Djokovic leads Serbia to glory at inaugural ATP Cup



Novak Djokovic helped seal victory for Serbia on Sunday in the inaugural ATP Cup team event after defeating his long-term Spanish rival Rafael Nadal in singles.

After beating Nadal, he went on to play a pivotal role in the deciding doubles match.

With the final locked at 1-1 after the singles were shared, Djokovic partnered veteran Victor Troicki to beat Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4 and win the title.

The 16-times Grand Slam champion proved to be a calming influence throughout, especially after the Serbian pair fell behind early in the match.

He used his powerful serve and fleet-footed returns to haul his country back into the first set.

This helped to create a momentum shift and Serbia rode all the way to a victory completed in the early hours of Monday morning.

Djokovic earlier beat Nadal 6-2 7-6(4), extending his dominance over the Spaniard on hard courts, a surface Nadal has not beaten him on since 2013.

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut completed a flawless tournament by defeating Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 7-5 6-1.


(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)


Teenager Musetti upsets Wawrinka to become local hero, Kerber bundled out



Teenager Lorenzo Musetti soundly beat Stan Wawrinka 6-0 7-6(2) on Tuesday, winning for the first time on the professional circuit in the first round of the Italian Open.

It was only a second game on the ATP Tour for the 18-year-old Italian, who came through three rounds of qualifying, before aggressively upending the 35-year-old Swiss.

He has now set up a second-round meeting with Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Wawrinka, a three-times Grand Slam champion, made a string of errors as he lost the first eight games before working his way back into the game.

Musetti, however, held his nerve to take the second set tie-break and the match.

Earlier, Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev had cruised into the second round with emphatic straight-sets victories.

Canadian 12th seed Shapovalov, who reached the United States Open quarter-finals last week, shook off jet lag to beat Guido Pella 6-2 6-3, firing seven aces and 23 winners past the Argentine.

Ninth seed Rublev, making his debut at the Foro Italico, beat qualifier Facundo Bagnis 6-4 6-4 to book a spot in the second round where he will face Hubert Hurkacz.

Alex de Minaur, another quarter-finalist at the United States Open, was knocked out by Dominik Koepfer with the German fighting back from a set down to win 3-6 6-3 7-6(5).

In the women’s draw, Angelique Kerber was knocked out in a 6-3 6-1 defeat to Czech Katerina Siniakova while Coco Gauf won her first ever match on clay.

Kerber, who reached the last-16 at the United States Open, lasted only 69 minutes on the claycourt as Siniakova advanced in straight sets with five breaks of serve.

Kerber was almost bageled in the second set before she saved three match-points to break for the first time in the contest.

But Siniakova broke back in the next game to seal victory.

American teenager Gauff, playing in her first ever main draw match on clay, came back from 4-2 down in the opening set to beat Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-3.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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Zverev, Murray to play in Cologne as ATP adds 4 autumn events



Four more tournaments have been added to the men’s tennis calendar in autumn, including back-to-back events at Cologne in Germany, the ATP Tour announced on Thursday.

The Cologne indoor events are set for Oct. 12 to Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 to Oct. 25.

They are to feature, among others, three-times Grand Slam champion Andy Murray of Britain and German star Alexander Zverev, an Australian and US Open semi-finalist.

“It is great that two ATP events are staged in Cologne in this difficult season. It is always special for me to play in Germany,” Zverev said in a statement.

Organisers said that spectators would be permitted, with the number based on coronavirus-related restrictions.

Also set to start on Oct. 12 is a clay court event in Sardinia.

The fourth new event is in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan from Oct. 26, like Cologne on an indoor hard court.

The pandemic has led to a complete overhaul of the tennis calendar, with no play between March and August and the entire Asian swing in autumn also scrapped.

The season is to end with the ATP Finals in London from Nov. 15.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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Querrey quits ATP Council to join new players association



American Sam Querrey confirmed after his first round exit at the United States Open on Tuesday that he had resigned from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Players Council.

Querry has now joined the breakaway players’ group led by Novak Djokovic.

World number one Djokovic resigned as head of the council last month, along with council members Canadian Vasek Pospisil and American John Isner, to form the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

Djokovic had described the PTPA as a platform for players to be better heard on decisions which affect their livelihood.

But the move has provoked resistance from Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, who are also part of the players’ council.

Querrey told reporters he had been in favour of a separate players’ association for some time and his resignation from the council would give him more time to focus on his family.

“I’m not on the council anymore. I’m for the association,” Querrey said after his 6-4 7-6(6) 6-2 defeat to Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.

“I think ultimately it will be a good thing to have an association. The guys have wanted it for 20 years.

“Hopefully the ball is rolling and this will be the first step and it can get some traction, get some fundamentals down, get some by-laws.”

The ATP currently governs the men’s professional Tour and its board is composed of representatives of both players and tournaments.

The 32-year-old believes the PTPA can work with the ATP, but is not yet sure about the specifics of that partnership.

“I’m hoping with the by-laws, and attorneys, someone else will tell me how it will work,” he said.

His resignation from the council, he added, was a combination of two factors.

“One, I’ve been a fan of wanting some type of association for a while. And two, my term on the council was supposed to end a few months ago.

“The council takes up a lot of time and I’ve got a new son at home.

“I’d rather put my time somewhere else and have someone else join the council who would be more passionate and more excited about it going forward.”



Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
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Players frustrated to be in ”bubble within a bubble” after positive COVID-19 test




New York, Sept. 1, 2020 A number of competitors at the United States Open have expressed their frustration, after they were moved into a so-called “bubble within a bubble”.

This was after they had been in contact with Frenchman Benoit Paire, who tested positive for COVID-19.

Tournament organisers quietly removed Paire from the draw on Sunday, with the Frenchman later confirming on social media that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

French players Adrian Mannarino, Kristina Mladenovic and Edouard Roger-Vasselin were subsequently placed under an “enhanced protocol plan”.

This is for “players who might have been potentially exposed” to the virus, and allowing them to continue competing in the tournament instead of withdrawing.

However, this has meant they have been barred from using any on-site player facilities.

Mannarino, who defeated Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-3 on Monday, said the ATP had contacted him on Saturday night to say he needed to stay in his room.

He said he was informed that a player had tested positive for COVID-19.

On Sunday evening, he was told he would be allowed to compete but under a stricter protocol.

“I’m wondering at the moment if I might have the virus or not,” Mannarino told reporters. “I’ve been tested every day since we had the news and I’m going to be tested every day.”

He said the experience had caused him sleepless nights and left him mentally exhausted.

Mannarino added that he was relieved his close friend Paire was not experiencing any symptoms.

“We’re not 100 per cent (sure) that (Paire) got the virus here. But that’s a big probability because he’s been here for a while now, he’d tested negative many times,” Mannarino said.

Mannarino said they had played cards together during their time on site and estimated Paire had contact with “probably half of the draw”.

The incident echoes challenges leagues across North America have faced bringing sports back in the COVID-19 era, amid an outbreak that has killed more than 180,000 people in the United States

A spokesperson for the USTA told Reuters it built the “enhanced protocol plan” in consultation with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

While the USTA declined to comment on the identity of the player who tested positive, the spokesman said contact tracing had begun to “determine all of the player’s movements and interactions.”

Mladenovic complained that she now felt like she was stuck inside a “bubble within a bubble”.

Those who had been in contact with Paire are being tested for COVID-19 every day rather than every four days.

The Frenchwoman, who beat American Hailey Baptiste 7-5 6-2, said the enhanced protocols made it “very tough” to compete.

“I’m allowed to play my match, literally allowed to do nothing else. I don’t know how we’ll keep going,” she said.

“It’s mentally very tough, I still have to find a way and discuss with the USTA and organise things in order for me to be at least competitive and have equipment to keep working.”

She said she has tested negative twice since the news broke and had not spent much time with Paire prior to his positive COVID-19 test.

“Just the fact that I spent 30 minutes with him being part of that big table of people and of course we had masks on,” she said. “It’s pretty tough for me to accept that.”

Mannarino, however, pointed out that the standards set in place at the hardcourt major did not constitute a bubble at all.

He noted that accredited personnel go in and out of the grounds regularly.

What is obtainable is unlike what happens at the NBA “bubble” at Walt Disney World, where players, coaches and members of the media live on site.

Tennis players at the Open have the option of living in private housing outside of the tournament hotels.

“Here at the United States Open, we’re not in a bubble. We’re in a safe environment —- which is different,” Mannarino said.


Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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