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Brisbane Qualifying Draw sees young prospects open season

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Gulbis is the top seed in qualifying after being ranked in the top 15 at this point last year

The ATP tennis season proper is set to start with the Brisbane Qualifying Draw. Players ranging from experienced veterans to young unknowns are to start their seasons just days after welcoming in the New Year.

The top seed represents one of the biggest falls from grace of the last year. Ernests Gulbis started 2015 ranked 13th in the world, but won just eleven main draw matches last term, resulting in his needing to qualify for the Brisbane event this year. He will face big-serving Romanian Marius Copil in the first round of qualifying.

The most intriguing match-up of qualifying is likely to be second seed Ivan Dodig against local teenager and wildcard Omar Jasika. Jasika has been touted as the next product of Australian tennis predicted to join the likes of Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, and Thanasi Kokkinakis in the Top 1o0. At 18, there is plenty of time for Jasika, and his match against former top 30 player Dodig will be a key indicator of his off-season work.

Jared Donaldson, Dennis Novikov, and Yoshihito Nishioka are other young players in action trying to make the main draw.

Full Draw:

(1) Ernests Gulbis vs Marius Copil

Lukasz Kubot vs Yoshihito Nishioka

(2) Ivan Dodig vs (WC) Omar Jasika

Pierre-Hugues Herbet vs (6) Jared Donaldson

(3) Thiemo de Bakker vs Jurgen Zopp

Tobias Kamke vs (7) Norbert Gombos

(4) Tim Smyczek vs Matt Reid

(WC) Oliver Anderson vs (8) Dennis Novikov

-Picks to proceed from qualifying in bold.

 

ATP

‘I Love Tennis Because Of Him’ – Argentine Football Sensation Praises Roger Federer

The forward for Juventus F.C. Speaks out about the 20-time Grand Slam champion as well as other topics concerning the world of tennis.

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Roger Federer is used to various public figures praising him for his record-breaking career with his latest compliment coming from a star of Argentinian football.

 

Paulo Dybala, who has played for Serie A club Juventus since 2015, says he always tries to watch tennis because of him. The 26-year-old spoke out about the Swiss Maestro during a video Q and A session with the Tennis Channel for whom he is currently an ‘athlete analyst’ for. When asked ‘who was the player that made you fall in love with the game?’ he replied with Federer.

“Well at home, we used to watch a lot of sports, the TV was always on, and the sport we watched the most was football, followed by tennis,” Dybala said. “I always had a lot of admiration and respect. I liked Roger Federer’s style… I believe that I and many people have him as a tennis reference. We try to watch his matches, he has a style and elegance that makes everyone want to be like him. I always tried to watch him play so I love tennis because of him.”

Although Federer isn’t the only tennis player to have drawn praise from Dybala, who was part of his country’s national football team for the 2018 World Cup. He also speaks about his ‘great relationship’ with Diego Schwartzman. Schwartzman recently broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time in his career after reaching the semi-finals of the French Open.

“I have a great relationship with Diego, I have known him for years,” he said. “We always talk and I am very happy with what he is achieving.’
“I text him after some of his matches to congratulate him for what he has done.”

It was at the French Open this year where Rafael Nadal won the tournament for a historic 13th time in his career after defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Dybala says that there are ‘no words’ to describe the latest achievement by the world No.2.

“Rafael Nadal won Roland Garros in a match in which he gave no chance to Novak Djokovic,” Dybala reflected. “I think it was more than well-deserved to win his 13th Roland Garros in his career. Something amazing. He matched Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slams. There are no words for this player, no words.”

Dybala is currently dating Oriana Sabatini who is the niece of 1990 US Open champion Gabriela Sabatini.

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Alexander Zverev continues his winning streak in Cologne with a three-set win over John Millman

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Alexander Zverev edged John Millman 6-0 3-6 6-3 to advance the quarter finals at the bett 1 HULKS Championships in Cologne. 

 

Zverev scored his fifth consecutive match in Cologne after winning his first title of the year at last week’s bett 1 HULKS Indoors. The German player has won 11 of his past 12 matches on hard court. 

Zverev got three breaks in a row to take a bagel win in the third set. Millman, who pushed Zverev to five sets at  last year’s Roland Garros, broke serve in the second game to win the second set 6-3. Zverev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead in the third set, as Millman hit his backhand long. Zverev faced three break points at 4-2 to hold his serve at deuce. 

“John is a someone who needs rhythm himself and against a baseliner, against a hard hitter, for me the harder you hit the ball against a hard hitter, for me you hit the ball against him the better it is for him. For me it is not easy to play slowly, so I think my game suits him quite well”, said Zverev.

Zverev set up a second round clash against Adrian Mannarino, who beat Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3 6-3. Zverev won all his three head-to-head matches against Mannarino and beat the Frenchman in four sets at this year’s US Open. 

Felix Auger Aliassime came back from one set down to beat Egor Gerasimov 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4). Gerasimov broke serve in the third game to win the first set 6-4. The second set went on serve in the first ten games to draw level to 5-5. Both players traded breaks in the 11th and 12th games to send the set to the tie-break. Auger Aliassime won the tie-break 7-2 to force the match to the third set. 

Auger Aliassime took a 4-3 lead after a streak of three consecutive breaks in the third set. Gerasimov broke serve in the tenth game to draw level to 5-5. Auger Aliassime got the first mini-break on the first point. Gerasimov broke back on the seventh pont to draw level to 4-4. Auger Aliassime earned a decisive mini-break on the ninth point to win the second tie-break 7-4. 

Jan Lennard Struff cruised past last week’s Sardinia Open Marco Cecchinato 6-3 6-1 with two breaks in each set to set up a second round match against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beat Steve Johnson 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.  Davidovich Fokina earned the first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Johnson broke straight back to draw level to 5-5. Davidovich Fokina got a double mini-break to take a 5-1 lead. Johnson pulled one mini-break back to claw his way back to 3-5. Davidovich Fokina earned his third mini-break earning three set points at 6-3. Both players traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games en route to 3-3. Davidovich Fokina reeled off the final three points thanks to a break in the eighth game and served out the win on his second match point. 

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Dan Evans On The Look Out For New Coach

The 30-year-old has come to a surprise decision to end his current coaching agreement despite achieving a career ranking high earlier this year.

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British No.1 Dan Evans is making a big change to his team after confirming that he will part ways with coach Mark Hilton at the end of the season.

 

The world No.35 reunited with Hilton just last year after also previously working with him prior to his drugs ban in 2017. Under his guidance Evans has achieved several wins over top 10 players, reached his first ever semi-final of an ATP 500 event in Dubai and peaked at a ranking best of 28th in March.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Mark for his work and efforts over the past 12 months and we are both excited for what is next for each of our respective careers,” Evans said.

Evans’ announcement came on the same day he ended his five-match losing streak on the Tour. In the first round of the European Open on Tuesday he defeated Italy’s Salvatore Caruso in three sets. Making it his first win since the US Open when he defeated Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild.

Hilton will now return to working for the British LTA. A former player himself he reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Wimbledon boys doubles championships and peaked at a ranking high of 202 on the ATP Tour in singles. His best performance at a Grand Slam occurred at Wimbledon when as a wild card he stunned Spain’s Albert Costa in the first round of the 2004 tournament. Besides Evans, he has also previously worked with the likes of Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund.

“After discussing our plans for 2021, Dan and I have made the mutual decision to part ways at the end of November,” Hilton said in a statement.
“Both of us are very proud of our collaboration this year, helping Dan achieve a career-high ranking of number 28, seven wins over top-20 players and reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final.
“I’m looking forward to taking the experience I have gained over the last three years at the highest levels of the ATP Tour and re-investing that back into the LTA’s Performance Team for the benefit of our British players and coaches.”

It is unclear as to who may step in as Evans’ next coach. The Brit will return to action on Wednesday when he plays Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

Evans’ win-loss for 2020 currently stands at 14-11 on the ATP Tour.

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