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Rafael Nadal Returns To World No.1 Despite Absence

The 31-year-old will be aiming to hold on to the top spot throughout the clay swing of the tour.

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

10-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal has overtaken Roger Federer to spend a fifth stint as world No.1 on the ATP rankings.

 

The Spaniard has returned to the position following his Swiss rivals shock second round exit at the Miami Open. Federer, who won the Miami title in 2017, was defending 1000 points and was required to reach the quarter-finals to maintain his top position. This week is Nadal’s 168th as world No.1, which is the seventh longest of all time. Should he spend a further three weeks at the top, he will overtake John McEnroe.

Heading into his beloved clay season, Nadal is set to return to action in the Davis Cup later this week. Spain will take on Germany on the clay in Valencia. He has played 32 matches in the team competition since 2004, winning 27 of those. His last appearance was back in 2016 when he played a doubles match against India. Nadal arrived in Valencia on Sunday to start training with his team.

It is unclear as to what matches Nadal will play in the upcoming tie. The match nominations will take place later this week.

“Here I am, I come to do the best I can,” Super Deporte quoted Nadal as saying upon arrival at the airport on Sunday.

The other movers

Elsewhere in this week’s rankings, Alexander Zverev and John Isner both moved up. Germany’s Zverev, who will also feature in Spain’s Davis Cup clash, has returned to No.4. One spot shy of his career high. Meanwhile, Miami Open champion Isner has returned to his career best of 9th. A position he first held on April 16th 2012.

Outside of the top 10, Borna Coric has broke into the top 30 for the first time in his career at 28th. The Croat has enjoyed a strong run at the first two Masters 1000 events of the season. Reaching the semifinals of Indian Wells followed by the quarter-finals in Miami. Hyeon Chung, who also reached the last eight in Miami, has broken the top 20 at 19th for the first time. Becoming the first South Korean in history to do so.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bosnia’s Miza Basic was the biggest faller by dropping 20 places to 95th in the world. Since winning his first ATP title in Sofia earlier this year, Basic has only managed to win two matches on the tour. He is the only player to drop ten or more places in the top 100 this week.

ATP Top 20 (week commencing April 2nd 2018)

1. Rafael Nadal – 8770 points (+1)
2. Roger Federer – 8670 points (-1)
3. Marin Cilic – 4985 points
4. Alexander Zverev – 4925 points (+1)
5. Grigor Dimitrov – 4635 points (-1)
6. Juan Martin del Potro – 4470 points
7. Dominic Thiem – 3665 points
8. Kevin Anderson – 3390 points
9. John Isner – 3125 points (+8)
10. David Goffin – 3110 points (-1)
11. Lucas Pouille – 2410 points (-1)
12. Pablo Carreno Busta – 2395 points (+7)
13. Novak Djokovic – 2310 points (-1)
14. Sam Querrey – 2265 points
15. Diego Schwartzman – 2200 points (+1)
16. Jack Sock – 2200 points(-5)
17. Roberto Bautista-Agut – 2175 points (-2)
18. Tomas Berdych – 2140 points (-5)
19. Hyeon Chung – 1897 points (+4)
20. Fabio Fognini – 1840 points (-2)

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Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek end the season with a win over Rain Klaasen and Michael Venus

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Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek beat Jonas Bjorkman Group winners Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London ending their season with a win.

 

Klaasen and Venus got the first break of the match in the fifth game, but they were broken back in the eighth game, as they failed to serve out for the first set.

Dodig and Polasek earned a chance to close out the first set in the 10th game. Klaasen and Venus fended off two set points to force a tie-break. Klaasen and Venus took a 4-3 lead, but Dodig and Polasek reeled off four points to seal the tie-break 7-4.

Dodig and Polasek earned an early break at the start of the second set and held on their serve to claim the win.

“I think we had amazing season. We played 11 tournaments together and now we are here in London. To close the season with a win here is a great feeling. We are looking forward to next year”,said Dodig.

 “It’s awesome to win here. The atmosphere throughout the week has been great. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I am really happy we can finish the season with a win here. There is no better feeling”, said Polasek.  

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Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals

The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.

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LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.

 

The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.

“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.

The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.

A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.

Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“

Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.

“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.

Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.

Italian men in the ATP Finals

-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses

 

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ATP Finals 2019 Day 5 Preview: Will It Be Djokovic Or Federer In The Semis?

It’s the 49th installment of Federer against Djokovic, with the winner moving onto the semifinals, and the loser being eliminated from the tournament.

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The advancement scenarios for today are that simple, as Dominic Thiem has already guaranteed his place in the semis with tremendous back-to-back wins over both Djokovic and Federer.  For Djokovic, there are also year-end No.1 ranking implications, as he now needs to win this event to keep his hopes alive. And while Matteo Berrettini cannot advance to the semis after going 0-2 thus far, he’ll play to become the first Italian man to ever win a match at the ATP Finals.

 

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Matteo Berrettini (8)

This will be their third meeting within the past five weeks.  Berrettini prevailed in the Shanghai quarterfinals to reach his first Masters 1,000 semi, while Thiem was victorious at home in Vienna on his way to that title.  Their only other previous encounter was last year at Roland Garros, where Dominic won in four. What a week it’s already been for Thiem, but he has a lot of work still ahead of him.  And perhaps he is due for a letdown after two sensational wins, especially with his qualification for the semifinals already secured. However, Dominic should feel supremely confident coming off his results earlier this week.  And I’m sure his team will warn him of the danger in allowing his level to drop today, even with the result having no impact on his advancement. On the other side of the net, Berrettini has absolutely nothing to lose. Matteo can play freely, and knows he owns a recent win over Thiem.  Still, based on his form this week, Dominic should be favored to go 3-0 in the Bjorn Borg Group round robin play.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Roger Federer (3)

Four months ago in this same city, Djokovic saved two championship points and went on to defeat Federer in the first-ever 12-all fifth set tiebreak at Wimbledon to win his 16th Major singles title.  It was a heartbreaking loss for Federer, who was just one point away from his record-extending 21st Major.  Instead, he’s now just four Majors ahead of Djokovic, and only one ahead of Nadal after Rafa’s US Open victory.  Overall Djokovic leads this prolific rivalry 26-22. Novak has claimed their last five meetings, dating back to the championship match at this event four years ago.  But notably, Roger’s last win was just a few days prior, during the round robin stage of this tournament in 2015. On hard courts, Djokovic leads their head-to-head 19-17.  At the ATP Finals, Novak leads 3-2. Djokovic looked extremely agitated at times on Tuesday, seemingly surprised by how vehemently the crowd was rooting for Thiem. But Djokovic will know the London audience to be fully behind Roger today, so I don’t expect that to throw him.  Federer will certainly be eager to avenge the Wimbledon defeat from earlier this year, though overcoming Djokovic on this surface is no easy task. I anticipate another tight contest today between these two all-time greats, but give the slight edge to Novak to prevent Roger from advancing to the semifinals for just the second time in 17 appearances at the ATP Finals.

A breakdown of the Djokovic-Federer rivalry

By tournament

Grand Slams: Djokovic leads 10-6
ATP Finals: Djokovic leads 3-2
Masters 1000: Djokovic leads 11-9
ATP 500 events: Federer leads 4-2
Davis Cup: Federer leads 1-0

By year

YEAR

DJOKOVIC

FEDERER

2006

0

2

2007

1

3

2008

1

2

2009

3

2

2010

1

4

2011

4

1

2012

3

2

2013

2

0

2014

3

3

2015

5

3

2016

1

0

2017

0

0

2018

2

0

2019

1

0

 TOTAL

26

22

 

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