Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Roberto Bautista Agut to headline top-quality field in Auckland - UBITENNIS
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Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Roberto Bautista Agut to headline top-quality field in Auckland

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Thirty-one year-old Italian star Fabio Fognini has confirmed that he will play at next January’s ASB Classic in Auckland from 7 to 12 January 2019.

 

Fognini will be the second seeded player in the field with his current ranking of world number 13.

Fognini has enjoyed a very consistent season and equalled his career-high of world number 13 after winning three tournaments in Sao Paulo, Bastad and Los Cabos (where he beat Juan Martin Del Potro), reached the final in Chengdu and the semifinals in Sydney, Rio De Janeiro, Geneva, Beijing and Stockolm. He was in contention for a qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

It was a successful season for Italian men’s tennis. Two Italian players (Fognini and this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato) ended the season in the top 20 of the ATP Ranking for the first time since 1979.

Fognini made his debut in Auckland in 2010 and is set to make his fourth appearance in the ASB Classic. He lost in the first round for two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011 and reached the quarter final in 2016, when he lost 7-5 7-6 (7-4) against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a hard-fought match.

Fognini won eight tournaments in his career and is the only player to beat Rafa Nadal after rallying from two sets down in a Grand Slam tournament.

“I like playing in Auckland. I have had some great matches there and the crowd is amazing to play in front of. I have playing some great tennis this year and I hope to do the same in 2019”,said Fognini.

ASB Tournament Director Karl Budge is happy to have secured Fognini for next January’s Auckland tournament.

“Fabio is one of the most entertaining blokes on tour. He plays with that Italian passion and flare that captivates crowds. It is great to have him in the field”, said Auckland Tournament Director Karl Budge.

Fognini will not the only Italian player in Auckland, because the field will also feature this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, who started the year ranked world number 90 and reached his career-high of 19. Cecchinato won two tournaments in Budapest and Umag.

The other top names in the field are Canadian Next Gen star Denis Shapovalov, world number 10 player John Isner, defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung and former top 10 Tomas Berdych.

Isner won his maiden Masters 1000 title in Miami, reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon and qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

Roberto Bautista Agut will defend his title won in 2018. The Spanish player battled past Robin Haase in a three-hour semifinal 6-7 7-6 7-6 before beating Juan Martin Del Potro in the final to claim his second title in Auckland. Bautista went on to win his second title of the year in Dubai.

He beat top ten players Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro to reach the semifinals at the Montreal Masters 1000 tournament in 2017. This year he qualified for his second Masters 1000 tournament at the Madrid Mutua Open.

Tomas Berdych will make his first appearance in Auckland. The Czech star is one of the three players who have beaten the “Big Four” Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray in Grand Slam tournaments and reached his career-high of world number 4 in May 2015.

Denis Shapovalov reached his career-high of world number 23 becoming the youngest ranked player in the top 25 since Richard Gasquet in 2005. The Canadian teenager is set to return to Auckland for the second consecutive year.

“Auckland is awesome. I jumped off the Sky Tower when I was there last time. I am not sure what I will do on this visit but I am sure I will find something fun”,said Shapovalov.

The young Canadian player will be joined in the field by Hyeon Chung, who won the inaugural edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan in 2017.

“There is a lot of talent on the rise, a lot of guys that are the real deal. It’s motivating in a way. Almost every week there is someone new, doing really well. Danil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have their own style. I have my own style. We all have weapons and weeknesses. It’s going to be interesting to see who is able to be the best version of themselves, who is on top in the next couple of years. I did not expect to be where I am at this moment. It’s been happening so quick. This year I just wanted to stay in the top 50, maintain that ranking. I am really happy to be where I am at the moment. I am currently ranked world number 27 in the world. It’s a huge jump from last year. I have enjoyed a really successful season”,said Shapovalov.

ASB Classic Tournament Director Karl Budge is excited to see Shapovalov in action in Auckland.

“We got a taste of what Shapovalov can deliver this year and can’t wait to see more. There is no question he is a star of the future, and he is delivering some big matches right now. He is so athletic and dynamic, he is just exciting to watch on court. The ASB Classic has a reputation for showcasing the next generation of talent. Nadal, Federer, Murray and Wozniacki all played here early in their careers”,said Budge.  

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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