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Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Del Potro Set For 2020 Australian Open

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Del Potro Set For 2020 Australian Open

Del Potro set to make return in Melbourne

The world’s top players will return to Melbourne Park in January, led Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Serbian Novak Djokovic, who will be going for a record-extending eighth Australian Open title.

The top two seeds will be joined by [3] Roger Federer (SUI), [4] Dominic Thiem (AUT), [5] Daniil Medvedev (RUS), [6] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE), [7] Alexander Zverev (GER), [8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA), [9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) and [10] Gael Monfils (FRA), rounding out an enthralling mixture of new generation contenders and experienced Grand Slam champions in the Top 10.

Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) returns on a protected ranking of No. 22, following a six-month injury break. Del Potro last competed in June at the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club in London, where he fractured his right patella for the second time in nine months.

A total of 104 players receive direct entry into the men’s and women’s singles main draw and a further eight are awarded wild cards, while 16 places will be settled at the qualifying rounds from 8-11 January 2020.

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Hewitt, Gaudio, Dimitrov Join Former Greats To Captain ATP Cup Teams

We are delighted to welcome this extremely strong player field to Melbourne in what promises to be a once in a generation event,” said tournament director Craig Tiley. “The very best players are back, there are records up for grabs and it is very possible we will see a new champion crowned on both sides.

There are so many great storylines for AO 2020… Will it be the year for one of the young guns to stop Novak, Roger or Rafa?”

In the past decade, and with the exception of Swiss Stan Wawrinka in 2014, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup has been won by Djokovic in 2019, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011 and Roger Federer in 2018, 2017, 2010 while Nadal won his first – and only – AO crown in 2009.

No. 71 Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE), [73] Vasek Pospisil (CAN), [83] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) and [95] Cedrik-Marcel Salvatore Caruso (ITA) join Del Potro in the draw with protected rankings.

World No. 18 Alex de Minaur leads the Australian men’s contingent with (30) Nick Kyrgios, (48) John Millman, (63) Jordan Thompson and (97) Alexei Popyrin all confirmed for the main draw.

Now in its 115thyear, the Australian Open will take place from 20 January to 7 February 2020.

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'I fought a tough battle' – Schiavone reveals she has overcome cancer

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone has revealed she has successfully overcome cancer.

The 39-year-old became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam with her 2010 Roland Garros triumph and won eight titles before retiring in 2018.

Schiavone, who has not revealed the type of cancer diagnosed, said: “I did chemotherapy, I fought a tough battle and now I am still breathing.

“I have won this fight. And now I am back in action.”

In a short video on Instagram, Schiavone added: “Hi everyone, upon seven-eight months of silence from social media and from the world, I wish to share with you what happened to me. A cancer had been diagnosed to me.”

Having defeated Australia’s Samantha Stosur in the 2010 French Open final, Schiavone reached a career best fourth in the world rankings in January 2011.

Later that year she came close to defending her French title but lost to China’s Li Na in the Paris final.

After retiring following last year’s US Open, Schiavone said: “When I was 18 years old, I had two dreams. The first one was to win Roland Garros, and the second one was to become top 10 in the world. And I completed them, so I’m very, very happy, and lucky.”

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Tsitsipas Named Greece's Best Male Athlete Of 2019

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

Tsitsipas Named Greece’s Best Male Athlete Of 2019

Greek’s father accepts the award from president of the Hellenic Republic

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas was named the Best Male Athlete of 2019 on Monday night at the Panhellenic Sports Press Association Awards.

Prokopios Pavlopoulos, the president of the Hellenic Republic, presented the award to Apostolos Tsitsipas, Stefanos’ father and coach.

“I would like to convey to Stefanos that all Greeks agree that he is a great role model of excellence and he deserves this award. To achieve great things you need three things: talent, soul, hard work. I know how much you have worked together, and you did it. You have shown that the new generation has enormous potential and without hard work, you cannot succeed,” Pavlopoulos told Apostolos Tsitsipas according to

Tsitsipas won 54 tour-level matches in 2019, capturing titles in Marseille, Estoril, and at The O2. The Greek climbed to a career-high No. 5 in the ATP Rankings in August.

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ATP Cup: How Much Competing For Poland Means For Kubot

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

ATP Cup: How Much Competing For Poland Means For Kubot

Former doubles World No. 1 set to lead Team Poland in Sydney

Lukasz Kubot made Polish history in 2018 when he became the first Polish man to reach World No. 1 in any discipline, doing so in the ATP Doubles Rankings. Kubot, who received the Gold Cross of Merit from Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in July 2013, has long paved the way for his country, and he will try to do so again in January at the inaugural ATP Cup.

Before Kubot leads Poland in Group E, to be contested in Sydney, he speaks to about which players from his country he looked up to, what he loves about Poland and more.

Which Polish players did you watch when you were growing up?
Well, of course, the inspiration was Wojtek Fibak, who is our famous former Top 10 singles player and Top 10 doubles player. The best moments of his career were in the late ‘80s, so he was an inspiration. We have contact today, so I learned a lot from him.

Besides this, there were a lot like Bartlomiej Dabrowski, who has the best record in Davis Cup ties, and also Krystian Pfeiffer. [These were] players I was always looking at and learning a lot from and I also had the opportunity to practise with them when I was younger.

If you could pick one stroke from any of your ATP Cup teammates and add it to your game, what stroke would you take?
I would take the serve of Hubert Hurkacz. Besides that, maybe also his backhand and the fighting and footwork of Kamil Majchrzak.

What are three things you love about Poland?
Everything. I think about the Polish food. The kitchen is very special and very heavy, I have to say. It is always great. Our Pope, John Paul II, was always making all the people together. It was very important for our country. Maybe the people as well, communication and supporting together.

Which three native Australian animals come to mind first?
First, of course, [is the] kangaroo, then the koala. What else? Is kiwi New Zealand? I just have these two.

What do you like most about Australia?
I like the weather, always. When you come back from Europe, down under there is always guaranteed weather. I have a lot of friends there, especially from Sydney where we stay and visit my friends. We stay together as a kind of Polish community. This is a very special thing.

Of course, visiting the cities like Sydney, the opera is always nice to come back there. Especially spending the New Year’s there is great, there are always positive vibes.

What team sports did you play as kid and can you talk about the happy memories of playing on a team?
I was playing a lot of football or soccer and a little bit of basketball. Soccer was very popular; we actually played in our neighbourhood with all the young boys growing up. We were spending most of our time on the tennis court, the basketball court or the soccer field.

What are your earliest memories of playing tennis in Poland?
I started like most of the players, hitting [against] the wall, just to hit and to feel. There was not much happening in the small city where I grew up. We had a coach with a group of players and we started to hit the balls. I was hitting [against] the wall for a long time… I remember a lot of kids with one or two courts, hitting the balls over the net with one or two coaches.

What will be the most fun part about playing ATP Cup?
Playing for the country. For sure, there is going to be a team atmosphere, sharing lockers and supporting your country is always very nice. For sure, we are guaranteed three matches and it is going to be a very good preparation for the Australian Open, which is great.

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Hewitt, Gaudio, Dimitrov Join Former Greats To Captain ATP Cup Teams

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

Hewitt, Gaudio, Dimitrov Join Former Greats To Captain ATP Cup Teams

Four former World No. 1s to serve as team captains during inaugural ATP Cup

Lleyton Hewitt, Gaston Gaudio and Grigor Dimitrov will join a glittering line-up of past tennis champions, including former No. 1s Boris Becker (Germany), Marat Safin (Russia) and Thomas Muster (Austria), along with Tim Henman (Great Britain) as team captains when the inaugural ATP Cup gets underway in January.

Hewitt will lead the Aussies in Brisbane, with #NextGenATP star Alex de Minaur and No. 2 Nick Kyrgios committed to representing the home side in the brand new event taking place across three cities in Australia from 3-12 January.

“We’re in a tough section but I’d give the Aussies a strong chance of beating any team,” Hewitt said.

“The guys are really excited to be playing in this new competition, it’s a game changer and it would mean so much to all of us to take it out.”

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Becker, captain of the German side, is a former World No. 1 and six-time major winner, the first title coming at Wimbledon in 1985 at the age of 17 and the last 11 years later at the 1996 Australian Open.

The Germans, including World No. 7 Alexander Zverev, will compete in Brisbane against Group F’s Greece, Canada and Australia.

Crowd favourite Safin, winner of the 2000 US Open and the centenary Australian Open in 2005, will captain a formidable Russian team spearheaded by two of the fastest rising players in tennis, Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov.

Russia is drawn to play against Italy, USA and Norway in Group D, who will play their group matches in Perth.

Muster rounds out the quartet of former World No. 1 captains, leading Austria in Group E, bound for Sydney against Croatia, Argentina and Poland.

Known as the King of Clay in his heyday, Muster rose to World No.1 in 1996 and won 44 career titles, including 1995 Roland Garros.

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Henman, who inspired a British tennis revival in the 1990s becoming the first local player to reach the men’s semi-finals at Wimbledon in 25 years, will captain a five-man squad featuring three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, his brother Jamie and current British No.1 Dan Evans.

They will head to Sydney in Group C alongside Belgium, Bulgaria with Grigor Dimitrov as playing captain, and Moldova.

“As a rookie captain, I like the fact that we’ve got options on the singles court, and with doubles,” Henman said.

“There are always going to be Brits in Australia, so there’s no doubt we’ll have great support, and fingers crossed we can give them something to shout about.”

Also chosen in the role of captain by their top players is 2004 Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio who will oversee Argentina’s campaign, while former No. 1 doubles champion Nenad Zimonjic leads Serbia, and Apostolos Tsitsipas, the father and coach of World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, captains Greece. Elsewhere, current World No. 55 Gilles Simon will captain France’s team led by World No. 10 Gael Monfils.

For 10 days leading into Australian Open 2020, 24 countries will battle it out over six days and three cities before eight leading teams head to Sydney for the Final Eight knock-out stages heading into the final.

Teams have qualified based on the highest singles ranking of their best player, with each team featuring between three and five players.

The ATP Cup champions will share in AUD $22 million prize money and a maximum of 750 ATP singles rankings points and 250 ATP doubles rankings points.

The full list of groups and captains are:

Serbia    Nenad Zimonjic
France    Gilles Simon
South Africa    Jeff Coetzee
Chile     Paul Capdeville           

Germany    Boris Becker
Greece    Apostolos Tsitsipas
Canada    Adriano Fuorivia
Australia    Lleyton Hewitt           

Spain    Francisco Roig
Japan    Satoshi Yabushi
Georgia    David Kvernadze
Uruguay    Felipe Maccio           

Russia    Marat Safin
Italy    Vincenzo Santopadre
USA    David Macpherson
Norway    Christian Ruud           

Belgium    Steve Darcis
Great Britain    Tim Henman
Bulgaria    Grigor Dimitrov
Moldova    Vladimir Albot

Austria    Thomas Muster
Croatia    Luka Kutanjac
Argentina    Gaston Gaudio
Poland    Marcin Matkowski

Read More About The ATP Cup At The Official Website

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Best of 2019: Player Retirements (Part One)

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

Best of 2019: Player Retirements (Part One)

ATP Tour Season In Review: Player Retirements

David Ferrer (Retired: 8 May), career-high No. 3
Humble and hard-working, the Javea native gave his all throughout a 20-season professional career, which ended in May at the Mutua Madrid Open. Aged 17, his poor attitude frustrated Javier Piles so much that Ferrer’s long-time coach locked him in a cupboard. Ferrer returned one week later with a new attitude and resolve that ensured the majority of the 1,110 tour-level matches he contested became a battle of attrition, regardless of the surface or opponent.

Originally a clay-court specialist, Ferrer worked hard on his compact game to become one of Spain’s leading lights, highlighted by a run to the 2007 title match at the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Federer) — one of seven season finale appearances; seven ATP Tour titles in 2012, including the Rolex Paris Masters (d. Janowicz); the 2013 Roland Garros final (l. to Nadal) and a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on 8 July 2013.

Gritty and determined, the perennial fans’ favourite helped Spain win three Davis Cups (2008-09, 2011) and he won 27 ATP Tour singles titles, for third on the national list, behind only Manuel Orantes (33) and Rafael Nadal (84). Read Tribute

<a href=''>David Ferrer</a> reacts during his retirement ceremony in Madrid.

Marcos Baghdatis (Retired: 4 July), career-high No. 8
Remember the smile, the sheer joy of playing and competing at the professional level. Regardless of when you first watched Baghdatis compete: as the world’s best junior in 2003; his rise into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings with his run to the Australian Open final and Wimbledon semi-finals aged 20 in 2006, or the indifference he showed to mounting injuries that soon affected his peak-performance days, the Cypriot was box office.

With a game fashioned after former World No. 1 Andre Agassi, Baghdatis’ 22 wins over Top 10 opponents, including two Worlds No. 1s: Roger Federer (BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells) and Nadal (Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati) in 2010 were other notable highs in a career that reaped four ATP Tour singles titles, 348 match wins, and a legion of fans worldwide.

Today, with his wife, former WTA pro Karolina Sprem, and three young children, Baghdatis is already providing inspiration to another star, his good friend Stefanos Tsitsipas, who captured the Nitto ATP Finals crown last month. Read Tribute

Baghdatis, Federer

Nicolas Almagro (Retired: 15 April), career-high No. 9
One of a long line of Spanish clay-courters, Almagro could often be fiery, a trait only heightened in long battling duels when his back was against the wall. But he also competed with a big heart and gave everything in a 16-season professional career.

Almagro contested 23 ATP Tour clay-court finals, from his very first ATP Tour title at Valencia (d. Simon) in 2006 to his 13th and final title at the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Carreno Busta) in May 2016, and reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Back-to-back titles against Top 10 opposition at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in 2008 (d. Nalbandian) and 2009 (d. Monfils) were high points, in addition to his 2014 quarter-final victory over World No. 1 Nadal at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Almagro, who also reached the 2013 Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Ferrer), retired at his hometown ATP Challenger Tour event in April in Murcia, where he now serves as tennis academy director at La Manga Club. In a career cut short by a left knee injury, Almagro won 397 tour-level matches, rising to a career-high No. 9 in the ATP Rankings on 2 May 2011, during a season of three titles from five finals. Read Tribute


Tim Smyczek (Retired: 25 August), career-high No. 68
The American put down his racquets for the final time at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., wanting to spend more time with his young family. Now studying a two-year Master of Business Administration program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Smyczek is best remembered for his fifth-set loss to Nadal in the 2015 Australian Open second round.

At 5’9”, he was never going to overpower an opponent with his serve and was realistic about the prospect of Grand Slam championship glory, but worked extra hard to make the most of his game. Milwaukee-born Smyczek reached four ATP Tour quarter-finals, highlighted by a run to the 2018 semi-finals at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, but fell short of his long-held Top 30 goal, attaining a career-high No. 68 in the ATP Rankings on 6 April 2015. He won seven ATP Challenger Tour titles. Read Feature


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Murray still struggling with groin injury

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2019

Britain’s Andy Murray is still troubled by a groin injury and has not travelled to Miami for his scheduled December training block.

The former world number one was affected by the problem at last month’s Davis Cup Finals.

He is still able to train off court and is expected to start playing again within the next seven days.

Murray plans to represent Britain in the inaugural ATP Cup which starts on 3 January.

He is then expected to compete at the Australian Open in Melbourne from 30 January.

The three-time Grand Slam winner played just one match during Britain’s run to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

In October, he won his first singles title since career-saving hip surgery in January, beating Stan Wawrinka at the European Open.

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