Stefanos Tsitsipas: "I don't like the towel rule" - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas: “I don’t like the towel rule”

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Stefanos Tsitsipas has a good memory of Milan, the city, which hosts the second edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals. The 20-year-old Greek player won the famous Bonfiglio Junior tennis Tournament in 2016, a prestigious Grade A junior tennis tournament held on outdoor clay at the end of May in Milan before Roland Garros. That year he reached at least the quarter finals of all eight tournaments he played, including all four Grand Slam Junior tournaments. He became the first Greek to win a junior Grand Slam title, when he partnered with Estonian Kenneth Raisma in the doubles tournament at Wimbledon. He also reached the singles semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open  and ended 2016 ranked world number 2 at junior level behing Miomir Kecmanovic.

He returned to Milan last year as alternate at the first edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals at the end of a successful season in which he became the first Greek player in history to be ranked in the top 100. He reached his first semifinal at ATP Tour level in Antwerp as a qualifier after beating David Goffin for the first top 10 win of his career.

Tsitsipas has made a major breakthrough in 2018 reaching a career-high of world number 15 in the ATP Ranking.

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. Stefanos has three younger siblings. His tow brothers Petros and Pavlos and his sister Elisavet are also tennis players.

“I was three years old and I hit balls with my father between lessons. I remember watching matches on TV as a baby”, recalls Tsitsipas.

The Athens-born player started playing tennis taking lessons at the Tennis Club Glyfada near Athens at the age of 6. His father has always been his coach, but Stefanos began training at the Patrick Moratoglou Academy in 2015.

His father helped Stefanos develop his aggressive game and his one-handed backhand. As a junior Tsitsipas was ranked number 1 player.

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.

“My favourite tournament of the year is Barcelona. The final against Rafa Nadalwas very special but also the run in Toronto and obviously in Stockolm”

He beat 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 Rafa Nadal in the title match. In the Canadian Open he became the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since 19-year-old Novak Djokovic at 2007 Miami.

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. The first Grand Slam I would like to win in my career, because it is important and has an important media coverage. It’s popular around the world. Winning Wimbledon changes your life”.

 “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.

Tsitsipas was asked if he would like to add a mentor to his team.

“I would like to work with Pete Sampras to continue improving. He would be perfect, but I doubt that he wants to travel”.

 Tsitsipas made a winning debut to his Milan campaign with a hard-fought win over Jaume Munar in four sets in a match which featured three tie-breaks.

 “The match was closer than I had expected. It was very stressful from the beginning. Every point counts. You can get broken at any moment. There was a lot of stress with many tie-breaks. The key was to be aggressive and deal with tough situations. My forehand worked well but I have to improve my serve. ”.

Tsitsipas does not like the rule according to which players are instructed to use a towel rack at the back of the court to remove the onus on ball-kids to handle towels.

“One thing that I didn’t like that much was the towel rule. I had to run for the towel, I always in my mind when I was playing. The rest was pretty okay. I am not a big fan of the coaching rule on the court, to be honest. I think a player should find solutions by himself. I don’t really like to talk when I am playing on the court. The rest was fine. It was a great performance. I am going to try to work on my serve for my next match”, said Tsitsipas during the post-match interview.

During the press conference Tsitsipas was asked when was the first time that the ball-boy gave him the towel.

“I think it was my first Mastes as a junior. It was somewhere In Italy I played. It was Tennis Europe Masters. I don’t remember where. Calabria or something ? Is there a place like this ? Reggio Calabria. It was the Masters there. I think they had ball kids for the first time. It’s a habit when you have this for almost your entire life. When you play at high level, you have the ball kids give you the towels, so it’s a bit unusual not to have than when you play a match. I think having the towels whenever you need it, it’s very helpful. It’s one thing less that you have to think about. I believe you don’t need to think about whether you are going to take your towel now or later. You can just call the ball kid. It’s their job to provide towels and balls to the players. I have been a ball boy and I gave the towel in my club tournament. It was the Greek Championship, I think”, said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas found that the innovative scoring system worked well.

“The four games rule worked well. I think it was okay. I believe a tie-break is a scoring format where the more experienced, the calmer and wiser player usually wins the tie-break. Let’s not forget luck involved as well. I was very satisfied that I won the first tie-breaks because it showed good manners from me. I was just there and taking advantage of my opportunities. The scoring system was fine. Deuce was a bit stressful. One good shot, one lucky return just can make the difference. If this deuce rule would be part of the future, I would just take it away. I would probably continue with ad scoring and forget the deciding point. The rest was pretty fine. The lets were okay. They have been done, because I have had issues in the past where I was playing without referees and the opponents were”.

Tsitsipas is enjoying this week in Milan but he is taking this tournament very seriously.

 “ It’s definitely fun. It’s Next Gen fans watching us play. I remember myself being that kid watching the older guys play. I love those kids. They just make tennis more fun and entertaining. I am still motivated at the end of a long season. I love football but I will not be tourist and I will not attend any football matches at San Siro. I am here to win the tournament”

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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Alexander Zverev: “My coach won’t stop crying until next year”

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Zverev has been very consistent during the Masters 1000 season winning the third title of his career in the series at the Madrid Mutua Open in the Caja Magica one year after his wins in Rome and Toronto. He also lost two Masters 1000 finals in Miami to John Isner and in Rome to Rafa Nadal. During the 2018 season Zverev also won two more tournaments at ATP 250 level in Munich and Washington.

During an interview with the BBC Zverev thanked all the people who are working with him and helped him win at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London.

“My dad has been coaching me for most of my life. I think he is the best tennis coach. He won’t stop crying until next year probably but that’s fine. He also probably doesn’t understand what I am saying but it’s fine. Thanks to Ivan Lendl for joining the team. I think it’s working out all right for now. Hopefully it stays like that. Nobody can probably see it but I have actually put on muscle. I was skinnier before than I am now”, said Zverev.

Zverev congratulated with Novak Djokovic and talked about his relationship to the Serbian world number 1 player, who qualified for the final without dropping a set during the whole week.

I really can’t believe it. It’s the biggest title I have ever won. Firstly I want to congratulate Novak and we may never have seen the tennis he has played in the last few months before. He barely lost a match but thankfully he did me to. We had many talks on life, not only about tennis, but al different types of subjects. Huge congratulations to Djokovic’s team. Finishing as world number one after having surgery, I don’t know if it has been done before. You are one of the best teams on tour, so good luck for next year”, said Zverev.

 

 

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Mike Bryan and Jack Sock lift their third doubles title as a team in 2018 at the Nitto ATP Finals in London

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Mike Bryan and Jack Sock came back from one set down to edge Frenchmen Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7 6-1 13-11 in just over 90 minutes after a dramatic tie-break in the doubles final at the Nitto ATP Finals in a packed O2 Arena in London. They have clinched their third doubles title in their eighth together as a team.

The US team crowned an impressive season adding the ATP Finals title to the wins achieved at Wimbledon and at the US Open. They became the first doubles team to win these two Grand Slam titles since Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge.

Bryan and Sock converted three of their ten break points and saved six of the eight chances they faced.

The opening set featured six deuce deciding points in twelve points went on serve until the seventh game when Mahut earned the first break to take a 4-3 lead with a lob. Bryan and Sock broke straight back in the eighth game on their fifth break point after a double fault from Mahut.

Herbert and Mahut broke serve again in the 11th game to take the 6-5 edge before fending off four break points in row to seal the first set on the deciding point.

Bryan and Sock went up a double break in the second and sixth games to cruise through to winning the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the Tie-Break.

After a series of mini-breaks Herbert and Mahut fended off three match points in the tie-break at 9-6 to draw level to 9-9 keeping their chance alive. The 2018 Rotterdam and French Open champions earned their own match point at 11-10. Sock and Bryan reeled off three points to save the match point and clinch the tie-break 13-11 on their sixth match point after 1 hour and 31 minutes, when Herbert made a double fault.

Forty-year-old Bryan won his fifth doubles title at the ATP Finals in his career after the four previous wins in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2014 achieved together with his twin brother Bob Bryan. He has become the sixth player in history to win multiple year end titles with at least 2 different partners. Only John McEnroe and Peter Fleming won more doubles titles in the history of this event with their seven consecutive triumphs from 1978 to 1984 at the Madison Square in New York.

Sock is the first player to reach the year-end final in doubles and semifinals in singles (2017) since McEnroe back in 1984. He has also become the oldest champion in the ATP Finals history. Bryan and Sock began their partnership in another London venue last June. Bryan has lifted his 121st title in his legendary career. His impressive collection includes 18 Grand Slam doubles titles and the Olympic doubles gold medal in London 2012.

They were presented with the title by ATP Executive Chairman Chris Kermode and Nitto President Hideo Takasaki.

Mahut and Herbert were bidding to be the first French champions since 2005. The French team ended the season with a win-loss record of 23-11.

“This is how you want to start a partnership and end one. To win here is just an epic experience. To finish a great year off  the right way, winning here against some of the best teams in the world. The way we did, it came down to the wire. It was pretty exciting. I have real memories with Jack. We are closing the book on our partnership because Bob is coming back.We are always going to be great friends and hang out in the off season. We are going to spend our off-season training together”, said Mike Bryan. 

 

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‘If You Win a Grand Slam, It’s A Good Season’ – Roger Federer On 2018 And His Off-Season Goals

The Swiss player has named two improvements he would like to make to his game ahead of the next season.

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20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has said that he is contempt with his performance this year despite experiencing a slight dip in form during the second half.

The 37-year-old officially ended his season on Saturday after bowing out in straight sets to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals in London. This year the Swiss player has won four titles on the tour, including the Australian Open in January. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 48-10.

“(Pete) Sampras once upon a time said, ‘If you win a slam, it’s a good season.’” Reflected Federer, who held the world No.1 ranking for a total of eight weeks during 2018.
“So started great. I played super well in Australia again. So obviously I can’t wait to go back there in a couple of months.”

Despite the success, he has also suffered his share of disappointment. Prior to his last tournament of the year, Federer had only won two out of six matches against top 10 players. He also suffered a surprise loss to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon before falling in the fourth round at the US Open. Making it the first time he has only reached one grand slam semi-final out of four since 2013.

“The second half of the season could have been better maybe.” Admitted Federer. “I also have high hopes to always do well. So I’m happy I gave myself opportunities again in that second half of the season.”
“I maybe lost a couple too close matches that could have changed things around for me a little bit.” He added.

Work to be done in the off-season

Fortunately, the positives overweight the negatives for the Swiss veteran, who is the oldest player currently in the world’s top 100. In September he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut on the ATP Tour at the Grand Prix de Tennis de Toulouse in France.

“I’m very proud that at 37 I’m still so competitive and so happy playing tennis. From that standpoint, as disappointed as I might be about this match if I take a step back, I’m actually very happy about the season.” He told reporters after his loss to Zverev on Saturday.

Federer will now embark upon the off-season where he is expected to conduct his usual preparation in Dubai. During a recent interview with newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, he has outlined two areas of his game that he wants to improve on. His forehand and his play at the net.

“As far as tennis is concerned, I would like to find my way back to the net more often,” he said.
“And of course I want to whip the forehand right again.
“Then there is the condition training with Pierre (Paganini).
“Of course, deciding whether to play on clay or not has an impact on the training program.”

Federer will return to action at the Hopman Cup, which will get underway on December 29th.

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