The Shanghai Rolex Master, the penultimate Master 1000 tournament of the season, is underway with first round matches. There are still four spots up for grab for the ATP World Finals in London. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have already secured their berths for London. Al the top-20 of the ATP Race to London are in Shanghai this week.
Nick Kyrgios beat Andreas Haider Maurer 6-3 6-2 after playing a solid match in which he fended off five break point chances he faced and hit 13 aces. The young Aussie player set up a tough second round match against Kei Nishikori, who was surprisingly beaten by Benoit Paire in the semifinal of the Rakuten Open in Tokyo last week. Kirgyos, world number 32, broke in the opening game and held his service games to to win the first set with 6-3. Only in the eighth game Kirgyos faced two break points which he saved with his serve. Kyrgios got another break in the ninth game to clinch the first set with 6-3 in 26 minutes. Kirgyos got a double break in the sixth and in the eighth games to close out the match in one hour and 4 minutes
Nishikori, who is in contention for the ATP Finals in London and is currently ranked seventh in the ATP Race, could face Roger Federer in a potential quarter final in Shanghai.
Ivo Karlovic, who beat Goran Ivanisevic’s aces record last week in Beijing, overcame Jeremy Chardy 6-4 7-6 (8-6) with 18 aces setting up a second round match against 2009 finalist Rafa Nadal, who showed improving form last week in Beijing despite the 6-2 6-2 loss against Novak Djokovic in the final
John Isner hit 20 aces and won 81 percent of his first serve points to cruise past to a easy 6-1 6-2 win over Adrian Mannarino in just 46 minutes. Isner broke serve immediately in the first set. Mannarino had an injury on his groin in the fourth game and this affected the rest of his match. He made 25 unforced errors. Isner will take on either David Goffin or Japanese qualifier Go Soeda in the second round
Roberto Bautista Agut dropped just six first service points in his 6-2 6-3 win over Guillermo Garcia Lopez.
Steve Johnson rallied from a set down to overcome Andreas Seppi with 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-2). Seppi wasted a match point at 5-3 40-30 in the third set before losing the decider at the tie-break. World Number 47 Johnson beat Seppi in their previous head-to-head match in Winston Salem on hard-court in 2013 with 7-5 in the third set. Seppi broke serve twice in the first and in the seven games of the first set. Johnson recovered one of the two breaks in the eighth game but Seppi closed out the first set in the tenth game with 6-4 after 44 minutes. Johnson reeled off five consecutive games from 1-1 to win the second set with 6-1. The decisive set went on serve until the sixth game when Seppi broke serve to take the edge. The Italian player earned a match point but he failed to capitalized on it. Johnson forced the match to the tie-break where he clinched the match with 7-2 setting up a second round with Andy Murray.
Martin Klizan beat Chinese wild card Ze Zhang 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 setting up a second round match against six-time Beiing champion and last year’s Shanghai runner-up Novak Djokovic who won this tournament twice. Djokovic is bidding to win his ninth title of the year after the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Wimbledon, the US Open and Beijing. Djokovic extended his winning streak to 29 consecutive winning matches in Beijing and was unstoppable last week in the Chinese capital where he dropped just 18 games in five matches.
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development
Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.
Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.
The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.
Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.
Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.
“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”
It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.
One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.
Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.
“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.
“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.
“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”
Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.
Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain
The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans.
Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.
Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying.
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.
“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’
Will Kyrgios play?
Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity.
“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …”
Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment.
“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”
The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions.
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