Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini claim wins in the opening day at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini claim wins in the opening day at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged Benoit Paire 24-5 22-6 13-14 15-10 in his first match at the 2020 Ultimate Tennis Showdown organized by Patrick Mouratoglou and Alex Popyrin, who launched this innovative tournament at his Academy in Southern France with the goal to attract new fans at a time, in which the ATP Tour is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Tsitisipas cruised through to a two-set lead before Paire bounced back by winning the third quarter. Tsitsipas pulled away to claim the win.

“The first two quarters were phenomenal. I got off to a very good start. In the third set he found his serve, his shots were deeper and he started missing less. Things got tense in the third quarter. I had a lot of fun”, said Tsitsipas.

World number 8 and last year’s US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini fought back from 7-11 in the fourth quarter to claim a 14-10 12-13 22-5 13-12 win. Berrettini won the first quarter 14-10, but Brown drew level to one set apiece by winning the second set 13-12 with a brilliant forehand. Berrettini cruised through to a 22-5 win in the third set. Brown took a 11-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Berrettini won four consecutive points to draw level to 11-11. Brown took a 12-11 lead after a double fault from Berrettini with 20 seconds to go. Berrettini hit a smash to take a 13-12 win after Brown tried to lob a tweener over his head.

“It was tough, physically, mentally, everything. Dustin always plays fast but with 15 points between points, the UTS cards and everything, it was really tough”, said Berrettini.

Richard Gasquet won the first two points of sudden death to claim a 13-11 12-14 12-11 10-15 victory over David Goffin. Gasquet took a tight first set with one-handed backhands. Goffin clinched the second set 14-12. Gasquet claimed the third quarter when Goffin made a double fault on the deciding point. Goffin won the fourth quarter 15-10, before Gasquet claimed the first two points of sudden death to clinch the win. In the sudden point Gasquet hit a forehand pass to win the opening point and sealed the second point on Goffin’s serve when the Belgian player hit a forehand into the net.

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin beat Elliot Benchetrit 13-9 9-12 15-12 14-12 to claim the first ever win in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. Popyrin took a 8-2 lead in the third set. Benchetrit fought back to 12-11, but he made a double fault to lose the second set. Popyrin clinched the third set 15-12 before pulling away to win the fourth set 14-12.

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez clinched a sudden-death win over Lucas Pouille by the scoreline of 17-14 13-12 9-13 11-12.

 

Lopez took a 7-1 lead in the second set before Pouille came back to take the quarter to a deciding point. Lopez hit a serve and volley to win the second set 13-12.

 

Lopez led 9-7 in the third quarter but Pouille came back by winning six consecutive points to clinch the third quarter 13-9.

 

Pouille fended off a match point to win the fourth quarter on a deciding point forcing the match to the sudden death. Lopez won the opening point on his serve, when Pouille netted a return. Lopez hit a backhand return onto the baseline to claim the win. Lopez was a late replacement for injured Felix Auger Aliassime.

 

The revolutionary format of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown consists of four quarters of ten minutes each and just 15 points.

 

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Simona Halep ‘Happy To Be Back’ Amid Uncertainty Over US Open Plans

The Romanian still has reservations about her future plans after taking her first international flight in five months.

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World No.2 Simona Halep admits the prospect of travelling from Europe to America will be ‘mentally tough’ as she ponders whether or not to play at the US Open.

 

The reigning Wimbledon champion is set to return to competitive tennis in the Czech Republic where she will play her first tournament in five months at the Prague Open. Halep was originally due to make her return in Palermo but withdrew from the event due to ‘travelling anxiety’ despite being assured she wouldn’t have to go through quarantine. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks about if the Romanian would travel to the US Open later this year with the 28-year-old confirming she will make her final decision after Prague.

“I haven’t made the final decision yet,” AFP quoted Halep as telling reporters during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The travelling from Europe is a little bit tough with changing flights — we don’t have straight flights — so it’s going to be tough for me personally, mentally,” she told a video conference.
“I don’t want to put myself into that stress. As I said I haven’t decided yet, but the conditions are tough for me at this moment.”

Three members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour have already pulled out of the New York major, which will be played behind closed doors for the first time in history. Ash Barty, Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina have all withdrawn from the major due to concerns. In comparison, only one member of the top 10 on the men’s Tour, Rafael Nadal, has withdrawn specifically related to COVID-19 concerns.

Prague is Halep’s first international trip after being in lockdown in Romania since February. A country which reported 1,378 new coronavirus cases and 50 new related deaths on Friday in what was their highest 24-hour figure since the pandemic began.

“I’m a bit nervous but things are very controlled here and very safe so I feel safe,” she said upon arrival in the Czech capital.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be healthy.”

It will be double duty for Halep in Prague. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, she will also be playing the doubles alongside local favourite Barbora Strycova. Who reached the semi-final of Wimbledon last year before losing to Serena Williams. It is the first time ever the two are playing alongside each other on the Tour.

“I’m sure we will have fun. I’m sure that she will understand if I miss easy balls at the net, and I hope we’ll enjoy it.” Halep commented on their collaboration.

Halep will start her singles campaign against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.

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Dominic Thiem: “This year’s US Open will be less important than the 2020 Australian Open”

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Dominic Thiem is planning to travel to New York to play at the Western and Southern Open and at the US Open. Thiem feels that he could decide to pull out of the US tournaments and stay in Europe to prepare for Rome and the French Open, if it would be necessary to be in quarantine on his return to Europe. 

 

“When the tour resumes, I will be ready. If it is not played, I will be a little more time at home. I see in a neutral way. Tennis is one of the biggest sports in the world, and others like Formula 1 and basketball have already returned. It’s time for tennis to continue this trend”, said Thiem in an interview to the Standard. 

Thiem is keen on taking part at the US Open despite the restrictions. The Austrian player is bidding to win his first Grand Slam title after losing three consecutive finals at the French Open in 2018 and 2019 and at the Australian Open in 2020. He came close to winning the Melbourne final against Novak Djokovic last January when he was leading by two sets to one. Djokovic came back to win the final in five sets. 

Thiem is aiming at his first Grand Slam title in New York.  

“The expectations for me are quite high. All of us will have a completely new experience. There will be no spectators, a very small team, staying only in the hotel. You have to be honest and keep in mind that many top players will not attend the tournament. That means going far in this tournament it would be worth much less than normal compared to the Australian Open this year. Despite that, I am looking forward to playing”, continued Thiem. 

Thiem is planning to play in Kitzbuhel, Rome and Roland Garros. He will be able to play in Kitzbuhel only if the Austrian tournament will be postponed by one week to avoid the clash with the second week of the US Open. After the Madrid Mutua Open was cancelled, there are rumours that Kitzbuhel could be moved into Madrid’s vacated week. 

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Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino: “The enthusiasm for the ATP Finals in Turin has always been great from the beginning”

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Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino talked in an interview to Italian tennis channel Supertennis during the sixtieth edition of the Golden Raquet about the ATP Finals, which will be held at the Alpitour in Turin from 2021 to 2026. On 24th April 2019 Turin was chosen as the venue of the ATP Finals. The Piedmont city beat the competition of London, Manchester, Tokyo, Singapore. 

 

The ATP Finals will mark a sign of hope after a difficult period in Italy during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“What we are experiencing is an important moment for Italian tennis, with a decisive post-covid recovery and above all with the continuation of a path that brings us closer to an event of global relevance with the Finals in Turin in 2021. I am delighted to be able to see local favourite Lorenzo Sonego play. He has recently been appointed ambassador of Turin. I am just happy that clubs return to live their nolmancy, also because they all accompany us on the journey towards November 2002”, said Appendino. 

Appendino is happy for the important goal achieved by the Italian Tennis Federation thanks to the help of the Italian Sports Committee, the Governemnt and the Municipal Administration. 

“The goal to host the ATP Finals is the result of a great team work. The Italian Tennis Federation made an excellent work. The success of the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome and the Next Gen Finals in Milan helped give more credibility to Turin. There has always had great enthusiasm for the ATP Finals from the beginning. It’s a great opportunity to host the ATP Finals for five years. The whole city will be involved. We will host build-up events to promote the ATP Finals. The great results achieved by Italian players Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego have helped us achieve our goal to host the ATP Finals”. 

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