Juan Martin Del Potro: "The Davis Cup is a very important moment for our country" - UBITENNIS
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Juan Martin Del Potro: “The Davis Cup is a very important moment for our country”

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Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic will be the top stars at the next weekend’s Davis Cup Final between Croatia and Argentina at the Arena Zagreb.

 

Both Del Potro and Cilic are 28 years old. They are just five days apart. They turned pro at the same time in 2005. Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 beating Roger Federer in the final. Cilic won in New York five years later with a win over Kei Nishikori. Del Potro leads 8-2 in his 10 head-to-head matches against Cilic.

Del Potro was awarded by the ATP with the Comeback of the Year Award after an outstanding season in which he started outside the top 1000 following a persistent series of wrist injuries and finished as world number 38.

The Argentine player made his return last February with a semifinal in Delray Beach in his comeback tournament. He followed up his Delray Beach performance with a quarter final in Munich and a semifinal in Stuttgart. He beat Stan Wawrinka in the second round at Wimbledon. He made a winning return to the Davis Cup when he won the doubles match alongside Guido Pella in the quarter finals against Italy in Pesaro. At the Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro he upset Novak Djokovic in the first round and went on to reach the final where he lost to Andy Murray after a hard-fought four-hour match.

After reaching the quarter finals at the US Open last September, Del Potro took a re-match beating Murray in a five-set epic match in the Davis Cup semifinal in Glasgow. Last October the Tower of Tandil won his first title since 2014 at the ATP 250 Tournament in Stockolm.

Del Potro has won eight of his ten head-to-head matches against Cilic. He has not lost against his Croatian rival since 2011.

“I know him very good but the matches we played before do not matter because the conditions are different for me. If I have a chance on Sunday to play against him, we will see what happens, but first we will think about Friday. It will be a great experience if we do well. We are thinking about the preparation and trying to focus. It’s a very special moment for us and we are very positive. The Davis Cup is very important for our country. We are looking forward to having a good weekend and playing good tennis. The Davis Cup creates an amazing atmosphere around the world. Our fans will come to Croatia to support us. We love to represent our country around the world”, said Del Potro during the pre-event press conference.

Argentina will be bidding to win their first ever Davis Cup in history after finishing runner-up four times in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

“We are here to live the experience, to live the tie in the moment. We will do our best. That is all we can do. We have a desire to do well, to represent our country well. The playing conditions are good for both teams. We expect to see very good matches throughout the weekend”, said Argentina’s Davis Cup captain Daniel Orsanic at the press conference held on Tuesday in Zagreb.

Cilic had a slow start to his 2016 season reaching the third round at the Australian Open last January. He reached his first final of the year in Marseille last February, but he finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios. He went on to reach the quarter finals at Indian Wells and the final in Geneva. On grass the world number 6 reached the semifinals at Queen’s and the quarter final at Wimbledon, where he lost to Roger Federer in a five-set epic match after leading by two sets to love. He reached the Round of 16 at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro before winning his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati with a win in the final over Andy Murray. Cilic has enjoyed a solid autumn season. He qualified for the semifinals in Tokyo before clinching his second title of the year in Basel and reaching the semifinals in Paris Bercy. He secured his spot for the ATP FInals in London for the second time in his career. At the O2 Arena he won his only match against Kei Nishikori in the final round-robin match but it was not enough to reach the semifinals.

In the Davis Cup first round match against Belgium Cilic clinched a straight-set win over Kimmer Coppejans but lost to David Goffin. Borna Coric beat Coppejans to earn Croatia the decisive 3-2 point sending his country to the quarter finals.

At last July’s quarter final match against the USA in Portland, Cilic lost against Jack Sock in five sets after leading by two sets to love. The US led 2-0 after the first day following John Isner’s win over Borna Coric. Cilic and Ivan Dodig kept the Croatian hopes alive with a four-set win over Mike and Bob Bryan in the doubles. In the fourth match Cilic beat Isner 11-9 in the first-set tie-break before winning the next two sets. Coric won the decisive fifth rubber match for the second time in 2016 by beating Sock in four sets to send Croatia into the semifinals.

In the semifinal against France in Zadar Cilic beat Lukas Pouille in four sets before winning the doubles match with his teammate Dodig against Wimbledon doubles champions Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Cilic beat Richard Gasquet to win his third match sending Croatia to its first Davis Cup final in eleven years.

Should Cilic win his two singles matches next weekend, he could equal Ivan Ljubicic as the most successful Croatian player in this competition with 23 singles match wins. Cilic has clinched  9 wins in his past 11 Davis Cup matches.

“It was a huge achievement for our team, winning in 2005. Ivan Ljubicic had n amazing year, winning 11 singles matches, plus with Mario Ancic winning too. We had a great team for years afterwards. Me and Ivo Karlovic also played really well and Mario was in and out with his injuries and we still made it to the semis in 2009. In the last few years the new team has come up. Borna Coric came on the team, Ivan Dodig is playing really good in the doubles in the last four and five years. Having Ivo back in the team is also a big one too. We have had a tough draw from the beginning, having the first two matches away, so it’s just amazing to be in the final and we hope that we can continue with this good run”, said Cilic.

Ivo Karlovic will make his Davis Cup come-back after four years of absence. The Croatian giant, who played his last Davis Cup match against Argentina in 2012, has ended the year in the top-20. He started the year with first round exits in eight of the first nine tournaments, but bounced back last April by reaching the semifinals in Istanbul. He went on to reach the semifinals in s’Hertogenbosch before winning a title in Newport. During the summer he reached the final in Washington, won in Los Cabos and got through to the fourth round at the US Open.  He ended the season with a semifinal in Vienna.

Karlovic has a win-loss record of 9-8 singles matches in the Davis Cup. He would become the oldest player in 96 years to play a singles match in the Davis Cup match since 43-year-old Norman Brookes in 1920.

Croatia is bidding to win its second Davis Cup eleven years after Ivan Ljubicic led his team to the first triumph in history for his country against Slovakia.

Argentina leads 3-0 in the previous three Davis Cup clashes against Croatia.

“Of course it’s huge for us. Being from such a small country, we have a chance to win the Davis Cup. It’s a privilege and we are motivated for it. We know how big it is. You can already see all the interest around this tie. It’s as big as it gets. We are playing at home, we have a chance to win. It’s a great occasion for this generation”, said Croatian Davis Cup captain Zelijko Krajan.

 

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown returns in 2023

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown plans to return in 2023. The tennis league was founded by coach Patrick Mouratoglou in 2020 when the ATP and the WTA Tours were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The UTS announced that it will hold exhibition matches in July, September, November and December in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

The league introduces a series of innovative rules, including four 8-minute quarters, no second serves, relaxed code of conduct, sudden death tie-breaks, bonus cards and mid-match interviews with players, player nicknames. The goal is to attract a larger and younger tennis fanbase. 

The first edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown was held without spectators in Southern France in June 2020 to give players the chance to play matches when the ATP and WTA tournaments were not held during the covid-19 pandemic. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Felix Auger Aliassime, Danil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem highlighted the inaugural edition. 

Patrick Mouratoglou: “I cannot give too much away, but the roster will be impressive. Our first approach with Ultimate Tennis Showdown was to validate the proof of concept. Then in 2022 we raised capital to run the events in front of a real crowd”.

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Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jack Draper are nominated in three categories for the 2022 ATP Awards

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The ATP has announced the Awards Nominees for the 2022 season for five categories: Comeback Player of the Year, the Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanships Award and Coach of the Year. 

 

Carlos Alcaraz and his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero have received a total of three nominations. Alcaraz has been nominated for the Most Improved Player of the Year alongside Maxime Cressy, Jack Draper and Holger Rune. This award will be given to the player who reached a significantly higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and who showed an improved level of performance through the year. 

Alcaraz is the youngest and first teenage player in ATP Rankings history since 1973, rising to top spot at the age of 19 after his US Open title after ending the 2021 season at world number 32. He beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 US Open final, becoming the youngest Grand Slam men’s champion since Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open, and the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990. 

Former world number 1 junior player Holger Rune broke into top 100 in January 2022 and ended the season in the top 10 after winning his first Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy. 

French-born American born Maxime Cressy broke into Top 100 in January 2022 and achieved a career-high of world number 31 in August 2022. 

Jack Draper and Holger Rune have been nominated in both the Most Improved Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year categories.

Draper started the 2022 season outside the top 200 and broke into the top 50 reaching world number 45 last October. During the 2022 season Draper reached his first ATP Tour semifinal in Eastbourne as wild card. He earned the biggest win of his career over world number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to reaching the quarter final at the Montreal Masters 1000 as qualifier and beat Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the US Open third round. 

Alcaraz has also been nominated for the Stefan Sportsmanship Award for the first year alongside Felix Auger Aliassime, Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe. The player, who conducted himself at the highest level of professionalism and integrity, who competed with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off-court activities.

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are are Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka and Wu Yibing. The player who has overcome serious injury in re-establishing himself as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

Coric beat world number 3 Rafael Nadal as world number 152 en route to his title in Cincinnati, becoming the lowest-ranked champion in Masters 1000 series history. 

Thiem fell out of top 300 last June after losing to Hugo Dellien at Roland Garros, but he returned to good form last autumn when he reached the semifinals at the 2022 European Open after beating Hubert Hurkacz. The Austrian player beat Tommy Paul in a tight three-set match with two tie-breaks after saving two match points. 

Wawrinka returned to his best form last October, when he beat world number 3 Casper Ruud and Brandon Nakashima at the Swiss Open in Basel, climbing 15 positions up to the top 150 in the ATP Ranking. 

Wu Yibing did not play from March 2019 to January 2022 due to injuries, rising from 1869 in March 2022 to career-high number 173 in August 2022 after winning titles at Orange Park, Orlando Challenger, Rome, USA Challenger and Indianapolis Challenger. 

The candidates for the the Newcomer of the Year are Holger Rune, Jack Draper, Jiri Lehecka, Ben Shelton, Chun-Hsin Tseng. The Newcomer of the Year is the Next Gen player who broke into the top 100 for the first time in 2022. 

Lehecka broke into the top 100 in February 2022 before reaching his career-high of world number 59 in August 2022 and qualified for the Intesa San Paolo Next Gen Finals. The Czech player world number 12 Denis Shapovalov for his first ATP Tour Main Draw win en route to reaching the semifinal at the ATP 500 tournament in Rotterdam as a qualifier. 

Shelton achieved his career-high of world number 165 at the age of 19 last August, becoming the third highest-ranked teenager behind Alcaraz and Rune. He beat world number 5 Casper Ruud to reach the third round in Cincinnati in his Masters 1000 debut, becoming the youngest US player to beat a top 5 opponent since Andy Roddick at Montreal in 2001. 

Chun-Hsin Tseng broke into top 100 last June and reached a career-high of world number 83 last August. He qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. 

The nominees for the Coach of the Year Award are Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz), Frederic Fontang (Felix Auger Aliassime), Goran Ivanisevic (Novak Djokovic), Michael Russell (Taylor Fritz) and Christian Ruud (Casper Ruud). 

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Novak Djokovic starts the 2023 season in Adelaide

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Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 season in Adelaide. Djokovic ended the 2022 season with five titles at Rome Masters 1000, Wimbedon, Astana, Tel Aviv and at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. 

 

Djokovic will also play in the exhibition tournament “World Tennis League) in Dubai from 19 to 24 December, where the Serbian player will team up with Grigor Dimitrov, Aryna Sabalenka and Paula Badosa for the Falcons team. 

In the first week of January Djokovic will warm up for the Australian Open at the ATP 250 tournament in Adelaide from 2 to 8 January. The 21-time Grand Slam champion won nine Australian Open titles in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021 but he was not able to play in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season last January due to his Covid vaccination status. 

Djokovic joins a star-studded field that already features 2021 US Open champion Danil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and two-time Olympic champion Andy Murray.

Murray will play for the first time in his career in Adelaide. 

“I will be starting the year in Australia, which I always really enjoy. Playing at the Adelaide International for the first time is something I am looking forward to”, said Murray. 

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