High Expectations For Those Aiming To Topple The Big Three In 2020 - UBITENNIS
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High Expectations For Those Aiming To Topple The Big Three In 2020

Will the reign of Rafael Nadal and Co at grand slams finally come to an end this year?

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There seems to be a sense of hope that 2020 will be the year where there will be a substantial changing of the guard on the men’s tour.

 

One again the new tennis season starts with three headline acts – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Known as the Big Three, they are regarded as some of the greatest players in history. Between them, they have they won 51 out of the last 59 grand slam tournaments and at least one of them have featured in the final in 57 out of the last 59 majors. They remain the leaders of the tour, but the question is how much longer for?

“I think we challenged them already a lot. We also beat them especially on Masters 1000 stages and the ATP Finals,” two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem said on Thursday.
“I think the last stage we have to conquer is the Grand Slam stage, and I really think we’ll see a new Grand Slam champion in 2020.”

26-year-old Thiem is a member of the contingent aiming to replace the illustrious Big Three in the future. The Austrian made steady waves in 2019 by claiming his first Masters title in Indian Wells and reaching the final of the ATP Finals in November. Overall, he claimed five titles during the last season. Something that was only matched by rival Djokovic.

“I really hope that it’s me, but you cannot guarantee anything. There are also many other very strong guys who can achieve that.” Thiem commented about the perspective of grand slam glory.
“Maybe it’s also not happening and Big Three are taking all four,” he added.
“But we are trying everything to achieve top position, to achieve the biggest titles, Grand Slam titles.”

Thiem’s record against the Big Three (ATP only)
– Djokovic: 4-6
– Nadal: 4-9
– Federer: 5-2

It isn’t the first time at the start of the season there has been talk about a new name breaking through in grand slam tennis. Over the past decade, only two players outside of the Big Three have managed to win multiple major trophies. They were Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray.

For some of the challengers, the new year will be as much as a mental battle as a physical one. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is the youngest player in the top 10, is hoping to continue his momentum from winning the ATP Finals. The upcoming weeks will be crucial for him. He will be defending 720 ranking points at the Australian Open following his run to the semi-finals almost 12 months ago.

“For me, it’s very challenging to go out there and compete against them (the Big Three).” Said Tsitsipas.
“I feel like there’s something extra to chase after when I play against them, plus I get to learn a lot when I play against them.
“I feel more of a complete player,” he added.
“I kind of compare them to me to see what works for them and what should I work on more, and they’re just superhumans in a way.
“But I’m trying to get there myself and I’m going to keep trying to do my best because I feel like I can surpass them, I can be better.
“It’s just a matter of time, patience, and dedication on what I do.”

Tsitsipas recently experienced once again what it is like to be on the losing end against the trio. In Abu Dhabi he lost a marathon clash against Nadal in the final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Losing in the final set tiebreak.

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Another challenger comes in the form of Daniil Medvedev. Who shot to the limelight last year by reaching six consecutive finals, including the US Open. It was the consistency displayed by the Russian that excited many. Despite his dip in form towards the end of last year, one former doubles star believes he has what it takes to go one better at the Australian Open.

“I’m going with Medvedev,” 16-time grand slam champion Woodbridge said.
“That run he had through the US Open was just phenomenal. I think he believes, I reckon he thinks he can get into a final and take those guys out.
“He’s also the most dynamic of that group. He’s going to run all day long, he’s going to keep that ball going.”

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Other contenders aiming for a breakthrough include Alexander Zverev. Somebody previously billed as a future world No.1, but is yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals of major. The Canadian duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime hope to continue their country’s rapid rise in the sport. Meanwhile, Italy is enjoying a rise in the tennis calibre of their younger players thanks to the Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner.

“I don’t think that the Big Three are going to win all four (grand slams in 2020),” Nadal told French newspaper L’Equipe.“A young player is going to arrive next year.”

Since 2005, only two men outside of the Big Three have managed to win the Australian Open title. One of those was Marat Safin, who will be shortly marking the 15th anniversary of his triumph. Safin, who is the captain of the Russian team at the ATP Cup, is hopeful that a change will come soon.

“This group of three – Roger, Rafa, and Djokovic – is something unique in tennis that has never happened,” Safin said.
“They are incredible, especially Roger. I wish them to play a little bit longer, but I also wish to the young ones to retire them earlier.”

The Australian Open will start on January 20th.

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Gael Monfils Joins Forces With Former Long-Time Coach Of Dominic Thiem

Will the Frenchman return to his best form with the help of his new mentor?

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Tennis star Gael Monfils will start the 2021 season with a new team setup after confirming the appointment of a new coach.

 

The former US Open semi-finalist has paired up with the renowned Gunther Bresnik who is best known for his time spent working alongside Dominic Thiem for over a decade until their split in 2019. Thiem is now coached by Nicolas Massu. Bresnik is the former Davis Cup captain of Austria and has worked with numerous top names such as Ernests Gulbis, Jerzy Janowicz, Boris Becker and Henri Leconte.

Monfils has been training with Bresnik during the off-season but only now has it been confirmed that the two have formed an agreement to work together. However, over the coming weeks Monfils will be guided by another Austrian. Co-coach Richard Ruckelshausen will work with the world No.11 in Australia and has been appointed as the captain of the French ATP Cup team.

“I’ve known Gaël for a long time,” Bresnik told krone.at on January 9th. “With Ernests Gulbis and Stefan Lochbihler’s son, he worked on his shape here in Spain (during the off-season).”

The 34-year-old will be looking to get back on top form following what was a roller-coaster 2020. Monfils started last year by winning 16 matches within a three-month period. However, following the pause in tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic he struggled to regain that form. Ending the season with three consecutive first round losses.

Monfils had been working with Liam Smith. The upcoming Australian Open will be his 54th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. He has only reached the quarter-finals at the Melbourne major once which was back in 2016.

So far in his career Monfils has won 10 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as sixth in the world.

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Andy Murray won’t travel to Australia

Andy Murray will miss next month’s Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago.

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Andy Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Andy Murray has made it official, he won’t be making the trip down under after working with Tennis Australia to find a viable solution to make it work.

 

“We’ve been in constant dialogue with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but we couldn’t make it work.”

Murray was scheduled to fly to Australia with one of charter flights but due to a positive Covid test wasn’t able to make the flight and put his tournament in jeopardy.

Although he missed the chartered flights there was still a small chance he would play but had to workout an agreement with Tennis Australia to make it work. However it didn’t work and was gutted with the news.

“I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I’m devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It’s a country and tournament that I love.”

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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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