Tennis News

From around the world

Machac On Next Gen ATP Finals: ‘It Would Be Perfect If I Could Qualify’

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2021

While the 2021 ATP Tour season may still be in its opening stages, many of the top 21-and-under talents already have their sights set on where they want to finish the year. One such player is 20-year-old Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic, who is eager to end his 2021 campaign at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

”It would be perfect if I could qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, but it is far away at the moment,” Machac told “I will do my best to qualify there.”

Machac has started the year in promising form. Earlier this month, the Czech qualified for the Australian Open main draw without dropping a set in Doha. Across three matches, Machac lost just 14 games to confirm his spot at the opening major championship of the year for the first time.

“The qualifying was very good. I was playing my best tennis, so I am looking forward to playing good in the main draw,” said Machac. “I will try my best and we will see.”

Born in Beroun, a town less than 20 miles southwest of Prague, Machac reached his first two ATP Challenger Tour finals in Koblenz (d. Van de Zandschulp) and Bratislava (l. to Marterer) last year. However, his most notable performance of 2020 came at Roland Garros.

Following the withdrawal of multiple players due to COVID-19, Machac made his Grand Slam qualifying draw debut and claimed his place in the main draw with three straight-sets wins. In his first tour-level match, the Czech pushed 27th seed Taylor Fritz to five sets in a three-hour, 39-minute battle.

”At Roland Garros, I was really nervous in every match,” said Machac. “I really wanted to go to the main draw at Roland Garros. It was the first time at a Grand Slam, so it was really hard to play every game and every point. It was a really good experience at Roland Garros and it will help me a lot for Australia.”

Tomas Machac made his Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros in 2020.

A maiden Grand Slam match win in Melbourne would give the Czech a boost in his bid to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals. Machac has watched each of the past three editions of the event, which have featured Top 10 stars Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I was catching the matches [as often] as I could,” said Machac. “It is a really good tournament. I am looking forward to it. It is different to the other events, it is really good and I would like to play the tournament.”

Growing up, Machac idolised both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Unable to pick sides in their matches, he enjoyed watching their battles in the hope of witnessing ‘the perfect match’. Despite his connection to the two most successful players in Grand Slam history, Machac believes his game shows a greater resemblance to the remaining member of the Big 3: Novak Djokovic.

”I don’t play like Federer or Nadal. I think my style is a little bit of Djokovic,” said Machac. “I have a really good backhand, a good forehand and I am serving okay, very good. I play good [on my] return.”

Machac’s sporting inspirations are not limited to the tennis court. The 6’0” right-hander, coached by two-time Roland Garros doubles champion Daniel Vacek, is also inspired by basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Machac, who enjoys playing basketball in his free time at home, gained a greater appreciation for the six-time NBA champion after watching the Netflix documentary ‘The Last Dance’ last year.

”I like him a lot. I like basketball. When I was younger, I didn’t look at basketball as much as now. I watched the Netflix series and after the series, I was the best fan of his,” said Machac. “Before, I really liked him but after the series I was a big fan. I would like to do everything that he did. He is really good. A legend.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Machac has had more time to watch television in recent weeks as he prepares for his Australian Open debut in quarantine. Alongside his hotel training regime, the Koblenz champion has filled his spare hours with gaming and Netflix dramas ‘Lupin’ and ‘You’.

“I wake up a little bit later than usual. I start working for one hour on the bicycle, some exercises, some gym work. After that, I take a shower, have lunch and watch a series or play some games.” said Machac. “I brought a Playstation, so sometimes I spend time on the Playstation. After, I have a little bit of stretching, a second practice and I try volleying against the wall. In the evening, I watch a series and I speak with my girlfriend.”

Machac’s hours spent in front of the television may have distracted him from quarantine life, but they have not affected his focus. The Czech is eager to play with ‘great stability’ throughout 2021 at Challenger level and qualify for as many Grand Slam main draws as he can.

With six straight-sets victories in as many matches, the 20-year-old owns a 100 per cent record in Grand Slam qualifying clashes. If he can maintain that level, he will have a great chance to earn the FedEx ATP Rankings points he will need to secure qualification for Milan.

None of the previous three editions of the Next Gen ATP Finals have featured a Czech player. Machac could be the man to change that statistic in 2021.

Source link

Rublev, Bautista Agut Lead No. 2 Singles Players At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2021

With the teams set and the draw unveiled, the countdown is on for the 2021 ATP Cup, which begins on 2 February in Melbourne. The event pits 12 countries against each other across four groups as they compete for a spot in the semi-finals.

All countries were qualified based on the ATP Ranking of their No. 1 singles players. But in a team tournament where depth is key, there are plenty of highly-ranked No. 2 players to watch.

Leading the pack is 23-year-old Andrey Rublev, who is currently No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The second-ranked Russian will team up with No. 4 Daniil Medvedev to make powerhouse Team Russia the only country to feature two Top 10 singles players.

It’s a testament to just how rapid Rublev’s breakthrough rise has been: he was ranked outside of the Top 20 around the time of last year’s ATP Cup, and wasn’t the No. 2 Russian. Now, after earning a Tour-leading five trophies in 2020 and qualifying for his first Nitto ATP Finals, the 23-year-old is ready to take on the ATP Cup.

Milos Raonic is also set to make his Melbourne team debut as Canada’s No. 2 player. Raonic, who rose from No. 32 to No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2020, will share singles duties with No. 12 Denis Shapovalov.

“I think for us [the key is] going to be depth,” Raonic said of having two Top 20 singles players in Team Canada. “That’s going to be important. I believe we’re probably up there among a few of the top teams that have a higher average ranking compared to other teams. Especially when you have to win two out of the three matches, I think that could be a great advantage for us and something that pays dividends.”

Top 5 No. 2 Singles Players At ATP Cup By ATP Ranking

 Player   Country  ATP Ranking 
 Andrey Rublev   Russia   No. 8
 Roberto Bautista Agut   Spain   No. 13
 Milos Raonic  Canada  No. 15
 Fabio Fognini  Italy  No. 17 
 Dusan Lajovic  Serbia   No. 26

Other standout No. 2 players are Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who are both ranked inside the Top 20 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. World No. 13 Bautista Agut finished last year’s tournament with a perfect 6-0 record (12-0 in sets) to help guide Spain to the final, while No. 17 Fognini earned three wins from five matches across singles and doubles.

World No. 26 Dusan Lajovic is also one to watch after he helped Team Serbia claim the inaugural ATP Cup title last year. Lajovic is ready to reprise his role alongside World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, amassing a 4-2 win-loss record at last year’s event.

“Representing your country is an honour that you only have once or twice in a year,” said Serbian No. 2 Lajovic. “The whole concept of being in a team, it’s a very rare opportunity for us. You’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team. And in this case, you’re playing for the people who are also your friends, and that makes it even more special.” 


Source link

ATP Cup Bracket Challenge Opens!

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2021

Fans gearing up for the 12-country ATP Cup can get a head start on the action from today with the launch of the ATP Cup Bracket Challenge Game.

The Game, developed by FanHub, a global leader of digital gaming platforms, tasks fans with picking the four group winners, semi-final winners and the ultimate ATP Cup champion. A dream VIP trip for two to the 2022 ATP Cup will be awarded to the best-performing fan.

Sign up now and make your picks!

The game features 12 public leagues by country, one overall league and unlimited leagues (both private and public) created by fans.

The grand prize for the winner of the overall league is a VIP trip for two to the semi-finals and final of the 2022 ATP Cup, including a backstage tour and meeting with an ATP Tour player.

Picks must be made before the tournament begins 10 a.m. 2 February in Melbourne. That is 11 p.m. 1 February in London and 6 p.m. 1 February in New York.. No changes can be made after the first ball has been struck.

ATP Cup, featuring the likes of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, will be held 2-6 February in Melbourne.

Source link

Lajovic: 'Chairs Were Flying' Around Serbia's Uno Table

  • Posted: Jan 26, 2021

Dusan Lajovic is set to kick off his season at the ATP Cup, joining World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic when Team Serbia takes the court as the defending champion.

But even though he’s far from Serbia, Lajovic is feeling right at home. In fact, he has brought the whole neighbourhood with him: All four players reside in the same condominium complex in Belgrade. “Only one is ‘the impostor,’’’ Lajovic joked. “[Our captain] Viktor [Troicki] lives in the centre of the city. We’ll try to welcome him and do our best to make him feel like he’s a part of the neighborhood.”

Lajovic, who is currently No. 26 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, won four of his six singles matches to help Serbia clinch the title last year, including standout victories over Top 20 Russian Karen Khachanov and #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. caught up with Lajovic before this year’s event.

Why are you excited about representing Serbia again in the ATP Cup?
Personally, I think it was one of the greatest events that I participated in, and especially winning a title was an incredible experience with so many emotions. So many people from Serbia were there supporting us from the first day in Brisbane until the last day in Sydney at the final. And honestly, it felt like we were playing at home in the middle of our country. The people supporting us were really nice, and they kept on supporting us at events after the ATP Cup.

I think the new energy that it brought and the new format was also one of the things that was so interesting. On the other hand, being part of the team, who are my friends off the court, was another thing that really brought the emotion and togetherness in competing in an event that is not just individual.

Representing your country is an honour that you only have once or twice in a year. The whole concept of being in a team, it’s a very rare opportunity for us. You’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team. And in this case, you’re playing for the people who are also your friends, and that makes it even more special.

What is your favourite memory from last year’s tournament?
I don’t think there is only one memory. The matches that I played really well, the fights on court that were really tense, playing in this kind of environment in front of a crowd that was following every point very closely and trying to engage every time they could… This was the memory that I took from the overall experience. It was just going through every match and every tie that impacted me the most.

What does Team Serbia look like this year? 
Team Serbia is me, Novak, Filip and Nikola with our captain Viktor. Actually from the five of us, four of us live in the same condominium in Belgrade. Only one is ‘the impostor’: Viktor who lives in the centre of the city. We’ll try to welcome him and do our best to make him feel like he’s a part of the neighborhood as well…

I’m only joking. We’ve just been friends for so long that it feels like home. It doesn’t matter that we’re on the other side of the world, just being with people that are close to you is a good feeling. You feel more relaxed and comfortable and safe.

Do you have any stories of you and your teammates from last year?
I will just say that last year during the ATP Cup, we played this card game Uno a lot. And it was as tense as it is on the court. The chairs were flying, the cards were flying off the balcony… It was really fun, and I hope this year we can have the same experience when we get together again.

If you could take one stroke from any one of your countrymen, what would it be and why?
Just one stroke? I would probably take eight out of 10 strokes from Novak at this point and then I don’t need anything else… Let’s say Novak’s return. I know it’s not one stroke, but I’d take his return and then let’s start from there.


Which player is most likely to not show up to a Team Serbia dinner on time?
Also Novak.

Which player is most likely to be the team’s hype man?
I would say Viktor.

What are three things you love most about Serbia?
The food, the people and the nature.

Tell us one stereotype about your country or countrymen that’s true and one that’s a common misconception.
That you have Serbians everywhere you go. This is true, it’s completely true. Any country I go to, any tournament that I play, there are Serbians there. And my coach, who is Spanish, is like, “How come there are Serbians everywhere we go?” I mean, in Argentina, in Australia… we go to Brazil and there are Serbians there. Anywhere in Asia, there are Serbians. And we are a pretty small country!

The misconception… I think if you see any Serbians in American movies they are always some evil characters or shady backgrounds. We make good villains, but Serbian people are not all like that!

Tell us about one signature food from your country.
My favourite Serbian food… it’s tough to translate it in English. It’s called “sarma” (Serbian stuffed cabbage). It’s minced meat with rice, rolled into a cabbage which is cooked for a long time. It’s really delicious and we eat it for holidays.

Source link