WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Djokovic Plays Rune in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Djokovic Plays Rune in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final



Novak Djokovic on Thursday in Paris (twitter.com/RolexPMasters)

It’s Quarterfinal Friday in Paris, while round-robin action concludes on Friday in Cancun, with the last two semifinal spots still to be decided.


A year ago, Holger Rune announced himself to the tennis world by defeating Novak Djokovic in the final of the Paris Masters, one of five top 10 players he upset that week.  On Friday, we get the rematch in the quarterfinals.  It’s a big match for both as far rankings are concerned, as Djokovic looks to extend his lead over Carlos Alcaraz in the race for No.1, and Rune tries to secure a qualifying spot for the ATP Finals.

In Cancun, Iga Swiatek (2-0) leads her round-robin group, but has not mathematically clinched her semifinal spot quite yet.  On Friday, she’s plays Ons Jabeur (1-1), in a rematch from last year’s US Open final.  Plus, both Coco Gauff (1-1) and Marketa Vondrousova (0-2) still have a chance of advancing, and will square off on Friday.  The full breakdown of the complicated advancement scenarios in this round-robin group can be found here.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup from both the WTA Finals and the ATP Paris Masters, while highlighting the other matches on the schedules.  Friday’s play begins at 2:00pm local time in Paris, and at 11:30am local time in Cancun.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Holger Rune (6) – Not Before 7:30pm on Court Central in Paris

Djokovic now leads Alcaraz by 680 points in the year-to-date rankings, and could earn another 180 points with a victory on Friday.  He is a six-time champion in Paris, and is currently on a 15-match winning streak, dating back to August.

Rune has 3,460 points this year, and his victory on Thursday put him in a solid spot to qualify for the ATP Finals.  His next closest competitor, Hubert Hurkacz, would now need to reach the final to pass him.  Holger is on an eight-match winning streak at this event, and will certainly gain some useful knowledge from his new coach Boris Becker, who of course spent years coaching Novak.

A year ago in the final of this tournament, Rune came back from a set down to win 7-5 in the third, saving six break points in the last game.  Holger also defeated Novak in a three-setter six months ago at the Rome Masters on clay.  Djokovic’s only win in this rivalry to date came at the 2021 US Open, but even then, a young Rune ranked 145th in the world managed to win a set.

But on Friday, I favor Djokovic to avenge his recent losses to Rune.  The 20-year-old has struggled in recent months, and is playing with a lower level of confidence than he was here a year ago, when he had an excellent indoor hard court run to end the year.  And we know how much Novak enjoys fighting off the next generation.

Iga Swiatek (2) vs. Ons Jabeur (6) – Not Before 6:00pm in Cancun

Swiatek is 4-2 against Jabeur overall, and 2-1 on hard courts.  In the championship match of last summer’s US Open, Iga defeated Ons in straight sets.  Their only other meeting this year didn’t last long: in the semifinals of Stuttgart on clay, Ons retired after just three games due to injury.

Injuries have unfortunately been a big part of Jabeur’s season, as she’s only accumulated 36 match wins, compared to 65 for Swiatek.  That’s just two shy of Iga’s impressive tally from last year.

On Friday, Iga is a considerable favorite over Ons.  The World No.1 is on an eight-match hard court winning streak, dating back to her WTA 1000 title run in Beijing.  And Jabeur comes into this contest having won just two of her last four matches, having withdrawn from her last tournament just a few weeks ago due to a knee injury.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Hubert Hurkacz (11) vs. Grigor Dimitrov – As mentioned, Hurkacz now needs to reach the final to qualify this week for the ATP Finals.  However, he is 0-3 against Dimitrov, with two of those matches decided by a final-set tiebreak.  Both players comfortably won in straight sets on Thursday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Karen Khachanov (16) – Tsitsipas officially qualified for the ATP Finals by defeating Sascha Zverev in the last round.  Khachanov was a surprise champion here five years ago, but he is 1-6 lifetime against the Greek.

Alex de Minaur (13) vs. Andrey Rublev (5) – De Minaur still has an outside chance this week to qualify for his first ATP Finals appearance, but only if he wins the title, and if Rune loses to Djokovic.  Alex is 3-1 against Andrey, having taken all three of their hard court meetings.

Coco Gauff (3) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (7) – Both of these players struggled with their serve in windy conditions on Wednesday, with Gauff double faulting four times in a row while serving for the second set against Swiatek, and losing 12 of the last 13 points of the match.  That huge letdown will be tough to recover from on Friday, but Coco is 2-0 against Marketa, and defeated her 6-3, 6-0 this summer in Canada.

Friday’s full Order of Play for the WTA Finals is here, and for the ATP Paris Masters is here.


Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker

According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.



Alexander Zverev (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.


Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.

This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.

The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.

Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.

“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.

“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”

Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.

Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.

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Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development

Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.



(@tennisnewsbrazil - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.


The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.

Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.

Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.

“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”

It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.

One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.

Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.

“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.

“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.

“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”

Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.

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Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain



Nadal RG 2022 by Night (foto @RolandGarros)

The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans. 


Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.  

Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.

“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying. 
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”

Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.

“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’

Will Kyrgios play?

Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity. 

“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …” 

Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment. 

“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”

The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions. 

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