Basel 2019 Preview: Roger Federer Targets Record As Rivals Looks To Qualify For ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Basel 2019 Preview: Roger Federer Targets Record As Rivals Looks To Qualify For ATP Finals

Federer is on a quest for a 10th title in Basel and could play an all-Swiss quarter-final against countryman Stan Wawrinka later this week.

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This year in Basel the competition is at its top, with two spots yet to be reserved in the race to the ATP Nitto Finals.

 

Roger Federer, who could make a 13th final in Basel this year, will commence his campaign against qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the first quarter. In the second round the 20-time grand slam champion could play either Radu Albot or Dusan Lajovic, whom he has a clean head-to-head profile against.

Meanwhile European Open finalist, who just lost to comeback kid Andy Murray in Antwerp, Stan Wawrinka is facing the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in the first round. Should he take off with a win, he would face either Frances Tiafoe or Daniel Evans before he could set a clash with last year’s Basel champion in quarter-finals.

Generally it could be theoretically an easy contest for Federer, who has a H2H profile of 23 wins to three loses against Wawrinka with 17 of them on hard-courts. However Wawrinka is in good form after making his second final of the year last week after Rotterdam in February.

The second quarter sees one player who has guaranteed his debut at the ATP Nitto Finals. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas regained some of his good tennis during the Asian Swing where he ousted the World No.1 Novak Djokovic in Shanghai to reserve a place at the ATP Nitto Finals. Tsitsipas is taking on Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. Only one meeting has taken place between the two on the ATP Tour in Barcelona last year with the Greek winning it. Then he could play either qualifier Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis or Pablo Andujar in the second round.

However, there is another player in this quarter, who is still trying to make it to the ATP Nitto Finals. Fabio Fognini had a disappointment last week when he lost in his first match in Stockholm after making the quarter-finals in Shanghai before losing to Daniil Medvedev. The Italian is starting against  Alexei Popyrin then he could face either Laslo Djere or Filip Krajinovic, who made it the final in Stockholm before losing to Shapovalov. Fognini is in the 11th position in the race to London, going after countryman Matteo Berrettini, 8th position, with a gap of 290 points.

Should a quarter-final between Tsitsipas and Fognini occur, the Greek leads in their previous confrontations 2-0.

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut is in the third quarter. He has been in bad form these past couple months, but is only 40 points behind Berrettini in the race to London. Should the Spaniard want to make his debut at the O2 Arena this year, he has to be pretty much on form as he opens against Marius Copil. Who showed a very good form in Antwerp last week and possess a big serve that could be an obstacle to a lot of players. The winner of that match will face either the Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round.

Still in the third quarter, another player is in the run for a spot at the ATP Nitto Finals with 90 points behind the Italian Matteo Berrettini. It’s David Goffin, who is taking off in Basel against former US Open champion Marin Cilic in what could be a thrilling match, but the Croatian isn’t in good form recently. Goffin would face either the big serving Reilly Opelka or Chile’s Cristian Garin in the second round, should he get past Cilic.

Second seed Alexander Zverev takes on Taylor Fritz in the opening round in what could be a tricky match in the fourth quarter. Zverev, who has had a very tough season this year and recorded his first top-10 win just days ago in Shanghai against Federer, has gained in momentum  significantly after his participation in Laver Cup a few weeks ago. He is now in the 7th position in the race to the O2 Arena after reaching the final in Shanghai, which he lost to Medvedev in straight sets. He has either Alex De Minaur or Hugo Dellien in the second round with possibly Benoit Paire or Germany’s Struff in the quarter-final.

The Frenchman Benoit Paire is opening against the wild card holder Henri Laaksonen, should he cruise to the second round, he would face either Jan-Lennard Struff or Miomir Kecmanovic.

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American No.3 Reilly Opelka Blasts ‘Shocking’ ATP Cup

The new event has been described as unfair and a embarrassment by the American.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19: Reilly Opelka of United States during the Group F match between USA and Canada during Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Corinne Dubreuil / Kosmos Tennis)

With the Davis Cup currently under close scrutiny this week, one player on the tour have turned his criticism to a brand new team event coming to the tour in 2020.

 

Reilly Opelka has launched a verbal attack on the ATP Cup, which will get underway in January. The event features 24 teams playing in three cities across Australia. Unlike the Davis Cup, both prize money and ranking points are available. Many of the world’s top players have already confirmed their intention to play in the event. Although one noticeable absence will be Roger Federer.

“The ATP Cup is pathetic. I think it’s shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that.” The 22-year-old told reporters in Madrid.
“It’s pretty embarrassing, actually. It’s pretty bad for the sport. It makes it (the tour) more top-heavy than it already is.”

The teams for the ATP Cup are determined by the ranking of the country’s highest ranked player. However, with only two singles players allowed to play in each team some countries find themselves in a tough spot. Once being America, who currently has eight players in the top 100. Opelka argues that due to the rules of the competition, the distribution of ranking points is unfair.

“I’m 35 in the world. I’m not going to play because I’m the second- or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play.” He stated.
“It counts as an additional 19th tournament. So every player gets 18 tournaments on their ranking card. So you have to take your top 18 results, those go for your ranking. Those that play ATP Cup gets a 19th. So it’s unfair, there’s not equal opportunity for everyone.”

Opelka used the example of Moldova playing in the ATP Cup as one of the reasons why he is frustrated. The country has qualified due to the ranking of their top player Radu Albot, who is currently ranked 46th in the world. However, Moldova’s second highest ranked player is outside the top 800.

Fortunately concerning the Davis Cup, the former Wimbledon junior champion has a much more favourable view. This week is the inaugural week-long finals, which has encountered some blips already. The most being the schedule of the event with some ties now finishing until as late as 4am.

“I’m a fan of the new format. Maybe making it every two years or every three years would be I think the next step in the right direction.” Opelka concluded.
“Tennis players are pretty good at that. You don’t really know when you’re going to play matches. You can go really long, or you can go really quick. We’re used to being on standby.” He added.

This week is Opelka’s debut in the Davis Cup.

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Serbia beats France 2-1 to secure spot in Davis Cup quarter final

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Serbia qualified for the quarter finals at the Davis Cup at the Caja Magica in Madrid with wins in both singles matches by Filip Krajinovic over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic over Benoit Paire.

 

In the opening match Filip Kajinovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 in 1 hour and 48 minutes to give Serbia a 1-0 lead.

Krajinovic dropped two points on his first serve and earned his first three break point at 3-3 before breaking serve in the 11th game after a loose forehand from Tsonga. The 27-year-old Serbian player sealed the opening set 7-5 with a service winner.

Tsonga fended off three break points in the opening game of the second set. The Frenchman earned his only break point chance on return at 2-1, but Krajinovic saved it to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next eight games to set up a tie-break. Krajinovic earned the crucial mini-break on the 12th point to close out tie-break 7-5.

World number 2 Novak Djokovic cruised past Benoit Paire 6-3 6-3 in 70 minutes to secure the qualifying spot for Serbia in the quarter final.

Djokovic saved two break points in the first match of the opening set. The Serbian player earned a break in the eighth game and sealed the opening set 6-3 on his third set point.

Paire dropped his serve in the third game of the second set after a backhand down the line winner from Djokovic. The Serbian star hit a return winner at 5-3 to set up a quarter final clash against Russia on Friday.

Last week’s ATP Finals champions Pierre Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-4. Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to seal the opening set 6-4. Tipsarevic and Troicki broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Herbert and Mahut got the break back in the fifth game. After saving a break point in the eighth game Herbert and Mahut earned the decisive break in the ninth game and closed out the match on his first set point.

Serbia set up a quarter final against Russia, who qualified as one of the two-best-placed group runners-up by clinching second spot in Group.

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Jack Sock and Sam Querrey take late-night decisive doubles clash over Italy

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The clash between Italy and the USA came down to a decisive doubles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid after Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz won their respective singles matches.

 

Fabio Fognini  beat Relly Opelka 6-4 6-7 6-3 after 1 hour and 54 minutes to give Italy a much-needed win to the Italian team.

Fognini earned an early break at 1-1 after two errors from Opelka and dropped just five points in five service games. Fognini did not face a break point to close out the first set 6-4 in 33 minutes.

Both players stayed neck and neck setting up a tie-break. Opelka earned a mini-break to take a 5-3 lead in the tie-break and earned three set points. The US player sealed the first set point, but Opelka converted his second chance 7-4.

Opelka saved the first break point with an ace, but Fognini converted his second chance with a forehand passing shot in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Fognini dropped just three points to build up a 5-2 lead. Fognini served out the win on his first match point to give Italy a 1-0 win.

“I am tired for sure because it was tough. One of the things I did today was my serve, don’t ask me why. I am surprised about that”, said Fognini.

Taylor Fritz came back from one set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in the second match. Berrettini saved a break point in the second game with a forehand down the line and a service winner. In the fifth game Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Berrettini broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 and sealed the first set on his first set point.

In the third set both players stayed neck and neck til the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. In the seventh game Fritz saved a break point. Berrettini held his serve at love. Fritz closed out the second set at 6-5 after 51 minutes.

Berrettini saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third game. Fritz rallied from 0-30 down to hold his serve for 1-1. Fritz broke twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Berrettini saved a match point and held his serve for 2-5, but Fritz sealed the win on his second match point.

“Playing for my country is all the motivation I need. I just kept digging, kept fighting. It was really close. I lost the first set by close margin, and I told myself to tough out the second set like I know I can do, and my aggressive and fitness carried me through the third”,said Fritz.

Jack Sock and Sam Querrey came back from a set down in the decisive doubles match to take a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to give the USA a 2-1 win. The doubles match ended shortly after 4 am and was one of the latest finishes to a match in tennis history.  The USA finished second in the Group F behind Canada, who secured the first spot with their wins over Italy and the USA earlier this week. Neither team  was able to earn a break in the first two sets. Italy broke serve to take a 3-1 lead. Sock and Querrey broke back immediately before earning the decisive break at 4-4. The US team served out the win after 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“Reilly played a great match and Taylor came out in in a tough position knowing he needed to win. To get the doubles means a lot”, said Querrey.

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