Day One of Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan Are Complete - UBITENNIS
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Day One of Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan Are Complete

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Milan, Italy

Day one of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals is in the books with three of the four matches needing at least four sets to decide a winner.

The all 21-and under event featuring the best young stars in the Men’s game, provided some good tennis on the opening day with several players saying they enjoyed many of the special rule changes made for the event.

In the first match, top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Jaume Munar 4-3, 4-3, 3-4, 4-2. In Milan, the players play the first to four games in each set with a tiebreaker used at 3-3.

The second match of the afternoon was arguably the best as Andrey Rublev, the only returning player in the group from a year ago, came back from two sets to one down to get past Taylor Fritz 4-2, 1-4, 3-4, 4-3, 4-2. Both players serving big combining for 25 aces between them.

In the night session, the other American in the tournament, Frances Tiafoe got past Hubert Hurkacz 4-1, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3. The final set a back and forth tiebreak which Tiafoe ended up winning 12-10.

The final match on Tuesday had World No. 31 Alex DeMinaur, the youngest player in the draw at 19-years old, easily beating Italian Wild Card Liam Caruana 4-1, 4-1, 4-2 in just 55 minutes.

Some of the other rules changes for the Next Gen event include players being responsible for their own towels at the back of the court, No-Ad scoring, players having access to a headset to speak with their coaches during changeovers and a “no let” rule on serves.

The other rule which seems to be the biggest positive with the players is the Hawk-eye scoring system. No line judges are on the court instead all lines are called by Hawk-eye.

“I like the Hawk-eye. It’s like the ref is not even there, he is completely irrelevant,” said Tiafoe. “Obviously, it’s quite expensive but that’s for the ATP to handle (laughing)”

Play resumes on Wednesday in Milan with the first match of the day between Hurkacz and Lunar beginning at 2pm local time.

***NOTE***

Tiafoe and Tsitsipas were alternates for last years Next Gen Finals. Rublev is the only player of the eight player field to play in both tournaments.

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Criticized Over Playing A Charity Match

The duo have turned some heads due to the timing of their exhibition with two key ATP 500 events.

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The current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal are due to play a charity match tomorrow in Kazakhstan.

 

The commitment of playing in Kazakhstan means the star duo are missing tournaments in Vienna and Basel, which could be seen as a priority to play over an off the calender match. The two players have got permission from ATP CEO Chris Kermode, however, some other people are not happy about this. Edwin Weindorfer, who is the director of the Vienna Open, is one of them.

I do not think it’s good that there are exhibitions ongoing during ATP events. Players are ATP members. There is an off-season after the ATP Finals and anybody can play during that time,” Weindorfer said as reported by Express.

In reality ATP players cannot play any exhibition matches during weeks of ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, ATP 500 tournaments, ATP Finals, and should they violate these rules, they would be subjected to penalties. These are described under the player Major Offence Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game, unless they get a special permission allowing them to do so as stated. The rulebook states “A player has the right to petition the president or his designee for an exemption to these requirements unless otherwise specified above,” which both players have done in this case, and now they’re clear to play.

There was approval from ATP CEO Chris Kermode because, per rules, during ATP tournaments, an exhibition match cannot be held. So we need to respect that.” Weindorfer added.

The Vienna Open director isn’t the only one person to speak out about the topic. Thomas Muster, who is a former world No.1 and French Open Champion, has had his say too.

The tournament [Vienna] will always share the top stars with Basel. Of course, Federer plays there and Nadal and Djokovic only play where and when they want. But despite some cancellations, it is again a top field.” He said.

It’s worthy noting that playing either Vienna or Basel could have kept Djokovic as world No.1 for a longer time. He is set to lose the leading rank to the Nadal on November 4 regardless of their results at the Paris Masters.

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Basel 2019 Preview: Roger Federer Targets Record As Rivals Looks To Qualify For ATP Finals

Federer is on a quest for a 10th title in Basel and could play an all-Swiss quarter-final against countryman Stan Wawrinka later this week.

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This year in Basel the competition is at its top, with two spots yet to be reserved in the race to the ATP Nitto Finals.

 

Roger Federer, who could make a 13th final in Basel this year, will commence his campaign against qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the first quarter. In the second round the 20-time grand slam champion could play either Radu Albot or Dusan Lajovic, whom he has a clean head-to-head profile against.

Meanwhile European Open finalist, who just lost to comeback kid Andy Murray in Antwerp, Stan Wawrinka is facing the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in the first round. Should he take off with a win, he would face either Frances Tiafoe or Daniel Evans before he could set a clash with last year’s Basel champion in quarter-finals.

Generally it could be theoretically an easy contest for Federer, who has a H2H profile of 23 wins to three loses against Wawrinka with 17 of them on hard-courts. However Wawrinka is in good form after making his second final of the year last week after Rotterdam in February.

The second quarter sees one player who has guaranteed his debut at the ATP Nitto Finals. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas regained some of his good tennis during the Asian Swing where he ousted the World No.1 Novak Djokovic in Shanghai to reserve a place at the ATP Nitto Finals. Tsitsipas is taking on Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. Only one meeting has taken place between the two on the ATP Tour in Barcelona last year with the Greek winning it. Then he could play either qualifier Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis or Pablo Andujar in the second round.

However, there is another player in this quarter, who is still trying to make it to the ATP Nitto Finals. Fabio Fognini had a disappointment last week when he lost in his first match in Stockholm after making the quarter-finals in Shanghai before losing to Daniil Medvedev. The Italian is starting against  Alexei Popyrin then he could face either Laslo Djere or Filip Krajinovic, who made it the final in Stockholm before losing to Shapovalov. Fognini is in the 11th position in the race to London, going after countryman Matteo Berrettini, 8th position, with a gap of 290 points.

Should a quarter-final between Tsitsipas and Fognini occur, the Greek leads in their previous confrontations 2-0.

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut is in the third quarter. He has been in bad form these past couple months, but is only 40 points behind Berrettini in the race to London. Should the Spaniard want to make his debut at the O2 Arena this year, he has to be pretty much on form as he opens against Marius Copil. Who showed a very good form in Antwerp last week and possess a big serve that could be an obstacle to a lot of players. The winner of that match will face either the Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round.

Still in the third quarter, another player is in the run for a spot at the ATP Nitto Finals with 90 points behind the Italian Matteo Berrettini. It’s David Goffin, who is taking off in Basel against former US Open champion Marin Cilic in what could be a thrilling match, but the Croatian isn’t in good form recently. Goffin would face either the big serving Reilly Opelka or Chile’s Cristian Garin in the second round, should he get past Cilic.

Second seed Alexander Zverev takes on Taylor Fritz in the opening round in what could be a tricky match in the fourth quarter. Zverev, who has had a very tough season this year and recorded his first top-10 win just days ago in Shanghai against Federer, has gained in momentum  significantly after his participation in Laver Cup a few weeks ago. He is now in the 7th position in the race to the O2 Arena after reaching the final in Shanghai, which he lost to Medvedev in straight sets. He has either Alex De Minaur or Hugo Dellien in the second round with possibly Benoit Paire or Germany’s Struff in the quarter-final.

The Frenchman Benoit Paire is opening against the wild card holder Henri Laaksonen, should he cruise to the second round, he would face either Jan-Lennard Struff or Miomir Kecmanovic.

Full draw

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Stefanos Tsitsipas On Why His US Open Early Exit Was ‘The Best Thing To Ever Happen’

The Greek No.1 sees a silver lining to one of his latest losses on the tour.

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Losing in the first round of a grand slam isn’t something players are normally happy to talk about. However, for Stefanos Tsitsipas he doesn’t think he would be where he is now if he didn’t suffer an early loss at this year’s US Open.

 

The Greek player was seeded ninth in the draw at Flushing Meadows. He fell at the first hurdle to Russia’s Anrey Rublev in four sets, who went on to reach the fourth round of the major. Tsitsipas has endured a mixture of results in the grand slams this season. In January he scored his first major breakthrough by defeating Roger Federer on route to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. However, his runs in the majors has got worse as the season progressed. Losing in the fourth round of the French Open, followed by the first round at Wimbledon. Ironically Tsitsipas believes believes it is his US Open misfortunes that has had the biggest impact on him.

”It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” Tsitsipas told atptour.com. “I stayed in New York for six or seven days after and it gave me time to discover new things. It was important for me to enjoy and realise what I needed in my life.
”It was my decision to live life how I wanted to, not how others wanted me to. There was a time last summer when I doubted myself, [thought] that I wasn’t interesting as a person. I wanted to be someone else, but now I understand that it’s awesome to be myself.”

During the Asian swing the 21-year-old won seven out of nine matches played (excluding retirements). Reaching the final of the China Open and the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters. It was the first time he has reached the last four at two consecutive tournaments since May (Madrid and Rome).

Tsitsipas is hoping to continue his surge in form this week at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. He will be seeded third in the draw behind nine-time champion Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev. The world No.7 is yet to win an ATP 500 tournament. Something he hopes to change over the coming days.

“I’m currently in the best state of my life,” he declared. “It doesn’t have to do with results or playing good tennis or bad tennis. I’ve been feeling very happy and very well. I’ve been enjoying life more in general and that reflects in my game. It makes me happy and makes me want to live better.”

Already qualified for the ATP Finals, Tsitsipas is hoping to end what has been a roller coaster season on a high. He has achieved a win-loss record of 49-22 so far this year (including Davis Cup), but has also lost his opening match at eight tournaments.

“I think it’s normal to have ups and downs and I learned a lot this year.” He told reporters on Sunday during a press conference. “I’m looking forward to playing in Basel, Paris and London and hope to go as far as possible.”

In Basel, Tsitsipas will open up his campaign on Tuesday against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Viñolas. A player he beat in straight sets during last year’s Barcelona Open.

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