Stefanos Tsitsipas Triumphs In Thriller To Become Youngest ATP Finals Champion In 18 Years - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas Triumphs In Thriller To Become Youngest ATP Finals Champion In 18 Years

The Greek is the first ever player from his country to win the season-ending tournament.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has won the biggest title of his career after staging a dramatic comeback against Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals title on Sunday. 

 

The 21-year-old, who was making his debut in the event this year, weathered the storm against his at times tentative rival to prevail 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4), in what was a marathon encounter. Becoming the eighth youngest champion of all time and the youngest since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2001. In total, he hit 34 winners to 16 unforced errors as he paid tribute to the crowd after.

“It’s unbelievable having such an army behind me. They give me so much energy and belief that I can achieve the things I want to achieve.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“They motivate me and give me so much energy in general. I just love that.”

For only the eighth time since the birth of the tournament in 1970, both players were making their debut in the title match of the end-of-season extravaganza. Tsitsipas, who is the first Greek to ever play the event, scored triumphs over Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer, as well as Daniil Medvedev earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Thiem secured his place with the help of two wins over members of the big three (Novak Djokovic and Federer), as well as knocking Zverev out of the tournament.

Heading into the London showdown, both players have been solid behind their serve. In their four previous matches, Thiem has only been broken six times and Tsitsipas three. Continuing that trend, the duo matched each other game-by-game throughout the opener. Thiem had three chances to break Tsitsipas in two different service games, but he wasn’t able to due to some impressive play from the Greek. Including a risky decision to hit a second serve and volley to save one of those breaks. Tsitsipas also had two separate chances to break during the opening set.

With little to distinguish between them, it would be one shot that proved critical to the outcome of the tiebreak. Tied at 6-6, a Tsitsipas backhand shank handed his rival the chance to serve for the lead. Something he achieved with the help of a 129 mph serve down the line which drew an error from across the court.

After narrowingly losing out on the chance to lead, Tsitsipas hit back emphatically against the increasingly wilting Austrian. Thiem has been struggling with flu symptoms throughout the week. An elevation in his intensity saw him destroy the momentum generated by the world No.5. Within just 14 minutes, he went from losing the first set to opening up a 4-0 stronghold in the second. It wasn’t long before the lightning-fast comeback was sealed by Tsitsipas, who committed only one unforced error in eight games played.

“I have no clue how I managed to play so well in the second set. I think my mind was at ease and I wasn’t thinking about much.” Tsitsipas commented on his comeback. “This lead to a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice. I didn’t give him many options and I think it was an excellent set.”

A brief half to proceedings occurred when Thiem exit the court for a comfort break. However, when he returned Tsitsipas continued to attack his opponent on the court. Three games into the decider a Thiem backhand crashing into the net rewarded him another break and the lead for the first time. Even a stumble where it looked like he hurt his knee failed to derail the Next Gen star.

However, there would be another twist to the match. A Thiem revival saw him hit back to draw level at 3-3. Prompting loud cheers from the crowd in the 18,500 capacity arena. For only the fourth time in history, the winner of the ATP Finals would be decided by a final tiebreaker. Both players had their chances, but it would be Tsitsipas who would edge his way to victory. Causing heartbreak for Thiem after their gut-busting encounter that lasted just over two-and-a-half hours.

“It was a bit frustrating for me to be playing with nerves in such a big event. I was a break-up, couldn’t manage to hold it. Things were decided in the tiebreak and I’m so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.” The new champion concluded.

There is some consolation for Thiem. Following his run this week, he will rise to fourth in the ATP rankings. The highest year-end position of his career to date.

“It was an unbelievable match. Bravo Stefanos. I think we are playing the most mentally brutal sport existing.” Said Thiem
“It was so close and we were fighting 100% in the end. But that how it is in tennis.’
“You really deserve it (the title). You’re an amazing player and I really hope we are going to have some great finals in the future as well.”

It would be another Stefan in the shape of Stefan Edberg who would present the rising star his trophy. Capping off what has been a breakthrough 12 months since he won the Next Gen Finals in Milan.

Tsitsipas exits the tournament with total prize money earnings of $2,256,000 for his week in London, as well as 1300 ranking points.

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The Trial Has Ended: David Ferrer Is Now A Head Coach Of Alexander Zverev

The former French Open finalist is set to become a regular face on the men’s Tour once again but in a differnt capacity.

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By Emil Evtimov

David Ferrer is the new head coach of Alexander Zverev alongside his father Alexander Sr. The news was revealed by the world No.7 after his win against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice.

 

In the beginning of July Zverev announced that he and Ferrer will work together on a trial basis for two weeks in Monte Carlo. Now the German confirmed that the former world No.3 and Roland Garros finalist will be on his side as a coach at least until the end of the year. 

“The trial period is over. We are together. We understand each other great and now we are a team,” said Zverev.

Ferrer won’t be the first prominent name in team Zverev. Previously the three-time Masters 1000 champion worked with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. Since the end of his relationship with Lendl, Zverev has been trained mainly by his dad.

“David and my father are both my head coaches now. My dad doesn’t get any younger. Both are extremely important for the team.”

For Ferrer this will be the first coaching experience. His playing career ended in May 2019 during the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid with his last opponent on the court being none other than Zverev.

For quite a long time Zverev was considered the big star from the young generation but in 2019 was a bit overshadowed by players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and  Daniil Medvedev.

The German began 2020 with a great performance at the Australian Open reaching the semifinals where he lost to Dominic Thiem in four sets.

Zverev is on the entry list for the first tournament after the pandemic – the Western & Southern Open which will be staged in New York to create a “protective bubble” for the US Open. The 23-year old talks also about the Grand Slam tournament, saying he would prefer it not to happen, although he is going to play at this point.

“It is a bit crazy to play the US Open now. I would prefer if it would not happen and we just restart in Europe. Because of the pandemic it is not the right time to fly. But when they host the open – what shall we played do? Especially when everyone plays’ it is about ranking points, too. At this point I didn’t think about withdrawing. If everyone reacts within hygiene rules and it will be similar to the NBA bubble it could work out.”

Zverev was one of the tennis players most criticized for his behaviour during the pandemic. The reason was his participation in the Adria Tour where he and his colleagues weren’t following the social distancing rules very strictly. The German gave a negative test for COVID-19 after finding out about the positive test of Grigor Dimitrov. He promised to be in quarantine for safety reasons but was seen partying a few days after. This caused a criticism from Nick Kyrgios, as well as a Twitter war between the Australian and German legend Boris Becker.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas opens up: “I Wasn’t Sure If I Was Good Enough”

Stefanos Tsitsipas reflects on how hard it was in the beginning of his pro career.

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BY EMIL EVTIMOV

 

In the latest instalment of “Behind the Racquet” world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas has shed light on the personal struggles he encountered whilst breaking into the sport.

Tsitsipas had a great 2019 season, climbing from N.15 to N.6 at the end of the year after winning the Nitto ATP Finals, as well as two ATP 250 tournaments in Estoril and Marseille. He also reached the final of the Madrid Open.

However, life wasn’t always so easy for the charming Greek. In his “Behind the Racquet” post, he recalls the times when he was playing Futures while doubting that he was good enough to play professional tennis. He admitted he was feeling “very lonely” and not having many friends on the ATP tour.

Here is the Tsitsipas story in the “Behind the Racquet”:

“In 2018, I broke into the Top 15 and was seeded in Grand Slams. That’s when I understood my potential. In the beginning, I traveled with only my dad. Now, I travel with my dad, mom, and three siblings. I’m the main source of income for my family. 

I have hobbies that keep me interested in different aspects of life. These activities keep me creative and are reflected in my tennis game and presence on court. Sometimes, I post things on my social media that not many people understand. These posts express my inner creativity. I’m just trying to be different from the rest. I put Stefanos’ twist on life. I am philosophical, I come from a country with a history of philosophy and I don’t know if I was Pythagoras or Socrates in my previous life, but I wouldn’t mind being either one. 

There was a time when I wasn’t doing well. I started to play futures and was doubting myself. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to play professional tennis. My country was going through hard times. Greece was on the verge of bankruptcy. The entire population was suffering. My father’s siblings were unemployed and couldn’t feed their families. People looked at me like I was the one ruling the country and they thought I was part of the problem. 

I felt isolated. I wasn’t home to see what was going on because I was traveling. I needed support. My mental coach shared his wisdom and inspired me. Then I said to myself, ‘You’ve dedicated your entire life to tennis, you can’t just give up. You’ve got to keep going.’ I play tennis to prove that my country has a great history and can achieve success. Tennis is a very introverted sport and we face everything alone. We have a team that follows us all over the world but I have spent countless sleepless nights on my own. All the traveling and competing causes a lot of stress and I grew very lonely.

I was an introverted child and I didn’t have many friends. When I first started playing on tour, I thought I would develop friendships but it turned out to be the opposite. Most players keep to themselves. I feel like players don’t want to become friends because they think someone will grab a secret from you to beat you. I guess they’re just too serious about the whole thing. Friends would make traveling less lonely.”

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Roger Federer enjoys calm year ahead of the 2021 season

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is happy to enjoy a calm year ahead of the 2021 season. The Swiss legend admitted in an interview to Sportpanorama on the Swiss channel SRF 2 that he has not started his preparation for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he will be bidding to his first Olympic singles gold medal. 

 

Federer started the 2020 season with a semifinal at the Australian Open. He saved seven match points in his five-set quarter final against Tennys Sandgren before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. Last February he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a right knee injury and ended the 2020 season to give time to his body to recover. 

“I have not started mental preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. When you have been on the tour for 20 years, you are happy to have a more calm year. We have so many matches and competitions that whenever you take a break you know that someone else is winning in that time. That’s why it is extremely difficult to say. I take a break. Everyone is now forced to have a break and I think that 90% of the players are thinking: fortunately I can have a break. Tennis is constant and nonstop. You could not really prepare for Tokyo as there would have been 20 tournaments before. They are also very important, even though maybe not as important as the Olympics, which have another significance. We have many big events. That’s why the preparation just starts three months in before. You have the block in tennis with French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Games. It depends on which surface it is even though in tennis it’s classic on hardcourt in Tokyo. Everyone can play on hardcourt, but you have to specially prepare for clay and grass”, said Federer. 

Federer has enjoyed spending time with his family in the past few months. 

“For the first time in twenty years I have been at one place for five and six years. Of course I enjoy it. We have been incredibly careful and have not seen my parents and friends. We took everything serious which is the right way as it’s not been over yet. That’s why I did not do any interviews and keep distance in everything I do. That’s very important for us. When you are having an injury you can’t do much anyway and have more calm moments at home. You don’t have the stress of the next competition and match, you don’t have nerves, you don’t have the strain from travelling and having a jet-leg, you are not tired. You can enjoy your family life way more”. 

Federer hopes that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place in 2021. The Swiss Maestro will be bidding to win his first olympic singles gold medal after the title he won with Stan Wawrinka in the doubles tournament in Beijing 2008. 

“Unfortunately I was injured in Rio and now the Games were postponed, I had the feeling I always took a lot with me away from the Olympic Games. First to be part of it, then with the goal to get a medal, maybe even a Gold one. That’s a completely differerent situation how you enjoyed the Olympic Games. I am curious how Tokyo will be. I hope it will take place. We are one year away but there are voices who say: maybe it’s too early until we have everything under control. I am hopeful all will be good. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that in our position is a goal, otherwise you wonder why you even go there in the first place. I think something is possible. Whether this will be in singles, doubles or mixed. I don’t know yet what I am going to play. I think I would have a chance in singles. At a tournament everything is possible. It’s another story over a whole season but at one tournament many things are possible. At the situation I am in right now i have to honestly say that I would be glad to participate. When I am 100% fit I would be happy to get a medal. When I won’t have one, I would be disappointed but I know that I gave everything and I can look proudly. Tokyo has been great. It was another experience and I could participate at another Olympic Games. My family will be with me just like in London. It’s already a success for me when I am at 100% and can participate, but a medal should be the goal”, said Federer. 

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