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Fritz Fires Past Nadal In Nitto ATP Finals Debut

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Fritz Fires Past Nadal In Nitto ATP Finals Debut

American claims first place in Green Group

Injuries were a major storyline in the previous two 2022 meetings between Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz. On Sunday at the Nitto ATP Finals, both men were operating with clean bills of health in Turin — with Fritz putting forth an equally clean performance to earn a famous upset.

With a 7-6(3), 6-1 win, Fritz completed a dream debut at the season finale while denting Nadal’s bid to win the lone big title that has eluded him in his legendary career. The Spaniard’s defeat also means he must now claim the Turin title to overtake Carlos Alcaraz for the year-end No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking.

“It feels great. I felt like coming out first mach, especially for my hopes of getting out of the group, it was going to be really important,” said Fritz, who moved above Casper Ruud into first place in the Green Group. “I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I needed to win out if I wanted to move on. I came out and played a great match, and I couldn’t be happier.”


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Fritz improved to 2-2 in his ATP Head2Head series against Nadal, backing up his win in the Indian Wells final in March — a match the American nearly didn’t play due to an ankle injury. He also gained a measure of revenge after a heartbreaking Wimbledon quarter-final defeat in which Nadal came from behind despite struggling with an abdominal tear.

The last man into the Turin field, Fritz showed he belonged with a dominant display as he controlled the match with his serve and forehand. The 25-year-old did not face a break point and created nine of his own, converting on two of six in the second set as he ran away with the victory by winning the final five games.

Both men looked to find their forehands early and often in the rallies, and it was Fritz who found more success with the crucial tactic, finishing the match with 23 winners to Nadal’s 18. The INSIGHTS In Attack statistics show that the American hit 30 per cent of his shots from attacking positions in the match, compared to 21 per cent for Nadal.

In Attack: Nadal vs. Fritz

While Fritz did most of his damage off the ground from his forehand wing, the American pointed out a crucial edge on his rally backhand as he benefitted from the slick indoor surface at the Pala Alpitour.

“The court’s definitely fast. For me, fast is good for my serve, it’s good for my backhand,” he explained in his on-court interview. “I feel like different speeds always have parts that help my game, and parts that hurt my game. On a slower court, I have so much more time to kind of load up on a forehand.

“On a court like this, I can lean into my backhand and hit it deep cross to Rafa’s forehand, and it makes it a but tougher for him to step in and crush it. On a slower surface, he gets time on the forehand when I go backhand cross, and it’s probably done for me. So I’d say that’s where it helps me the most on the ground against him.”

After Fritz failed to convert on three break points in the opening set, he never trailed in the tie-break after taking a 3/0 lead with the help of a Nadal double fault.

The American dealt a final blow late in the second set by converting on his fifth break point of a six-deuce game. He then quickly served out the match with one hour, 37 minutes played to record his first win against a Top 3 opponent in 12 attempts.

Nadal, who was playing in his second ATP Tour singles match since the US Open, has now suffered three straight defeats, all against Americans. He was turned back by Frances Tiafoe at the US Open and Tommy Paul two weeks ago in Paris before Sunday’s loss at the hands of Fritz.

Did You Know?

Fritz is the first American singles player to compete at the Nitto ATP Finals since John Isner in 2018. He is bidding to become the first American semi-finalist since Jack Sock in 2017 (London), the first finalist since James Blake in 2006 (Shanghai) and the first champion since Pete Sampras in 1999 (Hanover).

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Djokovic & Nadal Swap Praise In Epic All-Eight Turin Interview

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Djokovic & Nadal Swap Praise In Epic All-Eight Turin Interview

Nitto ATP Finals competitors share unique interview

Eight champions, one unforgettable interview. That is what fans received Sunday when the ATP released an exclusive all-eight interview with every singles player competing at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Top seed Rafael Nadal and five-time season finale champion Novak Djokovic quickly praised one another, with the rest of the champions listening intently.

“I think I have to say to Novak, he’s able to be super professional, to control his body, to hold the passion. It doesn’t matter how things are going, he always keeps going until the end and that’s something very difficult, especially in a super long career after all the success,” Nadal said. “To keep having the passion and the love for the game, I think it’s something I admire a lot.”

Djokovic and Nadal have met a record 59 times (Djokovic leads 30-29) in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. Five of those clashes have come at the Nitto ATP Finals, with another battle possible later in the week in the knockout stages of the year-end championships.

“I am really privileged to have the rivalry that we had over the years,” Djokovic said. “I think we respect each other a lot and we push each other to the limit and kind of motivate each other to go even higher. It’s great to be part of that era.”

<a href=''>Nitto ATP Finals</a>
Photo Credit: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
It was clear the rest of the players in the room at the Gallerie d’Italia — all of whom are 26 or younger — were eager to hear what their legendary colleagues said. Casper Ruud explained the impact Djokovic and Nadal have had on him.

“Everything they have brought to the table and every match is pure passion,” Ruud said. “Them playing against each other was some of the most exciting things you could watch in sports in my opinion.”

Only one man will emerge the ultimate champion at the end of the week in Turin. Every match will be difficult, and the likelihood of smooth sailing is small. Djokovic found a succinct way to describe the rollercoaster that is the Nitto ATP Finals.

“You go from your lowest to your highest in one or two days,” Djokovic said. “It’s kind of a journey of the entire season congested in [eight] days. It’s quite a unique event.”

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Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are the three players in the field who have lifted the trophy at the season finale. According to Medvedev, the competitors must be on top of their game from the first point.

“For me it’s about beating the best players in the world, because there is no other tournament where first match straight away you’re going to play a Top 10 player. There is not one more tournament like this, and it’s tough,” Medvedev said. “You have to be at your ‘A’ game from the first match ’til the last one and that’s the toughest part, but that’s what you have to do to win.”

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Ram & Salisbury Survive Opening Nitto ATP Finals Rollercoaster

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Ram & Salisbury Survive Opening Nitto ATP Finals Rollercoaster

Second seeds move to 1-0 in Red Group

Will this be the year Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury emerge victorious at the Nitto ATP Finals? The American-British duo made a good start on Sunday evening in Turin.

The second seeds battled past seventh seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-8 in a Turin rollercoaster to move to 1-0 in Red Group action. They needed one hour and 51 minutes to win a topsy-turvy encounter at the Pala Alpitour.

Ram and Salisbury had the match well in hand up a set and leading 6/4 in the second-set tie-break, but Granollers and Zeballos refused to go away. They showed clutch returning to claw into a Match Tie-break.

A thrilling match came to a surprising end when Zeballos missed a high swinging forehand volley on Ram and Salisbury’s third match point. This year’s US Open champions have now won five consecutive matches against Granollers and Zeballos.

The clash was full of highlight-reel shotmaking, with all four players hitting stunning returns and showing superb athleticism on centre court. Earlier in the day, Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara opened Red Group with a victory against Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer.

Ram and Salisbury have positive memories at the Pala Alpitour, where they advanced to the championship match last year. This is the duo’s fourth consecutive appearance together at the season finale.

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Felix: 'I Need To Bounce Back'

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Felix: ‘I Need To Bounce Back’

Canadian making debut in Turin

Felix Auger-Aliassime is determined to respond at the Nitto ATP Finals following his round-robin defeat Sunday against Casper Ruud in Turin.

The Canadian arrived at the prestigious year-end event having won 16 of his past 17 matches. However, he was unable to find his best level against the Norwegian at the Pala Alpitour, leaving him with work to do if he is to qualify for the semi-finals.

“My back is against the wall,” Auger-Aliassime said in his post-match press conference. “It would have been better to start with a win here. For Casper, I’m sure it’s a big weight off his shoulders. For me, I need to bounce back and play better, play a little bit better. I’m not far from playing well, but there are a few things I can do better. I will try to use the day tomorrow to do that, to work on a few things.”

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

The 22-year-old enjoyed an impressive end to the season, lifting tour-level trophies in Florence, Antwerp and Basel. His form propelled him to seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, before he sealed qualification in Paris.

Auger-Aliassime admitted that he felt the pressure in the lead-up to his debut match in Turin, but felt his nerves did not impact his performance against Ruud.

“I was thinking about it the past few days,” said Auger-Aliassime when asked about the pressure of competing in Turin. “It’s kind of strange. You have this stress and pressure, this energy to qualify for this event the whole year. Especially at the end of the year, [with] the way I did it. You [come here], but there are still matches to play and compete. It’s not like, now I’m qualified, I can rest. I was thinking that would be a mistake, to come here and act like I’m happy and this is it.

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“I felt good today. No problem. I was thinking maybe my first time I’m not going to feel great. From the first balls, I felt good, I felt normal. I’ve played on other big stages before. This match [didn’t] feel any different.”

Auger-Aliassime will look to bounce back when he faces Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz in his remaining Green Group matches in Italy. The 22-year-old feels he will have to return better if he is to advance.

“I feel in the past few weeks and months, when I was playing well, I was returning much better than I did today,” Auger-Aliassime said. “[I was] still serving great, apart from one game where it wasn’t even my serve. I did a few mistakes, bad mistakes, in the second set. I felt like I could have returned much better and given myself chances because I won [only] a few points on my return, and that’s not enough against a player like Casper.”

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When In Italy… Fritz On Colosseum or Mount Vesuvius?

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

When In Italy… Fritz On Colosseum or Mount Vesuvius?

Hold the anchovies!

Nitto ATP Finals debutant Taylor Fritz answers a lightning round of questions about Italy…

Visit the Colosseum or climb Mount Vesuvius?
I would probably visit the Colosseum. It sounds a little easier. Sounds like a more chill day.

Attend a Serie A football match or watch the historic Italian Grand Prix at Monza?
I’d go to the football match. I like soccer.

Films set in Italy: The Godfather or The Italian Job?
The Godfather.

Espresso or Cappuccino?

Favourite pizza topping?
Probably pepperoni or olive.

Is there a topping you won’t eat?

Favourite pasta dish?
Probably a truffle pasta or a carbonara.

Which Italian dish can you cook best?
Probably none of them… I guess I can cook pasta. It’s not too tough.

What first comes to mind when you think of Italy?
Probably pasta. The food.

How does it feel to be here for your debut?
It’s great, I’m really excited. It was one of my goals at the beginning of the year to be here, and obviously a week ago I thought I was going to be here as an alternate. So, I’m lucky, I’m fortunate to be playing and I’m really excited to get started.

Thoughts on the format, will you approach it differently?
No. It’s good, if you don’t play a good match or lose a match, you still get two more to try again. I also just like the fact that it’s against the best players. I feel like I always play my best tennis against the best players, so it will be good fun.

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Ruud Foils Felix In Turin Opener

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Ruud Foils Felix In Turin Opener

2021 semi-finalist downs in-form Canadian

In a battle between two of the biggest forehands on the ATP Tour, Casper Ruud downed Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-4 on Sunday to kick-start his 2022 Nitto ATP Finals campaign with a win.

Ruud arrived at the Pala Alpitour for his second appearance at the prestigious season finale off the back of a tough run of form. The 23-year-old won just two matches across four tournaments prior to Turin, but he was sharp from the first game as his consistent heavy hitting kept Auger-Aliassime under constant pressure.

“I think this is some of the best level that I have played since the US Open,” said Ruud after the match. “The last couple of months have been a little bit of a struggle, I have to honestly say that, but you have to accept it as well. You will face difficult moments in your career, and maybe these last couple of months was one of those… It doesn’t matter how hard you practise if you don’t win matches, so today was a great win for me.”

A Green Group encounter largely dominated by serve was decided by a few crucial moments. Ruud stayed the more consistent to pull clear in the first-set tie-break after the first five points had gone with serve, while a solitary break in the seventh game of the second set proved enough for the third seed to wrap a one-hour, 51-minute victory in the opening singles match of the week.

Although Auger-Aliassime outhit Ruud by 30 winners to 19, the Norwegian offered his opponent little in his service games. Ruud did not face a break point in the match as he improved his ATP Head2Head record against the Canadian to 3-1.

“Felix has been on a roll this fall and I knew he was going to come out strong,” said Ruud. “I was playing well, I found some of my best level that I have played in recent months, so I am extremely happy to be able to bring that out here in the finals. I knew if I wanted to have any chance against any of the guys in my group I would have to bring my A-game, and today I was able to do so.”

The third-seeded Ruud is looking to progress from the round-robin stage for the second consecutive year in Turin. The Norwegian fell to Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals in 2021.

“I had a great start, just the way I needed to,” said Ruud. “[Winning in straight sets]. The next match is going to be tough no matter who I play, but at least I have a win in the bag.

“I’m not going to try to relax, but I know that I don’t need to sort of stress or try to rush things to try to turn it around, so that’s hopefully a good thing… I’m not going to count on anything, I’m just going to focus on the next two matches and in a way pretend that this never happened. So, I need to bring my A-game in the next two matches as well.”

It was a tough tournament debut for Auger-Aliassime, who was unable to find the level that saw him win 16 straight matches and lift three consecutive ATP Tour titles across October and early November. The 22-year-old Canadian will seek to bounce back in his remaining round-robin matches against Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz.

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Glasspool/Heliovaara Clinch Debut Win In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Glasspool/Heliovaara Clinch Debut Win In Turin

British-Finnish pair open with straight-sets victory in Red Group

Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara tasted victory on Sunday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where the sixth seeds opened their debut campaign at the season finale with a 7-5, 7-6(3) triumph against Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer.

The British-Finnish pair produced a high-class serving performance to seal victory at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, firing 11 aces and winning 83 per cent (39/47) of points behind first serve against the reigning Roland Garros champions.

After saving two break points to keep parity at 2-2 early, Glasspool and Heliovaara clinched a decisive break at 6-5 to seal the first set. With little to separate the two teams in the second set, Glasspool and then Heliovaara fired stunning returns on consecutive points to open a 4/1 lead in the tie-break. The debutants did not let slip their advantage, as they dropped just two more points to wrap a a 91-minute triumph.

Heliovaara let out a jumping roar of delight as he and Glasspool notched their maiden Nitto ATP Finals victory, just less than two years after they first teamed at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Portugal.

The pair’s win also avenged their straight-sets defeats to Arevalo and Rojer in both the Dallas and Stockholm finals this season. Despite those disappointments, the sixth seeds have enjoyed a consistent year on Tour, highlighted by winning their maiden ATP 500 title in Hamburg in July.

More to follow…

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Reality Bites Rublev: ‘What Am I Doing Here?’

  • Posted: Nov 13, 2022

Reality Bites Rublev: ‘What Am I Doing Here?’

In third appearance, World No. 7 faces toughest path yet to semi-finals

When Andrey Rublev saw the Nitto ATP Finals groups, the World No. 7’s eyes lit up as it was revealed that he would collide with all three of the tournament’s former champions in the draw: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. A heavy-hitting, tough-as-nails Red Group.

But as Rublev anticipates his opening match Monday, a first encounter this season against Medvedev, the 25-year-old is narrowing his focus to the job at hand.

“Against Daniil, that’s going to be a real chess match,” Rublev said. “I’m not even looking at my other matches. I believe both of us will show a great level that spectators will enjoy. “My first reaction [to the group] was not good. “I thought, ‘What am I doing here, in this group?’”

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

Rublev is aiming towards a strong run in his third appearance at the season finale, which showcases the world’s best eight players. He hopes to improve upon his previous round-robin exits. But there is no easy path.

“You cannot escape it,” Rublev said. “If you want to play against the best and try to beat them, you have to face them. I just want to enjoy my time and give all my best.”

Rublev, who boasts a 49-18 match record in 2022, is tied with Cameron Norrie at fourth-most Tour-level wins this season, behind Tsitsipas (60), Carlos Alcaraz (57) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (56).

A four-time titlist this season (Marseille, Dubai, Belgrade, Gijon), Rublev still enjoys the bright lights of the year-end event.

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“This moment feels special, I enjoy it,” Rublev said. “For the spectators too, it’s fun to see not just tennis, but to see the players in a different atmosphere. I think it’s great entertainment for them and also for us. It brings something new and refreshing.”

The Nitto ATP Finals runs from 13-20 November at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy. Rublev’s showdown against Medvedev is set for Monday afternoon local time.

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