The highlights of Day 1 at the ATP Cup - UBITENNIS
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The highlights of Day 1 at the ATP Cup

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The first edition of the ATP Cup will kick off on Friday 3 January with three exciting matches. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Canada’s Shapovalov in the day session of the Group F at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, before local favourite Alex De Minaur takes on 2018 ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev in the night session. Last September’s US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev will play against 2019 Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini.

 

The round robin Group F including Canada, Greece, Germany and Australia promises to be among the highlights of the round robin stage of the ATP Cup, as it features plenty of young stars like Alexander Zverev, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger Aliassime, Alex De Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas will face Shapovalov for the fourth time in their careers. This match will be the opening tie at Pat Rafter Arena. Shapovalov beat Tsitsipas in two of their three head-to-head matches at the 2018 Australian Open and at the 2019 Miami Open. Tsitsipas scored his only win against his Canadian rival in Monte-Carlo 2018. Tsitsipas is looking to start the new season on a high note after winning the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals in London. Shapovalov enjoyed the biggest season of his career in 2019 winning his maiden ATP title in Stockholm and reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Paris Bercy.

Jan-Lennard Struff will face Nick Kyrgios in the opening match of the tie between Germany and Australia in Brisbane. In the second match Alexander Zverev will fight against Alex Minaur in a blockbuster. Zverev carries a 4-0 lead in their previous four head-to-head matches (three times in 2018 in the Davis Cup, in the Washington final and in Shanghai Round of 16 and once in 2019 in the Acapulco quarter final).

De Minaur and Zverev met for the first time in a Davis Cup tie in February 2018. De Minaur, who was making his debut in the Davis Cup, pushed Zverev, but lost in a fifth-set tie-break.

“There is a couple years’ more experience. I have had a couple good years on Tour, and I am very happy with where I am right now. I know it’s going to be an incredibly tough match, but I am looking forward to it. I think I have put in a lot of hard work through the pre-season and I feel ready for a new year. I had probably about a week and a half of holidays, and then we came over here to Oz and started the pre-season. It was a real big focus because we had such an unbelievable year last year, so we wanted to make sure to be in the best possible position to try and come out and do it all again, especially knowing that coming up here, my first three matches are against such high-level opponents, so I have got to be ready ”, said De Minaur.  

De Minaur has enjoyed his breakthrough season in 2019 winning three titles in Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai and reaching two finals in Basel and at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. He ended the 2019 season with a career-high ranking of world number 18.

“Back then he was an up and coming young guy, and now he is ranked top 20 in the world. It’s different, but we played a lot of good matches with Alex. I think that the Davis Cup match here was the best one that we played. I mean, 7-6 in the fifth set we played over four hours. It’s not easy against  him because he is not somebody that will give you a lot, and I will know exactly where I stand after that match. It’s all about building and getting better and stronger. Keep putting those hard yards in the gym and every single ounce of muscle I can put on is greatly appreciated ”, said De Minaur.

De Minaur said that he has been inspired by Stefanos Tsitsipas. Both players will meet on 7 January when Australia faces Greece.

“Tsitsipas is a year older than me and has been doing crazy things. Now it’s my turn to hopefully step up in my own journey and be able to knock off as many goals as I can. The way I have been able to finish the year, it’s given me a lot of confidence and I know where I want to be and now it’s all about just keeping that level and trying to contend for more titles and hopefully higher level titles”, said De Minaur.

Last June’s Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies will face John Peers and Chris Guccione in the doubles match. Peers won the 2017 Australian Open doubles match with Henri Kontinen.

The match between Daniil Medvedev and Fabio Fognini will highlight the tie between Russia and Italy at the RAC Arena in Perth. Karen Khachanov will face Stefano Travaglia in the opening match.

Italy won five of the six previous ties played by these two teams in the Davis Cup, but Russia starts with top 20 players and carries a favourite role.

Medvedev will face Fognini for the fourth consecutive year and leads 2-1 in their previous three head-to-head matches. Fognini won their first clash in Cincinnati in 2017, but his Russian rival prevailed twice in Sydney semifinal in 2018 and in Shanghai Masters 1000 quarter final last October.

Medvedev led the ATP Tour in 2019 with 59 overall wins and reached nine finals. He achieved a career-high number 4 last September after reaching the US Open Final. He qualified for six consecutive finals after Wimbledon and won four titles in Sofia, Cincinnati, St. Petersburg and Shanghai.

“I believe we have the dream team, and we will be the future champions of the ATP Cup. We will be the future champions of the ATP Cup. I am really happy, I am proud to be part of a great team. Everyone is a great guy, which is very important. The first tie is always tough, the first match in the arena. Italians are always tough to play against. They are grinders and it will be important to take a good first step. It will be tough, but our confidence is rocking. We have been here a few days and we are ready to play. Russia is into tennis with Danil and Karen doing right now. We want to move ice hockey from top spot and make Russians proud”, said Russian team captain Marat Safin.  

Norway will face the USA in the opening tie at RAC Arena in Perth. John Isner will face Casper Ruud for the second time. Isner beat Ruud in straight sets at Wimbledon last year.

The Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney will host the tie between Belgium and Moldova. David Goffin will face Radu Albot for the fourth time in their careers. The Belgian player won all their previous three matches in Sofia 2017, Gstaad 2017 and Halle 2019 in three sets. In the same Sydney Group Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov will face Great Britain’s Daniel Evans in their fourth head-to-head match.

The ten-day ATP Cup Tournament will welcome 24 teams, each consisting of five players. Every team will play the other three teams in their respective round robin group in a best of-three match tie (two singles matches followed by a doubles match). The singles matches are best-of-three-sets, while the doubles matches will have a match tie-breaker, if they split the first two sets. The six teams that finish first in their groups, as well as the two best second-place finishers advance to the knock-out stage.

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Next Generation Not Even Close To Upstaging Tennis’ Big Three, Says Andy Murray

The three-time Grand Slam champion had some harsh words for those hoping to end the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

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There has been a lot of talk about who may take over from the reign of the Big Three in the future but Andy Murray believes there is still a long way to go until that happens.

 

The former world No.1 believes the next generation of players are yet to prove they have what it takes to take over from the trio who has won 15 out of the past 16 Grand Slam tournaments between them. Dominic Thiem is the only exception after triumphing at the US Open last year. Between them they have won 271 titles on the ATP Tour and have spent over 800 weeks at the top of the rankings.

On Sunday Novak Djokovic continued the Big Three’s dominance by downing Daniil Medvedev in three sets to win the Australian Open. Dealing another blow to those hoping that a change of guard in the men’s game will occur soon.

“I expected the final to be closer to be honest but I also know how good Novak is there and when he’s on his game and obviously highly motivated,” Murray told The Press Association.
“I saw before the final Medvedev said something along the lines of Novak having immense pressure on him, which is true, but those guys have been at the top of the game, they’ve been dealing with immense pressure their whole careers and they know how to deal with it and perform at their best level when it matters.”

Continuing his assessment of the current game, Murray said that Thiem’s US Open win last year was more of a blip rather than any potential momentum changer. Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were absent from the tournament. Meanwhile, Novak Djokjovic ended up getting disqualified following a mishap.

“The younger guys, for me, they’ve not shown that they’re particularly close,” he said.
“Obviously what happened at the US Open, (Dominic) Thiem did what he had to do to win the event, but, if Novak hadn’t put a ball through the line judge’s throat, it would be the same outcome I think.”

Murray currently has a losing head-to-head record against every member of the Big Three. However, he was the first man in history to have beaten each of them at least five times before Thiem also reached the milestone last November. Overall, he has scored seven wins over Nadal, as well as 11 victories over both Federer and Djokovic.

The Brit is set to return to action later this week at the Montpellier Open in France. He was forced to miss the first Grand Slam of the season after testing positive for COVID-19 and instead played a Challenger event in Italy.

“I didn’t watch any because I wanted to be there myself,” Murray said of missing the Australian Open. “It was a struggle to be honest. I stopped following all the tennis players I follow on social media and stuff because I just didn’t really want to see it.”

In Montpellier Murray will play Egor Gerasimov in his opening match on Tuesday.

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Undeterred Daniil Medvedev Praises The ‘Cyborgs Of Tennis’ After Australian Open Loss

The world No.4 reacts to his loss to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne Park.

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Daniil Medvedev says he is down but not out of the race for Grand Slam glory after losing in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday.

 

The world No.4 fell in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in what was his second taste of playing in a major final. His first was against Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open. In his latest encounter Medvedev struggled at times with his unforced error count as he failed to find a way to break down Djokovic’s defensive display.

“It’s definitely tough. I don’t like to lose matches. Doesn’t matter if it’s a first round or a final of a Grand Slam. Of course, it’s just that feeling that you’re closer to holding the trophy than when you lose the first round,” Medvedev told reporters.
“I feel like it’s the kind of matches I won throughout this tournament, he won today.”

Heading into the clash some pundits have tipped the 25-year-old to lift his maiden major title given his recent surge on the Tour. Prior to the showdown he was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being over top 10 players. Earlier in the tournament Medvedev scored wins over Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

However, the Russian failed when faced with the ultimate challenge in men’s tennis – playing a member of the Big Three in a Grand Slam. Despite being described by Djokovic as one of his toughest opponents, he is under no illusion of the challenge the trio poses to him and others.

They’re just better than other tennis players. I’m not shy to say this,” Medvedev stated.
“It’s just the truth. In fact, in numbers and everything. After, of course, when you’re out there, you want to beat them. You don’t care that it’s the big three or the big 100. But that’s why they have so many slams. They’re just really good.”

Medvedev does have the weapons to those who he has nicknamed the ‘cyborgs of tennis.’ He has defeated Djokovic three times and Nadal once at the ATP Finals last November.

“We’re talking about some Cyborgs of tennis in a good way. They’re just unbelievable,” he continued.
“Every time I go out there, when I say this, I’m not at all when I’m out there thinking about this, thinking, Okay, they are too strong for me. I always want to win. I beat some of them in some big tournaments, like London for example. Just need to be better next time in the Grand Slam finals against these two guys or Roger.”

It is now a case of what could have been for Medvedev who would have broken into the world’s top two if he had won the Australian Open. To put that achievement into perspective, the last player outside of the Big Four (including Andy Murray) to do so was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

“I’m usually quite easy in defeats, I would say. That’s the best part of tennis, is when you win a tournament, if you have a tournament next week and you’re going to lose a final, semifinal, first round, you’re going to be disappointed with the loss, you will almost not remember a win,” he explained.
“I guess it’s different after a Grand Slam win.”

Medvedev will return to action later this month at the Rotterdam Open.

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Novak Djokovic Captures Record Ninth Australian Open Title With Clinical Win over Medvedev

The world No.1 toppled his lacklustre opponent who produced a series of costly unforced errors to seal his 18th major title at Melbourne Park.

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Novak Djokovic has extended his dominance at the Australian Open by comprehensively beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, to clinch an historic ninth title in Melbourne Park.

 

The showdown on the Rod Laver Arena was between two giants of the current game. Djokovic is the most decorated male player in Australian Open history and has recorded 11 consecutive wins over top 10 players in the tournament prior to the final. Meanwhile, Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being against a member of the top 10. However, a large majority of the encounter was dominated by the top seed who produced a total of 20 winners as he broke seven times en route to victory.

“I really like him as a person off the court. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players I ever faced in my life,” Djokovic said of his rival during the trophy ceremony.
“It’s a matter of time that you will hold a Grand Slam for sure – if you don’t mind waiting a few more years…”

For the first time in the Open Era the men’s final was being contested by the first and fourth seeds in what was a battle from the onset. Playing on what he describes as his ‘home court’ Djokovic was the quicker of the two to settle into the match after a forehand down the line from the Serbian triggered a Medvedev error to give him a break en route to a 3-0 lead. Eventually Medvedev regained his footing as he gave his rival a dose of his own medicine by winning three games in a row to draw level. Both illustrated glimpses of their best tennis with sublime defensive play but it was the world No.1 who has the edge in the opener. Leading 6-5 a blistering Djokovic backhand passing shot handed him a trio of break points to clinch the set. He failed in his first two attempts, but it was third time lucky after the Russian fired a forehand shot into the net.

The thunderous hitting continued into the second frame as players started to contend with an increasingly animated crowd who had to be told repeatedly to stay quiet during points. One of the disturbances was a refugee protest which involved the removal of two people. On the court Djokovic once again traded breaks with his rival early on before pulling away with the help of some costly Medvedev mistakes. Prompting the world No.4 to smash one of his rackets out of anger and received a code violation for doing so as he fell behind 2-5. Medvedev’s mood deteriorated further in the next game as the top seed returned a serve deep to the baseline to clinch a two-set lead.

source – AusOpen Twitter

Winning all the mini battles that were fought, Djokovic’s offensive was one that drew his rival to despair who continuously made glimpses towards his camp in the crowd. Mentally Medvedev was done as Djokovic masterfully manoeuvred his way to the trophy once again. A three-game winning streak at the start of the third set placed him within touching distance of the win. Enough of a margin to see him over the finish live as he clinched victory on his first championship point after hitting an overhead volley. Prompting Djokovic to fall to the floor.

“I would like to thank my team,” said the nine-time champion. “It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, especially in the last couple of weeks but always a special thanks to you. You have dedicated so much time making sure I’m able to play and I am grateful to you. Thank you guys, I love you.’
“Last but not least, I would like to thank this court and the Rod Laver Arena. It’s a love affair that keeps going.”

It is the second time that 25-year-old Medvedev has lost in a major final after doing so to Nadal at the 2019 US Open. Although he remains one of the most likely candidates to take over the reign of the Big Three in the years to come. Since the start of 2020 he has won 38 Tour matches which is the third highest on the ATP after Djokovic and Andrey Rublev.

“(It’s) Never easy to speak when you just lost a Grand Slam final, but I’ll do my best!” said Medvedev.
“Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one.’
“I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.”

The triumph has given Djokovic his 18th Grand Slam title which is just two away from the all-time record currently held by both Nadal and Roger Federer. He has now won a record nine titles in Melbourne Park which makes him only the second male player in history to have won the same major title that amount of times. Nadal has 13 French Open titles to his name. It is also the fifth time in his career Djokovic has successfully defended his title at the Australian Open.

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