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Berrettini: When You Are In The Draw, They Are Looking At You

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Two years ago, Matteo Berrettini started the 2019 ATP Tour season at No. 54 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Italian, who had yet to crack the Top 50, was aiming to add to his title collection after picking up his maiden ATP Tour trophies in singles and doubles at the Swiss Open Gstaad in 2018.

Not only did the Italian manage to add to his trophy cabinet, he also produced one of the most unlikely runs to Nitto ATP Finals qualification in tournament history. Berrettini collected two ATP Tour titles and reached the semi-finals or better at eight tour-level events, including the US Open, to qualify for the elite eight-man event for the first time.

Understandably, the 6’5” right-hander’s rapid 2019 ascent took some time to process. To put it simply, Berrettini had gone from being a hunter to the hunted.

“[In 2018, I started the season at] No. 135 so it is definitely different. You feel that when you are in the draw, they are looking at you like, ‘Okay, this guy is a seed so I want to beat him even more’. It definitely changed, but it is what you have to take,” said Berrettini. “There are pros and cons and I think you have to get used to it. Once you play tournaments and matches, you are going to be able to get used to it and to get better at it.”

Due to a hernia/groin injury and the suspension of the ATP Tour due to COVID-19 last year, Berrettini was limited to just six tournament appearances in 2020. But while he was unable to carry his momentum into 2020, the extra time on the sidelines gave the Rome-born star an opportunity to reflect on achieving one of his career goals and set his objectives for the future.

“Once you get [to the Top 10], you cannot say, ‘Okay, I am going to be happy if I am Top 20’… Obviously, it is not bad at all,” said Berrettini. “When I was younger and I was thinking about myself being Top 20, I was like, ‘Okay, it could be a nice goal for my career’. I was Top 8 and obviously I am chasing to be even better, but I got there without thinking about it. It is in my head, but I have to work every day and hopefully I can improve my best ranking.”

Berrettini is not the only Italian with ambitious plans on the ATP Tour. Alongside France, Italy is one of only two countries to have four players inside the Top 40.

The rise of Italian tennis has given the three-time ATP Tour titlist a great sense of pride and it has also served as a motivational tool. Berrettini can rely on the support of his fellow Top 40 countrymen Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego and Jannik Sinner throughout the season at ATP Tour events.

”It is something that we should be really proud of. All the players are really nice guys and there are others coming,” said Berrettini. “It is a really healthy environment for tennis in Italy… The guys are great, Lorenzo [Songeo], Jannik [Sinner], Fabio [Fognini] and also the other guys. We have fun when we practise together. We are helping each other to reach our goals and I think this is something really healthy and really great for tennis.”

There is also an added incentive for Italian players to perform to their best level in 2021, following the relocation of the Nitto ATP Finals to Turin. Berrettini will be aiming to make his second appearance at the season finale in three years. The Italian also attended last year’s event as the first alternate.

”It would be great to be there. It is in Italy, Turin is a great city and I think it is going to be a great, great event,” said Berrettini. “London was unbelievable, it was really nice and it has been a nice way to finish the year. I remember all my team and all my family was there, a lot of people came and it was nice. It would be nice to be there in Turin too but I think you have to go step-by-step. At the beginning of 2019, I didn’t think about that, so I think I have to think tournament-by-tournament.”

The Antalya quarter-finalist will make his second appearance of the season at the ATP Cup in February, where he will lead Team Italy for the first time. With the support of teammates Fognini, Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori, the innovative team event could prove to be the perfect springboard for a successful 2021 campaign for Berrettini.

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Felix Announces Return Of #FAAPointsForChange In 2021

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Since the start of the 2019 ATP Tour season, Felix Auger-Aliassime has reached six ATP Tour finals, won 56 tour-level matches and climbed more than 80 positions in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But perhaps the most important statistic for the #NextGenATP Canadian is the 4,909 points he has won along the way.

At the beginning of the 2020 ATP Tour season, the Montreal-born star announced he would donate $5 for every point he won in 2019 and 2020 to EduChange, who partnered with humanitarian organisation CARE to support the protection and education of children from his father’s home country: Togo. Earlier this month, Auger-Aliassime took to Twitter to reveal that he would continue the project in 2021.

“I would like to give this opportunity to as many kids as I can so that they have a chance to go to school, to play sports,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It’s the basics for me, and I would like for this to be global. I wanted Togo to be the first place where I can inject support and energy.”

The #FAAPointsForChange campaign will continue to receive support from BNP Paribas, who have donated $15 for every point won by Auger-Aliassime so far. With a total of $20 raised for each of the 4,909 points the Canadian has won since 2019, the initiative has raised almost $100,000 for children in Togo.

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Hurkacz Returns To Top 30, Mover Of The Week

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

No. 29 Hubert Hurkacz, +6
The Pole started the 2021 ATP Tour season in fine form by capturing his second ATP Tour trophy last week at the Delray Beach Open by He beat first-time finalist Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3 in the final and returns to the Top 30 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time since the week beginning 24 August 2020. The 23-year-old Hurkacz is one spot off his career-high of No. 28, which he attained on 3 February 2020. Read More & Watch Delray Beach Final Highlights

View Latest FedEx ATP Rankings

No. 45 Alexander Bublik, +4 (Career High)
The Kazakhstani has risen to a career-high No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings after contesting the third ATP Tour final of his career at the Antalya Open (l. to De Minaur). The 23-year-old beat World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini 7-6(6), 6-4 for his second Top 10 win in the quarter-finals and followed it up with a semi-final victory over Jeremy Chardy.

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 14 David Goffin, +2
No. 51 Sam Querrey, +5
No. 66 Jeremy Chardy, +6
No 67 Cameron Norrie, +7
No. 95 Gianluca Mager, +6

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Nadal Hits 800 Straight Weeks In Top 10

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Eight hundred consecutive weeks. That’s how long Rafael Nadal has been living inside the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. His run has spanned more than 15 years and counting: 5,600 days. 134,400 hours. The Mallorcan’s streak has already lasted longer than the Napoleonic Wars or World War I, World War II, and the American Civil War combined. By the time he’s done, look out Thirty Years’ War.

Nadal broke Jimmy Connors’ mark of 789 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 in November and shows no signs of relinquishing a perch that’s become so familiar, he could almost be charged rent for the space. The last time there were two digits higher than 10 next the man’s name in the rankings, Facebook was a year old, Twitter and Instagram hadn’t been invented, no one had ever heard of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber was a tween busking for coins on the streets of Stratford, Ontario.


Nadal first broke into the Top 10 in April 2005 at the age of 18, a month before capturing his first Roland Garros title. For much of the next 15 years he was No. 1 or No. 2, though there were a few close calls, particularly when he was injured, when he nearly dropped out of the Top 10. For example, in the summer of 2015 he lived dangerously at No. 10 but slid no further south, and in the winter of 2016-17, he dipped to No. 9 but was No. 1 by the end of the year. When he needed to, he got medieval on rivals who threatened his own personal safe space: the Top 10.

Whenever his ranking has suffered, he’s elevated his game. Nadal once said that doubting himself was an important part of his success. “I think it’s good for me (having doubts) because then I feel alert,” he told Jon Wertheim of the television program 60 Minutes in July. “Because tennis is a sport where things can change very quickly.” He’s been in the Top 10 for what seems like forever, but his conviction that things can change quickly is the ethos that will likely keep him there for years to come.

Naturally, any discussion of records involving a member of the Big Three begs the question: Where does Rafa stand relative to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer? Roger’s right behind Connors in the record books for his 734-consecutive-week run in the Top 10 from October 2002-October 2016. It was his right knee, and not the competition, that knocked him down to a shocking — for him — No. 17 in the rankings that winter.

Djokovic had a decade-long run in the Top 10, from 2007-2017 that was disrupted by an elbow injury. He re-entered the Top 10 in July 2018 and has been there since. This means that he’d need to stay there until 2033, when he’ll be 46, to approach Nadal’s record. How about Fed? He muscled his way back into the Top 10 in January 2017, so he could get there a year sooner, when he’ll be 51. One never likes to count out the likes of Federer and Nole, but sorry gents, this is one record they will not break.

What’s the next rankings target for Rafa? Federer has spent the most weeks overall in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings with 931 weeks, followed by Connors (816), and then Nadal (800). Djokovic is currently in sixth place at 656 weeks.

Will Rafa hit 1,000 consecutive weeks, which is more than 19 years? The Spaniard could hit that target at the end of 2024, when he’ll be 37. It’s certainly possible. Cats ran on Broadway for 18 years and Nadal’s a much better show than that ever was.

When asked at the Rolex Paris Masters last year how he’s managed to stay on or near the top for so long, Nadal was characteristically thoughtful and humble.

“I’ve faced issues in terms of injuries during different parts of my career,” he said. “But I always hold the passion and the love to keep doing what I do, which is to play tennis. So I’m proud that even after achieving a lot of things, that in some moments I’ve been able to keep being hungry, to keep going, and to be humble enough to accept the challenges, accept that in some moments things were not going the way that I expected. I’ve always had great help from the people around me. Without them, this would be impossible.”

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Ready For Launch: Musetti, Nakashima Headline Challenger Season Debut

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Welcome to 2021. Following a thrilling finish to a wild and unpredictable 2020 campaign, a new season has dawned on the ATP Challenger Tour. While the initial stages might appear different than years past, the battle to become the next breakout star remains the same.

In a typical year, the stars of the Challenger circuit would be descending on tropical Noumea and sun-kissed Australia in January. But with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact the world, players are adjusting and adapting to a new setting to kick off their campaigns. This week, snowy Istanbul is the site of the ATP Challenger Tour’s opening tournament. The indoor hard courts of the TED Sports Club play host to the Istanbul Indoor Challenger.

Coming off breakthrough seasons in 2020, #NextGenATP stars Lorenzo Musetti, Brandon Nakashima and Thiago Seyboth Wild enter 2021 looking to take the next step in their bids to crack the Top 100. For the trio, the journey to the Next Gen ATP Finals begins in Istanbul.

At No. 129 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, 18-year-old Musetti is the youngest player in the draw. The Italian teen opens against Serbia’s Danilo Petrovic, with third seed Antoine Hoang looming in his quarter of the draw. Nakashima, who closed 2020 with a maiden Challenger title in Orlando, faces Turkish No. 1 Cem Ilkel on Tuesday. A potential Orlando final rematch against Prajnesh Gunneswaran awaits in the second round. Nearly one year removed from his breakthrough ATP Tour title in Santiago, Brazil’s Seyboth Wild enters the year at No. 118 in the world. Seeded second this week, he opens against Mohamed Safwat in the final match of Day One.

ATP Challenger Tour 

Also competing in Istanbul is front-runner Daniel Elahi Galan, who reached the third round at Roland Garros in October and capped 2020 with a title on the clay of Lima, Peru. He joins Seyboth Wild, Hoang and Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis as the Top 4 seeds in the Turkish metropolis. The Colombian opens against a qualifier on Tuesday.

Marc-Andrea Huesler is one of the unseeded players that no one wants to face in Istanbul. The Swiss was the only player to win on multiple surfaces a year ago, prevailing on the outdoor clay of Sibiu, Romania and indoor carpet courts of Ismaning, Germany. One of the hottest players on the planet in the latter months of 2020, Huesler also streaked to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 stop in Kitzbuhel, where he earned his first Top 20 victory over Fabio Fognini. He looms large in a loaded top half of the draw, with Guido Andreozzi his first-round opponent and Bagnis, Nakashima, Gunneswaran and China’s Zhang Zhizhen also in his quarter.

One of the ATP Challenger Tour’s longtime stalwarts, the city of Istanbul celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the circuit. The TED Sports Club also hosts an annual outdoor hard-court event in September, with future Top 10 stars Nikolay Davydenko (2001), Robin Soderling (2003) and Karen Khachanov (2015) among its past champions. Founded in 1936, the club is both the oldest and largest tennis facility in all of Turkey.


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