Veronika Kudemertova and Marta Kostyuk set up a surprising semifinal in Abu Dhabi - UBITENNIS
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Veronika Kudemertova and Marta Kostyuk set up a surprising semifinal in Abu Dhabi

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World number 46 Veronika Kudemertova came back from one set down to upset Elina Svitolina 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 2 and a half hours claiming the fifth top 10 win of her career. Kudemertova beat Svitoliva in both of their head-to-head matches.

 

Kudemertova earned the first break point in the fifth game, but Kostyuk fended it off to hold serve for 3-3. Both players held their next service games en route to 5-5. Svitolina earned three break points and converted her third chance, when Kudemertova hit a backhand error. 

Svitolina earned a chance to serve out the set at 6-5. Kudemertova saved a set point with a forehand. Svitolina earned her second set point, as Kudemertova hit a return long, and sealed a hard-fought set with a service winner. 

After an early trade of breaks in the first two games of the second set, Kudemertova hit an ace to hold serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. The Russian player earned a break in the sixth game and consolidated it with a hold on game point to build up a 5-2 lead. 

Kudemertova hit an overhead at 30-30, as she was serving for the set at 5-3 to earn a set point. She wasted her first chance with a double fault, but she brought up a second chance with another forehand winner. She converted it with a dropshot. 

Kudemertova got an immediate break in the first game of the third set to take a 1-0 lead. The Russian player had to save two break points at deuce in the sixth game to hold serve for 4-2. The World number 5 broke back in the eighth game with a backhand pass down the line to draw level to 4-4. Kudemertova converted her fourth break point with a forehand return winner to take a 6-5 lead after a long game. Svitolina broke straight back with a series of forehands to send the third set to the tie-break. 

Kudemertova opened up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break and forced an error with a crosscourt backhand to earn four match points at 6-2. She sealed the win with a backhand at 6-3 on her second chance. 

“I tried to play aggressive, because Elina has a good defense. If you want to win, you need to attack, you need to go to the net, finish the point, because she runs unbelievably. You need to do something aggressive to win the points”, said Kudemertova. 

Kudemertova set up a semifinal match against 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk, who rallied from losing the first set to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 0-6 6-1 6-4 and reached the first WTA Tour semifinal of her career. Kostyuk avenged her defeat against Sorribes Tormo, who beat her 18-year-old Ukrainian rival in the final qualifying round of Wimbledon in 2018. 

Sorribes Tormo never faced a break point in the first set and won all four of her second service points to cruise to a bagel win after just 24 minutes. The Spanish player earned an early break to win her seventh consecutive lead in the second set. Kostyuk broke straight back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. The young Ukrainian player got her second break to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth game. 

Kostyuk broke for the third game with a forehand passing winner to race out to a 5-1 lead. The teenager served out the set at 15 with a volley in the seventh game. 

The third set started with a series of six consecutive breaks. Sorribes Tormo stopped the streak by holding serve for 4-3 in the seventh game. Kostyuk held serve to draw level to 4-4 after serving a break point. Kostyuk converted her third break point to take a 5-4 lead with a forehand winner at the net after a long game. 

Kostyuk forced an error with a backhand down the line winner to seal the win on her second match point. 

Kudemertova will face Kostyuk for the first time in her career. The winner will reach a WTA Tour final for the first time. 

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Next Gen Star Carlos Alcaraz Praises ‘Idol’ Nadal

The rising star talks Nadal, Ferrero and his hopes for the future.

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Growing up in Spain is unsurprising that Carlos Alcaraz is inspired by the achievements of tennis legend Rafael Nadal.

 

The 17-year-old tennis star is labelled as one of the most promising youngsters on the ATP Tour following a breakthrough 2020 season where he won a trio of Challenger titles. Becoming the second-youngest player in history to do so after Richard Gasquet. It was also during the same season where he became the youngest player to win an ATP 500 match since the series began in 2009 and he ended the year ranked 136th in the world.

Finding his footing on the Tour, Alcaraz is hoping that he will be able to follow in the footsteps of his idol Nadal who has won 20 major titles so far in his career. The teenager believes the mentality of his compatriot is one that can serve as an example for everybody to follow.

Rafa is my idol,” Alcaraz told itftennis.com. “His hunger, his attitude. It doesn’t matter if he plays a first match or a final, his level of concentration is the same. He wants to win every match.
“His mentality is an example for anyone, a tennis player or any person. He motivates everyone because he never surrenders. Everyone wants to be the best, no matter if you´re an athlete, a football player, a doctor, a journalist… everyone has an objective in life.”

Alcaraz is currently preparing for the Australian Open after successfully qualifying for the tournament earlier this month. In Doha he scored wins over Filip Horanský, Evgeny Karlovskiy and Hugo Dellien. It is the first time he has qualified for a grand Slam main draw in his career. An impressive achievement for a player who is also currently studying for his Segundo de Bachiller exams and driving test.

Guiding the tennis prodigy on the Tour is Juan Carlos Ferrero. A former world No.1 player who won the 2003 French Open. The two have been working together since 2019.

“I’m very proud to have Juan Carlos as a coach,” said Alcaraz. “He has great experience and knowledge and I’m very proud to be able to learn from him.
“He contributes to my knowledge in a way that other coaches probably wouldn’t be able to. He understands the situations that I’m living now, because he experienced them in the past. He knows how to manage the pressure.”

It remains to be seen just how successful Alcaraz will become but the expectations are high. He is already the youngest player ranked in the world’s top 600 and the only player born in 2003 to be inside the top 400.

“I don’t focus on the records or if I’m the youngest player,” he stated. “I want to improve every day and to focus on my objectives. My aims in 2021 are to play at Roland Garros, to be in the top 100 and to finish the season in the top 50.”

Alcaraz is set to return to competitive tennis next week.

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Filippo Volandri believes that Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti are the future of Italian tennis in the Davis Cup

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Former world number 25 Filippo Volandri has been named as the new captain of the Italian Davis Cup. 

 

Barazzutti served as Italian Davis Cup captain for twenty years and won the Davis Cup trophy in 1976 in the final against Chile. He also played in three more finals in 1977, 1979 and 1980 and served as Fed Cup captain from 2002 to 2016 guiding Italy to four titles with a great team formed by Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Barazzutti was the longest-serving Italian Davis Cup team captain in national tennis history. 

Volandri made his debut in the Davis Cup in 2001 in a dead match against Finland. Later that year he beat Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic. He played in ten Davis Cup ties from 2001 to 2010, finishing with a 10-7 win-loss record. 

Volandri talked about his plans as Davis Cup captain in an interview to Italian Sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

Volandri has served as Italy’s national technical director since 2018 and worked on the Over 18 project aimed to guide Italian young players in their transition to professional tennis. Volandri’s work is now paying off, as eight Italian players are ranked in the top 100 and four players are in the top 40. Young stars like Matteo Berrettini, Lorenzo Sonego, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti have made their impact on the ATP Tour. 

“I have not slept much in the last few days. I feel emotional and I wanted to talk to every Italian player. I contacted the most experienced and the youngest players. I want to build a solid relationship to them and I am planning to meet them frequently. I met Jannik Sinner in Bordighera before he left to Australia. Jannik has showed that he is a mature player and works hard in training. He will continue improving in the future. Lorenzo Musetti needs more time for his tennis style, but he made a big step forward and we follow him with great enthsiasm. Sinner and Musetti are the future of Italian tennis in the Davis Cup. Thanks to the Italian Federation I have built a team of professional people, who have contributed to the growth of Berrettini, Sinner and Musetti. I will work with mental coaches. I believe in the psycological aspect of tennis. We are working with tennis statistician Craig O’Shannessy. With his data we have been able to change our training methods and the ways to prepare matches”, said Volandri.

Volandri succeds Corrado Barazzutti, who let him debut in the Davis Cup in 2001 when he was a young player. The new captain wants to thank Barazzutti, who guided Italy to the semifinal in 2014. 

“At such an important moment for my coaching career I want to thank Corrado, who let me debut in the Davis Cup even though I was just a kid, when he was just named captain. I hope I am able to honour what he did in this position. I learnt a lot from Corrado. I know exactly what means to compete in a Davis Cup tie. It’s like playing four tounaments in a row. I played in the Davis Cup for many years, but I cannot compare to being Davis Cup captain. I have a big responsibility”, said Volandri. 

Italy secured its spot in the Davis Cup Finals in 2021 with a 4-0 win over South Korea in Barazzutti’s final tie as captain. 

“Italian tennis will always be grateful to Corrado Barazzutti for his extraordinary contribution for our movement, first as player and then as a coach”, said Italian Tennis Federation Angelo Binaghi 

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Dominic Thiem Training At ‘High Level’ Despite Absence Of Coach Massu

The manager of the US Open champion has given an update on his current condition ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2021.

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Dominic Thiem will play the Australian Open without his principal coach Nicolas Massu after it was confirmed that he is unable to find a way to travel to the region.

 

Massu, who has been part of the Austrian’s team since 2019, was unable to travel to Australia earlier this month after testing positive for COVID-19. An unfortunate situation that also affected former world No.1 Andy Murray. Thiem had originally hoped that his mentor would be able to join him at a later date but that is no longer possible under strict regulations set out by Australian health officials. All players and their teams are required to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel before they are allowed to play a professional match in the country.

The absence of Massu has been confirmed by Thiem’s manager Herwig Straka who is currently in Adelaide with the tennis player. Straka is a top tennis official who also sits on the ATP Board of Directors and is in charge of the Vienna Open.

Dominic’s father Wolfgang leads the training and is in contact with Nico a lot. Although he is now negative, he will still not make it to the Australian Open,” he told neue.at.

Fortunately for Thiem he has avoided the fate of many of his peers who have been forced to go into a strict quarantine after being declared a close contact of somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. All 72 players who have been affected are staying in Melbourne. Thiem is among the top three players in the world who have been allowed to quarantine in Adelaide under a deal struck by Tennis Australia.

The training is going well and it is at a very high level. In his room he passes the time with series shows, computer games and reading,” Straka commented.

The 27-year-old is bidding to go one step better at the Australian Open than 12 months ago where he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic. In that final he led the match by two sets to one before losing. Since then Thiem has broken new territory by winning his maiden major title at Flushing Meadows in New York.

‘Like a student’

Providing a glimpse into what it is like staying in Adelaide, Straka says he still had ‘much to do’ during the two-week period as he drew parallels between the current conditions and when he was studying. He studied law and Business before going into the sports industry.

“Since there is no room service for security reasons, we have to make the beds, do laundry and cook ourselves. A washing machine, a microwave and a stove are available in the room. It feels like back in the college days.”

Some have said Thiem and Co are receiving preferential treatment from Tennis Australia with their current living conditions. In a recent interview with UbiTennis, doubles player Marcelo Demoliner said ‘the top tennis players always had these extras, we (the players) are kinda of used to it.’’ Craig Tiley, who is the head of Tennis Australia, has also previously conceded that those in Adelaide are getting a better deal.

Although Thiem’s manager has played down just how significant the difference in treatment is between the two bubbles.

“It’s not that much better in Adelaide. The few advantages are that the player’s team can be bigger, that it doesn’t get so jammed during training times and that the rooms have a balcony,” he said.

Later this week Thiem will return to professional tennis by taking part in a one-day exhibition. Then he heads to Melbourne where will be leading the Austrian team in the ATP Cup which will be captained by his father Wolfgang.

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