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Federer, Coric In Best Grand Slam Matches Of 2020

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2020

ATPTour.com today kicks off our annual season in review series, beginning with Part 1 of our look at the best Grand Slam matches of the year. This week we’ll also look at the biggest upsets and comebacks at the Slams in 2020. Next week, we’ll look at the best matches, comebacks and upsets at ATP Tour events.

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Tennis fans and players also went through seasons of darkness and light, hope and despair, all within one challenging and unpredictable roller coaster of a year.

Though in the tennis world, the period of despair occurred in the spring and early summer, when it was unclear if the season could move forward at all. Tennis’ spring of hope came a few months late, as the US Open and Roland Garros moved forward, giving the world a much needed diversion in the form of a full month combined of wonderful tennis.

The year got off to a cracking start Down Under at the Australian Open, where the players raised much-needed funds for bushfire relief efforts and the men played dozens of great matches, including 29 five-setters. The cancellation of Wimbledon was a gut punch, but the fact that US Open and Roland Garros came off smoothly and featured so many excellent matches was beyond great.

It was a year of milestones at the majors—Novak Djokovic took his eighth Australian Open, Dominic Thiem won his first major, and Rafael Nadal won his 13th title at Roland Garros. But there were many other great moments too. Here we recount some of the year’s best matches at the majors, including some you no doubt saw, and others, like a six-hour epic at Roland Garros, you may have missed.

In Part 1 below, we look at the fifth, fourth and third best Slam matches of 2020, followed tomorrow by a look at what we deem to be the best two Slam matches of the season.

Giustino

5) Lorenzo Giustino d. Corentin Moutet, Roland Garros, R1, 28 September 2020 (Read Report)
Lorenzo Giustino, a 29-year-old from Naples, Italy, has just one tour-level win in his career. But oh what a win it was. Coming into his first-round match against the 21-year-old Frenchman, Corentin Moutet, then ranked No. 71, he had entered the qualies of 16 majors and had lost in the qualifying rounds 16 times. But his luck seemed to be changing. In his previous major, the Australian Open, he made the main draw as a lucky loser, though he lost in the first round.

Still, there was no reason to believe he would beat Moutet, a promising young French talent in Paris, particularly after Moutet bageled him in the first set. But Giustino battled back, winning the second and third sets in tie-breaks, before losing the fourth 6-2. By the start of the fifth set, the match had already been going on for three hours and five minutes, but little did either man know they still had a three-hour fifth set to play (Roland Garros is the only major where players must win by two in the fifth set).

Moutet, nicknamed ‘Colonel Moutet’ by Brad Gilbert, served for the match three times in the fifth, but was broken each time. Not that service breaks were a rarity in the match, mind you. Moutet was broken nine times, Giustino thirteen. Moutet also outscored his opponent by 242 points to 217, and blasted 31 more winners. But none of that mattered, as Giustino came up with gutsy, ingenious clay court tennis to prevail 0-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(3), 2-6, 18-16 in what was, at six hours and five minutes, the second-longest match in Roland Garros history, next to the six-hour, 33-minute contest between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004.

The Italian claimed that he felt fine after the match.

“No, no, no, I feel perfect,” he said, after a reporter asked if he’d be too tired to face Diego Schwartzman in the next round. “Tomorrow I’ll go run a bit because I think I’m too fresh.”

Sadly for the tenacious Giustino, now ranked No. 149, he lost to Schwartzman and is still looking for his second tour-level win. But he’ll always have Paris.

Borna Coric

4) Borna Coric d. Stefanos Tsitsipas, US Open, R3, 4 September 2020

Borna Coric has a tattoo that says, “There is nothing worse than being ordinary”. Perhaps that ethos kept him from giving up while down two sets to one and 1-5 in the fourth set of his third round match against Stefanos Tsitispas at the US Open this year. Coric, then No. 32 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, knew he’d need to be extraordinary to upset the tournament’s fourth seed and indeed he was just that.

Though they’re both from Mediterranean countries, are close in age and have younger sisters they adore, the men are a study in contrasts: Coric wears his hair cut short and plays from the baseline; Tstsipas has the long curly locks and comes to net. The Croat burst into the Top 15 in 2018, but seemed to lose a step late in 2019 and into 2020. In his last major appearance prior to the Tsitsipas match, he lost in the first round at the Australian Open. And so, he was in need of a career-pivoting win against a player who, though two years younger, had overtaken him in the rankings.

Up two sets to one and 5-1 in the fourth, it seemed certain to be another disappointing tournament for Coric, until he held and broke back to narrow the gap. Tsitsipas’ game was slipping but he still had three match points at 5-4, 40-0. But he squandered each of them, and the then 23-year-old Croat stormed back, winning six consecutive games to take the fourth set 7-5.

Despite the fourth set collapse, Tsitsipas admirably recovered, playing well in the fifth set to send the match to a decisive tie-break. Stefanos hit just one double fault across 29 service games, but then served up two in the final tie-break. The hiccups gave Coric a 6/3 lead, which he cashed in on his second match point, giving him a remarkable 6-7(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) comeback win in four hours, and 36 riveting minutes that amounted to a Greek tragedy for Tsitsipas.

“I have to be honest and say that I was really lucky,” said Coric, who subsequently beat Jordan Thompson in the next round before falling to Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. “I made some unbelievable returns and I was a little bit lucky at the end. In the third and fourth set, he was playing unbelievable tennis and I felt like I had no chance. In the fifth-set tie-break, I knew it was not going to be easy for him, so I tried to just keep the ball in court and make him play as many balls as possible.”

For his part, the Greek kept his sense of humour and perspective after the loss. “This is probably the saddest and funniest thing at the same time that has ever happened in my career,” tweeted Tsitsipas.

The win would indeed be a season changer for Coric, who finished the season at No. 24 in the FedEx ATP Rankings largely on the strength of his quarter-final showing and a subsequent run to the final at the St. Petersburg Open, where he beat Reilly Opelka and Milos Raonic before falling to Andrey Rublev.

Roger Federer, John Millman

3) Roger Federer d. John Millman, Australian Open, R3, 24 January 2020 (Read Report)
John Millman is one of the hardest working, and nicest, players on the ATP Tour. But the 31-year-old Aussie has a career record that includes more losses than wins and he has never cracked the Top 30. Nothing about his career would suggest that he’d be Roger Federer’s kryptonite—even his career record (1-3) against the Swiss legend doesn’t adequately reveal the fits Millman has given Federer in recent years.

Millman, then ranked No. 55, notched a historic upset over Federer at the 2018 US Open in stifling heat, and played him close in two other losses, in Brisbane in 2015 and in Halle in 2019. But when they met again, earlier this year in the second round of the Australian Open, Federer still came into the match as a decisive favourite. Millman even referred to the possibility of him beating Federer again as “lightning striking twice”.

But when the tenacious, uber-fit Millman went up an early break against Federer in the fifth set, it looked as if the maestro from Münchenstein was indeed about to be struck down twice by the Aussie. The raucous crowd didn’t know whom to support—the Aussie underdog or the beloved champ, who oddly became a bit of an underdog in his own right. Federer fought back, levelling the fifth set at 2-2, but in the fifth-set tie-break (first to 10, win by two), Millman steamed out to 3/0 and 8/4 leads.

Video courtesy Tennis Australia

Federer kept his cool though, reeling off six straight points, punctuating a remarkable, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6 7-6(8) win with a cross-court forehand winner into open space.

“Oh God, it was tough,” Federer said of his 100th Australian Open win after the match. “Thank God it was a Match Tie-break, otherwise I would have lost this one…A bit of luck maybe goes one way… I didn’t play too bad after all and I was getting ready to explain myself in the press conference… What a match and John deserves over half of this one.”

Two matches later, Federer would save seven match points against Tennys Sandgren in the quarter-finals, extending his streak of fifth-set Australian Open victories to six, dating back to 2017. (Hint: Look out for that match to appear in our list of best Slam comebacks later in the week.)

Coming Tuesday: The best two Grand Slam matches of 2020.

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Countdown To Turin Begins As 2021 Nitto ATP Finals Tickets Go On Sale

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2020

The countdown to the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, the prestigious season finale of the ATP Tour, has begun. The eight-day event, to be held from 14 to 21 November 2021, will see the best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams of the year compete at the Pala Alpitour Arena in Turin. It will also mark a historic handover to the Italian city, which will play host to the Nitto ATP Finals from 2021 to 2025.

With less than a year to go, today marks the launch of a coordinated national and international communication campaign by the City of Turin, Piedmont Region, Turin Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Turin, in collaboration with ATP and the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT), the tournament organisers. The campaign will see the city of Turin lit up in the promotional colours of the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, and will also mark the official ticketing launch for the event.

In keeping with the major events strategy of Turin, the tournament will have a strong focus on innovation, in addition to environment and sustainability. By employing cutting-edge technological solutions, spectators and tourists will be able to follow matches and experience the event throughout the city. Ticketing promotions will also focus on attracting younger generations and schools closer to the sport.

The event has received considerable commitment from a portfolio of globally renowned commercial partners. The Japanese giant Nitto Denko Corporation will continue as Title Partner of the Nitto ATP Finals until 2025, while Intesa Sanpaolo will welcome the event in Turin as Host Partner. Lavazza will join Emirates and FedEx as Platinum partners, Gold Partners include EA7 Emporio Armani, Rolex and Valmora Mineral Water, and Silver Partners include Dunlop, Italgas and Iren luce gas e servizi.

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “We have no doubts that the City of Turin will prove exceptional hosts for the Nitto ATP Finals, with their focus on innovation and putting fans’ experience at the heart of everything they do. Launching the countdown to the tournament is an exciting milestone, and we look forward to five years of close collaboration with all event partners, to continue to build upon the growth of our season finale.”

Angelo Binaghi, FIT Chairman, said: “It has been two years since Turin bid to host the Nitto ATP Finals from 2021-2025. After prevailing over forty foreign cities, and following two years of extraordinary commitment, the real countdown to Turin now begins. We would not have done it without the passion and drive of the region, in particular the Mayor of Turin, Chiara Appendino, and without the fundamental support of the Government, the Piedmont Region and our brand Partners. On behalf of the entire national tennis movement, within which the Nitto ATP Finals will provide a formidable promotional uplift, we extend our thanks. I do not hesitate to define this moment as the happiest in the Federation’s 110-year history.”

Vincenzo Spadafora, Minister for Youth policies and Sport, said: “The Nitto ATP Finals, from 2021 to 2025 in Turin, will open a season of great international sport in Italy. The tournament represents an opportunity for Turin and Piedmont to earn a special place in the hearts of tennis fans around the world. The great teamwork of the FIT, the City of Turin and the Piedmont Region, with the support of the Government, has made this important achievement possible.”

Chiara Appendino, Mayor of Turin, said: “Turin has a long tradition of sport and, thanks to an extraordinary team effort, we are delighted to bring the Nitto ATP Finals to our city. We look ahead to the next five years with determination, confident in the knowledge the event that will have a positive economic impact to our territory of about €600 million and strengthen the image of Turin all over the world. I thank everyone who made it possible and who is working with us. It will be an extraordinary event.”

Alberto Cirio, President of Piedmont Region, said: “Sport has always been a powerful means of working together and, with the difficult circumstances we currently face, team spirit is now more important than ever. Health data from our Region shows improvement, which we must protect and consolidate, to allow a sustainable restart. The Nitto ATP Finals will be one of the engines of this restart, a great opportunity for our territory to look ahead, and to get back to talking about Turin and Piedmont in every part of the world.”

Tickets for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals are now on sale at NittoATPFinals.com.

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Family Affair: Brazil's Meligeni Follows In Uncle's Footsteps With Sao Paulo Crown

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2020

It was in 1993 that former World No. 25 Fernando Meligeni reigned on home soil in Sao Paulo, launching his pro career with a first ATP Challenger Tour title. Now, 27 years later, the Brazilian’s nephew is carving a path of his own.

Same city, same result, different Meligeni. On Sunday, Felipe Meligeni celebrated his maiden moment at the Sao Paulo Open Tennis, capturing his first Challenger crown in emphatic fashion. With his family and girlfriend in attendance, the 22-year-old dropped one set all week on the clay of the Clube Hipico Santo Amaro. It all culminated in a 6-2, 7-6(1) final victory over Portugal’s Frederico Ferreira Silva.

It was an emotional day for Meligeni, who broke down in tears during the trophy ceremony. To win your first Challenger title is a special achievement. But doing so in your home country and in front of your loved ones created the perfect environment for the Brazilian.

“I’m speechless,” exclaimed Meligeni. “I didn’t expect that. My first Challenger title. I just didn’t expect it. I am very happy. It’s very exciting. I tried to stay as calm as possible. I played very well and it was a sensational week. It was nice to have my girlfriend and my family supporting me in this achievement. And my sister (Carolina) won an ITF title in Egypt today as well. It’s a double celebration weekend.”

Meligeni

Meligeni is hoping to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and establish himself inside the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. During his 13-year career, Fernando won more than 200 matches, claimed three ATP Tour titles and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals in 1999. He would secure nine victories over Top 10 opponents, including former World No. 1s Pete Sampras, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Patrick Rafter, Carlos Moya and Andy Roddick.

While Felipe has a long way to go to get to his uncle’s level, he acknowledges that this is a significant step in his career. In February, in his ATP Tour debut, he took a set off World No. 3 Dominic Thiem at the Rio Open presented by Claro. Now, he is an ATP Challenger Tour champion.

“I really wanted to end the year among the Top 250 in the world and to be able to compete in Grand Slam qualifying in 2021. I have one more tournament next week and I want to lower my ranking even more. Who knows, at the end of next year I could be Top 100.”

Meligeni isn’t only impressing on the singles court. A former junior Grand Slam doubles champion, at the 2016 US Open, he would team up with Luis David Martinez to take the doubles crown in Sao Paulo as well. It marked their second straight week with a title together, following their victory in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Meligeni soars 64 spots to a career-high No. 242 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and is up to No. 123 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings. He will conclude his 2020 campaign at next week’s Challenger season finale in his hometown of Campinas.

Meligeni



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Watch Hot Shots: 19-Year-Old Tirante On Fire In Reaching First Challenger Final

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2020

The ATP Tour season might be over, but dreams are still being realized on the ATP Challenger Tour.

One year ago, Thiago Tirante was in London as a Nitto ATP Finals sparring partner, hitting with the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. This week, making just his fourth Challenger appearance, Tirante celebrated a breakout campaign in Lima, Peru. The 19-year-old became the youngest player from Argentina to reach a Challenger final since Facundo Arguello in 2011.

The native of La Plata would eventually fall to Daniel Elahi Galan in Sunday’s final, but not before capturing all the headlines in Lima. Having entered the week with just one victory in his young career on the circuit, he left with an unforgettable run to the championship as a qualifier. Tirante, who rises 163 spots to a career-high No. 376 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, joins Carlos Alcaraz, Lorenzo Musetti, Brandon Nakashima and Tomas Machac as teenagers to reach a final in 2020.

Tirante, who worked for his mom at their hometown pharmacy during the tour’s COVID-19 hiatus, also trained at his uncle’s tennis club in La Plata. When the professional circuit resumed in August, he would capture his first pro title at an ITF event in Tunisia and later followed that up with his dream week in Lima.

The Argentine introduced himself with stunning shotmaking, amazing agility and dogged defence. A ‘Hot Shot’ machine, he submitted a pair of immediate contenders for our Top 5 Challenger Shots of November…


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Nitto ATP Finals: The Transition To Turin

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2020

Italy’s first capital will be the epicentre of the tennis world next November as the Nitto ATP Finals moves to Turin, a stunning city in Northern Italy that’s known for its grand palazzos, fabulous regional cuisine, Baroque architecture, and its rich sporting tradition.

After 12 years anchored at The O2 in London, the move to Turin could not be better timed. No other nation has made more recent progress in producing top tennis talent than the glorious country that gave us pizza, pasta and the piano, among many other indispensable treasures. There are now eight Italian players, including Turin native Lorenzo Sonego, in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, double the number from 10 years ago. Many more are likely to follow thanks to the country’s substantial investment in the sport, which includes supporting the second most ATP Challenger tournaments in the world, behind only the United States.

According to Alberto Sacco, Turin’s Deputy Mayor in charge of Commerce and Tourism, the city’s drive to bring the world’s greatest tennis players to Torino, as the Italians call the city, started with its young, tennis-loving mayor, Chiara Appendino, who met her husband on a tennis court. Mayor Appendino told the Italian tennis channel Supertennis that the success of tournaments like the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and Italian players like Jannik Sinner, Matteo Berrettini, and Sonego helped bring the Nitto ATP Finals to her hometown. “We are extremely proud that Turin has been chosen to host the [Nitto] ATP Finals (from) 2021-2025, as sport has long been a significant part of the history and the culture of our city,” Mayor Appendino said.

Sacco, says that the Torinesi, as natives of Turin are called, can’t wait to welcome tennis fans and players to their city. “Torino is a beautiful city with a good climate, incredible palaces, great food, beautiful hotels, shops and museums.”

Indeed, travellers have been raving about underrated Turin since at least 1878 when Mark Twain spent time in the city and fell in love with the place.

“Turin is a beautiful city, its spaciousness exceeds, I think, everything that has ever been conceived before,” he wrote. “Its streets are extraordinarily wide, the paved squares prodigious, the houses are huge and well-built…One walks along these spacious and always sheltered streets, and along the way passes by the most gracious shops and the most inviting restaurants.”

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche lived in Turin a decade after Twain’s visit, and fell in love with the city’s miles of porticos, its second-hand bookstores, and its gelato. He called it “the capital of discovery, the first place in which I am possible”.

Turin city vista

If you’re never been to Turin, you may only be aware of a few of its principal claims to fame. Surrounded by rolling green hills and Alpine peaks, it’s the home of the Juventus football club; it hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006, and the Cathedral of Turin holds the Shroud of Turin, an ancient burial shroud depicting Jesus of Nazareth, which believers think he was wrapped in after his crucifixion. But there’s a lot more to know and love about this enchanting city of about 900,000 on the banks of Italy’s longest river, the Po.

Tourist arrivals plunged in Italy and around the world in 2020, but with Covid-19 vaccines on the way, Italy’s top destinations — Rome, Venice, and Florence — will no doubt be inundated with visitors thanks to a massive pent up demand from people around the world who’ve been cooped up and want to travel. If you love Italy and want to enjoy its dolce vita without the crowds and high prices, a lovely, unspoiled city like Turin is well worth a second look, especially if you’re a tennis fan who’d like to take in the tournament along with a dose of Italian culture.

Founded about 2,400 years ago by a Celtic tribe, the Taurini, the original name for Turin comes from the Celtic word “tau”, which means mountain. Torino means “little bull” and the bull is a symbol of the city. The Savoy family conquered the city and ruled for some 600 years.

Turin was a hotbed of Italian nationalism and served as Italy’s first unified capital from 1861 until 1865 when it moved to Florence (and later Rome.) It was and still is a centre for trade and industry and the great wealth that commerce has brought the region resulted in what is now a bounty for the visitor: spectacular palaces, cathedrals, gardens, parks and public art galore. It’s no wonder that Conde Nasté Traveler magazine has called Turin the Paris of Italy.

A few of the area’s standout attractions include the fabulous art and architecture of the Savoy Residences, a collection of palazzos, villas and other notable buildings that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Museo Egizio, which has the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside Egypt, and the national museum of cinema, where you can check out Federico Fellini’s famous red scarf and learn about the city’s contribution to Italy’s film culture.

Turin is also a city of readers. In his book, Stranger in Turin, Italo Calvino called it a city of “rational, clarifying intelligence”. Liberia Luxemburg, the city’s oldest bookstore, is worth a trip, as are the bookstalls along the Via Po, the street where Nietzsche is said to have gone mad after seeing a horse flogged while out for a stroll on January 3, 1889.

Of course, this being Italy, you’d have to try very, very hard to find something bad to eat or drink in Turin and the surrounding region of Piedmont. Sacco says that the city is Italy’s unofficial chocolate capital; there’s an annual chocolate festival that takes place each year in November, typically right around the same time as the Nitto ATP Finals. Bicerin is Turin’s take on a decadent hot chocolate — it’s a layered mix of chocolate, espresso and heavy cream or milk served in a tulip-shaped glass.

Turin is also home to Grom, one of the world’s premier gelato chains. A great local flavour to try at Grom or another local institution like Alberto Marchetti Gelaterie is gianduia, which is a milk chocolate-hazelnut mix that inspired the recipe for Nutella. The city is also home to the coffee company, Lavazza; you can people-watch and get your caffeine fix in style at one of Turin’s historic cafe’s like Al Bicerin, founded in 1763, or the Art Nouveau Caffè Baratti & Milano, opened in 1873.

Sacco says that November, when the tournament will be held in 2021, is an ideal time to visit his hometown. “It’s not too hot and not too cold,” he said. “November is one of the best months in Torino. There’s a modern art festival and it’s the month where you can find white truffles, which come from Alba, near Torino.”

There are 46 Michelin star restaurants in Piedmont, nine of them in Turin.

The key sporting rivalry in Turin that defines relationships and establishes bragging rights is the Derby della Mole, which pits local football clubs Juventus and Torino against one another. The derby is named after the Mole Antonelliana, a striking 19th Century building crowned with a huge dome and conical spire. You can take a glass elevator to the top for panoramic views of the city. It was once a synagogue but is now home to the Cinema Museum.

Sacco, a Juventus fan from before birth by his reckoning, says that Torinesi tend to support Torino, while Juventus is supported by the working class, particularly those who came from other parts of the country to work in Turin in the 1970’s. If you don’t have a chance to take in the derby while in town, you can at least tour Juventus’ stadium, which has a museum devoted to the team’s history.

Stadium, Turin

Sacco says that the city is handling the pandemic quite well and is confident it will be more than ready to host tennis fans in a full arena at this time next year.

The arena is located across from one of the city’s loveliest parks and has great public transportation links with the city centre, which is just a few minutes away. Turin is just an hour away from Milan by high-speed train or two hours to the Bergamo airport, which is service by a number of low cost carriers like Ryanair.

The city known as the cradle of Italian liberty is known as one of Italy’s commercial capitals and is among its wealthiest cities, but Sacco insists that it’s also a youthful place with more than 100,000 students where people know how to have fun. As the locals say in Piedmontese dialect, a l’é tut bin— everything is fine in Torino.

“Torino is full of open-air bars, we go out onto the streets, we drink coffee and wine until late into the night,” he says. “Come to Piazza Vittorio, one of the biggest squares in the world, it’s full of people eating outside, it’s a big party for everyone. You have to come see it yourself.”

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‘No Spills, Only Skills’ As Kyrgios & Co. Rally Behind #MessFreeChallenge

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2020

What began as a social media campaign serving up tortillas with a side of trick shots has grown into a global match between the world’s top players – and the winner is local food banks.

It all started when Old El Paso tapped trick shot master Nick Kyrgios to take part in the launch of their new Tortilla Pockets in Australia. The Aussie delivered, posting a video of himself playing tennis one-handed while eating an Old El Paso Tortilla Pocket. Through his NK Foundation, Kyrgios donated 10,000 Mexican meal kits to Food Bank Australia, with each share of his video on Instagram adding one extra meal kit.

He then challenged Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt to show off his own skills, and later asked Andy Murray to ‘take it global’ on the eve of Roland Garros as the world tennis community congregated in Paris.

From there the competition soared, the tricks got more competitive and the donations in each country took off. So far, 100,000 Old El Paso Mexican meal products and meals have been donated to help local food banks and disadvantaged families across Australia, UK, France, Spain, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, UAE, Canada and USA.

“It was super exciting to kick off the Old El Paso #MessFreeChallenge with my NK Foundation to launch the new Tortilla Pockets in Australia,” Kyrgios said. “I’m a big fan of Mexican food and the challenge was a fun initiative to help us feed disadvantaged families by donating to food banks.

“I’ve been encouraging everyone to have a go and it was amazing to see this go global. It’s been great to have the support of so many pros to get behind this cause and let us give back together with Old El Paso.”

Since Kyrgios started the challenge, dozens of ATP and WTA players alike have signed up to show off their skills and bring mess-free Mexican mealtimes to those in need. Tennis power couple Gael Monfils and Elina Svitolina served up a one-handed tweener and some racquet frame keepy uppy, while doubles legend Leander Paes hit a ‘frying pan’ hot shot in his own #MessFreeChallenge video. Petra Martic and Karolina Muchova even took the challenge to the WTA’s Ostrava event, lighting up the tournament’s player activities area without spilling a crumb.

Check out the video below to see some more  #MessFreeChallenge trick shots from Benoit Paire, Matthew Ebden, Monica Puig, Garbine Muguruza, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek, Eugenie Bouchard and more – don’t miss Katie Swan’s impressive one-handed cartwheel.

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2020 Nitto ATP Finals Caps Off Successful 12-Year Stay In London

  • Posted: Nov 26, 2020

The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals, played for the final year at The O2 in London, has marked the end of a remarkable 12-year run in the English capital for the prestigious season-finale of the ATP Tour.

Played on the 50th anniversary of its inaugural edition in Tokyo in 1970, this year’s tournament once again provided a thrilling close to the season, with the top four singles seeds reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1990. In the final, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev defeated Austria’s Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 to claim the biggest title of his career. In doubles action, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic triumphed over Jürgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2, 3-6, 10-5, to capture their first title as a team.

Medvedev’s victory bookends the tournament’s time in London with Russian champions, following compatriot Nikolay Davydenko’s triumph in 2009. It also marks the first time in tournament history that any player has defeated the top three players in the FedEx ATP Rankings, with victories over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in addition to World No. 3 Thiem.

Nitto ATP Finals

Since moving to London the event has welcomed more than 2.8 million spectators and generated a cumulative global broadcast audience of over 850 million. The tournament’s status as the crown-jewel of the ATP Tour season has been further underscored by long-term commercial support of globally renowned brands.

The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals, played behind closed doors, delivered unprecedented levels of fan engagement through digital and social media, generating 131 million video views and 9.6 million interactions across ATP Tour and Tennis TV social media accounts. #NittoATPFinals content, including bespoke 50th anniversary programming and behind-the-scenes content, generated additional earned engagement via interaction by influencers and popular digital channels, including Cristiano Ronaldo, 433 and Visubal. In addition, ATP and ATP Media provided premium content to support a daily show by Gael Monfils on Twitch, which featured guest host Andy Murray and reached over one million unique viewers.

This year’s event also capped off a challenging ATP Tour season, which was suspended for five months in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since restarting in August, a total of 16 ATP Tour and Grand Slam events were staged, bringing the prize money total for the season to US$120.8m.

Nitto ATP Finals

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “Bringing tennis back to our fans this season has been a huge collaborative effort. Witnessing the professionalism and dedication of the world’s best players competing their hearts out last week at the Nitto ATP Finals, in an empty stadium, is something I will never forget. The players deserve all the credit. We wish fans could have been with us to celebrate the event’s 50th anniversary, however the ATP will always remember the 2.8 million passionate spectators that came through the gates of The O2 over the years. London has been an incredible host, and I would like to thank AEG and all our event partners, in particular Nitto, without whose support this event would not have been possible.”

Alex Hill, President & CEO of AEG Europe commented, “I’m enormously proud of everything AEG and The O2 have achieved over the past 12 years with the ATP on our partnership for the Nitto ATP Finals, and wish them and the city of Turin all the best as the event moves to Italy. Hosting this prestigious event has cemented The O2’s position as a major international sporting arena and we look forward to a busy calendar of new and returning sports events over the coming years.”

From 2021-2025, the Nitto ATP Finals will relocate to its new home in Turin, Italy, with the continued commitment of title sponsor Nitto.

BY THE NUMBERS:
2020 NITTO ATP FINALS

• 131,000,000 – video views on ATP Tour and Tennis TV social media channels (+88% YoY)

• 9,500,000 – earned video views (+229% YoY) of Nitto ATP Finals content, including interaction and resharing by Cristiano Ronaldo, 433 and Visubal

• 1,910,138 – streams watched on Tennis TV during the 2020 tournament (+21% YoY)

• 1,200,000 – total streams of Gael Monfils’ daily show on Twitch across the event

• 8,000 – masks donated by Nitto for the event to protect players and their entourages, officials, drivers, security personnel and staff

• 2,353 – COVID-19 PCR tests administered throughout the event

NITTO ATP FINALS IN LONDON (2009-2020):

• 850,000,000+ – cumulative global broadcast audience, across more than 175 territories

• 78,840,000 – total prize money ($US) paid to players

• 2,803,964 – cumulative on-site attendance at The O2

• 2,000,000+ – amount of money raised ($US) for charity, in aid of the likes of Cancer Research UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Save the Children and UNICEF 

• 50,336 – total points played (singles & doubles)

• 34,297 – total minutes played (singles & doubles), equivalent to 24 days of action

• 163 – minutes played in the longest singles final (Medvedev d. Thiem, 2020)

• 101 – total participants across singles and doubles competitions

• 36 – nationalities represented by event participants

• 21 – age of the youngest singles champion in London (Tsitsipas, 2019)

• 4 – Year-End Singles No.1s crowned (Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Nadal)

• 1 – thing left to say: Thank you for your support!

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Twitch Takes: Monfils And Murray Build The Perfect Player

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Would you rather have Ivo Karlovic’s serve or Rafael Nadal’s forehand? When you think of the best return in the game, is it Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray whose name springs to mind? What would your perfect tennis player look like?

This was the topic that Gael Monfils and Murray tackled on Twitch during their Nitto ATP Finals coverage on Sunday, as the pair live-streamed their commentary and banter while watching Daniil Medvedev’s three-set championship clash with Dominic Thiem.

When it came to one of the most important shots in the game, Murray gave honourable mention to big servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic, but ultimately opted for Nick Kyrgios’ powerful first delivery.

“Honestly, I would have picked the same, also Kyrgios,” Monfils replied. “For me because it’s definitely tough to read. It’s fast, accurate, he can do anything with it. It’s definitely one of the bigger serves I’ve ever seen on the tour.”

Novak Djokovic’s groundstrokes also received a lot of praise from Monfils and Murray, with both players unanimously picking the World No. 1’s return as the best on the tour. 

“He’s not an unbelievably aggressive returner, it’s not like he’s hitting lots of clean winners on the return. But he’s just got great depth,” Murray said. “He doesn’t miss many. He returns well on the first and second serve, I think overall he’s the best returner. And when he’s on with the return, you’re getting hardly any free points, which is big.”

“He builds a lot of pressure on your serve, to do something, to force a little bit sometimes or even to slow down a bit and mix up the speeds,” Monfils added. “But when he’s on, his return is unbelievable. I’ll go for Novak as well.”

The pair were split when it came time to choose a forehand, with the Frenchman naming Juan Martin del Potro’s shot as his top pick.

[WATCH LIVE 3]

“The consistency, the power, the accuracy – for me it’s one of the biggest forehands we have on the tour,” he said. “He can hit forehands from, I feel like, anywhere on the court. It can be a winner with his forehand.”

“I’ll take Rafa’s forehand,” Murray countered. “I rarely see Rafa’s forehand being the reason he’s lost matches. And it’s never really let him down in very big matches and big moments. I feel like it’s extremely reliable.

“I think it’s been a huge reason for the 13 Roland Garros [titles] that he’s won. That’s 13, one-three.”

Check out Monfils’ Twitch channel to see the rest of their picks as Monfils and Murray built their perfect players – and find out which of their own shots and qualities they named to the list.

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Djokovic & Nadal Finish Inside Top 2 For Third Straight Year

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will finish 2020 as the Top 2 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the third consecutive year and the fifth time overall when the year-end Rankings are officially released on 7 December.

Djokovic will tie Pete Sampras’ record with a sixth year-end No. 1 finish. It is the ninth time in the past 10 seasons he has earned a Top 2 spot. Nadal now leads the ‘Big Three’ — Djokovic and Roger Federer — with 12 Top 2 finishes. It is the seventh time he has ended a season as World No. 2.

 

Year-End Top 2 Finishes As A Pair

 Federer & Nadal  7
 Djokovic & Nadal  5
 Djokovic & Federer  2

Federer did not compete after reaching this year’s Australian Open semi-finals due to injury, but he will be the year-end World No. 5. The Swiss, who has finished in that elite group 16 times, has previously finished inside the Top 2 on 11 occasions, including five year-end No. 1 finishes.

[ATP HERITAGE]

Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have made up the Top 2 in the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings in 14 of the past 16 seasons. The only player to break the trio’s streak was Andy Murray, who was year-end No. 1 in 2016 and No. 2 in 2015.

The official year-end FedEx ATP Rankings will be released on 7 December. Since there will only be ATP Challenger Tour events until then, there will be no changes near the top of the Rankings.

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Schwartzman, DelPo, Nadal Lead ATP Tributes To Maradona

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Tributes are pouring in from around the tennis world after football legend Diego Maradona passed away on Wednesday at the age of 60. 

Current and former ATP Tour stars from Argentina and beyond took to social media to pay their respects to the World Cup winner’s legacy, led by his countryman and namesake Diego Schwartzman. 

“How could you not be named Diego? I love you forever D10S (‘god’),” Schwartzman posted.

“I feel like you’re returning to where you belong, to HEAVEN. For me you will never die,” said fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. 

“Today the world of sports in general and football in particular has a void,” said Spain’s Rafael Nadal. “One of the greatest sportsmen in history, Diego Maradona, has left us. What he did in football will remain. My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family, the world of football, and to all of Argentina.”

“You’ve made us all very happy here, rest in peace Diego,” added retired Argentine player Juan Monaco.

See more social media tributes as the tennis world mourns the passing of Diego Maradona:

 

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A post shared by Charly Berlocq (@charlyberlocqok)

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