ATP Rotterdam: Raonic recovers from a set down against Kuznetsov - UBITENNIS
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ATP Rotterdam: Raonic recovers from a set down against Kuznetsov

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TENNIS ATP ROTTERDAM – The ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, a ATP 500 event, features a very strong line-up with three semifinalists of this year’s Australian Open Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, Melbourne quarter finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov. Diego Sampaolo

 

Raonic fought back from a set down to edge Andrey Kuznetsov 6-7 6-1 7-5 to set up a second round match against Simone Bolelli who cruised past Lukas Rosol 6-3 6-1.

Kutznetsov broke serve in the sixth game but Raonic broke back at 4-4. The Russian qualifier won the tie-break of the first set with 7-5 but Raonic bounced back in the second set winning every point behind his first serve and dropping just one game to force the match to the decider. Raonic served to stay in the set when he was 4-5 down. The decider went on serve until 5-all when Raonic got the crucial break on the 11th game. Raonic hit his 19th ace of the match to win the match after one hour and 54 minutes.

Andy Murray, who lost in the quarter final against Milos Raonic last year in the Dutch port city, will make his Rotterdam debut tomorrow against Nicholas Mahut from France on Wednesday. Murray’s possible rival in the second round could be Vasek Pospisil who converted on three of his four break points to beat German Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-2.

Tomas Berdych, defending champion in Rotterdam, beat German lucky loser Tobias Kamke 6-1 7-5. The Czech player, semifinalist at the Australian Open, extended his winning streak to six matches in Rotterdam. Berdych cruised to a easy win in the first set before wasting a big lead in the second set with a series of errors. Berdych hit 11 aces but dropped his serve twice

Jeremy Chardy advanced to the second round after his compatriot Julien Benneteau was forced to withdraw at 3-3 in the first set. Another Frenchman Giles Simon fought back from one set down to edge Joao Sousa 5-7 6-3 6-2. Simon wasted four set points in the first set, three at 5-2 and one at 5-4 before Sousa clinched the first set with 7-5. In the second set both players traded breaks until 3-all before Simon won seven consecutive games. Simon closed out with 6-2 after two hours and 19 minutes.

Gael Monfils won the all-French evening match against Edouard Roger Vasselin in straight sets with 6-3 6-2 with a break of serve in each set. Monfils will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round.

On Monday Grigor Dimitrov came back from a set down and had to save two match points when Paul Henri Mathieu was serving at 5-4 in the second set. Dimitrov forced the match to the tie-break which he won with 7-2 before clinching the third set with 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2. Mathieu beat Dimitrov in Basel in 2012 and once again caused problems to the Bulgarian player.

Dimitrov, reached his best result in Rotterdam in 2013 when he lost in the semifinal against eventual winner Juan Martin Del Potro, will face Gilles Muller who edged David Goffin 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3. The match went on serve until the third set when Muller got the only break of the match to seal the win.

Austrian rising star Dominic Thiem beat his close friend and training partner Ernests Gulbis 6-4 6-2. Thiem had already beaten Gulbis in their only previous head-to-head match in the second round of last year’s US Open. Both players are coached by Gunther Bresnik. Gulbis reached the semifinals at the Roland Garros last year but since then he won just nine of his 22 next matches and he has not won a single match in 2015. He lost in the first round against Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Australian Open

Thiem will face Sergiy Stakhovsky who overcame Marcel Granollers 6-2 7-6 (9-7).

Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past 19-year-old German rising star Aleksander Zverev 6-4 6-1.

ATP

REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach

The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.

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Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.

 

TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.

The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.

“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.

Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.

Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.

Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.

Groh’s coaching CV

  • 2011: Michael Berrer
  • 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
  • 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
  • 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
  • ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
    Source -ATP/Linkldn

UPDATE*

Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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