Alexander Zverev set to highlight the ABN Amro World Championships in Rotterdam - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev set to highlight the ABN Amro World Championships in Rotterdam

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This year’s Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev will take part at the ABN Amro World Championships in Rotterdam, which will also feature Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and this year’s Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung.

Twenty-one year-old Alexander Zverev beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Novak Djokovic in the final to triumph at the Nitto ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London becoming the youngest player to clinch this title since Djokovic won this tournament for the first time in his career in 2008. Zverev has also become the first German player to triumph at this event since 1995, when Boris Becker beat Michael Chang in 1995.

In 2017 Zverev broke into the top-10 for the first time in his career after beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome. He won his second Masters 1000 title at the 2017 Canadian Open beating Roger Federer and reached his career-high of world number 3.

Zverev has been very consistent again during the 2018 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. At Grand Slam level he achieved the best result of his career at Roland Garros, where he reached the quarter final last June.

The German player is ready to make a major breakthrough at Grand Slam level in 2019 thanks to the help of former tennis legend Ivan Lendl, who won eight Major tournaments in his career in the Eighties and previously guided Andy Murray to three Grand Slam titles.

“He is incredibly young, only 21 years ago. Nevertheless, he has already been in the top 10 of the ATP Rankings for more than one year. He is now taking the next step with his new coach Ivan Lendl, who previously had great success with Andy Murray. I believe it is a matter of time for him to become the world’s number one. Alexander is a typical example of a top talent that we gave a chance to develop with a wildcard. We also did this with players like Federer and Dimitrov at a young age. Afterwards it is interesting to follow how such a player develops. It works out very well”,said Rotterdam ABN AMRO Tournament Director Richard Krajicek.

Zverev has been voted the German athlete of November beating boxing world champion Ornella Wahner and karate world champion Jonathan Horne.

Another Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas will return to Rotterdam, where he will make his second appearance. The Greek rising star won the first title of his career in Stockolm and finished runner-up in two finals in Toronto and Barcelona losing both times to Rafael Nadal. In the Canadian tournament he beat four top 10 players Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zvereva md Kevin Anderson. Tsitsipas made his debut in the Dutch tournament with a wildcard in 2017, when he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round. Earlier in 2018 he was beaten by Martin Klizan in the qualifying round.

“His development this year is impressive. A year ago he entered the top 100 for the first time and in no time he went on to the top 20. His playing style is a joy to watch. With spectacular dives and offensive play, he often manages to get the audience behind him”,said Krajicek.

This year’s Davis Cup and Queen’s champion and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic will make his fifth appearance in Rotterdam. The Croatian player won 14 of his 18 titles on hard-court, the surface, on which the Rotterdam will be played. In his previous four appearances in Rotterdam Cilic reached three quarter finals and the final in 2014 finishing runner-up to Tomas Berdych in 2014.

Former number 4 player Kei Nishikori will play in Rotterdam for the first time in his career. The Japanese star has enjoyed a remarkable come-back from the injury problem, which plagued his 2017 season. He beat Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev to reach the final in Monte-Carlo before losing to Rafa Nadal. He reached the final in Tokyo and Vienna, the Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open, the quarter finals in Rome, at Wimbledon, Shanghai and Paris Bercy.

“Nishikori has been on my wish list for a long time. I think he can achieve a good result with his style of playing. It is nice to present new players to the fans. It’s great that he chooses Rotterdam over his regular American tournaments next year”, said Krajicek.

Another Asian star Hyeon Chung (the winner of the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals) will play in Rotterdam for the second time in his career.

Former world number 3 player and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka will make his fourth appearance in Rotterdam. He made his debut at the Dutch tournament in 2005 when he lost to his compatriot Roger Federer in the second round. He won the Rottedam final against Tomas Berdych in 2015.

“We always like to welcome former champions. Stan had a difficult year, bt he has recovered from his injury. When he indicated that he would like to return to Rotterdam, we welcomed this opportunity. He has probably the most beautiful backhand on the ATP Tour and showed how well he can do in Rotterdam”.

This year’s finalist Grigor Dimitrov will have a busy February schedule which features Rotterdam and Acapulco. Last February the Bulgarian player lost the final to Roger Federer, who returned to the world number spot.

 

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Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill

The world No.1 has been spotted with a Belgian mentor at the Australian Open, who recently halted his partnership with another player on the ATP Tour.

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Simona Halep (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Simona Halep has confirmed that she is ‘talking’ with a Thierry Van Cleemput about the possibility of him joining her team in the future.

The two were spotted together at Melbourne Park on Monday whilst Halep was warming up for her match against Serena Williams, which she lost in three sets. Cleemput was also present at her fourth round match and sat a row behind her player’s box. Halep is currently without a coach after she split with Darren Cahill during the off-season. Cahill announced a 12-month break from coaching in order to spend more time with his family.

“We are talking, but he is not my coach officially, so we will see.” Halep said during her press conference.

Van Cleemput has worked as a coach since 1993 and has guided some of the best male players in his home country. Spending stints with Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis. He was also the assistant team captain of the Belgian Davis Cup team between 2002-2005. Up until last week Cleemput had been working with David Goffin, but they have separated on ‘mutual grounds.’ A decision Halep has stated that she had no impact on.

“I have nothing to do with their split. I like him as a coach. I like him as a person.” She said.
“We haven’t decided anything yet. We just have to know each other better. We are just talking.”

Halep confirmed that she spoke with Cleemput after he had split with Goffin.  Although she remained coy when asked if she was the one who approached him first.

Reflecting back on her Australian Open campaign, the world No.1 says she is contempt with her performance. Prior to her loss to Williams, she scored wins over Kaia Kanepi, Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Prior to Melbourne, she hadn’t won a match since August after ending her 2018 season early due to a back injury.

“I haven’t been prepared for the highest level in tennis, but I did not play bad, so I’m happy about the way that it’s been going this tournament, and I take only the positives.” She said. “I had great matches. I had the toughest draw, but it was nice.”

As a result of her loss, Halep faces the possibility of losing her No.1 ranking next week. She has held the top spot since February 2018.

“I will not stress myself about this. I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis. I am also curious who is going to win (the Australian Open).” She concluded about the situation.

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares reach the doubles quarter final after saving three match points

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares fended off three match points to take a come-from-behind win over Kevin Krawietz and Nikola Mektic by the scoreline of 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-5 after 2 hours and nine minutes in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The British and Brazilian doubles team, who won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016, reached the quarter final, where they will face former Nitto ATP Finals Henri Kontinen and Jonathan Peers (Murray’s former partner) in the quarter finals.

Murray and Soares fought back from losing the first set by breaking serve in the second set and at the end of the end of the third set.

Murray and Soares reeled off five consecutive points to draw level to 5-5, as they were serving at 4-5 0-40, and won the final two games to seal their spot in the quarter final. Murray and Soares won 82 % of their first serve points.

Murray and Soares have reached the quarter final for the fifth time in their last nine Grand Slam tournaments.

Murray also reached the third round of the mixed doubles tournament. The Scottish player teamed up Bethanie Mattek Sands claimed a 6-4 6-4 win over Robert Lindsted and Kristina Mladenovic.

Reigning French Open doubles champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut came back from one set down to beat US Rajev Ram and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 setting up a quarter final clash against US legends Mike and Bob Bryan. Salisbury and Ram opened up a 5-2 lead in the tie-break of the second set, but they dropped five consecutive points to lose the second set.

Lukasz Kubot and Horacio Zeballos converted four of their eight break points in their 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Australian wildcards Blake Ellis and Alexei Popyrin setting up a quarter final match against either Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey or Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow.

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Karolina Pliskova Thrashes Muguruza To Reach Australian Open Quarters

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Karolina Pliskova has continued her unbeaten start to 2019 with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1, win over two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open.

The Czech seventh seed recovered from a tentative start to the match to dominate proceeding on the Margaret Court Arena. In what was a battle of former world No.1 players, Pliskova produced a near-perfect performance. Hitting just three unforced errors during the 60-minute clash, compared to Muguruza’s tally of 20. Furthermore, she converted five out of her seven break point opportunities and blasted 23 winners past the Spaniard.

“I feel better with every match that I play here. It’s my first time on Margaret Court (this year) and I’m happy I got the win.” Pliskova said afterwards.
“I think I played well. Obviously the first set was important. We had some very close games. At the beginning we were both a bit nervous. It’s a bit windy, so the conditions are a bit tricky sometimes.”

It was the conditions that proved to be too problematic for Muguruza, who hasn’t won four consecutive matches on the tour for eight months. Since winning the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Muguruza has only managed to reach the last eight of a major in one out of six attempts (French Open 2018).

“It was a very tough match. I was expecting it.” Muguruza said in her press conference. “Pliskova, you have to put a lot of intensity with her. She makes you be on every single ball. I struggled a little bit with the heat or the conditions. I don’t know. I felt it was a little bit heavy today.”

Pliskova now finds herself on a nine-match winning streak following her triumph at the Brisbane International earlier in the month. Her longest winning streak since May. During the off-season, she added Conchita Martinez to her team. A former Australian Open finalist back in 1998, who had previously worked alongside Muguruza on the tour. Also included in Pliskova’s team is former doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs.

“A lot of positive things.” Pliskova replied when asked what Martinez brings. “So far everything is working. I cannot be happier to have this team by me and everything is working well.”

Set to play in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the third consecutive year in a row, the 26-year-old faces a potentially tricky task. Awaiting her will be either top seed Simona Halep or 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams. Two players who she has a losing head-to-head record against.

“I know both of them. I have played both of them already. It is going to be definitely tough.” She previewed.
“Simona is world No.1 and it is always tough to play her. And Serena I think she is in great shape this tournament. So we will see.”

Pliskova is bidding to reach the last four of a grand slam for only the third time in her career this week.

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