The Young Guns Aiming To Topple The Big Three At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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The Young Guns Aiming To Topple The Big Three At Wimbledon

Will this year be the time a rising star of the men’s game halts the dominance of Federer and Co?

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In 2019 it is evident that the top level of men’s tennis is dominated by the veterans of the tour. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have shared the Wimbledon trophy between them over the past 16 years. Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem is the only active player under the age of 30 to have won a set in the final of a major. But what about the rising stars of the game?

 

The Next Generation contingent has been highly publicised by the ATP in recent years. A group of players aged 21 or under who has been dubbed as the future stars of the sport. In 2017 the Next Gen finals were created as a platform to showcase their potential. An end of year tournament that uses innovative rules such as electronic line-calling and best-of-four sets.

Whilst group has shown promise on the tour, breaking through in grand slams remains a rarity. Something which has drawn criticism from former world No.1 Boris Becker, who took aim at the lack of mental strength among the younger players.

“As much as I respect Roger, Rafa and Novak, young players should show up,” Becker said earlier this month. “Eventually, they will be too old, but you want to see the passing of the torch while they are still in their prime.
“There’s a certain mentality that they (younger players) don’t have, that the three others do have. It’s not the forehands, it’s not the fittest. It’s mindset (and) attitude that makes the difference between winning and losing.”

One player who has already illustrated their potential in the majors is Stefanos Tsitsipas. A 20-year-old Greek player who is already the highest ranked player from his country in history. In January he stunned Federer on route to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Since then, Tsitsipas has contested four finals on the tour, winning titles in Marseille and Estoril. He has also defeated every member of the Big Three at least once.

“I want to be honest. I would love to see something different this year,’ Tsitsipas recently commented about who could win Wimbledon.
‘Hopefully, it can be me, but I think it’s good for the sport to have a bit of variety, something different. It’s boring to see all these guys winning all the time. Djokovic is the reigning champion”
‘We are responsible for that as well, the new generation, to work hard and believe in ourselves that we can come up with something new, come up with our best games to beat those guys.”

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One of those to back Tsitsipas to go deep at The All England Club is John McEnroe. Who was only 20 when he won his first grand slam title at the 1979 US Open. The American believes the world No.6 is the most likely youngster to upset the top guns at Wimbledon.

“Tsitsipas, I think he seems ready to make a breakthrough. To me he’d almost be the most likely guy that would do it (at Wimbledon) if it wasn’t one of those guys.” McEnroe stated.

Few can dispute the talent Tsitsipas has. An aggressive baseline player with a one-handed backhand. However, he isn’t the only person tipped to be the next big thing.

Felix Auger-Alissame has enjoyed a remarkable rise in recent times. Aged only 18, he has climbed the rankings from 117th to 21st within the past 12 months. Becoming the youngest player to break into the top 25 since Lleyton Hewitt back in 1999. Earlier this year he became the third youngest player in the history of the ATP Masters 1000 series to reach the semi-final stage. Doing so in Miami.

“I think this year is just like the fact that everything added up, all the work that I have done, because I felt like for a year now I have been playing pretty well, but I think this year I just kind of found my rhythm, I just found my beat, and I think I have been on the right track.” Auger-Alissme evaluated about his rapid rise on the tour.

The Canadian will be seeded 19th in what will be his first ever Wimbledon tournament as a professional and second Grand Slam main draw overall. He has contested only eight matches on the grass on the ATP Tour so far in his career.

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Dennis Shapovalov is yet to win back-to-back matches at Wimbledon. However, he did score a win over Novak Djokovic earlier this week at The Boodles tournament. An exhibition tournament located is Stoke Park, London. Shapovalov believes he and his rivals are edging closer to toppling the Big Four.

“We all know it is not easy to beat these guys, but we know it’s possible.” Shapovalov told tennis365.com.
“These legends of the game just don’t want to leave! We are just waiting or either those guys to finish or we step up a bit, but we are all so young still and it will take time for us to develop and we can start beating them.
“Back in the day, the older guys were ending their careers a lot earlier, but now they are sticking around and it is tough for us to get past them.
“They have a lot of experience, they are still healthy and able to compete with his and there is so much competition out there right now.
“We have a lot of young guys coming up that are really fired up and motivated and then at the same time, the old guys are still winning.
“Us guys trying to make the breakthrough just need a little more experience and then we can start to win the big events and I feel we are closer than ever now.”

For others, Wimbledon provides a platform for them to regain their footing. Alex de Mianur enjoyed a strong start to 2019 before osteitis pubis sidelined him. Now on the comeback, he is targeting steady improvement. It was at Wimbledon last year where he lost to Nadal in straight sets.

“Every tournament you go out there with the intention to get higher,” the 20-year-old explained.
“The higher you get in the rankings the better seedings you get.
“So instead of playing Rafa in the third round you may play someone between 16 and 32 which makes a fairly big difference.
“It’s a work in progress but I have to get as many points as I can so I can get draws that go my way.”

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It remains to be seen if the young protagonists of the men’s game can cause a stir at Wimbledon. For the foreseeable future, it appears that the veterans will continue to win the biggest prizes of the sport. However, Tsitsipas is confident that this will soon change.

‘I think it’s all a matter of character and feeling responsible for what we’re doing on the court,” Tsitsipas said. “Some people don’t feel responsible. They don’t want to take that big responsibility of going out and winning and saying: ‘I’m going to overcome all those difficulties and I’m going to beat those guys.’
“I feel like I can beat them. My game will be at its finest if some of the Next Gen players believe that, if the younger generations think positively, I think we can achieve a lot of things. I hope this will happen at Wimbledon.”

The Wimbledon Championships will get underway on Monday.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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