Steve Flink: “Medvedev Deserved To Win, But Is This Really The Onset Of A New Era?” - UBITENNIS
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Steve Flink: “Medvedev Deserved To Win, But Is This Really The Onset Of A New Era?”

A commentary of the last edition of the ATP Finals to take place in London. The Russian isn’t graceful but can do it all, whereas Thiem used the sliced backhand far too much. Were Djokovic and Zverev distracted by their off court problems?

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Daniil Medvedev (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

The 2020 season ended with Daniil Medvedev’s win at the ATP Finals, the sixth different winner in the last six editions of the event, emerging victorious at the end of three tightly contested knockout matches. The Russian dominated the last few weeks of the season, winning in Bercy as well, but was his victory in London somewhat predictable?

UbiTennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and Mr Flink met up (remotely) to discuss the tournament and the omens for tennis in 2021. Here’s their chat: 

VIDEO SCHEDULE

0:58 – Medvedev swept through the ATP Finals – an expected triumph? “He beat the three best players in the world, that’s hardly predictable…” 

3:51 – “The Russian showed his mental strength, coming back to beat both Nadal and Thiem…” 

5:27 – “Djokovic had won 24 of the last 26 tie-breaks he had played, and 16 of the last 17 – how did he relinquish that 4-0 lead at 6-6 in the decider?” 

7:40 – A few words on the final: “Thiem wasted a few big chances in the second set, missing a fairly easy forehand touch near the net.” Did he employ the right strategy?  

11:46 – “The Austrian said that he would make the same choices, and we should remember that he had a tougher semifinal match…” 

14:34“Medvedev isn’t beautiful to watch, but that doesn’t seem to bother him…” 

16:54 – Is this the beginning of a new era? “We said the same thing when Zverev won the Finals in 2018 and when Tsitsipas did it last year…” Will the Australian Open take place in 2021?

20:51 – Djokovic is in the midst of a political struggle – was he distracted during the week he spent in London? 

27:24 – What about Sascha Zverev and the accusations that his former girlfriend moved against him – did those play a role in his early exit? 

29:14 – The first winner of the Finals was Stan Smith, the current president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame: “You and I have a job with the Hall of Fame now, don’t we?” 

32:08 – A final word on Daniil Medvedev – will he win a Major in 2021? “He’s definitely not winning the French Open, and I think that grass isn’t his best surface either, but he definitely has his chances on hardcourts.” 

Transcript by Lorenzo Andorlini; translated and edited by Tommaso Villa

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Jasmine Paolini reaches the first WTA 1000 final of her career

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Italy’s Jasmine Paolini saved six set points in the second set to beat Sorana Cristea 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in 1 hour and 57 minutes in a match between two unseeded players at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Paolini reached the first WTA 1000 Final of her career. 

Paolini earned her first break after four deuces in the fourth game and held her serve at 30 to open up a 4-1 lead. The Italian player closed out the first set 6-2 on her second set point in the eighth game.  

Paolini converted her second break point in the fourth game of the second set to build up a 6-2 3-1 lead. Cristea broke straight back in the fifth game, but Paolini hit two forehand winners to regain the break lead for 4-2 in the sixth game. Cristea, who saved six match points to come back from 6-2 5-1 against Marketa Vondrousova in the quarter finals, saved a match point with a backhand winner down the line. 

Paolini had to fend off five set point, as Cristea served out the second set at 6-5. Cristea converted her fifth break point with a forehand winner on the return. 

Paolini saved a sixth set point with a forehand winner in the tie-break. The Italian player sealed the win on her second match point, as Cristea sent her backhand wide. 

Paolini has improved her lead to 3-0 in her head-to-head matches, to secure her spot in the fifth WTA Tour final of her career. She will play her first title match since Monastir last October. Paolini played in the Billie Jean King Cup final and reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career at the Australian Open. She received a nomination in the WTA Awards for the Most Improved Player. With this result she has moved up to world number 16 in the World Rankings. 

She has become the fifth Italian player to reach a WTA 1000 level final following Francesca Schiavone, Sara Errani, Flavia Pennetta and Camila Giorgi. 

“I gave you a little bit of drama at the end. I had a chance on 4-2 40-15, but she starting to play better, to hit winners. The last two matches I play against her, more or less was the same score. I won the first set, the second set was a little bit complicated, then I won again the third set. I was like, please, if I am going to lose this set, start again in the third set, and to move and to play deep again, to push again, but I was just trying to stay in the present. It was tough. She is playing really well when she is little bit down in the score. She is trying to hit more winners, to play faster. I just said to myself to move the legs and try to keep hitting hard the ball, because if she is not going to move me and if she is going to hit the winner first”, said Paolini. 

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Iga Swiatek beats Zheng Qinwen to extend her winning streak in the Middle East

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Iga Swiatek beat Zheng Qinwen 6-3 6-2 in 83 minutes to reach the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Swiatek has extended her winning streak in the Middle East to seven consecutive wins. 

Swiatek beat Zheng for the sixth consecutive time in their all-time head-to-head clashes and for the second time this year. The Polish player has won four of her matches against Zheng on hard court. 

Swiatek saved all three break points she faced in the match and broke Zheng’s serve three times. The world number 1 hit 17 winners to 10 unforced errors. Zheng hit 19 winners to 18 unforced errors, but landed just 48% of her first serves. 

Swiakek broke serve in the second game and saved a break-back point the third game to race out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set. The Pole held on her next service games and served out on her first set point in the ninth game. 

Swiatek saved a break point in the fourth game of the second set before winning the final four games with two breaks in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

“Zheng has great power, great topspin. You have to be ready for that. She wants to really be proactive, so you have to keep up with the intensity. I have been doing that during our matches”, said Swiatek. 

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Next Gen Jakub Mensik upsets Andrey Rublev to reach his first ATP Tour semifinal in Doha

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Next Gen Czech player Jakub Mensik upset world number 5 Andrey Rublev 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to reach his first his ATP Tour semifinal at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open. Mesnik becomes the youngest player to beat a top-5 player since Carlos Alcaraz defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open. 

Mensik was playing in his first ATP Tour quarter final after beating world number 1 and two-time Wimbledon and Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray in the second round in the longest match in tournament history. 

Rublev was not able to convert any of his six break points. 

Mensik converted his second break point in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead in the first set and served out the win with a hold at 15. 

Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Rublev went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Mensik pulled back on serve both times to draw level to 5-5. Mensik earned his third mini-break at 7-6, when Rublev netted a mid-court forehand. Mensik closed out the match on the next point to set up a semifinal match against Gael Monfils. 

“It’s just been an incredible week. From the beginning I played very well and I knew I could play with the big players. It’s an amazing feeling to reach the semifinals after beating those goo players, but the job is not done yet. Hopefully I can play like this in the semifinals tomorrow an dgo on to make the final”, said Mensik. 

Several Next Gen players performed very well this week on the ATP Tour. Alex Michelsen beat Alex De Minaur to reach the quarter final in Los Cabos. Seventeen-year-old Brazilian Joao Fonseca upset Arthur Fils to become the first player born in 2006 to win an ATP Tour match. 

Gael Monfils beat Ugo Humbert 6-2 6-4 in an all-French clash to become the oldest semifinalist in tournament history. Monfils won the title in his previous appearance at the Doha tournament. The match started with four breaks in the first five games, as Monfils opened up a 4-1 lead. Monfils sealed the first set on his second set point in in the eighth game. Monfils started the second set with a break in the first game of the second game. Humbert broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Monfils broke for the second time in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and sealed the win on his first match point. 

Alexei Popyrin beat Alexander Bublik 6-4 6-4 to reach the third tour-level in his career and his first in the 2024 season. Popyrin is aiming to win the second title of his career after winning in Umag last July. 

Popyrin broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The Australian player held on his next service games and served out the first set on his third set point. Popyrin converted his fifth break point in the first game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead. The Australian player went up a double break in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead. Bublik pulled one break back in the eighth game. 

Karen Khachanov was leading 3-0 in the first set as Emil Ruusuvuori was forced to withdraw from the match due to a lower back injury. 

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