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Medvedev Beats Familiar Foe Zverev, Qualifies For Turin SFs

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Medvedev Beats Familiar Foe Zverev, Qualifies For Turin SFs

Third seed has not lost a set in two Red Group wins

In a battle of former Nitto ATP Finals champions, Daniil Medvedev continued his recent run of success against Alexander Zverev to become the first man to book a place in this year’s Turin semi-finals.

The third seed edged his German opponent 7-6(7), 6-4 on Wednesday night, earning his fifth win in six Lexus ATP HeadHead matchups between the pair this season and improving to 11-7 overall against Zverev. Medvedev also moved to 3-2 against Zverev at the Nitto ATP Finals, with the pair nearing Pete Sampras and Boris Becker’s record of seven matchups at the season finale.

“It was a very tough match mentally,” said Medvedev in his on-court interview. “I started very well, I was playing well. He was kind of not there yet, but at one moment he stepped up his game and at this moment, for whatever reason, I started playing a little bit worse for a short period of time.

“I’m happy that I managed to regroup and play better at the end of the first set. The end of both sets was very tight… In the tie-break he had set point on his serve. I’m happy because this year I might have lost some matches like this. I’m happy to be able to win.”

The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champ beat the 2018 and 2021 titlist in a match of fine margins, with Medvedev saving two set points in a tense opening-set tie-break and fighting off a break point late in set two.

Medvedev was locked in from the first ball and eased to an early 2-0 lead, but Zverev came on strong from the middle of the opening set by countering Medvedev’s metronomic baseline game with aggressive swings and well-times net approaches. The German missed a sitter volley that would have put him 5/1 up in the tie-break before both players traded costly miscues from 5/5 — Medvedev sailing an overhead long before Zverev flubbed a forehand on his first set point.

A moment of brilliance decided the set, when the ranging Medvedev lasered a down-the-line forehand that his opponent could not handle at the net.

Set two was ticking quickly towards a second tie-break with both players dominant on serve, until Medvedev fought off the first break point of the set to hold for 5-4. He opened the ensuing game with an ingenious lob off an overhead swing from beyond the baseline and closed out the match soon after, a brilliant backhand pass bringing up match point.

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Medvedev will next face Carlos Alcaraz, who beat Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2 earlier on Wednesday to move to 1-1 in group play.

“I saw his match today against Andrey and he played much better than in the first match,” Medvedev said of the Spaniard. “He was missing less, doing amazing winners from far out like he can. I hope that I feel good tomorrow and I’m ready to fight. This tournament is tricky, because I’m into the semis, but you want to keep the rhythm.”

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Best Backhand? Most Mind Games? Nitto ATP Finals Champions Decide

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Best Backhand? Most Mind Games? Nitto ATP Finals Champions Decide

Turin champions bring fans exclusive insight

Did you ever wonder which Nitto ATP Finals champion eats the most?

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and the rest of the Turin competitors spilled the tea in a special eight-player interview ahead of this year’s season finale.

The champions sat down in the Royal Palace of Turin to bring fans exclusive insight into the players’ tennis and habits off the court.

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Would Novak Djokovic or Daniil Medvedev be able to go the longest without missing a backhand? The votes were split, until one of the stars changed his vote to convince the rest of the group.

Who is most likely to cry after a win or a loss? Find out all that and more in the memorable video feature below:

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Courtside Calculation! Tennis IQ Powering Rune’s Charge At Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Courtside Calculation! Tennis IQ Powering Rune’s Charge At Nitto ATP Finals

Mike James from Holger Rune’s team discusses mid-match use of data

A well thought-out gameplan is key to regularly win matches on the ATP Tour.

Pre-match scouting reports and post-match debriefs with coaches have long been part of the routine for top stars as they look to outthink their on-court rivals. Now, thanks to the ATP and Tennis Data Innovations (TDI), it is the mid-match strategic battle that could become even more decisive to give a player the best possible chance of victory.

Tennis IQ, ATP and TDI’s performance analytics platform, gives all ATP singles players access to advanced match analytics within one simple and intuitive platform. This week at the Nitto ATP Finals, tennis analyst Mike James, a member of Holger Rune’s team, is using the system on a tablet in the Dane’s player box to offer a live data-driven perspective to coach Boris Becker.

“Boris has his own view and he’s got a very good coaching eye, but what I see using the data in the match is confirmed learning,” James told in Turin. “[Boris] might feel something is happening, he just wants confirmation of it — around the court position, around the serve speeds and serve accuracy. [These are things] that we can see live.

“I think traditionally how we’ve used analysis is obviously pretty much scouting, post-match in the game development and starting to work on things. Now doing it live, I think it has massive value.”

Mike James

Mike James is part of Holger Rune’s team this week at the Nitto ATP Finals. Photo Credit: ATP Tour

James began working with Rune after he joined the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France in January 2022, when the Dane was No. 104 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He was immediately impressed with the appetite for analysis of the then-18-year-old and his coach, Lars Christensen.

“Lars at the time was super into video analysis and data analytics, as was Patrick Mouratoglou, and Holger is obsessed with the game,” said James. “He’s eating the tennis ball for lunch, dinner, and evening meal, and he’s always watching video and diving into it anyway. So it was a really nice fit.”

Fast-forward nearly three years and Rune is this week making his Nitto ATP Finals debut as one of the top eight performing players across the 2023 season. So what are the key areas James is currently focused on to help Rune, who holds a 1-1 record in Green Group this week in Turin, compete against his elite rivals?

“For me, a big one is court position, because we know that for every metre you go further back, you have to hit the ball 18 per cent harder to keep the same ball speed,” explained James. “That’s just physics. The reality is for someone like Holger, who has a good above-average ball speed on his backhand and forehand, the court position is really important to keep dictating the rally.

“Of course there are [simpler] things like second-serve points won and things like this, but court position right now in his game is the big one that we are really focusing on.”

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James emphasises that analysing the data itself is only one part of his job. The fact that he works with four different players — Rune and three WTA stars from the Mouratoglou Academy and Champ’Seed Foundation — makes communication key.

“I think the feel and the type of language you use [is important],” he said. “I keep it simple. It has to be digestible and quick to get to the player. A lot of tennis players naturally go on feelings, they go on emotions, so when you start bringing in sport science, it becomes a different challenge. You really have to tailor-make how you are delivering it to each individual team.

“I work with four different players. How I’m delivering it to Boris and the other coaches is totally different.”

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In terms of its overall impact, James believes another advantage of Tennis IQ is the way it allows specific positive aspects of a performance to be isolated and conveyed to a player, even with data from matches they did not win. He cites the early months of the 2022 season, when Rune was just making the step up from the ATP Challenger Tour to the ATP Tour, as a prime example.

“During that period of January and February when he wasn’t winning many matches, this is where the analysis helps,” said James. “To give feedback that, ‘Look, you didn’t get the outcome today, but the process and the performance in an area of your game is going up’. People think it’s always about winning, but when you’re losing, there’s a lot of value to give an extra bit of confidence to the player.

“Information is power, but how you use that information and deliver that information can be destructive or creative. For someone like me who has been doing performance analysis for the past five or six seasons, I feel very in tune with knowing how to deliver it and when to deliver it. I think more people like myself will come into the game and it’s going to be interesting to see how it evolves.”

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James is an experienced analyst who has worked in the role since 2018, previously helping the likes of Magnus Norman (the then-coach of Stan Wawrinka), Miro Hrvitan (then-coach of Miomir Kecmanovic) and the team of Iga Swiatek. He credits Tennis IQ with democratising the use of data and ensuring it is not only useful for top players who possess the resources to hire a specialist.

“The biggest value right now for Tennis IQ is during the match,” he said. “However, if you’re another player who doesn’t have access to someone like myself and the facilities we have at the academy, you can dive into the software and look at all the metrics that we have been using at the academy for the past two years.

“I think it creates a level playing field. What it gives someone like me to do is to create different insights, to keep one step ahead. I think it’s a good thing, I think it raises the level.”

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Alcaraz Looks To Keep Clear Mind In Medvedev Clash

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Alcaraz Looks To Keep Clear Mind In Medvedev Clash

Spaniard faces Medvedev on Friday, seeking SF place

Carlos Alcaraz has not forgotten what happened a few months ago in the US Open semi-finals. In that match, facing Daniil Medvedev at the last Grand Slam of the season, the Spaniard suffered from a “mental block” at the end of the first-set tiebreak that would continue through almost all of the second set. As a result, he lost in four sets and left with a bittersweet taste in his mouth.

After Wednesday’s 7-5, 6-2 win over Andrey Rublev, Alcaraz will Friday square off against Medvedev for the first time since that evening, and he will do so in what promises to be a high-octane encounter; the No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings needs to win to have a chance of reaching the last four at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“We’re going to try and use the US Open match as an example,” explained Alcaraz, whose Lexus ATP Head2Head with Medvedev is tied at 2-2. “I was mentally in the wrong place for a long time. That cannot happen against him. I will have to approach it differently. I know how he will play, so we’ll look at my strategy before the match.

“Medvedev is one of the best players in the world,” declared the 20-year-old Spaniard. “You have to play very well tactically, be patient and aggressive at the same time. It’s very difficult to beat him. You have to wait for the opportunity, but run and be calm, and get five or six shots in per point until the chance comes, while being aware that often it won’t.”

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Alcaraz is heading into his final round-robin clash with Medvedev in a position he was not expecting two days ago, when he lost to Alexander Zverev in his opener at the Pala Alpitour.

“After the first match, I was feeling really bad,” said the Murcia native. “I didn’t know where my game was. I thought I couldn’t win any matches at this tournament feeling the way I did,” he admitted. “After yesterday’s practice session, and after today’s match, I’ve changed the way I feel and the way I will approach the coming days. Now I do have a chance to reach the semi-finals, and to have a good tournament here.”

After the defeat at the hands of Zverev, Alcaraz and his team established a plan to rediscover the player’s ‘A’ game. First, in Tuesday’s practice session, coach Juan Carlos Ferrero asked him to be aggressive, to forget the fear of failure that was hampering his shots. The Valencian former World No. 1 also spoke to his understudy before his victory against Andrey Rublev — and it seems his message had the desired effect.

“At the end of the day, compared to the first match, I’ve stopped thinking about winning or losing. Instead I’m focussing on playing good tennis and enjoying myself,” explained the two-time Grand Slam champion. “That’s what we spoke about with Juan Carlos: It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, I just have to play at the level I’ve been playing this year, and enjoy myself on court. That is the key to my tennis, although in recent months it’s been pretty hard for me.”

Regardless of what happens tonight in the match between Medvedev and Zverev, come Friday Alcaraz will still have a chance of claiming a spot in the semi-finals at the season’s grand finale — and he is looking increasingly capable of doing so.

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Defending Champs Ram/Salisbury Hold Firm For Turin Semi-Final Spot

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Defending Champs Ram/Salisbury Hold Firm For Turin Semi-Final Spot

Sixth seeds down Koolhof/Skupski in rematch of 2022 Nitto ATP Finals semi-final

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury extended their Nitto ATP Finals winning streak to seven matches on Wednesday in Turin. In doing so, they sealed a semi-final spot at the prestigious season finale for the fourth consecutive year.

The defending champions Ram and Salisbury held firm for a 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 win against Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski inside the Pala Alpitour. Now 2-0 in Red Group, they are already assured a place in the last four regardless of what happens in their third match against Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler.

Ram and Salisbury have struggled for their usual consistency this year but became ATP Tour champions in Lyon in May and Vienna in October, either side of defending their title at the US Open. They are now 34-18 for the season after holding firm in a tense Match Tie-break to wrap an 83-minute triumph against Koolhof and Skupski.

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A single break decided each of the first two sets in an absorbing encounter, the first between the two teams since Ram and Salisbury prevailed in the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals. The American-British pair notched the first break of the match in the sixth game en route to winning an opening set in which they saved five break points, but Koolhof and Skupski broke to love in the eighth game of the second to draw level.

After edging their second-seeded rivals in a tight Match Tie-break by winning seven of nine points from 3/5 , Ram and Salisbury are now 14-5 across five appearances at the Nitto ATP Finals. They also reached the championship match in Turin in 2021, before their title run last year.

With a 1-1 record for the week, Koolhof and Skupski next face a straight shootout to become the second team to advance from Red Group against Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden.

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Alcaraz Up & Running In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Alcaraz Up & Running In Turin

Second seed moves to 1-1 in Red Group play

Carlos Alcaraz kept alive his semi-final hopes at the Nitto ATP Finals on Wednesday when he moved past Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2 to earn his first win at the prestigious year-end event.

The 20-year-old bounced back from an opening Red Group defeat against Alexander Zverev with an aggressive display against Rublev. The Spaniard outlasted the fifth seed in a series of destructive baseline exchanges, redlining the ball to improve to 10-5 against Top 10 opponents in 2023.

With his 74-minute win, Alcaraz snapped a three-match losing streak. The World No. 2 fell against Grigor Dimitrov in Shanghai, Roman Safiullin in Paris and Zverev in Turin. He is now 64-11 on the season.

“It was a totally different match and level from me. This is the level I have to play if I want to give myself a chance in this amazing tournament,” Alcaraz said. “Yesterday was a good day for me in practise to find the level I needed to show today and I think I did pretty well. I am very happy with my level.”

Alcaraz, who is the youngest player in the eight-man singles field, is making his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals after missing last year’s edition due to injury. He is chasing his seventh trophy of the season and first since Wimbledon and will meet Daniil Medvedev in his final round-robin match on Friday.

“I need to relax. It is really, really fast the court,” Alcaraz said. “I need to hit first. You need to be more aggressive than your opponent. I think that is key if you want to have chances in this tournament.”

Alcaraz was not at his best in his opening match against Zverev but was dialled in from ball one on the quick courts inside the Pala Alpitour against Rublev. The Spaniard dropped just one point on his first serve in the opening set, while he committed just four unforced errors. He gained the crucial break in the 11th game of the first set before holding to lead.

In a good rhythm, the 20-year-old pushed on in the second set, exploiting Rublev’s defence with his powerful groundstrokes to force the 26-year-old into errors. Alcaraz also moved freely around the court, hitting a couple of stunning passing winners on the stretch. He sealed victory on his first match point.

Rublev, who won his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo earlier this year, now holds a 0-2 record in Red Group play after losing to Daniil Medvedev in his first match. The 2022 semi-finalist meets Zverev in his final round-robin match.

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Bopanna Teams With Ebden To Make History In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Bopanna Teams With Ebden To Make History In Turin

Third seeds move to 1-1 in Red Group play

Rohan Bopanna became the oldest player in tournament history to win a match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Wednesday when he teamed with Matthew Ebden to down Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler 6-4, 6-4.

The 43-year-old Bopanna and Ebden lost just one point on their first serve and saved the one break point they faced to triumph after 72 minutes in Turin.

With their victory, the third seeds improved to 1-1 in Red Group play, keeping alive their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals after losing their opening match to defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Bopanna and Ebden will face Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski in their final round-robin match on Friday.

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The Indian-Australian pair first teamed at the start of this season and enjoyed an impressive year together, winning tour-level trophies in Doha and Indian Wells. Bopanna is making his fourth appearance at the year-end event, while Ebden is debuting.

Australian Open champions Hijikata and Kubler are now 0-2 in Red Group play. They will meet Ram and Salisbury in their last match of the round-robin stage.

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Vote For Your Favourite Player & Team In 2023 ATP Awards

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Vote For Your Favourite Player & Team In 2023 ATP Awards

Support your favourite singles player and doubles team

It’s Awards season, which means we need your help to determine this year’s Fans’ Favourite winners!

Which tennis players entertained you during the 2023 ATP Tour season? Show your support by selecting your favourite singles player and doubles team from the dropdowns below and submit your vote.

Voting for the 2023 Fans’ Favourite Awards closes at 11:59pm GMT on Friday, 1 December.

If you have already cast your vote, you have the option to change your selection through the dropdown menu during the voting period, but your last submission will be the only one recorded. 

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we celebrate players and tournaments in the 2023 ATP Awards!

Note: Fans’ Favourite candidates are active players in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and Top 25 teams in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Team Rankings as of 6 November 2023. The Top 100 includes players with protected ATP Rankings who have played at least one tour-level match in 2023. Candidates with protected rankings are noted in the list with (PR). 

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Djokovic 'Proud Of The Fight' In Defeat To Sinner

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2023

Djokovic ‘Proud Of The Fight’ In Defeat To Sinner

Serbian credits opponent’s bold play

Following his 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) defeat to Jannik Sinner on Tuesday at the Nitto ATP Finals, Novak Djokovic greeted the Italian home favourite with a warm embrace at the net. His goodwill continued in his post-match press conference, where he was full of praise for his opponent’s play.

“You have to just congratulate him. He just played a fantastic match,” the Serbian said. “That’s what I told him at the net. I think in the most important moments, he played his best game and he absolutely deserved to win.”

Djokovic was especially complimentary of Sinner’s aggressive play during the crucial moments, with the Italian connecting on a flurry of big ground strokes during the close of the first and third sets.

“I think the main difference is that in the important points, he was going for it, he was more courageous,” said the World No. 1. “He deserved to win because in important moments I wasn’t aggressive enough, I wasn’t decisive enough. I gave him the opportunity to take the control over the points.”

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While Djokovic could find little fault with his own game overall, he did take a lesson from the defeat.

“I think I learned that in some moments I have to be a bit more decisive. I wasn’t today. That’s OK,” he said. “Some you win, some you lose. Most of my career I was winning these kind of matches. Some I lost, like the one tonight.”

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Djokovic’s task was made doubly difficult by the Italian crowd’s constant support for Sinner, as well as the 22 year-old’s desire to notch his first win in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. But Djokovic is used to playing with a proverbial target on his back.

“They want to take the scalp. Jannik did that tonight,” he said. “It’s normal to lose some of the matches like this, but I have to be content with the fight, the fighting spirit. I managed to make a comeback from a set down, a break down in the third set, playing in really challenging and difficult conditions on the court today.

“I’m proud of the fight that I put in. It just wasn’t enough for the win.”

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