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Tsitsipas, Greece Ready To Feel The Love From Greek Fans In Brisbane

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Tsitsipas, Greece Ready To Feel The Love From Greek Fans In Brisbane

Greece kicks off the ATP Cup on Friday in Brisbane against Canada

Team Greece, led by World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, celebrated New Year’s Eve on Tuesday with its biggest and most loyal Brisbane fans ahead of the ATP Cup.

Greece, which kicks off the inaugural 24-team competition at 10 a.m. on Friday against Canada, visited Nostimo, a Greek restaurant and bar at The Greek Club, which is the centre of Greek life in Brisbane. The club includes the city’s Greek community centre and is next door to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George.

Tsitsipas, along with teammates Michail Pervolarakis, Markos Kalovelonis, brother Petros Tsitsipas, Alexandros Skorilas and captain/father Apostolos Tsitsipas, mingled with future ATP Cup attendees, sipped a self-inspired martini and looked ahead to 2020. Greece is in Group F with Canada, Germany and Australia.

“We have started very well. We have been putting ourselves to work on the court with the rest of the team. Our chemistry seems to work really well,” Stefanos Tsitsipas said. “I am really proud to represent Greece in this competition for the very first time. We just met the locals from Greece that live here in Brisbane. For us, it is something of huge importance to have people that we really feel connected with and they are going to come and support us. I think that is what is going to make this event so special.”

Greeks are passionate sporting fans and have large communities throughout Australia, as Tsitsipas felt last year during his maiden Grand Slam semi-final run at the Australian Open in Melbourne. It’s an advantage the team hopes to have at full effect in Brisbane.

With Greeks, [passion and energy] is in the culture. We feel very connected to one another. It is almost like a family. They put a lot of energy in when they are out on the court chanting and giving their best for us. It just feels good to be Greek. There are so many benefits that I can take from that,” Tsitsipas said.

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Kalovelonis added: “The fans are passionate. I hope they will support. I think they will support, because they are always coming to Australia to support the Greek players.”

The team certainly felt plenty of love at Nostimo. Kostas Manekas, the restaurant manager, created a martini to honour Tsitsipas’ 2019 season, which saw him win three titles, including the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 in London, and finish at a year-end ATP Ranking of No. 6.

We wanted to celebrate with you,” Manekas said. “We came up with a recipe that we hope represents you as an individual.”

The drink features ouzo, a popular liquor in Greece; an olive branch, to represent victory; vodka, because of Tsitsipas’ mother’s Russian heritage; and limoncello, which gives the drink a yellow tint.

Well thought, well thought,” Tsitsipas said when he learned of the vodka inclusion.

As Manekas’ creativity shows, the Greek community stands ready to do everything they can to support their country in Brisbane.

Opportunities like this don’t necessarily come around all that often, and the opportunity here with the ATP Cup is something that the whole of the youth of Greek Australians here in Brisbane are going to absolutely love. We’ll be coming in hordes,” said Laki Keramidas, vice president of the Greek Orthodox Youth Association in Brisbane. “You’ll be able to hear us in the crowd, that’s for sure.”

Greece qualified for the ATP Cup because of Tsitsipas’ ranking, and he, along with his father, knows that Greece’s fate in Brisbane will be significantly aided if the 21-year-old can get off to a good start in their matches.

But that’s not to say everything is riding on Tsitsipas. With some of the most passionate fans in the world and the benefit of youth on their team – their oldest player is 25 – Greece is ready to show the world how they can play.

“Stef is going to play an important role to raise the level. It is the team spirit that counts at the end, and I think obviously that is an important thing,” Apostolos Tsitsipas said. “[The Greek fans] are going to be our extra support all these days… I think it is going to be important to be next to their players.”

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Sharapova to play in Brisbane after injury-hit 2019

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Russia’s Maria Sharapova will compete at the Brisbane International in January after receiving a wildcard.

The 32-year-old former world number one played just 15 matches in 2019 because of a long-term shoulder injury.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova last played a competitive match in the first round of the US Open in August.

“Brisbane, I’ve missed you and I’m so excited to be starting off my year 2020 at your tournament, in your city,” Sharapova said in a social media video.

“I’ve missed the fans, I’ve missed the event so much, and I am so looking forward to seeing everyone.”

Also set to compete at the event, which runs from 6 to 12 January, is defending champion Karolina Pliskova, world number one Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams.

The tournament is seen as a warm-up for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne, which starts on 20 January.

With her ranking of 133 in the world, Sharapova will need a wildcard to gain direct entry to the main draw of the Australian Open – a tournament she won in 2008.

She failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open, leading to a 15-month ban from tennis.

  • Wimbledon 2019: Former champion Maria Sharapova retires at 0-5 down in final set

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Team Croatia Takes In Tamarama Waves, Prepare To Storm Into ATP Cup

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Team Croatia Takes In Tamarama Waves, Prepare To Storm Into ATP Cup

Croatia to meet Austria on Saturday

Marin Cilic took his first step down the stairs onto Tamarama Beach on Tuesday in Sydney. The former World No. 3 is working hard in preparation for the inaugural ATP Cup, and he was excited to join his countrymen for a quick outing at the beach before play begins on 3 January.

“Tough day at the office,” Cilic said, cracking a smile as he looked out at the magnificent sea setting from above.

Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Nikola Mektic and Viktor Galovic visited with the Tamarama Surf Lifesaving Club to learn what it takes to look after the public swimming in the crystal blue water off the beach.

“I’m going to be the life saver. I’m going to save you,” Coric said.

“I’d like to be saved,” Mektic said, eliciting plenty of laughter from Team Croatia.

Team Croatia visits Tamarama Beach in Sydney ahead of the <a href=''>ATP Cup</a>.

That is what is making the ATP Cup special — players who typically play for themselves becoming one, enjoying the unity that this 24-team event provides.

As the Croats — who launch their campaign on Saturday evening against Team Austria — stepped out onto a set of boulders high above the scene to take some photos, passersby quickly gathered, with some Croatian tennis fans stopping to ask the stars for pictures.

“Obviously we are really happy to be here,” said Team Croatia captain Luka Kutanjac. “It’s a great new event that the ATP is really trying to promote and to keep it going. It’s always fun to have teammates together.”

The players then descended to the sand, with some choosing to go for a swim in the Sydney heat. It was a perfect time to cool off, with the competition about to start heating up.

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Dimitrov & Team Bulgaria: 'We're Going To Try To Take It All In'

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Dimitrov & Team Bulgaria: ‘We’re Going To Try To Take It All In’

Bulgaria will compete in Group C in Sydney

Team Bulgaria’s No. 1 player and captain Grigor Dimitrov, who made the Sydney final in 2016, visited Sydney Harbour Bridge on Monday evening, posting pictures on social media. “I love that city,” he wrote in an Instagram story post.

The 28-year-old was still blown away by the setting when he arrived at the North Sydney Pool — which is right under the bridge — on Tuesday afternoon with the rest of his team: Dimitar Kuzmanov, Alexandar Lazarov, Alexander Donski and Adrian Andreev.

“We’re just having a day off today and we’re going to try to take it all in, enjoy it and welcome 2020,” Dimitrov said.

<a href=''>Grigor Dimitrov</a> dives into North Sydney Pool.

The Bulgarians had plenty of fun, practising various jumps into the pool and going for a swim. The ATP Cup is a unique opportunity for some of the team’s players who have not previously been to Sydney to not only compete in an inaugural 24-team event with the best players in the world, but to enjoy a memorable experience, too.

“I cannot hide that I’m super-excited. It’s the very first time here for me in Sydney and Australia as well,” Kuzmanov said. “It’s not a bad start of the year at all. Perfect weather. New continent, new country, great mood and also perfect organisation and great team spirit.”

Andreev is the youngest player on Team Bulgaria, and he too has never been to Sydney, only competing in the Australian Open juniors. And not only is he excited for the ATP Cup, but also to spend quality time with the best players from his country and continue building their relationships.

“It’s awesome to be here. It’s going to be a really good challenge and it’s going to be great to see the competition and just enjoy playing or watching the matches and just support my country,” Andreev said. “It will be really awesome.”

Fireworks will line the skies over Sydney as the clock strikes midnight marking 1 January, but Team Bulgaria will look to create more fireworks as the competition begins, attempting to advance through Group C to reach the Final Eight.

Team Bulgaria’s first match will be on Friday against Team Great Britain at 5:30pm local time.

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Auger-Aliassime, Monfils Name 2020 New Year's Resolutions

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Auger-Aliassime, Monfils Name 2020 New Year’s Resolutions

Shapovalov, Tsitsipas also talk about their 2020 goals at the ATP Cup

ATP Tour players didn’t wait until 2020 to craft their New Year’s resolutions. On the last day of 2019, members of Team Canada, Team France, Team Greece and Team Serbia had already planned out their goals for 2020.

Canada’s top two singles players in Brisbane, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, both have high hopes for 2020.

“My goal for 2020 is just to keep improving and enjoying myself and enjoying my lifestyle and my tennis. I just want to wish all the fans, everybody around the world a happy New Year,” Shapovalov said.

Auger-Aliassime, similarly, kept things simple when discussing his 2020 resolutions. “For my part, maybe I don’t have a one-year resolution but I want to win matches, keep having fun and enjoy myself,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada will kick off the 2020 ATP Tour season at 10 a.m. Friday in Brisbane against Team Greece, which is led by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion wants to add more humour into his life this next decade. “My New Year’s resolution is to text more and be more funny,” Tsitsipas said.

France’s Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire of Team France have more personal resolutions in mind, even if they might still make you laugh.

“My resolution for me this year is quite easy, shave myself. A good trim for me actually. That was personal. And definitely be on time, that’s for my coach,” Monfils said.

Paire responded, “That’s important, because when we play FIFA you are often late because you know you are going to lose. So be on time next time.

“For me, just enjoy life. Enjoy to be on court. Enjoy with the fans. I think it’s important. That’s my resolution for next year.”

Enjoy life. It’s what Viktor Troicki of Serbia, and likely every ATP Cup player, will want to do in 2020 as well.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stay healthy this year, to hopefully come back in Top 100,” Troicki said. “And just enjoy tennis for a couple more years I hope.”

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Meet The 2020 ATP Cup Countries

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Meet The 2020 ATP Cup Countries

Teams set to compete in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney

The world’s best players are all gearing up to kick off the new year at the inaugural ATP Cup, held throughout Australia from 3-12 January. Learn more about the 24 competing countries and the players looking to lead their team to victory.

2020 ATP Cup Teams
Great Britain
South Africa
United States

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Medvedev, Khachanov & Safin Lose Out To Kids On Perth Beach

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Medvedev, Khachanov & Safin Lose Out To Kids On Perth Beach

Russian trio venture west to race junior lifesavers in Perth

Team Russia hit Cottesloe Beach in Perth on Tuesday morning ahead of the inaugural ATP Cup, which begins on 3 January. Daniil Medvedev, Karen Khachanov and captain Marat Safin took the 12-kilometre trip from the RAC Arena to a popular family destination in the west of Perth.

The Russians spoke to Phil Curtis of the North Cottesloe Surf Club and joined Surf Life Saving nippers (junior lifesavers) from across the city in races running from the water.

“We lost to the kids, we didn’t expect that,” said Khachanov. “We thought we could be faster, but it wasn’t true.” Medvedev said, “They may be faster on the beach, but hopefully we’re faster on a tennis court. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble!”

Medvedev, Safin, Khachanov

Team Russia, who arrived in Perth on 28 December, features in Group D action alongside the United States, Italy and Norway. Spain, Japan, Georgia and Uruguay compete in Group B, also at the 14,000-seater RAC Arena stadium.

“[Daniil and Karen] are in great shape,” said former World No. 1 Safin. “I think we have a chance to win, but I’m not sure about it after losing to the kids. We have great potential to do well, a great team and guys helping to make us closer together.”

Medvedev added, “This tournament is so important to see how you’re playing after the pre-season. Every new tournament is different, but I know when I play good I can win some matches.”

For latest tournament information, live scores, group standings and more, visit

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Thiem Touches Down In Sydney For ATP Cup

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Thiem Touches Down In Sydney For ATP Cup

Austria competes in Group F

An upbeat Dominic Thiem landed on Monday in Sydney as he looks to guide Team Austria to a memorable run at the ATP Cup.

Austria will battle Croatia (led by Borna Coric), Argentina (led by Diego Schwartzman) and Poland (led by Hubert Hurkacz) in Group F. Thiem lost to Hurkacz in their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting this past March at the Miami Open presented by Itau, but holds winning records against Coric (3-1) and Schwartzman (5-2).

Thiem, No. 4 in the ATP Rankings, will hope to bring his inspired form from 2019 into the new year. He lifted five ATP Tour titles, including his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer), and finished runner-up at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal) and the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Tsitsipas).

Austria begins their campaign on Saturday against Croatia.

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Ruud: Why Nadal's Academy & 'Intensity' Inspire Him

  • Posted: Dec 31, 2019

Ruud: Why Nadal’s Academy & ‘Intensity’ Inspire Him

Norwegian kicks off 2020 season at the ATP Cup in Perth

A productive off-season in Mallorca that included practice sessions with Rafael Nadal has left Casper Ruud feeling confident that he can reach even greater heights in 2020.

The 21-year-old will start the new year by leading Team Norway in the inaugural ATP Cup. They’ll face Russia, Italy and United States in Group D action in Perth.

Ruud spent two weeks in December at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, his home base since September 2018. He’s quickly climbed up the ATP Rankings since moving to Spain and said the academy’s motivating environment has helped elevate his game.

“I always felt like I’ve played with good intensity in my game and I need it to play well, but I’ve gotten that extra 10 or 20 per cent from being there,” Ruud said. “That’s the small margin that can change whether you’re No. 10 [in the ATP Rankings] or No. 60. It’s not like they’ve changed my technique, but they’ve helped with all the strokes.

“It’s motivating to have Rafa there and even Toni [Nadal] coming to the practices and pushing you a bit more. You’re surrounded by very good players.”

The decision to uproot can be difficult for some, but Ruud saw training at Nadal’s academy as a clear opportunity to boost his game. His family also realised what the move to Mallorca could provide and offered to join him for support.

“I had split with my coach [in February 2018] and was training at home with my dad [former World No. 39 Christian Ruud]. It can be good, but I need to get out sometimes and train with other good players. They asked me if I wanted to try it out and Rafa is one of my biggest idols, so I didn’t see a point in saying no,” Ruud said. “My mother, younger sister and father came down. My sister also started full-time at the academy, playing every day and going to school there.”

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Ruud arrived in Mallorca 15 months ago with an ATP Ranking of No. 143, but currently sits at a career-high of No. 54. His 2019 highlights include reaching his maiden ATP Tour final in Houston (l. to Garin), beating Matteo Berrettini en route to a third-round showing at Roland Garros and qualifying for Milan.

The Norwegian believes he’s also benefitted from practising with Nadal and observing how the World No. 1 trains. The energy that the Spaniard brings to each practice has rubbed off on Ruud and added a new level of intensity to his game that could serve him well in Perth.

Casper Ruud

“If Rafa goes 100 per cent intensity in matches, he goes 120 per cent in a practice,” Ruud said. “He rips the ball so hard. He likes to play high-risk when he practises because it might be easier for him to slow down during a match if he needs to. That’s something which has been working for me as well. I’m trying to play a bit more loose during training, higher intensity, faster balls and working on things that you don’t dare to do in a match.

“When I practise with Rafa, he gets to push me around and I’m usually exhausted after a couple of hours. They’re tough sessions, but they’re great.”

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Goffin On Final Prep For ATP Cup: 'It's Something Big'

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2019

Goffin On Final Prep For ATP Cup: ‘It’s Something Big’

The Belgian No. 1 will face Moldovan No. 1 Albot on Friday

The start of the ATP Cup — and with it, the ATP Tour season — is just four days away, and players in Sydney are ramping up the intensity.

Several No. 1 players were practising on the grounds of the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre on Monday, fine-tuning their games in preparation for the start of the 24-country competition. 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin and former World No. 12 Borna Coric sparred on one court, with the likes of Bulgarian No. 1 and captain Grigor Dimitrov, Polish No. 1 Hubert Hurkacz and plenty of others hitting the courts in hot and humid conditions as well.

Goffin has long been excited for this new and innovative event, saying in October, “I’m very curious to see [it], that’s why I’m very excited. On paper it looks amazing. A great place, great stadiums, it looks really good. So I’m really excited to see and hopefully it will be a really nice event.”

The Belgian No. 1 is ecstatic not just to begin his season, but to try to make his country and teammates proud.

“For me it’s nice because you play another time for your country. It’s something that I like. I always love to represent Belgium and to play for friends, for the team, for Belgium,” Goffin said on Monday. “It’s great, and especially competition like that, a big one to start the year with a new format, it’s something big and we have a lot of great matches to start the season. I think it’s great.”

One of the highlights of the ATP Cup is that there are a maximum of 750 singles ATP Ranking points at stake and a maximum of 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points available.

“First of course you play for your country, and if at the end you have some ATP points, it’s great also for your [ATP] Ranking,” Goffin said. “So you will play every match and try to win every point, every game, to win some matches for your country.”

Belgium’s first match will be on Friday at 10am local time against Moldova. Goffin will face Moldovan No. 1 Radu Albot, against whom he owns a 3-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage.

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