Grand Slam winners Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem lead the line-up at the ATP Cup - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam winners Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem lead the line-up at the ATP Cup

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Twelve teams will fight for the second edition of the ATP Cup from 1 to 5 February 2021 one week before the start of the Australian Open.

 

The draw will be held on 20th January, when the 12 teams will be divided into four round robin groups of three teams. The four group winners will advance to the semifinal stage. 

Qualification for the 2021 ATP Cup is based on the ATP Ranking of each country’s top-ranked singles players. Fourteen of the top fifteen players in the current ATP Ranking are set to take part in this year’s ATP Cup. 

Multiple Grand Slam champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem and the winners of the past three editions of the ATP Finals (Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Danil Medvedev) will lead a star-studded field as the top two seeds. Serbia beat Spain 2-1 in the final last year claiming the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup. Last year’s final included a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win for Djokovic over Nadal in the singles match. Djokovic won all his six singles matches and two doubles matches to lead Serbia to the title. 

The Serbian team will also feature former Paris Bercy Filip Krajinovic, 2019 Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic and Nicola Cacic. 

Nadal will team up with former top ten player and 2019 Davis Cup champion Roberto Bautista Agut, 2020 US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta and doubles specialist Marcel Granollers. 

All three 2020 Grand Slam champions will play at the second edition of the ATP Cup. Last year’s US Open champion and two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem will be the stand-out name in the Austrian team featuring Dennis Novak, Philipp Oswald and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn. 

Two top ten players Danil Medvedev (reigning ATP Finals champion and Paris Bercy winner and Andrey Rublev (winner of five ATP titles in Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna in 2020) will lead a strong Russian team, which also feature Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy. 

Australia quaifies by virtue of a host wild card. Alex De Minaur scored two top 15 wins against Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev in singles matches at the 2020 ATP Cup to help Team Australia reach the ATP Cup semifinals. 

Last season’s Roland Garros semifinalist and Rome Masters 1000 finalist Diego Schwartzman is the top name in a strong Argentine team also featuring Guido Pella, Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzales. 

Italy also carries hopes to qualify for the semifinals with a strong team that includes 2019 Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini, last year’s US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini, former Australian Open doubles champion Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori. 

The other favourite teams for a spot in the semifinal are Canada with Denis Shapovalov (semifinalist at the Rome Masters 1000 in 2020) and Milos Raonic (finalist at the 2020 Western and Southern Open in New York) and Germany with last year’s US Open finalist Alexander Zverev, two-time Roland Garros doubles champion Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas will team up with his brother Petros Tsitsipas, Michail Pervolarakis and Markos Kalovelonis. Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, Yoshihito Nishioka, Ben McLachlan and Toshihide Matsui will form the Japanese team. 

“Playing as a team, for one’s team, is a rare privilege in tennis which brings the best out of our players. This was highlighted by the incredible matches and cameradiere on display at last year’s inaugural edition of the ATP Cup. We would like to thank our partners, Tennis Australia, for their dedication and commitment to stage this year’s tournament, which promises to deliver a strong team to the 2021 season. We cannot wait for tennis fans around the world to again share in the excitement and energy of this special evnt”, said ATP Cup Managing Director Ross Hutchins. 

“Last year we launched the global tennis season with the inaugural ATP Cup. It was a huge success with both players and fans, and we are excited to present the second edition in Melbourne in 2021. The players are looking forward to stepping up and representing their teams again, and the field, including defending champions Serbia and finalists Spain, is strong. This format shows off the passion of the players and we are expecting some spectacular tennis action”, said ATP CUP Tournament Director Tom Larner. 

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Spanish Veteran Feliciano Lopez Addresses Future On The Tour

23 years after he played his first main draw match on the ATP Tour, Lopez says his longevity in the sport has been achieved with the help of of some luck.

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Feliciano Lopez of Spain is pictured during the semi-final of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 20, 2019.

Feliciano Lopez has dismissed any speculation that he could retire in the coming weeks after saying he is taking life on the Tour in his stride.

 

The 39-year-old Spaniard is currently the second oldest player in the world’s top 200 after Roger Federer, who is a year older than him. Lopez made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open which was before the birth of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. In June he became the 10th active player to record his 500th win on the Tour.

Currently ranked 111th in the world, some are starting to wonder how much longer Lopez will continue playing. So far this season he has achieved a win-loss record of 9-19 with his best performance being a run to the quarter-finals of the Mallorca Open which was held on the grass. It was in Mallorca where he defeated Karen Khachanov who is the only top 30 player he has beaten so far in 2021.

I play year-by-year, the last 6-7 years have been like this, a tennis player at that age cannot think about extending his career. After turning 30 I have been lucky, I have obtained the best results of my career,” Lopez told reporters on Friday.
It is not very common for players my age, at (almost) 40 years to continue playing in the best tournaments.” He added.

Throughout his career, Lopez has impressively played in a record 78 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments dating back to the 2002 French Open. During that period he has reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament on four occasions.

“I don’t play to break records, what makes me most excited is to continue playing Grand Slams. For me, maintaining that record (78 consecutive Grand Slams played) is very nice, but more to follow. Being competitive,” he commented on the milestone.
“It is difficult for someone to overcome it because it is 20 years in a row without missing a great one. I have had continuity and enormous luck. Those of my generation are practically all retired.”

Away from the court, the former world No.12 is the current tournament director of the Madrid Open. Making him one of a few players historically to both be playing on the Tour and managing a tournament at the same time. Recently it was confirmed that Madrid will continue hosting it’s combined event until at least 2030 following a renewed agreement between the city council and the Madrid trophy promotion.

Lopez has won a total of seven ATP titles so far in his career and has earned more than $18M in prize money.

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ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval

Changes are coming to the men’s Tour which includes a brand new ‘profit-sharing formular’ for players.

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Masters tournaments in North America, Europe and Asia are set to be expanded over the coming months after the ATP Board recently approved some ‘key aspects’ of their strategic plan.

 

In a letter issued to players, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said an agreement has been reached concerning a variety of topics, which include the expansion of various Masters 1000 events. It is understood that the plan is for Rome, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati and Shanghai to be increased to 12-day events instead of just one week. Putting them more in line with Indian Wells and Miami. Tennis.com reports that under the new structure, ATP 250 events will also take place during the second week of those tournaments and they could receive a subsidy from the ATP Tour, provided by extra fees paid by the Masters tournaments.

Masters 1000 events are the third highest-ranked category events in men’s tennis after Grand Slams and the ATP Finals in terms of prize money and ranking points on offer. The series was first introduced back in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2009 that the name ‘Masters 1000’ was born. The number represents how many ranking points the winner receives.

Besides the proposed changes to the Masters series, the Board has also given a green light to “a new Profit-Sharing formula” and “long-term prize money levels.” The prize money increase is reportedly said to be 2.5 percent of a base level, plus a bonus pool with a 50 percent share of the collective profit of the Masters events.

“This represents significant progress for our sport and the way our player and tournament members operate under the equal partnership of the ATP Tour. It is only through the spirit of this partnership, transparency, and alignment of interests that we can truly maximise your potential and switch our focus to the competition we face in the border sports and entertainment landscape,” Gaudenzi wrote in his letter to players.

Part of the plan also include making changes to ATP Media, who are in charge of broadcasting the events. At present it is currently jointly owned by the Tour and each of the Masters 1000 events. However, in the future it has been proposed that those tournaments trade in their ownership rights for shares in ATP media. Exact details about this process have not been publicly disclosed and it is unclear if all of the tournaments would agree to such a move.

The ATP also wants to create a ‘Tennis Data Innovations’ which will be an independent entity.

All of these proposed changes are still subject to further agreement around additional matters. The ATP have been working on details of their strategic plan for the past 18 months.

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Jelena Ostapenko sets up a final against Clara Tauson in Luxembourg

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Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko remained unbeaten with a 6-1 7-6 (7-4) win over Liudmila Samsonova in the semifinals of the BLG BNL Paribas Luxembourg. 

 

Ostapenko cruised to a 6-1 5-1 lead, but she was unable to serve it out twice. Samsonova came back to fby winning six consecutive points from 1-4 down to win the tie-break 7-4. Ostapenko converted each of her four break points. 

Ostapenko has extended her winning streak at  Luxembourg to 9-0. The Latvian player won her third career title  at this tournament. She has reached her second final of the year after claiming the Eastbourne title last June. 

Ostapenko hit 25 winners to 14 unforced errors and won 62% of her first serve points. She saved three break points to hold serve in the third game and won nine consecutive points. Samsonova did not convert four break points in the first set.

“At some point I stopped playing my game. I missed so many balls and I started to rush, but the key was to fight to stay in the match. I played really well in the beginning but I could not close it. I had to fight and enjoy ir”, said Ostapenko. 

Ostapenko set up a final against Danish 18-year-old rising star Clara Tauson, who overcame this year’s Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 2-6 6-4 in the second semifinal. The Danish player, who was a former world junior number 1 player, won her first WTA singles title in Lyon this year. 

Tauson hit 41 winners to 20 unforced errors. She is the most recent player to beat US Open champion Emma Raducanu and pushed Ashleigh Barty in a two-set US Open defeat. 

Tauson earned an early break in the opening game to open up a 3-1 lead after a couple of double faults fom Vondrousova. The Czech player fended off four set points in the next game and drew level to 3-3. Tauson hit a forehand to earn another break in the seventh game for 4-3 and cruised through to a 6-4 win in the first set. ’21

Vondrousova earned a break to take a 2-0 lead at the start of the second set. The 2019 Roland Garros finalist broke Tauson for the second time to force the match to the third set.

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the third set. They held their next games to draw level to 4-4. Tauson broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead before closing out the match. 

Greet Minnen and Alison Van Uytvanck claimed their second WTA doubles title, as they beat Kimberley Zimmermann and Erin Routliffe 6-3 6-3 in just 59 minutes. Minnen and Van Uytvanck faced a break point and converted their three of their six break points. 

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