ATP Finals: Zverev Enchanted London, Djokovic And Federer Disappointed - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals: Zverev Enchanted London, Djokovic And Federer Disappointed

Ubitennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta breaks down this year’s ATP Finals with a list of the most remarkable storylines.

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  1. In my opinion, this year’s ATP Finals turned out to be a mediocre tournament, failing to produce any memorable matches. Sometimes a few matches might not be spectacular, but at least they can produce drama. This year we didn’t get any drama at all. Cilic-Isner was the only match out of 15 to be decided in a third set, even though none of the two players reached the semifinals.
  2. All of the matches – including the final – seemed to be uninspired. As soon as one player jumped to a lead, his opponent did very little to turn the match around and continued to play very poorly.
  3. Nevertheless, the tournament could go down in the history books as Sasha Zverev’s first big title just when nobody expected him to win. Who knows how many big titles the young German will win in the future.
  4. Zverev is only the fourth player to defeat Federer and Djokovic in the same tournament. Nalbandian achieved the double at the 2007 Madrid Masters, Murray defeated both the Swiss and the Serb at Wimbledon during the 2012 Olympics, while Nadal had the best of his two rivals in Hamburg and at Roland Garros in 2008. To say that Zverev achieved an incredible feat is an understatement and his future is certainly very bright. He might also become a little more likable. He definitely took a step in the right direction throughout the weekend, keeping his composure and showing good sportsmanship when a very pro-Federer British crowd started booing him at the end of their semifinal match.
  5. Zverev captured his first ATP title in St. Petersburg in 2016, but his first memorable win took place at the Masters 1000 event in Rome in 2017. His maiden Italian Open title will probably be remembered in the same way we all remember Stefan Edberg’s first title in Milan in 1984 or Federer’s first victory also in Milan in 2001. The Swede went on to win a total of 41 titles in his illustrious career, while Roger has captured a staggering 99 titles so far.
  6. While Zverev deserves all the credit for playing an impeccable final despite being only 21 years of age, Djokovic was the shadow of the player that dominated his younger rival 64 61 on Wednesday. On his way to the final, Djokovic never dropped serve and only conceded 32 points in 36 service games. At some point in the final, he was broken three consecutive times. Unrecognizable.
  7. In their round-robin match on Wednesday, we witnessed the opposite situation: After Zverev failed to capitalize on two break-points at 4-4 in the first set, he started missing left and right. From 1-1 in the second set, the German won only three points for the rest of the match.
  8. The final of the year-end championships was contested 19 times by two players who previously faced each other in the group stages. 10 of those 19 finals have been won by the player who lost the round-robin match. Zverev was unaware of this strange coincidence before the match and when a reporter asked him about it, he joked: “Well, next time I’ll remember to lose a match in the round-robin stage.” Djokovic wasn’t obviously as happy about the outcome: “You would think that the player that won the first match in the round-robin should have a psychological advantage and play with more confidence. I knew that he would have changed something and played better. As for me, I played below my best level, especially compared to all the matches that I played during the week.”
  9. The final will be remembered more for producing an upset and giving us a young champion than for the quality of play. After Djokovic won 35 of his last 37 matches, nobody thought that he could lose to Zverev. The bookmakers paid Zverev’s win at 6 – an unbelievable odd.
  10. Looking back at recent finals that were contested at the year-end championships, very few have been appealing and interesting. The last remarkable final was played in 2012 when Djokovic defeated Federer 76 75. When the final used to be a best-of-five match, we had memorable clashes in 2005 when Nalbandian prevailed over Federer 67 67 61 62 76, in 1996 when Sampras defeated Becker 36 76 76 67 64 and in 1994 when Sampras once again had the best of Becker 46 63 75 64. The 1993 final when Stich defeated Sampras 76 26 76 62 was also a good match, even if the court speed in Frankfurt was so fast that the serves were sometimes too dominant. A legendary final was certainly played by Becker and Lendl at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1988, when the German captured the last point with a shocking net cord after a gruelling 36 shot rally: 57 76 36 62 76 was the final score in Becker’s favor. Another memorable final was won by Lendl over Gerulaitis 67 26 76 62 64, with Ivan saving a match-point in the third set. McEnroe-Ashe in 1978 saw John prevail 63 67 75, while Vilas defeated Nastase 76 62 36 36 64 on the Kooyong grass in 1974.
  11. Speaking of Lendl, Ivan captured the year-end championships 5 times and contested an astonishing 9 finals. He qualified for the championships for 12 years in a row between 1980 and 1991, winning 39 out of 49 matches. Djokovic and Connors qualified 10 times, Nadal 14 times (even if he withdrew in 5 occasions) and Federer 16 times.
  12. The three matches that Novak Djokovic lost since Wimbledon are great advertisement for the Next-Gen ATP Finals. He lost to Tsitsipas in Toronto, Khachanov in Paris-Bercy and Zverev at the ATP Finals in London.
  13. The Next-Gen Finals in Milan offered better and more interesting matches than the ATP Finals in London. The level expressed by Tsitsipas and de Minaur in the Milan final was higher than most of the matches that were contested at the O2 Arena, even if the shorter sets, tie-breakers at 3-3 and no-ad games are almost a different sport.
  14. Which was a better match: The semifinal between Zverev and Federer or the final between Zverev and Djokovic? It’s hard to say. Zverev played a better match in the final. Djokovic probably played worse than Federer. The what-ifs are certainly not the best way to analyze a match, but had Federer captured the second set, I believe that he would have ended up winning the match.
  15. Zverev was brilliant in his speech during the trophy presentation. He thanked the sponsors, chair umpires, line judges and ballkids. At that point, I started thinking that he could have mentioned the ballkid who accidentally dropped a ball mid-rally in a crucial moment of the semifinal against Federer. I think the organizers should have brought the same ballkind back for the final as well.
  16. I used to truly love doubles and I would have probably followed the doubles event if an Italian team had qualified. Instead I didn’t watch it at all. Shame on me.
  17. Sasha Zverev is the first German year-end champion in 23 years, since Boris Becker defeated Michael Chang. Boris won six Grand Slam titles and was world No. 1 for “only” 12 weeks. I think that Zverev will eventually achieve more than Becker in the future. He will also win more and probably spend less money than his legendary countryman. Unlike Boris, he will be more careful with women, but I doubt that he will become more popular. Will Sasha win a Slam in 2019? Yes and no, but he will certainly be one of the favorites, especially after his win in London.
  18. The most recurring question is: Will Roger Federer qualify for next year’s ATP Finals and win another Slam? In my opinion, he will qualify for London as I don’t think that there are eight better players than him. I also think that he will not win another major title. Best-of-five tennis is probably going to take a toll on him, even if he could keep his hopes high on grass with a favorable draw.
  19. Nadal will be the favorite at Roland Garros once again. He could win his 12th title in Paris, but I don’t think that he will capture a major title anywhere else.
  20. Had Djokovic not showed a certain mental fragility in his final loss at the year-end championships, I would have said that the Serb could be a strong candidate to capture the calendar year Grand Slam in 2019. These last two or three losses against rising Next-Gen stars put a few doubts on my mind.

 

Ubaldo Scanagatta

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )

 

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Jelena Ostapenko lifts her first title since 2017 in Luxembourg

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Jelena Ostapenko claimed her first title since 2017 after beating defending champion and number 2 seed Julia Goerges 6-4 6-1 in the final at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.

 

Ostapenko made her come-back last week by reaching the final in Linz last week. This week she lifted her third career title and her first trophy since Linz in September 2017 in the same year when she won her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. Ostapenko has been working with former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli during the past two weeks. The work with the former French star is reaping its fruits, as Ostapenko has scored 9 wins in 10 matches in the past two tournaments.

In the Luxembourg final the Latvian player hit six aces and won 83 % of her first serve points. Ostapenko earned her first break point in the opening game of the match. Goerges hit an ace to save a break point before holding her serve. Both players held their serve until 4-4. Ostapenko earned a double break in the ninth game. Goerges saved the first chance with a serve. Ostapenko sealed her second opportunity to take a 5-4 lead, as Ostapenko hit a forehand long. Ostapenko earned three set points with her fifth ace. She converted her first chance, as her serve was returned wide by Goerges.

Goerges held at love in the first game of the second set. Ostapenko broke twice in a row to race out to a 5-1 lead. Goerges saved the first match point with a strong serve. Ostapenko earned her second match point, as Goerges made two unforced errors, and sealed the win when the German made her double fault.

“Of course it’s great to finish the season with winning a title. I enjoyed this week so much, and I think I played really well today. I just like to finish the year this way”, said Ostapenko.

 

 

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Belinda Bencic claims the fourth title of her career with a three-set win over Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in Moscow

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Belinda Bencic claimed the fourth WTA Premier title of her career with a 3-6 6-1 6-1 win over Anastasya Pavlychenkova after 1 hour and 43 minutes in the final of the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

 

Number 3 seed Belinda Bencic clinched her second WTA Tour title of the 2019 season one day after securing her spot for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen by beating Kristina Mladenovic in the semifinal. Last February the Swiss player lifted the trophy in Dubai.

Bencic beat Pavlyuchenkova for the fourth time in their five head-to-head matches.

In the first set Pavlyuchenkova saved two break points before earning an early break in the opening game. The Russian player closed out the first set with another break at 5-3 after a double fault from Bencic.

Bencic bounced back by getting an early break at the start of the second set. The Swiss player went up a double break to race out to a 5-1 lead forcing the match to the third set.

Bencic cruised through to a 5-0 lead with two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games and closed out the third set 6-1 with a service winner in the seventh game.

Bencic was not initially entered in the WTA Premier tournament in Moscow and received a wildcard. During this week Bencic beat Polona Hercog and three former top 20 players Kirsten Flipkens, Kristina Mladenovic and Anastasya Pavlyuchenova

“It feels unbelievable right now. I still can’t imagine. I had no pressure going into the match. We were so happy yesterday, celebrating Shenzhen and this is the cherry on the top. This will take a special place in my heart, because here I qualified for the WTA Finals”, said Bencic.

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Andrey Rublev lifts his first title in Moscow on his 22nd birthday

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Local star Andrey Rublev cruised past Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-0 in the final of the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow on his 22nd birthday in his home city.

 

Rublev claimed the second title of his career becoming the ninth Russian player to win the Moscow title in the history of this tournament. Before this year’s edition he had not won a match in his six previous attempts at the Moscow tournament

He will move up to the top 25 in the ATP Ranking for the first time in his career after a successful second half of the season in which he won 19 of his past 25 matches. The highlights of his season include the final in Hamburg, the quarter finals in Cincinnati (where he lost to Danil Medvedev), Winston Salem and St. Petersburg, the fourth round at the US Open (where he lost by semifinalist Matteo Berrettini) and the third round in Shanghai.

Rublev earned his first break in the first game after drawing a forehand error from Mannarino. The 22-year-old home player held on his next service games to claim the first set 6-4.

Rublev dropped just three points and broke serve three times in a one-sided second set. He earned three championhips points. Mannarino, who had not lost a set this week, saved the first two match points, but Rublev converted his third chance after 63 minutes.

 “I am at a loss. I can’t find the right words for what it means to me to win here. I grew up with this tournament. I spent my childhood at the VTB Kremlin Cup. I will remember this tournament and this win for many years, and I will hopefully be playing this tournament for many years down the road”, said Andrey Rublev.

Rublev has no time to rest on his laurels, as he will play against Felix Auger Aliassime in his opening match at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna next week.

Mannarino has continued his good period of form in the second half of the season in which he won the title at s’Hertogenbosh and reached the final in Zhuhai.

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