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Venus/Klaasen Advance To Semi-finals In London

  • Posted: Nov 12, 2019

Venus/Klaasen Advance To Semi-finals In London

South African-Kiwi pair defeat Kubot/Melo on Tuesday

Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus became the first doubles team to reach the semi-finals at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals, earning their place on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo.

”Everything seems to be going great this week. We just keep trying to work hard and persevere together,” Venus said. “We’re just happy to be playing this well at the end of the year and especially in London. It’s such a special event… The atmosphere makes it awesome to play out here.”

The South African-Kiwi pair are 2-0 in Group Jonas Bjorkman after also scoring a straight-sets win on Sunday against Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury. They’re making their second team appearance at the season-ending championships and advanced out of round-robin action for the first time. Klaasen also finished runner-up at this event in 2016 with Rajeev Ram (l. to Kontinen/Peers).

”We’re really excited about how we played,” Klaasen said. “Mikey carried me out there today. We’re just happy to be through.”

Read More: Venus & Klaasen: A New Perspective

Klaasen/Venus take a 4-3 lead against Kubot/Melo in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry and have won their past three matches, including victories en route to their two ATP Tour titles this season in Halle and Washington.

Kubot/Melo drop to 1-1 this week, having beaten Ivan Dodig/Filip Polasek on Sunday. Their final round-robin match against Ram/Salisbury will determine the second team to advance out of Group Jonas Bjorkman.

Klaasen/Venus got off to a hot start and broke Kubot early, with Klaasen knocking off a forehand volley for a 3-1 lead in the first set. The South-African Kiwi pair only dropped four points on serve and didn’t offer Kubot/Melo a break point. A comfortable hold from Venus at 5-3 gave his team the early advantage after 32 minutes.

Both teams remained even in the second set until Venus stepped up by hitting the shot of the day at 4-4. With Melo serving on a deciding point, Venus responded to a Kubot smash by flicking a half-volley winner for the break. A big serve by Venus in the next game wrapped up play after 71 minutes.

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Dominika Cibulková retires from tennis at age of 30

  • Posted: Nov 12, 2019

Former world number four and Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulková has announced her retirement from tennis.

The 30-year-old won eight WTA titles – including the prestigious WTA Finals in 2016 – and in 2014 became the first Slovak to reach a Grand Slam final, losing to Li Na in Melbourne.

Her last match was a French Open first-round loss to Aryna Sabalenka in May.

“It was strange because I knew and no-one around me except my team knew it would be my last tournament,” she said.

“At that point, I was 100% sure. I wasn’t doubting or thinking ‘maybe yes or no.’ I knew I wanted to do it like this, for this to be my last tournament. I went home and was happy with my decision.”

Cibulková reached three Wimbledon quarter-finals, one US Open quarter-final and a French Open semi-final.

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Andy Murray starts to believe he can beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic again

  • Posted: Nov 12, 2019

Andy Murray believes he is closer to beating Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic than he was “seven or eight” weeks ago, leaving him feeling “excited” about his future.

Murray, 32, won the European Open title last month, only his seventh singles tournament since January’s hip surgery.

“I know if I played against the top players tomorrow there would be a very small chance of me winning that match,” the ex-world number one told BBC Sport.

“But I do feel I could win.”

  • Cake & new baby made Murray ‘heaviest’

Briton Murray feared he might have to retire after the hip resurfacing operation, but capped a remarkable return to singles action by beating fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in Antwerp to win his first title since March 2017.

“That’s one of the performance goals I want – when I go out on court against all of the players I want to feel like I have a chance of winning,” Murray said.

“Seven or eight weeks ago I wouldn’t have felt that was the case. Before Antwerp the conversations I was having with my team were ‘I’m not sure where I can get to’.

“If I continued along that path then I wouldn’t continue playing.

“It has been an up and down few years but I feel like I’m coming through the other side of it and excited to see what I can do over the next couple of years.

“It’s difficult to say exactly where I am. I’m not where I was when I was 25 but I don’t expect to be and I don’t need to be [in order] to be competitive at the highest level and that’s why I’m excited.

“I’m not going to set a target of top 10 or trying to make the semis of a Grand Slam because I’ve done all of that before and I don’t need that.

“I’m happy just being pain free, healthy and love what I’m doing.”

Murray on his doubts and almost not playing in Antwerp

After a successful doubles comeback where he won the Queen’s title, the two-time Wimbledon champion lost the opening two singles matches of his return and then continued his comeback out of the spotlight on the ATP Challenger Tour in Majorca while the world’s leading players were competing at the US Open.

Two straightforward wins on the Spanish island were followed by another defeat, this time by 240th-ranked Italian Matteo Viola, before he started to show signs of improvement on the Asian circuit, including a win over US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in Beijing.

“I watched videos of myself in Majorca and I looked a bit slow and I didn’t really like what I was seeing when I was watching myself,” added Murray, who has risen to 125th in the world rankings.

“From the beginning of the trip to Asia when I played the first tournament there, after the first day of practice, I was saying to my team ‘I’m not feeling this’.

“But once I started playing matches again I started to move a little bit better and stopped thinking about my hip during the matches. That was quite a big step for me to take.

“I almost didn’t go to Antwerp, I had a problem with my elbow which I had in Shanghai and I left Sunday afternoon on the train there and I didn’t know if I was going to play.

“Obviously, I’m thankful I did and ended up getting the title. It was completely unexpected.”

Murray on his return to Australia

After spending a few weeks at home in London following the arrival of his third child, Murray goes to Madrid on Wednesday to link up with the Great Britain squad for the inaugural Davis Cup week-long finals.

Then he will continue to build his fitness during the off-season before returning to the ATP Tour at the start of the 2020 season in Australia.

Murray has used a protected injury ranking to ensure his nation can play in the new ATP Cup, where he had been set to face Swiss great Federer in the group stage.

However, the 20-time Grand Slam champion pulled out of the tournament and Murray says it is “unfortunate” their meeting will not happen.

Murray hopes it will not be too long before he gets the chance to test himself against Federer, plus the other ‘big three’ players Djokovic and Nadal who are among the world’s top eight playing at the ATP Finals in London this week.

That could happen when he hopes to return to Melbourne, 12 months after Australian Open organisers played a farewell video following his first-round defeat by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

“I genuinely did feel there was more chance of that being the last time I played in Australia than the position I’m in now,” said Murray, who was speaking to the BBC at the launch of his new clothing range with sportswear brand Castore.

“I’m very lucky I get that chance again in January if I stay fit in the next couple of months and it’ll be fun to see what I can do.”

Murray on the arrival of his third child

Murray’s wife Kim gave birth to their third child at the end of October, a boy named Teddy to join their two daughters, Sophia, who was born in 2016, and Edie, born in 2017.

“It’s been good so far, a bit hectic at times but for the most part it has been good. It has been nice to be at home for the last few weeks,” Murray said.

“Before our first daughter was born I wanted a boy and was convinced it was going to be a boy first time round and then we had two girls.

“I would have been more than happy with another girl as well, but it is nice and the kids have been excited to have a brother.”

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Federer Up & Running In London

  • Posted: Nov 12, 2019

Federer Up & Running In London

Swiss defeats Berrettini on Tuesday Group Bjorn Borg

Roger Federer declared that he’s “not allowed to lose anymore” after dropping his opening match to Dominic Thiem at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Swiss stuck to his rule on Tuesday, prevailing 7-6(2), 6-3 against Italian Matteo Berrettini in Group Bjorn Borg.

”It’s unusual to lose and then come back to play again, but I did it last year, so I have some experience,” Federer joked. “I’m very happy with how I played today. Matteo was always going to be difficult with his big serve… I was pretty clean in my own service games and I think that helped today. I hope I can keep it up and maybe even play a bit better in the next match.”

The 38-year-old Federer improved to 2-0 against Berrettini their FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting rivalry, including a straight-sets victory this year at Wimbledon. The Swiss has more match wins (58) and titles (6) than any player in tournament history. Federer, who fell to Dominic Thiem on Sunday, is 17-0 lifetime in his second round-robin match at this event.

”There’s no reason to be too down [after losing to Thiem]. We came here to play three matches and give it all we have. It was the big goal of the season to qualify here, which we did,” Federer said. “I had a day off and there’s plenty of ways to get rid of that loss. Hanging out with my kids will do that for me. I was ready and prepared today. That’s what matters the most right now.”

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Federer: ‘I’m Not Allowed To Lose Anymore’


The match result also impacts Dominic Thiem’s chances at advancing out of round-robin action. He’ll qualify for the semi-finals if he defeats Novak Djokovic in Tuesday’s night session. Thiem is bidding to become the first Austrian semi-finalist at the year-end championships since the event added semi-finals and finals in 1972.

Berrettini, who lost to Djokovic on Sunday, is still looking to become the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending championships.

Federer earned the lone break point of the set at 6-5, but Berrettini erased it with a forehand winner. The Swiss drew first blood in the tie-break and earned a 2/1 mini-break advantage after Berrettini overcooked a forehand. Federer raced through the final three points of the set to grab the early lead after 42 minutes. The six-time champion is 21-7 in tie-breaks this season. 

He continued to ride the momentum and broke the Italian to love in the opening game of the second set. Berrettini had a chance to level the match with Federer serving 4-3, but couldn’t convert three break points. A slice forehand from Berrettini found the net in the next game and wrapped up play after 78 minutes.

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Britain's Salisbury keeps alive semi-finals hopes

  • Posted: Nov 12, 2019
2019 Nitto ATP Finals
Venue: O2 Arena, London Dates: 10-17 November
Coverage: Watch live coverage of one match per day on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.

Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram kept alive their men’s doubles semi-final hopes with victory over Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek at the ATP Tour Finals.

The fourth seeds won 3-6 6-3 10-6 after losing Sunday’s opener to Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot in London.

Salisbury, playing at the ATP Finals for the first time, said: “We needed to win to stay in it.”

He is the only Briton competing at the season-ending event at the O2 Arena.

“I think we will have to win the next one as well, but we’re feeling better. The crowd’s support was incredible,” Salisbury, 27, added.

The top two pairs in both of the two groups after the round-robin stage progress to the semi-finals on Saturday.

In the singles event, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is in action against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini before Novak Djokovic takes on Dominic Thiem later on Tuesday.

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Hawkeye Analysis: How Zverev Earned His First Win Against Nadal

  • Posted: Nov 12, 2019

Hawkeye Analysis: How Zverev Earned His First Win Against Nadal

Learn which part of the 2018 champ’s game proved key against the Spaniard

Alexander Zverev walked on court Monday at the Nitto ATP Finals in London having never defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in five previous tries. But the German believed in his own game, and executed flawlessly in a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

“When I play this aggressive tennis, when I play this way, I have now beaten all three guys on this court, [the] Big Three,” Zverev said. “It shows that I can play very well and beat the top players.”

In a way, Zverev beat Nadal at his own game. Entering this tournament, Nadal led the ATP Tour by a substantial margin in first-serve return points won. The Spaniard had won 35.7 per cent of those points, with his nearest rival in that category, Novak Djokovic, at 33.9 per cent.

But on Monday, the lefty managed to win just 12 per cent of his first-serve return points against Zverev, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion. In their five previous meetings, Zverev had never won more than 71 per cent of his first-serve points.

According to Hawkeye, Zverev won 88 per cent of his first-serve points against the 84-time tour-level champion by peppering Nadal’s backhand.

That was especially the case on the ad side, where the German directed all but two of his first serves to Nadal’s backhand. The top seed managed to put only 44 per cent of his first-serve returns in play. 

Zverev First-Serve Placement vs. NadalZverev First-Serve Placement

“He served huge. Very, very fast,” Nadal said. “[It was] difficult to read [his] first [and] second [serves], no doubt about that, about how good he is and how good he is able to serve.”

Zverev averaged 136 mph on his first delivery, 18 mph faster than Nadal. Even with that discrepancy, Zverev landed 69 per cent of his first serves compared to 62 per cent for Nadal, striking 11 aces.

With that high first-serve percentage, Zverev was able to play eight fewer second-serve points than his opponent. But when he did have to hit a second serve, he held his own, winning a higher rate of second-serve points (47%) than Nadal (43%). Zverev mostly targeted Nadal’s backhand in the deuce court and body in the ad court.

Zverev Second-Serve Placement vs. NadalZverev Second-Serve Placement

From the baseline, Zverev attacked the 33-year-old’s backhand. He hit a majority of his shots to that wing (54%).

Zverev went after Nadal’s backhand the most with his forehand, doing so 62 per cent of the time. With his backhand, the 22-year-old hit to both Nadal’s forehand and backhand at a rate of 38 per cent.

Zverev Shot Placement vs. NadalZverev Shot Placement

Nadal took the opposite strategy, focussing on Zverev’s forehand, much like Stefanos Tsitsipas did against Daniil Medvedev earlier in the day.

Nadal Shot Placement vs. ZverevNadal Shot Placement

Even with Zverev’s dominant serving, Nadal tried to push forward. He hit 82 per cent of his shots either within two metres of the baseline or inside the court. Zverev struck only 60 per cent of his shots within those parametres.

But Nadal’s aggression did not pay dividends. The Spaniard made 24 unforced errors to Zverev’s 19, and hit eight fewer winners (8) than the German (17).

Nadal Rally Contact Point vs. ZverevNadal Rally Contact

Zverev Rally Contact Point vs. NadalZverev Rally Contact

“Obviously when I’m here, I want to use the opportunity as much as I can and do the best as I can,” Zverev said. “Today was definitely a great match, and I’m super happy to kind of have this match the first day that I play.”

– Hawkeye data and visuals courtesy of ATP Media

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