ATP Finals Draw: Rafael Nadal Avoids Novak Djokovic in Group Stages - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals Draw: Rafael Nadal Avoids Novak Djokovic in Group Stages

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Long term rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will not face each other in the Nitto ATP Finals group stages.

The draw for the year-end championships in Turin was made earlier on Thursday. It is the second hosting of the tournament in the city, after ending a 12-year contract at London’s O2 Arena.

World number one Carlos Alcaraz will not take part as he recovers from a muscle tear from his abdomen. His chances of ending the year as world number one are now in the hands of compatriot Rafael Nadal.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev is also out. The German has been missing from the Tour since Roland Garros after suffering an agonising ankle injury in his semi-final against Nadal.

Top seed Nadal has been drawn alongside Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz in the Green Group. The 22-time Major champion will end the year world number one if he wins the title.

Nadal boasts a strong 5-1 record against the opponents in his group. His only loss came to Fritz in the Indian Wells final earlier this year.

Nadal also contested a memorable match against the American at Wimbledon. The Spaniard won a five-set battle whilst struggling with an abdominal issue that ruled him out of the rest of the tournament.

Auger-Aliassime is the group’s in-form player, having won three tournaments since October and beaten world number one Carlos Alcaraz in that period.

The Canadian may be favourite to win the group, considering Nadal’s performance in Paris last week. The 36-year-old lost in his opening match to Tommy Paul, and looked to be struggling physically.

Former Champions Assemble in Djokovic’s Group

Past ATP Finals champions Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas join Andrey Rublev in the Red Group.

Tsitsipas could also reach world number one if he wins the tournament. The Greek has won titles in Mallorca and Monte Carlo this season. He is at a career high ranking of three in the world but faces a tricky group in Turin.

The 2019 champion has a losing record against both Medvedev and Djokovic. He will need to beat at least one of the two to stand a good chance of qualifying from the group.

Former ATP Finals champion Medvedev has disappointed this year, with his ranking slipping down to five. He could fall further at the start of 2023, as he defends Australian Open final points. The Russian is seeking his first top 10 win since January.

Djokovic remains the man to beat in this group, having won four titles from the 10 tournaments he has played this year. The Wimbledon champion has missed several tournaments because of his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Serb will be seeking his sixth ATP Finals crown in Turin, but his first since 2016.

Holger Rune is the first alternate at the tournament. The recent Paris champion will take the place of a player if they pull out early from the tournament.

The ATP Finals gets underway on Sunday, with the final a week later.

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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.

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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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