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Djokovic To Compete In Dubai, Nadal & Medvedev In Acapulco

  • Posted: Jan 28, 2022

Novak Djokovic will compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Rafael Nadal will play in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in the week of 21 February.

Djokovic is a five-time titlist in Dubai. The Serbian owns a 41-6 record at the ATP 500 event, where he triumphed on his most recent appearance in 2020.

Other players who will be competing in Dubai include defending champion Aslan Karatsev, Top 10 stars Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner, and Denis Shapovalov.

Nadal will be among the stars playing in Acapulco. The ATP 500 will also include Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal is a three-time champion at the Mexican tournament, at which Zverev emerged victorious in 2021. Former World No. 3 and 2014 titlist Grigor Dimitrov and 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion Carlos Alcaraz will also be in the field.

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Zverev Accepts Montpellier Wild Card

  • Posted: Jan 28, 2022

Alexander Zverev has accepted a wild card into the Open Sud de France, an ATP 250 held in Montpellier, the tournament announced on social media. The event will be played from 31 January-6 February.

The German will compete in the tournament for the first time since 2017, when he lifted the title in Montpellier. That was the second ATP Tour trophy of his career.

Zverev first played in the Open Sud de France as a 17-year-old in 2015, when he lost in the third round of qualifying. He also made the semi-finals in 2016, and has a 7-1 main-draw record at the event.

The 24-year-old is 5-2 on the season after reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open. Third seed Zverev lost against 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in straight sets.

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Medvedev: ‘I Know What I’m Capable Of’

  • Posted: Jan 28, 2022

Daniil Medvedev revealed he is not feeling the pressure and believes he can win the title on Sunday at the Australian Open after he moved past fourth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas to set up a clash against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.

The Russian is aiming to become the first man to follow his maiden major crown with his second at the next Grand Slam event, after beating Novak Djokovic in the US Open final. His triumph over the World No. 1 in New York gave Medvedev a renewed sense of confidence, which he has used in Australia.

“I really don’t have much pressure. I know what I’m capable of when I’m playing well. I know that I can beat anybody,” Medvedev said in his post-match press conference on Friday. “The second round against Nick [Kyrgios] was a tight one. But it gave me a lot of confidence in my own power, in my own tennis.

“I know [after the US Open] that I’m capable of winning seven matches in a row and the last one against Novak was epic. So, I knew before this tournament that it is possible. That is what I’m trying to prove.”

This fortnight the 13-time tour-level titlist has edged Kyrgios, Maxime Cressy and Tsitsipas in four sets, while he saved a match point en route to his five-set victory against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals. His two other wins at Melbourne Park came against Henri Laaksonen and Botic van de Zandschulp

It is a run the 25-year-old has thoroughly enjoyed as he aims to go one step further this year in Melbourne compared to 12 months ago, when he lost to Djokovic in the championship match.

“It’s been great,” Medvedev said while smiling. “It’s definitely been emotional. It started with the match against Nick, which was just emotional in all aspects. I think it started there and this energy kept on going with different ones in every match. Some matches were mad. The Felix match was just crazy in terms of tennis and the score. My matches with Stefanos are always emotional. It’s been a great run and I’m happy that I have the chance to win the title on Sunday.”

The second seed will compete in his fourth major final when he plays Nadal on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday. It will be the second time the World No. 2 has faced the Spaniard in the championship match of a Grand Slam, after losing to him in a five-set thriller at the US Open in 2019. Medvedev’s other two meetings at this stage of a major came against Djokovic.

“They are really strong,” Medvedev said when asked about the Big 3. “It’s really tough to get into the final, and I always have them there waiting for me. But it’s fun. When I was eight or 10 years old I was playing against the wall and I was imagining that it was Rafa on the other side, or Roger [Federer]. Novak was still not yet there.

“Now I have the chance to play a second time [against Nadal]. [The] first one was close, an epic one. I’m going to try to prepare well, and [I] need to show my best, because that’s what I took of the three finals that I played before, that you have to do better than 100 per cent in order to win.”

Nadal leads Medvedev 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, with the Russian’s only victory coming on hard at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2020.

On the challenge of facing the sixth seed, Medvedev added: “[It will probably be a] physical match. Rafa likes to drag people into long rallies. I like it too. I think it is going to be a great battle. But again, I remember last year’s final in Australia, even if it was against a different opponent. I’m going to try to be more ready, more focused, fighting more, and give it everything I have in terms of tennis, both physically and mentally.”

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Tsitsipas Views Medvedev Defeat As Important ‘Lesson’

  • Posted: Jan 28, 2022

Despite falling at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open for a third time on Friday, Stefanos Tsitsipas was feeling positive following his defeat to Daniil Medvedev as he looks to use the experience to develop further.

“I have a long season ahead of me, with a lot of opportunities,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match press conference. “I’m going to try and grab and get the best out of my tennis and get the best out of this experience, so that I can always work towards and help myself improve physically, mentally and improve my game generally. I see today’s performance as a lesson that I can use to move forward.”

The Greek rallied to level the match after losing the first set, but could not find a way past the World No. 2, who prevailed in four sets on Rod Laver Arena. The clash was a repeat of last year’s semi-final in Melbourne, when Medvedev also triumphed, before he lost to Novak Djokovic in the final.

However, the fourth seed, who was making his fifth appearance at the first Grand Slam of the season, was more proud of how he competed on Friday compared to the year before.

“I played way better than I did last time,” Tsitsipas said. “Last year I was completely cooked and exhausted after that five-set match with Rafa [Nadal]. I wasn’t able to recover the way I wanted to recover, and this year I was really into it from the very first point.

“I felt good with my shots, felt good mentally, I felt good in terms of belief and in terms of feeling that passion in the court. I was very close. The first tie-break was an important one. I feel like I could have won that one. Maybe should have followed a different tactic. But again [it is] a lesson. I think it would have been a different match winning that first set.”

The Greek, who underwent elbow surgery in the off-season, praised the performance and work ethic of Medvedev, with the Russian improving to 7-2 in their ATP Head2Head series with his victory.

“He’s a great competitor,” Tsitsipas added. “He runs like [a] marathon runner, he can run for hours and hours. I respect the fact that he’s able to run so much and make it physical out there in every single point. He’s one of the biggest fighters, together with Nadal. He’s earned the win.”

While Tsitsipas’ wait for his first major title goes on, the seven-time tour-level champion believes he will experience success in Melbourne one day.

“Australia has a special place in my heart, and I always feel like I’m at home here,” Tsitsipas said. “I strongly believe I will be able to do very well here one day and give that joy and that happiness to Aussies here and the Greek community. It is a tournament that I very much love, and it is a tournament that I want to thrive at one day.”

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Medvedev Soars Into Australian Open Final, Sets Nadal Showdown

  • Posted: Jan 28, 2022

Daniil Medvedev showcased his champion mentality Friday as he stepped up and delivered under pressure once again to return to the Australian Open final.

The second seed demonstrated a mixture of quality and grit under the lights on Rod Laver Arena, overcoming fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a high-quality match to set up a final showdown against Rafael Nadal.

“Some matches are very even,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “I missed some balls at a few moments where I could have got a break and he missed a few at the start of the third set. Then from 5-4 in the third [set] I just found some momentum and started to read his serve and put every ball in. I hit some very important passing shots and his energy went down because of this and my energy went up.”

The Russian, who reached the championship match in Melbourne last year (l. to Djokovic), targeted the Greek’s backhand from the baseline with his flat and powerful groundstrokes throughout. Medvedev hit 39 winners and broke four times to advance after two hours and 30 minutes.

The 25-year-old now leads Tsitsipas 7-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, having also defeated the World No. 4 at the same stage in Melbourne last season. Medvedev is aiming to win his second Grand Slam title, after triumphing at the US Open in September. He will also become the first player to follow his maiden major trophy with his second at the next Grand Slam event if he beats Nadal on Sunday.

The World No. 2 will meet Nadal in the final after the sixth seed defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 55 minutes. Nadal leads Medvedev 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head series and is targeting a record-breaking 21st major trophy in Melbourne. The Spaniard survived a spirited comeback from Medvedev in the US Open final in 2019, prevailing in five sets after the 25-year-old rallied from two sets down.

On facing Nadal, Medvedev said: “I am going to play again against one of the greatest and against someone going for their 21st Grand Slam. Grand Slam finals are special and I can remember the final against Rafa at the [2019] US Open. It was my first final and we played for about five hours. We have played a few matches since then and I am ready.”

Since the start of last season, Medvedev has gone 19-1 at hard-court majors. This fortnight the 13-time tour-level titlist has edged Nick Kyrgios and Maxime Cressy in four sets, before he saved a match point en route to his five-set victory against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals. His two other wins at Melbourne Park came against Henri Laaksonen and Botic van de Zandschulp.

“After the match with Felix I spoke to my coach and said, ‘How will I do it on Friday?’,” Medvedev added. “I sat down in the locker room and was so dead, barely could move. But I tried to recover well and the next day I woke up and the moment I opened my eyes I thought it was not too bad and I could recover and that is what happened. I am happy today that it was not five hours so I can recover for the next one.”

In a tight and hard-fought match, little separated the pair in the first set as Medvedev looked to target the World No. 4’s backhand from the baseline, while Tsitsipas used the drop shot to bring the Russian to the net. At 4-4, Tsitsipas passed the first test of the clash as he fended off four break points to hold as they moved to a tie-break. From 1/4 behind, Medvedev rallied and conjured up a set point with a backhand winner down the line. He then sealed the 49-minute set when Tsitsipas fired a forehand wide.

However, the Greek did not let this setback affect him, breaking immediately at the start of the second set as he continued to use his heavy topspin forehand to keep Medvedev pinned back. The second seed did respond by breaking back, but he gifted the initiative back to Tsitsipas with a double fault at 30/40 4-4 and the 23-year-old made no mistake on serve to level, roaring in delight as he marched back to his chair.

Medvedev regained his focus in the third set though in front of a raucous crowd, winning 89 per cent (16/18) of his first-serve points before he capitalised on a few errors from Tsitsipas in the 10th game to move ahead. The Russian then raced to the finish line in the fourth set as he maintained his high level, firing his aggressive groundstrokes through the court with great depth to secure his statement win.

Tsitsipas was aiming to reach the final in Melbourne for the first time, having fallen at the semi-final stage in 2019 and 2021. The Greek, whose best result at a major was a run to the championship match at Roland Garros last year, earned impressive wins against American Taylor Fritz and World No. 10 Jannik Sinner en route to the last four.

Did You Know?
By reaching his fourth Grand Slam final, Medvedev has equalled Marat Safin’s record for most major final appearances by a Russian man.

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Berrettini: 'I Will Learn From Rafa Defeat'

  • Posted: Jan 28, 2022

Grand Slam defeats are always tough to take, but Matteo Berrettini is already preparing for next time.

The Italian World No. 7 threatened a comeback in his Australian Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal on Friday, but the Spaniard rode out the storm to complete a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win on Rod Laver Arena. While disappointed with how the match went, Berrettini has picked up some key lessons for the future.

“It was the first time that I played under the roof,” said Berrettini in his post-match press conference. “It was different conditions. I struggled. At the beginning I couldn’t really find the rhythm. It took me a while to adapt, but at the same time Rafa was playing really well.

“I learned that you have to be ready any time. It’s a sport that you have to be able to adapt to everything that is happening. Today he was just way better than me.”

With 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt, Nadal is an obvious role model for Berrettini in his pursuit for further success. “Just look at the numbers,” said 2021 Wimbledon finalist Berrettini. “I don’t know how many semi-finals Rafa has played, but I know that he has more experience in this.

“We chatted a little bit in the locker room. He told me that it was a great run, and I told him again, bravo. It’s just really nice for me to talk to him and have this kind of conversation, because I’m still learning from him, and it’s good.”

Berrettini was satisfied with his performances over the Australian swing despite the semi-final disappointment. Having never previously been past the fourth round in Melbourne, the 25-year-old will focus on the way he fought back in the second half of the semi-final as he tries to reach new levels in 2022.

“I don’t think I have to say anything about my tennis in the third and the fourth [sets],” said Berrettini. “I think it was a really good fight. I was playing good tennis and he was playing good tennis. I think it was fun to watch, I was having fun playing it.

“The first two sets weren’t what I expected, what I wanted from myself. I wouldn’t say I was flat, but I wasn’t in the right mood, in the right mental mindset, for many reasons. I think for the first time I’m in the semi-finals, against Rafa, it was good that I had a really good reaction. This is the thing that I’m most proud and happy about.”

Having only been beaten by either Nadal or World No. 1 Novak Djokovic over the past four Grand Slams, Berrettini feels he has the game to go toe-to-toe with the greats.

“I know that my level is getting higher and higher,” said Berrettini. “I think here for the third and the fourth [sets], my tennis level was really high. I’m not saying that he was struggling, but he had to play his best tennis to be with me, and this is what the great champions do normally. When you’re stepping up the level, they are there with you.

“I think it’s time for me to play these kind of matches as much as possible, to learn from these matches, and next time I want to be ready for them.”

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