Stefanos Tsitsipas: "I am going to play aggressive against Nadal" - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas: “I am going to play aggressive against Nadal”

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Defending ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Rafael Nadal in a decisive round-robin match on Thursday evening at the O2 Arena in London. Tsitsipas’win against Rublev set up a showdown for the final semifinal spot against Nadal

 

The Greek player needed a win against Andrey Rublev to keep his hopes alive of qualifying for the top four. Tsitsipas saved a match point in the tie-break of the third set to beat Rublev 6-1 4-6 7-6 (10-8). 

Nadal leads 5-1 in his six-to-head matches against Tsitsipas, who beat his Spanish rival at the Madrid Masters 1000 tournament last year. 

“I have to be more concentrated against Nadal, be there when I have to. Against Rublev my return, for sure I could have applied more pressure and played deeper in the court. Rublev dealt with the important points really smart and mature. It was difficult. I was 0-30 down in the very last game of the third set, but I was determined to turn it around and give myself another chance. That’s what I am really about”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas said that his experience helped him get through a hard-fought third set. 

“Experience is something that is not really like when it has to do with a skill. Also mostly with your mind and the way you tend to take risks and go for things, but it means like you have tried and failed you have tried and failed in the past, and you learn from that and move forward. It’s just being brave and using your braveness through your experience”. 

In last year’s edition of the ATP Finals Nadal beat Tsitsipas 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 in a three-hour battle. Nadal wiill be aiming to reach the semifinals at the ATP Finals for the first time since 2015.

“It’s an opportunity for me to fight even harder and give my very best out on the court. I know it will require a lot of physical effort, and I am going to have to go through a lot through pain and suffering, so it is going to be a difficult match. I am expecting a fight from my side. I am very concentrated during our match last year and I was playng each point individually. I am going to try and play aggressive tennis. You can’t play defensive against Rafael. I will try to play the rallies, apply pressure, serve well. It’s part of the game that I want to play against Rafa. I think everyone has play this way. I just have to be solid than him to win. I have to start strong and finish even stronger”, commented Tsitsipas on on his match against Nadal. 

Before his clash against Tsitsipas Nadal was confident during the press conference after his match against Dominic Thiem despite his 7-6 7-6 defeat in the best match of the ATP Finals so far this week. 

“I know I have to play the best tennis I can against Stefanos. My goal is just to keep going. I hope to be ready against Tsitsipas. I am confident with my game. I don’t want to pretend to be arrogant all the time. I think I can win on every surface and against any player”, said Nadal. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut apologizes after comparing the Australian Open bubble to prison

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Roberto Bautista Agut compared the quarantine in the bubble in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open to a jail. 

 

Bautista Agut criticised the 2021 Australian Open bubble. 

“It’s the same to prison, but with WIFI. These people have no idea about tennis, about practice courts. It’s a complete disaster because of the control of everything. It’not Tennis Australia, it’s the people from the government”, said Bautista Agut. 

The former world number 10 and reigning Davis Cup champion issued an apology saying that his words were taken out of context. 

“I want to apology to everyone who has been offended by the video that was posted about me recently. It is a private conversation taken of contect that has unfortunately been released to the media without my knowledge or consent”, wrote Bautista Agut on his twitter account. 

The Spanish player said that he is following the strict guidelines issued by the Australian Government. 

“Both my coach and I are following the protocols designed by the Australian Government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way. These are hard times for athletes and society in general.”

Bautista Agut made his Australian Open debut in 2012 as a qualifier, when he was still ranked outside the world number 100 spot. He won his first match at Melbourne Park in 2013 against Italy’s Fabio Fognini in five sets and reached the fourth round in 2014 after a hard-fought win over Juan Martin Del Potro in just under four hours. 

Bautista Agut reached the round of 16 in 2016 and 2017 and the quarter final in 2019 after beating Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets. In 2020 Bautista lost to Marin Cilic in five sets in the third round. He clinched nine ATP titles and reached a career-high of world number 9. He earned his 300th win when he beat Tennys Sandgren in the US Open first round. He reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon in 2019.

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Veronika Kudermetova builds up to the Australian Open with confidence after her breakthrough tournament in Abu Dhabi

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Veronika Kudermetova recently made a major breakthrough when she reached the final in Abu Dhabi WTA 500 tournament finishing runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka. 

 

In the first WTA tournament of the 2021 season Kudemertova knocked out Anett Kontaveit, Bianca Turati, Paula Badosa, world number 5 Elina Svitolina and Ukrainian 18-year-old rising star Marta Kostyuk en route to reaching her first WTA singles final after four previous semifinal defeats. Kudemertova scored her fifth career Top 5 win over Svitolina, with whom she has a 100% record, as she had already beaten her Ukrainian rival in Moscow in 2019. After Abu Dhabi the 23-year-old Russian player improved her best ranking to world number 38. 

Kudemertova has risen close to 200 ranking spots in the last two years. Many experts predict that Veronika could be a candidate for a top 10 spot in the WTA Ranking in the near future. 

“I did not any specific goals with my team for the 2021 season, but I have to admit I am a very ambitious person, so I have very high expectations from my tennis career. The final in Abu Dhabi will give me more confidence and more motivation to keep working hard and reach my potential”, said Kurdemetova.

Kudermetova is building up to the Australian Open with high hopes. 

“I am coming in with confidence and feeling good physically and mentally. If I keep up the hard work and improve my level during the next 14 days of quarantine and practice, I believe I can play good”. 

Kudermetova beat Sabalenka in the doubles final in Wuhan 2019. 

“Aryna is really good. She has won the last three tournaments she has played, so she obviously has a lot of confidence and is probably the hottest player on tour right now” 

Sabalenka and Kurdemetova are among a group of favourites for the upcoming Australian Open. 

“It’s difficult to say who are the favourites considering the difficulties of the times we are living in. A lot of different things can happen in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Many young playesr are coming up and are showing their big potential. I think we are a very nice group of players and will push each other to the top”. 

Kudermetova was born to Eduard Damirovich Kudemertova, a former Russian national ice hockey champion. She started playing tennis at the age of seven. Her younger sister Polina, who was born in 2003, is world junior number 4 player and reached the US Open Junior semifinal in 2020. 

“I started playing tennis by chance. Before I was seven, I had lived in Kazan. I was spending summer in our country house, and a friend of mine invited me to play tennis, because she got bored playing alone. Not only I had never had a tennis racket in my hand, but I had absolutely no idea of what it was about. However, the idea of playing sounded more attractive than working in my grandmother’s garden. I had lots of energy, and surprisingly, I even managed to hit the ball. I enjoyed the feeling of the game very much”, said Kudemertova. 

She was a solid player at junior level and won her first $ 50k tournament at the Kazan Summer Open in the doubles partnering Evgeniya Rodina. They beat Alexandra Artamonova and Martina Borecka in the final. She reached the quarter final at the President’s Cup in her first $100k tournament before losing to Vitalia Diatchenko. Kudermetova and Daria Kasatkina won the Fed Cup Junior title in 2013. 

However, she faced a strong competition of Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina, who were also born in 1997. Bencic beat Kudermetova in Florence and at the Bonfiglio tournament in Milan in 2013. Kasatkina defeated Kudermetova at the Yeltsin Cup. 

Kudermetova reached a best junior ranking of world number 22 in 2013 at the age of 16. That year was dominated at junior level by Ana Konjuh (winner of two junior Grand Slam titles on hard court at the Australian Open and at the US Open) and Belinda Bencic (Roland Garros and Wimbledon Junior champion). Kudemertova is part of a golden generation of players born in 1997 also includes Daria Kasatkina (winner at the Roland Garros Junior tournament in 2014) and Jelena Ostapenko (Wimbledon Junior champion in 2014). 

Kudermetova looked back to the early years on the tennis court and the challenges she had to face at the start of her career. 

“My father was a professional hockey player. He played for Metallurg hockey club. My father signed a contract with TSKA Moscow and was invited to the capital. As part of his contract he asked for some benefits for me. I was enlisted to train in Tennis Center. At that time I was hardly a good player. I had no ranking, because I had not participated in any contest. It was difficult to get there without any support. Maybe I could have tried to enroll to the tennis myself, without my father asking for his daughter, but it would have taken much more effort and time. Initially i didn’t travel a lot, maybe two or three times withing six months. All the tournaments I took part in were in Russia. That’s why we had no problems with covering the travel costs. Financial problems began when I started to travel every month. Sometimes these tournaments were held abroad. My father was looking for sponsors to cover the travel costs”. 

In 2014 Kudermetova made her Fed Cup debut in the debut against Australia losing to Samantha Stosur. 

After a difficult start to the 2016 season Kudemertova reached her first final of the year in Andijan. She won two consecutive $25k titles in Imola and Astana. She enjoyed a 34-18 win-loss record in 2016 and improved her year-end ranking by a total of 190 spots, ending the year at the 210th spot in the WTA Ranking. 

“I finished playing tennis at a junior early and moved on to senior level. I did not want to waste time and my parents’ money. If I had continued playing as a junior for at least six months, I could have ranked in the top 20”.

Veronika made her Grand Slam debut at the 2017 Australian Open, where she lost in the first qualifying round. She won her first qualifying round at the French Open, but she lost her next match. 

“Besides rankings, international tournaments are a good chance to practice your skills. At the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior and senior tournaments were held together. It was really cool to play together with tennis celebrities, you are playing, improving your skills and watch them play”. 

Kudermetova scored her first top 30 win, when she beat Carla Suarez Navarro at the 2018 Porsche Grand Prix Premier Tournament in Stuttgart. She reached the final qualifying round for the first time in her career at the French Open. She then beat Anett Kontaveit in Rosmalen on grass before scoring an upset win over Belinda Bencic in the next round reaching her first WTA quarter final. She went on to reach another WTA quarter final in Gstaad, where she beat Viktoria Kuzmova before losing to Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets. 

Kudermetova started the 2019 season with a quarter final in Shenzhen after beating her compatriot Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova. She qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time in her career and lost to Sofia Kenin in the opening round. 

In May 2019 Kudermetova scored her first wins in a Grand Slam main draw at the French Open beating Caroline Wozniacki in the first round and Zarina Diyas in the second round. Kudermetova reached the second round at Wimbledon and two semifinals at the Japan Open and at the Tianjin Open. She upset Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Kremlin Cup before losing to Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter final. Kudermetova won the doubles title at the Wuhan Open with Duan Yingyng. 

“When I moved up to seniors, I faced other challenges. I lost the support from the Russian Tennis Federation. Thanks to their support I managed to move up from 400 to to 170, and in doubles I ranked among the top 100”. 

Kudermetova looked up to Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova at the start of her career. 

“Serena and Roger are the GOAT (Greatest of all all time), but I also liked Justine Henin. Federer is my favourite player among the Big 3. I tried to model on Maria Sharapova when I was growing up and I looked up to her”. 

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Rafael Nadal joins star-studded Rotterdam field

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World number 2 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will return to Rotterdam to play at the 48th edition of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament from 1 to 7 March 2021. 

 

Nadal joins a star-studded line-up which already features 2020 ATP Finals champion Danil Medvedev three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion and 2020 Sofia ATP 250 Tour winner Jannik Sinner. 

Nadal made his debut in Rotterdam in 2008 but he lost to Italy’s Andreas Seppi in the second round. One year later the Spanish legend lost to Andy Murray in the final. 

Nadal claimed his 13th Roland Garros title and his 20th Grand Slam trophy last year tying Roger Federer for most Grand Slam men’s singles titles. He was ranked in top 10 for record 800 consecutive weeks from 25 April 2003, including 209 total weeks as World number 1 following 160 consecutive weeks as world number 2. He earned his 1000th career win in Paris 2020 and boasts most ATP Masters 1000 match victories (389) and second most titles, including 11 in Monte-Carlo, 9 in Rome and 5 in Madrid. He joined André Agassi as the first to male players to complete career Grand Slam and win Olympic gold medals in singles in Beijing 2008 and in doubles in Rio de Janeiro 2016 alongside his compatriot Marc Lopez.   

“What applied to his debut in 2008 in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, still applies. Rafa is again in second place in the ATP Rankings. That shows how unique it is. Non-stop in the top 10 since April 2005. There is no one who will be close to this, or will match him for a long time to come. We had annual contact about him playing in Rotterdam, but it did not fit into the schedule. Now that the season looks different in terms of planning, he was open to coming back to Rotterdam. Of course we seized the opportunity. It would be great if we could add to our Ring of Champions next March. It’s no secret that Nadal is one of my all-time favourite players. The intensity he brings to the court is unparalled. His fighting spirit in combination with his unique technique is an example for everyone. The fact that he returns to Rotterdam after so many years makes it extra special, of course”, said Tournament Director and former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek. 

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