Dimitrov to battle Goffin for ATP Finals title - UBITENNIS
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Dimitrov to battle Goffin for ATP Finals title

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(Grigor Dimitrov – photo via zimbio.com)

Newly crowned World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov will challenge the supremely confident David Goffin for the biggest prize of his career in London on Sunday night. Will Mr. Showtime shed his Baby Fed tag and prove to his critics that he is the real deal by winning ATP’s year-end championships?

 

It has been a season to remember for the 26-year-old Dimitrov. In fact, he has finally lived up to the promise he showed as a youngster which led to his comparisons with Swiss maestro Roger Federer. After losing an epic Australian Open semifinal to current No. 1 Rafael Nadal and securing titles in Brisbane and Sofia, Dimitrov won his maiden Masters crown in Cincinnati just before the US Open to cement his place in the top-10 of the ATP rankings.

At the O2, Dimitrov has been virtually unstoppable. After making a sluggish start against Dominic Thiem in his tournament opener before prevailing 7-5 in the deciding set, Dimitrov has grown in confidence, dismantling Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta in no time whatsoever, while he came back from a set down to end the American Jack Sock’s late-season surge in the semis on Saturday.

Twice before in his career Sock had beaten Dimitrov after going down a couple of match points and he was once again threatening to repeat the same feat after he saved three in the final set, but Grigor stayed calm and eventually came out as the winner after Sock committed a forehand unforced error.

Looking to stop Dimitrov’s charge will be Goffin, the man nobody expected to get past the great Federer, especially when he entered his semifinal clash against the 19-time Grand Slam champion with a 0-6 head-to-head record. However, not only he surprised himself, but also stunned both Roger and the huge army of his fans with a stunning display of power hitting from the baseline.

Undoubtedly, Goffin played the match of his life, showing his full repertoire on the court, frustrating the World No. 2 at times with the pace and depth of his ground-strokes. Initially, that result looked highly unlikely as Federer won the opening set in just 33 minutes, but the diminutive Belgian had other ideas.

While he went on to raise his level, Federer’s level suddenly dropped. Taking advantage of that situation, Goffin first went on to level the contest and then subsequently registered his maiden win over Federer, becoming just the sixth player to defeat both Roger and Rafa in the same tournament.

Head-to-head: Dimitrov is 4-1 against Goffin in their previous head-to-head matches and had annihilated him 6-0, 6-2 in their group clash on Wednesday. He is also the more complete player and would not want to let this opportunity slip away from his hands. On the other hand, Goffin would be feeling a little exhausted after his shock win over Federer which could prove to be undoing tonight.

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Borna Coric Still Feels Shoulder Pain Seven Months Into His Comeback

Playing professionally with niggles is never ideal but it is a price the Croat is willing to pay.

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Borna Coric - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is one that world No.28 Borna Coric can closely relate to. 

 

Exactly 12 months ago Coric was in the middle of a lengthy hiatus from the sport due to a serious right shoulder issue which required him to undergo surgery. He didn’t play a match between March 2021 – March 2022 and previously admitted he contemplated if he would be able to return to the sport again. 

Fortunately the 25-year-old was able to resume his career and enjoyed a breakthrough moment during his comeback by winning his first Masters 1000 title at the Western and Southern Open in August. It was at that tournament where he scored three wins over top 10 players. Since then, he suffered a loss to Jenson Brooksby in the second round of the US Open before winning two out of his three matches played at the Davis Cup. 

Seeking to break back inside the world’s top 20 for the first time since October 2019, it appears that Coric’s injury woes are behind him. However, things are never as simple as they look. 

“I do feel good. I can play tennis and extra training, way more than I was before the surgery,” Coric told reporters earlier this week. “Still I have sometimes a little pain and I need to manage that. But I can play. A little bit of pain, sometimes I think that’s fine.
“I’m not very young anymore so I need to be ready to have some pain sometimes, If that’s what it takes, I’m fine with it.” He added. 

Coric is currently playing at the Japan Open where he is the eighth seed in the draw. On Tuesday he began his campaign with a straight sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis to record his first-ever win in Tokyo. 

He will play his second round match on Thursday against Brandon Nakashima, who has Japanese heritage from his father’s side but is playing an ATP event in the country for the first time in his career. Nakashima defeated Shintaro Mochizuki 6-3, 6-2, in his opening match earlier this week. 

“The love for tennis here (in Tokyo) is a thing to experience,’ Coric wrote on Instagram. 

Coric has won ATP titles in three separate continents but is yet to be triumphant in Asia. 

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Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, A Spanish Dominance

Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in this week’s ATP Pepperstone rankings.

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afael Nadal of Spain and Carlos Alcaraz of Spain FOTO: A.MARTINEZ/MMO

Let’s start from the title winners of last week.

 

Marc-Andrea Husler paid a most worthy tribute to the retirement of his fellow countryman Roger Federer by winning the ATP 250 in Sofia and showcasing a style which thrilled all net game lovers. As a result, he soars to his career highest of No. 64. Yoshihito Nishioka tops his excellent second part of season by securing his second career title in Seoul and moving up to No. 41, his best ranking ever. Finally Novak Djokovic consolidated his chances to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin thanks to his win in Tel Aviv.

TOP 20

PositionPlayerCountryATP Pts+/-
1AlcarazSpain6740 
2NadalSpain58101
3RuudNorway5645-1
4MedvedevRussia5065 
5ZverevGermany5040 
6TsitsipasGreece4810 
7DjokovicSerbia3820 
8NorrieGB3445 
9RublevRussia3345 
10HurkaczPoland31751
11FritzUSA30551
12SinnerItaly3040-2
13Auger-AliassimeCanada2950 
14CilicCroatia24952
15Carreno BustaSpain2360-1
16BerrettiniItaly2360-1
17SchwartzmanArgentina2110 
18KhachanovRussia1990 
19TiafoeUSA1940 
20KyrgiosAustralia1780 


A few comments:

  • Rafael Nadal overtakes Casper Ruud. The two Spaniards are towering over the rest of the pack.
  • Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz both gain one position since Jannik Sinner, former title holder in Bulgaria, had to withdraw in the semifinal due to an ankle injury, and failed to defend the points he had earned in 2021 in Sofia.
  • Marin Cilic is back in the top 15 players of the world, after reaching the final in Tel Aviv.

NITTO ATP FINALS RACE TO TURIN

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6460
2NadalSpain5810
3RuudNorway4930
4TsitsipasGreece4630
5MedvedevRussia3375
6RublevRussia3055
7Auger-AliassimeCanada2860
8ZverevGermany2700
9HurkaczPoland2635
10FritzUSA2385
11NorrieGB2365
12SinnerItaly2310
13Carreno BustaSpain2270
14BerrettiniItaly2225
15DjokovicSerbia2220


Alcaraz, Nadal, Ruud and Tsitsipas are already qualified for the ATP Finals scheduled in Turin from 13 to 20 November; Djokovic is another likely contender in the star-studded event, since, as a Grand Slam winner, he just needs to be ranked in the top 20 in order to qualify. 

Six places are yet to be conquered, including the 2 reserves, which means that 9 players will be battling to book their ticket to Turin in the next weeks. 2021 ATP Finals winner Sasha Zverev, still grounded by injury, is not among them.

2500 points are at stake in the upcoming weeks featuring one ATP Masters 1000, two ATP 500 and two ATP 250.

This is the week of the ATP 500 Astana Open in Nur-Sultan and of the Japan Open in Tokyo, which have just kicked off.  Alcaraz, Ruud, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Rublev, Hurkacz, Fritz and Djokovic are out for the glory and the points, whereas Sinner and Berrettini are in the pits. Berrettini will be back on the tour the following week in Florence.

INTESA SANPAOLO NEXT GENERATION FINALS

Qualifying for the Next Gen Finals in Milan from 8 to 12 November is going to be a tough battle. Alcaraz and Sinner are likely not to take part in the event and all the other players are so close that anything could happen.   

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOBATP Rank
1AlcarazSpain646020031
2SinnerItaly2310200112
3MusettiItaly1356200227
4RuneDenmark1338200326
5DraperGB925200149
6NakashimaUSA842200147
7LeheckaCzeck Rep.602200173
8TsengTaipei490200187
9PassaroItaly4412001123
10StrickerSwitzerland3902002133
11MisolicAustria3702001138
12NardiItaly3402003152
13ZeppieriItaly3282001164
14ArnaldiItaly3132001158
15CobolliItaly2882002159

BEST RANKING

This week seven players in the top 100 are celebrating their career highest. 

PlayerPositionCountry
Fritz11USA
Musetti27Italy
Nishioka41Japan
Nakashima47USA
Lestienne61France
Husler64Switzerland
Safiullin92Russia

 A double applause for the two winners of Seoul and Sofia: Yoshihito Nishioka and Marc-Andrea Husler.

Article written by By Roberto Ferri for ubitennis.com, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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