NextGen Crashes Out Of Cincinnati In An Upset-Filled Afternoon - UBITENNIS
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NextGen Crashes Out Of Cincinnati In An Upset-Filled Afternoon

Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov are sent packing, only Andrey Rublev survives

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It appears that more than one top player has got stuck in the mud that is surrounding the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. Just as several cars were forced to request a “towing help” to get back on the road after the thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday evening turned the parking lots into muddy pits, on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon in Southern Ohio quite a few big names have not managed to continue their ride towards the final rounds of the Western&Southern Open.

 

The first top player to bow out of the tournament was sixth-seed Japanese Kei Nishikori, who suffered a 7-6(2) 6-4 loss to his fellow countryman Yoshihito Nishioka. Nishikori appeared not to be on his best day as he called for the doctor twice during the match: the first time he complained about not being able to breathe properly, and he was given a nasal spray to help decongest his sinus. A few games later, after he lacklusterly lost the first set, he was given some tablets, but his performance remained well below par, allowing Nishioka to record the most important win of his career, against the player who is almost a legend in Japanese tennis.

Immediately after Nishioka’s celebrations, Cincinnati’s Grandstand offered another upset: No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, after crashing out of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on his first match one week ago, came across another unexpected loss against German Jan-Lennard Struff (n. 36 ATP), who conceded only 19 points on his serve (out of 98) in the entire match, and scored an impressive 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(8) win.

As the afternoon proceeded and the temperature climbed above the 30-degree mark, Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev, today No 70 as he is rebuilding his ranking after a lower back stress fracture, booked his spot to play Roger Federer in the third-round defeating Stan Wawrinka by 6-4, 6-4.

But the most stunning upset of the day came saw another qualifier, Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, defeated No. 7 seed Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, taking full advantage of the deflagration of the German’s serve. Zverev had already manifested some issues with his serve last week in Montreal, when he served 14 double faults during his victorious third-round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, but today the full extent of the problem appeared when the German double faulted almost one in two second serves he tried to play during the two hours, 20 minutes match.

After Tsitsipas and Zverev, another representative of the “NextGen” was sent packing ahead of schedule: Canadian Denis Shapovalov was eliminated in straight sets (6-4 6-4) by Frenchman Lucas Pouille in a match played on Court 4 where stands were packed at capacity and fans had resorted to climbing to the top row of the nearby Court 3 stands to catch a glimpse of the action. Pouille led the match from start to finish, never allowing Shapovalov to find rhythm on his return and neutralizing very effectively the Canadian’s left-handed serve trajectories. The Frenchman broke very early in both sets and carried the lead to the end to reach the third round in Cincinnati, sending Shapovalov to a ranking position that most likely will prevent him from being seeded at the forthcoming US Open.

 

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‘If I knew, I Wouldn’t Come’ – Victor Troicki Slams Hard Quarantine In Melbourne

Troicki, who will head the Serbian ATP Cup team next month, says his career has been thrown into ‘chaos.’

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Former top 20 player Victor Troicki says his ‘Grand Slam is failing’ after implying that he felt that he was misled about the quarantine rules ahead of the Australian Open.

 

Troicki, who is currently ranked 202nd in the world, is among 72 players who have been placed in a strict quarantine where they are not allowed to leave their room for a 14-day period. Those affected have all been deemed as a ‘close contact’ of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. A series of positive tests was detected on flights en route to the country.

34-year-old Troicki travelled to Australia from Doha after successfully qualifying for the Australian Open with wins over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Ulises Blanch and Jurij Rodionov. This year’s two qualifying tournament’s took place in the Middle East due to the pandemic.

“If I knew, I wouldn’t come,” Troicki told Sportski Zurnal earlier this week.
“Total chaos, horror as far as everything is concerned. I’m locked up for 14 days, I can’t leave the room. No training, nothing. My Grand Slam is failing, I can’t get ready for five sets in the room.”

In recent days there has been some dispute over whether players knew about the conditions regarding going into a strict quarantine. Carlos Martinez, who is the coach of Daria Kasatkina, told UbiTennis that players were initially under the impression that sections of a plan would have to be isolated if there was a positive case and not the entire plane. Ultimately the decision was up to the Australian health authorities.

“Tennis Australia was doing a great job in my opinion. The only thing that was a bit unclear was about the quarantine when somebody gets infected on the plane. They were talking like they were going to make sections inside the plane so if they found somebody in a section (who tests positive) they would isolate those people,’ said Martinez.
“But in the end the government didn’t want to do this and they preferred to isolate all on the plane because it was safer for everyone.”

Amid the debate over whether Troicki and his peers knew the full story or not, Spain’s Paula Badosa has become the first Australian Open player to contract the virus during quarantine. She had previously criticised the procedure before later apologising.

As for Troicki, he says the current situation is creating ‘chaos’ in his career.

“All preparations are failing,” he said. “Two weeks of lying in bed, it is certain that I will have to get back in shape for the next month and a half. All this is creating chaos in my career.”

Troicki is the team captain of the Serbian ATP Cup team. The tournament will start a week prior to the Australian Open on February 1st.

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No Advantage For Those Quarantining In Adelaide, Says Dominic Thiem

The 27-year-old dispute claims of unequal treatment ahead of the first major of 2021.

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Dominic Thiem has dismissed allegations of special treatment for top ranked players going through quarantine ahead of the Australian Open next month.

 

The World No.3 is among a series of players who are staying in Adelaide instead of Melbourne where an estimated 1200 players and their teams have travelled to. Under an agreement struck by Tennis Australia, the top three players on both the men’s and women’s Tour’s have been allowed to quarantine in Adelaide along with their hitting partners, family and team members. The move is to help ease the flow of people into Melbourne.

Some players have claimed that special treatment is being provided to those in Adelaide with the use of a private gym among other extras. However, Thiem has insisted that he is no better off than his peers.

“It’s a privilege to be here in Adelaide. But it’s not that huge an advantage,” Thiem told The Guardian. “We get the same amount of practice time as the guys in Melbourne. It’s just not that busy on-site. It’s just that we are [fewer] players here. Compared to the players who are not in hard quarantine in Melbourne, we have pretty similar conditions.”

Earlier in the week Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley openly admitted that those in Adelaide had gotten a better deal. Speaking to Nine News of Melbourne he said ‘My general rule is if you’re at the top of the game, a Grand Slam champion, it’s just the nature of the business. You are going to get a better deal.’ Meanwhile in a recent interview with UbiTennis, world No.44 doubles player Marcelo Demoliner pointed out that the disparity in treatment between the top names and other players is a common trait in the sport.

“I do believe they are receiving preferential treatment, quite different from us. But this is part of the tour,” he said.
“The top tennis players always had these extras, we are kinda used to it. We came here knowing that they would have better conditions for practicing, structure, hotels… they also have merits to have achieved all that they have to be the best players in the world. I don’t know if it’s fair, but I believe the conditions could be more similar than they are in this situation.”

Strict quarantine woes

Perhaps those most frustrated with Thiem and Co are the ones currently placed in strict quarantine. 72 players are not allowed to leave their rooms for 14 days after being deemed a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19. A series of positive tests occurred on flights en route to Melbourne.

Speaking about the group, US Open champion Thiem admits they face a struggle in the coming weeks but stress that it was a risk they took. There have been arguments over the quarantine rules and whether they were clear enough upon arrival. Carlos Martinez, who is the coach of Daria Kasatkina, told UbiTennis that players were unaware that if somebody tested positive on a plane all passengers would be required to isolate.

It’s going to be really tough to play a good ATP Cup or good tournament before the Australian Open and then a good Australian Open,” said Thiem.
“They have a huge disadvantage, but that’s the risk we take when we go on to a plane nowadays.”

Novak Djokovic has previously sought to help out those in strict quarantine by writing a letter to Tiley outlining a series of suggestions including the increased use of testing to reduce the isolation period. However, government officials rejected calls for any changes to their system. Djokovic issued a statement on Thursday outlining his motive was made with ‘good intentions’ after he received backlash from some.

“He received unnecessary criticism a lot in the past. This topic, I don’t really know,” Thiem commented.
“He tried to help the other players in Melbourne but in Australia they did a great job with corona. It almost doesn’t exist here any more so Australia wants to keep it that way.”

The Australian Open will get underway on February 8th. Thiem is aiming to go one step better than last year when he finished runner-up to Djokovic.

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ATP Cup Draw Places Novak Djokovic On Collision Corse With Zverev And Shapovalov

The group stages for the team competition has been confirmed with both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal facing a tough start.

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Image via https://twitter.com/ATPCup

On Friday afternoon the draw was held for the official second edition of the ATP Cup. The tournament is very similar to Davis Cup as in countries are placed in a group and play a tournament style that concludes with knockout stages.

 

The major difference is that players get individual prize money and ATP ranking points depending how far they go in the tournament. Last year Serbia captured the title beating Spain.

This is how it will go down, 11 countries got in based on the ranking of their number one singles player while Australia as the host nation got a wild card into the tournament. Japan received entry this year based on Kei Nishikori protected ranking.

“Last year the first ATP Cup made such a big impression on me,” former world No.1 Jim Courier said during the draw ceremony via video call. “Everyone who basically was able to see it remembers seeing the crowds, how energetic they were.
“It’s really the first time I’ve seen the Serbian crowds be so far behind Novak for him to feel like he had a home court advantage. It was spectacular.

“I’m looking forward to another version of it.”

Here are the how the groups turned out.

Group A

Group A which we probably call the group of death has Serbia, Germany, and Canada. We will for sure see some great matches from this group pitting Novak Djokovic against the likes of Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev. This by far will be the toughest group to move on from and whoever does is pretty much a favourite to win it all.

Group B

Group B is also no easy task for 2020 runners-up Spain who will face Greece and Australia. Rafael Nadal will get to face off with Stefano Tsitsipas and most likely Alex De Minaur who almost carried his team to the semi-finals last year.

Group C

Group C features Austria, Italy, and France. Dominic Thiem is likely to square off against Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils in another difficult group.

Group D

Finally in Group D we have Russia, Argentina and Japan. Russia is always dangerous with Andrey Rublev while Argentina will counter with Diego Schwartzman and Kei Nishikori would should make for some very interesting matches.

As mentioned four groups of three with only one country moving on from each group to meet in the quarter-finals. The action begins on February 1st in Melbourne and the tournament will only last five days. Last year the tournament was hosted by three different cities in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

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