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Korda Wins Group B With Perfect Record

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

Sebastian Korda passed his Italian test on Thursday with flying colours, downing home favourite Lorenzo Musetti 4-2, 4-3(4), 4-2 to reach the semi-finals at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Despite winning his opening two round-robin matches, the American knew a three or four-set defeat to Musetti would see him bundled out of the tournament at the expense of the 19-year-old.

But as Korda has done throughout the season, he produced a resilient performance when it mattered, overcoming Musetti and the crowd at the Allianz Cloud to secure victory in 69 minutes.

“It was a good match,” Korda said. “I took my chances when I had them, especially on the break points, so I was really happy with how I played today. The serve was probably one of the best things tonight and I returned pretty well also. On the big points in the tie-break I played really well, so I used that momentum throughout the whole match.”

The 21-year-old’s triumph means he tops Group B and will face fellow American Brandon Nakashima in the semi-finals, while runner up Sebastian Baez will play Group A winner Carlos Alcaraz on Friday.

“I have never played Brandon before,” Korda added. “I have practised with him a bunch of times. It is going to be a new experience for me and for him. Hopefully we can play some good tennis and put on a good show for everybody.”

In a high-pressure match, Korda was strong on serve against Musetti, winning 90 per cent (27/30) of points behind his first delivery. The World No. 39 coped with the Italian’s variety well and looked sharp at the net throughout to level their ATP Head2Head series at 1-1.

Korda has now earned 30 tour-level wins in a breakthrough season. The second seed won his maiden tour-level crown in Parma in May and recorded his first Top 10 victory against then-World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman en route to the quarter-finals in Miami.

Musetti edged Frenchman Hugo Gaston in five sets on Wednesday to keep his semi-final hopes alive after suffering defeat to Baez on opening night in Milan. But he had no answer for Korda’s heavy-hitting, with the American avenging his Lyon defeat.

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Doubles Groups Announced For Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

The doubles groups for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals are set.

The groups are:

Green Group
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic
Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos
Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek
Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau

Red Group
Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut
Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares

Five players competing have lifted the trophy before, with Herbert and Mahut the only pair to do so together (2019). Granollers was victorious with Marc Lopez in 2012, Tecau triumphed alongside Jean-Julien Rojer in 2015 and Mektic earned the crown with Wesley Koolhof last year.

Mektic and Pavic, who have claimed nine tour-level titles this season, clinched the year-end No. 1 FedEx ATP Doubles Team Ranking last week. This is their first year competing as a duo.

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Paul Beats Murray With 'Best Tennis' In Stockholm

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

Tommy Paul says he “played some of my best tennis” to battle past Andy Murray for a place in the Stockholm Open semi-finals on Thursday night.

The American lost just six first-service points to beat former World No. 1 Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 16 minutes. Paul will next meet fellow American Frances Tiafoe.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Paul, who reached the Emilia-Romagna Open semi-finals in May. “He is a legend. I played some of my best tennis today and I even looked over at my coach mid-match and thought it was fun to battle him today.

“It was the game plan to keep him running after his long match [against Jannik Sinner] yesterday. I tried to keep him running. I played tight and stuck to my game plan in the third set.”

Tiafoe beat Paul 7-5, 7-6(4) in their only ATP Head2Head meeting in February 2020 at the Delray Beach Open by


Paul played almost faultless tennis in the first set. The 24-year-old opened up a 4-1 advantage with strong serves and deep returns. Murray recovered one break, but Paul tightened up his game to secure the 46-minute opener.

The American relied too much on his second serve in the second set, with his first-serve percentage plummeting to 33 per cent. Murray broke for a 4-2 lead and later recovered from 0/30 when he served for the 50-minute set.

Murray hit a double fault to hand Paul a 4-3 advantage in the decider and the World No. 53 went on to complete his 23rd match win of the year. Murray had been hoping to reach his first semi-final since he captured the 2019 European Open title in October 2019.

Earlier in the day, Tiafoe booked his place in his second ATP Tour semi-final in three weeks. The eighth-seeded American, who reached the recent Erste Bank Open final in Vienna (l. to Zverev), struck 11 aces to knock out fourth-seeded Briton Daniel Evans 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 in one hour and 47 minutes.

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Baez Secures SF Spot In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

Sebastian Baez stepped up and delivered on the biggest stage Thursday at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals as he became the first South American to reach the semi-finals in the tournament’s history.

The Argentine had never played a tour-level hard-court match before this week, but he downed Hugo Gaston 4-3(2), 4-2, 4-2 in 67 minutes to advance from Group B in Milan.

“I feel great,” Baez said in his on-court interview. “It is not just for me, but my team as well. I am happy to have won this match, but we now need to think ahead to the next match. I think the key was to stay aggressive and concentrate all the time because Gaston is a dangerous player, so I am happy I did that.”

Baez held a 1-1 record going into his clash against the Frenchman, having beaten home favourite Lorenzo Musetti in his opening match, before he lost to Sebastian Korda on Wednesday.

With qualification on the line, Baez raised his level as he demonstrated great agility to chase down Gaston’s drop shots, while also opening his shoulders to hit through the World No. 67 to book his spot in the last four.

The 20-year-old hit 27 winners and broke Gaston four times en route to victory. Baez has enjoyed a standout 2021 season, capturing five ATP Challenger Tour titles, with all of his triumphs coming on clay.

The World No. 111 will learn whether he faces Group A winner Carlos Alcaraz or runner up Brandon Nakashima in the semi-finals following the conclusion of Korda’s match against Musetti later on Thursday. Musetti will qualify if he defeats Korda in straight sets or four sets, while Korda will secure his place in the last four with any other result. Recent Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finalist Gaston finishes the round-robin stage with a 0-3 record.

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Groups Announced For 2021 Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

Groups for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals were announced Thursday night at the tournament draw ceremony in Turin.

The groups are:

Green Group
Novak Djokovic
Stefanos Tsitsipas
Andrey Rublev
Casper Ruud

Red Group
Daniil Medvedev
Alexander Zverev
Matteo Berrettini
Hubert Hurkacz 

View Doubles Groups

Held for the first time in Turin, Italy, the Nitto ATP Finals will run 14-21 November at the Pala Alpitour.

Djokovic, who last week clinched the year-end No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking for a record-breaking seventh time, will look to match Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals titles. 

Medvedev is the defending champion after last year claiming the title with a perfect 5-0 record, including a historic hat-trick of wins over the world’s Top 3 players (Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem), a first in the 50-year history of the event.

Daniil MedvedevDaniil Medvedev prepares for his title defence at the Nitto ATP Finals. Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour.

Andrey RublevAndrey Rublev practises Thursday at the Pala Alpitour. Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
2019 champion Stefanos Tsitsipas is pursuing his second Nitto ATP Finals title. Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Casper Ruud
Casper Ruud is making his debut at the season finale. Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour.

View Day 1 & Day 2 Order Of Play

Shortly after the draw, the order of play for the first two days of action — Sunday and Monday — was released. 

On Sunday, home favourite Berrettini will have the primetime slot when he competes not before 9 p.m. against 2018 winner Zverev. Defending champion Medvedev will play in the first singles match of the tournament against debutant Hurkacz.

World No. 1 Djokovic will begin his Nitto ATP Finals on Monday against eighth seed Casper Ruud, not before 2 p.m. The Serbian won their only previous ATP Head2Head clash on clay last year in Rome in straight sets. The other singles match that day will pit 2019 champion Stefanos Tsitsipas against fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who is making his second consecutive appearance at the season finale.

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The Foundations & Secrets Behind Alcaraz's Success

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

Carlos Alcaraz’s eye is always on the prize in training sessions. The Spaniard absorbs every moment as if his life depends on it, with his concentration never wavering. As he prepares under the roof of the Allianz Cloud in Milan, where he will bring his spectacular 2021 season to a close, the Murcia native completes his work without missing a single step.

When an instruction comes from former World No. 1 Juan Carlos, Alcaraz executes with the utmost focus. If the exercise is being run by Juanjo Moreno, the physiotherapist and rehab specialist who also helps with fitness coaching, Alcaraz launches his body in compliance with the request. Any message relayed to him by Albert Molina, his agent, is efficiently attended to.

He is a cheerful and affectionate young man, but the smiles disappear when it is time to get to work. It is with this professionalism that the Murcia native is bidding to consolidate himself as the star of his generation, which is under the global spotlight this week at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

The 18-year-old Spaniard is competing in Lombardy as the World No. 32, making him one of the most promising athletes in his sport. With a strong team behind him at the Equelite de Villena Academy, where the work of fitness coach (Alberto Lledo), physiotherapist (Sergio Hernandez) and doctor (Juanjo Lopez), is complemented by that of psychologist (Isabel Balaguer) and the team in Murcia (Alejandro on fitness and Fran on recovery).

While Alcaraz was squaring off against the best young players on Tour, his physio and rehab specialist Juanjo Moreno, who is also responsible for fine-tuning the body of Pablo Carreno Busta, spoke to about the Spaniard’s daily work.

Alcaraz has really developed physically in the past year, what work has been put in?
With Carlos, it is one of the goals we set ourselves. When he started at the Academy, both the fitness coach and I thought we needed a change in the muscle structures. We needed to work on his musculoskeletal system to give him more speed, more power in his shots and his movement on court. And we based all that on morphology training. Doing fitness work to achieve those goals without him gaining much muscle mass, Carlos’ genetics plus speed-based training has given him the morphotype he has now.

By having a good preseason and training during the year, because he also has to do that as part of the plan, we have arrived at this result. In tournament weeks, we need him to work on his strength. And we also rely a lot on nutrition, eating well. It has been one of the paradigms we have changed with Carlos. The whole blend of factors like good eating, good goal-oriented training and good rest, which is also essential, is a cocktail that has brought us to this point.

How pleased have you been with the progress?
At first, people were surprised about it. We have seen the transformation gradually, even though it has been over a short space of time. It’s the same with children, if you haven’t seen them for a while, you realise how much they change. I remember that at Roland Garros, when the Nike clothes arrived, he tried on the sleeveless t-shirts and then you could really see the muscle definition in his biceps, triceps and shoulders. For me, Carlos now has the physique we were looking for. This season, we still plan to fine-tune it a little bit more. We’re happy with the work that’s been done. Right now, Carlos has reached almost his maximum potential and in terms of body type or muscle definition, let’s say he’s at 90% of his potential. There is always room for improvement and we will improve.

How do you think this change improves his tennis?
When you work on your body, you feel more confident in yourself. You also feel more powerful in a way. It’s not only your appearance that gives you that feeling of power. It’s the internal feelings you have. When I talk with Carlos, I always tell him that the first repetitions don’t count, the last two are the ones that count. The last series or repetitions are the ones where we really get the potential out of him.

If you take that onto a tennis court, it’s the tough games, those final moments when you have to close a match out… there is also a lot of training philosophy in all of that. When you’re used to the effort in training, because we demand it and it’s an act of responsibility on his part, that’s something that transfers to the court.

How would you describe his capacity for hard work?
It’s been a process with Carlos. I remember how he was at first, and it’s normal when something is new to you. But you have to learn to work hard in training. At first, it’s harder, but together with the fitness coaching team at the academy, he was very committed to that philosophy. Juan Carlos is all about pure hard work. We back Juan Carlos up. The work group is very much about that dedication and hard work, always doing more… Ultimately, that rubs off on Carlos.

There’s a great expression that says that when the good part of a team works hard, the mediocre part has to work hard too. In other words, you tend to copy their attitude. Since Carlos started working at the Academy that working methodology has rubbed off on him. Although at first there was a little resistance, he has gradually learned and he is enjoying it. It’s difficult to see the hard work, but you can see the results. It’s hard taking care of nutrition, resting… all the little details. All of that leads you to a result. If that weren’t the case, it would get more difficult. It’s been a daily learning process in a context that has also fed into that journey.

Is he a physical powerhouse?
The first time I evaluated him it was because Juan Carlos brought me to the office. When we completed a set of tests where I have to analyse certain biomechanical aspects, strength deficits that are common in tennis players and certain populational averages, I spoke to Juan Carlos and told him; ‘He’s a Ferrari that needs work.’ And I said: ‘His disposition is very good, but all he has is the bodywork.’ But we were able to work with him and add the engine.

The next step we took was to refer him to a reputable podiatrist, Carles Ruiz. He called me with his assessment after a biomechanical study on his gait… and he said ‘He’s a Ferrari.’ Afterwards, Juan Carlos and Carlos came back from the meeting with the podiatrist and Juan Carlos told me that the podiatrist had said the same as me. And we hadn’t spoken about it!

Carlos has the genetic predisposition to assimilate the work well and for everything to go well. We’ve been able to take advantage of that. Now the results are there.

Now he’s close to the Top 30, how tough is the competition with everyone in peak physical condition?
Right now, Carlos is doing things well. He has deeply ingrained some very good, healthy habits. And he knows that what he has done, picking up these habits that he didn’t have before and has acquired during his time at the Academy, is important.

It was hard work instilling them. They’re habits that are difficult to assimilate, but they’re necessary to maintain and improve the performance of an athlete. The best players in the world tend to be very disciplined when it comes to the small details. For example, eating bananas is something that we have managed to instil in him, because they contain a lot of macronutrients and micronutrients that he’s going to need. It’s now something that he takes as a given and that’s a good step forward.

Ultimately, he now knows, using a phrase that Sergio Ramos often employs, that you have to live and breathe sport. He’s even starting to enjoy that living and breathing. It’s a struggle because it’s hard work, and you think ‘If I don’t like bananas, I’m not going to eat them.’ We’re using the example of bananas, we could also talk about sushi, which has different textures he wasn’t used to. Now, though, he enjoys them. He knows that sushi is healthy food, that it helps us take on glycogen. These are physiological concepts that I am also instilling in him. He’s a kid that is gradually acquiring them.

What’s the next rung on the ladder?
He now has everything he needs to get there. Now it’s a question of him being able to maintain it. I often say ‘If we want to build the best wall in the world, we have to add a brick to it perfectly every day.’ If we manage to add that brick, in the end, we’ll have the strongest and most consistent wall. He knows that every day counts, he knows that he has to add that brick every day. He’s aware that that’s where the difficulty lies. It’s not my metaphor, but he has to get up every day, eat a good breakfast every day, rest well every day, train with intention every day, with a clear goal, be prepared to work hard… Doing that absolutely every day is so simple and so difficult at the same time. That’s all you have to do, but you have to do it every day.

How important is rest for athletes at that age?
For me, recovery is the most important thing. It’s what I try to instil in Carlos and the athletes I work with. Sleep is very important. Together with good hydration, the reintegration of nutrients during competition. Good quality nutrition. Physiotherapy sessions. Doing it there and then and not putting it off. Winding down properly is key. Respecting every single little detail is key. It is simple to follow the steps but very difficult to put them into practice.

Recovery is key to a player performing better or more consistently the day after a tough match than a player who has not followed the recovery process and has to play again the following day. It’s part of the DNA and professionalism of the tennis players from No. 30 to No. 1 in the World. They have to focus on things that are truly important. Recovery is one of them.

What would you like to see from Carlos in the next year?
I’d like him to continue to maintain what we’ve achieved so far. I’d like him to be a little more conscious of the recovery at night, to manage his sleep correctly. At night it’s a little more difficult with social media. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get him to stop and turn the screen off. There are studies that show that white light is not good for achieving a deep, reparative sleep. I’d like him to be more conscious of that.

But if he continues to do things the way he is, I believe Carlos will continue to progress. As he progresses, this becomes more important. It’s true that he has been doing things very well for a couple of years.

He will therefore be a more complete Ferrari?
Yes, we’ve given the Ferrari a lot of horsepower, and we’ll continue to take care of it so that it continues to generate its full potential. We’re going to keep working to get that 10% room for improvement he still has. He’s a great athlete, very professional and he has a good team behind him to do that.

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Nakashima Earns Rune Victory To Reach Milan SFs

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

In a winner-takes-all Group A match, it was Brandon Nakashima who rose to the task Thursday at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, downing Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 3-4(3), 4-1, 4-1, 4-3(1) to qualify for the semi-finals in Milan.

The 20-year-old defeated Juan Manuel Cerundolo in his opening round-robin match, but lost to Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday, meaning he faced Rune in a crunch clash after the Dane also went 1-1 in his opening two matches.

With the pressure on, Nakashima rallied from a set down, hitting his explosive groundstrokes with great depth as he showcased strong determination to secure his victory in one hour and 39 minutes. The fourth seed has finished second in Group A behind winner Alcaraz and will play the winner of Group B in the last four, to be determined later on Thursday.

In front of a lively crowd at the Allianz cloud, the more experienced American kept his emotions in check to break Rune six times en route to victory in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

Earlier this season, Nakashima, who hit five aces against the 18-year-old, became the youngest American since Andy Roddick in 2001-02 to advance to multiple tour-level finals when he reached back-to-back championship matches in Los Cabos and Atlanta when aged 19.

The World No. 63 arrived in Milan in form after he captured his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the season in Brest without dropping a set. With his victory, Nakashima has now won 11 of his past 13 matches.

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Cerundolo: 'I'm On The Right Path'

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2021

Juan Manuel Cerundolo made headlines in February when he soared to his first tour-level title as a qualifier on home soil in Cordoba.

Since then, the Argentine has captured three ATP Challenger Tour trophies and is currently No. 91 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old is competing at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan this week and he caught up with to speak about the 21-and-under event.

A lot of the #NextGenATP players have been doing amazing things this year. How much does it motivate you, seeing the other young players doing well? Is there anyone in particular who has really impressed you?
I’m really motivated by being here as one of the best eight young players of the year. You look at the people who’ve played in this tournament and now a lot of them are very high in the rankings. That’s a huge motivation to keep going and it shows me that I’m on the right path.

Also, one player who’s really surprised me this year has been Carlos Alcaraz. He’s having a stunning season, his progress is incredible. And I think he’s one of the names we all mention.

When you were growing up there were Roger, Rafa and Novak, who created great rivalries. As you’re competing with other #NextGenATP players, have you thought about your budding rivalries and playing against them for many years?
That will only happen if we continue to improve and play well. I think that they will come only with time. For many players, it’s their first meeting with almost all the others. It’s going to be great. I hope the competition is healthy. I think it’s going to be very good.

Have you watched the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals before and if so, what were your thoughts?
I’ve seen it on TV and I’ve always thought it looked really fun. It’s more relaxed compared to a normal tournament, in terms of the format and the players… It’s always looked like an incredible tournament in every sense.

The Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals always has many innovations. Were there any that you particularly enjoyed and look forward to using and if so, why?
Personally, I’m more of a conservative person in that regard. I’ve always played to six games and that’s what I like. At least that’s what I’m most used to. The list of new rules is pretty long, I couldn’t list all of them.

But I like the on-court ones. For example, that the coach can talk to the player is interesting. I think it’s something that could be really good for the sport and we can do that here. I also like the idea of the bathroom rule. Sometimes those breaks get very long and I think that it’s good to have a rule on that. I feel good about these rules at this event.

When you think of Italy, what do you think of?
The food! You really do eat well here. They have very good pasta, they make great pizza. Italy is a country that cares about its cuisine. Although I don’t eat some of these things during competitions, it’s true that the food is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about Italy.

Have you ever done any sight-seeing in Italy and if so, what was your favourite place to visit?
I’ve visited some cities thanks to the Tour. I know places like Rome, Como… also Barletta, more in the south of Italy. We don’t always have time to be tourists and visit places like other people who travel to a country.

What’s your favourite Italian food?
The pasta and the pizza. My favourite is margherita pizza, simple but really good. When I’m at tournaments, I don’t eat it because I have to look after myself and follow a competition diet. But it really is wonderful being able to enjoy it from time to time.

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