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Recently Retired Stars Honoured At Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 18, 2022

Recently Retired Stars Honoured At Nitto ATP Finals

11 players attended ceremony in Turin

With the 2022 season reaching its climax this week at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, the ATP Tour took the opportunity to honour some of its recently retired stars with a special ceremony on Friday at the prestigious season finale.

Those whose stellar achievements were recognised included former Top 10 French stars Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon. The 14-time tour-level titlist Simon played his last professional tournament in November at the Rolex Paris Masters, and he was pleased to be in attendance on an emotional night in Italy.

“It’s an honour to be here,” Simon told ATPTour.com. “I have been part of this Tour for more than 20 years now. I had the chance to play the Masters (now the Nitto ATP Finals). It was not here but in Shanghai [in 2008]. I had the chance to play this fantastic event once in my life and I’m really happy to come and have this ceremony here. It’s really a great feeling.”

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Joining Tsonga and Simon on court was another former Top 10 player, Tommy Robredo. The Spaniard won 12 tour-level titles and reached a career-high No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2006.

“It’s a pleasure,” said Robredo, when asked about the ceremony. “When they sent me an email telling me that they wanted to invite me here to celebrate my retirement, it was a pleasure to realise that they still remember me.

“Being here with the players that retired this year and also being in the best place for the tennis world, the [Nitto ATP Finals], for a small recognition, it’s something amazing and I really want to thank the people for doing this.”

Eight-time ATP Tour champion Philipp Kohlschreiber was happy to make an exception to his post-retirement break from tennis to participate in the ceremony, during which the players were greeted by ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.

“When I first got the email from our [Chairman] that I was invited, of course I said ‘Wow’,” said Kohlschreiber. “My first thought was I don’t want to have to do anything with tennis this year, but I said it is a great honour to be here with the best players in our sport and also to be in such a big stadium and with this special atmosphere, to be part of the celebration. Also, to say thank you and goodbye, I think it’s just a great honour and I’m very happy that I am here today.”

Ukraine crisis relief

Also in attendance was four-time ATP Tour singles champion Sergiy Stakhovsky, who has taken up arms in Ukraine’s war effort and walked on court as the Pala Alpitour was lit up in his country’s national colours.

“It’s pretty special of course,” said Stakhovsky. “Gilles Simon and Tsonga, and [Robert] Lindstedt and [Horia] Tecau, and all these great doubles players, it’s a great bunch of individuals. We spent tonnes of time together on the Tour, playing against each other and competing, and spending time on the [ATP Player] Council with Gilles a lot. Of course, it’s great, it’s nice, but in my given circumstances I feel a little out of place here.”

World-class doubles stars who recently called time on their professional careers were also recognised at the Pala Alpitour. They included 38-time tour-level titlist Horia Tecau and 35-time tour-level doubles titlist Bruno Soares, as well as former World No. 5 and 2013 Nitto ATP Finals champion David Marrero, 23-time Tour titlist Robert Lindstedt, former Wimbledon men’s doubles champion Frederik Nielsen, and seven-time tour-level titlist Ken Skupski.

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Mektic/Pavic Defeat Kokkinakis/Kyrgios, Win Green Group With Perfect Record

  • Posted: Nov 18, 2022

Mektic/Pavic Defeat Kokkinakis/Kyrgios, Win Green Group With Perfect Record

Croatians win ensures Koolhof/Skupski advance

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic entered their final round-robin match on Friday with their semi-final spot already secured at the Nitto ATP Finals.

However, the Croatians still had a major role to play in the final Green Group standings, with their 7-6(4), 7-6(4) victory against Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios ensuring top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski joined the Croatians in the knockout stages.

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios held a 1-1 round-robin record heading into the clash, needing a win to reach the last four on debut in Turin. In a hard-fought clash, the Australians produced a strong serving performance, firing 17 aces and winning 90 per cent (46/51) of points behind their first delivery.

Mektic and Pavic are a tough team to crack, though, and they proved why during the 90-minute match, raising their level in both tie-breaks to finish the round-robin stage holding a perfect 3-0 record.

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The fourth seeds’ victory means Koolhof and Skupski have qualified for the semi-finals. The Dutch-British tandem defeated Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek earlier to finish Green Group play at 2-1.

In an entertaining clash at the Pala Alpitour, Mektic and Pavic were sharp around the net, acting as a brick wall as they soaked up the Australian’s powerful baseline hitting to earn their 50th tour-level win together this year.

Mektic and Pavic, who fell at the semi-final stage in Turin last year, will face Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara in the last four on Saturday. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury play Koolhof and Skupski in the other doubles semi-final.

The Croatians arrived in Turin seeking to become ATP Tour champions for the sixth time this year. They triumphed together at an ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, while they also lifted trophies in Geneva, at The Queen’s Club in London, in Eastbourne and Astana.

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‘Unreal’ Colosseum & No-Go Pizza Toppings: Rublev Talks Italy

  • Posted: Nov 18, 2022

‘Unreal’ Colosseum & No-Go Pizza Toppings: Rublev Talks Italy

Nitto ATP Finals competitor answers lightning-round questions on host nation

As he prepares to take on Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday for a semi-final spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, Andrey Rublev tells ATPTour.com his preferences when it comes to all things Italian.

Would you rather visit the Colosseum or climb Mount Vesuvius?
(Climb Mount Vesuvius), because I already visited the Colosseum. It’s super nice. Obviously, I would love to visit inside [the Colosseum], because it has a huge history and is something unreal, but I never visited something like [Mount Vesuvius] so I would love to visit.

Would you prefer to attend a Serie A football match or watch the historic Italian Grand Prix at Monza?
I have been to an Italian football match, but I have never been to Formula 1. Therefore, I would probably choose Formula 1.

The Godfather or The Italian Job?
The Godfather.

Espresso or Cappuccino?
Cappuccino.

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What is your favourite pizza topping?
A lot of them. There is not just one.

Is there a topping you won’t eat?
Maybe pineapple or tuna.

What is your favourite pasta dish?
I don’t know. Many, many different pastas.

Which Italian dish can you cook best?
Nothing. I don’t cook. I don’t know how to do it.

What first comes to mind when you think of Italy?
Food and history.

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Koolhof/Skupski Edge Dodig/Krajicek, Keep Turin SF Hopes Alive

  • Posted: Nov 18, 2022

Koolhof/Skupski Edge Dodig/Krajicek, Keep Turin SF Hopes Alive

Top seeds improve to 2-1 in Green Group

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski delivered a Match Tie-break masterclass on Friday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where the top seeds completed a 7-5, 4-6, 10-6 victory against Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek to boost their semi-final qualification hopes.

Both teams entered the contest with the possibility of progressing from Green Group, but it was the Dutch-British duo of Koolhof and Skupski that dominated the decider after two tight sets at the Pala Alpitour. It stormed to an 8/1 lead that proved unassailable, clinching a one-hour, 41-minute victory.

Despite Friday’s win, Koolhof and Skupski must wait to find out whether they have qualified for the semi-finals. Should Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios defeat the already-qualified Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in Friday’s night session in Turin, the Australian pair would go through at Koolhof and Skupski’s expense.

“We are going to watch the match,” Skupski said. “Maybe here or at the hotel. If Mektic and Pavic win, we will have a semi-final tomorrow and we will need to rest up. We will have our Croatian flags waving in our hotel room and hopefully they can do the job for us.”

It was Koolhof and Skupski’s second meeting with Dodig and Krajicek in the space of two weeks, after the pairs met in the championship match at the Rolex Paris Masters. Just as they had in France, it was Koolhof and Skupski who prevailed as they kept alive their chances of becoming the first top-seeded pair to triumph at the prestigious season finale since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in 2014.

“It was a tough one,” Koolhof said. “We played it like a final, treated it like a final. We are happy to win.”

Since teaming at the beginning of the 2022 season, Koolhof and Skupski have lifted seven tour-level titles together. Those include three ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Madrid, Montreal, and Paris.

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Tsitsipas, Rublev Square Off For Turin SF Spot

  • Posted: Nov 18, 2022

Tsitsipas, Rublev Square Off For Turin SF Spot

Djokovic bids to complete 3-0 Red Group campaign vs. Medvedev

The final day of round-robin play at the Nitto ATP Finals will see a winner-takes-all match in the singles Red Group, while three doubles teams vie for one remaining semi-final spot in the Green Group on Friday in Turin.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will meet for the 11th time to determine which man advances to the singles semi-finals alongside Novak Djokovic, who will seek to stay perfect on the week when he takes on Daniil Medvedev.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who have sealed their progress to the knockout rounds, face Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in evening doubles action after top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski take on Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek to begin the day’s play.

View Schedule | View Group Standings | View Qualification Scenarios

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[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [6] Andrey Rublev

Tsitsipas was on the verge of falling to 0-2 late in a high-quality match against Medvedev, after failing to convert on three match points in the second-set tie-break. But the Greek managed to battle back from 3-5 in the third, breaking as his opponent served for the match and ultimately claiming a hard-fought victory, 6-3, 6-7(11), 7-6(1), after two hours and 21 minutes.

As he did in his Cincinnati win against Medvedev, Tsitsipas succeeded in breaking down the former World No. 1’s defences by attacking the net. On Wednesday, he won 36 of 45 net points (80 per cent), often coming in behind his serve.

“I’m working day by day to introduce [serve and volleying] back into my game,” Tsitsipas said in a post-match press conference. “To have pretty much my opponent guessing a bit more, not get comfortable every single time.

“It has kind of been lost over the years in our sport. Not many players do that any more. I think it’s important to remain a big part of the game and to have more players play it on TV, in front of stadiums, big crowds. It’s a beautiful kind of transition from the serve to the net. It introduces so many things. It’s tennis modernised, but at the same time keeping its aggressive elements of the game.”

The serve-and-volley tactic may be Tsitsipas’ best method of getting on the attack against Rublev in this must-win match, with the winner through to the semis. While the Greek’s first two Turin opponents — Djokovic and Medvedev — were content to stay solid from the baseline, the explosive Rublev will be more eager to land the first punch in the rallies.

Tsitsipas leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 6-4, including a 2-0 mark this season with three-set wins in Madrid and Astana. Rublev’s most recent win came at last year in Turin.

“We’ve been playing good tennis,” Tsitsipas said of their rivalry, which began at the 2018 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, a tournament won by Tsitsipas one year before he lifted the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals trophy in his tournament debut. “We’ve had matches against each other in the past, long matches, shorter matches, all kinds of matches, pretty much all surfaces.”

The competitors match up well across the board, with no major advantages to be found in the INSIGHTS Shot Quality statistics, which factor in a variety of metrics to score stokes on a 10-point scale.

Shot Quality: Rublev vs. Tsitsipas

Rublev will hope to get back in the win column against Tsitsipas — and advance to the Turin semis for his first time in three appearances — by harnessing his improved mental game and finding his best level on the court. The 25-year-old identified his emotional control as a key in his opening Turin win against Medvedev, and he spoke further on the topic in his latest presser.

“A little bit of everything,” he said, explaining how he works on the mental aspect of his game. “Obviously off the court. Also typical situations in life when you are stressed or when you have some problems. Even try to face them calm in real life, because it happens every day. Someone crosses you with a car and you get frustration, you know? Try to face it, and it doesn’t matter, face it calm. Even those things can help you.

“Also obviously working more specifically with [my team]. Also on the court, to start to do it in practice. You can do it every day by yourself, plus doing videos and meditations, stuff like that. So there is plenty of things.”

[4] Daniil Medvedev vs. [7] Novak Djokovic (SER)

Although Medvedev cannot reach the semis, this promises to be a high-octane match with the fourth seed keen to finish his season on a high note and snap a seven-match losing streak against Top 10 opponents. He faces a tall task against the in-form Djokovic.

The Serbian has yet to drop a set or drop serve in the loaded Red Group, facing just one break point across his wins against Tsitsipas and Rublev. He called his 6-4, 6-1 victory against Rublev “one of the best matches I played this year”, pointing out the many free points he won on serve as a key.

Feeling fresher than ever at this stage of the season, owing to his limited schedule in 2022, Djokovic has made the perfect start in his bid to match Roger Federer’s record six titles at the Nitto ATP Finals. 

“The upside of not playing many tournaments is that you’re going to be fresher than when you’re playing a lot more, which is logical,” the Serbian said. “At the same time, it was a very unusual year for me in terms of my season. I missed some big tournaments, two out of four Slams.

“To be able to play as well I am playing in the past few months is something I’m very thankful for and I worked hard for because I had more time to train, to practise. I did spend quite a bit of time with my coach and with my team on the court, off the court, trying to perfect my game.”

The most recent meeting between Djokovic and Medvedev was shaping up to be one of the matches of the 2022 season, but Medvedev was forced to retire after the pair split sets in the Astana semi-finals. While their latest meeting will not have the drama of an elimination match, there is still a lot on the line — including 200 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points and $383,300 in prize money.

In this matchup of two of the game’s ultimate lockdown baseliners, Medvedev will be seeking his first win against Djokovic since the 2021 US Open final as he bids to improve upon his 4-7 record in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. He is also hoping to snap that seven-match losing streak against Top 10 opposition, which dates back to his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.

“It means I was not good enough, and I have to be better,” Medvedev said of the streak. “Mentally, I don’t care if I play a Top 10 [opponent] or not. But tennis-wise it’s tougher to play a Top 10 player. That means I have to play better tennis against these guys. That’s what I’m going to try to do next time because there is no other choice.”

Doubles Action

The 2-0 record of Mektic/Pavic guarantees them a place in the semi-finals, but their position atop the Green Group will be on the line Friday against Kokkinakis and Kyrgios. Both teams enter the contest on the back of a win, with the Aussies edging Dodig/Krajicek in a Match Tie-break on Day 4 to earn their first win in their Nitto ATP Finals debut.

Dodig/Krajicek are still in the hunt for the knockout rounds despite their 0-2 record, though they will need a win from Mektic/Pavic in addition to one of their own to stand a chance of progressing. The Croatian-American pair takes on Koolhof/Skupski, who were honoured as ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by Pepperstone on Thursday at the Pala Alpitour.

“It’s incredible,” Skupski said of the achievement. “We only came together in January. One of our goals was just to make the Nitto ATP Finals. We’ve come in and won seven titles this year and come in as the No. 1 seeds. So this is a dream come true, to end the year No. 1.”

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Fritz Reaches SFs In Turin, Downs Felix In Winner-Takes-All Clash

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Fritz Reaches SFs In Turin, Downs Felix In Winner-Takes-All Clash

American finishes round-robin stage holding 2-1 record

With a semi-final spot on the line at the Nitto ATP Finals Thursday, it was Taylor Fritz who rose to the occasion in Turin.

In a winner-takes-all blockbuster at the Pala Alpitour, the American clawed past Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2 to reach the semi-finals on debut at the prestigious year-end event.

Both entered the match holding a 1-1 record in Green Group, aiming to join Casper Ruud in the last four. In front of an electric crowd, Fritz effectively executed his aggressive game as he handled the pressure in the crucial moments. He fired 32 winners and outlasted Auger-Aliassime during the heavy-hitting exchanges in the third set, gaining the crucial break at 3-2 in the decider to advance after two hours and 44 minutes.

“I needed to serve well the whole time, I knew that,” Fritz said. “It was frustrating throughout the match when so many points I was one away from break point. So many times at 15/30, 0/30 when I was returning, I got myself in the points and kept losing the points. I just tried to stay patient and not get frustrated and then I capitalised when I got the chances.”

The eighth seed was strong on serve throughout the clash, finding his spots to dominate behind his delivery in the fast indoor conditions. The World No. 9 gave Auger-Aliassime few chances on return. He won 88 per cent (50/57) of his first-service points and saved all three break points he faced, roaring in delight when he sealed victory on his first match point.

“It is huge,” Fritz said when asked about reaching the semi-finals. “From possibly not even qualifying to now be in the semis feels great. I felt like I was going to play well here. I feel that I always play my best tennis against the best players.”

In an impressive performance, Fritz was clinical when stepping inside the baseline, winning 80 per cent of the points when attacking.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/taylor-fritz/fb98/overview'>Taylor Fritz</a> Insights

With his 45th tour-level win of the season, Fritz has improved to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Auger-Aliassime. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, before he soared to crowns in Eastbourne and Tokyo.

Auger-Aliassime, who was making his debut in Turin, finishes the round-robin stage holding a 1-2 record. The 22-year-old lost to Ruud in his opening match before he defeated Nadal. In a standout season, the Canadian captured tour-level trophies in Rotterdam, Florence, Antwerp and Basel, holding a 57-27 record on the year.

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Ram/Salisbury Ride Tie-break Tension To Turin SF Berth

  • Posted: Nov 17, 2022

Ram/Salisbury Ride Tie-break Tension To Turin SF Berth

Second seeds seal comeback victory to advance from Red Group

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury overcame a high-energy performance from Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer on Thursday at the Nitto ATP Finals, where the seconds seeds rallied to a 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-5 victory to reach the semi-finals.

Arevalo and Rojer made a fast start at the Pala Alpitour, where they needed a straight-sets victory to pip Ram and Salisbury to a semi-final spot. They clinched the only break of serve in the match in the fourth game to take the opening set but could not match Ram and Salisbury’s consistency in the second-set tie-break as the eight-time tour-level titlists levelled the match and simultaneously confirmed their progression to the semi-finals.

With victory in the Red Group encounter still at stake, it was Ram and Salisbury who took charge in the Match Tie-break as they opened what proved to be an unassailable 6/1 lead in rapid time, eventually securing victory in one hour, 42 minutes.

The 2021 finalists Ram and Salisbury are seeking their fourth tour-level title of the season at the prestigious season finale in Italy. The American-British duo were the champions in Monte Carlo, Cincinnati and at the US Open this year, and the pair now holds a 35-14 record on the season.

More to follow…

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