Grigor Dimitrov Discusses ‘Special Relationship’ With Agassi Following Brisbane Win - UBITENNIS
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Grigor Dimitrov Discusses ‘Special Relationship’ With Agassi Following Brisbane Win

The 2017 champion has good off to a strong start in his first tournament of the new season.

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Grigor Dimitrov - photo by chryslène caillaud, Copyright @Sport Vision

Former champion Grigor Dimitrov has got off to a winning start at the Brisbane International after defeating Japan’s Yashioto Nishioka 6-3, 6-4.

 

The sixth seed encountered stiff resistance from his rival during both the start and end of the match. To begin with Dimitrov fended off a total of five break points during his two opening service games before grabbing a crucial break for a 3-1 lead. Then in the second set, the Bulgarian worked his was to a 5-2 lead before faltering and dropping consecutive two games. Despite the blip, Dimitrov managed to seal the win on his third match point after a Nishioka forehand drifted out.

“I felt I was actually hitting the ball quite all right for our first match of the year… There [were] a few things that I would like to maybe improve in the next match, but overall I think it’s off to a positive start,” Dimitrov told atpworldtour.com.

In his first test of the 2019 season, Dimitrov hit 26 unforced errors alongside 26 winners. Winning 57% of his first service points and crucially saving six out of the seven break points he faced.

Helping guide the 27-year-old on the tour this season will be former world No.1 Andre Agassi. The two will work together in partnership with Dimitrov’s full-time coach Dani Vallverdu. A setup that has been hailed by the world No.19.

“We are all very happy in the team that Andre is with us.” Dimitrov said during his on-court interview. “He’s more than a friend to me, it’s a special relationship.”
“There is just a huge appreciation and I am very humbled to have him by my side. Hopefully things will go well on the court for us.”

Dimitrov is hoping to get back on track after what was a lacklustre 2018 season. In his last five tournaments of the year, he failed to win back-to-back matches at all of them. That trend will end in Brisbane this week if he wins his second round match. Dimitrov will next take on either Tennys Sandgren or John Millman.

Raonic impresses

Elsewhere at the Queensland Tennis Centre, Milos Raonic powered his way to a 6-0, 6-3, win over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene. The 2016 champion produced a total of 16 aces and dropped only six points behind his serve. Producing a 15-point winning streak during one stage of the match.

“It was a great start for me, a great way to finish off 2018 and hopefully it will lead to better things in 2019.” Said Raonic.
“I hope I can continue to play some good tennis, continue to improve like I have over the last couple of weeks and stay strong and fit to give myself the best chance on court.”

Raonic will play either Serbian qualifier Miomir Kecmanović or Leonardo Mayer in the next round.

 

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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