Preview: Andy Murray Targets Revenge In Upcoming Clash With Djokovic In London - UBITENNIS
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Preview: Andy Murray Targets Revenge In Upcoming Clash With Djokovic In London

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The final everybody wanted is happening. Top seed Andy Murray will take on Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Tour Finals with the year-end number one position also at stake.

 

Both men have reached the final undefeated after topping their groups in the round robin stages. Murray dropped just one set on route to defeating Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic in the John McEnroe Group. Meanwhile, Djokovic enjoyed a similar route with triumphs over Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem and David Goffin (who replaced Gael Monfils) in the Ivan Lendl category. In the semifinals, Murray survived a marathon three-hour and 37 minute win over Raonic. In contrast, Djokovic crushed Nishikori 6-1, 6-1.

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Andy Murray’s and Novak Djokovic’s match statistics from their first four matches at the 2016 ATP Tour Finals (source: ATP)

Sunday’s final will be the 35th meeting between the two men since 2006. Murray currently trails the head-to-head 10-24 and has lost in three out of their four meetings so far this season (Rome being the one exception). On the other hand, the Brit has been the most dominant player in recent time. Claiming four consecutive titles on route to the London tournament, Murray hasn’t lost a match since the US Open. Within the same time period, Djokovic has experienced less success and failed to reach the final at two consecutive tournaments (Shanghai and Paris).

Murray appears to be the most dominant player out of the two in recent months, but a closer look suggests another factor. Whilst triumphing in a quartet in tournaments between September and November, the Brit never faced a top 10 player. His win over Cilic earlier this week in London, was Murray’s first top-10 win since the Cincinnati Open.

“In terms of winning against Novak or beating Novak, you can only beat the players that are in front of you. I can’t do any more than that.” Said Murray. “I’ve done that this week. I’ve beat three guys in the top five in the world, which some people were not happy that I hadn’t won against the top five players (earlier). Then it will be the top two players, then top one. There’s always something that’s wrong with what you’re doing.”

Deciding who the favourite is going into the match is a tough task. Murray might be the top seed, but Djokovic has a more superior record in end-year finals. This year the Serbian is bidding to win his fourth consecutive title and sixth overall (equalling Roger Federer’s record). Furthermore, the 12-time grand slam champion has spent three hours and 24 minutes less on the court that Murray as he elevates his form in London.

“That’s all I’ve been focusing on, to be honest, really building my game, getting myself to a higher level, quality level of tennis in each match. As I progress through the tournament, that’s what’s happening.” Djokovic said about his London performance.

This year is the first time in history that the last match of the ATP Finals will decide the year-end number one ranking. Murray is hoping to become the 17th player in the history of the Emirates rankings (since 1973) to finish at the top compared to Djokovic, who is aiming to complete the task for the fifth time out of the last six years.

“I’m very honored to be part of the history.” The Serbian said. “That is something we should all be conscious of. I’m excited to go out on the court and battle.”

Born a week apart and growing up together on the tour, Djokovic described his final showdown with Murray as a ‘script from a movie.’ Both men have a high amount of respect for each other with Djokovic describing their relationship as a ‘bromance’. There is a lot to admire about both men, but only one of them will shine in Sunday’s final.

The head-to-head

Djokovic

Murray

Clay

5

1

Hard-court

19

7

Grass

0

2

Total

24

10

First set is key

It is more important for Murray to win the first set than Djokovic. In their previous encounters the Serbian is 19-0 when winning the first set compared to his opponents 10-5.

Their four previous meetings of 2016

Australian Open (hard)
Djokovic def Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3)

Madrid Masters (clay)
Djokovic def Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Rome Masters (clay)
Murray def Djokovic 6-3, 6-3

French Open (clay)
Djokovic def Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4

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Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone. This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.

“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

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Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana

Carlos Alcaraz leads a stacked field in Astana next week.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz returns to the ATP tour next week in Astana next week where he faces Danish talent Holger Rune.

 

The world number one plays his first ATP tournament since winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and becoming the youngest world number one in history.

Having qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Alcaraz will now look to build momentum over the coming weeks for the event in Turin.

First up for Alcaraz is the ATP 500 event in Astana next week where the Spaniard faces a tough opening round in the form of Danish talent Holger Rune.

The Dane reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros earlier this year but had struggled for form since then.

However Rune has reached the semi-finals in Sofia this week and is hitting form at the right time so this will be a big test for Alcaraz.

Should Alcaraz get through that test than a potential second round meeting with Stan Wawrinka could be on the cards with the Swiss wildcard facing Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

Andrey Rublev is the player that could face Alcaraz in the last eight with the eighth seed facing a qualifier in his opening round match.

Rublev is one of a number of players who are chasing the remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Also in the top half of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz with Tsitsipas facing Mikhail Kukushkin.

While Hurkacz faces Francisco Cerundolo and a potential second round match against home favourite Alexander Bublik could await in round two.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will continue his search for a surge up the rankings against Cristian Garin.

Djokovic’s potential quarter-final is Jannik Sinner who begins against tricky serve and volleyer Oscar Otte.

Daniil Medvedev is also taking part in a stacked field in Astana as he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening round match.

In the bottom quarter there is also an intriguing opening round match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Here is the full draw with play starting on Monday:

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