Dominic Thiem beats Aljaz Bedene to advance to the quarter finals in Doha - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem beats Aljaz Bedene to advance to the quarter finals in Doha



Dominic Thiem beat Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 7-5 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes after a hard-fought matc to reach the quarter finals at the Qatar Open in Doha. Only two seeds have reached the quarter final. Six of the eight highest-ranked players have been knocked out of the tournament in the second round. It was a good day for young players Borna Coric, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the quarter finals.


The Austrian star converted only three of the 15 break points he created during the match. He has improved his head-to-head record agaianst Bedene.

Thiem got his first break in the fourth game of the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. Bedene broke back in the seventh game for 3-4. The next games went on serve until Thiem broke for the second time in the match.

Thiem wasted his first nine break points in the second set and finally broke in the final game of the second set on his second match point to close out the match after 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Thiem fired nine aces and won 79 % of his first service points.

“The first set was good. I converted break points fine but in the second set I missed too many chances”, said Thiem.

Thiem will take on Greek Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas, who got one break in each set to beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4. Tsitsipas broke serve for the first time in the match in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead and consolidated the break at 30 with an ace. He closed the first set at love in the ninth game. He converted his only break point of the second set in the seventh game. He held his next two service games to close out the match in straight sets by 6-3 6-4.

Andrey Rublev beat number 7 seed and last year’s Doha semifinalist Fernando Verdasco 6-4 3-6 6-4 to improve his head-to-record against the Spanish player. Rublev saved 7 of his 11 break points.

The Russian Next Gen player came back from one break down twice in the second and eighth games of the first set before breaking in the 10th game to take a 6-4 win. Verdasco broke serve in the fifth and ninth games en route to winning the second set 6-3.

In the seventh game of the decider Rublev converted his break point to take a 4-3 lead. He broke Verdasco in the ninth game of the decisive set and closed out on his first match point after saving two break points in the 10th game.

The Russian Next Gen player set up a quarter final match against Borna Coric, another player who qualified for the inaugural edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan last November. Coric followed up his win against Pablo Carreno Busta with a 6-1 6-3 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili, who had won his previous head-to-head matches against the Croatian player in Lyon and Cincinnati last year. The Croatian player broke five times and won 54 percent of his return points.

Rublev beat Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin (both finalists at the ATP World Tour Finals in London last November) en route to reaching the US Open quarter finals at last September’s US Open. The Russian 20-year-old player has become the youngest US Open quarter finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001.

Last October Rublev came back from one set down to beat Jack Sock and Tomas Berdych at the China Open in Beijing. The Moscow native ended the 2017 season ranked world number 39 and qualified for the inaugural edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan where he finished runner-up to Hyeon Chung.

“The goal for the 2018 season is to be more consistent. The taste of victories over Dimitrov, Berdych, Goffin and Sock was fleeting. I realise that they are in the top 10 or top 20 for a reason, their year-round consistency. That’s what I want to produce each week. I didn’t think of those victorie sas a stepping stone on a career ladder, more as individual matches in a tournament week. My goal for 2018 is to play at the ATP Next Finals in Milan. This time of my life is the most important as I lay the foundations for a strong future. In working with Fernando Vicente and Galo Blanco in Barcelona during the off-season we worked on problems and weaknesses but nothing specific, as far as stroke play is concerned”, said Rublev.

Gael Monfils scored his second consecutive three-set win this week beating Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 1-6 6-3 setting up a quarter final match against another German player Peter Gojowczyk, who beat Italian 21-year-old Matteo Berrettini 6-2 6-2 without facing a break point.

The French player converted two of his seven break point chance and won 59 % of his first serve points. Monfils, who reached the final in Doha three times in 2006, 2012 and 2014, needed one break at love in the eighth game to win the opening set 6-3. Struff broke twice in the fourth and sixth games and saved two break points to win the second set 6-1. Monfils converted his only break point chance in the second game to win the third set 6-3.

“I feel happy to be back on the tour. I feel happy to have those two matches under my belt. I can play better. I think it’s just a matter of time and confidence I am working hard trying to get back to the top of the game again”, said Monfils.

World Number 138 Mirza Basic saved all three three break points he faced to upset Feliciano Lopez 6-4 7-6 (7-2). The player from Bosnia and Herzegovina will face Guido Pella from Argentina, who defeated Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

Verdasco and Lopez are two of the six seeded players who were beaten in the first round, after Pablo Carreno Busta, Tomas Berdych, Albert Ramos Vinolas and Filip Krajinovic lost in their first round matches.


The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter



By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.


We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?


Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match



Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.


2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.

Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.

Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP Finals: Fritz Close But No… Final, Djokovic Advances

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in two tie-breaks and is just one win away from his sixth title at Nitto ATP Finals



Novak Djokovic - 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Turin (photo Twitter @atptour)

[7] N. Djokovic b. [8] T. Fritz 7-6(5) 7-6(5)


Even when physically not at his best, Novak Djokovic can still count on his incredible ability to play the most effective tennis in the most important moment. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the opponent misses an easy shot while attempting to close out the set, but the pressure Djokovic puts on whomever is on the other side of the net makes even the easiest shot look a little bit harder.

The former world no. 1 has put together a clinical display of efficiency during the first semifinal of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin edging Taylor Fritz by two points in the tie-breaker of each set to reach his eighth finals in the end-of-year Championship.

It was not the best Djokovic, and it was not the best match: lots of errors on both sides, and a huge opportunity for Fritz to take the match to the distance when he served at 5-4 in the second set and then missed an easy backhand sitter to go a set-point up at 40-30, blaming an idiot spectator who indeed shouted in the middle of the point, when he really should have been able to put away that point blindfolded.

Fritz did not start the match in the best possible way: 10 unforced errors during the first five games, a break conceded at love at 2-2 and Djokovic appeared destined for a relatively quiet afternoon. But it was not going to be that easy: errors started flowing also on the Serbian side, and Fritz was able to equalize at 3-3. A tie-break was then needed to decide the winner of the first set, and the deciding point was a laser forehand down the line by Djokovic who swept point and set at 6-5 and headed off to the toilet for a comfort break after taking a one-set advantage.

But the break did not do him much good: unforced errors kept coming from the baseline, and Fritz blitzed 2-0 up with a break. At 4-3, the American wowed the Italian crowd with a magical backhand stop-volley to recover a service game where he found himself down 0-30, but when it was time to serve out the set, he missed that easy backhand we described earlier to give Djokovic another chance to close out a match in two sets.

And another chance is the last thing Djokovic should be gifted, although on a day like today, with Christmas time upon us, gift trading became the thing of the match. Two great points at 4-4 in the tie-break warmed the 12,000-strong crowd at Pala Alpitour to what could have possibly been a great end of the set, but Djokovic first earned a match point to be played on his serve with a good action from the baseline closed by a volley and then squandered it all with a very unusual unforced error on a routine backhand. But on his second match point, just a minute later, Fritz badly missed an inside-out forehand putting an end to the match and gifting Djokovic a chance to win his sixth title at the Nitto ATP Finals, the first in Turin.

On Sunday he will face either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev: he has never lost to Ruud in three previous matches (3-0) and the only time he did not beat Rublev (2-1) was last spring in Belgrade in the final of the tournament organized by his family.

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