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Sinner First To Make Milan SF

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Sinner First To Make Milan SF

Italian looking sharp in Group B

Jannik Sinner wasted no time getting down to business on Wednesday at the Next Gen ATP Finals, delighting the home crowd in Milan with a dominant 4-0, 4-2, 4-1 win over Swede Mikael Ymer to reach the semi-finals.

The Italian wild card is the first player to advance out of round-robin play this week. Sinner recorded the most one-sided victory in tournament history with his three games dropped against Ymer. The 56-minute match was also the second-fastest in tournament history, just one minute shy of Alex de Minaur’s win last year over Liam Caruana.

“I felt well on court today,” Sinner said. “It was a perfect start and I was serving well. I tried to push the ball immediately. I’m very happy.

“I’m just trying my best. The younger guys in Italy are all improving a lot, so hopefully I’m giving them a little bit of inspiration.”

Read More: Sinner’s Rapid Rise From Watching To Playing In Milan

The 18-year-old opened the year at No. 551 in the ATP Rankings, but he is now the youngest player inside the Top 100. His highlights include a maiden ATP Tour semi-final in Antwerp, first ATP Masters 1000 main draw win in at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and a pair of ATP Challenger Tour titles.

Read More: Sinner: ‘The Young Generation Is Growing’

The first set was one-way traffic for Sinner as he dropped just four points to grab the early lead after 13 minutes. Ymer did his best to stay in the rallies throughout the second set, but found himself unable to control the power coming from the Italian’s forehand. Sinner won three of the four games that went to a deciding point, including on Ymer’s serve at 2-3 to grab a commanding two-sets lead.

The Swede tried to match Sinner’s aggression in the baseline exchanges, but was limited to four winners on the night. The Italian’s only blip of the evening was failing to convert a match point at 3-0, but he comfortably held in the next game to remain undefeated this week.

Ymer dropped to 1-1 in Group B. He must win his match on Thursday with second-seeded American Frances Tiafoe in order to reach the semi-finals.

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Tiafoe On The Board In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Tiafoe On The Board In Milan

American wins the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting

Frances Tiafoe’s reaction after clinching match point on Wednesday at the Next Gen ATP Finals made it clear that he wants to extend his time in Milan. The second-seeded American fell to the ground in delight after getting on the board this week with a 4-2, 4-3(5), 3-4(4), 4-1 victory over Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

Tiafoe moved to 1-1 in Group B, while Humbert fell to 0-2. The American enjoyed some of the biggest results of his career this season, reaching his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open and his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

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De Minaur Powers Past Kecmanovic In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

De Minaur Powers Past Kecmanovic In Milan

Aussie remains unbeaten in Group A

Top-seeded Aussie Alex de Minaur produced a statement win on Wednesday at the Next Gen ATP Finals, holding off Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 4-1, 4-3(4) 1-4, 4-0 in the second match of the day in Milan.

“This is what you expect in these conditions. A match can turn quickly. I didn’t play badly, [but] he just played well in the important moments,” De Minaur said. “I just had to regroup and stick to my game.”

De Minaur now holds the lead in Group A with a 2-0 record, while Kecmanovic drops to 1-1. The top seed next plays Norwegian Casper Ruud as he looks to go undefeated in round-robin play for the second year in a row at this event.

“[Casper] played a hell of a match today and it’s going to be incredibly tough, but this is what we’re here for,” De Minaur said. “Everyone is playing at a high level, so I have to be ready for it.”

Read More: De Minaur Ready To Rumble In Milan

Kecmanovic started off slowly while De Minaur came out firing from the first point. The top seed broke in the opening game by winning a lengthy baseline exchange and secured another break to wrap up the opening set.

The Serbian used the in-match coaching option before the second set and came out with a new game plan, playing closer to the lines and attempting to shorten the points. The strategy worked as he applied pressure and broke De Minaur at 1-1. But with Kecmanovic serving for the set at 3-2, the Aussie stepped up and ripped a forehand winner in the deciding point to force a tie-break. De Minaur rode that momentum and dominated the tie-break for a commanding advantage.

Kecmanovic stuck to his tactics and was finally rewarded in the third set. A brave net approach from the Serbian yielded a backhand volley winner and a break at 2-1. He then comfortably held in the next game to close the gap.

De Minaur was unfazed, though. He regrouped and went on to produce his best tennis of the week, dropping just five points in the last set to prevail in one hour and 25 minutes. The top seed hit more than double the number of winners (23) to unforced errors (11).

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Novak Djokovic: Eye On The Prize In London

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Novak Djokovic: Eye On The Prize In London

Djokovic is attempting to equal Federer’s record of six titles at the Nitto ATP Finals

Above all Novak Djokovic’s other qualities as a tennis player, even above his flexibility and movement, is his remarkable resilience. Just four months ago in London, on Centre Court at Wimbledon, there was the greatest reminder yet of how you should never count out the Serbian with the indomitable fighting spirit.

Contesting an enthralling final against Roger Federer, he stood on the very brink of defeat, facing two championship points on his opponent’s serve at 7-8 in the fifth and deciding set. Forty-five minutes later, he became the 2019 All England Club gentlemen’s singles champion. That was not the first time that Djokovic had triumphed from such a precarious position. Two years running at the US Open, in the 2010 and 2011 semi-finals, he defeated Federer after facing two match points.

Yet there was still a sense of astonishment that he had escaped defeat in what would be the longest Wimbledon singles final in history, lasting four hours and 57 minutes.

In Djokovic’s analysis, it was probably the most mentally demanding match of his life. “I had the most physically demanding match against [Rafael] Nadal in the final of the Australian Open [in 2012] that went almost six hours,” said Djokovic. “But mentally this was a different level, because of everything.”

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Remember that it was only 17 months ago that Djokovic had seemingly lost all motivation, stating in the immediate aftermath of a shock Roland Garros quarter-final defeat by Marco Cecchinato, of Italy, that he was unsure whether he would compete at all during the grass-court season. In that moment, some observers understandably questioned the prospect of him ever adding to his tally of Grand Slam titles, which then stood at a dozen.

What a contrast, then, to his demeanour at the start of this season. After returning to form in the second half of last year – winning the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati to become the first man in history to complete the Career Golden Masters, and also landing the Wimbledon and US Open titles – he arrived in Melbourne in January as a man on a mission. He didn’t just want to win a record seventh Australian Open title; he also planned on doing so in style. And he did just that, defeating Lucas Pouille, of France, for the loss of only four games in a brutally one-sided semi-final, and then beating Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in a little over two hours.

Whether it be rising from the doldrums last year or battling back from match points down, Djokovic has repeatedly shown his resilience. Naturally, there was disappointment at falling short of a second non-calendar year Grand Slam at Roland Garros in June, losing to Austrian Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals. But again, he quickly dusted himself off for an unforgettable triumph five weeks later at Wimbledon.

Djokovic, Federer, trophy ceremony

The cross-court forehand pass that Djokovic hit to save a second championship point against Federer will live long in the memory. The mental strength to do that and then prevail in the first ever deciding tie-break at 12-12 comes from hours of visualisation and meditation. “We spoke about the power of visualisation and preparing yourself for possible scenarios. I try to play the match in my mind before I go on the court. I probably could not play this kind of scenario, but I always try to imagine myself as a winner. I think there is a power to that,” said Djokovic.

“Also, there has to be, next to the willpower, strength that comes not just from your physical self, but from your mental and emotional self. For me, at least, it’s a constant battle within, more than what happens outside. It’s really not the situations that you experience that are affecting you, but how you internally experience those situations, how you accept them, how you live through them.”

Physically, Djokovic’s game is built around his movement, forged through skiing as a youngster at the mountain resort where his parents owned a pizzeria. At the age of 32, he still covers ground so well, putting up an impenetrable wall at the back of the court. He makes full use of his incredible flexibility by stretching every sinew and occasionally sliding into the splits to return the ball.

“My movement is the base of everything. It allows me to actually swing through my shots to get some balls that maybe most of the other players cannot get to. I slide a lot, whether it’s clay, hard court, or grass. I think the flexibility of my ankles has helped with that aggressive style of movement,” said Djokovic.

“I credit my childhood spent on the skis as well. I used to spend a lot of time skiing. I think that had an effect with coordination and the change of movement from one side to another. Even though they are different sports, you are using some major muscle groups and joints and stuff like this in most of the sports. So, I think movement is the most important thing because it just allows you to be more in balance. At the end of the day, that is what you’re looking for as a tennis player. How you can have the right balance to hit the ball with the right speed, accuracy and precision.”

At this stage in his career, the prospect of making history is the biggest motivational factor for Djokovic, and he still has much to play for, including the opportunity this week to equal Federer’s record of six titles at the Nitto ATP Finals. In late September, he passed Ivan Lendl’s total of 270 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, moving into third place behind Federer (310) and Pete Sampras (286). On 16 Grand Slam singles titles, he is four short of Federer and three behind Nadal.

Tennis players used to retire in their early 30s, but the longevity of Federer and Nadal has encouraged Djokovic to continue competing at the highest level. There is most likely much more to come in his quest to become the greatest player of all time. “We’re making each other grow and evolve and still be in this game,” Djokovic said. “Those two guys are probably one of the biggest reasons I still compete at this level. The fact that they made history in this sport motivates me as well, inspires me to try to do what they have done, what they’ve achieved, and even more.”

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Coaches' Corner: Christian Ruud

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Coaches’ Corner: Christian Ruud

Former World No. 39 coaches son Casper full-time on ATP Tour

When Casper Ruud sought advice growing up on how to pursue his dreams of being a professional tennis player, he needed to only walk down the stairs of his house.

The #NextGenATP star’s coach is his father, Christian Ruud. Christian is a former ATP Tour player who remains the only Norwegian to crack the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings, peaking at No. 39 in October 1995. spoke with him during his son’s maiden appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

How would you assess Casper’s season overall?
I think he had a bit of a slow start to the season. He was almost training too much in the off-season. We were training for a lot of hours at the Rafa Nadal Academy [in Mallorca] and it paid off in the end, but it was a little bit hard to get going.

He’s been much more consistent this year. His lowest level has gone up, so he can still beat good players when he’s not playing his best. His top level has also gone up, and he’s had many good wins this year. He’s just improved his game overall.

Casper talked about how missing his first chance to be in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings [at 2017 Rio de Janeiro] impacted him mentally. As a former player, how did you guide him during those difficult moments?
It was tough that year because he played a few matches for a Top 100 spot and that’s your first ultimate goal as a tennis player. I tried to put it to him in a different way. Maybe you got a little but lucky in Rio, maybe the draw opened up in your favour. He could have played Dominic Thiem in the first round and gotten zero [ATP Rankings] points.

Don’t misunderstand, he played great. But he was not yet at the level to play that way week in and week out. He had to go back to the ATP Challenger Tour and it’s still not easy to win there. But he had a decent season last year, coming back strong after falling outside of the Top 200 and almost finishing inside the Top 100. Now he’s well inside the Top 100. It’s been a good ride, so we have to be happy with this season.

From your experience on Tour, what are the things you wish you knew that you’re trying to pass on to him now?
When I was playing, it was a bit more separate. You had clay-court guys and then guys who were good on faster courts. But now, you have to be good on every surface. Casper has gotten most of his [ATP Rankings] points on clay this year, and we did that so he had the best chance of breaking into the Top 100, but now he has to improve on the faster surfaces.

I think he’s a good hard-court player. He made his first [tour-level] quarter-final two months ago in St. Petersburg. He’s taking small steps in all the right departments. It’s all about training the right way, having a good schedule and listening to the body so he can hopefully play for many more seasons.

Is it ever difficult to separate the roles of being a parent and being a coach?
Maybe when he’s younger, but now he’s a grown-up. I feel more like a coach and also a friend now because we travel and go out to dinners together. It’s not like I’m babysitting him.

We have a good relationship. He respects that I was a player on Tour and respects me as a coach. He was the one [who] wanted me to be his coach when his other coach quit 18 months ago. I’m just trying to help him be a good player and a good person.

How has it been adapting to the unique format of this tournament?
It’s been fun because every point is so exciting and one set can go so quickly. One break of serve and the set can almost be over. He’s aware that a few points can separate the difference between winning and losing. You have to take your chances and be focussed on the big points. Hopefully he can achieve that during the week.

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#NextGenATP Ymer: Why Edberg Is 'The Coolest'

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

#NextGenATP Ymer: Why Edberg Is ‘The Coolest’

21-year-old Swede making his debut in Milan

#NextGenATP Swede Mikael Ymer wasn’t born when countryman Stefan Edberg concluded his legendary career in 1996, but the ATP Tour legend has kept a close watch on the rising star.

Ymer, speaking after his win on Tuesday against Norwegian Casper Ruud at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, said there’s a possibility the pair may work together during the preseason. Although nothing has been confirmed, Edberg, a former World No. 1, extended the offer last month at the Intrum Stockholm Open.

“We have talked about it before. We just never had the chance to make it happen,” Ymer said. “He’s one of my biggest idols. I said that I would love to come [train] in the preseason if we both have the time. He said [I’m] welcome any time. I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m going to give him a call very soon.”

Read More: Ymer Maintains Top Form In Milan

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a breakout year that’s included four ATP Challenger Tour titles and leaping more than 180 spots in the ATP Rankings to his current standing of No. 74. But Ymer said he needed to strengthen his offence as he prepares to become a regular staple in ATP Tour events next season. He’s hopeful that Edberg can provide guidance because “there’s no one else to learn volleys as good as you can from Stefan,” he said.

Edberg has been aware of Ymer’s talent for years and invited him to his club in Växjö to play an exhibition match as a child. The six-time Grand Slam champion has continued to follow his progress and offer encouragement, along with other legends of Swedish tennis, such as Bjorn Borg.

“I haven’t really had a chance to speak to a lot of the other [former Swedish players]. I would love to. But out of all the athletes that I’ve met, Stefan is the best, the coolest,” Ymer said. “The way he carries himself and how humble he is after being one of the biggest legends is inspiring for me. He treats everyone the same, and he’s always been so nice not only to me, but to my family.

“[Their support] is inspiring, and it gives me energy. Instead of feeling pressure, I’m more like, if they can make it out of Sweden, [I] can too. I know it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of sacrifices.”

Read More: Ymer: ‘I’m Not Only Playing For Me’

Although Sweden has produced plenty of players who have reached the upper echelons of the ATP Rankings, Ymer is the first Swede to crack the Top 100 since Robin Soderling in 2011. The country is eager for another champion and journalists regularly ask Ymer if he can become the next Edberg or Borg.

But Ymer is running his own race. He prefers a modest and practical approach, focussing on recording more tour-level wins next season and building his game for a long career. If his rapid rise this year is any indication, it’s a goal he’s capable of achieving.

“It’s great for tennis that we’ve had legends. But let’s try to do our best without comparing because I think it would be very, very silly, and it’s looking too far ahead,” Ymer said. “[Champions] don’t grow on trees. To do what they have done is just something to dream about.

“I just see it as, let me learn and let me do my best. If I can get even 10 per cent of what they have achieved, I would be happy. I will keep striving to do my best.”

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Matteo Berrettini: Italian Power Over Style

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Matteo Berrettini: Italian Power Over Style

The Italian, who started the year outside the Top 50 in the ATP Rankings, has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Matteo Berrettini had just turned 23 when he pitched up in Budapest in late April to contest the Hungarian Open. He would win his second ATP Tour title that week – adding to his first in the Swiss mountain resort of Gstaad the previous summer – and his career has since had a dazzling momentum.

A successful clay-court season paved the way for more triumph on the grass, where he won the Stuttgart tournament and then reached the fourth round of Wimbledon, where he was stopped by Roger Federer. A first Grand Slam semi-final materialised on the hard courts of the US Open, where only Rafael Nadal could stop him. And then late last month, as a reward for his run to the last four at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai, and also for making the semi-finals of the tournament in Vienna, he became a Top 10 player in the ATP Rankings for the first time.

What first strikes you about Berrettini is his physical presence. Six feet five inches tall and powerfully built, he would not have looked out of place playing for the Azzurri in the recent Rugby World Cup. His serve and forehand are his most formidable weapons, but he seems increasingly comfortable at the net, and developed a handy slice when forced to play nothing else due to a wrist injury at the age of 17.

Berrettini’s parents are both club players, and so tennis has been a part of his life since he can remember. His parents may have been the first to thrust a racquet into his hands, but he also owes a debt of gratitude to his younger brother Jacopo. “When I was seven or eight, I wasn’t playing, and my brother told me, ‘Come to play – you’re going to enjoy.’ I was, like, ‘Hmm, I’m not sure.’ Then I went, and I never stopped. I started like this.”

Jacopo, who plays on the ATP Challenger and ITF World Tours, is two and a half years Matteo’s junior. So he cannot have been much more than five when he successfully negotiated himself a practice partner, and changed the direction of his brother’s life.

As a junior, at the elite level, Berrettini never excelled: his highest ranking was just 52. But there was a bigger picture taking shape, as Vincenzo Santopadre, a former Top 100 player who has been coaching Berrettini since the age of 13, told The New York Times. The teenage Berrettini, who always had a significant height advantage over his peers, did not practise or travel to tournaments as frequently as many others. Instead, Berrettini was encouraged to devote time to family, friends and schoolwork. Santopadre did not think Berrettini was either physically or mentally ready for any more at that time and was trying to build a player and a man who could thrive in the world of professional sport.

Slowly but surely, the mission has been accomplished. Berrettini was 21 years old when he made his main draw debut on the ATP Tour. Playing on clay in Rome, he lost as a wild card to Fabio Fognini in the first round of the 2017 Italian Open. He did not win a match on the ATP Tour until January of last year. And yet in 2019 he has been able to accumulate sufficient wins to earn himself a place in this exclusive eight-man field for the Nitto ATP Finals. Along the way he has faced both of his idols, on two of the most famous tennis arenas in the world. First in July, on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, he thanked Federer for the lesson – and enquired how much he owed him – after going down in just 74 minutes in the fourth round. And then in September, inside the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, Berrettini took on Nadal for a place in the US Open final.

Berrettini was the first Italian man to reach the last four in New York for 42 years. He had made sure of that by beating Gael Monfils in the fifth set tie-break of a gripping quarter-final.

Berrettini, regularly serving at over 130 miles per hour under the roof, and with the peak of his white baseball cap pointing down the back of his net, had two set points in the opening tie-break against Nadal. Nadal ultimately prevailed in straight sets, in front of more than 20,000 people, but Berrettini had come of age. It was some effort by a man who, because of an ankle injury, had only been able to play one match in the six weeks between Wimbledon and the US Open.

Berrettini grew up predominantly on clay but has shown this year how he can also play on hard and grass courts. “I was saying before [the US Open that my favourite surfaces are] clay and grass. Before the grass season, I was saying clay. Right now I can say all those surfaces. I think this kind of trip started long time ago, four years ago, with my coach. I used to play a lot on clay. I used to practise on clay. But my coach said, ‘Okay, we have to improve on faster surfaces.’

“So I played a lot of [tournaments] in 2015. I played 70 per cent of the matches on hard courts. I did an investment for my career. Of course, my weapons are good for hard courts, but it’s not that easy, especially because I’m tall. I like to play when I have time. I think that’s the biggest work that I did during these years.”

Whatever happens here on this hard court, you sense Berrettini will continue to enjoy his tennis. That has been his intention from the word go. “I said, this is going to be my passion,” he has disclosed. “I am loving this sport. I’m trying to enjoy every practice, even if it’s bad. For sure you have to enjoy what you’re doing.”

The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals will be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Buy Your Tickets

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Pressure, What Pressure? Dominic Thiem Is ‘Mr. Clutch’

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Pressure, What Pressure? Dominic Thiem Is ‘Mr. Clutch’

Austrian has won 14 of 16 deciding sets played during the past 52 weeks

Dominic Thiem is bringing a secret weapon to next week’s Nitto ATP Finals – massive confidence down the stretch.

An Infosys ATP Insights analysis reveals that Thiem places second on the Infosys ATP Under Pressure Leaderboard for the past 52 weeks, trailing only World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. Underpinning Thiem’s success in this list is an eye-popping win percentage of 87.5 per cent in deciding sets.

View the Infosys ATP Under Pressure Leaderboard

During the past 52 weeks, when the match has gone to a decider, Thiem has found another gear to power himself to the finish line first. He has won an astonishing 14 of 16 deciding sets during this time.

Thiem’s recent form in deciding sets has been picture perfect. In his past four tournaments, he has taken two titles (China Open / Erste Bank Open) and has won all six matches he has played that have gone to a deciding third set. Those six matches:

China Open SF: d. No. 9 K. Khachanov 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5
China Open Final: d. No. 7 S. Tsitsipas 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
Erste Bank Open Round of 16: d. No. 40 F. Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Erste Bank Open SF: d. No. 11 M. Berrettini 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
Erste Bank Open Final: d. No. 15 Diego Schwartzman 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Rolex Paris Masters Round of 32: d. No. 32 M. Raonic 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4

What’s even more impressive is that Thiem dropped the opening set in five of those six encounters and came back to win the match. Thiem has won a career-high five titles in 2019, and has won a combined seven three-set matches in those events.

Earlier this season, Thiem captured the biggest title of his career in winning the Indian Wells ATP Masters 1000. He had to overcome Raonic in three sets (7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-4) to win the semi-final and backed it up with a thrilling three-set victory (3-6, 6-3, 7-5) against Roger Federer in the BNP Paribas Open final.

Thiem’s form in this area has been up and down in the past few seasons. He was right at 87.5 per cent deciding sets won in 2016 (same as 2019 to date) and finished 11th last year in this specific category, winning 70 per cent.

Dominic Thiem – Deciding Sets Won (since taking his first ATP title in 2015)
2015 = 52.6% (No. 43)
2016 = 87.5% (No. 5)
2017 = 36.8% (No. 75)
2018 = 70% (No. 11)
2019 (to date) = 87.5% (No. 2)

Confidence comes to players in a variety of ways. Thiem’s recent purple patch of physical and mental fortitude in deciding sets is an “X Factor” he is bringing to this year’s Nitto ATP Finals.

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Ruud Survives In Five

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Ruud Survives In Five

Norwegian picks up first win in Milan

Casper Ruud used all of his mental toughness to pick up his maiden win at the Next Gen ATP Finals on Wednesday, weathering several momentum shifts in his match with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to prevail 3-4(2), 4-3(2), 4-2, 3-4(2), 4-1.

“It was a lot of ups and downs and also the first five-set match that I’ve won,” Ruud said. “It can only be a couple of points from winning or losing. [Davidovich Fokina] is a really strong fighter and it was a very good match.”

Their clash at the Allianz Cloud featured several milestone moments. The Norwegian’s victory is the first five-setter of this year’s event and had more games (32) than any match in tournament history. Ruud also utilised the first-ever video review in the opening game of the match.

Ruud has enjoyed a breakout season that has seen him climb more than 50 spots in the ATP Rankings, recording his first ATP Tour final in Houston (l. to Garin) alongside a pair of semi-finals in Sao Paulo and Kitzbühel. He moves to 1-1 in Group A, while Davidovich Fokina drops to 0-2.

Read More: Coaches’ Corner: Christian Ruud

The Norwegian’s historic video review took place at 30-30 in the opening game. The umpire stopped the point and declared that Ruud’s lob touched the bottom of the jumbo screen. Ruud challenged the call, but the review showed that the call was correct.

Both players traded a pair of service holds to begin the opening set. Davidovich Fokina came alive in the tie-break, ripping a forehand return winner on the first point and following it up with a backhand winner at 3/1 for a double mini-break advantage. He closed out the set after Ruud sent a forehand wide.

Little separated Ruud and Davidovich Fokina in the second set and they went to another tie-break. But the Spaniard’s flashy shotmaking ultimately betrayed him as he hit a wild forehand error and missed a pair of volleys to allow the Norwegian to level the match.

With Davidovich Fokina serving at 0-1, 0/15, he fell attempting to hit a forehand and his right knee buckled as he collapsed to the ground in pain. He soldiered on after a lengthy medical timeout, but his movement appeared restricted and Ruud coasted through the remainder of the set.

Read More: Ruud: ‘This Is The Week We’ve All Been Waiting For’

The Spaniard’s movement, however, improved dramatically in the fourth set. He stayed with Ruud in the baseline exchanges and earned a break at 1-1, roaring in delight as he motioned for the crowd to get out of their seats. Davidovich Fokina couldn’t convert a set point at 3-2 and pushed a backhand volley long, but regrouped in the tie-break. Any questions about the state of his knee were answered after he leapt into a forehand winner on set point at 6/2.

But the dramatics of the match finally caught up with Davidovich Fokina, and he appeared to tire in the closing stages. Ruud, who had remained calm throughout the clash, still had plenty of energy. The Norwegian raced through the deciding set and a backhand error from Davidovich Fokina wrapped up play after two hours and 17 minutes. Ruud finished with 28 winners to 19 errors.

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How to follow the ATP Finals live on BBC TV, radio & online

  • Posted: Nov 06, 2019
ATP Finals
Venue: O2 Arena, London Dates: 10-17 November
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC Sport website and mobile app; follow radio and live text commentary online on selected matches

Follow live BBC Sport coverage of the ATP Finals from 10 to 17 November at the O2 Arena in London.

The best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams from the men’s tour go head to head for the prestigious titles.

Each player or team competes in three group matches, with the top two from each group going through to the semi-finals.

The defending singles champion is Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

ATP Finals round-robin groups
Andre Agassi Group Bjorn Borg Group
Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev Roger Federer
Stefanos Tsitsipas Dominic Thiem
Alexander Zverev Matteo Berrettini

BBC TV and radio coverage details

All times GMT and subject to changes.

Group stages

Sunday, 10 November

13:50-17:15, BBC Two (Novak Djokovic v Matteo Berrettini)

19:30-21:45, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra (Roger Federer v Dominic Thiem)

Monday, 11 November

14:00-16:45, BBC Two (Daniil Medvedev v Stefanos Tsitsipas)

19:30-21:45, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra (Rafael Nadal v Alexander Zverev)

Tuesday, 12 November

14:00-16:45, BBC Two (TBC)

19:30-23:00, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (TBC)

Wednesday, 13 November

14:00-16:45, BBC Two (TBC)

19:30-23:00, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (TBC)

Thursday, 14 November

14:00-16:45, BBC Two (TBC)

19:30-21:45, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (TBC)

Friday, 15 November

14:00-16:45, BBC Two (TBC)

19:30-21:45, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (TBC)

Saturday, 16 November


14:00-16:30, BBC Two (TBC)

Sunday, 17 November


18:00-21:00, BBC Two (TBC)

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National and regional variations

National and regional variations have been included in this list where possible. Please check your local listings for more detailed information.


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