Aljaz Bedene Relishing Argentinian Clash With Thiem As He Speaks About Nationality Swap - UBITENNIS
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Aljaz Bedene Relishing Argentinian Clash With Thiem As He Speaks About Nationality Swap

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Aljaz Bedene (zimbio.com)

Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene is just one win away from his first ATP title at the Argentinian Open.

 

Bedene, who is unseeded in the tournament, has enjoyed a dream run. Earlier in the week he scored wins over third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and fifth seed Diego Schwartzman. He continued his winning streak on Saturday with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, triumph over Federico Delbonis. Hitting 15 aces and breaking his opponent five times during their semi final clash.

“I’m happy with the way I am playing and I am happy to be playing on the clay again.” Said Bedene.

Prior to this week, the 28-year-old has only won one match in three tournaments played in 2018. His decision to play on the South American clay courts was more about his health than scheduling. In recent months the Slovenian has been troubled by a knee injury, which forced Bedene to retire in his last match of 2017.

“I’ve had some problems with my knee. That is why I chose to play on clay, it’s easier on my knee.” He explained.
“I think it has been a good week. I like Buenos Aires and so far, so good.”

Bedene’s opponent in the final will be world No.6 Dominic Thiem, who is yet to drop a set at the tournament. Thiem’s semi-final match saw him breeze past Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-2, in just over an hour. Continuing his unbeaten run against the Frenchman (not counting walkovers).

“I wanted to play for Britain”

The past 12 months have seen Bedene return to his original nationality of Slovenia in ATP competition. He became a British citizen in 2015 and had been based in the country since 2008. The swap was triggered by a lengthy legal battle between him and the ITF.

In 2015, the year he started representing Britain, the ITF changed their regulations concerning the Davis Cup. Stating that a player cannot represent more than one country in the tournament during their career. Backed by the British LTA, Bedene appealed against the ruling due to the fact he made his nationality change before it came into effect and he was not given enough notice about it. Something that the governing body rejected. Ending his hopes of playing in the British Davis Cup team and representing them in the 2020 Olympic Games.

“I really wanted to play for Great Britain, but it was two months too late. The ITF did want to make an exception, although me and the LTA did everything right.” He told reporters on Saturday.
“At the end I really wanted to play in the Davis Cup and hopefully at the Olympics in 2020. (This is) why I went back to playing for Slovenia. “

Bedene will take on Thiem at 17:00 GMT on Sunday. It will be the second meeting between the two this season. The first was at the Doha Open, which the Austrian won 7-5, 6-4.

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World Tennis League: Swiatek And Medvedev Among Top Names To Play Exhibition Event

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image via ATP Twitter

During the off-season, some of the world’s best players will head to the United Arab Emirates next month to play in a four-day team event. 

 

The World Tennis League (WTL) will host its second edition between December 21-24 at the Yas Island’s Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The event features a total of 16 players split into four groups with each of those teams competing for the trophy. Every group will have their own coach and even an owner. 

Earlier this week, organizers confirmed the last players to be added to the line-up. Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz will all play in the event which will feature a combination of singles and mixed doubles matches. Those who have already confirmed their entry include Iga Swiatek, Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

As for who is in what group, the SG Mavericks Kites features Sabalanka, Tsitsipas, Paula Badosa and Grigor Dimitrov. The owners of that team are SG Sports, the sporting arm of APL Apollo Tubes. An Indian-based structural steel tube brand. Their coach will be former Australian Open doubles champion Robert Lindstedt.

Team Eagles will be made up of Medvedev, Rublev, Sofia Kenin and Mirra Andreeva. Their owners are the Punit Balan Group. Balan is an Indian film producer and owner of several sporting teams. They will be coached by John-Laffnie De Jager who has previously worked with the likes of Kevin Anderson, Daniella Hantuchova and Ajla Tomljanovic.

The Honor FX Falcons is named after owners Honor FX features. Rybakina, Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Leylah Fernandez are in that group which will be led by Chris Groh. Groh has previously coached Fritz during his teenage years. 

Finally, The Hawkes team has Swiatek, Hurkacz, Ruud and Caroline Garcia. The team are the only one yet to have an official owner. Sweden’s Simon Aspelin will be their coach. 

“We’re thrilled to be announcing more star names to our exceptional tennis line-up for season two of the World Tennis League,” Rajesh Banga, chairman of the World Tennis League, said.
“These players are of the highest calibre and prominent names around the world so we’re pleased they will be competing in the unique tournament at our new home in Etihad Arena.”

The schedule of the event will be the following:-

DAY ONE: Hawks Vs Honor FX Falcons, Team Eagles Vs SG Mavericks Kites

DAY TWO: Honor FX Falcons Vs SG Mavericks Kites, Team Eagles Vs Team Hawks 

Day Three: Team Eagles Vs Honor FX Falcons, SG Maverick Kites Vs Team Hawks

Day Four: knockout rounds

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Luca Van Assche rallies from two sets to one down to beat Alex Michelsen

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Luca Van Assche came back from two sets to one down to defeat Alex Michelsen 4-3 (7-0) 3-4 (4-7) 3-4 (4-7) 4-1 4-3 (8-6) in 2 hours and 36 minutes at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah in the second longest match in the history of this tournament. 

 

Van Assche and Michelsen went on serve in the first three sets. Both players saved all five break points they faced in the first three sets. 

There were three consecutive breaks in the fourth set. Van Assche earned two of them and served out the set at love in the fifth game. 

Both players traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games of the fifth set. Van Assche earned a chance to serve for the match, but Michelsen pulled back on serve to force a tie-break. 

Van Assche built a 3-0 in the tie-break with an early mini-break. Michelsen saved two match points to draw level to 6-6. Van Assche sealed the win with another mini-break on the second match point. 

“He was playing very well the whole match. It was really close. Not a lot of breaks and it was difficult for me but I am very happy”, said Van Assche. 

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Arthur Fils beats Dominic Stricker to end Green Group unbeaten

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Arthur Fils battled past Dominic Stricker 4-2 3-4 (3-7) 4-2 4-3 (7-5) after 1 hour and 47 minutes in the final round-robin match to end the Green Group unbeaten with a 3-0 record at the Next Gen ATP Finals. 

 

Stricker knew that he would advance to the semifinals if he won just one set. The Swiss player won the set he needed against the already qualified Fils to secure his spot in the semifinal despite the defeat. 

Stricker saved a break point on the deciding point in the third game of the fourth set. Fils earned the break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and served out on his second set point. 

Stricker held serve at love in the first game of the fourth set. The Swiss player broke serve on the deciding point to open up a 2-0 lead. Fils broke straight back in the third game and held serve at 15 to draw level to 2-2. Fils earned three mini-breaks, but Stricker pulled back on serve each time. Fils sealed the tie-break 7-5 on his second match point. 

Stricker beat Fils 7-6 7-6 in Gstaad in their only previous head-to-head match last summer. 

Fils saved two break points in the first game to hold serve. Stricker fended off a break point in the fourth game on the deciding point to draw level to 2-2. Fils earned his first break on his third set point with a forehand return winner in the sixth game to clinch the first set 4-2. 

Stricker saved the only break point of the second set in the fourth game. Both players held on their serve en route to the tie-break. Stricker won six consecutive points from 0-1 down with two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Fils won his first title in Lyon and reached the final in Antwerp

“I knew before the match that I qualified, but I just want to win every match that I am playing. I think I put a little bit more focus out there out there today than the first two days because I know this opponent and he already beat me this year. It was a tough match but I am really happy to win and let’s see who I get in the semifinal”, said Fils in the post- match interview. 

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