Tsitsipas Beats Thiem To Claim ATP Finals Title

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas poses with the winner's trophy after winning the men's singles final match on day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2019.
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas poses with the winner’s trophy after winning the men’s singles final match on day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2019.

 

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas battled back from a set down against Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals title on Sunday, emphatically staking his claim as the leader of the next generation of aspiring global superstars.

The Greek 21-year-old, who won, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4)  is the youngest champion since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001 and the fourth first-time champion at the season-ending event in as many years.

It is Tsitsipas’s third title of the season and comes a year after he was crowned champion at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

He has charmed the crowd at London’s O2 Arena all week and earned his place in the final with an impressive straight-sets win against six-time champion Roger Federer.

“I can’t sum up my emotions right now,” said Tsitsipas. “It’s amazing to be remembered as the 2019 champion. It is a dream come true and the best way to end this match.

“I did get nervous at some points in the match but I managed to forget about how I felt and I had momentum in the tie-break which was really tight.

“My fighting spirit and me constantly trying to push myself to do better got me there in the end.”

Defeat is a bitter disappointment for Thiem, who won five titles this year, including the Indian Wells Masters, and reached a second successive French Open final.

There was little to choose between sixth-seed Tsitsipas and Austria’s world number five Thiem in the first set as a total of five break points went begging.

Both players had impressed on serve during the tournament, with Tsitsipas’s figures especially striking — 44 service games won out of 47 leading into the final.

In an inevitable tie-break Tsitsipas saved a set point at 5/6 but Thiem clinched his second set point with a powerful serve that the Greek returned into the net.

Tsitsipas breaks

But Tsitsipas regrouped and within minutes Thiem, who beat his opponent in three sets in the Beijing final last month, was under pressure, spraying a forehand wide to concede first break of the match.

Tsitsipas held with ease and then produced a forehand down the line to break again, with Thiem threatening to unravel. Tsitsipas had won 12 out of 14 points in the set.

Thiem, who like Tsitsipas plays with a single-handed backhand, stemmed the tide but could make little impression on his opponent’s serve and lost the set 6-2.

Thiem was rocking again at the start of the deciding set. He saved two break points in the first game but looked increasingly shaky and was broken to trail 1-2.

The Greek was now well on top but out of nowhere Thiem was level at 3-3 after Tsitsipas put a backhand wide.

The Austrian was now playing with much more confidence, unleashing a series of blistering winners and edged ahead 5-4 after another service hold but the rest of the set went with serve.

In the deciding set tie-break Tsitsipas took a 4-2 lead but was pegged back to 4/4.

But on the next point Tsitsipas earned a mini-break, giving him the chance to serve out for the match and he made no mistake, closing out the biggest victory of his career.

Tsitsipas has competition among his peers as the new generation attempt to dislodge Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who have dominated the men’s game for the past 15 years.

World number four Daniil Medvedev won two Masters titles this year and reached the US Open final while Alexander Zverev was in London defending the title he won last year.

But Tsitsipas, who has beaten every member of the “Big Three” in 2019, will go into the new season with the belief he can take the next step towards the apex of the men’s game.

 

AFP

Djokovic Insists No Decision On Ousting ATP Tour Chief

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hits a return during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2019. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic insisted Sunday no decision had been taken about ousting ATP Tour chief Chris Kermode after reports of a player revolt against the way the sport was being run.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph said a move was underway to topple the Briton, citing a strongly worded email sent by ATP player council member Vasek Pospisil to players ranked between 50 and 100.

It reportedly called for the workforce to “start acting and running like a business, not like a bunch of scared kids … we need a CEO that first and foremost represents OUR interests”.

The email added that “the governance structure of the ATP favours the interests of the tournaments and its (their) owners … It’s time for a change and it can be achieved by staying unified and demanding what we deserve for our hard work”.

The newspaper said the ATP board — comprised of three tournament representatives and three player representatives — would vote on a possible renewal of Kermode’s contract this month.

He needs two of the three board members from each side of the ATP to support him.

The ATP players council, headed by Djokovic, met in Melbourne on Saturday and reportedly voted 5-4 against Kermode continuing in his role.

Asked for clarity in a press conference Sunday, Djokovic said: “I don’t know where you got that information, a 5-4.

“That information is completely confidential, so I can’t speak about anything that we spoke about in that room.”

The world number one added: “The decision hasn’t been made on the president. He’s still president. He’ll remain president till the end of his term.

“Whether there’s a renewal or not, it’s going to be decided in the next period.”

One man who has been touted as a potential replacement is Tennis Australia and Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.

Roger Federer said he wanted to speak with his colleagues about what was going on.

“We’ve had a good five, six years now under Chris’s leadership. Obviously, it’s an important role,” he said.

“We need to look at it very thoroughly. I need to speak with Novak, Rafa (Nadal), and Andy (Murray) a little bit just to get their take on it all.”

 Transition time 

In recent days Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios have expressed support for Kermode, illustrating the divided nature of the men’s game.

Top Australian coach Darren Cahill, who until recently was working with world number one Simona Halep, said he would be stunned if Kermode was removed.

“Big increases in prize money, pension plan, new events, doubles initiative supporter, new progressive rules for injured players & LL’s (lucky losers), challenger increases, facility upgrades ++,” he tweeted.

“I’d be stunned if Chris Kermode is removed. ATP needs stability right now.”

Adding to the ATP board woes was member Justin Gimelstob pleading not guilty last month to a felony battery charge in a Los Angeles court.

The two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion was accused of attacking one-time friend Randall Kaplan. He pleaded not guilty.

“With the board member (Gimelstob), we know the situation. It’s pending,” said Federer.

“But it’s definitely interesting times, I’d like to call it, not bad times in our sport,” he added.

“I think it’s maybe also a bit of a transition time. So it will be interesting to see what’s going to happen.”

Djokovic said the players’ council was “comfortable” with Gimelstob remaining a board member despite the charges against him.

“If he is not proven guilty, he stays innocent, or he’s proven guilty, that’s a completely different situation for us and we have to address it,” he said.

AFP

Frenchman Paire Fined $16,500 For Epic ATP Meltdown

File photo

 

France’s Benoit Paire was fined $16,500 by the ATP Tour on Wednesday after an epic meltdown at the end of his first-round match at the ATP Washington Open.

Paire lost to Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 on Tuesday at the hard-court tuneup event for the US Open.

Down 4-2 in the final set, the 55th-ranked Frenchman netted an overhead smash to surrender a break and a 5-2 edge. He smashed his racquet on the ground four times and kicked it in frustration.

Baghdatis tried to calm Paire but he hurled two more racquets onto the court, where a ball person collected them.

After a less-than-peak effort on the final point of the match, he congratulated Baghdatis then walked off to a chorus of boos, blowing the crowd kisses as he departed.

The fine, more than double the prize money Paire made for his appearance, was issued by the tour for an audible obscenity, unsportsmanlike conduct and a lack of giving best effort.

Wawrinka To Face Paire In Japan Open Final

wawrinkaTop seed, Stan Wawrinka, would face unseeded Frenchman, Benoit Paire, in the final of the Japan Open in Tokyo.

French Open Champion, Wawrinka served strongly to beat Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4 7-6 to reach his fourth final of the year.

Paire upset home favourite, Kei Nishikori, 1-6 6-4 6-2, to reach his first ATP Tour 500 final.

Nishikori came into the tournament as defending champion and looked set for successive titles, as he coasted through the first set.

Paire needed a medical timeout to reinforce strapping on his ankle, and the patch-up helped as he found a second win against an increasingly-nervous second seed.

The 26-year-old now has the chance to add to a Maiden Tour title won in Bastad earlier in 2015.

Djokovic cruises into Shanghai final with Berdych defeat

Novak Djokovic got into the Shanghai final gallantly and can now boast of an ATP Tour-leading 69-11 match record for the season as he secured a break in just the second game of the match to take control of the opening set, before taking it for the loss of just three games.

Berdych was always behind in the match, and he was unable to match the world number two in the second set as Djokovic closed it out efficiently to improve his head-to-head record over the Czech to 10-1 while securing his place in the final.

Djokovic will next take on the winner of two-time defending champion Andy Murray’s semi-final clash with world number one Roger Federer in the Shanghai showpiece.