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#NextGenATP Stars Go From Milan To ATP University

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2021

With the ATP Tour season having come to an end, some of tennis’ brightest up-and-coming stars went back to school last week. Tennis school, that is.

Twenty-three players attended ATP University — two days of sessions covering a wide variety of topics to further improve the off-court skills and enhance the knowledge they need to succeed on the ATP Tour. Topics covered included Tour Structure, Integrity and Mental Health with Sporting Chance.

According to Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Brandon Nakashima, it was a beneficial set of workshops for his development.

“The ATP University experience was great! You know coming up as a young player there’s a lot to know about the ATP that maybe us players don’t realise behind the scenes,” Nakashima said. “But having the university really educates us in all aspects of professional tennis.”

Social media has increasingly become an important part of professional athletes’ lives, providing players with an opportunity to connect with their fans. Nakashima’s favourite workshop was about social media and how he can use it to continue building his profile.

“It’s interesting to see how social media has affected people from all over the world,” Nakashima said. “I realised that social media plays a big role in your personal platform and how to let your fans know what you’re up to.”

Players were also treated to discussions with ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi and former World No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic, who is a member of Roger Federer’s coaching team.

“It was really nice,” Hugo Gaston said. “It was nice to speak with everyone and to learn more things!”

This year’s ATP University graduates were Carlos Alcaraz, Tomislav Brkic, Jenson Brooksby, Francisco Cerundolo, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Maxime Cressy, Joao Domingues, Hugo Gaston, Filip Horansky, Zdenek Kolar, Sebastian Korda, Tomas Machac, Alex Molcan, Gian Marco Moroni, Lorenzo Musetti, Brandon Nakashima, David Pel, Hunter Reese, Holger Rune, Matej Sabanov, Roman Safiullin, Mario Villa Martinez and Kacper Zuk.

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “The ATP University continues to be an invaluable tool to help players learn about the different aspects of the Tour, beyond the tennis court. I remember taking part in the University myself in the 1990s, and there is so much to discover about how to effectively manage your career. Life on the Tour comes with a lot of responsibility, particularly at a young age. We hope the players found the sessions to be of use, and congratulations to all those who took part.”

ATP University is typically held twice a year — alongside the Miami Open presented by Itau and the Nitto ATP Finals — but the programme has been adapted the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1,100 past and present ATP Tour players have graduated from the program. Any player in his first year of ATP Tour Division I membership is required to attend ATP University. Players inside the Top 200 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings are eligible for the membership.

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Djokovic, Tsitsipas In Best 2 Grand Slam Comebacks Of 2021

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2021

Yesterday looked back at three of the best Grand Slam comebacks of the season. Now, continuing our review of the 2021 season, we will complete the top five with the two best Grand Slam match comebacks of 2021, featuring top five stars Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

2) Roland Garros, Final, Novak Djokovic d. Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
The effort required to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros comes at a price. When Robin Soderling did it in 2009 he fell in the final, as did Novak Djokovic six years later.

In 2015, after upsetting Nadal in the quarter-finals, Djokovic fell one match shy of completing the career Grand Slam against Stan Wawrinka. That first Roland Garros title came a year later, and five years on, he became the first man to beat the Spaniard twice in Paris.

The Serbian required more than four hours to subdue defending champion Nadal less than two days earlier. Now one match win from a second Roland Garros crown, he came up against first-time major finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Greek had weathered his own battle in the semi-finals after he let a two-set lead slip before he righted his ways and stormed home in the deciding set against Alexander Zverev. It was the first time he had passed the semi-finals of a major on his fourth attempt. Djokovic, 11 years his senior, was through to his 19th Grand Slam final, his sixth in Paris and his third straight this season.

Djokovic was not without his chances in a 70-minute opening set after he failed to serve it out at 6-5 and missed a set point in the subsequent tie-break before Tsitsipas clinched it. In 30-degree heat, the World No. 1 appeared strained as he surrendered his opening serve of the second set and when he conceded it 6-2 it was clear the weight of history was bearing down.

Only five players before him in the Open Era had recovered from a two-set deficit to win a Grand Slam final. Never before had the 34-year-old done it, but he had bounced back from two sets down once already this tournament against #NextGen ATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round.

The pivotal break came in the fourth game of the third set and from there Tsitsipas looked increasingly vulnerable as his opponent’s confidence only grew. The Serbian had regained the mental and physical edge as he levelled at two sets apiece. As the match passed the four-hour mark in the fifth set, Djokovic saved break points for the last time.


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He secured his place in history on his second championship point 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. He was the first man to win all majors twice in the Open Era and closed to within one Grand Slam title of Roger Federer’s and Nadal’s all-time mark.

“I couldn’t be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours,” said Djokovic after the four-hour 11-minute final. “Probably ranks at the top three all‑time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career.”

Defeat ended Nadal’s hopes of pulling clear of Federer with a 21st major and consigned him to a seventh Australian Open quarter-final exit. Tsitsipas was only the second player after Fabio Fognini at the 2015 US Open who had beaten Nadal from two sets down at a major.

“I missed a couple of balls in the [third set] tie-break that I could not miss if I wanted to win… I think Stefanos played great in the fourth and fifth sets,” Nadal said. “I think I stayed positive all the time during the match, fighting. And [it] was not enough.”

Read more from our Best of 2021 series here.

1) Australian Open, QF, Stefanos Tsitsipas d. Rafael Nadal 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5
Following a breakthrough run to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2019, when he dethroned his idol Roger Federer en route, Stefanos Tsitsipas had been earmarked as a potential successor to the Big Three on the Grand Slam stages. The Greek had since entrenched himself in the Top 5 and played himself comfortably into the second week at Melbourne Park, after he survived a five-set scare against Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round.

For the 13th time in the past 15 years, his opponent – 20-time major champion Nadal – was through to the Australian Open quarter-finals. The second seed had not dropped a set, a run that included a dominant fourth-round dismissal of 16th seed Fabio Fognini in which he conceded only nine games.

Melbourne had been plunged back into a snap five-day lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so the pair squared off before an empty Rod Laver Arena under the lights. It mattered not to the Spaniard as he looked headed for a comfortable victory after he secured the opening two sets in 81 minutes.

Photo Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

To say things looked bleak for Tsitsipas would be a gross understatement. In his career, Nadal had only failed once to close out a match after leading two sets to love.

The two could not be separated on serve throughout a 54-minute third set and it was the Greek who reeled off four of the last five points to land the tie-break. The fifth seed was determined to extend his stay and continued to press on Nadal’s serve, while he had increasingly fewer problems on his own in the fourth set, as he levelled the contest after two hours and 12 minutes.

Nadal had fallen just once in eight ATP Head2Head encounters with his opponent and had been in this situation countless times before in his career. Momentum was hard to come by in the deciding set as neither conjured up a break point until the 11th game when Nadal dropped serve for only the second time.

It handed Tsitsipas a chance to serve for the match at 6-5 and in the tensest game of the final set, he steadied to secure his passage on his third match point 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 after four hours and five minutes.

“I’m speechless,” Tsitsipas said on court. “I have no words to describe what just happened. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level and just be able to give it my all on the court.

“I started very nervous, I won’t lie, but I don’t know what happened after the third set. I just flew like a little bird, everything was working for me. The emotions at the end are indescribable.”

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Roger Federer Voted As Fans’ Favourite For 19th Time In ATP Awards

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2021

The fans have spoken, and for the 19th straight year, Roger Federer has been voted as the winner of Fans’ Favourite in the 2021 ATP Awards.

More On 2021 ATP Awards

Federer, who celebrated his 40th birthday in August, made his comeback to the ATP Tour this past March in Doha after undergoing two arthroscopic right knee surgeries in 2020. He enjoyed a run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, where he showed his continued appreciation for the fans.

“[The] crowds were amazing,” said Federer. “The ovation was fantastic. I loved it. That’s why I play. That’s why I still play now.”

The Swiss adds to his record haul of ATP Awards, now at 40. In addition to his 19 Fans’ Favourite Awards, Federer has been voted by his peers as the recipient of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award 13 times and Comeback Player of the Year (2017). He has also been crowned ATP No. 1 presented by FedEx five times and is a two-time winner of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award.

In doubles, the French duo of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut have been selected as Fans’ Favourite for the first time. 

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Brooksby Clinches 2021 Newcomer Award: 'It Was Definitely A Fun Season'

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2021

Jenson Brooksby has been rewarded for his standout season by being voted Newcomer of the Year in the 2021 ATP Awards. The 21-year-old is the first American to win this award since Taylor Fritz in 2016 and the third overall American since 2000 to earn newcomer honours, also joining Andy Roddick (2001).

“I am extremely grateful to win the ATP Newcomer Player of the Year award,” Brooksby said. “Thank you to all the players who voted for me. It means a lot. It was definitely a fun season and I would like to thank the fans for cheering me on throughout the year. Lastly, thanks to my team, who supported me through the tough times and the good times.”

Brooksby had earned just one tour-level win before the 2021 season and sat outside the Top 300 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. However, following a series of standout results, the 21-year-old soared up the rankings this year, ending the campaign at No. 56 — the youngest of an ATP Tour-high 12 Americans in the year-end Top 100.

The Sacramento-native reached his maiden ATP Tour final in Newport, before he advanced to the fourth round at a major for the first time on home soil at the US Open, defeating Aslan Karatsev and Fritz before losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets. He additionally reached tour-level semi-finals in Washington and Antwerp and captured three ATP Challenger Tour trophies.

“It was great to experience a lot of the success I had this year. I won my first few Challenger titles, made an [ATP] 250 final, the semis of D.C. — the [ATP] 500 — and made the Round of 16 at a major [for the first time]. [Those] were all good accomplishments for me,” Brooksby said. “I want to take it a step further next year.

“I know what it takes to win titles and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to. I want to win titles next year, that’s the ultimate goal and I believe the process that I’m doing will see me through to those results that I want.”

There are a few things Brooksby is most proud of from his breakthrough season, and they are not necessarily his biggest victories on paper.

“First, after the adversity I’d faced in 2020, not being able to play any matches and just knowing what it takes to win… fighting through that adversity to win the title in my second week in South Africa. Secondly I was proud of how well I adjusted to big moments and how well I consistently did in the Challengers after winning that first title, especially in Tallahassee and Orlando during that time of the season,” Brooksby said. “I’m proud of how I’ve been committed to my process and doing the things I need to do. I know there’s still work to do in that, but I’ve made good strides this year.

“Third, I’m proud of how well I translated my game and my belief into the ATP Tour tournaments. I translated my game really well and I had good results starting with my first ATP tournaments.”

Brooksby also acknowledged countryman Mackenzie McDonald, another winner in the 2021 ATP Awards. “Shout out to Mackie for winning the Comeback Player of the Year award,” he said. “You deserve it.”

Four other #NextGenATP stars – Sebastian Baez, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima – were also nominated in this category.

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