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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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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John Newcombe Believes The Australian Open Will Be ‘A Big Ask’ For Nick Kyrgios

The tennis legend is unsure if the former top 20 player will be fit in time for the first grand slam of 2020.

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MADRID, SPAIN - Nick Kyrgios of Australia waking to the locked room Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

Former world No.1 John Newcombe has cast doubts on Nick Kyrgios’ chances of going deep in the draw at the upcoming Australian Open.

 

The 75-year-old, who won seven grand slam titles during the 1960s and 1970s, believes the injury-stricken world No.30 may struggle playing best-of-five matches in Melbourne. Kyrgios missed most of the final quarter of the 2019 season due to a shoulder issue. He returned to action last month at the Davis Cup, but skipped his country’s quarter-final clash with Canada due to a collarbone injury. Overall, he has won 23 out of 37 matches played this year.

“It’s a bit of a worry that he has recurring injuries, especially around where the muscles join the joints and that’s going to be an ongoing problem for him it seems,” Newcombe told The Age.
“At the Davis Cup he’d only played four sets of singles and his shoulder started to play up again and when you’ve got an injury like that it’s hard to go out and practice a lot.
“Leading into the Australian Open – five sets is a big ask for him.”

A two-time grand slam quarter-finalist, the 24-year-old has struggled to make his mark in the majors this year. Winning just three matches in three grand slam tournaments he played in. Kyrgios missed the French Open due to injury. At his home slam, he lost in the first round for the first time since making his main draw debut back in 2014.

As well as trying to get fit in time for the start of the new season, Kyrgios will continue to be playing under a probation on the ATP Tour for ‘aggravated behaviour.’ Should he violate that, he faces the prospect of a 16-week ban from the tour.

“I can’t speak for him but if it was me it would be tough having that ban hanging over you,” Newcombe said.
“But I guess you’ve just got to learn to zip up.”

Kyrgios is set to start 2020 at the inaugural ATP Cup, which is the only team event to have both prize money and ranking points available. After that, he is set to play in the Kooyong Classic in what will be his final test prior to the Australian Open.

“I am delighted that Nick has chosen to play Kooyong again, and hopefully it acts as the perfect tune up for his Australian Open (AO) campaign and sets him up for a massive 2020 season.” Tournament director Peter Johnson said in a statement.

So far in his career, Kyrgios has won six titles. Including Acapulco and Washington this year.

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