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Britain beat Moldova to keep ATP Cup hopes alive

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2020

Great Britain gave themselves the chance of reaching the ATP Cup quarter-finals by sweeping aside Moldova in their final group tie in Sydney.

Knowing defeat would mean elimination, Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans won their singles against Alexander Cozbinov and Radu Albot to clinch victory.

Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury sealed a 3-0 win with a 6-2 6-2 success over Albot and Cozbinov in the doubles.

Britain will qualify if Belgium beat Bulgaria 2-1 later on Tuesday.

If Bulgaria beat Belgium – by any score – they will progress as Group C winners with three victories from three ties, including a 2-1 triumph over Britain in Friday’s opener.

That would leave Britain finishing second, although they could still progress as one of the two best runners-up – depending on other results.

The ATP Cup is a new 24-nation knockout tournament that has been set up by the men’s professional tour to kick off the 2020 season.

It features six groups of four teams, who each play three round-robin ties in an event played in three Australian cities – Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

The six group winners, plus the best two runners-up, will progress to the quarter-finals.

After losing to Bulgaria, Britain recovered to beat Belgium on Sunday and give themselves hope of progressing.

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Serena Williams starts 2020 WTA season with win at Auckland Classic

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2020

Serena Williams started her fourth decade on the WTA Tour with a straight-set victory over Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi at the Auckland Classic.

The 38-year-old American, playing for the first time since losing in September’s US Open final, won 6-3 6-2.

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki started her final season with a 6-1 6-0 win over Paige Mary Hourigan.

At the Brisbane International, world number four Naomi Osaka beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari in three sets.

That extended the 22-year-old Japanese’s winning streak to a 12th match, having not lost since her US Open last-16 defeat by Belinda Bencic.

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Struff Dismisses Felix, Puts Germany On Top Of Crucial Tie

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2020

Struff Dismisses Felix, Puts Germany On Top Of Crucial Tie

Both teams looking to squeeze into Final Eight

Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff continued his impressive start to the 2020 ATP Tour season and put Germany ahead of Canada in a vital ATP Cup tie on Tuesday in Brisbane.

The 29-year-old swept #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-4, needing only 75 minutes to improve to 2-1 on the season. Struff hit six aces and faced only one break point, which he saved, despite landing a little more than half of his first serves. The 6’6” German won 73 per cent of his second-serve points.

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After the match, he added his name to the list of players who have pledged support for the Australian bushfire relief efforts. Struff said he will donate $2,000 to the cause.

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Germany’s Alexander Zverev will look to win his first match of the season and clinch the tie next against Denis Shapovalov. Both teams are looking to boost their record and hopefully qualify for the Final Eight as a second-placed team.

All six ATP Cup group winners, in addition to the two best second-place teams, will compete in Sydney starting Thursday.

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ATP Cup: Final Eight Qualification Scenarios

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2020

ATP Cup: Final Eight Qualification Scenarios

Discover the scenarios for which countries can advance to Sydney

Following the conclusion of Day 4 at the inaugural ATP Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, Australia and Serbia have secured their spots for the Final Eight.

Day 5

Group C qualification scenarios after the completion of the second round of ties of the event’s group stages:
Regardless of score if Belgium defeats Bulgaria and Moldova defeats Great Britain, Belgium wins the group.
Regardless of score if Bulgaria defeats Belgium, Bulgaria wins the group.
If Belgium defeats Bulgaria 2-1 and Great Britain defeats Moldova 2-1, Belgium wins the group.
If Belgium defeats Bulgaria 2-1 and Great Britain defeats Moldova 3-0, Great Britain wins the group.
If Belgium defeats Bulgaria 3-0 and Great Britain defeats Moldova, Belgium wins the group.

Group D qualification scenarios after the completion of the second round of ties of the event’s group stages:
Regardless of score if Russia defeats Norway, Russia wins the group.
Regardless of score if Norway defeats Russia and USA defeats Italy, Norway wins the group.
If Norway defeats Russia 2-1 and Italy defeats USA, Russia wins the group.
If Norway defeats Russia 3-0 and Italy defeats USA, Norway wins the group.

Group F qualification scenarios after the completion of the second round of ties of the event’s group stages:
Australia has qualified for the Final Eight as Group F winners
Australia will play its quarter-final in the Day Session, Thursday 9 January against the winner of Group C.


Day 6

Group A qualification scenarios after the completion of the second round of ties of the event’s group stages:

Serbia has qualified for the Final Eight as Group A winners

Serbia will play its quarter-final in the Day Session, Friday 10 January against the eighth team to qualify.

Group B qualification scenarios after the completion of the second round of ties of the event’s group stages:

The winner of the tie between Spain and Japan will win Group B.

Group E qualification scenarios after the completion of the second round of ties of the event’s group stages:

Regardless of score if Croatia defeats Argentina, Croatia wins the group.

Regardless of score if Argentina defeats Croatia and Poland defeats Austria, Argentina wins the group.

If Argentina defeats Croatia 2-1 and Austria defeats Poland 2-1, Croatia wins the group.
If Argentina defeats Croatia 2-1 and Austria defeats Poland 3-0, Croatia wins the group.
If Argentina defeats Croatia 3-0 and Austria defeats Poland 2-1, Group winner will be decided by Sets Win-Loss %.
If Argentina defeats Croatia 3-0 and Austria defeats Poland 3-0, Austria wins the group.

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Edmund's 2020 season begins with defeat in Qatar

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2020

British number three Kyle Edmund was beaten by Filip Krajinovic in his first match of 2020 at the Qatar Open.

Edmund, 24, won the first set but fell to a 6-4 3-6 3-6 defeat by the Serb – the world number 40.

The Briton, who also led by a break early in the decider, had a disappointing 2019 season which saw him slip down the rankings to his current position of 69.

Sixth seed Krajinovic will play Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the last 16.

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Djokovic Loses Point After Video Review

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2020

Djokovic Loses Point After Video Review

Serbia clinched Final Eight spot on Day 4

There have been many notable moments in the career of Novak Djokovic, but the Serbian can add two more to his list following Team Serbia’s dramatic 2-1 victory against Team France at the ATP Cup.

Firstly, the Serbian’s 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-3 doubles victory alongside Viktor Troicki earned his country a spot at the Final Eight in Sydney. But Djokovic will also remember the match for a different reason, after losing a point for the first time in his career by Video Review.

With Troicki serving at 6-3, 2-3, (30/30), Djokovic dismissed Nicolas Mahut’s return with a forehand volley to earn game point. But Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin were convinced the Serbian had touched the ball before it had travelled across the net.

“It seemed to me, at first, that it was kind of just in the middle. Not our side. Not their side,” said Djokovic. “But then, the chair umpire, after repeating the video a couple of times, he was right.”

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The situation reminded Djokovic of the moment he fell into the net while hitting another forehand volley during the fifth set of his 2013 Roland Garros semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal.

“I already lost a very important point in my career against Nadal in a similar way like that in the semi-finals at Roland Garros,” said Djokovic. “So I had a little bit of a déjà vu there and got frustrated because of that.”

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But the frustration of a game point becoming a break point did not affect the 77-time tour-level titlist. Djokovic and Troicki recovered from the position to hold serve, delighting much of the pro-Serbia crowd inside Pat Rafter Arena.

“It is what it is. We bounced back, won the next two points,” said Djokovic. “That got myself, I think Viktor and the crowd a little bit hyped up. I think after that the energy of the crowd was amazing. Also, the French team were lifting their team up and it was a big battle.”

Serbia will face Chile in its final group stage tie on Day 6 before travelling to Sydney for the Final Eight. The Group A winners will face the eighth team to qualify for the Final Eight in the day session on 10 January.

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Bublik Earns Doha Debut Win

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2020

Bublik Earns Doha Debut Win

Verdasco, Moutet also through in straight sets

Alexander Bublik marked his Qatar ExxonMobil Open debut with a notable victory on Monday, defeating seventh seed Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the second round.

The 22-year-old landed 10 aces and broke Mannarino on three occasions at the 2019 ATP 250 Tournament of the Year. Bublik enters the 2020 ATP Tour season after a breakout campaign last year, highlighted by runner-up finishes at the Hall of Fame Open and the Chengdu Open.

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The Kazakh will face Aljaz Bedene for a spot in the quarter-finals, following the Slovenian’s 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback win against 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Mikael Ymer.

Fernando Verdasco needed 89 minutes to book his place in the second round, battling past fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-3. The 2017 semi-finalist will meet sixth seed Filip Krajinovic or Kyle Edmund in the second round.

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“I’m happy with the way that I played,” said Verdasco. “I still think that I can play a little bit better… But in general, I’m happy with the way that I played the whole match.”

Corentin Moutet also started his 2020 ATP Tour season with a win, saving each of the seven break points he faced to move past Tennys Sandgren 7-6(3), 6-4. Moutet advances to a second-round clash against fourth seed Milos Raonic.

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Australian Open: Air quality being monitored – organisers

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2020

Australian Open matches could be suspended if air quality is too bad, organisers said after Melbourne reached “very unhealthy” levels amid bushfires.

Fires in Australia have killed at least 24 people since September and millions of hectares of land have been scorched.

“Assessing the likelihood of smoke-induced interruptions is a bit like how we treat heat and rain,” tournament director Craig Tiley said.

“The health of players, fans and staff is a priority at all times.”

Visibility in Melbourne, which hosts the opening Grand Slam of the year this month, is less than 1km (0.62 miles) in some parts of the city and surrounding areas, according to Victoria’s Bureau of Meteorology.

The air quality index in the city reached 213 on Monday, with a reading above 200 considered “very unhealthy”.

Qualifying for the Australian Open begins on Tuesday, 14 January, with the main draw starting on 20 January.

“We have experts who analyse all available live data as specific to our sites as possible and consult regularly with tournament officials and, in the case of heat and smoke, medical experts,” Tiley added.

“We have access to real-time monitoring of air quality at all of our venues and are working closely with medical personnel and local experts onsite to ensure we have the best possible information available to make any decisions regarding whether play should be halted at any point.”

There have been no smoke-related interruptions so far at the ATP Cup, which is taking place in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, but this week’s Canberra challenger event was relocated more than 450km away to Bendigo and some football and basketball matches have been cancelled.

Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty have been among the tennis players who have pledged financial support to the relief fund.

Australian Open organisers also announced plans to raise money, including staging an “AO Rally for Relief” with a group of leading players and a music event.

“The inordinate loss of people, wildlife, stock, homes, schools and businesses is going to require an extraordinarily widespread effort to get these families and communities back on their feet,” Tiley said. “Our aim is for tennis to play a significant role where we can to help that recovery.”

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Stay Or Go? Djokovic, Nadal Balance Competing Roles At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2020

Stay Or Go? Djokovic, Nadal Balance Competing Roles At ATP Cup

Top singles players want to support their teammates but also prepare themselves

Novak Djokovic was still a couple hours away from playing at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, but already the Serbian was showing his emotions for his country.

Midway through the first set of Serbian Dusan Lajovic’s match against Lloyd Harris of South Africa, Lajovic had a chance for a break point but missed a forehand approach. Djokovic slapped his leg and leaned back in Serbia’s Team Zone.

By now, the 32-year-old knows well how to manage his emotions and balance his competing roles at the inaugural 24-team event, which is playing played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney and moves exclusively to Sydney on Thursday for the Final Eight.

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Djokovic and other No. 1 singles players play the second match of their ATP Cup tie, meaning their pre-match routine can – and often does – include supporting their teammate, the country’s No. 2 singles player, who plays before them.

But it takes some thinking, as Djokovic acknowledged, to make sure you’re supporting your teammates while sticking to your own pre-match routine and not getting too emotionally involved as a supporter.

It’s kind of a balance between the two, really. Because it’s a team competition, you’re always kind of finding that additional energy and strength and motivation that is probably always different in individual tournaments, because it’s all about you,” Djokovic said. “And here it’s, even though there’s that factor of individual and elements of an individual tournament, it’s still a team competition.”

The World No. 2 stayed through 12 games of Lajovic’s match against Harris before heading to the locker room to warm up. His opponent that night, Kevin Anderson, followed the same routine, offering a fist pump and encouraging words to Harris before exiting the court in Pat Rafter Arena.

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The South African has years of team tennis experience, having played collegiate tennis at the University of Illinois in the U.S. and on Team World at the 2018 Laver Cup in Chicago.

I just find that balance pretty comfortably… that balance of getting out there and being excited, but obviously realising that you still have to play afterwards,” Anderson said.

At the end of the day, yelling at the top of my lungs is not going to maybe help Lloyd too much. It’s just being there, being supportive. I think just more time and days before the match is probably more valuable than, arguably more valuable, than just being out there.”

Although both Djokovic and Anderson watched much of the first singles match, others have different strategies that have worked for them throughout the years. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, for instance, watched only three games of Roberto Bautista Agut’s singles match on Saturday before leaving to prepare for his debut at the ATP Cup in Perth.

I am old in these situations. A lot of experience… We know how to manage the situation,” Nadal said. “If things are not going well, it’s not because we lose energy in moments we should not.”

Croatia’s top singles players want to be so locked in they watch even fewer than three games with their teammates in the Croatia Team Zone by the baseline.

Borna Coric watched none of Marin Cilic’s match, and vice versa, and why change something that works: Croatia is 2-0 in Sydney.

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“If I’m playing first, he’s not there, and I know it and I’m OK with it. And also he knows that I’m not going to be on his match, obviously,” said Coric, who overcame Cilic as the country’s No. 1 singles player last year.

Cilic, however, came after his match to support Coric and watch the 23-year-old face Austria’s No. 1 Dominic Thiem. Coric pulled off the upset against the World No. 4 for his first Top 10 win in more than a year (0-3 in 2019).

“It was really nice for him that he came to my match afterwards, because his support means a lot to me,” Coric said of Cilic. “He’s older, and still, even though if he’s the No. 2 at the moment, I feel like he’s our leader. So it did mean a lot that also he came. Obviously he was playing a very long match, but that just shows his character.”

Djokovic and other No. 1 singles players also make it a point to support their countrymen who are playing doubles and finishing up the tie, but Djokovic’s movements during the first singles match aren’t always as methodical as they may seem.

For instance, if Lajovic would have gone to a third-set tie-break with Harris, Djokovic would have trotted back on court and stood alongside his teammates to root for his countryman.

“You care, you’re passionate, you want to be out there for your teammate,” he said.

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Novak Notches Notable Upset In Sydney

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2020

Novak Notches Notable Upset In Sydney

Austrian gives countryman Thiem a chance to close out the tie

Dennis Novak earned one of the biggest wins of his career on Monday at the ATP Cup in Sydney, upsetting World No. 25 Guido Pella 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 14 minutes to give Austria a 1-0 lead over Argentina.

The World No. 105 pushed former World No. 3 Marin Cilic to three sets on Saturday, leading the Croat to say that Novak was playing at a “great level”. The Austrian maintained that against Pella, holding all 10 of his service games across the final two sets to stun the lefty.

“I felt not really good in the beginning. It was a huge difference [from] two days ago, the conditions.
I mean, the first set looks quite easy for him,” Novak said. “After the first set I went to a toilet break with Thomas, and I came out and changed a little bit my game and fought back in the game. I think at the end I played really good tennis.”

Novak admitted that Austria’s captain, former World No. 1 Thomas Muster, gave him a “rough speech”. But it was clearly productive, with Novak storming back against Pella.

“He just told me to start moving better, hitting the ball, going for it, not waiting for him to miss,” Novak said. “That’s what I changed. I think I stepped in the court, and I played some really good shots.”

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This is Novak’s second-biggest victory by FedEx ATP Ranking, having defeated then-World No. 19 Lucas Pouille in five sets at Wimbledon two years ago. It is Novak’s 14th tour-level victory.

After the first set, it appeared that victory would be difficult. Novak won only 39 per cent of his service points in the opening set, getting broken three times, while winning only three return points. But Novak did not shy away from the occasion, going after his shots to give countryman and longtime friend Dominic Thiem an opportunity to close out the tie against Diego Schwartzman.

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