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Ruud Enjoys A Taste Of Italy, But Steers Clear Of The Coffee!

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

Ruud Enjoys A Taste Of Italy, But Steers Clear Of The Coffee!

Norwegian reveals his off-court tastes when it comes to Italy and all-things Italian

Renowned for his high-speed hitting, Casper Ruud immediately brought his free-flowing best to the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals. He downed Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets in his Green Group opener on Sunday in Turin and will seek a similar result on Tuesday against Taylor Fritz.

But when it comes to spending time in Italy, how does the Norwegian’s off-court taste compare to his on-court intensity? When asked by about what he would do if given the choice between attending a Serie A match and watching the historic Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the Norwegian leant towards the more high-octane experience.

“Depends which match, but Monza would be awesome to watch one day,” said the 23-year-old. Ruud would also opt for a climb up the famous volcano Mount Vesuvius, which towers 1,281 metres above the Bay of Naples, ahead of another history-filled trip to the Colosseum in Rome.

“The climb would be fun, I think,” said the nine-time tour-level titlist. “I have visited the Colosseum before so it’s an easy choice.”

Ruud is chasing his maiden title in Italy, where he reached his fifth ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in May at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Yet despite his fond memories from that week on the clay of the Italian capital, he is less-than-sold on one particularly renowned aspect of Italian culture — coffee.

“Cappuccino,” said Ruud, when asked to choose between drinking the milky-style drink and an Espresso. “[But] I would just have the skimmed milk on top with the cream, because I don’t drink coffee.”

As for a trip to the cinema to watch The Godfather or The Italian job, Ruud would stick what he knows. “I don’t really know the Italian Job,” said the Norwegian. “So [I would choose] The Godfather.”

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Ram/Salisbury Close In On SF Spot In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

Ram/Salisbury Close In On SF Spot In Turin

Second seeds reached final in Turin last year

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury edged closer to the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals Tuesday when they downed Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara 7-5, 6-4 to improve to 2-0 in Red Group action.

The second seeds defeated Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in their opening match and backed up that win with a hard-fought victory against the British-Finnish pair.

In an entertaining clash, both teams produced moments of brilliance throughout the 73-minute clash. However, it was Ram and Salisbury who delivered the key blows when it mattered. They were rewarded for their aggressive returning in the 11th game of the first set when they broke for 6-5, before they won 88 per cent (15/17) of their first-service points in the second set to triumph.

“Really happy to get the win,” Salisbury said. “They’re a tough team, we’ve lost to them twice this year. We’re happy with everything we did out there. They’re a strong serving team, didn’t have many chances but we stuck in there and took the chances we had. We were good on serve as well.”

“The thing is, they’ve just gotten better and better over the year,” Ram said. “We knew we were going to be up against it and we had to bring our best level.”

<a href=''>Rajeev Ram</a>
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Ram and Salisbury will book their place in the semi-finals if they defeat Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer in their final round-robin match. American Ram, 38, has now earned 400 tour-level doubles wins.

“It’s a pretty big effort, big milestone,” Salisbury said when asked about Ram’s 400th win. “Congratulations. He’s better than ever, even with the age.”

The American-British tandem is aiming to go one step further at the prestigious year-end event this week after reaching the championship match in Turin last year. Ram and Salisbury have enjoyed another impressive season in 2022, winning ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati, while they also triumphed at the US Open.

Glasspool and Heliovaara now hold a 1-1 record in the Red Group. They will play Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in their final round-robin match.

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Nadal: 'I Will Fight Until The End'

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

Nadal: ‘I Will Fight Until The End’

Spaniard fell to defeat against Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday

Despite falling to a 0-2 record at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal is aiming to take the positives from his performances into his final round-robin match against Casper Ruud in Turin.

The Spaniard arrived in Turin off the back of competing in Paris and he showed glimpses of his best level against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Pala Alpitour. However, he was unable to sustain a consistent level for large periods, falling in straight sets.

“[There are a] couple of positive things. I was able to play two tournaments in the past three weeks. That’s the positive thing, something that I was not able to do for a while,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference. “I don’t think I forgot how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally. I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be.

“I don’t know if I going to reach that level again. But what I don’t have any doubt is that I [am] going to die for it.”

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

Nadal enjoyed a standout first half of the season, capturing four tour-level titles, including the Australian Open and Roland Garros. However, he has played just eight singles tour-level matches since Wimbledon due to injury.

The 36-year-old struggled to deal with Taylor Fritz’s serve in his opening Green Group match and admitted he found it tough on return against Auger-Aliassime.

“I will fight until the end, but when things are going that way, is difficult to change the dynamic and the result, especially under these circumstances,” Nadal said. “With this surface, playing against big servers, great players, [I have] nothing to complain about, I just have to accept that it’s what we have today. The opponent playing the key points better.”

Despite the loss, Nadal has not been eliminated from contention for year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. If Ruud wins a set against Taylor Fritz on Tuesday evening, Nadal will be eliminated from semi-final contention in Turin and therefore Carlos Alcaraz will clinch year-end World No. 1.

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Nakashima Made First Moves On Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

Nakashima Made First Moves On Challenger Tour

The Milan champion is a three-time Challenger titlist

American Frances Tiafoe predicted the rise of countryman Brandon Nakashima when they met for the first time at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Dallas, Texas.

“Watch out for this guy,” Tiafoe said following the three-set victory in February 2020. “He’s got a bright future ahead. He’s got game, I’m definitely a fan.”

It didn’t take long for Nakashima to make an impact on the professional circuit. In November 2020, Nakashima collected his first Challenger title on home soil in Orlando. Exactly two years later, the California native finished a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour by triumphing at the prestigious Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

ATP Challenger Tour 

The 21-year-old isn’t forgetting his early days on the Challenger Tour.

“It’s [Challenger Tour] been super important,” Nakashima said during his post-championship press conference Saturday. “I think it’s super special… For any player that’s trying to make it on the pro tour, I think it’s a great stepping stone to get all those Challenger matches. I did it myself as well.”

<a href=''>Brandon Nakashima</a> in action at the 2021 Quimper-2 Challenger.
Brandon Nakashima in action at the 2021 Quimper-2 Challenger. Credit: Marion Mochet

In the five-year history of the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, each of the champions hold at least one ATP Challenger Tour title. Nakashima, who is a three-time Challenger champion, joins Hyeon Chung, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner, and Carlos Alcaraz as champions in Milan.

Nakashima was one of four teenage Challenger champions in 2020, joining Alcaraz, Tomas Machac, and Lorenzo Musetti. The following year, Nakashima boasted a 19-7 match record on the Challenger Tour and lifted the trophy at the Quimper-2 Challenger to become the third-youngest American to claim multiple Challenger titles in the past 12 years.

Youngest Americans To Win Multiple Challenger Titles (since 2010)

Player Age First Two Challenger Titles
Taylor Fritz 17 years, 11 months Sacramento ’15, Fairfield ’15
Frances Tiafoe 18 years, 8 months Granby ’16, Stockton ’16
Brandon Nakashima 19 years, 6 months Orlando ’20, Quimper-2 ’21

“I think the [Challenger] level is super high,” Nakashima said. “It’s a good building block to win those Challengers and then to graduate on to the ATP tournaments.

Nakashima’s rise didn’t slow down, it only accelerated. Nakashima went on an impressive run to finish runner-up at the ATP 250 events Los Cabos and Atlanta in back-to-back weeks (July 2021).

This season, Nakashima won his maiden Tour-level title in his hometown, San Diego, where he dropped just one set all week en route to victory. The American has only competed at two Challengers this season (Phoenix and Surbiton). On the grass courts of Surbiton, Nakashima reached the quarter-finals, where he lost to top-seeded Andy Murray.

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A month after the San Diego title, Nakashima reached a career-high 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Displaying consistency off both groundstrokes, mental fortitude, and a calm demeanour, Nakashima has his eyes set on climbing to the top spot, much like how last year’s Milan champion Alcaraz has done.

“I’ve always wanted to be No. 1 in the world and win a Grand Slam,” Nakashima told in 2020. “It’s just a matter of developing my game during this time and just trying to get more experiences like this under my belt and we’ll see how it goes from here.”

While the early days of his career were spent on the ATP Challenger Tour, there is no telling what the future holds for the #NextGenATP champion.

<a href=''>Brandon Nakashima</a>
Brandon Nakashima lifts the trophy at the 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

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Arevalo/Rojer Dig Deep In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

Arevalo/Rojer Dig Deep In Turin

Third seeds improve to 1-1 in Red Group

Marcel Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer kept alive their semi-final hopes at the Nitto ATP Finals Tuesday when they moved past seventh seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 6-7(3), 10-7 in Turin.

The third seeds made a flying start in the Red Group clash, crushing returns and closing the net sharply to clinch the opening set in just 22 minutes. The pair then held its nerve in the Match Tie-break to triumph after 87 minutes.

“[The fast start] was one of the keys to the match,” said Rojer afterwards. “We obviously lost our first-round match, and as everybody knows, matches are very difficult to win here. Everybody obviously plays so well, and the margins are so small. We wanted to come off to an aggressive start. That doesn’t always mean you’re going to do it, but I think that helped us a lot because then we could settle into the match.

“We used some other plays and tried some other things when we were far ahead in the first set that we thought could come in handy later in the match, so that was one of the keys to the match, to try to get a fast start if we could. We did, and again, just small margins out there. Those guys are tough, righty-lefty, both great players, just really happy to come through.”

Arevalo and Rojer now hold a 1-1 record in the Red Group, having lost to Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara in their opening match. The Salvadoran-Dutch team will face second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in their final round-robin match on Thursday.

In their first ATP Head2Head meeting against Granollers and Zeballos, the Salvadoran-Dutch team fired seven aces and won 87 per cent (39/45) of their first-service points to improve to 39-21 on the season.

Rojer is aiming to win his second Nitto ATP Finals crown, having triumphed in London in 2015 with Horia Tecau. Arevalo is the first Central American player to compete in singles or doubles in the tournament’s 53-year history.

“I’m extremely happy. I know what it took to get here, first of all, and to win a match here is so important, for me, for my country, for the team,” said Arevalo. “[I’m] super happy, super excited. Especially the way that the match ended up, it was super close.

“A few points here and there that we were able to win in those important moments, key moments. We got the lead and basically, the difference was one point. That point that we got the mini-break at 5/5, that point was so important and we kept doing what we were doing.”

Earlier this year, the pair won the Roland Garros crown, while they also lifted tour-level trophies in Dallas, Delray Beach and Stockholm.

Granollers and Zeballos, who reached the semi-finals as a team in Turin last year, are now 0-2 in the Red Group, having fallen to Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury earlier this week.

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From FaceTime To Facing Nadal: A Wild Week For Fritz

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

From FaceTime To Facing Nadal: A Wild Week For Fritz

Inside the American’s successful start to the season finale

Taylor Fritz on Sunday earned one of the biggest wins of his career when he defeated top seed Rafael Nadal on his Nitto ATP Finals debut. Eight days earlier, the American did not know he would be competing in the tournament.

The 25-year-old was on vacation in Switzerland with his girlfriend Morgan Riddle when World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz withdrew from the season finale. Fritz’s coach, Michael Russell, received a call from his player.

“He FaceTimed me because we were in Switzerland, but separate places. Obviously he was so excited,” Russell told “We’ve all had an amazing year. He’s been playing so well and we [had] gotten close to getting directly in and obviously [it was] unfortunate with Carlos having the ab injury. We didn’t know how serious it was and you don’t want somebody to be injured of course. Such a great player, a nice guy.

“When he did have to pull out and Taylor got in, he was just so ecstatic. He was ecstatic obviously to come and be an alternate, but to get in directly and have a chance to play for the title, it just gives you that extra adrenaline and motivation.”

<a href=''>Taylor Fritz</a>
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Although Fritz and Russell both traveled to Switzerland, they were far from checked out.

“He didn’t play well in Paris unfortunately. But we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to take a few days off, rest, recharge, go to Switzerland, use a little mini vacation’. Then [at] the beginning of this week, we went full-on with the training and used it as a preseason the first three days,” Russell said. “We trained really hard, so he was pretty sore the first few days. But we needed to have that fitness, that strength and the time on court so he could feel confident.”

The night before playing Nadal, Fritz practised in the evening at the Pala Alpitour to create conditions as similar as possible to the match. The American then levelled his ATP Head2Head series at 2-2 against the legendary lefty with an impressive performance full of aggressive play.

“I think I like it more [playing a top opponent like Nadal immediately] because when I play the top guys, I just always play better tennis because I know I need to. I know I’m not going to get away with anything less than my best tennis,” Fritz said. “When I have those shots on the court, ‘Should I go for it?’ I’m pulling the trigger more. I’m much more prone to play a not-so-good match against a lower-ranked person who I really, really don’t want to lose to.”

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The last time Fritz played Nadal was in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. The American let slip a golden opportunity to reach his first major semi-final, falling to the Spaniard in a fifth-set tie-break. But he showed no ill effects from that defeat on Sunday in Turin.

“In this sport you have so many matches where you play the same opponent, knowing each other and having two matches against Rafa this year. Both were tough matches. Indian Wells was straight sets, but it was a tie-break in the second set. Then Wimbledon was an epic four-and-a-half hour, five-set match,” Russell said. “Going in, you know how tough it’s going to be. But at the same time, he still has that belief that he could win every match no matter who he’s playing.”

That belief paid dividends in Turin. Nadal is one of the best fighters in the history of sport, always finding a way to claw back into matches no matter the deficit. Fritz did not allow the 17-time Nitto ATP Finals qualifier to do that though, sprinting away with the win.

“He knew what to expect. He knows that the crowd is going to be loud. He knows Rafa is Rafa. He’s always going to come in, he’s going to fight for every point. He’s going to find ways to try to dig out matches and Taylor knew that he was going to have to serve well, play aggressive and not get in long rallies,” Russell said. “The court is fast, [he knew he had to] use that to his advantage, really look to attack second serves when he can.”

However impressive his win against Nadal was, Fritz cannot rest on that victory. He plays third seed and two-time major finalist Casper Ruud on Tuesday in Italy. On Thursday, this year’s Indian Wells champion will play in-form Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“Everybody’s going to be gunning for each other. Casper’s playing fantastic, Felix played unbelievable the rest of the fall, so you’ve got to get ready, regroup and just approach every match like it’s a final,” Russell said. “Everyone’s going to play really, really solid and be fired up. The preparation has to be the same, the mindset has to be the same. You go in with the expectation that the intensity, the focus and the energy has to be there.”

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Nadal, Felix Contest Roland Garros Rematch In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

Nadal, Felix Contest Roland Garros Rematch In Turin

Ruud, Fritz meet for first time in evening session

After two days of world-class action at the Nitto ATP Finals, each of the eight singles players and eight doubles teams has played one match in Turin. While those who won their openers could seal a semi-final place on Tuesday, others are bidding to keep their hopes of progress alive by avoiding an 0-2 start.

Opponents Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime fall into the latter category on Day 3, while Casper Ruud and Taylor Fritz will look to stay perfect on the week in their evening matchup.

In doubles action, Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer face Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos with both teams in search of their first victories. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury meet Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara in a battle of 1-0 duos.

View Schedule | View Group Standings | Semi-final Qualification Scenarios

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [5] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

Nadal and Auger-Aliassime took very different paths to Turin in the past two months. While Nadal played just one singles match following the US Open — a Rolex Paris Masters defeat against Tommy Paul — Auger-Aliassime put together a career-best 16-match win streak as he claimed titles in Florence, Antwerp and Basel before reaching the Paris semi-finals.

But the Canadian has now dropped two matches in a row, his Bercy defeat against Holger Rune followed by another loss to Ruud in the 22-year-old’s Nitto ATP Finals debut. But the unique format at the season finale means there is still time to make amends.

“My back is against the wall,” Auger-Aliassime said after his 7-6(4), 6-4 defeat to Ruud . “It would have been better to start with a win here… 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.”

The fifth seed will need to earn his first ATP Head2Head win in three tries against Nadal to have a realistic chance of advancing to the Turin semi-finals. 

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Nadal struggled to find his best form in a 7-6(3), 6-1 defeat to Fritz on Sunday and has now lost his past three matches, all against American opposition. Nadal said he found himself on defence in the majority of the points against the powerful American, and the 36-year-old will be expecting a similarly aggressive approach from Auger-Aliassime.

“Serving like Fritz served, then you are under pressure all the time,” Nadal said, noting how the speed of the indoor court robbed him of the time he needed to play on his terms. “When somebody is serving that way, on the return he is going for every shot. [It was] just well played from him, not enough from me.”

Auger-Aliassime nearly hit his way to a victory when he met Nadal at Roland Garros earlier this season, but the Spaniard did just enough to escape in five sets.

Will the change of surface help the Canadian change the outcome in Turin, or will Nadal get back on track in his bid to win the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time? If the Spaniard can claim the elusive title, he would also snatch the year-end No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking from the injured Carlos Alcaraz.

Ruud vs. Fritz

[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. [8] Taylor Fritz (USA)

Even with their twin 1-0 records, Ruud and Fritz will remain on high alert, knowing there is little room for error at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Ruud was very happy with his win against Auger-Aliassime after a difficult few months following his run to the US Open final, which lifted him to a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of World No. 2. 

“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,” he said post-match. “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.”

While Ruud and Fritz will be contesting their first ATP Head2Head meeting, the Norwegian faced a similarly attack-minded opponent in Auger-Aliassime on Sunday. While Fritz and Auger-Aliassime are from from the same player, both base their games around big serves and big forehands — weapons which free them up to take chances on return.

From Fritz’s perspective, he faces a second consecutive opponent whose favourite surface is clay, following his win against Nadal. Against the Spaniard, the American felt the quick conditions at the Pala Alpitour benefitted him both on serve and in the rallies.

“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 bit 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.”

While he was able to stay neutral in the rallies with his backhand, it was the Fritz forehand which did the heavy lifting off the ground against Nadal. This was quantified by his 8.9 INSIGHTS Shot Quality score, which factors in a range of metrics to determine the effectiveness of a given stroke. After hitting 30 per cent of his shots In Attack against Nadal, according to INSIGHTS, Fritz will again hope to keep Ruud pinned back on Monday.

Fritz Forehand Quality

Doubles Action

Roland Garros champions Arevalo and Rojer meet Granollers and Zeballos for the first time on Tuesday in Turin, with both pairs looking to rebound from Day 1 defeats. While Arevalo and Rojer are seeking their first Nitto ATP Finals win in their tournament debut as a pair, Granollers and Zeballos are bidding for a third straight semi-final at the season finale. Spain’s Granollers also won the 2012 year-end title alongside countryman Marc Lopez.

Returning finalists Ram and Salisbury won perhaps the most dramatic doubles match of the tournament against Granollers/Zeballos, earning a 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-8 victory after letting slip set points in the second set. Thy face group leaders Glasspool and Heliovaara, the only team yet to drop a set in Turin. The British-Finnish duo edged Arevalo/Rojer 7-5, 7-6(3) on Sunday.

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No. 1 Battle: Tsitsipas Loss Leaves Nadal As Alcaraz's Only Threat

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2022

No. 1 Battle: Tsitsipas Loss Leaves Nadal As Alcaraz’s Only Threat

Nadal must win title to overtake Alcaraz

Seven-time year-end World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is not in contention for the coveted honour this week in Turin, but the Serbian is having an influence on the outcome.

By defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening round-robin match, the 35-year-old ended the Greek’s chances to finish the year No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The two-time Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion and 2019 Nitto ATP Finals titlist needed to emerge as an undefeated champion in Turin to finish the year on top.

Rafael Nadal is now the only man who can prevent 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz from creating history as the youngest ever year-end No. 1. After dropping his opening round-robin match to Taylor Fritz, Nadal must win the season finale for the first time to finish year-end No. 1 for a sixth time.

Despite seeing his chances of finishing year-end No. 1 – and getting to No. 1 for the first time – put on hold in Turin, Tsitsipas is hopeful that his day will eventually come.

“If I was to play good tennis this week, win all of my matches, for sure I deserve the spot. It shows good performance, it shows consistency,” he said. “But, look, it’s not really occupying too much of my mind. I’m kind of excited that I get the opportunity to do something this week that can give me a record, a personal record, and a milestone.

“I deeply believe that I can reach that spot one day. I’m not really that much in a rush, to be honest. Of course, it would have been better if it happened this week.

“I am more here for the marathon of all. I see the bigger picture, the longer run. I have a lot of opportunities next year to play some good tennis. If it comes, I’ll be very happy, my country will be very happy, my family will be happy.”

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