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Munar Completes Direct Qualifying For Next Gen ATP Finals

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2018

Munar Completes Direct Qualifying For Next Gen ATP Finals

Only one spot remains up for grabs at the Next Gen ATP Finals

Spain’s #NextGenATP star Jaume Munar became on Thursday the final direct qualifier for the Next Gen ATP Finals. The 21-year-old’s direct qualification leaves only one place up for grabs at the eight-player tournament, to be held from 6-10 November in Milan. The final spot will be given to the winner of an Italian 21-and-under tournament to be finished on 4 November.

Munar joins Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece; Canadian Denis Shapovalov; Australia’s Alex de Minaur; Americans Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz; and Andrey Rublev of Russia, who have all already qualified for the event, which will again feature a series of rule changes and innovations. Germany qualifier Alexander Zverev will not compete because of his Nitto ATP Finals participation at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

You May Also Like: Read & Watch: 5 Things To Know About Munar, Who Qualified For Milan

Tsitsipas has been among the brightest breakout #NextGenATP stars in 2018, reaching three ATP World Tour finals and becoming the first Greek to win an ATP World Tour title at last week’s Intrum Stockholm Open. The Athens native also reached the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final (l. to Nadal). As a 19-year-old in Toronto, Tsitsipas became the youngest player in ATP World Tour history to beat four Top 10 players at an event, overcoming Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson, prior to falling to Rafael Nadal in the final.

Watch: Tsitsipas In Focus

Shapovalov has backed up his breakthrough 2017 campaign by making three semi-finals. The Canadian became the youngest semi-finalist in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open. The 19-year-old also made the last four at the Delray Beach Open and at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 in Tokyo.

Few players of any age have climbed up the ATP Rankings this season as much as De Minaur. In December, the Aussie was No. 210 and this week he competes at a career-high No. 31. The 19-year-old, who is mentored by former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, has reached two ATP World Tour finals this season, at the Sydney International in January and the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., in August.

Tiafoe and Fritz are leading the Next Generation of U.S. talent, and both have shown their potential in 2018. Tiafoe won his first ATP World Tour title at the Delray Beach Open in February, beating Juan Martin del Potro, 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung and Shapovalov en route. Tiafoe also made his first clay-court final at the Millennium Estoril Open (l. to Sousa).

Watch: Tiafoe Qualifies For The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals

Fritz, meanwhile, has delivered on the early promise that saw him contest the 2016 Memphis Open final in only his third tour-level event (l. to Nishikori). This year, the 20-year-old reached two semi-finals (Houston, Chengdu) and his first fourth round at a Masters 1000 tournament (BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells).

Moscow native Rublev will make his second consecutive appearance in Milan. Last year, the Russian fell to Chung in the title match after leading by a set and 3-1. The 21-year-old Rublev had to miss three months of 2018 because of a stress fracture in his lower back, but he still made his second ATP World Tour final (Doha, l. to Monfils) and the semi-finals in Washington, D.C. (l. to De Minaur).

Watch Flashback: At Home With Rublev In Moscow

The award-winning Next Gen ATP Finals will continue to trial a best-of-five set format, shorter sets to four (tie-break at three-all), no-ad scoring, and no lets. Other innovations, such as Electronic Line Calling through Hawk-Eye Live, a 25-second shot clock, in-match player coaching via head-sets, will also be back for this year’s edition. The player warm-up will be reduced by a further minute (from five minutes to four minutes) from the second player walk-on, while players will be instructed to use a towel rack at the back of the court to remove the onus on ball kids to handle towels.

Free crowd movement in the stadium and a limit of one medical time out per match will also remain. The tournament’s leading role in innovation comes at a key time when changes are being widely considered across the highest levels of the sport.

The technological advances used across the 2017 tournament were recognised earlier this year at the Yahoo Sports Technology Awards in London, where ATP & ATP Media won the Most Innovative Governing Body or Rights Holder Award. At the recent inaugural Leaders Sports Awards in London, the Next Gen ATP Finals won the Innovation category for the ATP and ATP Media’s live-streaming platform, Tennis TV, won the On Screen Experience category.

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Roger Returns To 'Regular' Roger To Reach Basel QF

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2018

Roger Returns To ‘Regular’ Roger To Reach Basel QF

Swiss improves to 10-0 in sets against Struff

Roger Federer had to hurtle another slow start on Thursday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, but the eight-time champion pulled it together quickly to reach another quarter-final in his hometown. The top-seeded Swiss stayed unbeaten (4-0) against German Jan-Lennard Struff, dismissing the 6’5” right-hander for the third time this year 6-3, 7-5.

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Federer stretched his Basel winning streak to 17 and is two matches away from reaching his 14th final and his 12th in as many appearances. The 37-year-old was broken in the third game when he overplayed a forehand, and Struff, who was holding with ease behind 224 km/h serves, pushed his lead to 3-1 before Federer settled to take five straight games and the set behind the home faithful.

The 28-year-old Struff composed himself in the second, but serving at 40/40, 5-5, he threw in a pair of loose errors, including a double fault on break point. Federer, who’s already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November, will next meet Frenchman Gilles Simon or last week’s Intrum Stockholm Open finalist Ernests Gulbis.

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Caroline Wozniacki: Former world number one reveals 'shock' over arthritis diagnosis

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2018

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki says she was “shocked” to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but wants to become a role model for people with the condition.

The Dane, 28, discovered she had the auto-immune disease in August and says “it has been a lot to take in”.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints.

“You feel like you’re the fittest athlete out there and all of a sudden you have this to work with,” she said.

  • Wozniacki knocked out of WTA Finals by Svitolina

Wozniacki – who won the Australian Open in January, her only Grand Slam to date – revealed she had the condition after her season ended with defeat at the WTA Finals.

She said she began to notice symptoms of fatigue after Wimbledon, where she lost in the second round, and one morning was unable to lift her arms over her head.

The world number three says some days she has struggled to get out of bed and doctors diagnosed her in August before the US Open.

“In the beginning, it was a shock,” said Wozniacki. “It’s obviously not ideal for anybody, and I think when you’re a professional athlete, it’s also not even more ideal.

“I think I didn’t want to talk about it during the year because I don’t want to give anyone the edge or thinking that I’m not feeling well, but I have been feeling well.

“You learn how to just cope after matches. Some days you wake up and you can’t get out of bed and you just have to know that’s how it is, but other days you live and you’re fine. You don’t even feel like you have it.”

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of any age, although often starts when a person is between 40 and 50. It occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, leading to pain and swelling.

The NHS says there is no cure for the condition, but medication and other treatments can relieve symptoms.

Wozniacki has been taking medicine and receiving treatment to manage the disease and is positive the condition will not impact on her career – she won the China Open earlier this month.

“I think [winning in Beijing] meant so much to me,” she added. “I think you obviously start asking yourself questions: What does this mean? Does it mean I can’t get in as great of shape as I was before?

“Winning was huge. It also gave me the belief that nothing is going to set me back. I’m going to work with this and this is how it is, and I can do anything.

“I’m very proud of how I have been so positive through it all and just kind of tried to not let that hinder me.

“I know there are a lot of people in the world that are fighting with this, and hopefully I can be someone they can look up to and say that if I can do this, then they can too. And you just kind of have to get together and pull each other up.”

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Edmund loses to Verdasco in Vienna Open

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2018

British number one Kyle Edmund is out of the Vienna Open after losing to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

The 23-year-old lost the second-round match 6-4 3-6 6-3 in two hours.

It brings to an end Edmund’s five-game winning run that included his maiden ATP Tour title at the European Open.

Verdasco broke twice in the first set to take the lead before Edmund broke early in the second to level the match, but one break of serve was the difference in the decider.

World number 14 Edmund will now head to Paris for the final Masters tournament of the season, where victory would give him an outside chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals.

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Nishikori Cruises Past Khachanov In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2018

Nishikori Cruises Past Khachanov In Vienna

Thiem, Isner feature during evening session

Kei Nishikori earned two service breaks in each set to beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov, last week’s VTB Kremlin Cup titlist, 6-2, 6-2 in 64 minutes on Thursday at the Erste Bank Open 500. The fifth-seeded Japanese star, who has a 38-17 match record in 2018, must reach the Vienna semi-finals in order to potentially improve upon his current position of 10th in the ATP Race To London. Nishikori qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for three consecutive years in 2014-16.

Dominic Thiem and John Isner, who are also attempting to qualify for the season finale at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, feature later today. Kyle Edmund, last week’s European Open champion, also plays in second-round action.

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Pliskova ends Kvitova hopes to reach last four of WTA Finals

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2018

Karolina Pliskova defeated Czech compatriot Petra Kvitova in straight sets to secure her place in the semi-finals of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

World number eight Pliskova, 26, won 6-3 6-4 for her first victory over Kvitova, 28, in four attempts.

It is the second successive year former world number one Pliskova has reached the semi-finals at the season-ending tournament.

“I cannot be more happy right now,” said seventh seed Pliskova.

“It was a good match and she’s a great player. She has always beaten me in the past but I knew I had a chance as I have been playing well.”

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Kvitova – the WTA champion in 2011 – lost all three round-robin matches and will finish bottom of the White Group.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina will contest for the second semi-final berth later on Thursday.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova needed to win in straight sets to stand any chance of reaching the semi-finals but Pliskova dominated the opening exchanges, racing into a 4-0 lead following a string of double faults from Kvitova.

Though she went on to win back-to-back games, Kvitova’s tournament was ended as Pliskova held serve to take the first set in 41 minutes.

With the pressure off, Kvitova took the first three games of the second set and went on to lead 4-2 before Pliskova won four consecutive games to round off the win.

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