Felix Auger-Aliassime Reflects On Historic Miami Open Win And Meteoric Rise - UBITENNIS
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Felix Auger-Aliassime Reflects On Historic Miami Open Win And Meteoric Rise

Starting 2019 ranked 106th in the world, the 18-year-old is now only two wins away from potentially breaking into the world’s top 20.

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Canadian rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime has said he is ‘privilege’ to be compared with some of the biggest names in the world in tennis as his fairytale run at the Miami Open continues.

 

The 18-year-old qualifier has become the youngest player in the history of men’s tennis to reach the semi-finals of the Miami Masters. He achieved the milestone with a 7-6(3), 6-2, win over 11th seed Borna Coric on Wednesday. Playing in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event for only the fifth time in his career, Auger-Aliassime fired eight aces and broke his opponent three times on route to the shock victory.

“Borna has been established for a few years now and I definitely didn’t expect to win.” The world No.57 told reporters afterwards.
“I expected more of a set like in the first, but in the second it really surprised me. I felt like I had a margin over him, a bit of an edge and I felt comfortable out there from the first ball.”

A former teenage tennis prodigy, Auger-Aliassime has managed to break through on the professional tour this season. In February he reached his maiden ATP Final at the Rio Open, which is categorised as an ATP 500 event. Then in Indian Wells, he scored his first top 10 scalp after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.

It is however at Miami, where he has achieved his biggest milestone yet. The Canadian is only the second qualifier to reach the semi-finals after Guillermo Canas back in 2007. He is also the fourth youngest Masters semi-finalist since 1990.

“I think I’m serving well, so it’s really putting pressure on them (other players).” Auger-Aliassime commented on the development of his game. “With all the matches I’ve played, it brings confidence for the end of matches like this (against Coric) when it’s tight.”

Along with the surge in success, comes the inevitable comparisons. The last teenagers to progress to the last four in Miami were Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray back in 2007. He has already received a lot of praise from his rivals on the tour, including Roger Federer.

“I like his attitude. For someone who is young like him, it’s impressive, we’ve seen it in the past with [Lleyton] Hewitt or [Rafael] Nadal, guys who are already mentally strong.” Federer told Radio Canada last week.
“I think we can put him a bit in that category.”

It could be easy for the youngster to get caught up in all the hype. He is one of three rising stars raising the profile of Canadian tennis. Along with Denis Shapovalov and Bianca Andreescu. Describing the reactions he has received as ‘pretty crazy.’ Nevertheless, Auger-Aliassime has developed a good level of maturity at such a young age.

“It’s a privilege to be compared to all of these great players and it shows I’m doing the right things and is on the right track. Right now, I’m just enjoying every day, every match because you never know what is going to happen next.”

Despite his young age, Auger-Aliassime also boast a perfect 5-0 winning record against top 20 opposition. Besides Coric and Tsitsipas, he has also scored wins over Lucas Pouille, Fabio Fognini and Nikoloz Basilashvili.

“A lot of things are working. I’ve just been improving in the last couple of weeks.” He said.
“I don’t want to look back right now. I think I maybe will do at the end of the tournament.’
“I’m looking forward to the next match and how far I can go in this tournament.”

The next challenge for the Next Gen star comes in the form of defending champion John Isner, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in his quarter-final match. Isner is seeking to become only the fifth man in history to win back-to-back Miami titles. Following in the footsteps of players such as Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

“I think I’ll have to adjust my return position. Look at his match (against Roberto Bautista Agut) to see how he played today, where he likes serving on important points. From there focus myself, what I have to do, and then figure out a way to break him.” Auger-Aliassime said of playing Isner.

Starting 2019 ranked outside the top 100, Auger-Aliassime has also become the first ATP player born in the 2000s to crack the top 30. As it currently stands, he is projected to rise to the mid or low 30s in the rankings next week. Although, he could break inside the top 30 by reaching the Miami final and even the top 20 if he wins the title.

The men’s semi-final matches will be played on Friday.

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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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