Rafael Nadal disrupts Andy Murray’s year-end bid in London - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal disrupts Andy Murray’s year-end bid in London

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Rafael Nadal has delayed Andy Murray’s bid to finish the year at number 2 in the world following a comprehensive 6-4, 6-1, win at the ATP Finals.

Both men have started their campaign in the year-end tournament with convincing wins on Monday. Murray defeated Davis Ferrer in straight sets (6-4, 6-4), winning 80% of his first service points. Meanwhile Nadal eased his way past an error-stricken Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-2.

Coming into the match Murray was one win away from securing his position of No.2 in the ATP year-end rankings for the first time in his career. Despite the potential milestone looming, Nadal appeared the sharpest as he at times produced shots which was reminiscent of his very best tennis.

The match got underway with a duo of breaks of service. Murray was the first to pounce after back-to-back unforced errors from Nadal gave him two break points before he took the game with a smash at the net. The early lead was short-lived as Nadal responded immediately in the following game with the help of some errors from Murray’s racket. After the less than convincing start to the match, the 9-time French Open champion was the first to hold his serve in the match. As proceedings progressed so did the quality of the tennis with some thrilling rallies at the packed O2 Arena.

During the early stages of the match, Murray performed an unusual task by cutting a piece of his hair during one of his change overs, triggering a humorous response on Twitter.

Nadal’s next attack occurred in the seventh game when he earned himself a double break point due to a wide shot from Murray which sailed outside of the court. Despite the adversity faced by Murray during the game he clawed his way back to deuce. Nadal then had another chance to break but failed to convert, as the home favorite held his nerve to level at 3-3. Nadal also had a golden chance to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the set, but once again failed as Murray closed out his lengthy service game after a long forehand shot from Nadal.

After valiantly surviving the pressure applied from his Spanish rival, Murray succumbed at the worst possible moment. A spectacular 89 mph forehand winner from Nadal gave him a triple chance to win the opening set. After trying so hard throughout the opening set, Nadal finally converted with his 7th breakpoint in the match to win the first set after 58 minutes on the court, toning down the animated British crowd.

Nadal’s momentum continued in the second set as he held serve with ease against the increasingly frustrated world No.2. The approach from the Spaniard resulted in catastrophic decline in Murray’s rhythm. Two double faults followed by a backhand error flying beyond the baseline enabled Nadal to extend his dominance in the match to a set and a break up. Suddenly the high quality exchanged between both players disappeared as Nadal bossed Murray around the court. The five-game streak in Nadal’s favor was finally ended as Murray got himself onto the scoreboard in the second set, trailing 1-3. Despite ending Nadal’s streak, there was no stopping the world no.5 as another costly error from the Brit enabled him to break for a chance to serve for the match at 5-1. A curling serve down the line forced Murray to return it out, Giving Nadal his first match point. He only required one as he hit a cross-court shot halfway up the court to grab the win.

It is the 16th time that Nadal has defeated Murray since 2007. Following his win, Nadal labelled the victory as one of the best in his season.

“For me, it’s an important day. It is one of my best victories of the season without any doubt”. He told the BBC.

Nadal could qualify for the semifinals of the tournament tonight, depending on the outcome of the evening match between Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer. If Ferrer defeats Wawrinka or Wawrinka wins in three sets, he will qualify.

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Focus

Summer Success Comes At A Cost For Daniil Mdvedev In London

The 23-year-old serves as a reminder that a rapid rise in sport also come with consequences.

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LONDON: Coming into this year’s ATP Finals, it could be argued that there has been one stand out player on the tour and he isn’t a member of the Big Three.

 

Daniil Medvedev has enjoyed a sensational rise over the past six months to become one of the most formidable players in the sport. After Wimbledon, he reached the final of six consecutive events. Claiming Masters titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, as well as winning the St. Petersburg Open. Overall, he has won 59 matches out of 78 played so far this year. More than anybody else on the ATP Tour. There is no doubt he has blossomed but has he peaked too early for the season-ending event?

Taking on Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening match on Monday, the Russian was edged out in two tightly contested sets. Although he was unable to generate a single break point opportunity. Something that has only happened to him once before this season, which was when he played Nick Kyrgios. Before their latest clash, he lead the Greek 5-0 in their head-to-head.

“I think the general energy was not the way I wanted. I’m not talking only about physical. Mentally I was missing something.” Medvedev explained during his press conference.
“I didn’t have good enough energy to get the win today.” He added.

Since his Shanghai victory on October 16th, Medvedev has been unable to make any further dents on the tour. After missing two tournaments, he lost his opening match at the Paris Masters to Jeremy Chardy.

A slump like this was always inevitable given his run in recent weeks. Fortunately, there are no injury issues for the 23-year-old to worry about. On the other hand, he is struggling to find a way to solve his mental demons. Could it be tiredness after a long season or is it something more significant?

“I decided to take a break from Moscow in the end because I knew that my body needs rest if I don’t want to get injured,” Medvedev stated.
“It’s something more mental. I lost the momentum a little bit, but I will try my best to get it back.”

Unfortunately, time is not on his side this week at the ATP Finals. After a consequence of his loss, he faces two critical matches against defending champion Alexander Zverev and world No.1 Rafael Nadal. He may have to win both of those matches to qualify for the semi-final stage depending on how his rivals perform.

“I should say I’m quite confident that at one moment I will get it back. The other question is is it going to be this tournament or the next one?” The world No.4 concluded.

Medvedev is the first Russian player to feature in the end-of-season showdown since Nicolay Davydenko back in 2009.

Evene when his London journey comes to an end, there will be no rest for Medvedev. Next week he will lead his country in the revamped Davis Cup finals.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Edges Medvedev To Clinch Historic Win At ATP Finals

After five consecutive losses on the tour, the 21-year-old has finally got the better of his rival.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has become the first Greek player to record a win at the ATP Finals after battling his way past nemesis Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-4, at The O2 Arena on monday.  

Heading into the match, it was Medvedev who had all the momentum against his rival. Besides enjoying a stellar second half of the season, he also boasted a 5-0 head-to-head record against his opponent. Who is the youngest player in history to defeat all members of the illustrious Big Three. However, Tsitsipas managed to turn his fortunes around in London with the help of 26 winners as he dropped just five points behind his first serve without facing a single break point.

 

“It was one of the toughest and one of the most important victories of my career so far.” Tsitsipas commented on his latest win.
“I gave myself a big boost today. I kept fighting and believing. Everything worked pretty well.”

It has been 12 years since two players making their debut at the ATP Finals squared off against each other. 21-year-old Tsitsipas is Greece’s first-ever representative in the 49-year-old competition. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Medvedev is flying the Russian flag on the tenth anniversary of compatriots Nikolay Davydenko’s triumph.

With both players standing firm behind their serves, there was little to distinguish between them throughout the opener. After 10 games of action, only one break point occurred, which was saved by Medvedev in his opening service game. Eventually, it would be a roller-coaster tiebreaker that would separate the two. Twice Tsitsipas generated a mini-break before his rival fought back once again. Nevertheless, the Greek continued to attack en route to snatching the lead. Hitting a perfectly placed volley to claim his first set point, which was converted with the help of a Medvedev forehand crashing into the net.

The tussle continued into the second frame. Tsitsipas’ focus remained unchanged despite being slammed with a time violation and suffering a nasty on-court slip early on. Continuing to threaten, the world No.6 had two chances to break for a set and 4-3 lead, but Medvedev refused to buckle. However, two games later Tsitsipas struck again. Two consecutive Medvedev errors gifted another break to the Greek and a golden opportunity to serve the match out. A task he passed with flying colors as he hit a winning smash on his first match point.

“That last game was one of the toughest I have played until now.” He stated. “It’s not easy coming in knowing you have lost five times before (to Medvedev) but I made a deal with myself to keep trying until I do it (win).”

Tsitsipas has now won 51 matches on the tour this season. The joint-third highest along with Rafael Nadal, who he will play later in the week, and Roger Federer. Medvedev still leads with 59 victories.

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Davis Cup

Davis Cup: Croatia Replaces Captain Just Days Before The Finals

Zeljko Krajan is fired by the Croatian Federation because of contrasts with players. His replacement will be Franko Skugor. Ivo Karlovic was selected to replace Cilic but declined to play a Challenger in Houston

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Croatian Davis Cup captain Zeljko Krajan - 2018 Davis Cup Final (photo Gianni Ciaccia - Sportvision)

The Croatian Tennis Federation has issued a press release informing that Zeljko Krajan is no longer the Davis Cup captain for the Croatian team. Less than a week before the BNP Paribas Davis Cup Finals at the Caja Magica in Madrid, Krajan’s departure is described as a mutual decision by the official press release, but according to Croatian press agency Hina the former captain categorically denied this version of the events and confirmed he unwillingly had to acknowledge his dismissal. Krajan did not deny there had been disputes between himself and the Federation, but he thought everything had been settled: “I was ready for the press conference on Monday and the departure to Madrid on Tuesday” he said.

 

During the press conference in Zagreb on Monday, instead, the Croatian Tennis Federation named 32-year-old Franko Skugor as the new captain of the Croatian team who will lead the squad in Madrid next week: “These are not the ideal conditions for the team, given the situation, but it has been decided I will lead the team” said Skugor to the press. The President of the Tennis Federation Nikolina Babic explained their decision to replace the captain and confirmed the players agreed with this course of action: “Krajan had lost credibility among the players. We spoke to him and realized it would be better if he didn’t come to Madrid”.

This ends a tumultuous week for Croatian tennis: first there was Marin Cilic’s withdrawal from the team, then the controversial nomination of 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic as his replacement, despite his commitment to play the Houston Challenger next week to boost his chances for a Top 100 year-end ranking (he is currently n. 106) and a direct entry into the 2020 Australian Open singles main draw.

Some media outlets in Zagreb claiming to have access to inside sources are suggesting there are also financial issues behind the events of this last week: it is believed that some players did not like the idea of late-comer Ivo Karlovic receiving an equal share of the Davis Cup prize money. Furthermore, it is highlighted how the decision to remove Krajan from his post came after a meeting that included also the players, some of whom did not have a good relationship with Krajan: Borna Coric refused to play in Davis Cup in 2017 after being excluded from the Final in 2016 and Mate Pavic was kept out of the team on many occasions despite being one of the best doubles players in the world.

In order to replace Marin Cilic, the new Croatian captain nominated both Borna Gojo (ATP n. 279) and Nino Serdarusic (ATP n. 283) as singles players.

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