Players Bid Farewell To London In Strange Settings At ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Players Bid Farewell To London In Strange Settings At ATP Finals

The final chapter of London’s love affair with the season-ending event will begin on Sunday with mixed emotions among those taking part.




The O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

This year’s ATP Finals will mark the end of an era for a period in which the tournament gained some of its biggest success.


London’s love affair with the season-ending tournament will officially end this year with organisers moving the event to the Italian city of Turin. The same country which also stages the ATP Next Gen Finals. Held at The O2 Arena since 2009, the British capital has proven to be a hit for tennis fans with 242,883 attending the 2019 edition over an eight-day period. To put that into perspective the same year Wimbledon recorded its second-highest attendance in history with 500,397 visitors over a 13-day period. Overall, the ATP Finals welcomed a total of 2,803,967 fans between 2009-2019.

“I think the O2 Arena was very successful for this event over the last 11 years. I was fortunate to have plenty of success here and it is hard to pick one of the titles or finals I played (as my favourite). I had some thrilling matches with Roger and Rafa,” five-time champion Novak Djokovic reflected on his time at the event.
“It is definitely one of the most successful arenas to host the ATP Finals in history. It’s going to be strange to bid a farewell without a crowd but nevertheless I think we are all grateful to have the chance to play the tournament here.”

Djokovic’s reference to the strange farewell is due to the fact this year’s edition is being held behind closed doors for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament is taking place during the same time as England’s lockdown, which is set to end on December 2nd. Of course, it is not the first event to be taking place under such circumstances.

“It will feel strange but I think we are already kind of used to it because we have played many tournaments without the presence of the crowd,” Djokovic commented. “That is something that will help us accept these kinds of circumstances as it is.”

In 2018 Alexander Zverev won the biggest title of his career at The O2 with a straight sets win over Djokovic. One of the most intriguing aspects of the ATP Finals has been the fact it hasn’t been won by a member of the Big Three since 2015. A group composed of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Nadal is the only member of the trio yet to win the title.

“London is a place where we love the atmosphere, we love the stadium and everything. It’s going to be difficult and different but I am still looking forward to playing in this beautiful stadium for the last time. It is still going to be special,” Zverev told reporters on Friday.

The ATP Finals have been held annually since 1970 when it was known as the Grand Prix Masters Cup and there were no ranking points on offer. Over the years the tournament has blossomed in terms of revenue and acclaim. Last year the prize money pool was $9 million with ATP commercial revenues surging by 200% over a decade. Although both of those figures have taken a hit in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Like Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas’ biggest title of his career also took place at the tournament when he clinched the title in 2019 to become the youngest player to do so since Lleyton Hewitt back in 2001. The Greek is bidding to become the third man to defend his ATP Finals title in London after Federer and Djokovic.

“It is like a meeting for those who have had a good year. Celebrating their hard work, dedication to the sport and I’m very privileged to be part of it,” he commented on the showdown. “I know it is not easy to be in this position.’
“I’m proud to say this tournament is one of my favourite tournaments to play.”

Even those who haven’t been so fortunate at the tournament still have high praise for London. 34-year-old Nadal is yet to win the season-ending trophy with his best run being a two-time finalist. Incredibly, he has won 86 ATP titles in his career but only two of those have occurred at indoor events.

“The experience of playing the ATP Finals (in London) has without a doubt been one of the best. The atmosphere, organisation have been great and I think the event has been very popular around the world. The ATP did a great job in choosing London and creating a fantastic event for so many years,” Nadal said.

For Nadal, he is perhaps one of the most forthcoming when it comes to relocating the event. In the past he has expressed support for different countries to hold the event and even the possibility of it being played on another surface than a hard court. It has previously played on carpet and event once on the grass back in 1974.

“Tennis needs to keep moving but at the same time it is not fair to finish the World Tour Finals in London without a crowd. But that is what is happening today,” he said.
“We need to move (the tournament) because I think an event like this needs to go around the world to keep promoting our sport.’
“I expect to have another great event in Turin.”


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

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




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




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.




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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