Andy Murray Looks Ahead To A New Chapter Of His Career After ‘Life-Changing’ Operation - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray Looks Ahead To A New Chapter Of His Career After ‘Life-Changing’ Operation

The former world No.1 shares his thoughts about returning back to competitive tennis after being close to retirement.

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Stan Wawrinka (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

LONDON: Five months ago Andy Murray was pondering walking away from the sport permanently due to a serious hip injury. Now, he is training on the grass courts at the Fever-Tree Championships ahead of his eagerly anticipated return to the ATP Tour.

 

The three-time grand slam champion last played a competitive match at the Australian Open, where he lost in the first round to Roberto Bautista Agut. It was during that tournament where he admitted that retirement was on the cards due to his health. Following that match in Melbourne, a video was played on the main screen featuring tributes to Murray from his fellow players. Moments after, he vowed to try to return.

True to his word, Murray underwent hip resurfacing surgery. A procedure which involves inserting a metal pole into his joint. Doubles specialist Bob Bryan underwent the same operation last year. It was a decision that has changed the life of the three-time grand slam champion.

I feel lucky, pretty relaxed. I didn’t expect to be in this position.” Murray told reporters about his comeback on Sunday.
“I didn’t know how I would feel If I went and have the operation, but it has been brilliant. It has been life-changing for me from where I was.’
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there. I don’t know what to expect. I am not putting any expectations on myself.”

Slowly getting back into the swing of things, Murray’s immediate focus lies in the doubles. The week he will be playing alongside Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, who won the Queen’s title back in 2017. Making it his first ATP doubles match on the grass since 2015.

“He’s a great player. As soon as you hit the ball with him, you realize that he still has the feeling, the touch.” Lopez said in tribute to the Brit.
“I’m really happy that he is able to play tennis again. That is the most important thing. I’m very happy to share the court with him this week. It’s going to be nice, it’s going to be fun.“

Whilst his current focus is on the doubles, Murray is eager to return back to singles competition. So far in his career, he has won 67 titles and has spent 41 weeks as world No.1. His trophy collection includes 14 Masters 1000 titles, three grand slams, and two Olympic gold medals.

“My goal is still to get back to singles. That is what I would like to do ultimately.” Murray states.
“Six to eight weeks ago I was chatting with my team about the best way to get back onto the court again. We felt doubles would be a good option to test myself.”

The low point

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The journey to where he is now has been far from simple for Murray, who openly admits that he lacked interest in the sport at one point. Since Wimbledon 2017 he has only been able to contest eight tournaments. Winning back-to-back matches in only two of those.

“There were a number of times over the past 18 months where I did want to stop and didn’t want to play. I was getting no enjoyment out of tennis at all. Whether that was training, practice or matches. Winning matches, I wasn’t bothered – it wasn’t fun.” Murray reflected.
“Now, I like playing tennis. I’m a fan of the sport. I’ve played it since I was a kid and I want to keep playing if I can.”

Whilst the enthusiasm is back, the chances of the 32-year-old winning another big title are up in the air. Something Murray knows all too well himself.

“It is nice to be winning Wimbledon and major tournaments, but hardly anyone gets the opportunity to do that. There are still loads of playing who still loves and enjoy the sport without winning the big competition. I hope I’ll be able to deal with that absolutely fine as well.”

Nevertheless, he does believe he could follow in the footsteps of his brother Jamie later this year and claim the doubles title at Wimbledon. Something that would be a true testament to Murray’s talent in the sport. Jamie is a two-time champion in the mixed doubles.

‘Yeah, I think it’s possible but it doesn’t matter either way,’ he said. ‘I would like to but I don’t mind if I don’t. I would say it would be unlikely because I’ve not played many matches. ‘And doubles on grass, it’s not like you sort of ease yourself into matches a little bit, points are over pretty quickly, you need to be quite sharp, it’ll depend on how quickly I can my reflexes and things like that back. It’s been OK in practice but obviously, matches is a different story.’

At Queen’s, Murray and Lopez will kick-off their campaign against top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

ATP

Loss Meaningless To Dominic Thiem In Hunt For ‘Most Difficult’ Title At ATP Finals

The world No.5 explains why the key to his latest match was keeping it short, but not necessarily winning.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem isn’t going to be losing any sleep over his latest loss at the ATP Finals with the ultimate prize still in his sight.

 

Thiem, who qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament of Tuesday, was far from his best as he slumped to a straight-sets loss to Matteo Berrettini. Who has become the first Italian in history to win a match at the event. It is hard to read too much into Thiem’s latest performance with him openly admitting that his focus was on his upcoming semi-final clash. Highlighting one of the drawbacks of having a round-robin tournament with some matches providing irrelevant to the overall standings.

“Of course I was still trying to win that match, but also, at the same time, I knew in my head that I have to take care (of my body) for Saturday because obviously, it’s the way more important match,” Thiem explained during his press conference.
“I’m really trying to get the body going 100% for Saturday, and it wouldn’t be that smart if I would have another three-hour match today.”

The comments do not mean that Berrettini just had a walkover win and he was made to work for the victory. Which levels the head-to-head between the two players to 2-2. However, both would admit that with not much on the line there was a lack of intensity.

“I think that today was maybe even the weakest compared to those three (matches).” Thiem states.
“We had a great one in Shanghai. We had a great one in Vienna and also here. Of course, it affected a little bit that both of us, we couldn’t do anything about the standings in the group anymore.”

The 26-year-old has certainly illustrated his worthy candidacy to lift the title on Sunday in London following his previous triumphs. Earlier this week he scored back-to-back wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Should he end up playing Nadal over the weekend and win, he would become the first player to defeat all members of the Big Three in the same tournament since David Nalbandian at the 2007 Madrid Masters.

There is still a way to go for Thiem to clinch the biggest title of his career to date. The Austrian believes he if he does manage to win the tournament, any other title is not off-limits for him.

“I think that maybe this tournament is the most difficult to win because you have to beat five top 10 guys in a row. Okay, you can afford to lose one match maybe, but still, I’m 100% sure that if you win this title you can win, as well, any other title.” He explains.
“I haven’t done it yet, but I think that if you win this title, it gives you a lot of confidence for Australia (Open) because it’s the closest, but for the full next year as well.”

Few can dispute the fighting spirit of the Austrian on the court in London. However, after a long season, he admits that he isn’t fully healthy. A situation his rivals also find themselves in. Although some are struggling more than others at present.

“I’m not 100%, but it didn’t affect me in these three matches,” Thiem admits. “That’s why I also really need to be careful because I really hope I have two more matches so I can give all that I have and my own 100% in the remaining two matches.”

Thiem could play one of three players in the semi-finals depending on the outcome of Friday’s matches. Awaiting him will be either Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev or Daniil Medvedev. The only way he can play Nadal is if they both progress to the final.

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Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo secure their semifinal spot in the ATP Finals in London

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Former ATP Finals runners-up Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo battled past Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 10-7 after 1 hour and 44 minutes to finish the Group Jonas Bjorkman with a 2-1 round robin record.

 

Kubot and Melo came back from an early break down and fended off four set points before Ram and Salisbury converted their fifth chance to win the opening set 6-4.

Kubot and Melo fended off a break point in the seventh game with a great serve, before they converted their first break point in the 10th game.

Kubot and Melo won five consecutive points in the Match Tie-Break to open up a 6-2 lead. The Polish and Brazilian players converted their fourth match point to secure their spot in the semifinal.

 

 

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Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals

The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.

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LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.

 

The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.

“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.

The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.

A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.

Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“

Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.

“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.

Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.

Italian men in the ATP Finals

-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses

 

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