Tsitsipas To Face De Minaur in Final of Next Gen Finals in Milan - UBITENNIS
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Tsitsipas To Face De Minaur in Final of Next Gen Finals in Milan

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Milan Italy

On Thursday Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur easily won their final round robin matches in straight sets. 24 hours later, it was anything but the same for the two youngest players at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

The number two seed de Minaur, had a Friday to remember starting off the night needing five sets to defeat seventh seed Jaume Munar 3-4, 4-1, 4-1, 3-4, 4-2 in a highly entertaining affair. That was followed by another cracker of a match as top seed Stefanos Titsipas got past No. 5 Andrey Rublev in five sets as well 4-3, 3-4, 4-0, 2-4, 4-3.  Fans who packed the arena definitely getting their moneys worth on the night with some stellar shotmaking and a little bit of drama thrown in as well.

De Minaur, who still hasn’t been broken in the entire tournament, should have won his match in four sets. Up 3-2 with Munar serving at 0-40, the 19-year old had four chances to close things out but credit to the Spaniard for fighting back and then going on to win the tiebreak.

However, De Minaur broke Munar in the first game of the final set and then held serve the rest of the way to advance. There were some memorable rallies throughout but in the end it was the faster Australian who made the right shots at the right time who came away victorious. It was icing on the cake for de Minaur who also won the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award earlier in the day. Once ranked World No. 208 at the start of 2018, de Minaur has now reached his third final of the year and his ranking has shot up to World. No 31.

“It was a roller coaster of a match,’ said the Aussie. “Always knew coming in playing against Jaume that he’s an incredible fighter and competitor, and I was going to have to win this match. He played some really good tennis when he needed it in the fourth set. There was stages where it wasn’t looking too good for me, especially after that fourth set. But I’m very happy with my attitude and composure and the way I’ve been playing this whole week.”

Tsitsipas will also remember November 9, 2018 for years to come as he also received some hardware from the ATP winning the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year Award. He was presented the trophy immediately after his hard fought match with Rublev, one that could have gone either way.

Tsitsipas, ranked No. 15 in the World after starting the year at No. 91, split the first two sets with the 21-year old Russian after each player won a tiebreak. Tsitispas dominated the third, registering the first 4-0 score in 14 matches of the Next Gen Finals tournament.

But in the fourth Rublev stormed back and after he broke with a backhand winner to go up 3-2, Tsitispas unleashed some frustration during the changeover. He banged his hand down on a stack of towels three times and then took his anger out on the coaches headset smashing it down on the table. The device allowing the players to speak to their coaches was blown to pieces.

Before the start of the next game, the 20-year old was then forced to take a medical timeout after chair umpire Ali Nili noticed a cut on his left finger likely from the obliterating the headset.  After getting taped up, it was Rublev who then held to force a decider.

More drama in the fifth. Rublev facing a match point down 2-3 and Deuce was called for his second time code violation of the match. That meant he lost his first serve and would only have a second serve on match point. Rublev, appeared not to realize the implications and unleashed a 196 km/hr rocket into the corner. Luckily it went in and Tsitsipas couldn’t get the return forcing a final set breaker.

In that tiebreak Tsitispas jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after a big serve wide which Rublev was unable to return. After a pair of unforced errors and a fall behind the baseline it was the Greek native who was victorious and moving on to the Final

“I want to go to sleep. That’s how I feel,” said a fatigued Tsitsipas speaking to the press after Midnight in Milan. “You feel great after this, after winning such matches, because there has been a lot of effort, really, I mean, hard work. You know, we were hours on the court fighting, you know, wanting that win. But, yeah, the one that gets it at the end, I think, is the most happy person on earth. And, yeah, I’m very satisfied.”

Saturday’s final between Tsitispas and de Minaur won’t start before 9pm local time in Milan. Munar and Rublev will play for third place before the finale starting at 7. The winner of the No.1 vs No. 2 seeded final will take home a $407,000US undefeated first place pay cheque. A nice early Christmas present for one of these Next Gen stars of the game.

Tsitsipas won the lone head-to-head meeting against de Minaur just over a month ago in Japan. A three sets win in the second round 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

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Acapulco Faces Safety Issues Ahead Of ATP 500 Tournament

Acapulco faces safety and infrastructure issues before the ATP 500 tournament next week.

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Acapulco has faced safety concerns ahead of the tournament as players have been advised to stay in the tournament hotels or tennis venues.

As exclusively revealed by James Gray of the i newspaper, Acapulco is facing security and infrastructure concerns ahead of the tournament.

ATP players have reportedly been told in an email to stay confined to the tournament hotels and the tennis venue as crime rates have increased in the city.

Organisers in Mexico have reassured people that players will be able to train safely with the following statement, “The Arena GNP, venue for the Mexican Open of Tennis, and the host hotel are currently operational to carry out the tournament,” the tournament organisers told the i newspaper.

“Since Tuesday, we have been receiving players in Acapulco, and they have already had the opportunity to train at the venue.”

However there are still infrastructural problems including lack of flights to Acapulco as well as other safety concerns which have been affected by Hurricane Otis.

Despite the problems the ATP seem confident that the event will be safe and secure ahead of the ATP 500 event, “It is not uncommon for players to receive security advisories from ATP as a precautionary measure across more than 250 Tour and Challenger Tour events each season,” A spokesperson told the i newspaper.

“The advisory sent for Acapulco factors in the additional complexity of Hurricane Otis’ disruption. There have been major efforts and investment to restore the Acapulco venue in recent months.”

The ATP 500 event in Acapulco will take place next week with Alex De Minaur being the defending champion.

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Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.

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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.

Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.

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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.

The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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