Taylor Fritz edges his friend Liam Caruana in four sets at the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan - UBITENNIS
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Taylor Fritz edges his friend Liam Caruana in four sets at the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan

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Taylor Fritz came back from losing the first set to beat Italian wild card Liam Caruana 1-4 4-1 4-3 (11-9) 4-2 after 1 hour and 21 minutes. Caruana gave Fritz run for his money in a very close tie-break in the third set, but he lost it 11-9.

Fritz wasted a game point in the fourth game of the opening set. Caruana won the killer point with a backhand return winner on the deciding point in the fourth game. The Italian player sealed the first set 4-1 on the deciding point in the fifth game.

Fritz earned the break in the fourth game of the second set on the deciding point to seal the second set 4-1, when Caruana sent his backhand long. Fritz closed out the set with three winners in the fifth game.

Caruana fended off a break point at the start of the third set. Both players went on serve setting up a tie-break. Fritz earned a mini-break on the fourth point for 3-1, when Caruana made a double fault. Caruana got back on serve on the sixth point with an unforced error from Fritz. Caruana made a double fault on the eighth point for 4-4. After a trade of mini-breaks Fritz earned a set point at 6-5, but Caruana saved it with a forehand winner. Caruana did not convert three set points at 7-6, 8-7 and 9-8. Caruana hit a spectacular diving drop volley winner to earn the second of his three set points, but Fritz saved this chance with an ace at 9-9 before winning the final two points to win a dramatic tie-break by 11-9. The fourth set went on serve until the sixth game, when Caruana went down 0-30, as he was serving to stay in the match. He rallied to 30-30 but Fritz broke serve for the second time in the match on the next point to close out the match, when the Italian player hit a forehand long.

Fritz, who lost against Andrey Rublev yesterday, will face Alex De Minaur on Thursday. The US player won 23 matches on the ATP Tour this season and reached the semifinals in Houston and Chengdu.

“I think I was a little worried because he definitely has it in his mind that he can beat me. I lost against Liam lots of times when were juniors. I remember a certain match with him where he beat me 2-0 in the semifinals of a National in Claremont. We are really good friends. I can’t count how many times we must have played each otherwhen were were 12 and 14 years old. That was definitely an interesting thing going into the matchto think about. I stayed in the system of playing in Southern California, sometimes playing nationally. I went to a regular high school. I decided to leave school and go to USTA to train in Florida where all the real good guys are. That’s when I realized that, if I actually wanted to be a pro, I was going to have be better than those guys”,said Fritz.

 Fritz enjoyed playing in Milan with a new format.

“As far as the format goes, I like it a lot. It makes tennis more entertaining and it’s trying something new. I think tennis needs to try to appeal to be more exciting and get younger fans involved. Everyone I have talked to said they find this more exciting. There is certain things I would definitely change. I disagree with coaching. I think tennis is individual and how you analyze yourself should have an important impact on the result”.

Hubert Hurkacz wins five-set match over Jaume Munar

Sixth seed Hubert Hurkacz edged Spain’s Jaume Munar 4-2 4-2 2-4 3-4 (5-7) 4-1 after two hours and 3 minutes to move to 1-1 in Group A keeping his chances of qualifying for the semifinals alive. The Polish player took his first win against Munar, who took beat his Spanish rival in their previous head-to-head clashes at junior level.

Hurkacz won just four points more than Munar in a very close match. The Pole saved six of the nine break points he faced and converted six of his twelve break points.

Hurkacz dropped just three points on serve in the opening set and converted his fourth set point on return with a backhand down the line in the sixth game of the first set on the deciding point to claim the first set 4-2.

The second set went on serve in the first three games before a streak of three consecutive break. Hurkacz broke in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, when Munar sent a backhand long. Munar broke straight back in the next game. Hurkacz broke again to close out the second set, whne Munar netted a forehand.

The third set started with three consecutive breaks. Munar broke serve at love in the first game of the third set. Hurkacz broke straight back to draw level to 1-1, but Munar broke again in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The Spanish player won his next two service games to close out the third set 4-2 with a service winner.

Munar won the killer point in the second game of the fourth set and fired a backhand down the line to bring up a set point at 6-5 in the tie-break. He closed out the tie-break 7-5 to force the match to the fifth set after Hurkacz made a backhand error.

Hurkacz converted his second break point in the first game of the fifth set and hit a service winner on the killer point in the second game to back up the break. Munar went up 40-0 on return to earn three chances to pull the break back, but Hurkacz won four consecutive points to save all break points for 3-1. The Pole broke serve on the deciding point with a backhand return to close out the five-set match.

Hurkacz started the year as world number 238, but he won two ATP Challenger tournaments to break into the top 100 for the first time in his career. Hurkacz will face number 1 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday.

“The new format is different. It’s funny because you get on the court and do everything quick. You need to the racket in the hand and sprint to the center and do the coin toss. For the warmup it actually works out. If there would maybe one minute after, it might be good. You can get used to it, but for the first time it’s different”, said Hurkacz.

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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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