The head of the WTA says he has a “hard time believing” email attributed to Peng Shuai is from her.
The head of the WTA says he has a “hard time believing” email attributed to Peng Shuai is from her.
Daniil Medvedev, who is the defending champion at the Nitto ATP Finals, has already guaranteed himself a spot in this year’s semi-finals after clinching the top spot in the Red Group at the Pala Alpitour.
The Russian is trying to become the first player to win consecutive titles at the season finale since Novak Djokovic triumphed in four straight editions from 2012-15.
ATPTour.com caught up with the World No. 2 to learn about his run to the trophy last year, how he is enjoying Turin and what his favourite Italian food is.
What sticks out to you from your run to the Nitto ATP Finals title last year?
The biggest memories were the semi-finals and the final. Of course I remember every match, every match was tough. But in the semi-finals I was down, Rafa [Nadal] served for the match.
I remember I felt like I was playing good. I was in great shape, I’d just won Paris. I was standing there and I was like, ‘Am I really going to lose like this 4 and 4 and just go back home?’ Home was close. It was the last tournament of the year, so I didn’t want to finish in this way and I was just happy I managed to break through, because you’re not going to make it [back] all the time, especially against somebody like Rafa.
In the final against against Dominic [Thiem] it was the same. He was completely dominating me for a big part of the match. I think either at 3-3 or 4-4 he had some break points and I remember one he had, it was kind of an easy forehand in a way. I was at the net, and he missed it. But that’s what tennis is about.
I managed to win both matches, they were two-and-a-half hours, two hours and 45 minutes. These two matches stay in my memory because they make the title even sweeter.
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
What do you think about the tournament’s move from London to Turin?
It’s definitely different. It’s a different city, a different venue. You need time to get used to it. I feel like the first few days it’s always not easy when you come to any tournament you play for the first time.
Everybody is asking me how I feel as the defending champion. I’m always answering that I feel like there is no defending champion. It’s just a new champion in a new city, which is Torino. I really have enjoyed it so far, especially because I’m playing well. I hope for more.
How special are the Italian fans?
The Italian fans are passionate. We have a queue in front of our hotel no matter if it’s raining or sunny. Of course a little bit more when it’s sunny! That shows how passionate they are about tennis. I think we try to give back to them [to thank them].
What is your favourite Italian food?
To be honest I like so much Italian food, but I will have to go with panna cotta because I like sweets and it’s definitely very good in Italy. I took it two or three times before the tournament because during the tournament I don’t eat sweets.
Andrey Rublev acknowledged the emotional impact playing Novak Djokovic for the first time had on his performance after losing 6-3, 6-2 in Turin on Wednesday.
Rublev opened his Nitto ATP Finals campaign with an impressive 6-4, 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday. But despite recording an early break of serve, the World No. 5 found himself increasingly outpaced by Djokovic, who finished the match with flair to win the Green Group.
“I don’t know how nervous I was because I was not thinking about it. Today was still a lot of emotions and I could feel it during the rallies,” Rublev said.
“Because it looks like everything is fine, it looks like I’m playing some good rallies, but then suddenly I’m making so many unusual mistakes, easy, from positions that normally I’m playing well and hitting hard from. Today I was missing a lot… It means I was rushing too much today.”
Just look at court coverage 🥲
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 17, 2021
Djokovic’s relentless defence was on full display at the Pala Alpitour on Wednesday, with Rublev frequently pulling the trigger too early in rallies throughout the 68-minute match.
“I was rushing a bit, overthinking a bit,” Rublev admitted. “Because every time I was thinking ‘OK, now I have a chance to attack, now I have a chance to lead the point’. You think through the next two, three, four shots and then in the end you don’t even make this one, you know? And normally you just shoot and you don’t think.”
Rublev counts wins over Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer among the 13 Top 10 victories of his career so far. But curiously, both his previous matches against players ranked World No. 1 – against Andy Murray at the 2017 Australian Open and Nadal at the US Open the same year – have seen him net just five games, the same number he won against Djokovic today.[FOLLOW FINALS]
“This is normal, I have to pass through this experience. I’ve been through this when I was playing my first meeting against Andy, against Rafa, and it always takes time,” Rublev said.
“You need to play a couple of matches like this to feel your opponent and feel that you can compete with the best players. It takes time… Now is the time to take a lesson from this match and to give my best for the next match.”
The mental and emotional challenges Rublev will face in his next match should be of a different order. Friday’s opponent Casper Ruud is a player against whom Rublev has every reason to feel confident – the Russian has won all four of their previous meetings. But with a place in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals on the line, the stakes will be high.
“I expect it’s going to be a physical match, a mental match, because Casper, he is really strong physically,” Rublev said. “He plays really aggressive, he is really great from the baseline. You need to play long rallies with him, you need to run a lot, so it’s going to be this kind of match.”
Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie will make his debut at the ATP Finals after Stefanos Tsitsipas withdraws injured from the event in Turin.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has withdrawn from the Nitto ATP Finals due to a right elbow injury on Wednesday ahead of his second Green Group match at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.
Second alternate Cameron Norrie will take Tsitsipas’ place and face Norwegian Casper Ruud on Wednesday evening not before 9 p.m. Andrey Rublev defeated Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 on Monday in their opening round-robin match.
“I have taken the very difficult decision to retire from the 2021 [Nitto ATP] Finals due to my elbow injury, which has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s a very difficult decision from my side and I was working really hard this year to get to play the Finals and be part of this amazing event, but unfortunately I won’t be able to continue.”
The 26-year-old Norrie is making his debut at the season finale following a breakthrough season in which he won his first title at the Mifel Open in Los Cabos and claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Norrie has only played Ruud once before, and that came less than two months ago in the San Diego Open final. The Norwegian was victorious 6-0, 6-2.
Britain’s 13-time Grand Slam champion Jordanne Whiley has announced her retirement from wheelchair tennis, saying she leaves with “no regrets and a heart filled with pride”.
Roger Federer says he is unlikely to play Wimbledon next year and has confirmed he will miss the Australian Open as he recovers from injury.
Peng Shuai has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a Chinese official.
It might not have been the Nitto ATP Finals debut that Jannik Sinner had been dreaming of, but the 20-year-old did more than make the most of it – he made as statement. The Italian kept the home flag flying in Turin as he earned his first win against Hubert Hurkacz in commanding fashion 6-2, 6-2.
And he did it with only a few hours to prepare: World No. 11 Sinner was in Turin as the first alternate, after narrowly missing out on direct qualification. When his countryman Matteo Berrettini found himself unable to compete due to an abdominal injury, Sinner was called on to replace him in the draw.[FOLLOW FINALS]
“I found out around 5:00 p.m. today,” Sinner revealed in his post-match press conference. “Obviously, [the match] was first supposed to be at 2:00 p.m., but they moved it to 9:00 p.m. to give [Berrettini] some more time to see if he can play or not. I was ready, I was waiting but I didn’t know at what time he would decide.
“I have to say, I felt [good] today on court. I tried to play my best tennis, which I did in the moment. I’m very happy about my performance today.”
Disappointing as it was to see his friend injured, Sinner took his opportunity and stepped into the spotlight at the Pala Alpitour to claim a statement victory. He dropped just four games against the Miami champion Hurkacz, and his serve was not broken in the 6-2, 6-2 romp.
Looking at past results, Sinner’s game excels on indoor hard-courts – three of his five career ATP titles have come on that surface, including two in 2021 at Sofia and Antwerp. He has also compared the courts at Turin to the ones in nearby Milan, where he showed his best tennis in 2019 when he captured the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals trophy – a message to the rest of the Red Group.
“The courts are quite similar to Milan during the Next Gen [ATP Finals]. I won there a couple of years ago, and now I’m here,” he reflected. “They are quite fast, and I feel well on these courts.
“And of course, the atmosphere is amazing, everyone cheering here for me and for Italy. Playing in Italy is special because you stick together and you want to win together, and I had this feeling today. When the whole stadium is playing [with you] against one guy, it’s not easy.”[WATCH LIVE 1]
As a result of his standing in the Red Group, Sinner still has a slim chance to qualify for the semi-finals – if he does, he would be the first alternate in Nitto ATP Finals history to do so. He has to defeat Daniil Medvedev in order to give himself a chance, but Hurkacz (0-2) must also defeat Alexander Zverev (1-1) for Sinner to go through.
“I just try to stay focused on my next match and trying to play great tennis,” Sinner said. “That’s my first goal, because if you want to win against Daniil, you have to play your best tennis. He’s No. 2 in the world. He won a Grand Slam this year and a lot of tournaments, as well. So it’s going to be a tough challenge.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 16, 2021
Regardless of the outcome, the 20-year-old is determined to make the most of his experience in Turin. Sinner has already lifted a career-best four ATP Tour trophies this year, and secured his Top 10 debut in the FedEx ATP Rankings earlier this month by taking things one match at a time.
“At the moment I’m just happy about today’s match. Tomorrow I will go on court to practise, and then we’ll see what’s coming,” Sinner said. “Of course, you want to go on to the semi-finals, you’re trying to do your best but on the other hand, these are the best eight players in the world. And with me, nine. Everyone is tough to beat here, so let’s see what’s coming.”
Did You Know…
Sinner is the youngest player to compete at the Nitto ATP Finals since Juan Martin del Potro, 20, went 1-2 in Shanghai in 2008.
Garbine Muguruza powers past Paula Badosa in Mexico to become the first Spaniard in 28 years to reach the final of the WTA Finals.