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Sinner Rocks Turin Debut With Hurkacz Win

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

Italian Jannik Sinner gave fans in Turin plenty to cheer for on Tuesday, as he dropped just four games in his winning Nitto ATP Finals debut against Hubert Hurkacz.

Sinner, the first alternate, replaced his injured countryman Matteo Berrettini after he withdrew from the tournament due to an abdominal injury. The 20-year-old became the fourth Italian to play singles at the Nitto ATP Finals in the event’s 52-year history – and he rallied the home crowd like a veteran at the Pala Alpitour, Italy’s largest indoor sporting arena. 

“I knew around 5 (p.m.) that I would play,” Sinner said. “I was ready to go on court. It is an incredible feeling playing here in Italy with thousands of people cheering for you and I am trying my best. I will enjoy the moment. I played well and felt good in the warm up. It was an incredible match today.”


The World No. 11 saved all five of the break points he faced against Hurkacz, who was also seeking his first win in Turin. Sinner broke the Pole’s serve early in both sets of his 6-2, 6-2 win, and he was rock-solid from the baseline to clinch the victory in an hour and 22 minutes.  

Afterward, Sinner dedicated the victory to his countryman Berrettini and signed the camera lens with a message that read: “Matteo, you are an idol.”

“Matteo has been unlucky many, many times in his career and I wish him all the best,” Sinner said. “I am going to play for him at this tournament because he deserves to be here. I will give my best and it is a highlight playing here.”

As a result, Sinner is firmly in semi-final contention in Turin. He could reach the semi-final if he defeats World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in their next match, or if Alexander Zverev loses to Hurkacz on Thursday. With two defeats, Hurkacz currently sits at the bottom of the Red Group, while Medvedev has already booked his place in the last four. 

Sinner was eager to end the season on a positive note after narrowly missing out on directly qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals. Coming into Turin, Sinner has recorded back-to-back first-round defeats in Paris (l. to Alcaraz) and Stockholm (l. to Murray). 


But he was back at his world-beating best against Hurkacz, in a rematch of their Miami Open presented by Itau final. The Italian got the crowd involved early as he broke Hurkacz’s serve to go 2-1 ahead, and then fought off three break points to see through a 12-minute service game.

With the Pala Alpitour rocking, Sinner made it a five-game run from 0-1 before Hurkacz found his footing at 5-2. But the second set unfolded much like the first, and Sinner quickly halted the Pole’s nascent comeback efforts with another break at 2-1. The 20-year-old didn’t look back, as he roared to his first victory at the ATP season finale. 

Did You Know…
Sinner’s victory over Hurkacz keeps him alive in the Red Group, and continues his bid to become the first alternate to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals.

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Pete Sampras Has One Record The 'Big Three' Won't Touch…

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

Pete Sampras put together one of the great tennis résumés, winning 14 Grand Slam titles – the most on the men’s side – when he retired after winning the 2002 US Open. In addition: 64 tour-level titles, a phenomenal match record of 762-222 and more than $43 million in prize money.

And then he watched as the Big Three began slowly, inexorably, to hunt down his greatest achievements. Roger Federer won his 15th major at Wimbledon in 2009 and, later, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic also passed him. Last week in Paris, Djokovic clinched his seventh finish as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, breaking the record he shared with the American.

But one achievement remains unmatched: For six consecutive years, from 1993-98, Sampras finished the year No. 1. It may never happen again.

“I think,” Sampras said a few weeks ago, starting to laugh, “that’s the only record I’m going to have left.”

Three times, Djokovic went back-to-back – in 2011-12, 2014-15 and now in 2020-2021 – but the first two reigns were interrupted by Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Jimmy Connors, who finished as the year-end No. 1 five straight years, from 1974-78, was the standard before Sampras. The WTA record for consecutive year-end No. 1s belongs to Martina Navratilova, with five, from 1982-86. Stephanie Graf  (1987-90) is next with four. 

“Now that I look back on it, knowing how difficult it is to finish No. 1 once or twice, but to do it six years in a row,” Sampras said, “The consistency that I had, the endurance, the will … I think it is one of my best achievements. 

“I always based my year on the majors and the bonus beyond that was to finish No. 1. Novak has seven, but not in a row. Over time, I think it will be tough to break six straight.”

The core of Sampras’ success was winning seven Wimbledon titles and five at the US Open. In 1993, at the age of 22, he won them both and six other titles as well before reaching the season finale in Frankfurt, Germany to earn the year-end No. 1 for the first time. By today’s standards, his ambitious record of 85-16 – 101 matches played – was astonishing. In 2019, before the global pandemic, year-end No. 1 Rafael Nadal played a total of 65 matches. The year before, Djokovic finished on top and played 66.

In 1994, Sampras won Wimbledon again, plus the Australian Open for the first time and the year-end championships for a second. Titles at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1995 gave him a third year-end No. 1. In 1996, Sampras lost in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon but had produced his best-ever result at Roland Garros, the semi-finals, and beat Boris Becker in an epic final at the Nitto ATP Tour Finals. The fifth year-end No. 1 came in 1997, when he again paired Wimbledon and US Open titles in addition to the year-end championship.

“When I did it two, three, four times, I just felt like there was a minute there where I was just really mentally, physically dominating,” Sampras said. “I just felt like I was The Man, from Year Two to Year Five.”

Pete Sampras
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This is the description from an athlete who is in the zone, utterly invincible. He was well aware that he had equaled the record set 29 years earlier by Connors.

“It was being talked about,” Sampras said. “It was in my brain, reminding me every week about breaking that record. So I went over to Europe and I chased it. I stayed over there for another month to get the points, and I was just so wrapped up in that.

“I wanted it, and it was a one-time opportunity and I took advantage of it. I sacrificed and did what I had to do.”

It was a grind. His hastily arranged European vacation consisted of six straight tournaments: Basel, Vienna, Lyon, Stuttgart, Paris and Stockholm. In a brutal span of five weeks, Sampras won 14 of 19 matches and earned 968 ranking points. He won the title in Vienna and performed well in the Masters 1000 events in Stuttgart in Paris. Reaching the semi-finals at the year-end championships was enough (270 points) to get him to No. 1 for the sixth straight year.

“It was me and [Marcelo] Rios, and it was touch-and-go there for a bit,” Sampras said. “You’re just willing yourself to get through some tough times.

“When you finish No. 1 as a tennis player you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy it. Consistently going and going and going – that’s the life I was leading. Once I got to six, I was done. I was done chasing it. I let up a little bit and just tried to win majors. No question, that took a lot out of me.”

Pete Sampras
Photo Credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In that glorious six-year sweet spot Sampras collected 43 titles and won 415 of 499 matches (.832). Sliced another way, he averaged seven titles and 65 match wins each year. Only four other players held No. 1 during those six years – Andre Agassi (32 weeks), Thomas Muster and Marcelo Rios (6 each) and Jim Courier (3). It changed hands a total of eight times before Agassi ended Sampras’ run in 1999.

It’s worth noting that Sampras skipped the Australian swing the following year after six straight appearances Down Under because, six weeks after that stint in Europe, he was still “exhausted”.

Would he have won more major titles if he hadn’t pursued the No. 1 with such abandon? 

“Well …” Sampras answered. “Maybe, maybe. I was stressed, I wasn’t sleeping well, wasn’t eating like I really should. That’s why I do think I [retired] a little bit on the earlier side. Players today, they’re 38, 35.

“Those six years were tough. Tennis was my life, and sustaining No. 1 all those years I do think it has to be something you really want to do. It’s not handed to you, and it’s harder to stay there than really getting there.”


More than two decades later, Sampras says he has no regrets.

“At the time when I did it, I just did it,” he said. “But now I look back on my career and where the game’s at today – how great Roger, Rafa and Novak have been – to have done it six years in a row, from ’93-’98. I’m glad I sacrificed and chased it a little bit at the end, especially the last year. I feel proud of what I did.

“It was worth it.”

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Refreshed Rublev Readies For First Djokovic Meeting In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

After his victory on Monday, Andrey Rublev admitted that he had woken up from a daytime nap convinced that he had accidentally slept through his Nitto ATP Finals night match. Despite feeling ‘completely broken’, the Russian eventually shook off the grogginess to win emphatically against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Turin with the help of some powerful serving.

“It was the first time ever and I’m happy with everything I did today on court,” Rublev said of his impressive serving numbers. “From serve, return, rallies from the baseline to my mental part, how I controlled my emotions today. So we’ll see if I can keep going this way.”

He might not be sleeping so easily as he prepares for the next Green Group match at the Pala Alpitour, where he will meet World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the first time. 


“He’s one of the greatest players in history, so I don’t know what to say,” Rublev said of playing Djokovic. “I hope I’m going to win a couple of games, but the reality is the only thing I can do is to do my best and believe in myself.”

Despite struggling with his form during the build-up to Turin, Rublev showed some of his best tennis of the year against Tsitsipas. The Russian’s serve shined during his opening performance; he didn’t face a break point across two sets and won 90 per cent (37/41) of points behind his first serve. 

But he’ll have to be on from the start to contend with the Djokovic return, one of the best in the game. Rublev’s second serve was in trouble against Tsitsipas, but he got away with it by not giving the Greek too many looks at it. Expect Djokovic to hone in on any opportunities that Rublev allows him. 


Earlier in the year, Rublev made a big statement when he took down Rafael Nadal on clay in Monte-Carlo. Two years ago, he defeated Roger Federer in their first meeting in Cincinnati. But will it be a tall task to take down another of the Big Three – especially at one of Djokovic’s most successful events? 

Seven-time No. 1 in the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings and five-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Djokovic opened his Turin account with a comfortable win over Casper Ruud. It was his first meeting of the year against the surging Norwegian, and he needed a few games to settle into the match before clinching the match in straight sets.

“It was a really terrible start, but also funny because I’m still trying to figure out what happened,” Djokovic said. “Casper started strong. He was serving well… He did positively surprise me with this serve, particularly in the first set. I just managed to read it better in the second set. But it was a close one.”

Djokovic and Rublev are level with one win apiece at the top of the Green Group, and a victory on Wednesday could see the winner in pole position to reach the semi-finals.   

Eighth seed Ruud and fourth seed Tsitsipas will return to the Pala Alpitour for the night session match on Wednesday, with both players seeking their first win of the Nitto ATP Finals. 

The 22-year-old Norwegian admitted that nerves played a factor in his opening defeat to Djokovic, and he’ll hope to arrive on court more settled against the 2019 champion. 

“It’s not always easy, it’s the first match, I’m sure he was a bit nervous, I don’t know, but I was also a bit nervous and it’s the first time for me on this stage,” Ruud acknowledged. “It shows that it means something for you and it gets the adrenaline going. so I think it’s a positive for me even if it’s nicer not to feel nervous.”

Ruud and Tsitsipas will take a 1-1 ATP Head2Head record into their third encounter of the year. Ruud defeated the Greek on the clay courts in Madrid, while Tsitsipas won on hard courts in Toronto.

In doubles, second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury need one more victory to put themselves in a qualifying position in the Green Group. The US Open champions will take on fellow group leaders Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the third-seeded Frenchmen – both teams have yet to drop a set in Turin.

Colombian fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will also face Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, the seventh seeds, as they seek their first group stage wins.

CENTRE COURT start 11:30 am

[5] J. S. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs [7] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)

Not Before 2:00 pm
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [5] A. Rublev (RUS)

Not Before 6:30 pm
[2] R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR) vs [3] P-H. Herbert (FRA) /N. Mahut (FRA)

Not Before 9:00 pm
[4] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs [8] C. Ruud (NOR)

See below semi-final qualification scenarios in play on Tuesday, 16 November and Wednesday, 17 November for both groups at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Singles Green Group qualification scenarios after the completion of the 1st round of the event’s group stage:
– N. DJOKOVIC qualifies on Wednesday if:
– N. DJOKOVIC defeats A. RUBLEV and C. RUUD defeats S. TSITSIPAS.

– N. DJOKOVIC defeats A. RUBLEV in 2 sets and S. TSITSIPAS defeats C. RUUD in 3 sets.

A. RUBLEV qualifies on Wednesday if:
– A. RUBLEV defeats N. DJOKOVIC and S. TSITSIPAS defeats C. RUUD.
– A. RUBLEV defeats N. DJOKOVIC in 2 sets and C. RUUD defeats S. TSITSIPAS in 3 sets.

Singles Red Group qualification scenarios as of 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday:
Following M. BERRETTINI’S withdrawal, D. MEDVEDEV has qualified for the semi-finals and won the group.

Doubles Red Group qualification scenarios after the completion of the 1st round of the event’s group stage:
R. RAM / J. SALISBURY qualify on Wednesday if:
– R. RAM / J. SALISBURY defeat P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT in 2 sets and J. CABAL / R. FARAH defeat J. MURRAY / B. SOARES in 3 sets.

P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT qualify on Wednesday if:
– P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT defeat R. RAM / J. SALISBURY in 2 sets and J. MURRAY / B. SOARES defeat J. CABAL / R. FARAH in 3 sets.

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Lorenzi On Sinner: 'He Is Ready To Be One Of The Best'

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

Paolo Lorenzi’s first memory of Jannik Sinner is one he will never forget.

They were both competing in an ATP Challenger Tour event in Biella, Italy, in 2018. Lorenzi was the third seed, and Sinner, who was in qualifying as the World No. 878, had just turned 17.

“It was raining one day, so we went to another club to practise. We were doing a drill, and I was usually one of the best to do that drill from the baseline. He was doing that better than me, so when I finished I went to the coach and said, ‘This is special,” Lorenzi told “It is not normal when you are in the Top 100 to find a guy who is 17 and doing these things better than you. From then, I started to follow him.

“He’s a great guy and I still have a good relationship with him. What he’s doing this year is amazing and we hope he is going to do better and better in the coming years.”

In just three years, Sinner has gone from losing in the first round of qualifying at that Challenger to competing in the Nitto ATP Finals. With Matteo Berrettini’s withdrawal from the season finale due to injury, Sinner will take his place in the Red Group and face Hubert Hurkacz on Tuesday evening.

“I think it’s the best opportunity. Of course it came for Matteo’s injury. He doesn’t want to come in like this, but he deserved to be the first alternate,” Lorenzi said. “The crowd is Italian, so it’s an unbelievable chance for him. Usually he’d have to wait one more year to play this tournament and now he has the chance.

“Maybe he has less pressure because he’s playing at the last minute. I hope he can enjoy it and play great tennis, because the surface, fast, indoors, is one of the best for him.”

Sinner has already proven he can compete against the best players in the world. This season, he has won four ATP Tour titles and made his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“He’s going really fast, but for him I’m not surprised. I know it’s strange if he wins big tournaments [at his age], but what he is doing is normal because there are some players that have something more than others. He is one of them and I’m expecting a lot of things,” Lorenzi said. “I was with him when he made his first semi-final in Antwerp. We also made the semi-finals in doubles.

“He won his quarter-final, so the next day he had the first semi-final. After the quarter-final we played doubles and we won, but he just went to practise one more hour because he knew he had to improve. He is ready to be one of the best players in the world.”

It is easy to forget that Sinner, the 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion, just turned 20 in August. He carries himself like an established veteran.

“It’s not easy. Sometimes we are not thinking that he is 20 years old. He has a lot of money for a guy of his age. A lot of people recognise him. He still continues to be a normal guy,” Lorenzi said. “Today we got lunch together and we were talking about anything, not tennis.

“He was just saying, ‘Maybe I have to do better next year. If I’m in the top eight I don’t have to wait for someone else’. That is the key to his level so young.”

According to Lorenzi, the former World No. 33 who retired at this year’s US Open and is in Turin for Sky Italia, Sinner has incredible technique and power.

“It’s like he has a different racquet from me. Last year in New York I was practising with him every day. After practising with him, everyone else was hitting too slow,” Lorenzi said. “The ball comes fast. He takes the ball earlier and he has such good technique that the ball is coming quicker from his racquet. I think a lot is his technique is perfect on court. He starts from the legs and then the body.

“Sometimes I watch his match and stand behind him. It’s like he knows where the ball is going and takes it earlier than everyone else.”

Lorenzi praised Sinner’s team, led by Riccardo Piatti. But he added that not everything the former junior skier does on the court can be taught.

“He is special,” Lorenzi said. “He can do things that for us are very difficult. If you watch him play, it’s simple.”

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Sinner Steps Up For Hurkacz Rematch In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

He had to wait more than seven months, but Jannik Sinner will finally get his singles rematch against Hubert Hurkacz on Tuesday as he gears up for his first Nitto ATP Finals appearance. 

The 20-year-old is making his Turin debut as an alternate, after replacing Matteo Berrettini in the draw when he withdrew due to an abdominal injury. Earlier in the tournament, Berrettini was already forced to retire from his opening match against Alexander Zverev, trailing 7-6(7), 1-0. 


Sinner, who hails from northern Italy, narrowly missed out on qualifying directly to the ATP season finale – held for the first time on his home soil – after Casper Ruud’s late surge claimed him the eighth spot. He will now face Hurkacz for the second time this season, in a rematch of their tightly contested Miami Open presented by Itau final. 

The seventh-seeded Pole stunned the field in South Florida on his way to his first ATP Masters 1000 title. In the final, he defeated his good friend and occasional doubles partner Sinner 7-6(4), 6-4. The pair have teamed up as recently as August, but they are now getting used to increasingly finding themselves on opposite sides of the net.

“I think we both are very young. If everything goes right, we both play for many, many years in tennis hopefully. I think we will see us together in some tournaments, in doubles for sure,” Sinner said after the Miami final. “I’m looking forward to playing against him once more in singles, taking the revenge and seeing what I can do against Hubi.”

Hurkacz will be looking to kickstart his Red Group campaign, and hopes to shake off a three-set defeat to Daniil Medvedev on Sunday. The Pole pushed the World No. 2 to the limit in his own Nitto ATP Finals debut, although the Russian used the fast conditions to his favour in the 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 turnaround. 

“I still have a chance to qualify from the group, it’s great. I’ll just keep fighting and then keep believing in myself,” Hurkacz said after the match. “I’ll just try to stay positive. OK, I lost this match, but I’ll think about the positives and what I can do better and prepare for the next one.”

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Courier On Medvedev's Movement: 'Never Seen Anything Like It'

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

Daniil Medvedev has made it clear that when in form, he can beat anyone on the ATP Tour. But why is the Russian such a difficult foe?

The defending Nitto ATP Finals champion does not have a serve like John Isner, a forehand like Rafael Nadal or a backhand like Novak Djokovic. None of his strokes look like what you would find in a textbook, either. But according to former World No. 1 Jim Courier, the 6’6” right-hander has a tool the American has never seen before: his movement.

“Never seen it. Never seen anyone that tall be able to cover the court that well,” Courier said. “[Alexander] Zverev and I think Daniil are kind of in that same category of just [being] unbelievably long and unbelievably stout defensively.”

That is not to say Medvedev camps behind the baseline all match and chases the ball around the court. The Russian has a mix of skills that flummoxes opponents.

“He’s an interesting combo because he’s got a gigantic serve, one of the best first serves in the game, and he can also crank his second serve. But then once you get in a rally with him, his defence is amazing,” Courier said. “He covers the court so well from the back of the court. He can play offence, but his defence for me is really what separates him, his ability to make the court feel really small for his opponents.”

Medvedev stays back when necessary and shrinks the court. However, do not be surprised when he takes advantage of short balls and plays aggressively himself to make players uncomfortable.

“He’s still one of the rare guys where if you give him a short ball, he might back up instead of come to the net,” Courier said. “But he doesn’t hit from 25 feet behind the baseline on the return of serve and then stay back there all the time. He’ll come back up to the baseline and take time away from his opponents.”

Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
For all of those reasons and more, beating the World No. 2 is a daunting challenge. But he was not necessarily pegged to be in this position a few years ago.. As recently as August 2018, he was outside the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“[Daniil] and [coach] Gilles Cervara have done a great job at rounding out his game. His volleys have improved. They’re still not great, but they’re much better,” Courier said. “He has figured out where to stand on the court, so that’s changed over time, where he defends from and how he gets back on top of the baseline.

“There has just been constant development with them and then the confidence from winning all the matches is translated to more and more wins.”

What makes Medvedev even more dangerous is that his confidence is soaring. At the US Open, he lifted his first major trophy with a stunning straight-sets victory against Djokovic in the final, ending the Serbian’s Grand Slam dreams. The 25-year-old also made the Australian Open final this year and claimed an ATP Masters 1000 title in Toronto.

“It’s massive. What a gamechanger for him to know that he can win a tournament like that [at the US Open], especially given what was on the line for Novak. To be able to play that level of tennis in that moment, too [was impressive],” Courier said. “In Australia, he seemed like he was primed to do something pretty good, but he played a pretty poor match in that one. That’s got to feel especially sweet, to come good in that one [in New York].”

Medvedev has so many tools to win with, that an off day in some areas does not necessarily make for a disaster. So what does Courier believe must be done to defeat him?

“I think you’ve got to be patient. That’s the thing that you have to be with him,” Courier said. “You’ve got to bide your time because what might look like an opening isn’t necessarily one, because he’s able to close the gap so quickly and then play great shots in tough positions.”

The defending Nitto ATP Finals champion leads the Red Group this week with 2018 winner Alexander Zverev, home favourite Matteo Berrettini and tournament debutant Hubert Hurkacz.

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Tsitsipas: 'I Want To Step It Up'

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2021

Despite losing his opening match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday evening, Stefanos Tsitsipas has no plans of going down at the season finale without a fight.

The Greek lost in straight sets against Andrey Rublev to fall to 0-1 in Green Group action. But the 2019 champion is keen to get back on court and turn his week around.

“I am excited. I still want to play good tennis,” Tsitsipas said. “Despite the loss today I feel I will get more chances. I want to step it up and play better tennis next time.”

Tsitsipas knows that even with a loss, he has a chance to battle back and give himself a shot at reaching the semi-finals. But to do so, the three-time Nitto ATP Finals competitor will need to get back on track against tournament debutant Casper Ruud on Wednesday.

“I know how the format and how everything works. I am pretty experienced here having played the event three times before,” Tsitsipas said. “The feeling of playing here never gets old. I am still as excited as I was the very first time.

“It is a format that most players are not familiar with because we don’t get to play it very often with round-robin rules and sets can be important. I like it because it gives me chances and I can improve and get better match by match.”

The fourth seed hit 12 aces and saved five of the seven break points he faced against Rublev. But it was not enough against the on-fire Russian.

Tsitsipas credited Rublev for his performance, as the Russian won 90 per cent of his first-serve points to get off to a good start. The fifth seed will next play five-time champion Novak Djokovic in a battle of undefeated players.

“I could have played better, but Andrey played really well. He served the best I have ever seen him serve,” Tsitsipas said. “I think in the first set he made something like 22 consecutive first serves. Maybe the stats are different, but that is the feeling I have, so he was pretty good on his side.”

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