ATP World Tour Finals Day 1 Preview: Novak Djokovic to begin title defence against Kei Nishikori - UBITENNIS
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ATP World Tour Finals Day 1 Preview: Novak Djokovic to begin title defence against Kei Nishikori

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Kei Nishikori will be given the huge task of upsetting the World No.1 and defending champion on opening day

The ATP World Tour Finals begin Sunday, with the World No. 1 set to begin the defence of his crown. Novak Djokovic is in incredible form, boasting a 22-0 record since his defeat to Roger Federer in Cincinnati, and has dropped just one set in his last three tournaments. The evening match sees Roger Federer take on Tomas Berdych, who is making his sixth appearance in London.

 

Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori (Not Befoe 2:00pm GMT)

The World No.1 will face a man who has had a good year, but has not reached the high levels of performance he produced in 2014. Yet Kei Nishikori will still be no easy task for Djokovic. Ttitles in Memphis, Barcelona, and Washington DC prove that when he has been able to avoid injury this year, he is as tough as anyone. Enjoyed a good debut at the World Tour Finals last year, as he defeated Andy Murray and David Ferrer to qualify second in the group behind Federer.

Flashback: These two met in the semi-finals last year, with Nishikori the only player to actually take a set off Djokovic. However, it still had a lopsided look to it in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 win for the eventual champion. Their only meeting this year actually went along a similar path, Djokovic winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Prediction: Djokovic is a different player to the one that Nishikori took a set from last year, or even earlier this. A lot will be determined by just how fit the Japanese star is (he has assured everyone he is fine). By a lot means if he gets two or three games, or six or seven, I’m going Djokovic 6-2, 7-5.

Roger Federer vs Tomas Berdych (Not Before 8:00pm GMT)

Roger Federer is in good form heading into London. Yes, he lost earlier than he would have liked in Paris to John Isner, but the truth is just about everyone can lose to the 6’10 server if he makes the service count. Well, maybe everyone except Djokovic. Nevertheless, that defeat has garnered Federer what could turn out extra valuable preparation for London, and truth be told, he could not have hoped for much better to start his campaign for a seventh year-end title. In two best-of-three set meetings with Berdych this season, Federer lost just ten games. Across the two matches.

For Tomas Berdych, the key is in the surface. Indoor hard favours his big flat-hitting game. Though this favours Federer too, Berdych cannot afford to contemplate that, but consider what he can bring to the table. A win in Stockholm indoors suggests form, but in reality was a field that offered little top quality, having to beat no top 20 players for the title. You can only beat the players you are drawn against but, in this case, the challenge for Berdych is a daunting one.

Prediction: Close, with a tiebreak possible. But Federer is unrelenting when it comes to indoor matches, and should be winning this opener. Federer 7-6, 6-4.

Stat: Despite that fact that both men have player every World Tour Finals event since 2010, this is the first time they will face each other in this tournament.

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(EXCLUSIVE) Former Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli On Why Tennis Needs Nick Kyrgios

The former world No.7 spoke to Ubitennis about the Australian star who has sensationally been charged with assault.

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Marion Bartoli (left) pictured at the 2022 Wimbledon Centre Court 100 year celebration - image https://twitter.com/bartoli_marion

Marion Bartoli believes tennis needs a ‘disruptor’ like Nick Kyrgios in order to break the trend of similar personalities on the Tour.

Bartoli, who won the 2013 Wimbledon title, spoke to Ubitennis during an hour-long media session that took place at The All England Club on Tuesday morning. A large talking point of the tournament so far has been the roller-coaster behavior of Kyrgios during two of his matches. In the first round, he was issued with a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct after arguing with officials and spitting in front of some members of the crowd who were ‘disrespecting him.’ Then during a dramatic third round clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, he once again argued with officials and even questioned why his opponent wasn’t defaulted from their match after hitting the ball into the stands.

The Australian is undoubtedly a divisive character. However, Bartoli believes that is exactly what tennis needs. 

 

“You either like him or you don’t. He will not make you feel middle ranged about him,” Bartoli tells Ubitennis.
“We need people like this in tennis. Some sort of disruptor with a different character. I don’t think it is good to have everyone acting the same way.’

“The limit is when you start to go against the umpire but he brings something new and different which is exciting for the game.”

Although not everybody has the same viewpoint. During his press conference on Saturday night, Tsitsipas stunned reporters when he branded his peer a bully due to his antics. Something Kyrgios denies. The Greek has also said he supports some sort of intervention to address the behavior of the world No.40 if such an opportunity occurs. 

“He said what he felt on the court and that’s fair. You just have to respect that,” Bartoli comments on Tsitsipas.
“At the end of the day we know what Nick is bringing to the court and it is not really surprising. It was almost as if Stefanos looked surprised by that which for me is something I wouldn’t have expected from him.”

Controversy aside, Kyrgios is looking to be a major danger in the tournament as long as his shoulder holds up. It is the first time he has reached the last eight of the tournament since 2014 after beating Brandon Nakashima in five sets on Monday. In his section of the draw, he faces unseeded Cristian Garin next, followed by a potential clash with Rafael Nadal. 

It was Kyrgios’ latest performance which has drawn praise from Bartoli.

“I think he has been doing extremely well this year, tennis-wise. He got a lot of confidence playing well on the grass before Wimbledon and he just loves the show,” she said.
“He loves the center stage and the way he played (against Nakashima) was brilliant. He didn’t go out way too much into his extreme where he would talk out loud all the time. It was just about his tennis. He’s always so exciting and he’s a great addition to the championships.“

As our discussion about the tennis star took place, sensational news broke that Kyrgios has been charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The Canberra Times has reported that the assault took place last year and he is set to go to court next month. If he is found guilty, he could go to prison. 

Pick for the women’s final

As for the women’s draw, Bartoli has her money on two particular individuals. Although it is Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur who she is tipping to win the title. The second seed is yet to contest a Grand Slam final in her career. 

Meanwhile, 2019 champion Simona Halep is gaining momentum in the tournament. After struggling with injury and confidence issues in recent months, the Romanian is yet to drop a set in four matches played. 

“Ons Jabeur is playing great tennis. She was my pick to win the Wimbledon title. I think Simona Halep has been extremely impressive, the way she won against Badosa was really quite something. Those two should be the ones going through to the final but in this year’s championship there have been so many upsets you never know.” Bartoli commented.

Bartoli is playing in the mixed-doubles legends draw at Wimbledon alongside Nenad Zimonjic. On Sunday she was one of many former champions to take part in a special ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of Center Court. 

“It feels amazing. I get to be back on center court with my fellow other champions. That was definitely the highlight of my championships so far,” she said.
”To see roger, Rafa, Novak, etc, all the lineup of incredible champions, for me to be part of that group picture was something I would never forget.“
“Wimbledon is by far my favorite place in the world. For me, every year to wear my purple badge and walk through those gates is absolutely amazing.”

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Why Rafael Nadal Faces His Biggest Test Yet

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins UbiTennis to reflect on the highs and lows of day 8 of Wimbledon.

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Will the upcoming quarter-final be Rafael Nadal’s hardest match yet? How will Nick Kyrgios’ shoulder recover?

 

The second Monday at Wimbledon was one full of intrigue in the men’s draw. Whilst on the women’s side, Simona Halep was in impressive form against Paula Badosa but tennis commentator Flink explains why he thinks her upcoming clash with Amanda Anisimova will be tougher.

Alongside Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta, Flink also looks at Jannik Sinner’s chances of causing a huge upset against reigning champion Novak Djokovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Rafael Nadal Coy Over New Injury Speculation

After the foot problems in Paris, there is a strong possibility the Spaniard could be experiencing another injury issue.

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image via twitter.com/atp

There are fresh concerns surrounding Rafael Nadal after he declined to go into the reason why he was wearing abdominal taping during his fourth round match at Wimbledon. 

 

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was seen wearing some kind of protection in the abdominal area after changing his t-shirt during one of the breaks. In recent weeks Nadal has been dealing with physical issues due to a long-term foot condition he has. At the French Open he revealed that he had to undergo injections in order for him to continue playing en route to winning the tournament for a 14th time.

Playing 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp, Nadal battled his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6), win. Speaking to reporters after his latest win at The All England Club, the Spaniard sidestepped a question about a potential abdominal problem he could be experiencing. 

“I am a little bit tired of talking about my body. It’s not that I don’t want to answer your question, but at the same time sometimes I am tired of myself, all the issues that I am having. I prefer to not talk about that now,” he replied.
“I am in the middle of the tournament and I have to keep going. All respect for the rest of the opponents. I am just trying my best every single day. For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things that I want.”

Continuing to stay coy about his form and health, Nadal offered an alternative perspective when asked if he was nearing his best level once again. He has dropped just two sets in four matches played so far at Wimbledon which is his first grass-court event since 2019. 

“It’s always the same here. It’s not about how close I am to the level or not. I don’t know that. I can’t predict what can happen.” He said.
“But the positive thing is the first two matches haven’t been good. Then two days ago I played at a high level for the first time. And today most of the matches, again, at a very positive level.”

The straight sets scoreline failed to tell the true story of Nadal’s roller-coaster win on Center Court. Taking on Zandschulp, a player who burst onto the main scene last year by reaching the US Open quarter-finals as a qualifier, the 22-time major champion engaged in a match of two halves. Nadal looked on the verge of an easy victory after breaking once in the first set, twice in the second and storming to a 5-2 in the third. However, the Dutchman refused to go down without a fight by displaying his best tennis of the match to draw level. 

Now engaged in his first real test, Nadal was under intense pressure to close it out in three. If he didn’t there would have been an inevitable delay for the roof to come on due to poor light. If that occurred, there would be less than two hours of play left before the 11pm curfew began.

Nevertheless, Nadal didn’t need the roof as he squeezed through the tiebreaker. After squandering three consecutive match points, he prevailed on his fourth with the help of a lob that triggered Zandschulp to smash the ball out. 

Nadal is through to his 47th major quarter-final and is only the third man in the Open Era to do so at Wimbledon after celebrating his 36th birthday. In total, he has won 309 main draw matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

In the last eight, the Spaniard has a shot of revenge when he takes on Taylor Fritz who ended his 20-match winning streak earlier this year in Indian Wells. During that match, Nadal had a rib injury and he had beaten the American earlier that month in Mexico. 

“That last match (in Indian Wells) was zero because I had a stress fracture on my rib, and it was difficult to learn many things because the pain was terrible playing that match.” He said. 

As for Fritz, he believes their upcoming clash will be at a higher standard given the form both players are currently in. Fritz is currently on a eight-match winning streak after recently claiming the Eastbourne Open title. 

“It’s going to be a lot different match obviously. Indian Wells was kind of crazy with both of us being extremely beaten up before the final. This time I think we’ll get healthier versions of both of us, we’ll see.” Fritz previewed.

The question for nadal, is how healthy is the current version of him really is? Only time will tell. 

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