Djokovic Beats Tsitsipas In Dubai To Win 79th Career Title

Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds the victor’s trophy after winning the final of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championship in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on February 29, 2020. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

 

Novak Djokovic captured his 79th career title on Saturday when he won the Dubai Championships for the fifth time, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

The world number one is now on an 18-0 winning run this season, and 21-0 overall since late 2019, as he ended an eight-match win streak for his Greek opponent, champion last weekend in Marseille.

Djokovic claimed his third trophy of 2020 after helping Serbia to the ATP Cup and winning an eighth Australian Open.

It is also the seventh time that the 32-year-old has won more than 20 matches on the trot.

Tsitsipas lost his second straight final in Dubai after going down to Roger Federer a year ago.

“It was close in both sets,” Djokovic said. “A few points decided it, I’ve had a great week.

“I’m most proud of my consistency this week, especially on shots from the baseline.”

The top seed produced a straightforward win in 79 minutes after a close-call semi-final where he saved three match points against Gael Monfils.

“I was just a point from going out, I might not have been here,” the winner said. “But it shows how quickly things can turn.

“I appreciate the moment, I’ve really played well in my matches this week. There were some ups and downs, but that’s normal.”

Djokovic broke for 5-3 in the opening set and served it out moments later.

The second set was slightly tighter, with the Serbian losing a break as Tsitsipas levelled at 3-all.

But Djokovic came through again with a break for 5-4 as his opponent hit the net.

A game later, Djokovic was lifting another trophy as he found the corner with a winner.

“Tsitsipas is a player for now, much more than for the future,” Djokovic said of his sixth-ranked opponent.

“He’s already been very successful. He’s more than just a great player, he’s very charismatic and brings a lot to the game.”

Djokovic added: “I’ve had a great start to the season, I love playing on hard courts. They’ve been my most successful surface so far.”

Djokovic will stay number one on the ATP rankings on Monday to start a 280th week atop the table.

He was playing the final in Dubai for a sixth time in 11 appearances. It was, however, his first final at the tournament since 2015 when he lost to Federer.

Coming into the championship match, the 21-year-old Greek had lost just one set this week.

Djokovic was also awarded a ‘golden visa’ by the Dubai government and has agreed to return to defend his title in 2021.

AFP

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

Nadal Sweats To Beat Tsitsipas

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates victory against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 15, 2019. 
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal recovered to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5 on Friday but faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals.

The Spanish top seed is pinning his hopes on Daniil Medvedev beating defending champion Alexander Zverev in the evening match in Group Andre Agassi in London.

Nadal, who has already secured the year-end number one ranking, has never won the end-of-season tournament and had a miserable start at the O2 Arena, being outplayed by Germany’s Zverev.

But the 19-time Grand Slam champion produced an astonishing comeback to defeat Medvedev, the Russian fourth seed, on Wednesday and give himself a chance of qualifying from the round-robin phase.

READ ALSO: Federer Outclasses Djokovic To Reach ATP Finals Semis

Tsitsipas, 21, had already qualified for the semi-finals before Friday’s match after beating Medvedev and Zverev.

Serve dominated in the first set on Friday, with neither Nadal nor Tsitsipas facing a breakpoint as the match drifted inexorably towards a tie-break.

The Greek sixth seed came out on top, hammering an ace on his first match point to seal the set.

The second set followed a similar pattern until the fifth game when a Tsitsipas double-fault handed Nadal two break points — the first of the match.

The Spaniard could not capitalise but he upped the pressure in Tsitsipas’s next serve game and earned another breakpoint, which the Greek again survived.

But Nadal earned a fourth break point in Tsitsipas’s next service game and this time the Greek player slapped a regulation forehand wide and Nadal went on to level the match.

A pumped-up Nadal maintained his momentum in the early stages of the deciding set, putting consistent pressure on his opponent’s serve but he failed to convert a clutch of breakpoints.

Nadal earned two more breakpoints in the 11th game and this time made it count as Tsitsipas put a backhand wide and he served out to win the match.

Nadal’s efforts will count for nothing unless Medvedev beats Zverev in the later match at the O2 Arena. A win for the German would send Nadal home.

If Medvedev, who cannot progress, beats Zverev, Nadal would face a mouthwatering match against Roger Federer.

Six-time champion Federer, who was in Group Bjorn Borg, secured a spot in the semi-finals for the 16th time in his career on Thursday by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem also qualified for Saturday’s semi-finals.

AFP

Nine-Time Champion Federer Reaches 15th Swiss Indoors Final

Swiss Roger Federer serves a ball against German Peter Gojowczyk during the 1,500th match of his career at the opening day of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament on October 21, 2019 in Basel. 
FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Roger Federer extended his Swiss Indoors win streak to 23 matches as he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final for the 15th time, racking up his 50th win of 2019.

The top seed will be playing for his 10th title at his home tournament when he faces Alex de Minaur in a first-time meeting after the Australian stopped Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/3).

Federer, 38, has now made the Basel final in his last 13 appearances and 15th overall.

His last defeat came in the 2013 final at the hands of Juan Martin del Potro.

For Federer, victory on Saturday was his second of the season over 21-year-old Tsitsipas who had stunned the 20-time major winner at the Australian Open in January.

Federer, who had a walkover in the quarter-finals due to the pre-match injury withdrawal of compatriot Stan Wawrinka, notched up two love games in the second set and advanced on his first match point.

“Having the crowd behind you really helps you believe in your game,” said Federer who had also defeated Tsitsipas in Dubai earlier this year.

“I had to play aggressive and take risks against Stefanos. There was a lot of running. But it’s always easier to play at home, I was energised.”

Federer will be in uncharted territory in the final with De Minaur, who has won trophies this season in Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai.

“He’s one of the fastest players,” Federer said. “I’m very excited to be in the final again.

“I was not sure how it would go this week, so I’m really happy.”

The 28th-ranked De Minaur, who trains and lives in Spain, is the first Australian to reach the Basel final since Mark Philippoussis finished runner-up in 1997.

De Minaur, who measures up at 1.80m compared to Opelka’s towering 2.11m, set up his semi-final victory with a passing winner for four match points.

Opelka saved the first with an ace but was caught out on the second as his opponent sealed the win.

“Nothing can prepare you for that serve,” de Minaur said.

“Reilly’s an incredibly tough competitor who never gives up. I’m just happy to be in the final. I guessed right a few times and got lucky. I was just lucky to have gone the right direction, I was just hoping not be hit by any of those serves.”

AFP

Tsitsipas Battles Into 13th Quarter-Final Of 2019

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his 13th quarter-final of 2019 on Thursday when he came back to claim a 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis at the ATP Swiss Indoors.

The Greek third seed will next face Italian fifth seed Fabio Fognini or Filip Krajinovic of Serbia for a semi-final spot.

Tsitsipas said he didn’t panic after losing the opening set to his 70th-ranked opponent in 52 minutes.

“He was giving me a hard time in the first set, it was not easy to overcome, we had a high-quality match,” said Tsitsipas, the world number seven.

“I managed to remain calm and not rush too much,” the number seven said after reaching his 13th quarter-final of 2019.

“I knew things would work out, I was able to break twice in the second set and once more in the third. I was serving well and that took some of the extra pressure away.

“Sometimes it’s tough to manage the energy. But getting angry sometimes can actually help. It can give you an extra reason to fight.”

The ATP Finals’ hopes of David Goffin stalled as the sixth seed lost to Reilly Opelka 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, with the young American sending down 29 aces in two and a half hours.

Goffin stands provisional tenth in the race to the eight-man season wrap-up with a final points-earning chance next week at the Paris Masters.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Tsitsipas have already booked their places in the ATP Finals, leaving just two places available.

Roberto Bautista Agut, who sits one spot away from a London invitation, stayed in the chase as he defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and will next play Opelka.

The Spaniard claimed his 40th victory of the season as he works to become a first-time qualifier into the season showpiece in London which starts on November 10.

AFP

Shanghai Masters: Medvedev Reaches Sixth Final

Daniil Medvedev of Russia hits a return against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their men’s singles semi-final match at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on October 12, 2019. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

Daniil Medvedev reached a staggering sixth final in a row as he defeated fellow rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday.

The US Open finalist from Russia plays Alexander Zverev of Germany or Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in Sunday’s decider as the next generation takes centre stage in China.

The 23-year-old Medvedev, who has lifted three titles in a breakthrough 2019, beat Greece’s Tsitsipas 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

Medvedev has now seen off the 21-year-old — who defeated world number one Novak Djokovic on Friday — in all five of their matches.

“It’s something I could never have dreamed of,” the world number four said of his sixth final on the trot.

“I want to keep the momentum going and hopefully make it to seven or eight.”

The history was with Medvedev but there was nothing in it as he and Tsitsipas entered the first-set tie break after 43 minutes of high-quality tennis.

Seventh-ranked Tsitsipas blinked first, gifting set point when he shanked a forehand and then doing the same moments later to put the Russian a set up.

Medvedev broke the Greek — who repeatedly tried to gee up the crowd — in the third game of the second set.

The Russian served for the match at 5-4, only for Tsitsipas to dig in and break for 5-5, before Medvedev did likewise.

Tsitsipas smacked the ball out the court in a rage, before Medvedev sealed the semi-final win in the 12th game of the second set.

“Same vibes, same thing all over again,” said Tsitsipas of yet another defeat to the Russian.

“I don’t mean to be rude at all, but it’s just boring.

“It’s so boring that I hate myself for putting myself into that kind of situation where I have to play in his own terms and not in my terms.”

AFP

Tsitsipas Stuns Nadal To Set Up Madrid Final With Djokovic

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates winning a point against Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their ATP Madrid Open semi-final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 11, 2019.
OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic will play Stefanos Tsitsipas for the Madrid Open title after the 20-year-old Greek stunned Rafael Nadal on Saturday to win a thrilling semi-final 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 on his fourth match point.

Nadal had been a clear favourite to face Djokovic in Sunday’s showpiece at Caja Magica but the 17-time Grand Slam champion extended his stuttering build-up to the French Open with another surprise defeat.

READ ALSO: WAFU Cup: Falcons Beat Niger 15-0 To Reach Semi-Finals

Tsitsipas has now beaten Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer in his young career.

AFP

Australian Open: Sensational Tsitsipas ‘Surprises Himself’ With Semi-Final Breakthrough

 

Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas said he “surprised himself” with his fairytale Australian Open run after sweeping into the semi-finals on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Greek followed his stunning win over Roger Federer by accounting for Spain’s 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who in the first round had ended Andy Murray’s tournament and possibly his career.

Tsitsipas had to contend with dropping his serve early in the first three sets before coming through 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) in 3hr 15min on Rod Laver Arena.

“Roberto showed some good tennis the entire week. But at the end it’s completely different of what I can picture it before going on the court, how you can imagine your opponent is going to play,” Tsitsipas said.

“I did surprise a little bit myself with my performance.”

The exciting Tsitsipas, who sports a flowing mane of long hair, became the first Greek player to go so deep at any Grand Slam and fell to the floor, head in hands after the winning point.

“It all feels like a fairytale almost,” he said.

“I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for.

“I was asked my goals this year and said semis Grand Slam. And when I was answering this question, I thought I was crazy. But it is real. It just happened.”

Tsitsipas, who broke through in 2018 with his first ATP Tour title and won the NextGen finals, will face either world number two Rafael Nadal or unseeded Frances Tiafoe for a place in the final.

For the 30-year-old Bautista Agut, who came into his first Slam quarter-final unbeaten in 2019 after winning in Doha, the wait for a maiden major semi-final goes on.

After encountering the gifted Greek at close quarters for the first time, he still fancies either Nadal or Novak Djokovic to lift the Norman Brookes trophy.

“He’s playing very good tennis,” the Spanish world number 24 told reporters of Tsitsipas. “But here I think Rafa and Novak are my favourites.”

No Panic

Federer did not win any of 12 break points in a four-set defeat against 14th seed Tsitsipas in round four, but Bautista Agut managed it on his first in the opening game of the match.

There was no panic from the 20-year-old from Athens and he broke back before stealing the set 7-5 with a second break created by a rasping forehand winner.

Bautista Agut went 2-1 up in the second set with another early break and it was enough to level the match score.

Down another break in the third, Tsitsipas outlasted the Spaniard in a gruelling game to level at 4-4. And when the Athenian artist secured a second, Bautista Agut sensed his hopes were slipping away

“When I lost the third set, I knew I had to do a really good effort to try to win the match,” said Bautista Agut.

“I continue fighting till the end, but it was not enough.”

The gutsy Spaniard successfully served to stay in the match for the first time at 4-5 in the fourth set.

He then showed great resilience at 5-6, 30-40 to repel a first match point after a 21-shot baseline rally.

But Tsitsipas jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the ensuing tiebreak and secured the match on the first of four more match points.

Tsitsipas Eyes Up Federer After Rollicking Victory

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates his victory against Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili during their men’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. Greg Wood / AFP

 

Fiery Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas was looking forward to a last-16 clash with Roger Federer after overcoming a mini-meltdown to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 at the Australian Open Friday.

“It will be amazing playing Roger on Rod Laver,” said Tsitsipas of the Swiss great.

The 14th seed, touted among the new generation of young stars as a future champion, came through the third round after being docked his first serve for exceeding the shot clock at a crucial moment while facing a break point in the third set.

The powerful Georgian Basilashvili seeded 19, took advantage on the second delivery to break back causing Tsitsipas to unload a verbal tirade in the direction of his coaching team in his player box.

French umpire Alexandre Robein clearly understood enough of Greek and English vernacular to slap the 20-year-old with a code violation for an audible obscenity.

But backed by a raucous Greek contingent in a rowdy atmosphere on Margaret Court Arena, he recovered his composure to win the set in a tense tiebreak.

He cruised through the fourth set to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam twice, after reaching the same stage at Wimbledon last year.

“It’s good to have such support and exciting to have an atmosphere like this,” said Tsitsipas.

“I feel like I’m playing at home, I never had so many Greek — and Aussie — people support me.”

AFP

Barcelona Open: Nadal Eases Into Final With 400th Clay Court Win

 

Barcelona Open: Nadal Eases Into Final With 400th Clay Court Win
Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after beating Belgium’s David Goffin during their Barcelona Open ATP tournament semi-final tennis match in Barcelona on April 28, 2018. Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal racked up the 400th clay court victory of his career on Saturday as he swept past Belgium’s David Goffin 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Barcelona final and stand just one win from an 11th title in the Spanish city.

World number one Nadal also extended his winning streak on clay to 44 consecutive sets as he downed Goffin for a third time in three meetings on the red dirt surface he has dominated for more than a decade.

In Sunday’s final, the 31-year-old Spaniard, fresh from an 11th Monte Carlo title last weekend, will face Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“Very happy,” Nadal, who will be chasing his 77th overall career title, told atpworldtour.com.

“I played I think my best match of the tournament so far, no doubt about that. It was a great first set in my opinion. Both of us played at a very high level.”

Nadal slipped a break down at 0-2 to fourth seed Goffin in the first set on Saturday but that was the only blip on his afternoon.

Goffin saved two match points in the sixth game of the second set but a weary forehand went long on the third and Nadal celebrated with fists punched to the sky.

Barcelona Open: Nadal Eases Into Final With 400th Clay Court Win
Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Nadal’s 400 wins on clay is the fourth best of all time with Guillermo Vilas of Argentina a long way ahead with 659 while Spain’s Manuel Orantes won 502 and Austria’s Thomas Muster racked up 422.

However, Nadal has lost just 35 times on clay in his career, easily giving him the best winning return of 91.9%.

Since his first tour-level clay-court victory over Karel Kucera of Slovakia at the 2003 Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal has also collected 54 clay court trophies.

Ten of those have come at Roland Garros, providing the bulk of his 16 Grand Slam titles.

Nadal said he will not under-estimate Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.

“Stefanos is a great player. Always the young players have something special and he’s playing with big confidence,” said the top seed.

“He’s playing so well, so it’s going to be a very tough match. I need to be ready to play at the highest level possible.”

Tsitsipas, 19 years old and ranked 63, continued his magical run at the event reaching a first ATP final with a 7-5, 6-3 win over fifth-seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

The last Greek to make an ATP final was Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines back in 1973. Tsitsipas is the youngest Barcelona finalist since Nadal in 2005.

“I couldn’t have enjoyed it more, I went onto the court and enjoyed every single moment,” said Tsitsipas. “I am very proud for myself and also I believe I made my country proud.”

Win or lose on Sunday, Tsitsipas will become the first Greek player to break into the world top 50 when the latest men’s rankings are released on Monday.

The fast-rising Greek stunned third-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem on Friday 6-3, 6-2.

That was his second win over a top 10 player — Thiem is seventh in the world — following victory over Goffin during his best previous run to the semi-finals in Antwerp last October.

Yet to drop a set this week, Tsitsipas served five aces and won 78 percent of first serves to see off his Spanish rival in one hour 35 minutes.

AFP