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Fritz Reaches SFs In Turin, Downs Felix In Winner-Takes-All Clash

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Fritz Reaches SFs In Turin, Downs Felix In Winner-Takes-All Clash

American finishes round-robin stage holding 2-1 record

With a semi-final spot on the line at the Nitto ATP Finals Thursday, it was Taylor Fritz who rose to the occasion in Turin.

In a winner-takes-all blockbuster at the Pala Alpitour, the American clawed past Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2 to reach the semi-finals on debut at the prestigious year-end event.

Both entered the match holding a 1-1 record in Green Group, aiming to join Casper Ruud in the last four. In front of an electric crowd, Fritz effectively executed his aggressive game as he handled the pressure in the crucial moments. He fired 32 winners and outlasted Auger-Aliassime during the heavy-hitting exchanges in the third set, gaining the crucial break at 3-2 in the decider to advance after two hours and 44 minutes.

“I needed to serve well the whole time, I knew that,” Fritz said. “It was frustrating throughout the match when so many points I was one away from break point. So many times at 15/30, 0/30 when I was returning, I got myself in the points and kept losing the points. I just tried to stay patient and not get frustrated and then I capitalised when I got the chances.”

The eighth seed was strong on serve throughout the clash, finding his spots to dominate behind his delivery in the fast indoor conditions. The World No. 9 gave Auger-Aliassime few chances on return. He won 88 per cent (50/57) of his first-service points and saved all three break points he faced, roaring in delight when he sealed victory on his first match point.

“It is huge,” Fritz said when asked about reaching the semi-finals. “From possibly not even qualifying to now be in the semis feels great. I felt like I was going to play well here. I feel that I always play my best tennis against the best players.”

In an impressive performance, Fritz was clinical when stepping inside the baseline, winning 80 per cent of the points when attacking.

<a href=''>Taylor Fritz</a> Insights

With his 45th tour-level win of the season, Fritz has improved to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Auger-Aliassime. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, before he soared to crowns in Eastbourne and Tokyo.

Auger-Aliassime, who was making his debut in Turin, finishes the round-robin stage holding a 1-2 record. The 22-year-old lost to Ruud in his opening match before he defeated Nadal. In a standout season, the Canadian captured tour-level trophies in Rotterdam, Florence, Antwerp and Basel, holding a 57-27 record on the year.

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Ram/Salisbury Ride Tie-break Tension To Turin SF Berth

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Ram/Salisbury Ride Tie-break Tension To Turin SF Berth

Second seeds seal comeback victory to advance from Red Group

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury overcame a high-energy performance from Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer on Thursday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where the seconds seeds rallied to a 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-5 victory to reach the semi-finals.

Arevalo and Rojer made a fast start at the Pala Alpitour, where they needed a straight-sets victory to pip Ram and Salisbury to a semi-final spot. They clinched the only break of serve in the match in the fourth game to take the opening set but could not match Ram and Salisbury’s consistency in the second-set tie-break as the eight-time tour-level titlists levelled the match and simultaneously confirmed their progression to the semi-finals.

With victory in the Red Group encounter still at stake, it was Ram and Salisbury who took charge in the Match Tie-break as they opened what proved to be an unassailable 6/1 lead in rapid time, eventually securing victory in one hour, 42 minutes.

The 2021 finalists Ram and Salisbury are seeking their fourth tour-level title of the season at the prestigious season finale in Italy. The American-British duo were the champions in Monte Carlo, Cincinnati and at the US Open this year, and the pair now holds a 35-14 record on the season.

More to follow…

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Nitto Mascot Kid Programme Creating Unforgettable Memories

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Nitto Mascot Kid Programme Creating Unforgettable Memories

Rublev discusses importance of ‘special moment’

The mascot kid programme presented by Nitto was launched in 2017. On Monday, it led to another unforgettable moment.

When Andrey Rublev walked on court, he took the hand of Nicole De Angelis and shared a nice word with her on the way to his chair.

“We do this often in tennis when we play on centre court. Often some kid is going with us. Obviously I don’t think that tennis players are thinking about these moments so much,” Rublev said. “But I think for the kids it can be a special moment if they are in love with tennis and they walk with one of their favourite players that they follow. For sure it’s an important moment and special.”

The mascot kid programme has been developed by Nitto in partnership with Casa UGI, a Turin-based volunteer organisation that supports children who are battling cancer and their families, doctors, nurses and volunteers. The children participating have either struggled with an illness or have a family member who is battling one.

Although players are focused on their match, they understand the importance of creating a special moment for the kids. Rublev is keen to maximise those opportunities.

“I try to be really nice and pay attention to these little details with the kids and moments like that for them to feel that they really enjoyed the moment,” Rublev said. “You want to know they didn’t have the feeling after [of], ‘No, I don’t know, he didn’t even give me a hand or something. I didn’t understand what I was doing there.’ I just try to avoid those thoughts or feelings from the kids.”

Afterwards, the kids watch the action alongside their families from some of the best seats inside the Pala Alpitour.

In a statement, Nitto said: “Nitto is supporting those who take on challenges. As title partner of the Nitto ATP Finals, we sincerely hope that many children will have an incredible experience at the Nitto ATP Finals, and that the heated battle between the world’s best players will become a treasured lifelong memory which will inspire them, as they move forward toward a bright future.”

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Nadal Sees Off Ruud To End With Win In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Nadal Sees Off Ruud To End With Win In Turin

Spaniard wraps 2022 season with straight-sets triumph against third seed

Rafael Nadal finished his Nitto ATP Finals campaign with a flourish on Thursday, when the Spaniard downed Casper Ruud 7-5, 7-5 at the prestigious season finale in Turin.

The top seed raised his level in his third round-robin match in Green Group, using the fast conditions to his advantage with some trademark clean ballstriking at the Pala Alpitour. Nadal hit 37 winners to Ruud’s 19 and won 93 per cent (38/41) of points behind his first serve to seal a one-hour, 43-minute victory and round out his 2022 season on a winning note.

“I have been practising well,” a philosophical Nadal said after claiming his first tour-level singles win since September at the US Open. “Just probably not enough matches to be at the level that I needed to be. Not enough confidence, probably, after six tough months. That’s how it is. I accept that the season didn’t end the way that I wanted, [but] at least I finished with a positive victory.

“It’s important, the last official match of the season, so I am happy for that. At the end I am happy about that… I was able to win against a great player.”

The win means Nadal finishes with a 1-2 record at this year’s season finale. The 36-year-old, who this year lifted four tour-level titles, including major crowns at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, ends 2022 with a 39-8 tour-level record.

“I can’t ask for more,” said Nadal, who currently sits at No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. “2022 has had a tough six months, two Grand Slams, and finishing the year in a high spot in the rankings. So, I can’t complain at all. At my age, to be able to achieve and be competitive means a lot for me.

“For 2023, just let’s try to have the right preparation, work the proper way and start the season with the right energy, the right attitude, to reach the level that I need to be competitive from the beginning. Let’s try it, I am excited about it.”

Nadal had to fend off considerable pressure in the first set against Ruud, who carved out the first two break points of the match at 4-4. The Spaniard’s precise serving helped him recover to hold and he then broke to love to take the opener in style to the delight of the vocal Pala Alpitour crowd.

The 92-time tour-level champion’s lefty forehand grew increasingly influential in the second set, although Nadal had to stay patient again as Ruud demonstrated the resilience that saw him claim victories against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz in his opening two matches in Turin. Yet the Spaniard was not to be denied. He made his move in the 12th game, crashing a cross-court backhand winner for 15/40 before completing the win.

Tennis Data Innovation’s INSIGHTS Forehand Quality analysis for the match reveals how dialled in Nadal was behind his forehand. He struck 16 of his winners off that wing en route to victory.

<a href=''>Rafael Nadal</a> INSIGHTS Forehand Quality

Rafael Nadal: INSIGHTS Forehand Quality Vs. Casper Ruud

“At the end, the personal satisfaction is more important than any title,” said Nadal, when asked about his desire to finish strongly against Ruud despite having no chance of reaching the semi-finals. “That’s how it is. If I don’t try my best, if I don’t put the best attitude in every single moment, then I will not be able to be back home and stay happy and be calm with myself.”

Despite Thursday’s defeat, Ruud progresses to the semi-finals in Turin for the second consecutive year. Joining the Norwegian in qualifying for the semi-finals from Green Group will be Auger-Aliassime or Fritz. The duo faces off in a winner-takes-all clash in Thursday’s night session at the Pala Alpitour.

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Koolhof/Skupski Honoured As ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by Pepperstone In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Koolhof/Skupski Honoured As ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by Pepperstone In Turin

Dutch-British pair has won seven tour-level titles in first season together

After a standout first year together on the ATP Tour, Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski’s 2022 achievements were recognised on Thursday when they were crowned ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by Pepperstone in a special ceremony at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

The Dutch-British team was presented the year-end No. 1 doubles trophy by ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi on court at the Pala Alpitour, where Koolhof and Skupski are competing as the top seeds at the prestigious season finale.

“It’s incredible,” said Skupski. “We only came together in January. One of our goals was just to make the Nitto ATP Finals. We’ve come in and won seven titles this year and come in as the No. 1 seeds. So this is a dream come true, to end the year No. 1.”

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Koolhof and Skupski currently hold a 55-18 record for the season, which has been headlined by ATP Masters 1000 titles in Madrid, Montreal and Paris. The pair also lifted ATP 250 trophies in Melbourne, Adelaide, Doha and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

“That’s the main thing, the main difference between singles and doubles,” said Koolhof, when asked about what made the duo such a great team. “We win together, lose together, share moments on and off court together… In January the click was there from the beginning. We have the same interests off the court as well, we have the same idea of how to practise and how to play tennis in general.”

Koolhof and Skupski defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios on their Nitto ATP Finals team debut on Monday in Turin but were then defeated in two tight sets on Wednesday by Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic. They face a crucial match on Friday against Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek as they bid to reach the semi-finals.

“We’ve won one, lost one, this week, we’ve got it all to do tomorrow in an all-or-nothing tie, so hopefully we can continue our good form and progress to the semi-finals,” said Skupski. “It’s been an amazing year and hopefully it continues.

“We’ve done very well this year, seven titles and three Masters titles,” added Koolhof. “So hopefully we can still finish strong here tomorrow.”

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Glasspool/Heliovaara Seal SF Spot In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Glasspool/Heliovaara Seal SF Spot In Turin

Sixth seeds finish Red Group holding 2-1 record

Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara booked their spot in the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals Thursday when they moved past Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-0, 6-4 in Turin.

The sixth seeds produced a ruthless performance from the first to last point to light up the Pala Alpitour. They crushed returns, demonstrated good touch around the net and held their nerves at key moments, saving all five break points they faced to triumph after 59 minutes.

“It feels very, very, very good,” Heliovaara said when asked about qualifying for the semi-finals. “You saw the celebrations at the end. We played an amazing match. I don’t think we could have played any better in the first set and then we kept going. What a dream.”

“It just shows how much hard work we have put in,” Glasspool said. “It is really nice to have it pay off as it doesn’t always pay off. it is amazing to be able to play our best stuff on the biggest stage.”

The British-Finnish pair finishes the round-robin stage holding a 2-1 record. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury will face Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer in the final Red Group doubles match on Thursday evening.

Ram and Salisbury are 2-0 through their opening two matches and will qualify if they win a set against Arevalo and Rojer. However, if Salvadoran-Dutch team triumph in straight sets, Ram and Salisbury will be out at the expense of Arevalo and Rojer.

The sixth seeds Glasspool and Heliovaara are making their debut this week in Turin. They have enjoyed a consistent year on Tour, highlighted by winning their maiden ATP 500 title in Hamburg in July.

Glasspool and Heliovaara are the second team to qualify for the last four, joining Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

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ATP Announces Record $37.5 Million Prize Money Increase For 2023

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

ATP Announces Record $37.5 Million Prize Money Increase For 2023

Total compensation at ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events for 2023 will be all-time record $217.9 million

The ATP has announced the largest single-year increase in player compensation in its history. The $37.5 million increase takes total compensation at ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events to $217.9 million for the 2023 season, an all-time record.

Players will receive an increase of $18.6 million of on-site prize money paid out across the ATP Tour, led by the expansion of three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments from eight to 12-day events. A further two ATP Masters 1000 events are set to expand in 2025, creating more days of action and playing opportunities at top-tier ATP events.

The record increase also includes a significant uplift on the ATP Challenger Tour, which will see on-site prize money grow by 75 per cent, from $12.1 million to $21.1 million. It follows the announcement of sweeping Challenger Tour enhancements earlier this season designed to strengthen the sport’s pathway and player earning potential.

2023 ATP Player Compensation

In addition, a revised bonus pool structure introduced through OneVision, ATP’s strategic plan, is set to deliver bonus pools of $21.3 million in 2023, a $9.8 million increase on 2022 (+85%), to an expanded group of top-performing players.

Increases will be bolstered by ATP’s newly established profit-sharing formula, also introduced through OneVision in 2022, under which players will share in the financial upside of the ATP Masters 1000 events. Any increases in Grand Slam prize money, which would further add to the player compensation figures, are yet to be announced for 2023.

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “Our players are world-class athletes and it’s our priority to ensure they’re compensated accordingly. These record increases in 2023 are a strong statement for the ATP Tour and highlights our commitment to raising the bar in tennis. It also speaks to the collective progress we’ve been able to make as a sport under the OneVision strategic plan. There is immense potential for growth in our sport when we work together.”

The 2023 prize money increases follow the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals this week in Turin, which is offering record prize money of $14.75 million. This represents more than a 60 per cent increase on pre-pandemic levels.

The 2023 ATP Tour season kicks off from 29 December at the United Cup, a stunning new ATP-WTA team event played across three cities in Australia. It runs through to the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten, which becomes an official part of the ATP Tour calendar from next season.

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‘It Was Just Crazy’: Felix On Making Memories, Italian Style

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

‘It Was Just Crazy’: Felix On Making Memories, Italian Style

Nitto ATP Finals debutant frequently played in Italy as a junior

Having first visited Italy as a kid, Felix Auger-Aliassime has a host of fond memories from time spent in the southern European nation.

Some of those have come on court — he lifted the first of three back-to-back ATP Tour titles in Florence in October — but the 22 year old’s most treasured experience in the country is something a little less recent.

“There are recent ones of course,” the Canadian told at the season finale in Turin. “Winning in Florence, that was a great recent memory, but I think overall in my life, just the first time that I came. I was about 12 years old, coming to play tennis everywhere around Italy from Canada.

“It was just crazy. There were just so many good memories of being here with the other guys who played with me, friends that I was travelling with. We would play tournaments every night and have a gelato every night, and it was good times. You’re 11 or 12 years old and you’re just playing tennis and travelling in Italy. It’s special, so those are good memories.”

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Auger-Aliassime has already added to his Italian successes this week in Turin, where he bounced back from an opening defeat to Casper Ruud by sealing his maiden Nitto ATP Finals victory on Tuesday against Rafael Nadal. The 22-year-old is relishing the opportunity to compete at the prestigious season finale for the first time.

“Well it’s really a dream come true, it’s special,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It just means that you’ve had a great year and that you are one of the best players in the world. For me, it’s really on the ‘to-do’ list, your goal list in life, and it’s one that in my career I for sure wanted.

“To be able to do that for the first time, it’s an amazing feeling, the accomplishment is great. It would of course be surreal to win it all, it would be fantastic, but just to have qualified already feels great.”

The Canadian was delighted to seal his maiden win against his childhood idol Nadal, and he believes the stellar lineup at the Pala Alpitour is something that can help him raise his game further as he seeks to reach the semi-finals on tournament debut.

“It’s excitement, but it’s motivation as well,” said Auger-Aliassime, who plays Taylor Fritz on Thursday evening in his final Red Group match. “We kind of have a good mix of legends, with Rafa and Novak, and then all the others are [26 and under]. That’s also different… Not only are you playing legends, but you are playing great players of your time as well.”

So as he goes toe-to-toe with the best in the world this week in Turin, what off-court aspects of Italy appeal to the Canadian? Like his Nitto ATP Finals rivals Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud, Auger-Aliassime has already visited the historic Colosseum in Rome, so he would opt for a trip to climb the active volcano Mount Vesuvius instead, if given a choice.

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The prospect of a visit to a top-division Italian football ground like the Olympic Grande Torino Stadium (the home of Torino F.C., which stands directly adjacent to the Pala Alpitour), also appeals to the Canadian, more so than going to watch the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. “[I would choose a] Serie A football match,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I think seeing the atmosphere would be something very unique, like a rivalry or something, that would be epic.”

When asked about the first things come to mind when he hears the word ‘Italy’, two things stand out for the four-time ATP Tour champion. “I think of great architecture and amazing food,” said Auger-Aliassime. “Probably pizza [is my favourite Italian food]. They have it good everywhere. It’s not the most sophisticated thing to eat, but it’s the one I love to eat the most.”

That love of pizza does not stretch to Pizza Marinara, a pizza made without cheese that is a speciality in Naples. “Probably cheese [is my favourite topping],” said the Canadian. “[I’m not a big fan of pizza without cheese.”

Yet when it comes to his own Italian cooking skills, the World No. 6 is more confident with a different local staple. “Any pasta [I cook] I would say is decent,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I think [my best Italian dish] would probably be pasta.”

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