Australian No.2 Nick Kyrgios has vowed to be on his best behaviour during the inaugural ATP Cup which will get underway on Friday.
The 24-year-old is in Brisbane training ahead of his country’s group matches of the brand new team event. Which has to offer both prize money and ranking points. Kyrgios has only been able to play three singles matches (excluding the Laver Cup) since the US Open due to injury. A collarbone injury forced him to withdraw during the Davis Cup. Despite the setbacks, Kyrgios has insisted that he is raring to go for the new season. Hoping that his physical problems will remain a thing of the past.
“I have had no injuries of yet this year,” the world No.30 said during a press conference on New Year’s Day.
“I have had one session; the body held up well.”
Over the coming weeks the controversy-stricken player will be under close scrutiny on the tour. Kyrgios is currently serving a suspended ban for ‘aggravated behaviour.’ Should he commit any more violations within the 16-week time-frame, he faces being suspended from the sport.
Although it seems the current situation isn’t changing Kyrgios in anyway, who said he is feeling good after having a ‘couple of frosties (beers)’ on New Year’s Eve.
“It is New Year’s today. I am feeling all right. I feel refreshed.” He stated.
In the group stages of the ATP Cup, Kyrgios could potentially take on Germany’s Alexander Zverev in one of their group ties. Like the Australian, Zverev is yet to progress beyond the quarter-final stage of a grand slam tournament. Although he seemingly made a jibe towards Kyrgios on Wednesday when talking about his teammate Alex de Minaur.
“I know what to expect. I’ve played Alex. He’s is more of a professional that is going on a day-to-day basis. He tries to give his best all the time.” Said Zverev.
Despite the criticisms, Kyrgios is renowned for producing some of his best tennis in team competitions. Something he is hoping to emulate once again. He will be playing under the guidance of captain Lleyton Hewitt, who is also the head of the Australian Davis Cup team.
“I love being around the boys. I love the team environment,” he said.
“I do what I can to get the best out of these boys and I know I have their support –I just go out and bring good energy.
“And us Aussies we travel throughout the year. I was away for six and a half months (in 2019) so to be able to play in front of our home fans is awesome.”
Australia will play Germany on the opening day of the ATP Cup this Friday.
Mikael Ymer overcomes Richard Gasquet to advance to the second round in Marseille
Swedish 21-year-old Next Gen player Mikael Ymer edged past Richard Gasquet 6-3 3-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach the second round at the Open 13 in Marseille.
Ymer fended off 7 of the 10 break points he faced and broke serve in the third match point in a marathon third game setting up a second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Ymer raced out to a 4-0 lead with two consecutive breaks. Gasquet pulled back one break in the seventh game to close the gap to 2-5, but Ymer served out the first set in the ninth game with an ace.
Ymer saved three break points in the sixth game, but Gasquet earned the break on his third chance in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3.
Ymer got an early break in the second game of the third set to open up a 3-0 lead. Gasquet broke back in the ninth game and held serve to draw level to 5-5. Ymer converted his third break point at deuce to seal the third set 7-5 in the 12th game.
Benoit Paire beat Gregoire Barrere 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in the all-French match. Paire earned his only break of the match in the third game of the opening set. He saved two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break, where Paire cruised through to a 7-1 win.
Ilya Ivashka overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-1 3-6 6-4. Ivashka broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Popyrin earned one break in the fourth game to clinch the second set 6-3. Popyrin got an early break at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Ivashka broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players went on serve until the 10th game when Ivashka sealed the win with a break.
Alexander Zverev Going In The Right Direction, Says Becker
The German tennis legend gives his verdict on Zverev’s current form following his grand slam breakthrough.
Former world No.1 Boris Becker believes Alexander Zverev’s recent run at the Australian Open was confirmation that he belongs at the top of men’s tennis.
Last month the 22-year-old achieved his best ever grand slam performance by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne Park before losing to Dominic Thiem. At the tournament he scored wins over Andrey Rublev, who won two consecutive titles prior to the event, and former champion Stan Wawrinka. Zverev has been tipped as a future world No.1 in recent years and remains the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three or more Masters trophies. Although he has previously struggled to shine in the biggest events of the sport.
“Alexander Zverev has made a great step forward with his first participation in a grand slam semi-final.” Becker told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. “Although he had difficult weeks before, for which there were reasons.”
At the start of the year it looked as if the world No.7 was in trouble. At the ATP Cup he lost all three of his matches played. A performance Becker blames on his off-season training. During November and December Zverev played a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer across South America and China.
“He didn’t train enough during the winter break and came to Brisbane unprepared.” He said.
“We exchanged some serious words off the court and he took them to heart.’
“Of course I’m happy he had such success. This is also a confirmation for him that he belongs at the top of the world (in tennis).”
“But the competitors never sleep, that’s a never ending story. He has to confirm this again and again.”
So far in his career, Zverev has won 11 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as third in the world. His biggest triumph occurred towards the end of 2018 when he won the ATP Finals in London.
Reflecting on his Melbourne run last month, Zverev believes he managed to achieve the milestone thanks to a new approach he took to the event. Instead of looking at the whole tournament, he narrowed his focus to match-by-match.
“I went here in a different way. I went match by match. Didn’t look very far. I just knew I had opponents in front of me. I had to play well to beat them. That was it.” He said last month. “Whenever I won, I’d sit down in the locker room and somebody told me who I’m playing next.’
“I went step by step, match by match. Usually I [haven’t done] that in Grand Slams.”
Zverev will return to action next week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. A tournament where he finished runner-up 12 months ago. Becker believes his compatriot could do some damage on the hard courts over the coming weeks with two prestigious North American events taking place next month in Indian Wells and Miami.
“The next tournaments are on hard courts in America. He will play there as well. There he can take a lot of points.” Becker concluded.
New York Open Sunday Recap: Kyle Edmund Wins His Second Career ATP Title
And in an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, runner-up Andreas Seppi of Italy reveals he is pulling out of Delray Beach next week due to an injury suffered in the final.
In Sunday’s championship match, neither player faced a break point until 6-5 in the first set. In that twelfth game, Seppi struggled to make first serves, with Edmund hitting winners off both sides to break and secure the first set 7-5.
Kyle would break again to open the second, as Seppi played another loose game with neutral ball errors and a double fault. Up a set and a break, Edmund began to swing freely. Despite that, Seppi was able to survive a barrage of Edmund groundstroke winners to save multiple break points at 0-3. Edmund would then hold at love to make it 4-1, when Seppi left the court for a medical timeout. When Andreas returned, Edmund broke again by outlasting Seppi in the longest rally of the match. Kyle then closed out the match 7-5, 6-1 to win the second ATP title of his career.
When I spoke with Andreas after the match, he told me he felt something in his left hamstring as he was running for a drop shot in the fifth game of the second set. Seppi shared he will be skipping the Delray Beach event next week due to the injury, and will head home a week earlier than expected to rest and await the arrival of his first child.
“I just felt like I could really never put him under pressure today,” Seppi told me, when asked about how difficult it was to get into Edmund’s service games.
Edmund had a great serving day, striking 11 aces and facing no break points. He won 94% of first serve points in the match (31/33), against a player in Seppi who had won 36% of his return games this week prior to today’s final. I asked Kyle about how crucial his serving was in Sunday’s victory.
“When I got my first serve in I lost a couple points on it, so it really worked well for me. When you get that first strike in- I mean that big first serve in- when I can get on my forehand, that’s where I want to be, and I was winning a lot of points like that this week,” said Edmund.
Kyle also spoke about how important this title is to him.
“When you’re young and training, or playing tennis, these are the sort of things you imagine: wanting to win professional titles,” said Edmund.
In the doubles final, Dominic Inglot and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi won their first title as a team, defeating Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson 7-6(5), 7-6(6). Inglot and Qureshi initially served for the championship at 5-4 in the second, yet failed to close out the match. In the eventual second set tiebreak, Johnson narrowly missed a forehand down the line at 6-6. On the next point, an unreturned Inglot serve ended the American team’s quest for a title on home soil. Inglot and Qureshi were also finalists last week in Montpellier.
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