sixth game and also by the world number five’s difficulty in returning serve. Nishikori managed just 2 points on return in the second set.
The start of the second set was even more indicative of a blow-out, as Nishikori lost his serve again in a service game he opened with a double fault. But the world number five came back taking advantage of Djokovic’s moment of difficulty. The Serb failed to place his first serve in four out of six occasions losing the game with a double fault on the break point. The double fault was greeted by many cheers by the crowd, some of the applause came from the Federer and Nishikori fans in the stands, but the majority probably came from ordinary spectators who were just hoping to see a close match after the quick one-sided matches of the Round Robin. Djokovic didn’t appreciate and lost his concentration. Nishikori increased the efficiency of his serve and never gave an opportunity to his opponent to break him again. Instead he was the one to snatch the serve from the Serb to the surprise of the crowd. In the ninth game the world number one was once again struggling to place his first serve and Nishikori was very aggressive with his return. In the tenth game he closed the second set 6-3, the first set lost by the Serb in this tournament.
Nishikori’s positive moment didn’t last long, as he lost serve in the second game of the final set and never recovered. Djokovic quickly went through the game breaking serve again in the fourth and sixth games and never giving his opponent the chance to break back. Unceremoniously Nishikori double faulted on the second match point, but it was indicative of the weakness of the Japanese player today. Djokovic won 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.
Djokovic explained that he felt a bit drained today, “it’s the last match of the season. Honestly, today I found it a little bit difficult mentally to stay concentrated throughout the whole match. After emotional three matches I had, especially yesterday when I achieved the goal to finish as No. 1 of the world, knowing that, I felt a little bit, I would say, flat emotionally today. I needed a little bit more time to kind of give myself a boost. I was fortunate because in the beginning of the third set, he had breakpoints. If he broke me, the match could have gone either way.”
After the match Nishikori believes that Djokovic is beatable on this court despite the his undefeated streak, “Even last set was bagel, I had couple chance first couple games. The first set he played really good, too good for me. But second set I start playing well. He got little bit tight. I took some risk. Everything worked well in the second. I was playing well. Even first couple points in third set, I thought I had it. I think I start thinking too much about he’s No. 1 player, Novak. I think I risked too much. I think I did too many unforced errors first couple games. Then he start playing better. You know, it’s very disappointing because I think if I little bit change I could be I think little more closer in the third set.” And on his season he said, “it was, I mean, one of the best year for me. Even this was first experience, I think I did really well. Now, you know, little bit disappointed. I could go final, but he was little better. For sure that I have to do well this off season. I have to train well and injury free again. But, you know, I think I will have a lot of chance for big tournaments, especially Grand Slams. Hopefully I can come back to the final again. I love to play Australian Open. Hope I can have good start of the year next year.”
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
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‘He’s Here To Stay’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas Brings Father Back Into Team After Philippoussis Split
‘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
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Steve Flink, Ubaldo Scanagatta Review The 2023 Wimbledon Men’s Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Steve Flink, Ubaldo Scanagatta Review The 2023 Wimbledon Women’s Final
(VIDEO): Novak Djokovic Faces Sinner Test, Women’s Semis Take Centre Stage
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