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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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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