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Andy Murray pledges to play in Belgium amid growing terror threat

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Andy Murray (image via The Daily Mail)

Shortly after his straight sets dismissal of David Ferrer in his first match at the ATP World Tour Finals, Andy Murray has spoken about the increasing uncertainty regarding security at the upcoming Davis Cup final.

 

Murray will lead the British team in their bid to win their first Davis Cup title since 1978. In the final they will play Belgium in their home country, a place which has seen increasing anti-terror operations. Following the multiple terror attacks in Paris on November 13th, Belgium has become central in the investigation with a series of anti-terror raids across the country. The New York Times has reported that the suspected mastermind behind the attacks was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national who fought in Syria for the Islamic State.

The recent developments in Paris and Belgium, has sparked concerns about the security situation for the upcoming Davis Cup finals in Ghent, will take place in less than two weeks time. Murray spoke about the recent security issue in Europe as he vows to continue playing as normal.

“I do think the best thing we can do is live our normal lives, not change too much, because then the terrorists is winning”. The world No.2 said.
“I don’t want to live my life in fear every time I step onto the tennis court”.

The Davis Cup isn’t the only tennis tournament, which has seen an increase in security. On Sunday the organizers of the ATP World Tour finals announced stricter security measures, including an increase in police and the ban of all food and drink being brought into the venue.

Murray also spoke about the potential players that could be selected for the British Davis Cup team by captain Leon Smith. Smith has a tough task after two Brits, Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund, won Challenger titles over the weekend. There is also James Ward, who has been an instrumental player for the British Davis Cup team in recent time. Despite the tricky task for his captain, Murray remains level headed about who may potentially join him.

“Obviously it’s a good path to be in. I think it’s the same kind of position as the Belgians really. They have three guys capable of playing the second singles, as well, with Darcis and Coppejans probably being the best clay court players, but Bemelmans with a slightly different game style”. Murray said.

The British team could also have another player to pick from, Aljaz Bedene. Bedene is a former Slovenian player who switched his nationality to British earlier this year. According to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Bedene is ineligible to play for Great Britain because he played for Slovenia. The British No.2, who is currently ranked 45th in the world, is arguing that the new rule came into effect after he submitted his paperwork to play for Great Britain. He will find out tomorrow if his appeal has been successful. Speaking about Bedene’s appeal to the ITF, Murray is critical of the speed of the process.

“My view is that the process has taken such a long time that it is awkward timing now”. Murray said in reference to the upcoming Davis Cup final.
“It isn’t his (Bedene) fault that it’s taken such a long time”. Murray added.

Murray will have the chance this week of securing his place as world No.2 at the end of the year for the first time in his career. The 28-year-old honestly said that it isn’t a goal for him, however, he would be ‘delighted’ if he did.

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‘I Tried Everything’ – Frustrated Roger Federer Reacts To ATP Finals Exit

The 20-time grand praises his rival, but questions if mental toughness played a role in their match.

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LONDON: The only consolation for a frustrated Roger Federer is that he is exiting the ATP Finals without any injury woes.

 

The six-time champion was denied the chance of winning the title for the first time since 2011 after suffering straight-sets loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Bringing a bitter end to a season where the 38-year-old has claimed four ATP titles. None of which were at a grand slam tournament. In his latest match, the Swiss Maestro struggled at times to generate consistency in his game as he leaked 29 unforced errors.

“I tried everything I could, to be honest,” Federer said during his press conference. “I tried to chip it, tried to stay back and hit some. I tried to come forward. And for the most part, I actually tried to play up in the court and tried to play aggressive, but of course with his aggression, it’s not always easy because he always takes the ball very early himself too.”

Federer’s error tally was not the most troublesome aspect of his game, it was his break point success rate of only one out of 12. Shortly after this match, Tsitsipas said he said he was happy to handle what felt like a ‘mental struggle’ to him on the court. However, Federer has a different viewpoint.

“Spinning it (the ball) into the body and then getting an error, I don’t know if that’s, like, mental toughness.” He argues.
“Sure, he didn’t double fault, he didn’t do anything silly, and he’s tough as nails.’
“I’m frustrated that I couldn’t play better, and when I did and fought my way back, I threw it away again.”

The 38-year-old now has a 2-2 head-to-head record against his younger rival, who was just a four-year-old when he made his debut at the ATP Finals back in 2002. He also lost to him at the Australian Open.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to reach the final of the season-ending event and the youngest since Juan Martin del Potro back in 2009. He has reached nine ATP finals so far in his career with six of those occurring this year.

“He’s tall and he’s strong up there (upper body). He can loop it and come down on it, and that’s why I also believe he’s good on faster courts and on slower courts. It’s going to be very beneficial for his career.” Federer said of his rival.
“Obviously it’s his footwork that’s always on the aggressive side. Any short ball will be attacked, and I think he does that very, very well. He’s one of the best at that in the game.”

When a member of the NextGen scores a notable win, there is always the same question. Is the change of guard in men’s tennis coming soon? This year they are four players in the ATP Finals under the age of 23 for the first time in a decade.

“I look at the list of who finished World No. 1, who has been World No. 1 all these years, and it’s just crazy that it’s always one of us (the big four). But we are not getting any younger. So chances increase not because we are getting worse but because they are getting better, I believe.” Federer concludes.

Federer will now fly to South America where he will play in a series of exhibitions next week.

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Youth Prevails As Stefanos Tsitsipas Stuns Six-Time Champion Federer At ATP Finals

A shock win has taken the Greek into the final of the season-ending event on his debut.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has ensured that there will be no member of the Big Three in the finale of the ATP Finals after taming third seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Tsitsipas, who is 17 years younger than the 20-time grand slam champion, was relentless in his intensity he battled to a 6-3, 6-4, victory at The O2 Arena. Recording his second win over Federer this year after the Australian Open.

 

In his latest match, the Next Gen player impressively saved 11 out of the 12 break points he faced as he hit 18 winners. Meanwhile, Federer struggled behind his second serve as he won only 11 out of 24 points played. Bringing his season to an end.

“Wow, Jesus. I’m so proud of myself today.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview. “It was a great performance. Once again the people (crowd) were great and I really enjoyed my time on the court.”
“Sometimes with matches like this you always wonder how you can recover from all those break points down. It’s like a mental struggle, so I’m really proud that I was able to save so many break points today.” He added.

In previous meetings between the two, the serve has been detrimental to the outcome of the match. Since his loss to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, Federer has gone on to defeat the Greek twice without dropping serve. Furthermore, this week in London both men have been impressive in that area of their games. Heading into the semi-finals, Tsitsipas has won 95% of his service games and Federer had won 90%.

It wasn’t long into their latest encounter when the usually reliable Federer service game buckled. In the second game of the match a failed smash from the Swiss Maestro, followed by a winning forehand from Tsitsipas gave the ATP debutant the early break. Tsitsipas’ breakthrough proved decisive to the outcome of the opener as his rival failed to convert a series of golden opportunities. Six times Federer had the chance to break, including two when the world No.6 was serving the set out. Continuing to prevail on the clutch moments, Tsitsipas sealed the 6-3 lead with the help of a 133 mph serve down the center of the court.

It looked as if the 21-year-old would eased his way to the surprise win as he once again capitalized on a lackluster service game from his opponent early in the second set. However, this time Federer finally found a way to break Tsitsipas’ brick wall defense to revive his chances.

Despite the temporary change in momentum, Tsitsipas continued to pounce like a lion. Forcing his rival to be continuously under pressure as he broke once again to restore his lead. There was little Federer could do to change the outcome as the Next Gen star roared his way to victory. Closing out the match with an ace out wide. Prompting him to drop his racket out of disbelief.

“I was trying not to give too much time to Roger.” He commented on his match tactics. “He was playing good and shout out to him as well. He played pretty good this week.”
“Playing him is the biggest honor I can have. Today’s victory is probably one of the best matches of my season.”

Tsitsipas will play either Alexander Zverev, who he defeated earlier in the week during the group stages, or Dominic Thiem. He has a negative head-to-head record against both of those players.

“I have no preference (of who I play).” He said. “I played Sasha in the groups. Obviously, anything can happen in the final. Sasha proved that to us last year in the finals. He was defeated by Novak and then went on to beat him. I just need to be super careful and have a good schedule ahead of my next match.”

Tsitsipas is the youngest player to reach the final of the tournament since Juan Marin del Potro back in 2009.

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ATP Finals 2019 Day 7 Preview: Roger Federer Continues Chase For Record Seventh Title

Who will advance to the championship match at the biggest non-Major event of the year?

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Roger Federer is a six-time champion of this tournament, but it’s been eight years since he last prevailed.  Sascha Zverev is the defending champion, but 2019 has been a disappointing year with only one title at a 250 event.  Dominic Thiem elevated his hard court game this year with three titles on this surface, and is now just two wins from the biggest title of his career.  And 2019 has been a breakthrough year for Stefanos Tsitsipas with 51 match wins to date, but can he recover from a physically and emotionally draining loss to Rafael Nadal just 24 hours ago?

 

Roger Federer (3) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)

This will be their fourth career meeting, all of which have occurred this year.  Back in January, Tsitsipas made a name for himself by defeating Federer on his way to the Australian Open semifinals.  But in their last two matches, both on faster-paced hard courts, Federer won all four sets by a score of 6-4.  Roger played magnificently against Novak Djokvoic on Thursday, defeating him for the first time in four years.  He’ll certainly be the fresher of the two, as Tsitispas played for nearly three hours in a competitive loss to Nadal just yesterday.  Even though Stefanos is 17 years younger than Roger, he certainly won’t be the fresher player today.  Federer has lost in the semifinals of this event two years in a row, but he should be favored to break that pattern and advance to his 11th championship match at the ATP Finals.

Dominic Thiem (5) vs. Sascha Zverev (7)

Thiem owns a commanding 5-2 record against Zverev, though they haven’t played in nearly 18 months.  And three of Dominic’s victories came while Sascha was still a teenager, and before Zverev had ascended to the top of the game.  Thiem was most impressive in defeating both Federer and Djokovic during the round robin stage, but did not play his best on Thursday, losing in straight sets to Matteo Berrettini.  Darren Cahill on ESPN said Thiem has been battling flu symptoms over the past few days.  Zverev meanwhile looked sharp in taking out Daniil Medvedev last night in straight sets with his tournament life on the line.  If Sascha can continue serving well, I like his chances to return to the final at the O2 for the second straight year.

Other Notable Matches on Day 7:

In the first doubles semifinal, Wimbledon and US Open champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus (5), champions at Halle and Washington this year.

In the second doubles semifinal, Winston-Salem champs Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (2) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (7), champions at the Australian Open and the Paris Masters.

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