Stan Wawrinka through to Chennai semi-finals after win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - UBITENNIS
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Stan Wawrinka through to Chennai semi-finals after win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez

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Top seed Stan Wawrinka has looked good so far this week in Chennai (Image Via Zeenews.India.com)

Stan Wawrinka passed his biggest test so far of 2016, as he defeated fifth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 6-4 in the Chennai quarter-finals. The Two-time Grand Slam and current defending champion needed seventy-eight minutes to earn his place in the last four.

 

The Swiss number four, who had three defeats to Garcia-Lopez in nine previous meetings, extended his current winning run over the Spaniard to three in a row. Garcia-Lopez is actually the most recent man to defeat Wawrinka at Roland Garros, having shocked the World No.4 in the first-round in 2014. Wawrinka would return to win the event in 2015. There were no such complications today though, as Wawrinka broke three times across the two sets, and limited Garcia-Lopez to just the one break.

Wawrinka’s opponent for the semi-finals has already been determined in the form of unpredictable Frenchman Benoit Paire. The third seed ended the surprise career-best run of Thomas Fabbiano at the quarter-final stage 6-4, 7-5. Paire enjoyed a stunning 2015, moving up from a ranking outside the Top 130, to a current career-high of No.19.

The other half of the draw sees Briton Aljaz Bedene continue to defend the runner-up ranking points he earned last year in Chennai. His 2016 quarter-final got off to a poor start, dropping the first on a tiebreak to local wildcard Ramkumar Ramanthan, but eventually recovered to win 6-7, 6-6, 6-3 . Despite dropping the opening set, Bedene did not have his serve broken. He atoned for that loss by breaking once apiece in the final two sets to progress.

There is a chance of a repeat of last year’s semi-final match-up for Bedene, as he awaits the winner of the match between Borna Coric and Roberto Baustista-Agut. The Briton defeated Baustista-Agut in last year’s semi-final, before losing to top seed Stan Wawrinka in the final.

 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Triumphs In Thriller To Become Youngest ATP Finals Champion In 18 Years

The Greek is the first ever player from his country to win the season-ending tournament.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has won the biggest title of his career after staging a dramatic comeback against Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals title on Sunday. 

 

The 21-year-old, who was making his debut in the event this year, weathered the storm against his at times tentative rival to prevail 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4), in what was a marathon encounter. Becoming the eighth youngest champion of all time and the youngest since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2001. In total, he hit 34 winners to 16 unforced errors as he paid tribute to the crowd after.

“It’s unbelievable having such an army behind me. They give me so much energy and belief that I can achieve the things I want to achieve.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“They motivate me and give me so much energy in general. I just love that.”

For only the eighth time since the birth of the tournament in 1970, both players were making their debut in the title match of the end-of-season extravaganza. Tsitsipas, who is the first Greek to ever play the event, scored triumphs over Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer, as well as Daniil Medvedev earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Thiem secured his place with the help of two wins over members of the big three (Novak Djokovic and Federer), as well as knocking Zverev out of the tournament.

Heading into the London showdown, both players have been solid behind their serve. In their four previous matches, Thiem has only been broken six times and Tsitsipas three. Continuing that trend, the duo matched each other game-by-game throughout the opener. Thiem had three chances to break Tsitsipas in two different service games, but he wasn’t able to due to some impressive play from the Greek. Including a risky decision to hit a second serve and volley to save one of those breaks. Tsitsipas also had two separate chances to break during the opening set.

With little to distinguish between them, it would be one shot that proved critical to the outcome of the tiebreak. Tied at 6-6, a Tsitsipas backhand shank handed his rival the chance to serve for the lead. Something he achieved with the help of a 129 mph serve down the line which drew an error from across the court.

After narrowingly losing out on the chance to lead, Tsitsipas hit back emphatically against the increasingly wilting Austrian. Thiem has been struggling with flu symptoms throughout the week. An elevation in his intensity saw him destroy the momentum generated by the world No.5. Within just 14 minutes, he went from losing the first set to opening up a 4-0 stronghold in the second. It wasn’t long before the lightning-fast comeback was sealed by Tsitsipas, who committed only one unforced error in eight games played.

“I have no clue how I managed to play so well in the second set. I think my mind was at ease and I wasn’t thinking about much.” Tsitsipas commented on his comeback. “This lead to a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice. I didn’t give him many options and I think it was an excellent set.”

A brief half to proceedings occurred when Thiem exit the court for a comfort break. However, when he returned Tsitsipas continued to attack his opponent on the court. Three games into the decider a Thiem backhand crashing into the net rewarded him another break and the lead for the first time. Even a stumble where it looked like he hurt his knee failed to derail the Next Gen star.

However, there would be another twist to the match. A Thiem revival saw him hit back to draw level at 3-3. Prompting loud cheers from the crowd in the 18,500 capacity arena. For only the fourth time in history, the winner of the ATP Finals would be decided by a final tiebreaker. Both players had their chances, but it would be Tsitsipas who would edge his way to victory. Causing heartbreak for Thiem after their gut-busting encounter that lasted just over two-and-a-half hours.

“It was a bit frustrating for me to be playing with nerves in such a big event. I was a break-up, couldn’t manage to hold it. Things were decided in the tiebreak and I’m so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.” The new champion concluded.

There is some consolation for Thiem. Following his run this week, he will rise to fourth in the ATP rankings. The highest year-end position of his career to date.

“It was an unbelievable match. Bravo Stefanos. I think we are playing the most mentally brutal sport existing.” Said Thiem
“It was so close and we were fighting 100% in the end. But that how it is in tennis.’
“You really deserve it (the title). You’re an amazing player and I really hope we are going to have some great finals in the future as well.”

It would be another Stefan in the shape of Stefan Edberg who would present the rising star his trophy. Capping off what has been a breakthrough 12 months since he won the Next Gen Finals in Milan.

Tsitsipas exits the tournament with total prize money earnings of $2,256,000 for his week in London, as well as 1300 ranking points.

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ATP Finals 2019 Day 8 Preview: Thiem And Tsitsipas To Fight For Glory

Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas will play for the biggest title of their careers.

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A year ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas was the champion at the ATP Next Gen Finals.  He carried that momentum into 2019 by upsetting Roger Federer at the Australian Open and advancing to the semifinals.  By May, he had already won two 250-level titles this year. However, a heartbreaking loss to Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros, in a match that lasted over five hours, sidetracked his season.  He would not win another match at a Major the rest of this year. But Stefanos has emotionally recovered and is now 15-5 in his last 20 matches, and hasn’t lost to a player outside the top five in his last five events.  As per Greg Sharko, he’s now the youngest player in the championship match of the ATP Finals since Jim Courier 28 years ago.

 

Prior to last season, Dominic Thiem had a career losing record in the fall months on hard courts.  He would peak during the clay season, and struggle to win matches after the US Open. But since last year, he’s won four hard court titles, three of which were during September or October.  And earlier this year, with new coach Nicolas Massu joining his team, he prevailed at the Masters 1,000 hard court event in Indian Wells. This is his fourth appearance at the ATP Finals, though he’d never advanced out of round robin play before this year.  But he defeated both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic earlier this week, and has already secured a career-high year-end ranking of No.4 in the world regardless of today’s result.

Dominic Thiem (5) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)

This is a rare occasion where no member of “The Big Three” are present in a championship final at a Major or the ATP Finals.  As Tennis Channel highlighted, in the 50 such tournaments over the past decade, this is only the fourth final that does not include Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic.

This will be the seventh meeting between Thiem and Tsitsipas, all of which have taken place over the last two seasons. Dominic owns a 4-2 record, and is 3-1 on hard courts.  Stefanos’ only hard court victory came at the 2018 Rogers Cup, while Thiem claimed their last matchup in the final of Beijing last month. These two have clearly been the best players over the last week, as they both topped their round robin groups.  They’ve both played aggressive tennis, saved some crucial break points, and overcome physical ailments. Tsitsipas had an injection in his foot earlier this week, while Thiem has been battling cold symptoms over the last few days.

If he’s feeling close to 100%, Dominic should be the fresher of the two players.  He had a day off before the semifinals while Stefanos did not, and Tsitsipas had a near three-hour battle with Nadal on Friday. But it feels as if Thiem may have peaked earlier this week. And it’s worth noting he was gifted a few costly errors at critical times by Sascha Zverev yesterday. Meanwhile Tsitsipas showed just how much confidence he’s currently playing with in saving 11 of 12 break points yesterday against Federer.

In what should be a tight battle, I favor Tsitsipas to rely on his grit and become the new champion.

Other Notable Matches on Day 8:

In the men’s doubles championship match, it’s Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus (5), who saved match points in yesterday’s semifinal against the top seeds, vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (7), who were finalists here a year ago and have not dropped a set on their current eight-match win streak.

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Big Three Dominance In Grand Slams Will End In 2020, Says Top Players

Could next year see a huge change in men’s tennis?

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LONDON: Two players participating in this year’s ATP Finals believe 2020 will be the changing of the guard in grand slam tennis.

 

World No.7 Alexander Zverev has said he hopes to be among those to end the reign of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer. Who has won the last 12 big tournaments between them. The trio also occupies the year-end top three for the third season in a row. However only one of them, 38-year-old Federer, progressed to the semifinals of the season-ending tournament this week. Federer lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday.

“I think next year will bring a new Grand Slam champion. We’ll see who that will be because I think the young guys are playing incredible tennis.” Said Zverev.
“It can be Daniil (Medvedev), it can be Stefanos (Tsitsipas), it can be Dominic (Thiem). I’m in the mix, as well, I hope. We’ll see what next year brings. But I think for the young guys, it’s going to be an exciting year.”

Zverev, who has won three Masters 1000 trophies, is yet to live up to expectations when it comes to the biggest tournaments of the men’s tour. His best grand slam results occur on the clay at the French Open, where he is a two-time quarter-finalist. Elsewhere in 2019, he has also reached the last 16 at the Australian Open and the US Open.

Dominic Thiem is one of only two active players under the age of 30 to have won a set in a grand slam final. The other being Daniil Medvedev. He is a two-time runner-up at Roland Garros to the king of clay Nadal.

“I still think so, that we see a new Grand Slam champion next year,” Thiem predicts. “I mean, it’s not 100% sure, of course, because the Big 3 are going to be still the favorites, but I think that in one or two events, younger players will make a breakthrough.”
“And me, I really hope that I can continue my great level of tennis in 2020, and now I have the feeling that my game is really moving in the right direction.”

Thiem hopes that his title match against Tsitsipas at the ATP Finals will place him in a prime position ahead of the Australian Open next year. He has previously described the event as the ‘the most difficult to win’ due to the caliber of those taking part.

The talk of a new generation taking over the likes of Federer and Co appears to be an annual conversation. The same was said last year when Zverev finished the season inside the world’s top four. Although the Big Three can’t keep going forever.

“We are not getting any younger. So chances increase not because we are getting worse but because they are getting better, I believe.” Said Federer.

The last player under the age of 25 to win a grand slam title was Andy Murray at the 2012 US Open.

2019 ATP Finals qualifiers and their best grand slam results

Ranking
Player
Age
Best Grand Slam Performance
1 Rafael Nadal 33  19 titles
2 Novak Djokovic 32 16 titles
3 Roger Federer 38 20 titles
4 Daniil Medvedev 23 2019 US Open runner-up
5 Dominic Thiem 26 two-time French Open runner-up
6 Stefanos Tsitsipas 21 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist
7 Alexander Zverev 22 two-time French Open quarter-finalist
8 Matteo Berrettini 23 2019 US Open semi-finalist

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