ATP Finals Day 7 Preview: The Top Four Players in the World Face Off in the Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals Day 7 Preview: The Top Four Players in the World Face Off in the Semifinals

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Dominic Thiem is eyeing his first ATP Finals title (Ella Ling/ATP Tour)

It’s the first time since 2004 the top four seeds have reached the semis at this event.

 

In the first semifinal, it’s the Australian Open champion against the US Open champion.  In the second semifinal, it’s the French Open champion against the Paris Masters champion.  And the doubles semifinals should be tight, compelling contests.  All four teams went 2-1 in round-robin play, and eight of this week’s 12 doubles matches went the distance.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (3)

This is a rematch from January’s Australian Open final, where Djokovic came back from two-sets-to-one down to prevail in five.  While Thiem was denied winning his first Major title on that day, he would finally do so at the next Major, after Novak was defaulted in the fourth round of the US Open.  They played an excellent match last year at this event, with Dominic prevailing in a third set tiebreak.  That remains the Austrian’s only hard court victory over the Serbian, who has taken the other four.  Overall Djokovic leads their rivalry 7-4, though Thiem has claimed four of their last six meetings.  In round-robin play, Thiem was the better player, despite his unmotivated effort against Andrey Rublev in a dead rubber.  Djokovic has appeared physically depleted at times this week, but Novak is great at winning matches even when he doesn’t play his best tennis.  That’s evident in his 41-4 record this season.  But Dominic is a vastly improved hard court player, with four titles on this surface since last year.  And while Djokovic is a five-time champion of this tournament, he’s just 3-3 in his last two appearances.  By contrast, Thiem is 5-3, with two of his losses coming in dead rubbers.  Thiem is vying to be the first player to reach a second consecutive final at this event since Djokovic did so four years ago.  But on this surface, the world No.1 must be considered a slight favorite considering he’s won an astonishing 89% of hard court matches over the past 10 seasons.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4)

The last two times these men met, they created epic encounters.  In last year’s US Open final, Medvedev stormed back from down two sets and a break, only succumbing after five sets and nearly five hours.  And last year at this event, Nadal again prevailed, in a match decided by a third set tiebreak.  Both men have played at a high level this week, with Medvedev being the only player to go undefeated.  And Nadal’s only loss came against Thiem in the best straight-set match of the year.  This has been nice redemption for the Russian, who went 0-3 here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.  Medvedev is now on an eight-match winning streak, going back to this title run in Bercy two weeks ago.  Nadal is 2-3 in semifinals of this tournament, and hasn’t reached the championship match since 2013.  I expect another taxing, extended battle between these two today.  But against a man he’s yet to lose to, don’t bet against the 20-time Major champion.

Doubles Matches on Day 7:

Three-time ATP champions in 2020 Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (4) vs. Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic (5), who won no titles this year but reached two finals.  Granollers and Zeballos controversially retired yesterday ahead of a first-set tiebreak, having already qualified to advance.

Australian Open champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2) vs. Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (8), champions last month in St. Petersburg.  Melzer and Roger-Vasselin controversially withdrew from last week’s final in Sofia the day before this tournament began. 

Full order of play is here.

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The ATP announces the nominees for the 2020 ATP Awards

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Nominees have been announced for the ATP Awards for all player-voted categories (Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the year, Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award) and Coach of the Year. 

 

The Fans’s Favourite Award and and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award Award will be announced later this month. Fans can vote for their favourite singles player and doubles team through 11 December. 

Three-time winner and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will be up against 2020 Rome finalist and Roland Garros semifinalist Diego Schwartzman, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and John Millman in the Sportsmanship category. 

Schwartzman is among the nominees in the Most Improved player category and will be against Ugo Humbert, five-time ATP Tour titlist Andrey Rublev and 2020 Sofia ATP Tour champion and 2019 Next Gen ATP Tour champion Jannik Sinner. The Most Improved player of the Year reached a higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and showed an increasingly improved level of performance through the year. 

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are Kevin Anderson, Andrey Kuznetsov, Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. The Compeback Player of the Year has overcome a serious injury in re-establishing as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

The contenders for the Newcomer of the Year Award are Carlos Alcaraz (winner in three Challenger tournaments in Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante), Sebastian Korda (winner of his first Challenger title in Eckental), Lorenzo Musetti (title in Parma and third-round in Rome Masters 1000), Jurij Rodionov (first Challenger titles in Dallas and Morelos) , Emil Ruusuvuori (semifinalist in Nur Sultan) and Thiago Seyboth Wild (first title in Santiago de Chlle)

The Coach of the Year Award contenders are Juan Ignacio Chela (Diego Schwartzman), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Nicolas Massu (Dominic Thiem), Riccardo Piatti (Jannik Sinner) and Fernando Vicente (Andrey Rublev). 

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French Legend Leconte Speaks Out On Upcoming Return Of Roger Federer

The Grand Slam finalist gives his view on Federer’s chances for 2021.

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A former star of French tennis says he is hopeful but wary that Roger Federer will be able to return to the pinnacle of sport next year.

 

Henri Leconte, who is a former French Open finalist that achieved a ranking high of No.5, admits that the Swiss Maestro may find it tough on the Tour given the rise of what he describes as the ‘younger generation.’ This season Dominic Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 27. More recently Daniil Medvedev defeated both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the ATP Finals title.

We want to believe it. We all want to believe it! It’s been a long and difficult year. Will the motivation still be there? Will this break, the fact of having been able to enjoy his family, have changed something or will he still have that renewed motivation that has always fascinated us?” Leconte told TennisActu.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss at the Australian Open in January. Since then, he has been sidelined from action due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second took place after the first failed to produce the desired results.

Despite the setbacks, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer is eyeing a return to the Tour in 2021. He is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 100 and one of two to be aged 39. The other is Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

No one can say it. We all wish him, we would like him to stop on a Grand Slam title but the train (momentum) is gone with this younger generation which has put in an extra speed,” said Leconte.
“I would like to believe it. Roger has done so many things, that’s why he makes us dream, we would like to see him at the top. It will be very, very hard. ..”

It is not the first time Federer has taken a lengthy break due to injury. He missed six months of the 2017 season due to another knee issue before returning to action the following year when he won the Australian Open.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that Federer will head into the new season being able to use his iconic ‘RF’ logo. He hasn’t been able to use the logo for the past two years after switching from Nike, which held the rights, to UNIQLO. However, he has managed to regain control of ownership which means he will be allowed to use it on his apparel once again.

“The RF cap is back,” Federer said in a video message to fans on Twitter.
“After a long wait and extensive fine-tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colours starting December 8th, 2020,” he also wrote.
“This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years.
“It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

As it currently stands Federer’s first tournament is set to be the Australian Open. The tournament had been scheduled to start on January 18th but it is believed that the date has been delayed until February 8th due to travel and quarantine arrangements.

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Casper Ruud Opens Up About What It Is Like Playing Roger Federer

The 21-year-old explains what it is like to face somebody who is considered by some as the ‘greatest legend’ in tennis.

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Norway’s top tennis player admitted that he had difficulty sleeping the night before he was set to play Roger Federer for the first time in his career.

 

Casper Ruud has shed light on what it was like for him playing the Swiss Maestro during an interview with TV 2. The 21-year-old took on Federer in the third round of the French Open last year which he ended up losing 6-3, 6-1, 7-6. At the time it was only Ruud’s fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

“When you meet the man who is considered the greatest legend in your sport in history, it is clear that then you were a little extra nervous,” he said of 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer.
“I remember before I was going to play against Federer, it was a bit difficult to sleep the night before. When you lie with your head on the pillow, your thoughts come.”

Ruud says Federer’s achievements in the sport made him feel more nervous about playing him. Overall, the 39-year-old has won 103 ATP titles and currently holds the record for most time spent holding the world No.1 ranking at 310 weeks. He played his first ATP event at the 1998 Gstaad Open, which was a year before Ruud was born.

Although the Next Gen star says he has admiration for all members of the Big Three, which also include Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The two highest ranked players currently on the men’s tour.

“It was in Melbourne a few years ago, and then I remember that we sat in a large cafe where all the players sit to eat. When Federer came in, it was completely quiet and everyone turned around. Now the legend is here,” he said.
“These three legends, they look taller than they might be. They are probably around 1.85 meters, but it may seem that they are two meters because of the respect you have for them.”

Since his meeting with Federer in Paris, Ruud has managed to make a name for himself as he gradually climbs up the world rankings. In February he won the Argentina Open to become the first Norwegian player in history to have won a title on the ATP Tour. He also reached the final of another tournament in Santiago. In September he defeated Matteo Berrettini in the Italian Open to record his first and so far only win over a top 10 player in his career.

“I do not remember everyone in my career. But there are some matches that stand out a bit, and that you remember extra well. Some ball exchanges, some punches here and there that you get, which you usually do not do. It is something that stands out a bit,” Ruud explains.

Unusually Ruud confirmed that both of his parents are now classed as his employees. He is coached by his father Christian who is a former player himself. Christian is a former world No.39 who was his country’s highest ranked male player in history until his son.

“The ultimate boss is probably (my) mother. She rules over both of us. In between at least,” he jokes.

After ending his season with three consecutive Tour losses, Ruud closes out 2020 with a win-loss record of 22-13 and has won $965,653 in prize money. He is currently ranked 27th in the world.
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