Dominic Thiem Topples Tsitsipas In ATP Finals Opener - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Topples Tsitsipas In ATP Finals Opener

The world No.3 has managed to avenge his loss to the Greek at the same tournament last year.

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Dominic Thiem at the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals (image via ATP Twitter)

Dominic Thiem has kicked-off his campaign at the ATP Finals with a roller-coaster 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.

 

Thiem, who had lost to his rival in two out of their three previous meetings on the Tour, faced some stern resistance before battling to his 30th win over a top 10 player in his career. In a match of fine margins, the Austrian hit eight aces and 31 winners whilst dropping serve only once.

“It was a very tough match. We both served well and that conditions are fast,” Thiem said afterwards.
“I can’t have any slow starts to any of my matches here (at The O2) against top 10 players.’
“Over the last few years I experienced how important it is to have a good start to this tournament. Ideally win the first match and I am very happy that I have done that.”

The showdown was a case of deja vu for both players who also faced each other in the final of the same tournament 12 months ago. Like their previous encounter, there was little to distinguish between Thiem and Tsitsipas earlier on. The opening set saw neither player drop serve despite Thiem having a trio of opportunities to break in two separate games.

It would be a roller-coaster tiebreak that would separate them with the US Open champion having to bounce back from a mini break early on. Doing so with the help of a forehand cross-court winner to narrow Tsitsipas’ lead to 5-4. Continuing to weather the storm, Thiem battled to his first set point with the help of a serve down the line that was returned out, before clinching the opener with the help of an unforced error from his opponent.

After squandering his lead in the tiebreaker, defending champion Tsitsipas managed to regain momentum in the second set by breaking early on. In the third game a forehand passing shot from the Greek enabled him to grab a critical break for the first time in the match. The breakthrough was enough of a margin to help him level up at one set a piece as Thiem struggled to find a way to break down his serve.

Going the full distance is becoming a regular occurrence in the Thiem-Tsitsipas rivalry. In three out of their seven previous meetings the match has gone to a decider, including their two most recent. With all to play for it was Thiem’s turn to pounce once more. A combination of a forehand passing shot followed by a winning drop shot enabled the Austrian to break en route to a swift 3-0 lead. Much to the bemusement of a frustrated Tsitsipas. Thwarting any threat coming from across the court, Thiem sealed the win after 137 minutes of pulsating tennis.

“I’m feeling physically better than last year’s (tournament), that’s for sure,” said Thiem. “But I think the bubble life is exhausting as well. It is a very new experience for all of us with all the testing and is happening around the world with the tournaments.’
“I’m just grateful that events like this is still happening.”

Due to the format of the round-robin tournament both players are still in contention of reaching the semi-finals next weekend. Tsitsipas is bidding to become the first player outside of the Big Three to defend his title since Lleyton Hewitt. Meanwhile, Thiem is is hoping to become the first player from his country to win the title.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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