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The Inner Voice That Helped Tsitsipas Reach Australian Open QFs

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Stefanos Tsitipas’ back was against the wall in the fourth round of the Australian Open against Taylor Fritz, but the Greek’s inner voice helped save the day.

“I felt like there were certain moments where I got defensive and wasn’t going for my shots too much, and I kept talking to myself and kept saying, ‘Hit the ball, go for it’,” Tsitsipas said. “That eventually was kind of engraved in my mind. That voice kind of became a reality in the fifth set.

“I came to the conclusion that I cannot be too defensive, I cannot stay in the rallies too much. I have to make him move and I have to be aggressive at the same time.”

That mindset worked, as Tsitsipas rallied past the American 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his third Australian Open quarter-final. In the deciding fifth set, he made just four unforced errors to complete his triumph after three hours and 23 minutes.

“It was very tough, and I had to deal with these moments in the best way. Being able to overcome these difficulties required a lot of mental toughness, and I think I did the right things at these points and managed it very well. It was a great comeback,” Tsitsipas said. “It was a match with a lot of emotions, and I had to keep constantly reminding myself to stay in it and try and find solutions to all these problems, because there was heavy hitting, there were lots of rallies. Serves, big serves from both sides. So there were a lot of things going on.”

Overall, Tsitsipas struck 53 winners to just 44 unforced errors, a solid performance against an in-form Fritz. The American, who was competing in the fourth round of a major for the first time, showed little fear of the moment. He hit 52 winners to put Tsitsipas in trouble in the first place.

But the fourth seed dug deep and played the better tennis when it mattered most. Tsitsipas has put to rest discussions about his elbow, which hovered over him early in the season when he did not play his first singles match at the ATP Cup.

“I missed two weeks of preseason, which was not too bad, because the doctor predicted otherwise,” Tsitsipas said. “My recovery was faster than anyone would have thought it would have been. My recovery was very surprising to my doctor.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Tsitsipas’ determination has been impressive Down Under, and he is now into the last eight at the Australian Open for the third time in four years. The 23-year-old said it was an emotional win for him, and that he played better with those emotions.

“I was able to sustain that emotion and was able to deal with it in the best way. I think the crowd was very important today, encouraging me and giving me their energy from start to finish,” Tsitsipas said. “They [played] a big role in today’s success and overcoming the difficult obstacles that was presented to me throughout the entirety of the match.”

Next up for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion will be 11th seed Jannik Sinner. Tsitsipas leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 2-1.

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The Last Time With… Denis Shapovalov

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Denis Shapovalov upset two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals and earn a clash against 20-time major titlist Rafael Nadal.

Before the match, get to know the Canadian in ATPTour.com’s newest ‘Last Time’ Q&A. Shapovalov discusses a meeting with Canadian basketball legend Steve Nash, his cooking skills and more.

When was the last time you watched a sporting event live?
The Toronto Raptors when they were playing in Tampa [Florida]. It is tough to follow when I am in Europe, but I definitely follow the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs as much as possible.

When was the last time you met one of your idols?
Steve Nash. I met him in San Diego [during the tournament last year]. He was doing an exhibition and he was running into the club, so I got to meet him for a minute or two. That was really, really cool.

He said he was a big fan of mine, which was really weird to hear because I am a big fan of his. He is an icon in Canada and basketball. He is very well known in Canada and well looked up to.

 

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When was the last time you strung a racquet?
Probably when I was seven years old. I remember doing a bad job and my dad taking over. I never tried again.

When was the last time you had to hire a court?
Maybe when I was 13 or 14. Back home in Toronto.

When was the last time you went to a concert?
Believe it or not I have only been to one concert in my life. It was three or four years ago. I went to a G-Eazy concert in Cincinnati.

When was the last time you watched Netflix?
I watched The Office. My favourite character might be Dwight.

When was the last time you have missed a flight?
I have never missed a flight.

When was the last time you lost something important?
I lost my phone about 20 minutes before this interview, but I found it!

When was the last time you cooked?
Oh, I am a terrible cook. I actually make breakfast for my girlfriend. That is about my cooking skills. I make an omelette and some nice toast. That is my level right there.

When was the last time I asked someone for a selfie?
I don’t ask my girlfriend for a selfie, she asks me. Probably with the team. Take a team selfie pic.

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De Minaur 'Excited For What’s To Come'

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Alex de Minaur feels his 2022 season is already heading in the right direction, even after his career-best run at the Australian Open came to an end in the fourth round against 11th seed Jannik Sinner on Monday.

“It’s been a good start to the season, bringing in some good momentum,” said de Minaur in his post-match press conference. “[I] came up short today, but [I’m] happy with where my level is going. It’s definitely a big improvement from last year. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

The Australian World No. 42 battled hard but ultimately fell short, losing 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4 to an inspired performance from the Italian on Rod Laver Arena.

With his defeat, de Minaur slipped to a 0-3 ATP Head2Head record against Sinner. The Australian acknowledged another special performance from his opponent, but has already identified the moments in the match that he can learn from.

“I had chances,” said de Minaur. “[I] didn’t take those opportunities, those breakpoints early. I came up with an opponent that played very well and just played some very good tennis in the important moments.

“We all know the amazing firepower he has, so I felt like I played a loose game to get broken [in the second set]. I just missed a couple forehands which I tried to press a little bit more than maybe I should have. He got the early break and was able to run away.”

De Minaur was nonetheless pleased with his Australian swing, having given a strong performance for his country at the ATP Cup that included a win over World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini, before reaching the fourth round in Melbourne. He credited a new mental approach for his early-season success.

“It’s a long year,” said de Minaur, “but my hopes and goals are to keep at least my attitude and my mindset throughout the whole year. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the focus.”

De Minaur has also benefitted from the strong camaraderie shared among the Aussie contingent on the ATP Tour, particularly helpful when under pressure to perform at a home slam. He remains optimistic about the prospects of the five Australians that remain in the men’s doubles draw.

“As a fellow Australian, it’s exciting whenever any Aussie player does well,” said de Minaur. “I think we’ve got such a great team chemistry. I mean, you’ve got Nick [Kyrgios] and Kokk [Thanasi Kokkinakis] doing great stuff. [Matthew] Ebden and [Max] Purcell still, Peersy [John Peers] still going. I think it’s exciting stuff.

“It’s amazing the level they can show and put on the court day in and day out, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the week unfolds.”

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Ram/Salisbury Keep The Heat In Melbourne

  • Posted: Jan 24, 2022

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are on the hunt for consecutive Grand Slam doubles titles, and they kept that target within their sights Monday, defeating wild cards Dane Sweeny and Li Tu 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

The 2021 US Open champions, who also triumphed together at Melbourne Park in 2020, dropped just one point behind their first serve in the match and offered their Australian opponents no breathing room on John Cain Arena.

Ram and Salisbury hit 21 winners and made just three unforced errors in a solid all-round performance as they advanced to the last eight in Melbourne for the third year in a row.

Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell made it two all-Aussie pairings in the quarter-finals by upsetting 13th seeds Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan 7-6(3), 6-3. Ebden and Purcell fired 27 winners, including nine aces and claimed the only break of the match in the second set to defeat the South African-Japanese pairing, joining countrymen Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in the last eight.

Ebden and Purcell will next face 10th seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. The Dutch-British tandem has already claimed two tour-level titles since coming together at the start of 2022, triumphing at the Melbourne Summer Set and the Adelaide International 2. The good form shows no sign of abating as Koolhof and Skupski hit 22 winners and won 81 per cent (29/36) of their first-serve en route to a 6-3, 6-4 win against Marcos Giron and Soonwoo Kwon.

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Gamers: Monfils On His Video Game Origins & Respect For Esports Athletes

  • Posted: Jan 23, 2022

Gael Monfils is into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, where he will play Matteo Berrettini for a place in the last four. Before that showdown, get to know more about the Frenchman’s love of video games and the esports industry.

ATPTour.com spoke to Monfils about how he first got into video games as a teen, what he enjoys about Twitch, his favourite streamers and more.

Tell us about your love of video games. When did you start playing, and what are some of the earliest games you remember playing?
It was on the first Nintendo, I enjoyed playing with my dad. Then one Christmas I got the Super Nintendo and started to play a lot of Dragon Ball Z. Then in a tournament in Paris, I think I was 13, the winner would get the PlayStation 1. You had to win it. It was a big goal for me, and then I won it and I started to be a fan of the PlayStation. I played Final Fantasy, and then it kept escalating with computers and everything.

What are you playing at the moment?
I play quite a lot of games. I play FIFA, Warzone, 2K, World Tour Tennis, Mario Tennis. I want to start playing World of Warcraft. I play Naruto. I play every game. I won’t say I have one game especially, but different genres, different types of games.

It is quite funny playing [Mario Tennis]. I think people love it. You get superpowers. I really like when you can hit some big smashes, you have a target.

Watch Gael Takes A Monfils Quiz:

What is your home setup like?
I have got three screens, a big tower, a stream deck, the lights, the Elgato to stream from the TV, the Xbox and the computer. That’s pretty much everything.

What do you take with you on the road? What are the challenges of travelling and transporting everything?
I bring my computer because I play a lot of Magic: The Gathering. I play a lot of that, so I just bring my computer. Sometimes I bring my PlayStation but most of the time I bring my computer. That’s enough to play all the games I like. I just put it in the backpack.

Which ATP Tour players do you play video games with? What do you guys play?
I play with quite a lot. We like to share some moments together, especially the ones you get along with quite well. We play quite a lot together. A lot of players are good, I won’t give names.

How did you get into Twitch?
For a long time, I have been a fan of Twitch and been looking up some streamers. During lockdown, I thought it would be a good time for me to step onto the platform and try myself. I have just been a big fan of gamers on Twitch.

I started to really like the community and the exchange, and I saw that it could be maybe more than just the gaming, so I really like the platform for that. During the lockdown I was Twitching a lot, but I was doing some more hobbies and am a big fan of watches… it was another hobby among my hobbies.

Who are some of your favorite Twitch streamers/content creators?
They are French. One is Domingo and [the other is] Ponce. Those are two guys I really like to watch.

You also used Twitch in some other ways. How much fun was all that for you?
What you can do on the platform is stream some practices, and definitely having a show during the [Nitto ATP] Finals was a very good experience. That you could handle a show and have a good exchange with the community was a great experience.

As a tennis player, you’re now considered a ‘traditional sports’ athlete. What are your thoughts on the massive rise of esports/esports athletes?
It is very good, because I think sometimes people don’t see how hard it is for the esports athletes to be on the top of the game. It requires a lot of practice and a lot of hard work, and some people think it is just video games. But it is not. I would like to see it a little bit from the inside, and I really hope people will get it. It’s definitely hard work. Esports are a big thing.

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