ATP Finals Day 4 Preview: Novak Djokovic Aims To Close In On Semi-Final Place - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals Day 4 Preview: Novak Djokovic Aims To Close In On Semi-Final Place

Novak Djokovic plays Sascha Zverev for the top spot in the Guga Kuerten Group, while Marin Cilic plays John Isner to stay out of last place.

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Wednesday at the ATP Finals will see top seed Novak Djokovic aim to continue his almost perfect second half of the 2018. Since Wimbledon, he had only suffered two losses on the tour as he claimed three further titles. His next test will be against Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who is the only member of the next generation to qualify for the tournament for the second year in a row.

Elsewhere, Marin Cilic will be seeking only his second ever win at the ATP Finals when he takes on John Isner. The upcoming match will be an opportunity for the Croat to get revenge following his loss to Isner at the Miami Masters earlier this year.  

Novak Djokovic vs. Sascha Zverev

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This will be their third head-to-head meeting, having split the first two. Zverev defeated Djokovic in the Rome final last year to win his first Masters 1,000 title. 18 months ago, Djokovic is back to playing his best tennis, as evidenced by his 6-2, 6-1 victory over Zverev last month in the Shanghai semifinals. Judging by Monday’s action, there’s no reason to believe the result today will be much different. Djokovic easily disposed of John Isner, breaking the big server three times with the best returning game in the world. While Zverev prevailed on Monday, the win eas as much about Sascha’s play as it was about Marin Cilic giving away a big lead in the first set. And while Novak’s form has continued to climb back to the peak of his abilities as the year has progressed, Sascha has struggled through the second half of this season. Djokovic should obtain another comfortable win here to secure his place atop the Guga Kuerten Group.

Marin Cilic vs. John Isner

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Cilic owns a 7-3 record over Isner, with their most notable match coming at Wimbledon in 2015. That was another in a long line of Isner marathons at SW19, which Cilic survived 12-10 in the fifth. Isner though has won three of their last four encounters, including the last two times they’ve played on hard courts. John prevailed in straights sets two years ago at the Paris Masters, as well as earlier this year at the Miami Masters. While Isner doesn’t have a win over a top 10 opponent since Miami, Cilic’s recent losses are more concerning. The below tweet from Ravi Ubha (@raviubha) perfectly highlights this:


Just as concerning is Marin’s 1-9 record at the ATP Finals, his only win coming in 2016 when he still finished last in his round robin group. He’s surely overdue for a win at the O2, but he cannot be playing with much confidence right now. I like Isner’s chances to get his third consecutive hard court victory over Cilic in Wednesday.

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Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone. This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.

“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

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Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana

Carlos Alcaraz leads a stacked field in Astana next week.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz returns to the ATP tour next week in Astana next week where he faces Danish talent Holger Rune.

 

The world number one plays his first ATP tournament since winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and becoming the youngest world number one in history.

Having qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Alcaraz will now look to build momentum over the coming weeks for the event in Turin.

First up for Alcaraz is the ATP 500 event in Astana next week where the Spaniard faces a tough opening round in the form of Danish talent Holger Rune.

The Dane reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros earlier this year but had struggled for form since then.

However Rune has reached the semi-finals in Sofia this week and is hitting form at the right time so this will be a big test for Alcaraz.

Should Alcaraz get through that test than a potential second round meeting with Stan Wawrinka could be on the cards with the Swiss wildcard facing Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

Andrey Rublev is the player that could face Alcaraz in the last eight with the eighth seed facing a qualifier in his opening round match.

Rublev is one of a number of players who are chasing the remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Also in the top half of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz with Tsitsipas facing Mikhail Kukushkin.

While Hurkacz faces Francisco Cerundolo and a potential second round match against home favourite Alexander Bublik could await in round two.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will continue his search for a surge up the rankings against Cristian Garin.

Djokovic’s potential quarter-final is Jannik Sinner who begins against tricky serve and volleyer Oscar Otte.

Daniil Medvedev is also taking part in a stacked field in Astana as he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening round match.

In the bottom quarter there is also an intriguing opening round match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Here is the full draw with play starting on Monday:

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