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ATP Cup To Ace Bushfire Relief

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

ATP Cup To Ace Bushfire Relief

ATP Cup contribution is expected to exceed $150,000

Every ace served at the ATP Cup, which kicks off today in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, will raise money to support people and communities across Australia affected by the devastating bushfires.

Each ace served across the 10-day tournament at all three venues will deliver $100 to the Australian Red Cross bushfire disaster relief and recovery efforts.

With more than 1500 aces expected to be served by singles and doubles players across both the group rounds and Final Eight in Sydney, the ATP Cup contribution is expected to exceed $150,000.

“Communities across the whole country have been devastated by the bushfire crisis and at this time of the year, with our events in full swing, tennis has a unique opportunity to support the relief and recovery efforts,” ATP Cup Tournament Director Tom Larner said.

“Most of the players are already keen to score aces and win a quick point, and having the chance to raise money for the bushfire appeal will give them that extra bit of motivation.

“As a sport we also believe it’s important to recognise the tremendous contribution made by our volunteer firefighters, emergency services workers and community volunteers who come from every walk of life. We know many of them are also members of our tennis family and this initiative is just one way we can acknowledge their selflessness and bravery.”

ATP Cup players have also started to get involved individually, with Team Australia’s Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman and John Peers all pledging personal donations for every ace they serve.

The ATP Cup kicks off on Friday 3 January at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, RAC Arena in Perth and Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.

The fundraising initiative will be jointly funded by the ATP, Tennis Australia, Tennis New South Wales, Tennis Queensland and Tennis West.

Other fundraising opportunities across the summer of tennis will be announced soon. Donations can be directed to the Australian Red Cross bushfire disaster relief and recovery efforts here.

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Argentina's Stars Follow Gaudio's Guidance At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Argentina’s Stars Follow Gaudio’s Guidance At ATP Cup

Team captain continues to inspire current generation

In the 2004 Roland Garros final, Gaston Gaudio came from two sets down to defeat Guillermo Coria in five sets for his lone Grand Slam championship. That day, an 11-year-old Diego Schwartzman was in Mar del Plata, where he was competing in a national junior tournament. The youngster watched in awe in the tennis club’s restaurant as Gaudio made his stunning comeback, dreaming of one day being in such a situation.

One of the opportunities the ATP Cup provides is for former stars like Gaudio to captain their countries, leading the current generation. So it’s a great scenario for Schwartzman, Guido Pella, Juan Ignacio Londero, Andres Molteni and Maximo Gonzalez to learn from a player with plenty of experience on the sport’s biggest stages.

“It’s great for us. At the beginning we didn’t know how it was going to be, and right now we are enjoying. It’s a good relation for us,” Schwartzman said. “I think everyone is trying to learn [from] him as a coach, and we are trying to know what he wants us to do on court. For us, it’s really nice. We are enjoying what he’s doing with the team.”

Pella, Argentina’s No. 2 singles player, was 14 when Gaudio triumphed in Paris. Like Schwartzman, the lefty has a personal coach with him in Sydney — Jose Acasuso — who broke into the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings. But having Gaudio in the country’s corner is certainly a positive.

“He’s one of the most important tennis players in Argentina history, so it’s important for us to learn from him,” Pella said. “We are enjoying it a lot.”

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Gaudio has plenty of confidence in his team, knowing that Schwartzman and Pella lead the way with ATP Rankings of No. 14 and No. 25, respectively. Pella is the highest-ranked No. 2 singles player in Sydney.

“We’re talking about professional guys, they know exactly what they have to do. Sometimes maybe I can help them in the way that I have been there for a couple of times and maybe trying to talk as a friend and in the way of the experience that I got,” Gaudio said. “So I think that the most important thing is to get along with them and be kind of friendly, and in that way things may always go easy.”

Gaudio won’t force a certain game plan on Argentina’s players. Instead, he plans on adapting, and using all the tools at his disposal to assist, including the advice of personal coaches.

“It depends on the situation of the moment of the match. I’m going to share the match with the coach, the personal coaches that they have, so it’s going to be easier for me this way,” Gaudio said. “You have to know exactly the right moment that you can say something to the players, because sometimes they’re getting [put under] too much pressure, and you have to be [able to find] the right timing to talk to them.

“But in this case, it’s going to be totally different, because I’m going to share the court with all the players and with the personal coach. So it’s going to be kind of easy.”

Gaudio knows the pressures his country’s stars will feel on Ken Rosewall Arena having been in that position during his playing career. But is it easier for him to watch as captain?

“It’s totally different. At the beginning, I thought it’s going to be easier, but it’s so much [more] difficult because when you are the one who is playing, you take your own decisions,” Gaudio said. “So you don’t depend on anybody. But me being from the outside trying to explain to someone to execute what I’m saying is actually pretty tough. It’s not easy.”

Team Argentina opens its campaign on Saturday against Team Poland.

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Andy Murray: Will 2020 Olympics bring surprise happy ending?

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Just when we thought the Andy Murray story was well into its final chapter, a new twist to the tale. How remarkable that a review of his year can reflect upon another two titles when 2019 began with him announcing his retirement plans.

That tearful Melbourne news conference, as agonising for him to give as it was for us to watch and listen to, appeared to mark the end of an astonishing career. Little did we, or he, know that it would merely be a signpost to yet another road to recovery, a journey that would restore the hope he had just lost.

A journey he would later share in graphic detail as two years of near torture were laid bare in his recently released documentary, ‘Resurfacing’. An apt title, in more ways than one. It refers primarily to the hip replacement procedure which gave Murray, and his career, a new lease of life.

Indeed ‘life-changing’ was the exact phrase he used to describe the impact of the operation performed by the royal surgeon Dr Sarah Muirhead-Allwood at the end of January.

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It shouldn’t be forgotten that its primary purpose was simply to give the former world number one some relief from the constant pain he had been in; to allow him to be an active father to his three children; to let him tie his own shoelaces and lead a normal life.

Extending his time at the top of tennis wasn’t necessarily part of the deal. Further feats of Herculean recovery would be required for that.

And yet in June, there he was, back on the professional tour. Back winning on the professional tour, albeit with a little help from doubles partner Feliciano Lopez. That memorable victory at Queen’s Club seemed like enough of a fairytale but Murray was far from done.

His comeback to singles was staged in Cincinnati, and initially he faltered. After struggling to recapture a decent level on the main tour, he dropped down to Challenger level and looked unconvincing even there. Slowly but surely however, his game returned as he toured the Far East and by the time he got back to Europe in October, to Antwerp, he was more than competitive.

In such good nick, in fact, that he could let a triple Grand Slam champion get a set and a break ahead in the final and still win. That match with Stan Wawrinka was conclusive proof, if any were still needed, that Murray was well and truly back. The man with the metal hip was making his mark in the history books once again.

‘Inspired gamble pays off’

One of the most revealing moments in his documentary, apart from the emotional insight into how tennis gave him an escape from the trauma of the 1996 shootings at Dunblane and the uncertainty following his parents’ divorce, was his sense of injustice at being struck down by injury just when he had reached the peak of his powers.

“I don’t deserve this,” he told the camera, when reflecting on 2017. “I was the number one player in the world but I couldn’t walk.” Imagine the mental turmoil of having your hard-earned time at the top stolen from you just when you merit it least.

All that effort through 2016; another Wimbledon title; another Olympic gold; a first ever ATP world tour finals title; a career-best series of consecutive victories; reaching the holy grail of tennis’s top spot in the era of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. All for it to be snatched away months later by a deteriorating hip which would effectively rob him of the next three years. That was time when, if fit, he would have been perfectly poised to take his grand slam titles tally significantly beyond three.

Instead he was left doubting whether he would ever be able to play properly again. After the first hip operation early in 2018 didn’t work, he had basically resigned himself, in December of that year, to retirement. Then a the change of heart; a decision to roll the dice one final time: serious surgery this time.

An inspired gamble, as it turns out, which means he’s now playing with the house’s money and is looking forward to 2020 with a broad smile on his face.

Another Olympic medal on horizon?

Of course it wouldn’t be Murray if he were allowed simply to have his fairytale ending, and disappear into a golden sunset. No, he’s been dealt another pretty rotten set of cards; his horizon has been ruined by yet more injury problems, presumably related in some form or other to the new metal hip.

His plans to head to Australia have been wrecked by what he’s describing as a ‘pelvic problem’, and others have called ‘bone bruising’, which restricted him to one match at November’s Davis Cup Finals in Madrid. It means he misses the first edition of the ATP Cup and, more significantly, the subsequent Australian Open.

“Gutted” is how Murray describes his feelings at pulling out of the season-opening grand slam in which he’s finished runner-up five times. He’s won 48 matches there over the years, and had been “really excited” about trying to get to his half century, and beyond.

He’s clearly made the right call, of course. He would need to be fully fit to have any chance of withstanding the rigours of best-of-five-set tennis at Grand Slam level.

So how might 2020 pan out for him? In all honesty, no one has the slightest clue.

Let’s assume this most recent injury isn’t too severe, and that he resumes his career in Montpellier in early February. If – and it’s a very big ‘if’ – he can get himself properly fit and stay healthy, there’s no reason at all why the Wimbledon champion of 2013 and 2016 shouldn’t be in very good shape come the summer grass court season. Which would make him a very dangerous opponent for anyone at the All England Club, a fitting likely venue for his return to grand slam tennis.

The latter could, in theory, come at the end of May should he fancy the French Open. However, he might avoid the clay court season altogether to protect his hip – and the rest of his body – from tennis’s most treacherous surface. That would give him – fingers crossed – an emotional return to grand slam singles tennis in SW19.

Beyond that? The 2020 Olympics start very soon after the strawberries and cream are packed away. In a less taxing best-of-three-set format, could the champion from London and Rio strike gold again in Tokyo?

The good thing about the Murray story, in which he’s had to overcome his fair share of misery, is the potential for him to furnish us with a surprise happy ending.

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Kyrgios makes ace pledge for those affected by bushfires

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Nick Kyrgios will donate 200 Australian dollars (£106) for each ace he hits in the Australian summer swing to those affected by the country’s bushfires.

The Australian, 24, earlier called on Tennis Australia to host a fund-raising exhibition, with chief executive Craig Tiley confirming plans are being made.

Fellow Australians Alex de Minaur and John Millman pledged their own support, donating money for every ace they hit.

Meanwhile Australia’s cricketers are planning tributes and fund-raising.

They and opponents New Zealand will wear black armbands in tribute to those affected by widespread bushfires in Australia when the teams meet in Friday’s third Test in Sydney.

There will also be a minute’s applause to honour the country’s firefighters.

“We pray conditions improve, the fires ease and the rains come,” said Australia coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine in a joint letter.

“And, above all else, we hope all Australians pull together and help each other through this incredibly difficult time.”

The pair also said the firefighters were the “true heroes of every summer”.

At least 18 people have died in blazes across the country.

Cricket Australia also announced there will be a fund-raising drive for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund during one-day matches between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney in March, while the team’s shirts from the Boxing Day Test win over the Black Caps are being auctioned off.

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Australia head into the final match of the three-Test series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.

The match may be hampered by the smoke from fires that have spread to the outskirts of Sydney and umpires have the option to suspend play if smoke affects air quality or visibility.

“Like rain, the rules are in place to add time, to suspend play. But what we’re finding is smoke comes in quick but also goes quick,” Cricket Australia’s head of operations Peter Roach said.

“We might see some challenges across that day, but we’ll play it like rain or adverse weather. Time can be added on.”

A Big Bash match was abandoned in Canberra in December because of poor air quality, while players at golf’s Australian Open in Sydney complained of stinging eyes and trouble breathing.

Tennis stars to join fund-raising drive

Kyrgios, Australia’s number two tennis player, suggested on social media on Wednesday that Tennis Australia should use the presence of the world’s best players in the country in the build-up to the Australian Open to raise funds.

Tiley, the governing body’s chief, responded on Thursday, announcing that fund-raisers would be held at the inaugural ATP Cup, which begins on Friday, the Australian Open, which starts on 20 January, and warm-up events held between the two.

“For weeks we’ve been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts,” said Tiley.

“We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and will announce a number of fund-raising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the coming weeks.”

Kyrgios’ decision to donate an amount based on his ace count over the Australian summer was followed by De Minaur and Millman pledging $250 and $100 per ace themselves.

Kyrgios is one of the leading servers on the ATP Tour, averaging 16.6 aces per match in 2019.

Tim Henman who is captaining the British team at the ATP Cup in Sydney said he was confident that the air quality will not be a problem at the tournament.

“I think in the context of what this country is going through with the bushfires and for us having to deal with perhaps slightly poor air quality, I think there is the perspective,” he said.

“I don’t envisage it being a problem at all.”

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Learn How The ATP Cup 'Puts Doubles In The Main Spotlight'

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Learn How The ATP Cup ‘Puts Doubles In The Main Spotlight’

ATP Cup ties could be decided by winner-takes-all doubles matches

The format of the ATP Cup places two singles matches at the start of each tie, and then a doubles match. So if two countries split their singles matches, it will all come down to the doubles. For the ATP Tour’s doubles stars, they’d have it no other way.

“This whole format, playing two singles and doubles potentially deciding the whole tie is great, and obviously then it puts doubles in the main spotlight. I think that’s great,” said Marcin Matkowski, Team Poland’s captain and a 17-time tour-level doubles titlist. “The people here love doubles. If you have an important tie like that, they will come and support their team. Hopefully this week we will see some Polish community and Polish people coming to watch us and support, and I think it will be a great event.”

Jurgen Melzer reached the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings during his singles career, before transitioning his full focus to doubles at the end of 2018. So the Austrian is excited that the ATP Cup could put the discipline under the spotlight, with several ties figuring to come down to the doubles match.

“I think it’s very important to have that opportunity for the doubles guys to play a decisive match and be in the spotlight and having that platform,” Melzer said. “It’s not on an every-week basis that we have that, so we are looking forward [to it], and hopefully there will be a lot of close matches and some doubles that are decisive.”

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Team Belgium is led by 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin. But its secret weapon could be the doubles team of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who captured three ATP Tour titles together in 2019. They strongly believe in their country’s singles players, but are excited at the thought of potentially playing to give Belgium a tie victory under pressure.

“It’s interesting. It’s very nice. It’s cool for us to be here to hopefully give our country and our team a deciding point,” Gille said. “I think it’s an interesting system to just have the doubles as a deciding third match.”

Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury have different full-time partners. But as Great Britain’s two highest-ranked doubles players, they are teaming up to represent their country, with the potential to battle in a deciding match.

“I think we are really excited that it could come down to that, and we’ll enjoy the opportunity if it does,” Salisbury said. “I think it’s a great showcase for doubles.”

With that opportunity comes pressure, though. For the Brits, they will need to quickly gel in Sydney.

“You’ve got to be ready to compete. You know if you are playing [doubles in the Final Eight] then there’s a pressure match, it’s winner-takes-all,” Murray said. “So that’s exciting, and I obviously hope we get the opportunity to do that this week and be involved in matches like that with the atmospheres that we know can be created in team competitions and really looking forward to the week ahead. Should be a lot of fun, I think.”

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Safin: The Team Russia Coach, Different To The Player

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Safin: The Team Russia Coach, Different To The Player

Former World No. 1 excited about the team he’ll captain at ATP Cup

Marat Safin, the player, wore his heart on his sleeve and struck powerfully off both wings to become a fan’s favourite. But as the charismatic captain of Team Russia, the former World No. 1 insists he will be more cautious courtside at the inaugural 2020 ATP Cup.

“The captain has to respect the coaches of each player, we’ll work together,” Safin told media in Perth on Thursday. “Not everything will be on my back, but the coaches know better than me and the effect on the player’s performance.

“I don’t want to interfere too much, because it might not have the right effect. I want them to be themselves, because everyone has their own character, and do the best they can. I want them to have their own approach and I will be careful with my words.”

With two Top 20 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings at his disposal, Safin will be joined on the bench during singles matches at the RAC Arena by Gilles Cervara (No. 5-ranked Daniil Medvedev’s coach) and Vedran Martic (No. 17 Karen Khachanov’s coach).

”I believe we have the ‘dream team’, and we’ll be the future champions of the ATP Cup,” Safin added, with a smile. “I’m really happy with the team, I’m pleased and proud to be part of a great team. Everyone is a great guy, which is very important.”

Looking ahead to their first tie on Friday against Team Italy, Safin said: “The first tie is always a tough one, the first match in the arena, Italians are always tough to play against. They are grinders and it will be important to take a good first step.

“It will be tough, for sure… but our confidence is rocking. We’ve been here a few days and we’re ready to play. Russia is into tennis with Daniil and Karen doing well right now. But we want to move ice hockey from top spot and make Russians proud.”

Safin, Medvedev

Medvedev, who put together a career-best 59-21 match record, including four titles in 2019, will face Fabio Fognini in his singles rubber on Friday. The World No. 5 said: “I like to play Fabio, it suits my style well. I don’t think he likes to play with me. It will be interesting to see what he does on Friday. I’m always proud to represent my country, hopefully very well. My first goal is to try and be consistent.”

Khachanov said: “It’s always nice to fight for your colours and together it means something. We will try to do our best, to try and win the whole championship. Everyone is proud to be part of the ATP Cup, which will be a big start to the year. I’ve been here before, the court is a little slower than in the past, but we’re prepared well and will be ready.”

Former World No. 43 Teymuraz Gabashvili, who has struggled to overcome injuries in recent years, admitted: “I’m happy to be here. I was out for a long time and to be around the guys, top-level guys, for me, is a great experience again. I hope that I can see where am I now… We have unbelievable captain – [an] ex World No. 1, so he can push everybody here, [and] a winner of Grand Slams. Our goal, for sure, is to win here.”

Team Russia, which also boast Ivan Nedelko and Konstantin Kravchuk among its lineup, competes in Group D against Italy, United States and Norway in Perth.

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ATP Cup Attracts Global Broadcast Coverage Ahead Of 2020 Season Launch

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

ATP Cup Attracts Global Broadcast Coverage Ahead Of 2020 Season Launch

Worldwide coverage of ATP Tour season opener

The ATP Cup will kick off the 2020 ATP Tour season with broadcast coverage secured in more than 180 territories worldwide, the ATP announced on Thursday.

The new 24-country team event will launch the 2020 season with the group stages played simultaneously across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from 3 January, before the Final Eight knock-out stages take place in Sydney from 9-12 January.

Ross Hutchins, ATP Cup Managing Director, said: “Our intention has been to kick off the season with a major global event and the ATP Cup is set to provide exactly that, with a fantastic player field across our three venues. We’re delighted with the broadcast agreements in place that will ensure that fans all over the world will be able to tune into the action to follow the start of the season as the players go head-to-head for their countries in a bid to win the inaugural ATP Cup.”

The host broadcast of the ATP Cup will be produced by Tennis Australia, with domestic rights held by Channel Nine in Australia, while the international broadcast sales and distribution are handled by ATP Media, the broadcast arm of the ATP Tour.

“Through the ATP Cup broadcast we want to take the tennis fan right into the heart of true ethos of this event,” Tennis Australia Chief Operating Officer and ATP Cup Tournament Director Tom Larner said.

“It’s all about the teams, the passion and the camaraderie of these players and we want to show how much it means to them and how amazing these athletes are. The ATP Cup will offer something very unique in the world of tennis. There’s never been a 10-day tennis tournament held across three different cities simultaneously before, and we’re excited to bring this new event to the world through a contemporised broadcast that appeals to, and attracts, new audiences to tennis.”

The world’s leading broadcasters have committed to the event, with live coverage being shown via free-to-air TV, pay TV, online and via OTT products depending on the territory, demonstrating the wide interest in the ATP Cup and reflecting the variety of platforms on which sport is viewed.

The likes of ESPN (Latin America), Eurosport (Scandinavia), Tennis Channel (United States), TSN (Canada), BeIN (France and MENA), TV Asahi (Japan), Sky Deutschland (Germany), and Servus TV (Austria) are among the broadcasters to have secured the rights to the $US15 million prize money event.

Stuart Watts, Chief Operating Officer, ATP Media, said: “The inaugural ATP Cup has attracted worldwide interest from broadcasters and we’re pleased to have reached agreements in more than 180 territories that will ensure that the event gets a worldwide visibility that will be unprecedented in week one of the calendar.”

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Kyrgios Looks To Make An Impact On Australian Wildfires

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Kyrgios Looks To Make An Impact On Australian Wildfires

Ahead of ATP Cup, Aussie opens up on how he hopes to help

Nick Kyrgios will have home on his mind during the ATP Cup as Australia continues to be impacted by the worst wildfires seen in decades.

As of Wednesday, 17 people have died throughout the country and more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed. Kyrgios’ hometown of Canberra is experiencing its worst air quality on record as local residents have been told to stay indoors.

Eager to help, Kyrgios tweeted on Wednesday to Tennis Australia and asked them to put on an exhibition fundraiser. The tweet quickly went viral as fans applauded the Aussie for looking to make a difference.

“It’s pretty tragic what’s going on, especially with my hometown, Canberra, being under a bit of smoke, the most hazardous smoke in the world at the moment,” Kyrgios said on Thursday at a pre-tournament press conference in Brisbane. “It’s obviously sad for everything that’s going on… There’s no rain predicted there for the next four months, so it doesn’t look like the fires are going to slow down anytime soon, which is pretty sad. To see Canberra be like that, it’s pretty tough.”

If Kyrgios hoped to create action, his tweet helped accomplish that. Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, confirmed shortly after that a multi-city effort will be launched to support those who have been impacted by the wildfires.

“We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and will announce a number of fundraising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks,” Tiley wrote in a statement. “Stay tuned for further announcements.”

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Kyrgios also knows that he has the support of his peers on Team Australia. The other players in the squad hope to lend a hand throughout the coming weeks.

“I’m sure that all these guys will be happy to help,” Kyrgios said. “John Millman and John Peers retweeted, so the more exposure it gets, I think we have the potential to do something pretty special.”

Team Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt added that, “It’s been a pretty tough time for a lot of the major states of our country… I think all of us feel like we would like to help in some way. Tennis, and especially Tennis Australia, have always made an effort to try and put things together, and we have got a massive platform… If they can organise something quick enough, I’m sure they will try and do absolutely everything they can.”

For now, Kyrgios will shift his focus to Australia’s first match on Friday against Germany in Group F. Each victory that the 24-year-old can provide his team will only heighten his platform to talk about the wildfires that impact him personally.

“Our focus, obviously, is tomorrow,” Kyrgios said. “We’ve got a massive match. But all the families and all affected are in our thoughts.”

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Why The British Are Savouring 'Totally Unique' ATP Cup Atmosphere

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Why The British Are Savouring ‘Totally Unique’ ATP Cup Atmosphere

Brits are bringing long-standing friendships to team competition

Throughout the year, you can find Great Britain’s tennis stars in players’ lounges, restaurants and hotel rooms around the world bantering over football among other sports. They are undoubtedly a tight-knit group. But week-to-week, they compete for themselves.

What is special about the ATP Cup is that it provides guys like Daniel Evans, Cameron Norrie, James Ward, Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray a chance to bring those friendships onto the court, competing as a team against other countries.

“It’s just a different dynamic, different energy. It’s cool to have your teammates there on the side cheering you on and wanting you to win for the team. It’s really cool to be in it together,” Murray said. “We don’t really ever get a chance to do that, and I think that’s what’s so exciting about this new event. It’ll bring together a lot of teams, a lot of players together. You see those emotions and stuff on the side of the court with the support. It’s totally unique.”

It’s not to say that the Brits don’t support each other throughout the season. But when they take the court in Sydney beginning Friday, they’ll be part of the action, sitting in the special team zones that are unique to the ATP Cup to provide support for teammates.

“We spend a lot of time together during the year at events, but I think when we come together as a team, it’s different,” Murray said. “Everyone’s closer together and you’re spending your days with those people. We all know each other really well, whether that’s the players or the coaches or the physios and stuff that are here with us, the support team. It’s cool. We really enjoy it.”

Team Great Britain

And while the Brits joke around with each other off the court between matches — Norrie and Murray had good fun Wednesday on Sydney Harbour poking fun at one another’s sunglasses — those genuine friendships carry into the heat of competition in a good way.

“We’re all into the same stuff, so it makes it a lot easier,” Ward said. “It helps if you get on well off the court. Everyone does on our team so on the court we’re going to fight for each other harder and support each other as well.”

Evans, the No. 1 singles player for Great Britain in Sydney, echoed many of the same sentiments.

“I think it’s going to be really good,” Evans said. “You know they can get pumped for the guy on court to try and get him through the match in a tight one, and I think it will be a great new addition.”

Another positive the players have found in the ATP Cup is that it feels like an extra-special way to begin the new season, motivating them even more to get off to a good start.

“I think for the players, they all enjoy getting together as a team,” Murray said. “Everyone gets on well from the respective countries and you’re pulling together for one common goal. It’s different. It’s fun and I think it’s a great way for the Tour to kick off its season.”

Each team has a captain at the ATP Cup. And in Team Great Britain’s case, former World No. 4 Tim Henman is doing whatever he can to put his players in position for success at this inaugural 24-team event.

“I’ve known these guys for a long, long time away from an event like this. But certainly when you do get together at the beginning of a new year — we’ve had plenty of time to prepare — it’s great to build that spirit,” Henman said. “We’ll need it because you look at this event as a whole and the 24 teams and you have eight of the Top 10, 23 of the Top 30 [in the ATP Rankings] playing, we’re going to need to be firing on all cylinders.”

For the players, it’s a special opportunity to work with a national icon, one who could help lead them to victory here in Sydney.

“It’s nice to have Tim as an addition to pass on some of the experience on the court and get to know him a bit better,” Norrie said. “I think we’re all really excited to get out there and start the year. It’s looking like it’s shaping up to be a sick event, so let’s see what happens.”

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Brilliant Bonding At Bondi Beach For Thiem & Austria

  • Posted: Jan 02, 2020

Brilliant Bonding At Bondi Beach For Thiem & Austria

Austrians begin their ATP Cup on Saturday against Croatia

Bondi Beach became a brilliant bonding location for Team Austria on Thursday morning, with the start of their ATP Cup just two days away. Dominic Thiem and the Austrians had a blast at the Bondi Icebergs as a nice break from practice before locking in to face Team Croatia on Saturday evening in Sydney.

“It’s a great city and I’ve never been to Bondi Beach, so I’m happy to be brought here,” Thiem said. “It’s a great kick-off for the tournament and we are all getting more and more excited, and can’t wait for the start.”

The Bondi Icebergs is a year-round outdoor pool high above the beach itself with a stunning view of the water. The Austrians took full advantage of that, taking plenty of pictures before jumping in the pool to cool off.

Team Austria

Most importantly, the guys were growing even closer together, building the chemistry that is making this inaugural 24-team event special.

“We know each other for a long time, everybody. So it’s a great atmosphere. We’re having a lot of fun, we’re having good practices, so it’s exactly the way it should be,” Thiem said. “It’s been a lot of practices and of course we can’t wait that the matches are going on again. We all miss our tennis, our matches, but also the other matches on TV. It’s just nice when the new season starts again and it’s going to be great when the time is ready.”

According to captain Thomas Muster, a former World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, his country’s stars have been working hard in preparation. They will need to battle through a tough Group E to advance to the last eight, also facing Team Argentina and Poland in round-robin play.

“[They are] doing very well. I think we all adjusted well to the time change, to the climate. The boys have been in the country for quite a while,” Muster said. “We’re all good and ready to go.”

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