Stefanos Tsitsipas triumphs at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas triumphs at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan

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World Number 15 and ATP Most Improved Player Stefanos Tsitsipas has been crowned as the champion at the second edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals at Fiera Milano after his 2-4 4-1 4-3 4-3 win over Australia’s 19-year-old ATP Newcomer of the Year Alex De Minaur after 1 hour and 40 miutes. Tsitsipas has followed in the footsteps of Hyeon Chung, who beat Andrey Rublev last year.

 

Tsitsipas and De Minaur reached the final after winning all their four matches played this week. They met eight times in their career including their matches at junior level. Tsitsipas won their only head-to-head match at ATP Tour level this year at the Rakuten Open in Tokyo in three sets.

There were just two breaks in a close four-set match, where Tsitsipas won the decisive points in the third and fourth sets. The Greek 20-year-old player hit 22 winners to 15 unforced errors, while De Minaur produced a 23-24 ratio.

De Minaur, who reached two ATP Tour finals this year in Sydney and Washington, earned the first break in the fifth game of the first set with a deep return and wrapped up the first set 4-2 in the next game with an ace.

In the second set Tsitsipas broke serve in the second game, when De Minaur sent a backhand out. Tsitsipas fended off a break point with a service winner to close out the second set 4-1.

De Minaur saved all three break points he faced in the third set to set up a tie-break. Tsitsipas went down 2-3 but he reeled off five points in a row to take the tie-break 7-3.

De Minaur saved two match points in the sixth game of the fourth set at 2-3 and won the deciding point to hold his service game sending the set to the tie-break. Tsitsipas earned three championships point at 6-3 in the tie-break and sealed the win on his first chance, when De Minaur made a forehand error. Tsitsipas won his second title at ATP level after the ATP 250 in Stockolm one month ago.

Tsitsipas received the trophy from ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode in a award ceremony attended by FIT President Angelo Binaghi and Italian tennis ambassador Nicola Pietrangeli.

“I am happy to play in this amazing city. I feel at home here. I have a special relationship to Milan. I won the Bonfiglio Junior tournament in Milan. I want to thank the crowd for the incredible atmosphere. Thanks to those, who made this tournament possible. Congratulations to Alex. He has great future. He deserves to reach the to and win many titles”, said Tsitsipas during the award ceremony.

After receiving the trophy Tsitsipas was asked by interviewer Diego Nargiso if he would like to defend his title in Milan next year or play at the ATP Finals in London.

“The best idea would be to move the ATP Finals in Milan. It’s a lucky city for me”,joked Tsitsipas.

“I learned a lot from this journey from alternate to champion at the Next Gen ATP Finals. I have learned that I am a fighter, that I have a big heart, especially in tough moments like today. I did not crack under pressure despite losing two match points that I had on his serve. I played my best game under pressure. It’s a great week. I have been serving amazingly. Hopefully I can serve like this next year in every single tournament. Really high serve percenatge. Really mature the way I treated my breakpoints  on my serve. I lost two or three of them on deciding points. I am very experienced on that. I won this tournament with these rules To be honest, I am confused by that. I don’t really know what I liked and what I did not like. The games are very stressful. There is no advantage, so you need to be twice concentrated. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to play here in Milan and be the second winner of this tournament. It’s a very special moment. I can get some confidence out of it and play better in the future ”, said Tsitsipas.

Rublev finishes third 

Andrey Rublev finished third one year after reaching the title match by beating Jaume Munar 1-4 4-3 (7-4)2-4 4-2 4-3 (7-3) after 1 hour and 47 minutes. Munar won three points than Rublev, but the Russian player won the two-breaks. Rublev converted two of his twelve break points and dropped his serve three times from the eight break points. Munar hit 30 winners to 16 unforced errors, while Rublev produced a 45-33 ratio.

Munar reeled off the first eight points to get an early break in the opening set. The Spaniard fended off a break point in the third game and hit a service winner in the fifth game to close out the first set 4-1.

Munar went up a set and a break at the start of the second set. Rublev got the bbreak back in the next game setting up a tie-break. Rublev sealed the tie-break 7-4 with a net cord to draw level to 1-1 on sets.

Munar fended off two break points at the start of the third set and broke serve in the sixth game to wrap it up 4-2, when Rublev made a double fault.

Rublev got the break at the start of the fourth set and held his next service games before clinching the fourth set with an ace in the sixth game sending the match to the decisive fifth set.

Both players held break points in the first two games of the fifth set. They saved three chances to send the set to another tie-break. Rublev hit a service winner to close out the tie-break 7-3.

“It was a tough two matches. In both I was strongly mentally. Yesterday I was a little unlucky. Today it was the opposite. I was a bit lucky. It’s nice to finish the year that strong mentally. I played four five-set matches. I hope this is the new beginning for next year”, said Rublev.

 

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Stan Wawrinka Parts Way With Long-Time Coach Norman

Stan the man is on the look out for a new coach for the first time in almost a decade.

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It is the end of an era for three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka after he announced his split from coach Magnus Norman.

 

The former world No.3 confirmed on Monday that the two have decided to end their collaboration with ‘mutual consent’ following eight years working together on the Tour. Norman was last with Wawrinka at the Italian Open last week where the Swiss player lost his opening match to rising star Lorenzo Musetti. It is unclear as to exactly when the decision was made.

“After 8 great years together Magnus Norman and I have decided to part ways by mutual consent. We have had an amazingly strong, enjoyable and hugely successful partnership. We reached the height of this sport together and I want to thank him for helping me win everything that I could ever dream of winning,” Wawrinka said in a statement posted on Instagram.

44-year-old Norman is a former world No.2 player himself who reached the final of the French Open back in 2000. During his coaching career, he guided Wawrinka to various milestones in his career that includes 13 ATP titles with three of those being at Grand Slam level. The Swede has also been recognized by the ATP for his work with Wawrinka after winning the inaugural Coach of the Year award back in 2016.

“He’s been a great coach, friend and mentor and will always be a dear friend,” Wawrinka said in a tribute.
“I want to publicly thank him for all his hard work, dedication and commitment in making me a better player over the years. Winning three grand slams have been a life changing experience for me and I could not have done that without him. I wish him all the best in his next chapter in his life.”

The announcement from the world No.17 comes a week before the French Open starts. Wawrinka has been training on the clay for the past few weeks after deciding against travelling to North America to play in the US Open. Instead, he played in a couple Challenger events and won a trophy in Prague last month. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-3 so far in 2020.

It is unclear as to who will be replacing Norman in Wawrinka’s team.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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