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Germany Defeats Great Britain In Thriller, Advances To Davis Cup SFs

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2021

Germany advanced to the semi-finals of the Davis Cup Finals on Tuesday evening, with the country’s doubles team of Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz leading the way past Great Britain in a thriller.

All three of Germany’s ties have gone to a deciding doubles rubber and on all three occasions, Krawietz and Puetz have come through. They battled past Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski 7-6(10), 7-6(5) on Tuesday to send their country to Madrid, where Germany will face the Russian Tennis Federation or Sweden.

“I’m super happy that we are going to Madrid. The whole team is great. We feel so comfortable with the whole team. The box today was unbelievably loud,” Krawietz said in his on-court interview. “[There were] no spectators, but we heard everything, so it pushed us a lot and we are super happy to make it through to the semi-finals.”

All four players showed a tremendous competitive spirit and flashes of brilliant shotmaking in Innsbruck. But the Germans stayed cooler under pressure to triumph. Krawietz and Puetz saved four set points in the first-set tie-break and rallied from 0/5 in the second-set tie-break to secure their victory.

“[It was] just grit, persistence, whatever you want to call it. I thought it was a pretty high level,” Puetz said. “I think it showed in the tie-break, us being down 5/0 and just [being] persistent, keeping going, believing in ourselves, playing point by point and here we are.”

Jan-Lennard Struff kept Germany’s hopes alive in the second match of the day when he clawed past 2021 breakthrough star Cameron Norrie 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2. 

Norrie, who competed as an alternate in the Nitto ATP Finals earlier this month, appeared to turn the match around when he forced the decider. But Struff played courageously to earn his first ATP Head2Head win against the lefty (series tied 1-1).

Earlier in the day, the crafty righty Daniel Evans had given Great Britain a 1-0 lead in the tie when he defeated Peter Gojowczyk 6-2, 6-1.

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Tsitsipas 'Caravaggio' Image Named One Of Time's Top 100 Photos Of 2021

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2021

Fans will remember this year’s Roland Garros final — in which Novak Djokovic rallied past Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets — for years to come. Getty Images photographer Julian Finney was there to document it, with one of his images from the match recently being named one of TIME’s Top 100 Photos of 2021.

Finney captured Tsitsipas sliding into a backhand slice on Court Philippe Chatrier, with a pocket of light shining perfectly on the Greek as if he were under a spotlight. According to the photographer, the moment came “out of nowhere”.

“The usual nice light us photographers love had gone from the court as the sun was beginning to go down behind the stadium. Without a fifth set this picture wouldn’t have been possible,” Finney said. “I was aware of new pockets of light formed by the new centre court construction, but what occurred at this split moment was something I didn’t plan for. It’s one of those golden moments that comes and goes very quickly.

“What was so special was the low light beaming through a gangway in the stadium above whilst at the same time it was also reflecting off a window up a few rows behind me. Stefanos was also playing a low sliding backhand in the very limited spot of light. It all came together. It is the kind of lighting you’d expect from a studio set up.”

View TIME’S Top 100 Photos Of 2021

Finney, who was using a 24-70mm lens, knew as soon as he shot the image that he “had something special”, which was rewarding.

“When in that moment Stefanos played this particular shot low and sliding into this spot on the court, I couldn’t believe it paid off to shoot it loosely cropped,” Finney said. “The way the light is flaring through, the very certain spot he played the shot, the timing, his white top helped elevate the reflection of the light, [everything worked]. I knew as soon as I looked at the back of my camera I had a very special image.

“One friend mentioned it having a feel of a Caravaggio painting, quite the compliment! I also think the fact no one else got the same image, [which does not happen often] these days, is something to treasure.”

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Haas Defeats Berdych On Final Day Of Champions Tennis

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2021

The ATP Champions Tour’s Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall came to a close on Sunday night, with Greg Rusedski’s Team Greg taking home the trophy. Tommy Haas’ 4-1, 4-3(1) victory against Tomas Berdych was one of the highlights of the day.

Across the event, tennis fans laughed, cheered – and some even had the chance to play with some of the world’s greatest players — with 2021 wrapping up 24 years of Champions Tennis at the iconic British venue. In addition to Haas’ win against Berdych, Xavier Malisse defeated Marcos Baghdatis 4-2, 4-3(2), and Radek Stepanek overcame Fernando Gonzalez 4-2, 4-3(0). 

At the end of the four-day event, Team Greg lifted the trophy as the clear victors in this year’s tournament, with Team Mark coming in second and Team Goran in third.

Over the past 24 years, Champions Tennis has seen players through the ages who have held the World No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking, reached a Grand Slam singles final or been a singles player on a victorious Davis Cup team, compete in a mixture of team and individual events in both singles and doubles. 

Some of the biggest legends of the game took to the stage in front of a full house at the Royal Albert Hall, including British star and US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who faced Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse. 

Other stars included British favourite Rusedski, fan favourite Mansour Bahrami, Chilean Gonzalez, Spaniard David Ferrer, 2006 Australian Open finalist Baghdatis and former Top 10 star Stepanek. Other players who competed in the tournament included Malisse, Australian legend Philippoussis, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Berdych, former top five player Thomas Enqvist, former Russian No. 1 Mikhail Youzhny, German Haas, Swedish star Mikael Pernfors and Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

2021 also marked the last time the tournament will be held at the historic Royal Albert Hall.

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Ivashka: 'My Father Wanted Me To Do Martial Arts'

  • Posted: Nov 29, 2021

Ilya Ivashka knew the moment he tried his first sport it was never going to last.

The Belarusian enjoyed a breakout season at 27 with a maiden tour-level title at Winston-Salem and a career-best FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 43. But his late-blooming tennis success may not have been possible had he taken his father’s advice.

“It is funny because my father wanted me to do martial arts,” Ivashka told “I started but I didn’t really like it because I was so scared I was going to break something, so I didn’t want to go and I didn’t like to fight.

“My dad was playing tennis with his friends and he was always taking me and I saw it and liked it, so I asked him if I could play tennis. Then my parents helped me and have been there all of my life to help me find coaches and put me in good tennis centres to improve and it went naturally.”

It soon became apparent Ivashka had the talent for his chosen discipline and he quickly excelled, after he started playing aged five. He was channelled into a more advanced group and from there, there was no turning back.

The Minsk native enjoyed his best season to date under Spanish coach and former player, Jose Checa-Calvo. In addition to his title run in Winston-Salem, which included wins over the likes of top seed Pablo Carreno Busta and former World No. 3 Marin Cilic, he reached the second week at a major for the first time with a fourth-round run at Wimbledon. His biggest win by FedEx ATP Ranking came as a qualifier in Munich in May, where he scored his first Top 10 victory over Alexander Zverev to reach the final.

“I have been quite consistent this year and coming through qualifying all the year I have been competing well and giving my best,” he said. “I was improving week by week and it didn’t matter if I won or lost. I was feeling very good in Winston-Salem.

“I think I have improved a little bit mentally, which helps me to be more consistent and fight for every match. It doesn’t matter about your ranking because at this level you can beat anybody or lose to anybody.”

He first teamed up with Checa-Calvo while training in Spain in 2018 after he decided to part ways with his former coach. The new partnership was one which Ivashka said quickly brought out the best in him as a player and as a person.

“I met Jose and we spoke for five minutes and I was like ‘wow’. So since then we are very good friends and he is like a step-brother to me,” Ivashka said. “He is always helping with all of the things off court and on court. He is a very big part of our success.

“He is a different character, but it is something I am learning from him. He is very calm. We are kind of similar because I spent a few years practising in Spain and the people there are more relaxed with everything.

“They take life very easily. In Belarus we have a little bit of a different mentality, so going to Spain was good for me. When we are back in Barcelona he has his life and I have my own. He has his kid, who is nine months and I have my wife.”

Ivashka, who went 31-16 in 2021, is a self-confessed home body who favours a night in watching TV with his wife or reading J.K. Rowling books over a night out on the town. After four to five weeks on the road he admitted he tired of travel and enjoyed being home. However, there was one place he didn’t mind being away for work in 2021 on the ATP Tour.

“One of my favourite tournaments is St. Petersburg,” Ivashka said. “It is one of my favourite cities in the world because everywhere you go, it is like a museum. It is amazing.”

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Gojo Fires Croatia Ahead

  • Posted: Nov 29, 2021

Borna Gojo sprung a surprise Monday at the Davis Cup Finals, overcoming World No. 27 Lorenzo Sonego 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-2 to give Croatia a 1-0 lead against Italy in the quarter-finals in Turin.

The World No. 279 played well above his FedEx ATP Ranking against Sonego, striking 20 winners and hitting with great power and depth to triumph after two hours and 19 minutes.

“It feels amazing,” Gojo said. “We knew we had to get one point from the two singles. We are confident with our doubles team. I hope Marin [Cilic] can bring us another win. The support was unbelievable. They are so loud. Some of my best friends and family are here and I want to thank them with all my heart for coming.”

Jannik Sinner will face Marin Cilic in the next match Monday, aiming to level the tie and force a deciding doubles rubber in Italy.

See all Davis Cup results

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Bublik & Kukushkin Deliver For Kazakhstan

  • Posted: Nov 28, 2021

Alexander Bublik helped guide Kazakhstan into the quarter-finals at the Davis Cup Finals on Sunday in Madrid.

The World No. 36 downed Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 7-6(6) in 83 minutes to clinch a 2-0 victory for Kazakhstan against Canada. Bublik won 84 per cent (42/50) of his first-serve points and hit five aces in a dominant display.

Earlier, Mikhail Kukushkin laid the foundations for Kazakhstan’s victory, edging Brayden Schnur 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-5 in the first match of the tie. The World No. 183 recovered from squandering three match points at 6-5 in the second set as he raised his level in the decider to triumph.

In the final match of the tie, Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov sealed Kazakhstan’s win in style, beating Peter Polansky and Schnur 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1.

Kazakhstan beat Sweden in its opening tie in Group B and has now reached the quarter-finals at the Davis Cup Finals six times.

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