Gael Monfils comes back from a seven-week lay-off with a win over Thomas Bellucci in Vienna - UBITENNIS
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Gael Monfils comes back from a seven-week lay-off with a win over Thomas Bellucci in Vienna

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Sixth seed Gael Monfils fought back from a set down to edge past Brazilian Thomas Bellucci with 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4. to advance to the second round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Monfils had to fend off six of the eight break points he faced. Monfils has made a come-back from a seven-week lay-off due to lower back problems which forced him to withdraw from the first round at the US Open.

 

The first set started with 11 break points in the first five games. The match was marked by a lot of breaks and a series of spectacular rallies. Monfils went up 5-3 in the first set but Bellucci rallied to force the first set to the tie-break. After nine mini.breaks in 12 points Bellucci won the tie-break with 7-5.

The second set went on serve in the first five games. Monfils was forced to save four break points in the fifth game. Monfils got the break on the next game to win the second set with 6-3.

Monfils got another break of serve in the decider to seal the win Monfils entertained the crowd with a spectacular baseline jumping forehand smash winner

“I am happy to come back with a win. It’s been a long time since I was on a court. I was not able to do anything for six weeks. I have had just five or six days of practice. I lost a bit of a rhythm in the first set and that turned into a long match. We will see how I will pull up in the nnext match”, said Monfils

The Frenchman will take on World Number 71 Paolo Lorenzi. The Italian fought back from a set down to beat US Rajeev Ram 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 6-4. Ram fired 16 aces but was broken four times.

Third seed John Isner fired 16 aces to battle past Frenchman Kenny De Schepper after two tie-breaks with 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5).

The first set went on serve without any break points until the tie-break where Isner won with 7-4.

There were no break points until the sixth game of the second set when De Schepper was forced to save three break points. Isner did not face any break points but could not convert a break point on match point at 4-5 30-40 on De Schepper’s serve in the second set. The US player missed a match ppint at 6-5 but closed out on his second opportunity with 7-5 at the tie-break after 1 hour and 43 minutes setting up a second round match against Ernests Gulbis who ended a five-match losing streak .

“The match came down to a few points, which I was able to win. I am happy with my performance. My goal is to try and make London but David Ferreri s so many points ahead. It’s not a problemi f I don’t make it, at least I will have tried my best”, said Isner

David Ferrer rallied from one set down to edge past Albert Ramos Vinolas with 1-6 6-3 6-4. Ferrer won just two points on Ramos’ serve in the first set where he dropped his serve three times. He fought back in the second set earning a break point which Ramos Vinolas saved, Ferrer fended four break points at 3-2 down in the second set. The Valencia player broke serve twice in the seventh and in the ninth games to win the second set with 6-3. The third set went on serve until 5.4 when Ferrer clinched the decisive break. Ferrer will face his compatriot Guillermo Gracia Lopez who beat Santiago Giraldo 6-4 6-3

Jerzy Janowicz came back from a set down to overcome local favourite Dominic Thiem with 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. Thiem got a double break for 2-1 and 4-1 en route to winning the first set with 6-2.

Janowicz went up a break in the second set but Thiem broke back forcing the second set to the tie-break The young Austrian made two errors at 5-5 to lose the tie.break with 5-7. Janowicz got an earky break at the start of the third set The Polish player did not face any break points in the third set en route to winning the match with 6-4.

“I made a bad error in the tie-break. It was not a bad match for me but he deserved to win. In the third set he served better and played better”, said Thiem

Andreas Haider Maurer will carry the hopes of the local fans tomorrow when he plays against South African Kevin Anderson

Sergiy Stakhovskiy cruised past Jan Lennart Struff 6-4 6-4 to set up a second round against ace record holder Ivo Karlovic who beat Italian Andreas Seppi yesterday.

Steve Johnson overcame a second-set loss to edge past Aleksander Dolgopolov with 6-3 4-6 6-2. After losing the first set with 6-3 Dolgopolov dropped his serve at the start of the second set but he broke back to draw level before winning the second set. Johnson broke in the third set en route to closing out the match with 6-2.

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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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