Andy Murray starts his title quest with a strong win at the ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray starts his title quest with a strong win at the ATP Finals



Andy Murray opened up his campaign at the ATP World Tour Finals by defeating Spain’s David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4.



This year is that first time in Murray’s career that he has gone into the year-end tournament as the second seed after a solid year where he has won four titles with a win-loss of 68-12 leading into this week’s tournament. In comparison Ferrer has won 4 ATP titles this year but 12 matches less than the 28-year-old .


Murray started the match tentatively as he faced a break point at the start of the match before eventually holding his serve. The slow start by the two-time Grand Slam champion improved in the following couple games as Ferrer appeared initially solid with his serve. Murray had a shot of breaking to lead 3-1 but was unable to capitalise. The Brit also had three chances during a lengthy 8th game to break to move ahead 5-3 but was unable to convert any of them against a determined 33-year-old Ferrer.


After squandering four break points during the opening set, Murray pounced at the right moment. As Ferrer served trailing 4-5, a superb backhand volley from the Brit was rewarded with his first first set point. The set was then gifted to Murray with a costly double fault from the Spaniard, triggering a big cheer from the London crowd.


Leading into the match Murray has a 59-0 win-loss after winning the first set however that daunting figure didn’t faze Ferrer. After taking advantage of Ferrer’s nightmare end to the first set, Murray came abruptly under attack from the Spaniard at the start of the second set with Fereer breaking to love. The offensive against Murray from Ferrer continued as the 33-year-old intensified his aggression on the court to maintain his advantage. Despite trailing the Brit once again found a way to claw himself back. A deep cross-court forehand forced his opponent to return the ball into the net as he broke back to level at 3-3.


After Murray grabbed the crucial break back, Ferrer faced his biggest test yet by serving to stay in the match. As the pressure mounted, Ferrer was unable to get a first serve in to enable Murray to dominate the rallies. This fragility in the Spaniard’s game allowed Murray to easily maneuvered his way to his first match point as Ferrer hit an erratic backhand wide. The world No.2 took the victory will a smash at the net.


The victory is Murray’s fifth consecutive win over Ferrer as he extends his overall head-to-head to 12-6. Following his won, Murray gave his assessment on the match during his on-court interview.


“it was a tough match, a lot of long rallies. he fought all the way until the end and made it really difficult for me”. Murray said.

“He (Ferrer) didn’t serve well, which helped me”. Murray admitted.


The next match for Murray will play either Rafael Nadal or this year’s French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

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Carlos Alcaraz Set For China Debut With Eyes Set On Reclaiming No.1 Spot From Djokovic



Carlos Alcaraz says he is ready to resume his ‘beautiful’ battle with Novak Djokovic for the No.1 ranking in men’s tennis. 


The two-time Grand Slam champion is set to return to competitive action later this week in Beijing at the China Open where he is the top seed. Alcaraz hasn’t played a match since his semi-final defeat to Daniil Medvedev at the US Open. So far this season, the Spaniard has won six Tour titles with the most prestigious of those being at Wimbledon. 

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, the 20-year-old says returning to the top of the standings is one of his main priorities. Last year Alcaraz became the youngest player to end a season in the No.1 sport in ATP rankings history. Overall, he held the position for 36 weeks. 

“For me, the number one spot is one of the main goals for me,” said Alcaraz. “In these great tournaments, I’m looking to do great to be able to close or recover that number.”

Standing in his way of achieving this goal is Djokovic who has opted not to play in Beijing this week but is expected to return to action at the Shanghai Masters. Opening the door for Alcaraz to close the points gap between him and the Serbian. It is possible that he could exit the Asian swing as No.1 depending on how he and Djokovic performs. 

“We have a really beautiful battle for the number one spot after the great performance Djokovic had in the American season,” he told AFP news on media day.

This week is the first time in Alcaraz’s career that he has played a professional tournament in China. No ATP events were held in the country between 2020-2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period there were also no WTA tournaments held but their reason for doing so was also due to concerns that former player Peng Shuai was being censored by authorities after accusing a former government official of sexual assault. 

Alcaraz’s first match at the China Open will be against Yannick Hanfmann of Germany. 

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South Korean No.1 Kwon Faces Disciplinary Action After Asian Games Meltdown



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South Korea’s sports authority says they will take appropriate measures to address Soonwoo Kwon‘s racket-smashing incident at the Asian Games.


Earlier this week, Kwon suffered a shock exit from the tournament after losing 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to Thailand’s Kasidit Samrej in the second round who is ranked more than 500 places lower than the world No.112. The 25-year-old was seeded fourth in the draw and considered a strong contender to win a medal.

Immediately after losing that match, a video went viral of Kwon repeatedly smashing his racket on the ground out of anger. He also ignored efforts made by Samrej to shake hands with him on the court and instead walked off. The behavior prompted swift criticism from many in the sport and South Korea’s vice minister of culture, sports and tourism branded his reaction as “regretful.”

Following the incident, Kwon visited Thailand’s training case to apologise for his actions. The tennis player has also issued a letter of apology on social media for what he describes as a ‘careless act.’

“I sincerely apologise to all the Korean people who support the national team and to the fans at the stadium. I’m sorry,” he wrote.
“I once again sincerely apologise to Samrej, who would have been offended by my rude behaviour.
“I sincerely regret it and am reflecting on my actions after the match.”

However, this may not be the end of it for Kwon with his country’s Olympic sporting body pondering if they need to take any additional action. The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) hasn’t ruled out the prospect of possibly implementing a penalty of some sort on Kwon following a review into the matter.

We will take appropriate measures for the situation through a comprehensive review after the Games come to an end,” the KSOC said in a statement.

Kwon has been ranked as high as No.52 in the world and has won two ATP titles with the most recent of them being this year at the Adelaide International. He is the first player from his country to have won multiple trophies on the ATP Tour in the Open Era.

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Elena Rybakina’s Coach Blasts The WTA After Player Withdraws From Tokyo



The coach of former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has accused the WTA of failing to communicate their rules regarding performance byes. 


At this week’s Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, a rule is in place where players are awarded a bye in the first round based on their recent results on the Tour instead of their ranking. Therefore Guadalajara Open champion Maria Sakkari and semi-finalist Caroline Garcia have been awarded byes despite being ranked lower than Rybakina who missed out on getting one. 

“Thank you for changing the rules [at the] last moment,” Rybakina recently wrote in an Instagram story on top of a screenshot of the Tokyo draw. “Great decisions as always @wta.”

The use of performance bye’s is nothing new in the sport and they have been in the official rulebook since 2009 when WTA Premier events (now called WTA 1000’s) were introduced. Furthermore, doubles player Nicole Melichar-Martinez has challenged Rybakina’s claim of a last-minute introduction of the policy on X (formerly known as Twitter) by saying that it was outlined in the tournament fact sheet. 

Nevertheless, Rybakina’s mentor has also vented his frustration on social media. Stefano Vukov claims that there is no official definition provided by the governing body of women’s tennis and argues that a player’s ranking should be taken into account regarding performance. Although his player has failed to win back-to-back matches at her two most recent tournaments in Cincinnati and the US Open. 

“Just to make things clear, there is no explanation of what a performance bye is. What does this mean? Do we add byes to help performing players? Or do we take away ranking earned byes? And isn’t ranking itself a sign of performance? Last year we came from a final in Europe and played in Japan 2 days later and performance byes nowhere to be found,” Vukov wrote on Instagram.
“The issue is always the same lack of communication. This will also apply from Tokyo 500 to Beijing 1000 next week. 4 performance byes will be awarded.” He added. 

Vukov, who has coached Rybakina since 2019, has also suggested that players who have secured their place in the WTA Finals are only playing some tournaments because they face the risk of being fined if they chose not to. He also took a swipe at the WTA’s ‘terrible’ marketing department over their decision to post on social media that Rybakina had qualified for the year-end championships days after she had done so. 

“We need transparency. All players need to understand what is going on. Stop blaming players for mistakes made by the system itself,” he concluded. 

Rybakina has since pulled out of playing Tokyo this week but has insisted that her reason for doing so was because of an injury and has noting to do with her recent criticism. 

“The WTA topic is another topic, on which I have my opinions and will clearly voice them in future.” She concluded.

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