ATP Next Gen Finals, a springboard for future tennis stars - UBITENNIS
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ATP Next Gen Finals, a springboard for future tennis stars



The eight players set to play in the second edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals were officially presented to the media representatives around the world during a press conference held at Fiera Milano, the same venue where the innovative tournament will take place from 6-10 November.


On Sunday evening the eight players: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alex De Minaur, Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Andrey Rublev, Jaume Munar, Hubert Hurzak and Liam Caruana were split into two groups. Group A features Tsitsipas, Tiafoe, Hurkacz and Munar. Meanwhile, De Minaur, Fritz, Rublev and Caruana were drawn in the Group B.

Hyeon Chung won the first edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals by beating Andrey Rublev in the title match. Other players, who took part in last year’s edition like Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov and Borna Coric made a big impact on the ATP World Tour stage this season. Shapovalov got through to his second Masters 1000 semifinal in Madrid. Coric reached the semifinals at Indian Wells and the final in Shanghai. Karen Khachanov, who was ranked number 44 at the time of the 2017 ATP Next Gen Finals, won his maiden Masters 1000 title in Paris Bercy by beating Novak Djokovic last Sunday and will end the 2018 season ranked world number 11.

Group A:

Stefanos Tsitsipas:

Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas is world number 16 in the ATP Rankings and is the highest-ranked player in the field. He is the favourite to follow in the footsteps of Hyeon Chung, who won the inaugural edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals in 2017. In last year’s edition of the ATP Next Gen finals he was an alternate.

Stefanos was introduced to tennis at the age of 3. He is coached by his father Apostolos. His Russian mother Julia Salnikova was a top Soviet player in the 1980s. His father helped Stefanos develop his aggressive game and his one-handed backhand. As a junior Tsitsipas was ranked number 1 in the world.

Last April he also finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the final in Barcelona on clay. He achieved his best result at Grand Slam level when he reached the fourth round at Wimbledon before losing to John Isner. During the summer hard-court season he reached the semifinal in Washington and the final in Toronto.

He has beaten four top 10 players (Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson) en route to reaching his first Masters 1000 final at the Rogers Cup in Toronto before losing to Rafael Nadal in the title match. At the Canadian Open he became the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since 19-year-old Novak Djokovic at the 2007 Miami Open.

Last October he became the first Greek player to win an ATP tournament in Stockolm, where he lifted the maiden trophy of his career.

“I achieved all my goals in 2018 and I have developed as a player. I am happy with my first title in Stockolm and the fourth round at Wimbledon. I am still focused on the 2018 season and I want to do my best in Milan. I have not planned 2019 yet. I have to improve my game, especially the tweener ! I have to continue working hard. The 2018 season was my first major season on the tour and I have learned a lot from the two finals I played against Nadal in Barcelona and Toronto. The level of the Next Gen is very high. Only small details make the difference”, said Tsitsipas during the Media Day in Milan.

Frances Tiafoe:

Frances Tiafoe beat Juan Martin Del Potro, Hyeon Chung, Denis Shapovalov and Peter Gojowczyk en route to winning his maiden ATP title last February in Delray Beach.

The US player became the first wild-card recipient to win the Delray Beach title in the 26-year history and the youngest US champion on tour since Andy Roddick at 2002 Houston. Tiafoe’s first idol was Juan Martin Del Potro.

Frances became the youngest player to reach an ATP Tour final on European clay in 30 years in Estoril.

His parents Frances senior and mother Alphina moved from Sierra Leone to the USA in 1996 before Frances’ birth. When he was a kid, his father worked at the Junior tennis Champions Center in College Park in Maryland.

“I have had my best year ever on Tour and hit a career-high in the ATP Rankings. It’s nice to be here in Milan. I need to improve the volleys and my game at the net, but I am 20 and I am at the beginning of my career”,said Tiafoe.

Tiafoe beat one of his rivals in Group A, Hubert Hurkacz from Poland, in straight sets in Washington last summer.

Before his debut in the ATP Next Gen Finals Tiafoe took the chance to relax and enjoy watching the Euroleague basketball match between Armani Exchange Milan and Efes Istanbul together with another ATP Next Gen Finals player, Jaume Munar.

 “Euroleague is not at the same level as the NBA but I really enjoyed the match. It was a really fun game, full of pressure and nerves until the end. Basketball is my favourite sport after tennis. I am a big fan of Washington Wizards NBA team”, said Tiafoe.

Jaume Munar:

Jaume Munar won two back-to-back ATP Challenger titles in Prostejov and Caltanissetta and reached his first ATP Tour semifinal at the Generali Open in Kitzbuehl, where he beat Robin Haase and Taro Daniel before losing to Martin Klizan. The Spanish player beat Andrey Rublev in Winston Salem.

The 21-year-old Spanish player hails from Santanyi, a municipality on the Spanish Island of Majorca, where Rafael Nadal grew up and started his tennis career. Munar started playing tennis at the age of 8. He has a special relationship to Nadal and trains at the famous Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca. He is coached by Tomeu Salva, one of Nadal’s best friends.

Munar is the youngest Spanish player in the top 100. He lost to Andrey Rublev in the 2014 French Open final.

In July 2017 Munar won a title on the ATP Challenger Tour in Segovia following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin Del Potro, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, who won the past editions of this tournament.

This year he scored his first Grand Slam win against his idol David Ferrer at Roland Garros before losing to Novak Djokovic in the second round.

He enjoys reading and playing golf, watching films and listening to music and started studying economics at the University.

“At the start of the year I was thinking and dreaming about the ATP Next Gen Finals. I am a big fighter on the court, but I have to work a lot to be more consistent”, said Munar.

He is a clay specialist and achieved his best results on this surface, but the first tournaments he dreams winning are the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

“Rafa Nadal is a role model for every young player in Spain. My dream is to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon. I love Melbourne and every time I go there, I feel at home. Wimbledon represents the history of tennis”.

Hubert Hurkacz:

The Polish player born in Wroklaw moved up to ninth place in the ATP Race to Milan by winning his second ATP Challenger title in Brest, where he beat Ricardas Berankis in the final.

With the withdrawal of Denis Shapovalov due to exhaustion Hurkacz secured his spot for the ATP Next Final.

Hurkacz followed in the footsteps of his mother Zocia, a former Polish tennis champion. Roger Federer and Polish doubles star Lukasz Kubot were Hubert’s first idols when he grew up with the dream to emerge of the world tennis stage.

Last year he lost his first Challenger final in Shenzhen against Radu Albot from Moldovia. Despite the defeat he gained confidence ahead of the 2018 season.

Hurkacz started the season as world number 238 and has climbed to world number 79 this year.

He won his maiden ATP Challenger title in Poznan last June beating Taro Daniel from Japan in the final and advanced to the final in Zhuhai earlier in the season.

“The Shenzhen final gave me confidence, and I also built up my game, so I  am now stronger physically and mentally. It means a lot to me. It will be a different kind of tournament with only eight players in Milan, so it will be awesome to play here”,said Hurkacz.

Hurkacz is in contention for the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award together with other nominees Ugo Humbert, Alex De Minaur, Michael Mmoh and Jaume Munar.

Group B:

Taylor Fritz:

Fritz was the youngest ATP finalist since Kei Nishikori at the Delray Beach Open at the age of 18 two years ago. He ended 2016 as the youngest player inside the top 100 of the ATP Ranking and received the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award.

The 20-year-old US player married Raquel Pedraza, who played at all four Grand Slam Junior tournaments. Their first child Jordan was born in January 2017.

After the birth of his son he won his first match against a top 10 player at Indian Wells last March, where he beat Marin Cilic en route to reaching his first Round of 16 in a Masters 1000 tournament. The player from Rancho Santa Fé near San Diego (California) also reached his second ATP semifinal in Houston where he beat Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock before losing to Steve Johnson.

He began playing tennis at the age of 2 to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who were professional players. Taylor Fritz’s father Guy was his first coach. His mother Kathy May Fritz won seven WTA titles and was a Top 10 player. Taylor’s first idols growing up were Pete Sampras and Juan Martin Del Potro.

“I came to Milan as a young player, but playing the ATP Next Gen finals is a totally different experience”, said Taylor Fritz.

Fritz is a big fan of Los Angeles NFL American Football team and English football team Manchester United.

 Alex De Minaur:

Australia’s Alex De Minaur reached a career-high of world number 31 after starting the year at world number 210 in the ATP Ranking. He is the only teenager in the 2018 ATP Next Gen Finals field and the Number 1 Australian player in the ATP Rankings.

He started the 2018 season by reaching the semifinal in Brisbane and the final in Sydney. He was the youngest player to reach semifinals in consecutive weeks since Rafa Nadal at the 2005 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and Barcelona Open.

Last August Alex saved four match points in the second set tie-break against last year’s ATP Next Gen Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev in the semifinal of the Citi Open ATP 500 in Washington en route to reaching the final.

De Minaur works with Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt, who is Alex’s mentor during Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup ties. De Minaur’s father Anibal comes from Uruguay. His mother Esther is Spanish. They moved to Spain when Alex was five years old. The family returned to Australia, when he was 13 years old, and went back to Spain three years later.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting this. It has been a great year. I have played some unbelievable tennis. I want to continue working hard to develop my athletic training and my strength. It’s only way to keep up with the best players in the world”,said Alex De Minaur.

Andrey Rublev:

 The Russian player will play for the second consecutive year at the ATP Next Gen Final in Milan. In 2017 he lost the final against Hyeon Chung.

He started 2018 by reaching the final in Doha but he lost to Gael Monfils. He qualified for the quarter finals in Montpellier and Rotterdam.

His progress was slowed by a stress fracture injury in lower back during the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he lost to Dominic Thiem after earning a match point. The 21-year-old player from Moscow missed three months including two Grand Slam tournaments: Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Rublev made his come-back to Umag, where he defended the title won in 2017 as a lucky-loser but lost to Robin Haase in the quarter final. During the summer Rublev lost in the semifinal of the Citi Open in Washington against Alex De Minaur. He came through the qualifying rounds in Vienna to reach the Round of 16 before losing to Mikhail Kukushkin. He is now ranked world number 76.

In Umag 2017 Andrey lost the final match in qualifying round, but he became lucky-loser after the withdrawal of Borna Coric. In the main draw he beat Fabio Fognini in the quarter final, Ivan Dodig in the semifinal and Paolo Lorenzi in the final to become the seventh lucky loser to win an ATP Tour title. He reached the quarter final at the US Open after beating Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin before losing to Rafael Nadal.

Rublev started playing tennis at the age of 3. His father Andrey is a restaurateur and a former professional boxer. His mother Marina and his sister Arina are tennis coaches. His mother worked with former tennis star Anna Kournikova. Rublev trains in Spain under the guidance of former Spanish player Fernando Vicente. Rublev won the 2014 French Open Junior title and the bronze medal at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. Andrey’s idols growing up were Marat Safin and Rafael Nadal. His hobbies include boxing, basketball and music and he supports the NBA team Golden State Warriors. Andrey and a group of friends formed the music band “Summer Afternoon”. They released their first music video, a cover of “One Direction’s Steal My Girl”.

“I am fit now after a difficult season. Compared to last year I have less pressure. I am happy with my game, but I need to improve my mental strength. I hope to be able to win two consecutive matches”, said Rublev.

Liam Caruana:

Italian Liam Caruana came back from one set down to beat Raul Brancaccio 2-4 4-1 4-3 4-3 in the final of the Italian Under 21 play-off tournament to secure his spot for the ATP Next Gen Final at the Milano Fiera. Caruana won three matches in three days. In the semifinal he came back from two sets down to beat Luca Giacomini on Saturday.

Caruana was born in Rome on 22nd January 1998, but he moved to the United States at the age of six. He started his tennis career in Texas at junior level. His father Massimo, who was Liam’s first coach, moved to San Diego in California and then to Austin in Texas. Liam reached his best ranking of world number 375 last February, but he is now ranked world number 622.

“I have to improve many aspects of my game. I like playing aggressively and I want to continue playing at the net. My goal is to improve my ranking next year. I know Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe very well. We played many junior tournaments together”,said Caruana.

He played one ATP tour-level match in Auckland, where he lost to Steve Johnson, and climbed to his career-high of world number 375 in the ATP Ranking winning seven match on the ATP Challenger Tour. Liam practised with his friend Taylor Fritz when they were juniors. He also played against De Minaur and Rublev at junior tournaments.

Caruana will have the chance to use the ATP Next Gen Finals as a springboard event for his future career.




Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker

According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.



Alexander Zverev (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.


Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.

This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.

The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.

Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.

“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.

“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”

Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.

Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.

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Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development

Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.



(@tennisnewsbrazil - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.


The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.

Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.

Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.

“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”

It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.

One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.

Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.

“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.

“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.

“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”

Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.

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Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain



Nadal RG 2022 by Night (foto @RolandGarros)

The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans. 


Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.  

Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.

“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying. 
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”

Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.

“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’

Will Kyrgios play?

Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity. 

“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …” 

Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment. 

“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”

The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions. 

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