Newcomer Andrey Rublev Shines At ATP Awards As Federer Wins Fan Favourite Once Again - UBITENNIS
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Newcomer Andrey Rublev Shines At ATP Awards As Federer Wins Fan Favourite Once Again

Both new and old stars of men’s tennis have been honoured at this year’s awards.

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Russian rising star Andrey Rublev has been declared the big winner at this year’s ATP Awards after his team clenched two trophies.

The 23-year-old has been recognized for his breakthrough season by being awarded the Most Improved Player of the Year award. This season Rublev has won five Tour titles with three of those occurring at ATP 500 events in Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna. Making him the most decorated player in men’s tennis this year. Overall, he has recorded 41 wins which has elevated him to a ranking high of 8th in the world. Rublev also reached the quarter-finals of the French Open and US Open.

https://twitter.com/atptour/status/1341071673429164033

Rublev’s mentor Fernando Vicente has also been recognized for his efforts by being named Coach of the Year. Fighting off competition from the coaches of Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner. Vicente is a former top 30 player who is the co-owner of a tennis academy in Barcelona. He has also previously worked with Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez (2010-2014).

There were also special honours for every member of the Big Three. Roger Federer, who has been sidelined from action since January due to a right knee injury, has won the fan favourite award for a record 18th time. The last player other than Federer to win the award was Marat Safin back in 2002.

“Thank you to the ATP, all the tennis fans out there for voting for me, believing in me and wanting to see me back on the Tour,” Federer said in a ATP video.
“I’m training hard to make that possible. I hope I can play in front of all of you guys (the fans) very, very soon.”

Rafael Nadal was awarded the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award which recognizes players for their ‘fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court.’ It is the fourth time in his career he has won the honour and third time in a row. Earlier this year he participated in the #NuestraMejorVictoria campaign which raised more than €14m in funds for the Spanish Red Cross in their fight against COVID-19.

“For me it is a very important trophy, I just want to say thank you to all my colleagues on the Tour for thinking that I am the right one to receive this sportsmanship award,” said Nadal.
“When somebody asked me how I wanted to be remembered I answered ‘I want to be remembered as a good person more than a tennis player. That’s why this trophy means a lot.’”

Novak Djokovic is the year-end ATP No. 1 presented by FedEx for a record-equalling sixth time in his career. An achievement he was recognized for at the ATP Finals in November during a special presentation. This week the Serbian has become the second player in ATP history to have held the top position for 300 weeks after Federer.

Elsewhere, Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz has been named Newcomer of the Year. The 17-year-old has won three Challenger titles this season and has climbed 350 places in the ATP rankings within 12 months. At the Rio Open he defeated Albert Ramos Viñolas to win his first match on the ATP Tour. He is one of five players to have won three Challenger trophies before turning 18. The others are Richard Gasquet, Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Felix Auger-Aliassime

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil was named Comeback Player of the Year following his successful return following a back injury at the age of 30. Meanwhile, Frances Tiafoe has been recognized for his numerous off-court activities supporting good causes by being awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award.

2020 ATP Awards Winners

  • ATP No. 1 presented by FedEx (determined by FedEx ATP Rankings) – Novak Djokovic
  • ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by FedEx (determined by FedEx ATP Rankings) – Mate Pavic & Bruno Soares
  • Comeback Player of the Year (voted by ATP players) – Vasek Pospisil
  • Most Improved Player of the Year (voted by ATP players) – Andrey Rublev
  • Newcomer of the Year (voted by ATP players) – Carlos Alcaraz
  • Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award (voted by ATP players) – Rafael Nadal
  • Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award (awarded by ATP) – Frances Tiafoe
  • Fans’ Favourite Award (Singles) (voted by fans) – Roger Federer
  • Fans’ Favourite Award (Doubles) (voted by fans) – Jamie Murray & Neal
  • Skupski
  • Coach of the Year (voted by ATP coaches) – Fernando Vicente
  • Career Coach Award (voted by ATP coaches) – Bob Brett
  • Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award (awarded by ATP) – Kevin Mitchell

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Rafael Nadal To Play Laver Cup In Berlin

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Rafael Nadal has eased speculation that he might be retiring from the sport soon after signing on to play in the Laver Cup later this year. 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is the latest player to join the line-up for this year’s team competition which features Europe taking on the rest of the world over three days. It will be Nadal’s fourth appearance in the competition and his first since 2022. He competed in the inaugural edition of the event back in 2017 alongside co-founder Roger Federer. 

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.”

Nadal’s decision to play comes amid questions about his future in the sport. The former world No.1 has previously indicated that this year could be his last on the Tour but he has stated that no decision has been made. In recent months he has been sidelined from action due to injury setbacks and has only been able to play in two tournaments so far this year. 

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given,” he explains.
“Teaming up is always an incredible experience and I have always enjoyed it, the competition is different and exciting. I’m looking forward to going to Berlin and helping Team Europe win back the Laver Cup.”

Other European players confirmed to be playing are Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have agreed to play for Team World. This year’s event will be held in Belin at the Uber Arena between September 20-22. 

The Laver Cup was inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup. It was co-founded by Federer’s Team8 management company (which he formed with agent Tony Godsick), businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia. In 2019 it became an official ATP sanction event and now has a place on the official calendar. 

Nadal is set to return to competitive action at the Madrid Masters which he has won on five previous occasions. He has been drawn to play teenage wild card Darwin Blanch in the first round. If he wins, Nadal will then play Alex de Minaur who knocked him out of the Barcelona Open last week. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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