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Djokovic: 'The Biggest Goal Is To End The Season As No. 1'

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Djokovic: ‘The Biggest Goal Is To End The Season As No. 1’

Serbian is the top seed in Turin

Novak Djokovic has his sights set on one major goal at the Nitto ATP Finals: finishing as ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone for the record-extending eighth time.

“For me, the biggest goal right now is to end the season as the No. 1 player in the world, so hopefully I can clinch it. I need one win, so hopefully that happens,” Djokovic told ATP Media on Friday in Turin. “And then of course, I would love to win the tournament as well. But that’s the goal and then let’s see what happens afterwards.”

Should Djokovic win one match or Carlos Alcaraz lose one match at the season finale, the Serbian will earn the supreme honour in the sport. He last finished year-end No. 1 in 2021.

Djokovic will have an opportunity to control his own fate on Sunday evening when he begins his tournament against Holger Rune. The pair played just one week ago in the Rolex Paris Masters, where Djokovic won the quarter-final in nearly three hours of scintillating tennis.

“Holger has his debut in the [Nitto ATP] Finals. Obviously, along with [Carlos] Alcaraz, they are the same generation, one of the leaders of the Next Gen and probably one of the players that will carry the tennis in the decade to come,” Djokovic said. “We’re going to see a lot of him I’m sure in the future. He’s got Boris Becker, the legend of the game in his corner now and he’s been improving himself as well. Every time we face each other, it’s a close match, so I’ll probably have to expect that one again.”

The 36-year-old will take confidence knowing he played well at the Pala Alpitour one year ago, when he lifted the Nitto ATP Finals trophy at the venue for the first time.

“I had the perfect score. Most of my matches, four of five I won straight sets. This is the third time we are here in Torino, there are I think a couple hundred metres, almost 300 metres [of] altitude, and maybe the fans cannot feel it, but we can feel it on the court,” Djokovic said. “The ball flies through the air, the conditions are played different. So it takes some days to really adjust. But it’s lovely. Lovely arena, great to be part of this event again and it’s a great attendance.

“People are really passionate about tennis and sport in general in Italy, with the Roma Internazionali tournament and here in Torino now having a tradition of Nitto [ATP] Finals played here in the city. It’s great. I’m really looking forward and I’m excited to perform.”

Djokovic is driven by more than just tangible accomplishments, he explained.

“I also love competing, I love the sport. That’s my greatest motivation really, because I’ve made a lot of records, I’ve broken a lot of records and it’s great,” Djokovic said. “But even if I leave professional tennis now and reflect on everything I’ve done, I can be extremely, extremely satisfied. So I don’t have a pressure to keep on competing, but I still have desire and still have the level.

“I’m playing at a very high level, so records are there obviously as a huge inspiration as well, no doubt, and history of the sport. I still want to create my own history and history of tennis and see how far I can go.”

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Turin Contenders Gather For Official Photo, Palace Tour

That pursuit will begin this week in Turin, where the 36-year-old leads Green Group alongside Jannik Sinner, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rune. He cherishes the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world.

“It’s great. I’m again, honoured to be part of this event. It’s the pinnacle of ATP Tour. Other than Slams, this is the biggest tournament we have in the sport. And the best eight players in the world worked very hard the entire year. All the players who qualify for this event, it’s a great privilege,” Djokovic said. “It’s the only tournament that really has the group format. So even if you lose a match or two, you can still qualify for the semis. So I think that removes a little bit of pressure of losing a match.

“But still, you need to be at your best every single match because every single match is played at the quality of probably finals of the Masters 1000 events.”

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Tsitsipas On Nitto ATP Finals: 'It Carries A Lot Of Legacy & History'

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Tsitsipas On Nitto ATP Finals: ‘It Carries A Lot Of Legacy & History’

Greek plays Sinner first

Stefanos Tsitsipas will compete at the Nitto ATP Finals for the fifth consecutive year when he takes to court in his opening round-robin match against Jannik Sinner. The Greek views the prestigious year-end event as a season highlight.

“I do believe that the [Nitto] ATP Finals come extremely close to a Slam experience,” Tsitsipas told ATP Media on Friday. “A Grand Slam you get to play even if you’re No.200 in the World, but not many people can say that they’ve played the Nitto ATP Finals, so for me, it has a significant importance. And it carries a lot of legacy and a lot of history with it. To be playing in such an event, very few people can brag about.”

Tsitsipas triumphed on debut at the tournament in 2019 when it was held in London. He has since won six tour-level titles, including two ATP Masters 1000 crowns (Monte-Carlo 2021, 22). The 25-year-old believes he has developed on and off the court since his crowning moment at the year-end event four years ago.

“I do have the mental calmness of a veteran and I feel that changing,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt this big change this year. I’m starting to feel and think different. This morning, I was actually reflecting on how much I have personally changed in my personality in the way also that I think about life and tennis on its own. I don’t know, whether that’s maturing or getting at a certain age where your perspective kind of changes but it has definitely been different for me for the past few months.”

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Turin Contenders Gather For Official Photo, Palace Tour

Tsitsipas holds a 51-22 record on the year and lines up in Green Group alongside Sinner, Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune. The Greek will open his campaign against Sinner and is ready for a tough battle despite leading the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series 5-2.

“He tends to play very fearless tennis and he moves very well,” Tsitsipas said. “He has improved his movement a lot and his consistency in his shots. I do believe that he’s a very athletic player. Not very muscley, not very heavy. He has that lightness about him when he covers the court. He can kind of get anywhere in the court within a few seconds and his reaction is very good. He has very good abilities and talent when it comes to feeling the ball and getting behind it.”

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Tsitsipas will also face World No. 1 Djokovic in the round-robin stage. The Serbian, who is a six-time champion at the event, leads Tsitsipas 11-2 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series.

“Novak has a very big presence when you’re facing him and you can certainly feel it’s tough to avoid that presence,” Tsitsipas said. “He has very good body language and his mental state and clarity when he plays is something you can really see that he’s very focused in the task and in the goal that he carries with him.

“This is something rare in tennis and there aren’t a lot of players that you can actually say that about them. He definitely has that intensified in his game. And that is something that I have absorbed and felt when playing him.”

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Sinner Relishing Turin Expectations: 'I Love To Play Under Pressure'

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Sinner Relishing Turin Expectations: ‘I Love To Play Under Pressure’

Italian opens against Tsitsipas

All eyes will be on Italy’s Jannik Sinner when he takes to court at the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday in Turin. The home star, who competed at the Pala Alpitour as an alternate in 2021, is relishing the opportunity to show the Italian fans he can handle the pressure on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

“I’m happy to be here,” Sinner told ATP Media ahead of his first round-robin match against Stefanos Tsitsipas. “Happy that this event is here in Turin. Hopefully it’s something positive for me trying to have a great connection with the crowd and hopefully I can handle it and handle the situation with the right mentality, because I feel I have a little bit more pressure, which is a very positive sign for me.

“I love to play under pressure. I love to play tie-breaks, I love to play the important points because I feel like there you can see who has what kind of game. And I feel like I’m trying to find as many important points as possible. Also because this makes you grow and also I’m here trying to win, but also to add some experience package for the next tournaments.”

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Turin Contenders Gather For Official Photo, Palace Tour

Sinner has been drawn in Green Group at the prestigious year-end event alongside Novak Djokovic, Tsitsipas and Holger Rune. The 22-year-old is aware of the threats all three bring but is hoping to use the crowd support and prior Turin experience to his advantage this week.

“I had a great feeling two years ago when I went to court with the crowd,” said Sinner, who played two round-robin matches as an alternate in 2021. “The connection was great and hopefully I can have a little bit or the same amount of connection. The crowd is going to stay behind me in good times but hopefully especially in the bad times that they push me. They give me some positive energy and hopefully I can convert it into a high level.”

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Sinner, who is the only Italian in the eight-man singles field, was the fourth player to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals after a standout season. The World No. 4 won four tour-level titles in 2023, including his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Toronto.

The 22-year-old hopes he can use the momentum from his year in Turin.

“I had a very good season and I played fewer tournaments than last year but I played more matches,” said Sinner, who is 57-14 on the year. “It’s obviously a great sign for me and how I ended the past several tournaments was good. Hopefully I can show this here.”

Sinner plays 2019 champion Tsitsipas in his opening Green Group match on Sunday afternoon. The Italian trails the Greek 2-5 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series but is excited by the matchup.

“His strength is the serve plays really good and his high intensity,” Sinner said. “He puts a lot of intensity on the court. He also tries to go to the net a lot more, so it’s not easy to play against him. I’m really looking forward to it. It is going to be the first match for both of us.”

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Turin Contenders Gather For Official Photo, Palace Tour

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Turin Contenders Gather For Official Photo, Palace Tour

Elite Eight steps out in style ahead of Sunday’s start of the Nitto ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and fellow Nitto ATP Finals contenders gathered at the Royal Palace Of Turin Friday evening for a spectacular official photo, media availability and reception ahead of Sunday’s opening day of play at the Pala Alpitour.

Dressed in smart casual, players signed autographs and posed for selfies with Italian fans in the late afternoon before entering the palace, where the official photo was taken on the grand staircase of the Musei Reali-Palazzo Reale di Torino, which was originally built in the 16th century.

“This palace is definitely one of the most stunning venues that I have seen in this city; it is incredibly historic and beautiful,” said World No. 1 and six-time tournament champion Novak Djokovic.

“This is my third time in Turin and I have enjoyed myself very much. The whole city this week lives for tennis. You can feel a lot of interest, a lot of attention and passion for tennis and sport in general.”

Once home to the House of Savoy, the palace and surrounding complex is located in the centre of Turin and is known for housing the Shroud of Turin, along with its impressive tapestries, extensive Royal Library, Museum of Antiquities and historic weapons collection.

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Djokovic, Sinner In Same Nitto ATP Finals Group

Friday’s palace visit came one day after the tournament draw. Djokovic leads the Green Group, which also features Jannik Sinner. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune. Making his debut, Alcaraz heads the Red Group that also features Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.

“Obviously I’m very happy to be here first time that I have qualified officially,” said Italian Jannik Sinner, who played two matches in Turin as an alternate in 2021. “Playing here in Turin means a lot to me.”

The tournament runs 12-19 November. Defending champion Djokovic, who is on an 18-match winning streak, is seeking a record-breaking seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown. The Serbian also needs to win just one match to be guaranteed of earning ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honours for the eighth time.

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Shevchenko Reaches First ATP Final In Metz

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Shevchenko Reaches First ATP Final In Metz

22-year-old plays Fognini or Humbert in title match

Alexander Shevchenko advanced to his maiden tour-level final on Friday at the Moselle Open, where he overcame French wild card Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-4 to continue his dream week in Metz.

The 22-year-old defeated Karen Khachanov to reach his first ATP Tour semi-final and backed up that win with a dominant display against Herbert to become the youngest Metz finalist since Lucas Pouille, 22, in 2016.

“It means the world to me,” Shevchenko said. “I have dreamt of this moment since I was a little kid. Going to sleep I thought maybe I could play in an ATP final and I did it. I will always remember this moment and it is something special.”

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Shevchenko broke Herbert’s serve three times and struck eight aces to advance after 77 minutes at the ATP 250 event. He will face Italian wild card Fabio Fognini or fourth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the title match.

Shevchenko is up 14 places to No. 49 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and is set to move to a new career-high on Monday. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old won two ATP Challenger Tour titles and advanced to the quarter-finals in Basel.

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Draper Breaks New Ground In Sofia, Matches Murray's Record

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Draper Breaks New Ground In Sofia, Matches Murray’s Record

Mannarino reaches fourth final of year

Jack Draper became the youngest Briton to reach an ATP Tour final since Andy Murray in 2009 when he defeated third-seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4 on Friday at the Sofia Open.

The 21-year-old played front-foot tennis throughout the 84-minute clash, firing 10 aces to extend his winning streak to nine matches at all levels, having triumphed at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Italy last week.

“He is a player who has had an incredible year, won a lot of matches. I had to really dig deep today and I am proud of my performance,” Draper said. “I have made a couple of semi-finals and came short and especially after the year with the injuries and wanting to be back stronger, I have really achieved that and my game is in a great place.”

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Draper has yet to drop a set all week in Sofia and is up 22 spots to No. 60 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his 19th tour-level win of the season.

The lefty, who reached tour-level semi-finals in Eastbourne (2022) and in Adelaide (2023), will face Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the final on Saturday at the ATP 250.

Mannarino moved past Pavel Kotov 6-2, 7-6(2) to move to within one win of his third tour-level title of the season. The second seed, who has earned a personal-best 42 tour-level wins this year, saved the one break point he faced to advance to his fourth final of 2023 after 87 minutes.

Earlier this year, the World No. 25 won trophies in Newport and Astana.

Did You Know?
A then-21-year-old Murray advanced to his maiden tour-level title match in Miami in 2009.

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