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The Kooyong Classic gets underway

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Feliciano Lopez (foto FABRIZIO MACCANI)

A clear indicator that the season’s first Gland Slam is just around the corner is the fact that the Kooyong Classic is underway. This event, which first took place in 1988 when the Australian Open moved from the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club to Melbourne Park, serves as the perfect preparation for the inaugural Slam as all players are assured three top-quality encounters.

 

Past champions include Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and, more recently, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and defending champion, Fernando Verdasco. The 28th edition got underway today, with a mix of rising stars and established veterans taking part.

The first match on court was an absolute belter between Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Simon. The Spaniard  came out on top an incident-filled battle 6-7, 6-4, 11-9. The Spaniard was figthing jet-lag after arriving just in time from Doha, where he picked up the doubles crown alongside Marc Lopez, and the Frenchman was hampered by an abdominal injury which resulted in medical attention. According to Simon’s camp this injury is the consequence of a shoulder injury from back in September which has forced him to alter his service action and therefore strain his abdominal muscles.

“Besides this problem I’m fine. I hope to get this better and play at the Australian Open”, said Simon. With his victory Lopez advances to the next round, whereas Simon goes on to a play-off with the other first round losers. “I have big jet lag in my body right now. I’m looking forward to playing better on Friday in my second match. I’ve always said this is the best preparation for the Open. The courts and conditions are the same, even the wind is there”, stated Feliciano Lopez following his win.

Next on court was a battle of two players who have seen better days. Nicolas Almagro, still struggling to rediscover his finest form which took him into the top ten before a foot injury, squared off with the talented Paul-Henri Mathieu, who is also in the final straight of his career. The Spaniard, who was surprised by Ante Pavic in the first round of Chennai, got a confidence-boosting 7-5, 6-3 win. More importantly for Almagro’s morale, he rallied back from a 3-5 deficit in the opening set to clinch it.

“I played well, I feel good about my tennis. I’m ready to play in my 11th Australian Open. I’m ready to fight, I’m healthy and I’m over the last two tough years”, claimed an upbeat Almagro.

The last clash pitted together two of the game’s rising starts: Omar Jasika and Hyeon Chung. Jasika, just 18, is part of a new wave of exciting Australian players and will try to make the most of a wildcard at his home Slam next week. Unfortunately for the Melbourne player he was no match for a player who seems like he is no longer a promise but a reality. Chung, already ranked 51 at the tender age of 19, put the Aussie to the sword with a 6-4, 6-3 win and got sweet revenge over Jasika: “I lost to him six months ago so it was good to avenge him this time”.

Jasika will get another chance to pit his tennis against a first class opponent tomorrow when he faces Kei Nishikori. The other three matches will also be a good chance to see some rising stars and gauge the form of more established players as Alex Zverev faces Kyle Edmund, Marcos Baghdatis takes on Pablo Carreño, who took a set off Nadal in Doha, and finally Hopman Cup hero Nick Kyrgios will try to keep up his hot form when he takes on Davis Cup finalist David Goffin.

ATP

‘Why Don’t You Like Him?’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas Quizzed Over Rivalry With Fellow Player

It can be safe to say that these two players will not be teaming up to play in the doubles any time soon.

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LONDON: ‘We would not go to dinner together’ was a phrase used by Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas when addressing his rivalry with Daniil Medvedev on Monday.

 

The 21-year-old scored his first win over the Russian on his sixth attempt. A historic occasion for Tsitsipas, who is the first Greek to qualify for the ATP Finals. However, the talk after wasn’t so much about the match. It was about his somewhat fiery relationship with Medvedev that is highlighted by one particular incident.

During the 2018 Miami Open, the umpire had to step in after the conclusion of their match. Both were frustrated with each other for taking long toilet breaks. Medvedev took his at the end of the second set and Tsitsipas took his midway through the decider. On top of that, there was also a dispute over a net point. At the end of their match, Medvedev called his rival ‘a small kid who doesn’t know how to fight.’

“I did get pissed and said what I said, which I do regret, but at the time I was very frustrated that things happened this way.” Tsitsipas recounted.
“I completely forgot about the past. I mean, our chemistry definitely isn’t the best that you can find on the tour. It just happens with people that it’s not that you can just like everyone.”

Since then there has been little improvement in relations. During the Shanghai Masters in October, Tsitsipas took a swipe at what he described as a ‘boring’ style of play from his opponent. Prompting another jibe from Medvedev.

Based on the comments, it appears that neither players are fond of each other. But can it be described as hatred between the two? If you ask Tsitsipas, his answer is a resounding no.

“It’s not that I hate him. I guess as he said, we will not go to dinner together, so…” The Greek explained.
“I respect him, for sure. That’s because he had a long way to come where he is right now. He’s a Grand Slam finalist, so that takes a lot of respect from me to him.”

Despite the diplomatic response, there is no doubt that the camp of the world No.6 is delighted with his latest victory in what had been a one-sided rivalry until now.

“It means more than extra. It’s a victory that I craved for a long time now, and it’s great that I came in at this moment.” Tsitsipas concludes.
“He’s a tough player. He’s a very difficult player to face. He’s not giving you an easy time when you’re out on the court. So it definitely means a lot.”

It is not impossible that the two could face each other again later this week if they both reach the final. Although that will be a tough task given both Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev are also in their group.

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ATP

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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(VIDEO) Thiem Shocks Federer on Opening Day at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals

A video recap from the O2 Arena in London. Djokovic loses just three games to Berrettini but it’s Thiem’s straight-set win to Federer that makes the headlines

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Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals (photo Roberto Zanettin)

Chief Editor Ubaldo Scanagatta comments on the first two singles matches of the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals. Novak Djokovic started his quest for his record-tying sixth ATP Finals title with a comprehensive victory over Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini. Dominic Thiem advance to 3-0 in the year against Roger Federer who is not faced with the prospect of defeating Berrettini and Djokovic to advance to the semifinals.

 

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