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Schwartzman: ‘I Think I’m Basically Still The Same’

  • Posted: Jan 19, 2021

Diego Schwartzman has just enjoyed his best season on the ATP Tour. During his 2020 campaign, he recorded a win over Rafael Nadal, reached the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final and the Roland Garros semi-finals, broke into the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals… all of which he achieved for the first time in his career. But the Argentine is not one to rest on his laurels and so he now has some new goals.

“I broke through a barrier [beating Nadal]. Now I can retire saying that I beat him,” said Schwartzman, current World No. 9, in an extensive interview with Argentina’s La Nacion Magazine. “Now my outstanding goals are to beat Roger [Federer] once, ‘Nole’ once and then to win more titles.”

While coveting victory over the members of the Big 3, he does not hide his admiration for them. “I would take all of their shots. They make up the ideal player. I have had some very good years, 2020 was the best and you ask yourself, ‘How is it possible that these guys have been having seasons thousands of times better than mine since they were 18 and they repeat it every year?’”

Inspired by the consistency of the Big 3, ‘El Peque’ will be bidding in 2021 to maintain the standard of his last season. But just as important to him as fighting to improve is keeping his feet on the ground. “[In tennis], more than selfishness, there’s solitude,” Schwartzman explained. “I have changed my personality a little through being alone. But I think basically I’m still the same. If I ever change, I hope the people around me tell me so.”

Remembering his roots and being mindful of the sacrifices he has made have helped the Argentine to remain the same. His path to the top of the ATP Tour, overcoming countless obstacles as well as the economic struggles of his family, also provided a talking point, both with ‘El Peque’ and with his father Ricardo, who remembered the day when he had to sell a Ford Taunus 2.3 to pay for Diego’s trip to a youth tournament in Cordoba.

“As a boy I never realised how little my family had,” Diego remembered. “It would have affected me much more or maybe I even would have stopped playing. Being more aware, I would have thought ‘What is all this they’re doing for me? Are they crazy?’”

Schwartzman spoke about his past, but also his future. He even touched upon his dreams once he retires from the game. “I’d like to be involved in politics to help make sport more federal in Argentina and for the provinces to have better representation.” He also admitted his greatest fears. The 28-year-old right-hander used to be scared of spiders and the dark, but now he is scared of death. He also revealed that he still cries today over the passing of football legend, friend and mentor Diego Maradona, whom he was named after.

“When I finished a big match or, above all, a bad one, I would receive an audio message from him. He sent me a lot in the finals I lost. He would say, ‘Penalties are missed by the person who takes them. Finals are lost by those that have the courage to get there and play them.’ When I lost to Nadal at Roland Garros in 2018, he said, ‘Copy everything you can from the best, but never imitate them. Everyone is unique’. He was unique.”

It seems that Diego, increasingly standing out as one of the most genuine players on Tour, has followed the advice of one of his idols to the letter.

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Medvedev: 'When You Are Down, You Need To Get Up Fast'

  • Posted: Jan 19, 2021

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev finished 2020 as the hottest player on the ATP Tour, but that doesn’t mean the World No. 4 didn’t go through adversity last season.

“I for sure have some problems sometimes, especially when I’m not playing good,” Medvedev said. “I can lose my temper sometimes. I didn’t have one final… and it gets into your mind.”

The Russian won his first four matches at the inaugural ATP Cup and reached the US Open semi-finals, but he entered his final two tournaments of the year with an 18-10 record and no championship match appearances. The 24-year-old’s signature is frustrating his opponents. But as 2020 wore on, it seemed the Russian was mostly frustrating himself with his play.

Medvedev’s impenetrable wall of defence was showing holes, and the effects his unorthodox game had on opponents were not as noticeable as usual. Players slowly began to find their rhythm against the Russian as he lost his.

“Tennis is not an easy sport. It’s tough to explain some things that are happening… When you are down, you need to find the best way to get up fast,” Medvedev said. “I just wanted to show that I’m capable of playing good tennis and beating good guys.”

Medvedev arrived at the Rolex Paris Masters with a 1-3 record at the tournament and departed with his third ATP Masters 1000 title. That gave the Moscow native momentum heading into the Nitto ATP Finals, where he went 0-3 in 2019. Medvedev played some of the smartest and most resilient tennis of his career to become the first player to defeat the top three players in the FedEx ATP Rankings in a single edition of the season finale.

“It’s been an amazing two weeks,” Medvedev said the morning after his London triumph. “Especially [considering] the results I was showing before.”

The fourth seed was impressive in round-robin play, winning all three of his matches in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-3 triumph against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. But that mattered little in the semi-finals when Rafael Nadal served for a 6-3, 6-4 win against the Russian.

“For sure when Rafa is serving for the match, some part of my mind was already thinking, ‘Okay, well in a few minutes I’m going to be out of this court. That’s such a pity. I was in such great shape,’” Medvedev admitted. “I felt like I was not playing worse than him, at least. I had a break up in the second set. I knew it was my last chance, so I had to give it all. I knew that he would be a little bit tight like any other player who is serving for the match.

“I managed to make some good returns, one winner and we were back at 5-all. The pressure was on him, because he had the chance to close out the match. That’s just a small example of things coming through your brain, which makes you focussed on the goal.”

Medvedev rallied for a stunning 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory against Nadal, and then beat reigning US Open champion Dominic Thiem in three sets in the final. Just weeks after being down on himself, Medvedev crafted one of the most memorable runs in Nitto ATP Finals history.

Normally, you’d expect the champion to let out a roar or even fall to the court in disbelief. Medvedev shrugged towards his coach, took the ball out of his left pocket, tapped it away and then shrugged again.

“Last year I just decided that it’s going to be my trademark. A lot of people like it, some people not, but that’s how I feel it,” Medvedev said. “When you win big titles or big matches against big opponents and you don’t celebrate, you actually have the opportunity to look around yourself and feel all the energy that’s going around.

“As an artist, as a tennis player, you can feel it all if you think about it.”

Medvedev called himself an artist, even if he isn’t the most orthodox one. He began to use more brushes to create his masterpieces, playing aggressively and taking the action to some of the best players in the world during his end-of-season surge.

“If I need to be defensive, I will stay defensive. But usually against the Top 10 players it will not work to only be defensive, so you have to change up your tactics,” Medvedev said. “Of course when I’m feeling good, I still like to hit the ball strong, especially with my forehand. I had more winners than my opponent in almost every match I played [in London], which is great. I am happy that the small things we worked on with my coach in practice worked out and showed on the big stage like this.”

Through the ups and the downs, Medvedev stayed the course in 2020. As he gets set to begin the new season, the 24-year-old will not rest on his laurels.

“We are trying to work every day to make me a better tennis player.”

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Berrettini: When You Are In The Draw, They Are Looking At You

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Two years ago, Matteo Berrettini started the 2019 ATP Tour season at No. 54 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Italian, who had yet to crack the Top 50, was aiming to add to his title collection after picking up his maiden ATP Tour trophies in singles and doubles at the Swiss Open Gstaad in 2018.

Not only did the Italian manage to add to his trophy cabinet, he also produced one of the most unlikely runs to Nitto ATP Finals qualification in tournament history. Berrettini collected two ATP Tour titles and reached the semi-finals or better at eight tour-level events, including the US Open, to qualify for the elite eight-man event for the first time.

Understandably, the 6’5” right-hander’s rapid 2019 ascent took some time to process. To put it simply, Berrettini had gone from being a hunter to the hunted.

“[In 2018, I started the season at] No. 135 so it is definitely different. You feel that when you are in the draw, they are looking at you like, ‘Okay, this guy is a seed so I want to beat him even more’. It definitely changed, but it is what you have to take,” said Berrettini. “There are pros and cons and I think you have to get used to it. Once you play tournaments and matches, you are going to be able to get used to it and to get better at it.”

Due to a hernia/groin injury and the suspension of the ATP Tour due to COVID-19 last year, Berrettini was limited to just six tournament appearances in 2020. But while he was unable to carry his momentum into 2020, the extra time on the sidelines gave the Rome-born star an opportunity to reflect on achieving one of his career goals and set his objectives for the future.

“Once you get [to the Top 10], you cannot say, ‘Okay, I am going to be happy if I am Top 20’… Obviously, it is not bad at all,” said Berrettini. “When I was younger and I was thinking about myself being Top 20, I was like, ‘Okay, it could be a nice goal for my career’. I was Top 8 and obviously I am chasing to be even better, but I got there without thinking about it. It is in my head, but I have to work every day and hopefully I can improve my best ranking.”

Berrettini is not the only Italian with ambitious plans on the ATP Tour. Alongside France, Italy is one of only two countries to have four players inside the Top 40.

The rise of Italian tennis has given the three-time ATP Tour titlist a great sense of pride and it has also served as a motivational tool. Berrettini can rely on the support of his fellow Top 40 countrymen Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego and Jannik Sinner throughout the season at ATP Tour events.

”It is something that we should be really proud of. All the players are really nice guys and there are others coming,” said Berrettini. “It is a really healthy environment for tennis in Italy… The guys are great, Lorenzo [Songeo], Jannik [Sinner], Fabio [Fognini] and also the other guys. We have fun when we practise together. We are helping each other to reach our goals and I think this is something really healthy and really great for tennis.”

There is also an added incentive for Italian players to perform to their best level in 2021, following the relocation of the Nitto ATP Finals to Turin. Berrettini will be aiming to make his second appearance at the season finale in three years. The Italian also attended last year’s event as the first alternate.

”It would be great to be there. It is in Italy, Turin is a great city and I think it is going to be a great, great event,” said Berrettini. “London was unbelievable, it was really nice and it has been a nice way to finish the year. I remember all my team and all my family was there, a lot of people came and it was nice. It would be nice to be there in Turin too but I think you have to go step-by-step. At the beginning of 2019, I didn’t think about that, so I think I have to think tournament-by-tournament.”

The Antalya quarter-finalist will make his second appearance of the season at the ATP Cup in February, where he will lead Team Italy for the first time. With the support of teammates Fognini, Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori, the innovative team event could prove to be the perfect springboard for a successful 2021 campaign for Berrettini.

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Felix Announces Return Of #FAAPointsForChange In 2021

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Since the start of the 2019 ATP Tour season, Felix Auger-Aliassime has reached six ATP Tour finals, won 56 tour-level matches and climbed more than 80 positions in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But perhaps the most important statistic for the #NextGenATP Canadian is the 4,909 points he has won along the way.

At the beginning of the 2020 ATP Tour season, the Montreal-born star announced he would donate $5 for every point he won in 2019 and 2020 to EduChange, who partnered with humanitarian organisation CARE to support the protection and education of children from his father’s home country: Togo. Earlier this month, Auger-Aliassime took to Twitter to reveal that he would continue the project in 2021.

“I would like to give this opportunity to as many kids as I can so that they have a chance to go to school, to play sports,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It’s the basics for me, and I would like for this to be global. I wanted Togo to be the first place where I can inject support and energy.”

The #FAAPointsForChange campaign will continue to receive support from BNP Paribas, who have donated $15 for every point won by Auger-Aliassime so far. With a total of $20 raised for each of the 4,909 points the Canadian has won since 2019, the initiative has raised almost $100,000 for children in Togo.

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Hurkacz Returns To Top 30, Mover Of The Week

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

No. 29 Hubert Hurkacz, +6
The Pole started the 2021 ATP Tour season in fine form by capturing his second ATP Tour trophy last week at the Delray Beach Open by He beat first-time finalist Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3 in the final and returns to the Top 30 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time since the week beginning 24 August 2020. The 23-year-old Hurkacz is one spot off his career-high of No. 28, which he attained on 3 February 2020. Read More & Watch Delray Beach Final Highlights

View Latest FedEx ATP Rankings

No. 45 Alexander Bublik, +4 (Career High)
The Kazakhstani has risen to a career-high No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings after contesting the third ATP Tour final of his career at the Antalya Open (l. to De Minaur). The 23-year-old beat World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini 7-6(6), 6-4 for his second Top 10 win in the quarter-finals and followed it up with a semi-final victory over Jeremy Chardy.

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 14 David Goffin, +2
No. 51 Sam Querrey, +5
No. 66 Jeremy Chardy, +6
No 67 Cameron Norrie, +7
No. 95 Gianluca Mager, +6

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Nadal Hits 800 Straight Weeks In Top 10

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2021

Eight hundred consecutive weeks. That’s how long Rafael Nadal has been living inside the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. His run has spanned more than 15 years and counting: 5,600 days. 134,400 hours. The Mallorcan’s streak has already lasted longer than the Napoleonic Wars or World War I, World War II, and the American Civil War combined. By the time he’s done, look out Thirty Years’ War.

Nadal broke Jimmy Connors’ mark of 789 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 in November and shows no signs of relinquishing a perch that’s become so familiar, he could almost be charged rent for the space. The last time there were two digits higher than 10 next the man’s name in the rankings, Facebook was a year old, Twitter and Instagram hadn’t been invented, no one had ever heard of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber was a tween busking for coins on the streets of Stratford, Ontario.


Nadal first broke into the Top 10 in April 2005 at the age of 18, a month before capturing his first Roland Garros title. For much of the next 15 years he was No. 1 or No. 2, though there were a few close calls, particularly when he was injured, when he nearly dropped out of the Top 10. For example, in the summer of 2015 he lived dangerously at No. 10 but slid no further south, and in the winter of 2016-17, he dipped to No. 9 but was No. 1 by the end of the year. When he needed to, he got medieval on rivals who threatened his own personal safe space: the Top 10.

Whenever his ranking has suffered, he’s elevated his game. Nadal once said that doubting himself was an important part of his success. “I think it’s good for me (having doubts) because then I feel alert,” he told Jon Wertheim of the television program 60 Minutes in July. “Because tennis is a sport where things can change very quickly.” He’s been in the Top 10 for what seems like forever, but his conviction that things can change quickly is the ethos that will likely keep him there for years to come.

Naturally, any discussion of records involving a member of the Big Three begs the question: Where does Rafa stand relative to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer? Roger’s right behind Connors in the record books for his 734-consecutive-week run in the Top 10 from October 2002-October 2016. It was his right knee, and not the competition, that knocked him down to a shocking — for him — No. 17 in the rankings that winter.

Djokovic had a decade-long run in the Top 10, from 2007-2017 that was disrupted by an elbow injury. He re-entered the Top 10 in July 2018 and has been there since. This means that he’d need to stay there until 2033, when he’ll be 46, to approach Nadal’s record. How about Fed? He muscled his way back into the Top 10 in January 2017, so he could get there a year sooner, when he’ll be 51. One never likes to count out the likes of Federer and Nole, but sorry gents, this is one record they will not break.

What’s the next rankings target for Rafa? Federer has spent the most weeks overall in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings with 931 weeks, followed by Connors (816), and then Nadal (800). Djokovic is currently in sixth place at 656 weeks.

Will Rafa hit 1,000 consecutive weeks, which is more than 19 years? The Spaniard could hit that target at the end of 2024, when he’ll be 37. It’s certainly possible. Cats ran on Broadway for 18 years and Nadal’s a much better show than that ever was.

When asked at the Rolex Paris Masters last year how he’s managed to stay on or near the top for so long, Nadal was characteristically thoughtful and humble.

“I’ve faced issues in terms of injuries during different parts of my career,” he said. “But I always hold the passion and the love to keep doing what I do, which is to play tennis. So I’m proud that even after achieving a lot of things, that in some moments I’ve been able to keep being hungry, to keep going, and to be humble enough to accept the challenges, accept that in some moments things were not going the way that I expected. I’ve always had great help from the people around me. Without them, this would be impossible.”

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