Andrey Rublev’s 2020 Breakthrough Means Nothing, Says Former No.1 Safin - UBITENNIS
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Andrey Rublev’s 2020 Breakthrough Means Nothing, Says Former No.1 Safin

The two-time Grand Slam winner has issued a harsh reality check to the world No.8.

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Too much shouldn’t be read into Andrey Rublev’s performance on the ATP Tour this season, according to the last Russian man to hold the world No.1 ranking.

 

Marat Safin has poured cold water over the achievements of his compatriot who has won more titles in 2020 than any other player on the ATP Tour. 23-year-old Rublev has won two 250 and three 500 tournaments within the past 12 months. An achievement that helped elevate him to a ranking high of eighth in the world and secured his first appearance at the ATP Finals earlier this month.

Although Safin, who worked alongside Rublev in January when he captained the Russian team at the ATP Cup, believes that no significant breakthrough has occurred because he hasn’t won what he describes as a big tournament.

“Do his victories this year mean anything? If truth be told, it doesn’t mean anything. He won five tournaments, but these are not “Masters”, these are not “Grand Slam”. Novak won less but finished first (in the world rankings),” he said.

Rublev reached the quarter-finals of both the French Open and US Open this year, making it the first time he has done so within the same season. In the Masters 1000 events, his best run was to the third round in Paris where he lost to Stan Wawrinka.

“Andrey needs to switch and play in major tournaments,” said Safin.
“He can beat many, you need to go to the semi-finals and the Grand Slam finals to be in the top three.”

Safin’s views are one that he had himself during his career. When questioned about his decision to step away from the sport at the age of 29, he said he did so because he wasn’t prepared to be second fiddle to the Big Three. During the later stages of his career he was also blighted by a knee issue.

Despite the criticism, he insists that there is no conflict between them and they are ‘constantly in touch’ with each other. Joking that he needs to give the world No.8 a ‘slap on his head’ for losing a tightly contested match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Finals.

“He knows himself that he has let go. He has a rich arsenal, good physics, light on his feet. He understands what I’m talking about,” Safin explained during his evaluation of Rublev’s game.
“Andrey needs to learn not to break down in stressful situations. In general, many people do not understand what professional sports are. The sport of elite achievement is not about learning to hit with different hands and go to play, but how long you can withstand a stressful situation.”

Two-time Grand Slam champion Safin ended his career with 27 ATP titles.

Rublev’s 2020 season in numbers

2 – two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist
4 – wins over top 10 players
5 – number of ATP titles won
35 – has won 35 out of 36 matches after claiming the first set
41 – number of wins overall
$2,169,487 – prize money won

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Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’

Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’

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German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.

 

The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.

“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.

Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.

Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.

Zverev’s Instagram statement in full

“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

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Hubert Hurkacz Aims To Build On Delray Beach Triumph

The best way to start the season for the world No.35.

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Hubert Hurkacz (image via https://twitter.com/DelrayBeachOpen)

Poland’s Herbert Hurkacz says he hopes to play at an even higher level over the coming weeks after winning the Delray Beach Open title on Wednesday.

 

The world No.35 eased to a 6-3, 6-3, win over Sebastian Korda in the final to claim only the second title in his career after Winston Salem back in 2018. Hurkacz, who was the fourth seed in the tournament, didn’t drop a set all week en route to becoming the first Polish player in history to win the title. In the final he won 68% of his service points and broke Korda four times overall.

“It feels great. It is great to win the title and I am so happy about that. This Is a great start to the season,” Hurkacz said afterwards.
“I am happy that I am improving and we (my team) are doing good stuff with C.B (coach Craig Boynton), and things are working. So I am really pleased with this result.”

The 23-year-old is hoping to improve on what was a challenging 2020 season for him. After reaching the semi-finals of the Auckland Open in January last year, he could only win back-to-back matches in two out of his next 12 tournaments prior to Delray Beach. His best Grand Slam result was reaching the third round of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

Seeking to break new territory in 2021, Hurkacz will today start his 24-hour journey to Australia which begins with a 5am departure from America this morning. His coach Craig Boynton also currently worked with Steve Johnson and previously mentored Jim Courier.

“It’s the beginning of the season and I still need to work on a couple of things, but I hope I can play even better in Australia,” Hurkacz stated.

Hurkacz is only the second Polish player to have won an ATP Tour title in the Open Era after Wojciech Fibak. At present he is the only player from his country ranked inside the top 100 on the Tour.

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Cristian Garin Out Of Australian Open Following Fall

The South American tennis star will not travel to Melbourne due to both injury and the travel restrictions implemented.

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Chile’s Cristian Garin has become the third top 30 player to pull out of the men’s draw at next month’s Australian Open.

 

The world No.22 has confirmed that he will not be travelling to the Grand Slam after suffering a fall in which he hurt his wrist a week ago. Announcing his decision on Instagram, Garin said the limitations in place at the tournament which wouldn’t allow him to travel with his physio played a factor. This year’s Australian Open is taking place amid strict COVID-19 rules which requires players to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and limits the number of team members they can bring. The majority of players will be spending their quarantine in Melbourne but the top names will be in Adelaide following a recent deal secured by Tennis Australia.

I am very sad to report that a week ago I suffered a fall, which left me with a lot of pain in my left wrist (sprain),” Garin wrote on his Instagram story. “It has been very difficult for me to play the last days and given the restrictions of the tour, they do not allow me to travel with my physiotherapist, which makes it impossible to find a good recovery. Unfortunately I will not be able to play this year in Australia, which is something very difficult for me to accept. I hope to return in good condition and with the best energy for the tour in South America.”

photo via – https://www.instagram.com/garincris/

Garin kicked-off his season on Saturday at the Delray Beach Open where he was the top seed. However, he lost his opening match in straight sets to Christian Harrison who went on to reach the semi-finals. It is only the second tournament he has played since the French Open in October.

The setback comes after the 24-year-old confirmed that he has started working with Franco Davin back in November. A tennis coach known best for his work with Juan Martin del Potro. Davin has also previously worked with Grigor Dimitrov and Kyle Edmund.

The withdrawal of Garin follows that of Roger Federer and John Isner. Former champion Federer has pulled out due to his ongoing recovery from a right knee injury. Although one Australian Open official believes his decision was due to another factor. Meanwhile, Isner has opted not to travel to Australia because he didn’t want to spend an extended time away from his family.

The Australian Open will start on February 8th.

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