ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic Faces Big Servers As Federer Hopes To Overtake Nadal - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic Faces Big Servers As Federer Hopes To Overtake Nadal

Novak Djokovic will look to win a sixth ATP Finals title but will have to tame some big serving if he wants to lift the title next Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

World number one Novak Djokovic has been handed the harder group at the ATP Finals as he aims to equal Roger Federer’s record of six titles in London. 

The Serb will end the year world number one after Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal today but will still be looking to end the season strong.

Should Djokovic win the ATP Finals this year he will win a record-equalling sixth title, tying Roger Federer in the process.

While his nemesis Roger Federer is looking to overtake Nadal in the world rankings and end the year world number two.

To achieve this the Swiss will need to win all five matches this week and claim his seventh ATP Finals title. With a lot at stake in London this week, lets have a look at the Round Robin groups.

Group Gustavo Kuerten

  • Novak Djokovic
  • Alexander Zverev
  • Marin Cilic
  • John Isner

Group Gustavo Kuerten will see the best returner of all time up against three big servers after Novak Djokovic was drawn with Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and John Isner.

The world number one will have to return at his best when he takes on Miami Open champion John Isner in his first match. It will be their first contest since 2015, with the Serb leading their head-to-head record 8-2.

The American at 33 years old will make his first appearance at the ATP Finals, benefiting from Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal. It’s been a good year for Isner after his first Masters 1000 triumph in Miami he managed to reach his maiden grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon.

In the other first Round Robin match in the group Alexander Zverev will take on Marin Cilic with the young German making his second consecutive appearance at the ATP Finals. Surprisingly Zverev lead his head-to-head with Cilic 5-1 including beating him in three sets last year in London.

This should be a tough test for Djokovic, although the expectation is that he will still top his group although many physical battles await him.

Group Lleyton Hewitt 

  • Roger Federer
  • Kevin Anderson
  • Dominic Thiem
  • Kei Nishikori

In the other group, Roger Federer will start his bid for a seventh ATP Finals title against Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star benefited from Juan Martin Del Potro’s withdrawal and despite starting the season with Challenger events has had an amazing second half of the season.

He will play Federer for the third time in four weeks after suffering two tight losses to the Swiss in Shanghai and Paris. The six time champion is expected to cruise through his group although a match with Kevin Anderson could decide the winner.

The South African came from two sets down to beat Federer in a Wimbledon classic in July and those memories could haunt the Swiss when they play next week. As for Anderson he will play Dominic Thiem in his first match.

In may, the Austrian reached the Roland Garros final and will look to use his in-form tennis to stun Anderson on Sunday or Monday. Their head-to-head record is 8-2 Anderson although Thiem has won both meetings this season.

So we are set for an enthralling week in London and play starts on Sunday 11th of November, with the final a week later.

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Alexander Zverev: “My coach won’t stop crying until next year”

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Zverev has been very consistent during the Masters 1000 season winning the third title of his career in the series at the Madrid Mutua Open in the Caja Magica one year after his wins in Rome and Toronto. He also lost two Masters 1000 finals in Miami to John Isner and in Rome to Rafa Nadal. During the 2018 season Zverev also won two more tournaments at ATP 250 level in Munich and Washington.

During an interview with the BBC Zverev thanked all the people who are working with him and helped him win at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London.

“My dad has been coaching me for most of my life. I think he is the best tennis coach. He won’t stop crying until next year probably but that’s fine. He also probably doesn’t understand what I am saying but it’s fine. Thanks to Ivan Lendl for joining the team. I think it’s working out all right for now. Hopefully it stays like that. Nobody can probably see it but I have actually put on muscle. I was skinnier before than I am now”, said Zverev.

Zverev congratulated with Novak Djokovic and talked about his relationship to the Serbian world number 1 player, who qualified for the final without dropping a set during the whole week.

I really can’t believe it. It’s the biggest title I have ever won. Firstly I want to congratulate Novak and we may never have seen the tennis he has played in the last few months before. He barely lost a match but thankfully he did me to. We had many talks on life, not only about tennis, but al different types of subjects. Huge congratulations to Djokovic’s team. Finishing as world number one after having surgery, I don’t know if it has been done before. You are one of the best teams on tour, so good luck for next year”, said Zverev.

 

 

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Mike Bryan and Jack Sock lift their third doubles title as a team in 2018 at the Nitto ATP Finals in London

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Mike Bryan and Jack Sock came back from one set down to edge Frenchmen Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7 6-1 13-11 in just over 90 minutes after a dramatic tie-break in the doubles final at the Nitto ATP Finals in a packed O2 Arena in London. They have clinched their third doubles title in their eighth together as a team.

The US team crowned an impressive season adding the ATP Finals title to the wins achieved at Wimbledon and at the US Open. They became the first doubles team to win these two Grand Slam titles since Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge.

Bryan and Sock converted three of their ten break points and saved six of the eight chances they faced.

The opening set featured six deuce deciding points in twelve points went on serve until the seventh game when Mahut earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead with a lob. Bryan and Sock broke straight back in the eighth game on their fifth break point after a double fault from Mahut.

Herbert and Mahut broke serve again in the 11th game to take the 6-5 edge before fending off four break points in row to seal the first set on the deciding point.

Bryan and Sock went up a double break in the second and sixth games to cruise through to winning the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the Tie-Break.

After a series of mini-breaks Herbert and Mahut fended off three match points in the tie-break at 9-6 to draw level to 9-9 keeping their chance alive. The 2018 Rotterdam and French Open champions earned their own match point at 11-10. Sock and Bryan reeled off three points to save the match point and clinch the tie-break 13-11 on their sixth match point after 1 hour and 31 minutes, when Herbert made a double fault.

Forty-year-old Bryan won his fifth doubles title at the ATP Finals in his career after the four previous wins in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2014 achieved together with his twin brother Bob Bryan. He has become the sixth player in history to win multiple year end titles with at least 2 different partners. Only John McEnroe and Peter Fleming won more doubles titles in the history of this event with their seven consecutive triumphs from 1978 to 1984 at the Madison Square in New York.

Sock is the first player to reach the year-end final in doubles and semifinals in singles (2017) since McEnroe back in 1984. He has also become the oldest champion in the ATP Finals history. Bryan and Sock began their partnership in another London venue last June. Bryan has lifted his 121st title in his legendary career. His impressive collection includes 18 Grand Slam doubles titles and the Olympic doubles gold medal in London 2012.

They were presented with the title by ATP Executive Chairman Chris Kermode and Nitto President Hideo Takasaki.

Mahut and Herbert were bidding to be the first French champions since 2005. The French team ended the season with a win-loss record of 23-11.

“This is how you want to start a partnership and end one. To win here is just an epic experience. To finish a great year off  the right way, winning here against some of the best teams in the world. The way we did, it came down to the wire. It was pretty exciting. I have real memories with Jack. We are closing the book on our partnership because Bob is coming back.We are always going to be great friends and hang out in the off season. We are going to spend our off-season training together”, said Mike Bryan. 

 

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‘If You Win a Grand Slam, It’s A Good Season’ – Roger Federer On 2018 And His Off-Season Goals

The Swiss player has named two improvements he would like to make to his game ahead of the next season.

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20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has said that he is contempt with his performance this year despite experiencing a slight dip in form during the second half.

The 37-year-old officially ended his season on Saturday after bowing out in straight sets to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals in London. This year the Swiss player has won four titles on the tour, including the Australian Open in January. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 48-10.

“(Pete) Sampras once upon a time said, ‘If you win a slam, it’s a good season.’” Reflected Federer, who held the world No.1 ranking for a total of eight weeks during 2018.
“So started great. I played super well in Australia again. So obviously I can’t wait to go back there in a couple of months.”

Despite the success, he has also suffered his share of disappointment. Prior to his last tournament of the year, Federer had only won two out of six matches against top 10 players. He also suffered a surprise loss to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon before falling in the fourth round at the US Open. Making it the first time he has only reached one grand slam semi-final out of four since 2013.

“The second half of the season could have been better maybe.” Admitted Federer. “I also have high hopes to always do well. So I’m happy I gave myself opportunities again in that second half of the season.”
“I maybe lost a couple too close matches that could have changed things around for me a little bit.” He added.

Work to be done in the off-season

Fortunately, the positives overweight the negatives for the Swiss veteran, who is the oldest player currently in the world’s top 100. In September he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut on the ATP Tour at the Grand Prix de Tennis de Toulouse in France.

“I’m very proud that at 37 I’m still so competitive and so happy playing tennis. From that standpoint, as disappointed as I might be about this match if I take a step back, I’m actually very happy about the season.” He told reporters after his loss to Zverev on Saturday.

Federer will now embark upon the off-season where he is expected to conduct his usual preparation in Dubai. During a recent interview with newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, he has outlined two areas of his game that he wants to improve on. His forehand and his play at the net.

“As far as tennis is concerned, I would like to find my way back to the net more often,” he said.
“And of course I want to whip the forehand right again.
“Then there is the condition training with Pierre (Paganini).
“Of course, deciding whether to play on clay or not has an impact on the training program.”

Federer will return to action at the Hopman Cup, which will get underway on December 29th.

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