ATP Finals Daily Preview: Djokovic Plays Alcaraz, Medvedev Plays Sinner in the Semifinals - UBITENNIS
Connect with us


ATP Finals Daily Preview: Djokovic Plays Alcaraz, Medvedev Plays Sinner in the Semifinals



Novak Djokovic on Thursday in Turin (

It’s Semifinal Saturday in Turin, featuring the top four ATP singles players of 2023. 

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz have been the best two men’s singles players in the world this year, and have already played two of the best matches of 2023.  On Saturday, they meet again in the semifinals of the ATP Finals.  Will they provide another classic encounter?

The other singles semifinal sees the third and fourth best singles players of the season collide, as Daniil Medvedev faces Italy’s Jannik Sinner.  Plus, the doubles semifinals on Saturday feature the defending champions, and three teams vying for their first ATP Finals title.

Jannik Sinner (4) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Not Before 2:30pm

These players shared an extremely lopsided history, until this fall.  Medvedev took their first six matches, from February of 2020 all the way up to this year’s championship match in Miami.  However, Sinner has now won their last two, in the final of both Beijing and Vienna.  All of their meetings have occurred on hard courts.

Sinner is currently on quite a run.  He’s on a nine match winning streak, and has won 16 of his last 17.  Jannik is the only player to go 3-0 in round-robin play, as he now looks to reach the biggest final of his career in his first time qualifying for the ATP Finals.

Medvedev had an excellent start to the season, winning five titles between February and May.  But he hasn’t won a title in six months, with the two aforementioned recent losses in finals to Sinner.  This is Daniil’s fifth consecutive appearance at the ATP Finals, and his third time reaching the semifinals.  He is 2-0 in semis at this tournament, with previous victories over Rafael Nadal in 2020, and Casper Ruud in 2021.

Based on recent form, especially this week, Sinner should be favored to advance to Sunday’s championship match.  However, that’s only if he’s feeling close to 100% physically.  During his last round-robin match on Thursday against Holger Rune, Jannik was obviously suffering from some lower back pain.  And Medvedev is one of the last people you want to face if you’re looking to shorten points due to an injury.  But with the partisan Italian crowd behind him, I like Sinner’s chances to earn his third win this fall over Medvedev.

Carlos Alcaraz (2) vs. Novak Djokovic (1) – Not Before 9:00pm

They have split four previous meetings, three of which have been epic.  Last year in Madrid, Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in a third-set tiebreak after over three-and-a-half hours of scintillating rallies, and just a day after Carlitos beat his idol, Rafael Nadal.  A year later at Roland Garros, after they split two extremely-competitive sets, Carlitos’ body gave out on him, and Novak ran away with the third and fourth.

But his body didn’t fail him a month later in the championship match of Wimbledon, as Alcaraz handed Djokovic his first loss on Centre Court in over a decade, overcoming the all-time great in a near five-hour five-setter to claim his second Major title.  However, just a month after that in Cincinnati, Novak avenged that heartbreaking loss in a near four-hour three-setter, winning in a third-set tiebreak after coming back from a set and a break down, and saving championship point.

Since that loss in Cincy, Alcaraz has not been the same player, and has not reached another final after advancing to eight finals earlier this year.  But after going 1-1 in his first two round-robin matches this week, he played his best tennis in months on Friday to defeat Medvedev in straight sets, and secure his semifinal spot in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic also went 2-1 during round-robin play, with his loss coming in the best match of the tournament thus far: an over three-hour three-setter against Sinner.  Since losing the Wimbledon final to Carlitos, Novak is now 20-1, and has won all three events he’s entered.  But he must be a bit tired: all three of his matches this week have gone three sets, and he also played a trio of three-setters two weeks ago at the Paris Masters.  And he’s also been battling congestion throughout the week.  Despite that, he’s now reached the semifinals of this event for the 12th time in 16 appearances, as he plays for this seventh ATP Finals crown.

In their first encounter on an indoor hard court, Djokovic must be favored.  He was won nearly 200 indoor hard court matches in his career, while Alcaraz has not even played 30 matches yet in this setting, and holds a record of just 18-8, with no titles.  And their most recent meeting in Cincinnati will be at the forefront of both players’ minds, as their seasons have gone in very different directions since that grueling contest.

Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (5) vs. Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden (3) – Granollers and Zeballos are 3-0 this week, but are 0-2 in the semifinals of this event, losing in both 2020 and 2021.  Bopanna and Ebden are 2-1 this week, and Rohan is 2-0 in his previous semifinal appearances at the ATP Finals with two different partners.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (6) vs. Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (4) – Ram and Salisbury are the defending champions, and went 3-0 in round-robin play.  Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin went 2-1, but have now won 10 of their last 11 matches.  And two weeks ago in the semifinals of Bercy, they beat Ram and Salisbury in straight sets.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.


World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco



Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

Continue Reading


Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.



(@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

Continue Reading


Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit



image via

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

Continue Reading