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Escobar/Nedovyesov Win Sofia Doubles Title; Nys/Zielinski Retain Metz Crown

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2023

Escobar/Nedovyesov Win Sofia Doubles Title; Nys/Zielinski Retain Metz Crown

Escobar/Nedovyesov saves two match points in Metz final

Gonzalo Escobar and Aleksandr Nedovyesov saved two mach points in the Sofia doubles final to claim their second tour-level title as a team. The Ecuadorian/Kazakhstani team defeated third seeds Julian Cash and Nikola Mektic 6-3, 3-6, 13-11 to earn a dramatic victory in what was their fourth final in 14 tour-level tournaments together.

“A [Match] Tie-break is always a lottery, but I think in the end we were just a little bit more aggressive,” said Nedovyesov. “Luck was there as well I guess… It was a great tournament.”

Escobar/Nedovyesov will finish the season in 23rd place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings after a successful close to a week in which Escobar earned his 100th tour-level doubles win. The Sofia title is the Ecuadorian’s fifth at tour-level and Nedovyesov’s second.

“Very happy for the title. But it’s also been a tough year, so this makes me proud of the work we’ve done,” added Escobar.

<a href=Hugo Nys, Jan Zielinski” />
Photo credit: Moselle Open

Top Seeds Nys/Zielinski Retain Metz Trophy
Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski saved their most dominant performance for last in the Moselle Open. After a pair of Match Tie-break wins either side of a walkover, the Monegasque/Polish duo defeated Germans Constantin Frantzen and Hendrik Jebens 6-4, 6-4 to complete a successful title defence in Metz.

Nys/Zielinski saved both break points they faced while converting two of their three break chances — one in each set.

The title is their third on the ATP Tour, with their lone title outside of Metz coming earlier this season at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome. Behind the strength of those two trophies this campaign, they will finish the 2023 season in ninth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings.

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Home Hope Sinner Seeks Fast Start vs. Tsitsipas On Day 1 In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2023

Home Hope Sinner Seeks Fast Start vs. Tsitsipas On Day 1 In Turin

Defending champion Djokovic plays Rune during evening session at Pala Alpitour

The 2023 Nitto ATP Finals kick off on Sunday with a pair of heavy-hitting clashes at Turin’s Pala Apitour. Home favourite Jannik Sinner bids for a positive start to his campaign in Green Group when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening singles clash of the day, before defending champion and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic meets Holger Rune in the evening session.

[4] Jannik Sinner (ITA) vs. [6] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

Can the home fans help Jannik Sinner kick-start his Nitto ATP Finals campaign on Sunday in Turin?

The 22-year-old Italian takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening match in Green Group at the Pala Alpitour, where the Italian is competing at the season finale for the second time, but the first as a direct qualifier. Sinner will hope that the locals can cheer him on to victory against an opponent whom he trails 2-5 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series.

“[I’m] happy that this event is here in Turin,” Sinner told ATP Media on Friday. “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.”

Despite his strong history in their matchup, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas will be wary of the threat posed by Sinner, who holds a 57-14 record for a year in which he has lifted four tour-level titles, including his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Toronto.

“He tends to play very fearless tennis and he moves very well,” said Tsitsipas. “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 [muscular], 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.”

Tsitsipas is 51-22 for the season, and bounced back from a mid-season blip with three consecutive semi-finals (Antwerp, Vienna, Paris) prior to Turin. The 25-year-old, who became an ATP Tour champion for the 10th time in Los Cabos in August, will hope to find rhythm behind his serve to keep Sinner on his toes on the historically fast surface at the Pala Alpitour.

“His strength is the serve and his high intensity,” said Sinner. “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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[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [8] Holger Rune (DEN)

In Sunday’s evening session, Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune bring their intriguingly poised rivalry to Turin just nine days after they played out a tough quarter-final battle at the Rolex Paris Masters.

It was World No. 1 Djokovic who prevailed on that occasion to level the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series at 2-2. The Serbian went on to lift his record-extending 40th ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Paris-Bercy, and he begins his bid to become Nitto ATP Finals champion for a record seventh time on an 18-match unbeaten streak at Tour-level.

Djokovic’s three-set victory in Paris snapped a two-match losing streak against Rune. The 20-year-old Dane, who is making his Nitto ATP Finals debut this week in Turin, defeated the Serbian in the 2022 Paris championship match and in Rome earlier this year. He will hope to use those wins as a template for when he steps out on court Sunday inside the Pala Alpitour.

“You cannot wish that he misses a shot or wish that he has an off day,” Rune told ATP Media on Friday. “He loses probably four to five matches a year, so he doesn’t have off days. The only wish you can have in yourself is to try to play your best tennis and be the most focused on the court in your life. You have to be ready to give everything.”

Djokovic will have extra motivation when he steps on court on Sunday in Turin. Should he defeat Rune, he will secure the coveted ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honour for a 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,” said Djokovic. “I need one win, so hopefully that happens. 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.”

Helping Rune in his bid to deny Djokovic a winning start in Turin is the Serbian’s former coach, Boris Becker. The ATP Tour legend joined Rune’s team last month, and he spent time speaking to both his former and current charges during Friday’s media day in Turin.

“Along with [Carlos] Alcaraz, they are the same generation, [Holger is] one of the leaders of the Next Gen and probably one of the players that will carry tennis in the decade to come,” said Djokovic. “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.”

<a href=Novak Djokovic/Holger Rune/Boris Becker” />

Novak Djokovic, Holger Rune and Boris Becker on Friday in Turin. Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Top seeds Krajicek/Dodig Headline Opening Day In Doubles

The first match of this year’s prestigious season finale will see top-seeded doubles pair Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek take on Argentine duo Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni in Green Group. Dodig and Krajicek are chasing their first match win on their second appearance in Turin.

In the evening session, fourth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin will look to extend their eight-match winning streak against Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

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Zverev 'Not Even Thinking About Turin' Early In Comeback Year

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2023

Zverev ‘Not Even Thinking About Turin’ Early In Comeback Year

German looking for more success in Italy

Apart from Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev is the only active player to win multiple titles at the Nitto ATP Finals. The German won the title at the O2 Arena in London in 2018 as well as here in Turin in 2021.

Zverev missed the chance to qualify for the year-end event in 2022 when a horrific ankle injury suffered in the middle of his Roland Garros semi-final against Rafael Nadal ended his season.

Zverev won two titles this year and is currently at No.7 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. However, a few months ago, qualifying for Turin was not something he would have expected given his slow start to the year when coming back from injury. “It was difficult in the beginning. I was nowhere near even thinking about Turin,” Zverev said. “I was thinking about how to win matches. I was barely winning matches. I was barely making points as well.

“It kind of turned around in the summer for me. I made the semi-finals of Roland Garros. I think that was a big turning point for me. From then onwards, it was fun to be on the tennis court again.”

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The German learned some important lessons while working his way to the top eight again. When asked about lessons learned, Zverev stated, “That you don’t get what you want straight away. You have to be patient at times. You have to be working for the things you really want to achieve.

“Before the injury I was so close to being World No.1 and that was kind of taken away from me. All of a sudden after the injury, I was 27 in the world. So being back in the top eight and being back at this tournament is very special.”

Zverev has been drawn in the red group alongside Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, and Andrey Rublev.

On playing Rublev, Zverev described what he sees across the net as “powerful, a lot of effort, and a lot of hard-hitting forehands.”

Zverev has faced Medvedev 17 times in his career. The German trails 6-11 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. “We were tied in the head to head before this season,” he said. “Then, this season came along. We played a lot in the first part of the season, and then we played twice in the second part of the season which went one-all.

“He’s somebody that doesn’t give you anything. He’s like a wall on the court and you really have to kind of win the match yourself.”

Zverev plays 2023 debutant Alcaraz in his opening round-robin match on Monday afternoon. The German is tied at 3-3 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series.

When asked what it’s like to face the 20-year-old Spaniard, Zverev said, “He is one of the best players in the world over the last two years. He has won two grand slams and has been World No.1. So it’s no secret that it is difficult.”

The 21-time titlist is one of the few players on Tour to have a good record against Alcaraz. When asked what he has to do to beat him, he responded, “To be at your best. The times that I have beaten him, I was playing my absolute best tennis. If you are not quite there, if you are a little slow-ish, if you are not hitting the ball as well as you can, you don’t have any chance.”

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From ‘Small Boy’ In London To Elite Rival In Turin: Rune On Nitto ATP Finals Bow

  • Posted: Nov 11, 2023

From ‘Small Boy’ In London To Elite Rival In Turin: Rune On Nitto ATP Finals Bow

20-year-old plays defending champion Djokovic in opening match

Holger Rune’s Nitto ATP Finals debut has been more than just a year in the making.

The 20-year-old’s first competitive appearance at the prestigious season finale comes four years after he attended the event as a hitting partner for the world’s top players. Among those he hit with in London in 2019? Roger Federer, and the player he takes on Sunday in his opening match in Green Group — World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

“It’s amazing,” Rune told ATP Media on Friday after being shown a video of his 16-year-old self hitting with Djokovic at the 2019 edition of the Nitto ATP Finals. “Mostly knowing that there was a small boy practising being a hitting partner, to now competing against [Djokovic], it’s cool.

“I felt like I didn’t want to miss a ball because I was afraid that they were getting mad at me, because you want to do the best for them. But now I don’t want to do the best for him on the court.”

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After surging into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time at the end of the 2022 season, Rune has backed up his breakthrough year in style. He has racked up a 43-22 record, which includes defending his crown in Munich, reaching ATP Masters 1000 finals in Monte-Carlo and Rome and reaching the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“It’s been it’s been a big goal for me,” said Rune, who was the final player to book his spot in Turin. “Being in the season and in the moment, you don’t think so much about it, but as we got closer and the race was very close for me with other players, it was a goal that I really wanted to achieve.

“I wanted it badly, and I got it, so I’m very happy and satisfied with that. Now we’re here, so I’m just going to take my chance and do everything again.”

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Struggles with fitness and form tested Rune’s mental resolve late in the year, but a semi-final run in Basel followed by a quarter-final appearance in Paris were signs that the Dane was rediscovering his level. Rune believes his difficult run nonetheless provided an opportunity to develop.

“Especially the last few tournaments, I’ve been playing better tennis and got back to my level and [have been] improving,” said Rune. “It was a tough period after Wimbledon for me, but it’s normal. Sometimes you have good and bad moments, but it’s just important to learn, and I’ve definitely learned.”

Rune could hardly have asked for a tougher test to open his Nitto ATP Finals career. Djokovic is chasing a record seventh title at the season finale and his second in a row after winning all five of his matches in Turin in 2022. Two wins in four previous tour-level clashes against the Serbian mean Rune has a blueprint for a path to victory on Sunday, however.

“You cannot wish that he misses a shot or wish that he has an off day,” said Rune. “He loses probably four to five matches a year, so he doesn’t have off days. The only wish you can have in yourself is to try to play your best tennis and be the most focused on the court in your life. You have to be ready to give everything.

“I do enjoy playing him, because it’s amazing to share the court with such a legend and we’ve always had great battles together. Last time in Paris was [last week], it was also another good battle. So I have to learn a little bit from that and do it a bit different this time, so I can get the win.”

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Like his fellow 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, Rune has rarely shied away from testing his skills against more experienced opponents during his rise. The World No. 8 may enter Turin as the second-youngest and lowest-positioned in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings of the eight competitors, but he will relish every moment he has on court.

“For me, [the pressure] is a lot of fun,” said Rune. “When I don’t have this, it’s more boring, to be honest. These kinds of events excite me, and they’re events that you want to qualify [for]. If you asked me, I would wish there was eight of these events a year and not one, but it also makes it more interesting for the fans and for the player that it’s one time in Turin. Whoever’s going to play the best tennis and be mentally the strongest is going to take the title.”

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