Felix Auger Aliassime aims to qualify for the 2021 Finals in Turin - UBITENNIS
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Felix Auger Aliassime aims to qualify for the 2021 Finals in Turin

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Felix Auger Aliassime recently trained at the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca this month with the goal to reach the top 10 in the ATP Ranking and qualify for the ATP Finals in Turin in November 2021. 

 

Despite the global pandemic Auger Aliassime played in 17 tournaments and held a record of 23 wins and 19 defeats in singles matches. The 20-year-old Canadian player ended the 2020 season at world number 21 in the ATP Ranking. This year he reached three finals in Rotterdam, Marseille and Cologne 1. 

At the age of 19 he became the youngest player to reach finals in consecutive weeks since Novak Djokovic. 

Last February Auger Aliassime reached his second ATP 500 final in Rotterdam finishing runner-up to Gael Monfils. One week later he saved two match points against Stefano Travaglia and three match points against Pierre Hugues Herbert en route to reaching the final at the Open 13 in Marseille. 

At Grand Slam level Auger Aliassime beat 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray en route to reaching his first Grand Slam fourth round in New York. 

Last autumn Auger Aliassime beat Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinal in Cologne 1 before finishing runner-up to Alexander Zverev in the final. He ended the year with a doubles title in the Paris Bercy Masters 1000 tournament. 

During the off-season Auger Aliassime spent more than one week training at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca. 

“I want to obviously keep on improving. I came to Mallorca to train hard and reach another level. I would love to reach the top 10 and be part of the ATP Finals next year. I think I have what it takes in me and now I need to do well, do work and play good matches. I have to improve my consistency and and play good tennis week after week with good engagement and good intensity every week. If I can do that, I will give myself chances to attain my objective”, said Auger Aliassime. 

During his stay in Mallorca Auger Aliassime had the chance to learn from Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni, who provided him some useful tips. 

“It was great. I did not have the chance to talk to Toni as much as Rafa at the tournaments. To have Toni on the court, to share tennis with him and have him give his feedback on court has been great. That is one of the biggest reasons I came here, to share some experience and to have some knowledge from Toni and it has been amazing. He has helped me a lot so far and he gives me great tips. I like his ethic and mentality”, said Auger Aliassime. 

The young Canadian player was impressed by the Manacor-based Nadal Academy tennis centre, which is currently expanding its facilities with three indoor hard courts and seven covered clay courts. 

“It was my first time, but I have been happily surprised by everything. It is as good as I imagined, even better. I feel like everybody has a very good energy here, a lot of respect, a lot of engagement and passion for the game. For me, as a professional tennis player, there is everything I need to train, recover and have a good time”. 

Auger Aliassime faced many challenges in this difficult year, but this experience made him a more matured player. 

“This year has taught me that there are things that are beyond my control and I have to embrace the challenges. Because of this, I feel like I have matured as a person and I am able to look at the bigger picture. I always want to win and do everything right, but when I think about the bigger picture, I can focus on being the best player and where I want to go in the long term”. 

Auger Aliassime looks forward to the 2021 season, but he admitted that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the calendar of tournaments. 

“My objectives for next year include preparing myself for each tournament and trying go as far as possible. I am at a stage in my career where I play every tournament to win”. During this year Auger Aliassime has continued contributing to his charitable work with “FAA Points for Change”. For each point he won, he donated money for the education of children in Togo (the country of origin of his father) and the protection of their rights. 

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Alexander Zverev Pushed But Manages To Beat Isner As Europe Storms To Lead In Laver Cup

The German gave Team Europe a massive lead after winning a tight match.

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image via https://twitter.com/LaverCup/

Alexander Zverev needed a trademark ” Laver Breaker” to beat the 6ft 10 Amercian John Isner 7-6, 6-7, 10-5 in two hours and 17 minutes on the saecond day of the Laver Cup.

 

The German hit 13 aces in the match, meanwhile Isner went 0 for 3 on breakpoints.

” I think in this format playing John (Isner) is one of the toughest opponents there can be and he is the best server of all time plus he was hitting the ball extremely hard and well today,” said Zverev.
To be honest I played a pretty good match,” he added.

In the first set, both players had zero issues holding serve. In the opening tiebreak it was extremely tight but the world number four managed to get the crucial break at 4-3 and that was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The second frame stayed on serve until 3-3 when the American had two chances to break but the Hamburg native managed to save both. In the following game he responded by earning three break points of his very own but Isner saved all three and held serve.

Isner had another chance at 5-5 but was unable to convert and again proceedings went into another tiebreaker to decide the second set. In that breaker, the world number 22 jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the German responded winning the next three points to make it 3-3.

After that, it stayed on serve until 7-6 and it was the American who managed to break Zverev to win the second set and force a match tiebreak to decide the match.

The first four points went on serve and it was the German who got the first break and jumped out to a 6-3 and that lead was enough for him to serve out the match and give Team Europe a 7-1 lead.

After the match in his on-court interview, Zverev spoke about the second set and the level both he and Isner was playing at.

” Even the second set that I lost I didn’t do many things wrong so it shows that the match was very high level and obviously happy to give Team Europe the lead”. He said.

Day 2 results :

In the first match of the day, the Aussie Nick Kyrgios faced Stefanos Tsitsipas and it was the world number three who took the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 26 minutes.

After the match, Krygios mentioned in his post-match press conference that the Laver Cup would be the last event he played in 2021, stating that his mother’s health is not doing well and he is planning to return to Australia to be with her.

In the night session Danil Medvedev, the current US Open champion, took on Denis Shapovalov and the Russian only needed one hour and 15 minutes to beat him 6-4, 6-0 to give Team Europe a 9-1 lead.

In the last match of the day, a doubles clash featuring Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev took on Isner and Krygios, and again it was the Europeans who managed to win 6-7, 6-3, 10-4.

Day 3 Preview :

On Sunday Team Europe will have a chance to clinch the trophy in their first match as they only need two more points and on Sunday a win is worth three. The day will start with a doubles match featuring Rublev and Zverev taking on Shapovalov and Rielly Opelka.

In singles, Zverev will face Felix Auger Aliassime, Medvedev will face Diego Schwartzman, and the last match scheduled is Isner vs Tsitsipas.

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James Duckworth beats Ilya Ivashka to reach the final in Nur Sultan

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James Duckworth has reached his first ATP Tour after his 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win over Ilya Ivashka after 2 hours and 2 minutes at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Duckworth converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3.

Ivashka broke serve in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead. Duckworth broke straight back in the fifth game. Duckworth fended off two set points at 4-5 in the second set.  Ivashka saved two break points. Duckworth got two mini-breaks to earn three match points at 6-3. Ivashka pulled one of the two mini-breaks, but Duckworth sealed the tie-break 7-4 on his second match point. 

“I am really excited. I am thrilled. It was a really tough match. Ilya has been playing some great tennis. We have played twice already this year. Both times went to three sets”, said Duckworth. 

Ivashka won the title in Winston Salem and claimed 11 of his past 12 matches before today’s match against Duckworth. 

Duckworth set up a final against Sonwoo Kwon, who rallied from one set down to beat Alexander Bublik 3-6 7-5 6-3 after two hours and four minutes to advance to his first ATP Tour final. 

Bublik earned the first break of the match in the eighth game to win the first set 6-3. Kwon broke in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Bublik converted his sixth break-back point in the third game to hold serve. Kwon saved a break point in the ninth game before breaking serve in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. Kwon broke serve in the fourth game to win the third set 6-3. 

“It will be a tough match. Kwon is more of a baseliner. I will have to be ready. I am just going to recover the best I can and come out tomorrow and see what happens”, said Duckworth.

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Maria Sakari reaches her first WTA Tour final since 2019 in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari has reached her first WTA Tour final since 2019 after nine consecutive tour-level semifinal defeats, by beating number 1 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-5 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Sakkari won her only title on the clay court of Rabat. Swiatek had never lost a tour-level semifinal and had a win-loss record of 2-0 in her semifinals played in 2021. The Greek player lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals in Ostrava last year. 

Sakkari has extended her win-loss record to 2-0 in her head-to-head matches against Swiatek. In their only previous match Sakkari beat Swiatek in the French Open quarter final last June ending the Pole’s Roland Garros title defense. 

Sakkari won 77% of her first service points and hit 22 winners to 19 unforced errors. 

Sakkari hit a forehand winner to earn her only break in the opening game of the first set. The Greek player did not face a single break point in the first set. 

Sakkari had to save a break point at the start of the second set before holding serve for 2-2. Sakkari earned the break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Swiatek broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. 

Sakkari converted her third break point with a forehand winner down the line to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Sakkari set up a final against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who cruised past Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-4 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. The Estonian player scored her third top 10 win of the year after beating Sofia Kenin in Stuttgart and Bianca Andreescu in Eastbourne. She has reached her fourth final in 2021 after winning her second career title in Cleveland, finishing runner-up to Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne and sharing the Grampians Trophy with Ann Li after the final was not played due to a scheduling delay. 

Kontaveit hit 18 winners to just 7 unforced errors. Kvitova made 28 unforced errors to 11 winners. Kontaveit broke serve three times to take a bagel win in the first set, as Kvitova made 16 unforced errors to just 2 winners. 

Kvitova won her first game in the opening game of the second set. Kontaveit broke serve at love in the fifth game with a backhand winner to take a 3-2 lead.Kvitova saved a match point to hold serve to hold serve for 5-4 and hit a lob to earn her first break point of the match in the next game, as Kontaveit was serving for the win. Kontaveit saved it and closed out the match by forcing a final eror from Kvitova with a big backhand.  

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