Lleyton Hewitt Returns, But All Eyes Are On His Doubles Partner De Minaur In Estoril - UBITENNIS
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Lleyton Hewitt Returns, But All Eyes Are On His Doubles Partner De Minaur In Estoril

The Australian Next Gen star is being tipped by some as the next big thing in tennis after his strong start to 2018.

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Lleyton Hewitt and Alex de Minaur (zimbio.com)

On Tuesday Lleyton Hewitt will play his first competitive match on a clay court since 2015, but the most interesting part about his latest return concerns his doubles partner.

 

Alex de Minaur is 18 years younger than his Australian mentor. At the age of 19 he has already reached back-to-back ATP semifinals and recently reached the final of a Challenger event in Alicante, Spain. Currently ranked 111th in the world, he moved closer towards the top 100 on Monday with a comprehensive first round win at the Estoril Open. Taking on home favourite Gastao Elias, he powered to a 6-1, 6-3, win. Earning his maiden tour-level victory on the clay.

“I played a very high level match against a high level opponent, especially on clay. There were tricky conditions out there. I just tried to weather the storm early, I was able to win a lot of those long points and I stayed solid through that first set. The the last set I was able to play better tennis so I’m very happy with my level,” De Minaur said after the match.

The performance drew praise from his opponent Elias. A 27-year-old Portuguese player that has been ranked as high as 57th in the world. Following his loss, Elias tipped the youngster to be the next big thing in Australian tennis.

The comparisons between de Minaur and Hewitt are inevitable. Hewitt is the youngest player in the Open Era to reach No.1 at the age of 20. A stark contrast to his fellow countryman, whose best performance to date is reaching the final of the Sydney International in January.

Hewitt has played a pivotal role in de Minaur’s development. Providing guidance and advice to the rising star. Earlier this year he selected de Minaur to make his Davis Cup debut against Germany. Which saw him take Alexander Zverev to five sets before losing in a decisive tiebreaker.

“Alex is pretty special, he’s a good kid. I enjoy working with him, giving him some knowledge.” Said Hewitt.

Gunning for his third ATP quarter-final of the season, De Minaur faces Kyle Edmund in the second round. The British world No.23 relishes the clay season and recently reached the final of the Marrakech Open in Morocco.

“I know Kyle and I’ve trained with him a lot. He has a very high quality tennis so my next round will be a very tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to leave it all out there and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day,” De Minaur evaluated about his opponent.

Prior to his second round clash, de Minaur will kick-off his doubles campaign with the former world No.1. The pair will take on second seeds Michael Venus and Ravel Klassen.

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Jannik Sinner beats Antoine Hoang to reach the final in Ortisei

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Last week’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner beat Frenchman Antoine Hoang 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to reach the final at the ATP Challenger in Ortisei.

 

Sinner won the first set 6-3 with his only break in the fourth game. The Italian 18-year player went down a break to trail 1-4 in the second set, but he won three consecutive games to draw level to 4-4. Hoang earned three set points in the 12th game on Sinner’s serve, but he did not convert them. Sinner won the tie-break 7-4 with his only mini-break. Sinner is projected to improve his best ranking to world number 83 and could reach the 78th place, if he wins the Ortisei title in front of his fans.

Sinner will face Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, who beat Luca Vanni 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3). Vanni did not face any break points but he was not able to convert eight break points, including five set points in the second set.

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Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut set up doubles final against Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus at the ATP Finals

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Raven Klaasen from South Africa and Michael Venus from New Zealand battled past top-seeded players Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (12-10) 10-6 after 2 hours and 9 minutes to secure their spot in the doubles title match at the ATP Finals at the ATP Finals in London. Klaasen and Venus came back from 0-4 down and fended off two match points in the tie-break of the second set.

 

Farah and Cabal earned the first break of the match at 5-5 in the first set, when Klaasen hit a backhand volley into the net. Klaasen broke straight back at 30 in the next game to set up a tie-break. Klaasen and Venus took a 5-4 lead in the tie-break. Farah missed a forehand on Farah’s serve in the next point. Farah hit a backhand return down the line on the first set point at 6-5.

Klaasen fended off a deciding point at 1-2 in the second set. Klaasen and Venus came back from 0-4 in the tie-break of the second set by winning six of the next eight points. Cabal and Farah earned two match points in the tie-break. They did not convert their first chance at 6-7 when Venus hit a forehand volley winner. Cabal hit a forehand return down the line into the net on the second match point. Klaasen and Venus earned their fourth set point of the tie-break, when Klaasen made a double fault at 10-10 and converted it when Farah hit a forehand wide.

Klaasen and Venus reeled the first point of the Match Tie-Break and sealed their 35th win of the season, when Venus hit a smash winner.

Klaasen and Venus set up a final against Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who beat 2017 finalists Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-3 7-6 (7-4) reaching their third final this year.

Herbert and Mahut did not convert their first break point, but they clinched their second chance in the sixth game to claim the opening set 6-3. Kubot and Melo got the break to take a 4-3 lead but they were not able to hold on their serve. Herbert and Mahut broke back in the eighth game to force a tie-break. The French specialists converted their second match point to secure their spot in the final.

Herbert and Mahut are bidding to win the first French team to win the ATP Finals title since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro’s title in Shanghai in 2005. In last year’s ATP Finals title match Herbert and Mahut finished runner-up to Mike Bryan and Jack Sock.

Herbert and Mahut have not lost a set in the four matches they played this week.

“It is going to be a tough battle. Klaasen and Venus played amazing in the group stage and they did a really good match today, winning the important points. It’s going to be a tough final, but we are going to try our best and give everything”, said Herbert.

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Tomas Berdych: It Is Up To Others To Decide My Legacy

The former top-10 player spoke with reporters for the first time since officially retiring from the sport

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Tomer Berdych (far left) among group of recently retired player's attending special presentation at The 2019 ATP Finals

LONDON: Tomas Berdych has said his future plans is ‘to not have a plan’ after officially retiring from tennis on Saturday at the age of 34.

 

The former Wimbledon runner-up joined a series of other former players to celebrate their careers in a special on-court presentation at the ATP Finals. Also present was Radek Stepanek and David Ferrer. News of Berdych’s decision to walk away from the sport surfaced earlier this week after a Czech newspaper spoke with his father Martin.

Speculation has mounted in recent months about Berdych’s future in the sport after struggles with injury issues concerning his back and hip. He hasn’t played on the tour since the US Open. Overall, he has only managed to play 22 matches this season. Winning 13 of them.

“I was able to train, practice, prepare, and then you get to the tournament, and then I play three games, the problem came back.” Berdych explained during a press conference about his decision.
“You put all the negative stuff on the one side, and then the positive is to go on court, fight, win the match, and there was no chance to achieve that. There is really no point to continue.”

Playing in the shadows on the Big Four contingent, the Czech still managed to establish himself as a household name. Albeit on a smaller scale. As of this week, he is ranked as the 11th highest-earning player on the ATP Tour in history with more than $29 million in prize money. His achievements include winning 13 ATP titles and spending 794 consecutive weeks in the top 100. At his peak, he was fourth in the world rankings and finished seven seasons inside the top 10.

Like any other player, it hasn’t always been a smooth journey for Berdych. One example was during the 2012 Australian Open where he was booed off the court after defeating Nicolas Almagro during what was a bad-tempered encounter. However, fortunately, most of his career has been free from controversy.

“Do I have any regrets? No, I think even the bad things or the negative experience that I went through or I experienced or I have done, I think they were there for the reason. I think without them, I wouldn’t be as good as I was.” Berdych stated.
“I think even the bad ones were there for a reason.”

Now he has stepped away from the sport for good, what does the future have in store? According to the Czech, he is in no intention of rushing into anything else soon. Although he admits that it may not be tennis-related.

“The plan is actually not to have any plans. The last 15, 20 years was so hectic and so demanding that I just need to just to breathe out easily after all those years.”

As the chapter closes on the career of one of the Czech Republic’s most successful male players in the Open Era, he leaves the sport with high respect from both his fans and fellow rivals. As for his legacy, he says that it is not for him to decide.

“I think I’m not the correct one to judge that. I was trying to do the best I possibly can, and I think this is something that you created with your achievement and with your behavior.” He concludes.

Berdych’s career in numbers

2 – number of Davis Cup titles won
4 – highest ATP ranking achieved
13– number of ATP titles
53 – number of wins over top 10 players
342 – number of losses on the ATP Tour
640 – number of wins on the ATP Tour
2002 – the year he turned pro
2019 – the year he retired
29,491,328 – career prize money (in US dollars)

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