ATP

Nadal matches Federer, Djokovic with fifth year-end number one ranking

By Sports Desk November 14, 2019

Rafael Nadal matched Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic by securing a fifth year-end number one, while also breaking a record set by the Serbian.

Federer was too good for Djokovic 6-4 6-3 at the ATP Finals on Thursday, reaching the semi-finals at the expense of the 16-time grand slam champion.

The result confirmed Nadal will finish the year at the top of the rankings for the fifth time.

The Spanish star joined Federer, Djokovic and Jimmy Connors on that tally, trailing only Pete Sampras (six).

It also marked the 16th straight year in which one of the 'Big Four' – Federer (2004-07 and 2009), Nadal (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019), Djokovic (2011-12, 2014-15 and 2018) and Andy Murray (2016) – has finished as world number one.

At 33, Nadal is the oldest year-end number one in ATP rankings history. Djokovic, 31 last year, held that mark previously.

Federer (20) still leads his rivals for most grand slams, although Nadal (19) and Djokovic (16) closed the gap this year.

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  • Kyrgios hits back at Becker's 'rat' accusations over Zverev blast Kyrgios hits back at Becker's 'rat' accusations over Zverev blast

    Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Boris Becker after the German legend branded him a "rat" over his public criticism of Alexander Zverev.

    World number seven Zverev was labelled as "selfish" by Kyrgios after he was apparently spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

    Zverev took part in the Adria Tour where several players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, tested positive for coronavirus and, although he returned a negative result himself, promised to isolate, with guidelines recommending 14 days.

    Becker, a winner of six grand slams, called out Kyrgios' public criticism, leading to the duo exchanging a few virtual volleys on Twitter.

    "We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19 ! It's terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don't like #rats @NickKyrgios," Becker wrote on Twitter.

    Kyrgios defended himself, writing: "Rats? For holding someone accountable? Strange way to think of it champion, I'm just looking out for people. WHEN my family and families all over the world have respectfully done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something."

    The argument was not done there, though, with Becker once again repeating his earlier insult.

    "Don't like no #rats ! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror and think your better than us...@NickKyrgios."

    To which Kyrgios responded: "For goodness sake Boris, I'm not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It's a global pandemic and if someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I'll call him out for it. Simple."

    The back-and-forth exchange did not end there, with Kyrgios saying Becker is a "bigger doughnut than I thought" and he "can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though".

    Becker continued the argument, with the retort: "Your [sic] funny guy ....how is it down under? Respect all the guidelines?" before somewhat bizarrely attempting to change tact.

    "I really would like to see @NickKyrgios fulfil his potential and win a grand slam! He would be an incredible role model for the youth of the world addressing the issues of equality/race/heritage! Man up buddy and deliver!" Becker commented.

    Kyrgios, though, was in little mood to change the topic of discussion.

    "Why are you now talking about tennis? It has nothing to do with tennis? How about the dude who you are defending mans up and gives us some sort of explanation? Not another average management apology," he wrote.

  • Wimbledon 2020: Ladies and gentlemen, play is suspended... but 2021 should be epic Wimbledon 2020: Ladies and gentlemen, play is suspended... but 2021 should be epic

    Wimbledon should have been getting under way on Monday and the queue would have been building all weekend long, a tented village of flag-waving, gin-swigging tennis diehards doing whatever it takes to land a prized ticket.

    The practice courts would have been bustling, news conferences with the world's elite players running all day Saturday and into Sunday, and the first bumper delivery of fresh strawberries would have arrived fresh from the fields of Kent.

    Elite athletes and their entourages would have been milling around the grounds, before at 10.30am on Monday morning the paying spectators would have been released from their holding bay, many racing straight to the grass bank that is officially named Aorangi Terrace but better known as Henman Hill.

    And at 11.30am, the first players would have been walking on court, the championships getting under way. To be there at such a time is a delicious thrill, the waiting over, the grounds teeming, the first points being played, and the anticipation escalating as to what might unfold over the next fortnight.

    Yet this year Wimbledon was all quiet across the weekend; thousands did not queue for tickets; the line painters, the stewards, and the ball boys and ball girls stayed at home; and a whole lot more strawberry jam is being produced in England this year than last.

    The 2020 championships were cancelled on April 1, the only reasonable decision available to the All England Club amid the coronavirus pandemic, but organisers are already preparing for next year's return.

    And from the plot lines that are already emerging, it is clear we can expect a classic Wimbledon.

    A farewell to great champions?

    There is the very real prospect of tennis losing a huddle of its biggest stars practically all at once, with anyone that was considering bowing out this year surely now giving the glad eye to 2021.

    Roger Federer will be just weeks short of his 40th birthday by next year's Wimbledon, and the same applies to Serena Williams, whose sister Venus will already be 41.

    Andy Murray will be a relatively young 34 but his body has taken a battering, the Scot desperate to play more grand slams but also realistic enough to know there may not be many left for him. He longs for another Wimbledon, maybe just one more.

    Between them, that quartet have won 22 Wimbledon singles titles, and all four could choose the 2021 tournament as their opportunity to bid farewell to the All England Club.

    It's going to be an emotional tournament in any case, if we are back to normal, but if there are goodbyes to be said too, the championships promise to be one packed with indelible memories, and so many tears.

    The magic numbers

    Serena Williams has lost each of the past two Wimbledon women's finals and has been stuck on 23 grand slams since winning the 2017 Australian Open, agonisingly one short of Margaret Court's record.

    Could Wimbledon be where Williams matches or even passes Court's total? The American remains the player to beat at Wimbledon, and her hunger for grand slam success has not remotely diminished over time.

    There can be little doubt she is playing not purely for the love of it, but because of the thrill of the chase, and Williams might wind up disappointed at the end of her career, still marooned one adrift.

    But what a story it would be if Williams were to win another Wimbledon, the last of her thirties. Don't put anything past her.

    And the race to finish as the all-time leader on the men's side keeps rolling, a devil of a duty to predict who will come out on top between Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

    Another Wimbledon win for any of them could take on momentous significance in that respect.

    A new men's Centre Court king, at last?

    The last player to win the Wimbledon's men's singles, besides the 'Big Four' of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

    And while the era of those four great players dominating in SW19 has been one to treasure, seeing a new champion crowned would be rather special.

    There have been nine winners of the women's singles over the same period of time, multiple champions among them but also terrific one-off stories such as Marion Bartoli's triumph, the 17-year-old Maria Sharapova's big breakthrough, Amelie Mauresmo's great achievement, and the unbridled joy of Simona Halep last year.

    Certainly there is so much to admire about the quartet that have ruled the men's singles, but a little novelty feels overdue.

    Those queueing up to form a new dominant group need to push themselves forward, rather than play a waiting game.

    Gauff gunning for major breakthrough

    Gauff gunning for major breakthrough

    What a revelation Coco Gauff became last year, defeating her great hero Venus Williams and reaching the fourth round, where it took eventual champion Halep to halt the 15-year-old's run.

    She dramatically followed up by reaching the third round of the US Open and then round four of the Australian Open at the start of this year.

    Between those two grand slams, Gauff also landed her first WTA title, in Linz, Austria, where she became the youngest winner on tour for 15 years.

    The American teenager is the real deal, that much is clear, and she has a bright future.

    Gauff demonstrated wisdom beyond her years off the court in early June with a terrific, powerful address at a Black Lives Matter rally in her Florida home town of Delray Beach.

    May she return many times to Wimbledon.

  • Coronavirus: Kyrgios blasts 'selfish' Zverev Coronavirus: Kyrgios blasts 'selfish' Zverev

    Nick Kyrgios hit out at Alexander Zverev for being "selfish" after apparently being spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

    Zverev, the world number seven, played at the Adria Tour, where Novak Djokovic was among several players to test positive for coronavirus, as social-distancing guidelines were ignored earlier this month.

    In a statement released on Twitter on June 22, Zverev said he tested negative for COVID-19 but would follow self-isolation rules, with 14 days usually recommended.

    But the German was reportedly spotted partying and Kyrgios blasted the 23-year-old.

    "So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world," Kyrgios said in an Instagram video.

    "But one just stuck out for me was seeing 'Sascha' Zverev again, man, again, again, how selfish can you be? How selfish can you be?

    "I mean if you have the audacity to f****** put out a tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you're going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the f****** general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days, my God.

    "Have your girlfriend with you for f****** 14 days, Jesus man. Pissing me off, this tennis world is pissing me off, seriously, how selfish can you all get?"

    The ATP Tour season is scheduled to restart in August, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

    There have been more than 10.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 504,000.

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