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



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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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.



Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.


The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.



20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.


The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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ATP Announces 22-Month Ranking System To Support Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Parts of the changes have been done to help support those who prefer not to or can not travel to tournaments due to safety concerns.



The ATP Tour has revised their calculations for this year’s ranking system with the governing body admitting that the new changes could also be applied in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Players on the men’s Tour have been given a wider period where they can select their best tournaments to determine their ranking. Prior to the suspension of competitive tennis, male players were allowed to select their 18 best performances in tournaments within a 52-week period. This has now been expanded to 22 months (March 2019-December 2020). Although they are not allowed to use the same tournament twice.

In a press release the ATP says their new measures allows ‘flexibility and fairness’ with players on the tour. Furthermore, it has been designed with the possibility of the rules continuing into 2021 should the ongoing pandemic continue to disrupt the Tour in some degree. Outlining their objectives, the ATP says one of their goals is to protect those who ‘cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.’ A point recently raised by Australian player Alexei Popyrin who has voiced concerns about playing at the US Open.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

As a result of the changes, it remains to be seen if this will have any effect on other players concerning their decision to play at the New York major which will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Some parts of America have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with 52,228 New Cases being reported on July 5th.

Under the new calculations, no player will have less ranking points than what they currently have at present. The ATP rankings have been frozen since March 16th but will resume on the Monday after the first tournament in the revised calendar concludes.

There are exceptions to the new 22-month ruling. Qualification for the ATP Finals will still be based on 52 weeks because the event is classed as an ‘additional tournament.’ Therefore it doesn’t count as one of the 18 key events to determine a player’s ranking. Points from last year’s tournament will drop off on November 9th after the Paris Masters. The reason for doing so is to make the chances of qualifying more fair. Furthermore Challenger and ITF events will also be based on the 52-week rule because ‘events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar.’

The ATP Tour is set to resume at the Citi Open in Washington during the second week of August.

A full FAQ of the new ranking system can be read here.

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