Grigor Dimitrov: "To finish the year in the top three is a wonderful reward" - UBITENNIS
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Grigor Dimitrov: “To finish the year in the top three is a wonderful reward”

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Grigor Dimitrov enters today’s final unbeaten after taking a narrow win over Dominic Thiem before dropping just two games in each of his two remaining round-robin matches against David Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta earlier this week. On Saturday the Bulgarian player came back from losing the first set to beat Jack Sock 4-6 6-3 6-0 in the semifinal after dropping just three games in the final three games.

 

“I think I started the match exactly the way I wanted. After that break at 3-0 in the first set, I think it was a little bit of a turning point. He stepped in the court, started being a little more aggressive. I let him play his game. I think that was the first set. The second was one-way street. It was a very good play, as simple as that. In the third I just had to find those little cracks in his game to break him. After that it was a good finish for me”, said Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian star lost his previous match against Sock in the 2017 Indian Wells after missing four match points. Dimitrov had to hold his nerve, as Sock saved four match points and even earned two break points in yesterday’s semifinal before the Bulgarian player sealed the win, when Sock netted a forehand.

“Sometimes not only you have to fight yourself mentally, but you need to fight like demons from previous matches or your opponent. There are just so many matches that you bring out. I was very happy the way I handled the pressure. Even though I was down a breakpoint or something, even if I had to play an extra game or games, I had to accept it. You learn from those moments. I certainly learned from that experience”.

Dimitrov will finish the year as the new world number 3 behind Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer after a great season highlighted by four titles in Brisbane, Sofia and Cincinnati.

“The goal was to finish the year in the top 10. Now I finished in the top 3. It’s a wonderful reward. This is what I have been working for. I think it’s not only good for me, but also for the whole team. I think that gives us a good platform to start in the off-season and have a good start to the new year”, said Dimitrov.

Dimitrov leads 4-1 in his previous head-to-head matches over the other finalist David Goffin, who beat Roger Federer in the other semifinal. Dimitrov beat Goffin dropping just two games iin his 6-0 6-2 n the round-robin match earlier this week. Last winter Dimitrov beat his Belgian rival in the Australian Open quarter final and in the Sofia final. Goffin took his only win over Dimitrov last February in the Rotterdam quarter finals. Goffin comes into this evening’s final after beating Rafa Nadal in the round-robin and Roger Federer in the semifinal in two three-set matches.

Both Djokovic and Goffin are making their first appearance at the ATP Finals, although Goffin played one match against Novak Djokovic as alternate to replace Gael Monfils.

Dimitrov is aware that this Sunday’s final will be a totally different match from his previous clash against the Belgian player.

“The first match is in the past. I wish I could press “Replay”. I am sure neither one of usi s going to think about that. He is a very intelligent player. He knows his way around the court very well. Any given day, any particular moment he makes it dangerous. He had a few good wins already and has been playing well through the end of the year. I think he has got a lot of confidence. None of us has nothing to lose. We are out in the first final. I think it’s going to be exciting.

Dimitrov is the eleventh player in the history of the ATP Finals to reach the final in his first appearance at this event and the first debutant to achieve this feat since David Ferrer in 2007. For the first time since the 2008 final between Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko the title match will be played between two players who make their debut at the ATP Finals.

“It’s another match. Obviously David has done well this week beating Rafa and Roger. I think his confidence is going to be high there. I am not going to focus on his confidence or his game right now. I am just focusing on myself, the recovery that I am going to be up there. It’s not going to be the same after I played against him. I think it is a different stage for both of us. It’s wonderful day to play on. I think Sundays are always the greatest days to play.”

Goffin has become the sixth player to beat Federer and Nadal in the same event and the first player to beat the top two players at the ATP Finals since 2009, when Nikolay Davydenko beat world number 2 Nadal in the round-robin group and world number 1 Federer in the semifinal.

Goffin scored his first win against his idol Federer after losing his previous six head-to-head matches. The Belgian player grew up with a poster of Federer on his bedroom wall

“Both are really special. It was the first time against Rafa. Then the semifinal for the first time for me here in such a big event, big tournament, it was a perfect moment. It’s the best win of my career for sure”, said Goffin.

 

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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