ATP Finals Day 8 Preview: Will Alexander Zverev Deny Novak Djokovic The Title? - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals Day 8 Preview: Will Alexander Zverev Deny Novak Djokovic The Title?

Novak Djokovic plays for his record-tying sixth championship at the ATP Finals, but a 21-year-old phenom stands in his way.

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Six months ago, Novak Djokovic even qualifying for the ATP Finals seemed nearly unfathomable.  In mid-May, he arrived in Rome with a 6-6 record on the year, having not won a Major in two years.  But in the second half of 2018, Djokovic has played some of the best tennis of his career, especially this week in London.  Since Wimbledon, he’s 35-2, with two Majors and two Masters 1,000 titles. He comes into this final having not dropped a set this week, and as per Ravi Ubha on Twitter, is vying to become the first man to win this event without losing a set since Ivan Lendl in 1986.  Regardless of the result today, Djokovic will end the year as world No.1 for the fifth time. A win today would give him an over 2,000-point lead over world No.2, Rafael Nadal, heading into 2019.

 

His opponent on Sunday is playing for the biggest title of his career.  Sascha Zverev has won nine titles in his young career, including three Masters 1,000 events.  Zverev though is yet to get to the latter stages of a Major, with only one Major quarterfinal appearance, and an ordinary 22-14 record at Grand Slam events.  A win today would be a significant next step in his career advancement. Unlike Djokovic, he’s not played his best in the past few months. Sascha’s last title came in July, and this is his first final since that time.  He advanced out of the round robin stage this week despite some instances of lackluster play, but really upped his game to take out Roger Federer in Saturday’s semifinals. He’ll need to raise his level even higher to stay with Novak on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic vs. Sascha Zverev


These two met just four days ago in round-robin play, a match which Djokovic won comfortably, dropping just five games.  Novak has all won all his matches this week without being threatened, dominating all comers. The best returner in the world is yet to have his serve broken in this tournament.  As highlighted by Enrico Maria Riva on Twitter, Djokovic has lost only 19 points this week on his first serve. And in even more terrifying news for Zverev fans, Novak has lost only 13 points on his second serve, and five of those were double faults.  If Djokovic continues to serve like that on Sunday, it’s hard to imagine Zverev having a chance.

Sascha himself served extremely well on Saturday against Federer, winning 88% of first serve points, and 64% of second serve points.  And he was really ripping his groundstrokes, moving Roger back in the court. Utilizing his power will be crucial for Zverev against Djokovic, as will getting off to a strong start.  After dropping the first set to Novak four night ago, it appeared at times he was not giving his best effort in the second. I’m confident Sascha will not do the same in the biggest final of his career today, but a victory over Djokovic when Novak is playing like this is an extremely tall order.  In a week where only one of fourteen singles matches have gone to three sets, let’s hope Zverev can at least make this an interesting and prolonged final. However, a Zverev win on Sunday would be quite a shock. Djokovic will be a heavy favorite to tie Federer with his sixth ATP Finals trophy.

 

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.

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The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 

 

The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Serena Williams leads a high-quality line-up in Lexington

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Twenty-three time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be the top seed at the inaugural edition of the Lexington Open from 10th August 2020 on the same week as the Prague Open. The Lexington Open will be the first US tournament of the US hard court season, which will continue with the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, which will be held in the same venue at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

 

Serena was very close to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but lost four times in a Major final after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. 

The US legend will play her first match since she hepled the US team beat Latvia in the Fed Cup last March in Everett. There Serena beat Jelena Ostapenko but she was defeated by Anastasija Sevastova. 

Williams will lead a star-studded line-up, which features this year’s Australian Open finalist and former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, Aryna Sabalenka, Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta, Amanda Anisimova and Yulia Putintseva, Ons Jabeur, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson and US rising star Cori Gauff. 

Sabalenka won two consecutive editions of the Wuhan tournament in 2018 and 2019, in Shenzhen in 2019, the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai in 2019 and the Doha final in 2020. 

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2017 and reached the final at 2018 Roland Garros. She finished runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. The US player lost to Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Monterrey in her last WTA Tour match before the pandemic. 

Amanda Anisimova won her maiden WTA title in Bogotà in 2019 in her first professional tour tournament on clay. Last year the young US player beat Simona Halep en route to becoming the youngest semifinalist at the French Open since 2006. This year Amanda lost to Serena Williams in the semifinal in Auckland last January. 

Johanna Konta reached the French Open semifinal and the Rome Final in 2019. The British player enjoyed her best year in 2017, when she won the Miami title and reached the Wimbledon semifinal rising to her best ranking at world number 4. 

The Top seed Open will be the first WTA tournament to be played in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the United States. The Kentucky tournament will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-player doubles field. 

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Kremlin Cup Becomes Latest Tournament Thrown Into Uncertainty

Will there be tennis in Russia this year?

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There could be a new blow to both the ATP and WTA Tour’s with officials admitting that the venue of Russia’s top tennis tournament is yet to be approved.

 

The Kremlin Cup in Moscow is one of three events to be currently included on the provisional WTA Calendar beyond the French Open along with Seoul, South Korea and Linz, Austria. This year’s 2020 tennis season has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the sport to a standstill since March. Due to the virus all events set to take place in China later this year have been axed which includes the season-ending WTA Finals.

Shamil Tarpischev, who is the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, has said hopes of the Kremlin Cup taking place in 2020 depends on one venue in Moscow which he describes as the ‘only option.’ The tournament was held at the Olympic Stadium between 1990-2018, but it is currently going through a two-year renovation. Last year it took place at a temporary location at the Krylatskoye Ice Palace.

However, Tarpischev said the only place the tournament can be hosted in 2020 is at the CSKA track and field arena. The federation has already applied to use the venue but they are yet to get the necessary authorisation.

“CSKA is overcrowded, and therefore they have not given us an answer yet,” The Russian tennis chief told Tass news agency on Wednesday. “We are waiting for a decision in the near future, we sent all the letters. But this is our only option – there is nowhere else to play [VTB Kremlin Cup] this year.

Should they get the green light, officials intend to hold the men’s and women’s tournaments separately instead of their original plan of a combined event. Tarpischev has said the ATP event will take place from October 19 to October 25. Although this is yet to be confirmed by the ATP, who have not published their calendar for events taking place after September. Meanwhile, the women’s event is set to take place during the first week of November (2-8).

The Kremlin Cup is currently classed as an ATP 250 event for the men and a Premier for the women. Andrey Rublev and Belinda Bencic are the reigning champions.

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