World number two Karolina Pliskova has confirmed she has split from her coach Conchita Martinez.

Former Wimbledon champion Martinez, who was second in the world herself during her playing career, started working with Pliskova on a full-time basis 10 months ago.

The Czech won four WTA titles in 2019 - the joint-most on the tour - but failed to make it beyond the fourth round of a grand slam after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

Last week, Pliskova was beaten in the last four of the season-ending WTA Finals by Ashleigh Barty.

"I decided I will no longer work with Conchita," Pliskova wrote on her social media accounts.

"It was tough decision, as the season was great. Thank you for all this year, and wish you only the best. Life is a change!"

Martinez, who coached Garbine Muguruza when she won Wimbledon in 2017, also posted a message on social media.

"Just a little note to inform you that Karolina and I have decided to take different paths next year," she said.

"It has been an incredible year full of great moments and emotions. I wish Kaja and her team the best for the future."

Alex de Minaur made it two wins from two Next Generation ATP Finals matches as he defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday, with Jannik Sinner booking a last-four spot.

Australian De Minaur, the highest-ranked player at the event, secured a 4-1 4-3 (7-3) 1-4 4-0 victory to follow up on his opening Group A win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Having been made to work hard for his triumph in Milan, particularly during the second and third sets, the 2018 runner-up was pleased with his powers of recovery.

"This is what you expect in these conditions," said the world number 18, referencing the shorter format. "A match can turn quickly. I didn't play badly, he just played well in the important moments.

"I just had to regroup and stick to my game."

The impressive Sinner was a 4-0 4-2 4-1 winner over Mikael Ymer to ensure he will progress from Group B.

Casper Ruud, who lost his opener to Kecmanovic, inflicted a second consecutive defeat on Davidovich Fokina.

Davidovich Fokina took the first set and went the distance but came up short in a 3-4 (2-7) 4-3 (7-2) 4-2 3-4 (2-7) 4-1 loss to the Norwegian.

In the other Group B clash, Frances Tiafoe recovered from his defeat to Sinner by beating Ugo Humbert, who has now suffered back-to-back reverses.

The American boosted his qualification hopes with a 4-2 4-3 (7-5) 3-4 (4-7) 4-1 success.

Alex de Minaur made it two wins from two Next Generation ATP Finals matches as he defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday.

The Australian, the highest-ranked player at the event, secured a 4-1 4-3 (7-3) 1-4 4-0 victory to follow up on his opening Group A win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Having been made to work hard for his triumph in Milan, particularly during the second and third sets, the 2018 runner-up was pleased with his powers of recovery.

"This is what you expect in these conditions," said the world number 18, referencing the shorter format. "A match can turn quickly. I didn't play badly, he just played well in the important moments.

"I just had to regroup and stick to my game."

Casper Ruud, who lost his opener to Kecmanovic, inflicted a second consecutive defeat on Davidovich Fokina.

Davidovich Fokina took the first set and went the distance but came up short in a 3-4 (2-7) 4-3 (7-2) 4-2 3-4 (2-7) 4-1 loss to the Norwegian.

In Group B, Frances Tiafoe recovered from his defeat to Jannik Sinner by beating Ugo Humbert, who has now suffered back-to-back reverses.

The American boosted his qualification hopes with a 4-2 4-3 (7-5) 3-4 (4-7) 4-1 success, while the impressive Sinner thrashed Mikael Ymer 4-0 4-2 4-1.

Next Generation ATP Finals favourite Alex de Minaur started his 2019 campaign with a victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Milan.

De Minaur lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final and is the highest-ranked player competing this time around.

The Australian needed four sets to overcome Alejandro Davidovich 4-2 3-4 (5-7) 4-1 4-1 in Group A.

De Minaur, ranked 18th and a three-time winner on the ATP Tour this year, won eight of the final nine games to wrap up the match in style. 

"I just had to get in my head that I played a good second set," said De Minaur. "He just came up with big shots in big moments.

"I had to move on and remember what I was doing well the whole match. I felt a lot more comfortable as soon as I got the break [in the third set]."

In the same pool, Miomir Kecmanovic claimed a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud.

There was only one break of serve in the whole contest, which the Serbian won 4-3 (7-5) 4-3 (7-5) 4-2.

In Group B, Swede Mikael Ymer sealed a 4-3 (7-2) 1-4 4-2 4-1 triumph over Ugo Humbert, and Jannik Sinner closed Tuesday's play by coming from a set down to beat Frances Tiafoe 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 4-2 4-2.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet in the group stage of the ATP Finals after being drawn together on Tuesday.

The pair have won 36 grand slams between them and triumphed at the season-ending tournament a collective 11 times, with Federer leading that head-to-head tally by one.

Joining the Swiss maestro and Djokovic in Bjorn Borg Group will be Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini.

Andre Agassi Group consists of world number one Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and reigning champion Alexander Zverev.

Nadal had been a doubt for the event after withdrawing ahead of the Paris Masters semi-final with an abdominal injury. 

The year-end number-one spot is up for grabs in London, with Nadal in the driving seat but Djokovic – the winner in Paris – ready to pounce.

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals, while Djokovic's last victory came in 2015 and Federer has endured an eight-year drought. 

Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Berrettini will each compete in the tournament for the first time, with the action scheduled to start on Sunday. 

Rafael Nadal is still hopeful of featuring in the ATP Finals after undergoing an MRI scan on the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from the Paris Masters.

Nadal pulled out of his semi-final tie with Denis Shapovalov in Paris on Saturday after experiencing abdominal discomfort in the warm-up.

Yet the Spaniard has provided a positive update on his fitness, revealing he will travel to London for the season-ending event that begins on Sunday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Nadal said: "Hello everyone. I had an MRI in Mallorca and despite having a small bloating in my right abdominal, I will travel to London.

"The idea is to be able to play the #atpfinals in London. Thanks for the support."

Nadal withdrew from last year's ATP Finals due to an abdominal problem he picked up in Paris.

Despite his injury pull-out last weekend, the 19-time grand slam champion returned to the top of the world rankings on Monday, displacing Novak Djokovic.

Kim Clijsters will not make her comeback at the start of next season due to a knee injury but remains as "determined as ever" to play at the highest level again.

The four-time grand slam champion sprung a major surprise in September by announcing she was coming out of retirement at the age of 36.

However, Clijsters on Monday revealed her WTA Tour return will have to wait.

"I've had to make the decision that I will not be able to compete in January. I am undergoing rehab and treatment for a knee injury," she tweeted.

"It's a setback but I'm determined as ever to get back to the game I love. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement."

The Belgian, a mother of three, retired in 2012 after winning 41 singles titles. 

Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wildcards at WTA tournaments as a former world number one, but she will have to play three tournaments or earn 10 points to re-establish a ranking.

Novak Djokovic is under no illusions over the size of the task he faces to claim the year-end number one ranking for the sixth time.

The Serbian beat Denis Shapovalov to seal his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday, lifting his 34th Masters 1000 trophy in the process.

It kept alive his hopes of beating Rafael Nadal to the summit of the rankings at the end of 2019, but the 16-time grand slam winner knows he cannot afford to relent. 

"That puts me in a better position after this week. But, again, I have to keep on winning," he said after moving 640 points behind the Spaniard ahead of the ATP Finals in London.

"There's always a chance that I win all my matches in London, that I play well. I have done it in the past, and I like playing there. But it's [an] extremely difficult task considering who my opponents are going to be. You're playing a top 10 player every single match.

"So that's a big task on my end that I have to focus on. And as a consequence, if I manage to get the year-end number one, that would be, of course, fantastic."

Nadal withdrew in Paris ahead of his semi-final meeting with Shapovalov, citing an abdominal injury which could yet hamper him in London.

Djokovic was disappointed to see his rival pull out and hopes he is primed and ready to go at the season-ending tournament.

"I'm sad to see that he's injured because that's not what you want to see, not for Rafa, not for any other athlete," he said.

"I know how that feels. Obviously I went through major injuries in my life as well.

"I hope he can recover and compete in London. Because with or without him, obviously, also the battle for number one but also the tournament itself is different. He's a great champion and obviously lots of respect for him."

Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Denis Shapovalov.

The number one seed triumphed 6-3 6-4 to lift his 34th Masters 1000 trophy - one short of Rafael Nadal's record haul - and keep alive his challenge to end the year at the top of the ATP rankings.

Having reached his first final at this level after Nadal withdrew from their semi-final with injury, Shapovalov, who lives in Nassau, offered plenty of swashbuckling style but gave up too many free points against a watertight Djokovic display.

The 20-year-old, who has taken only one set in three matches against the 16-time grand-slam champion, won only three of 17 points on his second serve as he lost in 68 minutes.

Shapovalov set about trying to force the ascendancy but two tight forehands when the court was at his mercy gave Djokovic an early break.

The Serbian dropped only four points on serve in the first set and Shapovalov smashed his racquet to the floor when he sent another return long in game seven.

Djokovic served out a clinical opening set with a hold to love and put his opponent under immediate pressure in the second, although Shapovalov dug himself out of a hole with a huge ace.

A terrific Shapovalov passing shot had the crowd on their feet, and he moved 2-1 ahead with a rasping forehand up the line, but he still could not make inroads against the Djokovic serve.

Djokovic was seething when he sent a backhand into the net when given a chance to go 30-0 up on Shapovalov's serve at 3-3, but three errors in succession handed the world number one the crucial break.

A long forehand gave Shapovalov his first break point in the next game, but a timely first serve and a missed backhand from the Canadian saw the opportunity pass him by.

Djokovic eased to three match points and promptly took tour-level title number five of 2019 with a crisp forehand, meaning his battle with Nadal for year-end number one will continue to the ATP Finals in London even though the Spaniard will move top of the rankings on Monday.

Ashleigh Barty was struggling to make sense of the "bizarre" experience of winning the WTA Finals after her straight-sets victory over Elina Svitolina.

The Australian capped the greatest season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday, collecting $4.42million after dethroning the 2018 winner.

It was a superb display from the French Open champion, who had suffered a group-stage loss to Kiki Bertens in China.

Asked to reflect on how her success felt, the world number one said: "Bizarre, if I'm being completely honest. 

"It feels like it's been a year that just hasn't stopped. It's been a year of incredible ups and downs – I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night in Shenzhen is really cool.

"To come through a week like this, you have to beat the best of the best. It takes me back to some memories in Miami where I felt like I did that for the first time, beating back-to-back top-10 players, having that really consistent week.

"I've grown and developed so much since that fortnight in Miami. To be able to bounce back after the disappointment after my match with Kiki [Bertens] was really important."

World number one Ashleigh Barty dethroned Elina Svitolina with a straight-sets victory to secure a maiden WTA Finals title and record prize money.

Barty put the icing on the cake at the end of the best season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday.

The French Open champion ended her 2018 campaign by claiming the WTA Elite Trophy and showed the huge strides she has made by lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy 12 months later.

Top seed Barty started the year 15th in the rankings and ends it as the best in the world with a first grand slam under her belt, also picking up $4.42million for her triumph in China.

Svitolina's bank account would have been swelled to the tune of $4.73m if she had retained the title, but the eighth seed had to settle for $2.4m following her first defeat of the tournament.

Australian Barty was a bundle of energy throughout a hard-fought championship match, hitting 30 winners and coming from a break down in the second set to win her fourth event in 2019.

Barty charged into the net with purpose in a positive start and there were no signs of nerves from Svitolina, who blasted down an ace for a hold to love in her opening service game.

Both players mixed up their approach in a tight opening set and it was not until the ninth game that the first break point came, Barty fending that off before taking a 5-4 lead.

Svitolina was under pressure at 0-30 down in the next game and Barty wrapped up the opening set with a rasping forehand return winner after a benefiting from a huge slice of luck from the net cord.

The favourite gifted Svitolina a break for a 2-1 lead in the second with a double fault after a string of backhand errors but hit straight back to level with an overhead volley.

Barty was in the ascendancy, prowling around the court with great athleticism to force the world number eight onto the back foot and a first double fault from the defending champion left her 4-2 down.

Svitolina was not going to relinquish her title without a fight, though, and was back on serve when Barty sent a backhand wide, but she failed to hold for the third game in a row.

Barty grasped her chance to serve out the match, closing it out with a hold to love.

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Paris Masters, handing Denis Shapovalov a final showdown with Novak Djokovic.

Nadal, who will return to world number one on Monday, had been set to face the Canadian in the semi-final on Saturday.

But the ATP Tour confirmed the Spaniard had pulled out with an abdominal injury sustained during the warm-up.

Nadal said: "In one of the last serves of the warm-ups, I felt something in the abdominal.

"For the rest of the week the things have been positive. I enjoyed a lot playing here in Bercy."

It means Shapovalov will contest his first Masters final, while Djokovic will go in search of a fifth Paris title on Sunday. 

Nadal would have secured top spot in the year-end rankings by winning the tournament. 

World number one Ashleigh Barty will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina for the WTA Finals title after both players came from a set down in their last-four contests.

Barty, who is aiming to round off comfortably the best year of her career with a maiden WTA Finals triumph, beat Karolina Pliskova 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the second semi-final in Shenzhen.

The French Open champion thumped 36 winners and saved all but one of the 12 break points she faced, yet she will have to break new ground in order to deny Svitolina a successful title defence.

Svitolina, who is remarkably set to play in her first final of 2019, has won all five of the pair's previous meetings.

The Ukrainian held a 5-7 6-3 4-1 lead when her semi-final rival, Belinda Bencic, retired due to cramping.

"You never want to finish the match and to see your opponent retiring," said Svitolina in an on-court interview. "It's very tough for her, especially at the end of the season, one of the biggest tournaments. Hopefully she can recover and be strong for next year.

"When I was coming to this tournament, definitely I was expecting very tough matches. It's the last tournament of the season, tomorrow [Sunday] is the last match of the season finally! It's going to be a tough one but I'm going to leave everything on the court to try to raise the cup again."

"I really didn't want to retire," Bencic said in a news conference. "I wanted to finish the match, but it was not possible. I'm really disappointed."

Novak Djokovic will have a shot at a fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday after edging out Grigor Dimitrov in a keenly contested last-four clash.

Djokovic prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in a 98-minute encounter that neatly encapsulated the players' careers.

Talent-wise there was nothing between them, Dimitrov happy to trade fierce baseline blows with the world number one only to fall short when it really mattered.

That was particularly evident in the first-set tie-break. Dimitrov led 5-4 with two serves to come only to fire a forehand drive-volley wide at the end of an epic rally.

An unforced forehand error gifted Djokovic set point which he clinched after Dimitrov went long following another gruelling point that lasted 35 strokes.

Djokovic's level never dipped and when he broke for a 3-2 lead in the second the crowd sensed the game was up.

Dimitrov continued to fight but he could not find a way back with Djokovic refusing to yield a single break point opportunity.

The Serbian will next take on either Rafael Nadal or Denis Shapovalov.

Rafael Nadal battled past fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take his place in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

Tsonga had displayed fine form in Paris heading into Friday's encounter, but Nadal, who is still yet to win the ATP 1000 event, had too much quality after making the breakthrough in a hard-fought first set.

While Nadal laboured at times, Novak Djokovic, who will relinquish his number one status to the Spaniard next week, had no such issues as he confidently dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini – who was sent out by Tsonga in the last 32 – clinched the last remaining ATP Finals spot thanks to Denis Shapovalov's straight sets victory over Gael Monfils.

NADAL DIGS DEEP

Nadal twice had to serve to stay in the first set, but having forced the tie-break, a wonderful backhand pass paved the way for him to forge ahead.

With the serve dominating throughout set one, it was Tsonga who blinked first in the second – Nadal taking full advantage of two sloppy shots to secure a first break of the match.

Soon-to-be world number one Nadal had finally hit his stride, playing a sublime through-the-legs shot to further drain Tsonga's confidence.

Despite showing resilience to hold, Tsonga was soon a double-break down, with Nadal wrapping up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win when his opponent sent a desperate backhand return into the net.

 

DOMINANT DJOKOVIC HITS TOP GEAR

After struggling with illness in his opening matches, Djokovic was at his irresistible, untouchable best against Tsitsipas, who had no response to lose inside an hour.

A double break early in set one set the tone for Djokovic, who had the opener tied up in his favour inside 29 minutes.

Djokovic took just a minute longer to finish off set two, two more breaks ending any slim hopes of a Tsitsipas comeback before an overhit return from the Greek sealed his progression by an emphatic 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

 

BERRETTINI COMPLETES LONDON FIELD

With defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev having claimed his spot at the O2 earlier in the week, there was one place up for grabs heading into Friday's play.

The permutations were simple, with Monfils – ranked 10th in the Race for London – needing a win to take the place of Berrettini.

However, the French number one came unstuck in some style against Shapovalov, who cruised to a 6-2 6-2 triumph, and Berrettini now completes the top eight, alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev.

 

DIMITROV SWAPS HALLOWEEN TRICKS FOR SEMI-FINAL TREAT

Having already knocked out Thiem, Dimitrov claimed his spot in the last four with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Cristian Garin, ending an 18-month wait to make a semi-final at ATP 1000 level.

The Bulgarian may have had to give up his Halloween celebrations, but it was a small price to pay.

"[A fantastic week] so far, I've skipped Halloween but it's a better place to be, here on centre court," Dimitrov told Tennis TV.

Halloween may have passed, yet the world number 27 now faces the scary prospect of going up against Djokovic for a place in the final.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.