Daniil Medvedev eventually overcame Alexander Zverev in a high-quality contest to record his second win of this year's ATP Finals.

The Russian sealed a 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (8-6) victory in a tight encounter in which there was only one break of serve, which came in the first game of the match for Medvedev in Turin.

Exactly a year to the day since the two faced each other in the same tournament in London, it looked like history might repeat itself to an even greater extent as Medvedev won the first set 6-3, as he had done in 2020 in a straight-sets win.

The defending champion was dominating from the baseline, but the second set saw a drastic improvement from Zverev, who hit 13 aces having managed just one in the first set.

The German could still not get close to breaking the Medvedev serve, but was able to win the tie-break to level things up.

The third set followed a similar pattern, almost inevitably ending with another tie-break. Despite saving two match points, Zverev could do nothing about the third as Medvedev secured the win and he will qualify if Hubert Hurkacz beats Matteo Berrettini in Red Group later on Tuesday.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Medvedev – 36/27
Zverev – 48/25

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Medvedev – 14/1
Zverev – 18/2

BREAK POINTS WON 

Medvedev – 1/4
Zverev – 0/4

Nick Kyrgios believes the Australian Open should be cancelled as he threw his support behind rival Novak Djokovic, insisting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is "morally wrong".

It remains to be seen whether world number one Djokovic will defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne in January due to vaccination requirements.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced.

Kyrgios and Djokovic have clashed in the past, but the former backed the nine-time Australian Open champion as he called for the upcoming grand slam to be scrapped.

"I don't think the Aus Open should go ahead, just for the people in Melbourne – you’ve got to send a message," Australian former world number 13 Kyrgios said on his 'No Boundaries' podcast.

"How long did [Melbourne] do in lockdown? 275 days or something?"

Kyrgios also referenced Brooklyn Nets star and NBA champion Kyrie Irving, who is yet to feature this season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against coronavirus, which is preventing him from practicing or playing – New York has a mandate in place that states players must have had a COVID-19 jab.

Kyrgios – an Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2015 – added: "Kyrie, Novak … These guys have given so much, sacrificed so much. They are global athletes who millions of people look up to.

"I just think it is so morally wrong to force someone to be vaccinated.

"I'm double vaccinated, but I just don't think it's right to force anyone [to be vaccinated] and say 'you can't come and play here because you're not vaccinated'.

"There are other solutions around it, [such as] to get tested every day. In the [United] States I know they've got rapid tests, and it's coming to Australia. It's 85 per cent success rate, you wait 15 minutes and then you're allowed to play."

Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula hit back on Tuesday, telling reporters: "I really like Nick Kyrgios and I cheer for him every time he plays and I certainly don't want to have beef with Nick Kyrgios but I actually couldn't follow the logic of his comments. We've had a long lockdown so the Australian Open shouldn't proceed? I'm not sure I follow that.

"I think the opposite applies. Melburnians, Victorians and, frankly all Australians, are absolutely gagging for major events. Our economy needs it, our state psyche needs it. It's a global grand slam, it's going to go ahead."

Novak Djokovic "feels amazing" after surpassing Pete Sampras for the year-end number one record on the ATP Tour.

Djokovic was presented with the trophy for finishing the year ranked number one for the seventh time after defeating Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in his ATP Finals opener on Monday, breaking a tie with idol Sampras.

A 20-time grand slam champion – a joint record held alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic revelled in his latest achievement.

"It feels amazing and it feels even better when you win a match and then get your hands on the trophy that I have been blessed to lift seven times," Djokovic said in Turin.

"[I have won] one more than Pete Sampras, who was my childhood hero. He was the one that got me into tennis. He was also an inspiration to me and I dreamt of being a Wimbledon champion and World No. 1 like he was.

"Fast forwarding to today, it is quite amazing to be in this position. I am very grateful. It is something I am very much appreciating and not taking for granted."

World number one Djokovic is looking for his sixth ATP Finals title, though his last success came in 2016.

Djokovic produced a confident performance in his opening match against Ruud, dropping just four points behind his first serve and rallying from a break down in a tight opening set.

The top seed – who tied Ivan Lendl for second-most wins (39) in the history of the ATP Finals – will also face Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev in the Green Group.

"It was a really terrible start, but also funny because I’m still trying to figure out what happened," Djokovic said. "Casper started strong. He was serving well. The altitude, fast court, fast balls – it favours big servers. I knew he had a solid serve, but maybe not as good as Medvedev or Zverev. 

"He did positively surprise me with this serve, particularly in the first set. I just managed to read it better in the second set. But it was a close one."

Djokovic, meanwhile, expressed his shock amid the unknown whereabouts of WTA player Peng Shuai.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has opened an investigation into Peng's sexual assault allegations against a former China leader.

Shuai, 35, posted on Chinese social media site Weibo allegations against Zhang Gaoli – the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee – claiming he had forced her to have sexual relations with him.

In the post, published on Tuesday before subsequently being deleted, the 2013 Wimbledon doubles champion alleged that the pair had extramarital relations and she had developed feelings for him.

All of Peng's content has since been removed from Weibo and numerous reports suggest she has not been seen in recent days.

"I did hear about it a week ago. Honestly, it's shocking that she's missing, more so that it's someone that I have seen on the tour in the previous years quite a few times," said Djokovic.

"It's not much more to say than hope that she will be found, that she's okay. It's terrible … I can imagine just how her family feels that she's missing."

Andrey Rublev returned to form by downing Stefanos Tsitsipas in their first match of the ATP Finals in Turin on Monday. 

Rublev had only won two of his past seven contests before arriving at the season-ending tournament at the Pala Alpitour but saw off fourth seed Tsitsipas 6-4 6-4. 

The fifth seed from Russia gained sweet revenge, having lost to his Greek opponent in this event in London last year. 

Rublev did not face a break point as he levelled his head-to-head record with Tsitsipas at 4-4 with a statement win. 

The Moscow native won 90 per cent of points behind his first serve and broke Tsitsipas once in each set, sealing victory in an hour and a half. 

Rublev joined world number one Novak Djokovic at the top of the Green Group on a night to forget for Tsitsipas. 

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Rublev – 31/7
Tsitsipas – 31/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Rublev – 9/3
Tsitsipas– 12/2

BREAK POINTS WON 

Rublev – 2/7
Tsitsipas – 0/0

Novak Djokovic made a confident start to his ATP Finals with a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud in Turin.

The world number one is looking for his sixth ATP Finals title, though his last success came in 2016, and he overcame his Norwegian opponent 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Monday.

Ruud showed glimpses of the form that saw him become the first Norwegian to qualify for the season-ending tournament, but despite coming close to edging the first set, he never looked like upsetting the Serbian, who recently clinched the year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time.

It started well enough for the 22-year-old, breaking Djokovic in the first game and going 2-0 up before the crowd had settled.

His opponent soon recovered to break back, showing some of his trademark steel to come out on top in the longer rallies. Ruud was able to take the first set to a tie-break, but Djokovic secured it with a beautiful forehand-winner down the line.

Ruud pulled off some impressive winners himself on occasion, with some nice drop shots in particular, but he was rarely able to keep up with the number one seed's pace and power.

Djokovic won 20 of 21 first-serve points in the opening set, and his overall performance stepped up another notch in the second as he returned the favour to Ruud by breaking him in the first game.

The result was never in doubt from there, with Djokovic dominating on his serve again, only failing to get his first serve in once in the second set.

Ruud did not manage another break point after the opening game of the match and was forced to see his opponent comfortably serve out to open his tournament with a victory.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Djokovic – 23/13
Ruud – 23/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Djokovic – 10/0
Ruud – 9/4

BREAK POINTS WON 

Djokovic – 3/5
Ruud – 1/1

There was agony for Matteo Berrettini as he was forced to retire in his first match of the ATP Finals against Alexander Zverev on home soil.

Italian Berrettini appeared to suffer an abdominal injury when trailing 1-0 in the second set after Zverev won the first 7-6 (9-7) in their opening Red Group match in Turin on Sunday.

Sixth seed Berrettini dropped his racket and put his head in his hands as he grimaced after crashing a forehand into the net and underwent lengthy treatment to his left side.

The world number seven attempted to continue, but was clearly in pain as he served and duly brought the contest to an end at the Pala Alpitour.

Berrettini cut an emotional figure and was embraced by Zverev before being given a great ovation as he trudged off the court, with his opponent standing to applaud.

Zverev had saved two set points in the opening set and came from 5-3 down in the breaker to edge in front before the match came to a premature end.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Zverev – 21/9
Berrettini– 16/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Zverev – 10/1
Berrettini – 5/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Zverev – 0/5
Berrettini – 0/2

Daniil Medvedev got his ATP Finals title defence started in impressive fashion as he came from behind to defeat Hubert Hurkacz.

In the first match of the singles draw in Turin, Medvedev overcame a difficult start to ultimately cruise to a 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 win over the Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Hurkacz showed flashes of his quality, but made 17 unforced errors to Medvedev's eight as the second seed did not offer up a single break point.

Medvedev, who did not win a match in his debut at the tournament in 2019, tops the Red Group, which also includes Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini.

Hurkacz's aggressive net play saw him make the breakthrough in the first set tie-break, with neither player having offered up a single break point during the opener.

The Pole did lose three successive points to go from 6-2 up to 6-5 before eventually taking the set at the fourth time of asking.

Yet Medvedev controlled things in set two, breaking early to nose himself ahead, with Hurkacz losing the composure he had shown in the opening exchanges.

Medvedev took the set at the third opportunity, and Hurkacz's frustration followed into the decider as the Russian breezed into a 2-0 lead.

Hurkacz offered a reminder of his class with a deft volley that left Medvedev with too much to do, yet the world number nine slipped up with a similar shot in the next game to give his opponent the edge.

Despite battling back from 0-30 down to hold serve and keep himself in the match, Hurkacz did not have an answer for Medvedev's power, as the world number two served out a relatively routine win.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Medvedev – 31/8
Hurkacz – 31/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Medvedev – 15/1
Hurkacz – 12/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Medvedev – 2/4
Hurkacz – 0/0

Roger Federer is unlikely to compete at next year's Australian Open, but the 20-time grand slam champion is not yet thinking of retirement, so says coach Ivan Ljubicic.

Federer has endured an injury-hit two seasons. After reaching the semi-finals at the 2020 Australian Open, the Swiss star underwent knee surgery, with a complication in his recovery leading him to take the rest of the year off.

That prolonged rehabilitation, plus the strict COVID-19 regulations in Australia, meant he did not compete in Melbourne earlier this year, but Federer returned to the ATP Tour in Qatar in March.

He went on to reach the last 16 of the French Open, losing to Matteo Berrettini, and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, where he went out to Hubert Hurkacz.

However, he has not featured since then after undergoing surgery for another knee problem sustained on the grass-court circuit.

With Australia's tight coronavirus restrictions still in place, it is unclear whether Novak Djokovic, who has tied level with Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 major wins, will compete in Melbourne early in 2022.

Nadal, too, has not yet confirmed his participation, and with Ljubicic suggesting Federer will not be fit in time, all three greats could be missing from next year's first grand slam.

"I think there are very few chances, he is still recovering and knowing him he wants to be sure he can play to win the tournament and be at 100 per cent," Ljubicic said.

"So I think Australian Open is not a real possibility right now. But he will go step by step because he is 40 years old and he needs to be patient. He cannot recover as quickly as he used to."

 

Despite doubts over his participation in Australia, and the time he has spent away from the court in the past two years, Federer is not considering retirement just yet.

"We have spoken and I can guarantee he wants to return playing tennis," Ljubicic added. "When he will decide to stop, he will retire, but I don't think it's going to happen all of a sudden."

Ljubicic is only two years Federer's senior and, as a player, reached a high of world number three back in 2006. He has coached Federer since 2016, helping him to three grand slam titles.

"Many times I found myself wondering what am I doing here? But in the end I hope and I think I was able to help him in those few moments he needed in the right way at the right time," Ljubicic said.

"There's always a risk when you meet your idol in person, as you may discover something you don't like, but with him, it is not the case. With him, there are no risks, he really is an extraordinary person. 

"I have been lucky enough to live beside him in the past six years and I enjoyed it very much. I really have fun with him. Is it difficult? No, it's just beautiful. When we discuss tennis, I ask myself: why he is paying me?"

Carlos Alcaraz rounded off a superb 2021 by claiming the ATP Next Gen Finals title with a straight-sets victory over Sebastian Korda.

Alcaraz produced a performance in keeping with a breakthrough year for the Spaniard, prevailing 4-3 (7-5) 4-2 4-2 in Milan.

It marked Alcaraz's 32nd tour-level win of a year that also saw him reach the quarter-finals of the US Open.

The 18-year-old is the youngest player to claim 32 wins in a year since 1992, when Andrei Medvedev achieved the feat at 18.

Alcaraz faced five break points in his first two service games but had to stave off just one more the rest of the way.

He did fall 0-30 behind when serving for the match, yet Korda could not deny Alcaraz his second Tour title of the year.

"It is amazing," Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. "To be able to win this tournament means a lot to me.

"I am so excited right now and emotional. I was very, very nervous at the start.

"I had to be calm to save the break points. I know Korda is serving very well, so I had to play my best in those moments.

"It went 0-30 on my serve. So I had to be focused in that moment and I had to stay calm. It was really, really tough."

Andy Murray believes his game will improve in the off-season after the former world number one's 2021 campaign came to an end at the Stockholm Open.

Murray stunned top seed Jannik Sinner on Wednesday, however, the three-time grand slam champion lost 6-2 3-6 6-3 to Tommy Paul in Thursday's quarter-final.

Currently ranked 143rd on the ATP Tour, Murray had warned the days of him progressing deep in tournaments again were on the horizon following his upset of Sinner midweek.

Murray's career has been ravaged by injuries – the 34-year-old underwent hip resurfacing in 2019, but the veteran feels he is on the right track.

"My game will improve, I think, over the off season - I'm pretty clear on the things that I need to work on," said Murray, with his focus now turning to the 2022 Australian Open.

"I need to make sure we get a good plan in place that come the beginning of January those improvements have been made."

Paul needed two hours, 16 minutes to see off Murray at the ATP 250 tournament in Stockholm.

"It was a lot of fun," said American Paul. "He is a legend. I played some of my best tennis today and I even looked over at my coach mid-match and thought it was fun to battle him today.

"It was the game plan to keep him running after his long match [against Jannik Sinner] yesterday. I tried to keep him running. I played tight and stuck to my game plan in the third set."

Andy Murray insisted he can compete at the top level as the former world number one warned the days of him progressing deep in tournaments again are on the horizon after stunning Jannik Sinner at the Stockholm Open.

Murray claimed his second top-10 win of the year after upstaging top seed Sinner 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 en route to the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

A three-time grand slam champion, Murray fended off the only break point he faced to close out another impressive victory in two hours, 10 minutes midweek.

Many questioned Murray's future in tennis and his ability to return among the contenders on the ATP Tour, having been devastated by injuries – the 34-year-old underwent hip resurfacing in 2019.

However, Murray is oozing confidence as he prepares to meet Tommy Paul for a spot in the semi-finals of the ATP 250 event.

"I'm convinced I can play … well, I can. I'm playing at the top level and I'm winning matches against the best players in the world," said Murray.

"The ones that I'm losing, I'm pushing the best players in the world. That argument is finished. I can compete at the top level."

Currently ranked 143 in the world, Murray has a 15-13 win-loss record this year and has not claimed a title since October 2019.

Murray: "I said in the last few weeks, it's coming. It's coming.

"I don't know if it will be this week or the beginning of next year, but I'm going to be pushing and getting deep in tournaments again."

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed he will play at the Australian Open next year, as the debate over vaccine mandates continues.

Medvedev was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the final of this year's tournament, though the Russian has gone on to enjoy a brilliant season.

He has won four titles, including his first grand slam, beating Djokovic at the US Open in September to end the latter's pursuit of a clean sweep of the four majors in 2021.

Djokovic and Medvedev met again on Sunday, with the world number one coming out on top to clinch his sixth Paris Masters title and a record 37th triumph at ATP 1000 events.

Medvedev had appeared non-committal about being vaccinated against COVID-19, which is likely to be a requirement for any player wishing to compete at the Australian Open, but he dispelled doubts around his involvement when he tweeted on Tuesday: "See you in January @AustralianOpen."

While Medvedev will be involved in Melbourne, the participation of Djokovic – who is a nine-time Australian Open champion – is not yet known.

The Serbian has previously appeared hesitant over the coronavirus vaccine mandate, though he has not revealed whether he has been vaccinated or not.

Australia has enforced strict measures throughout the pandemic, with Melbourne having been under lockdown on six occasions since March 2020. Indeed, the city only lifted its most recent restrictions towards the end of October.

Athletes arriving in Australia prior to last year's event had to go through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

Despite Australia's vaccination programme gaining momentum, travellers who are not citizens must be able to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result, while quarantine regulations vary depending on state rules.

Tennis Australia is reportedly still hopeful of securing a deal for unvaccinated players to compete in the tournament, subject to a two-week quarantine, with prime minister Scott Morrison suggesting players could be granted an exemption. 

On Tuesday, though, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews insisted players will have to be vaccinated.

"I'm not going to have people sitting in the grandstands having done the right thing, only to have millionaire players that ought [to] be vaccinated running around the place being essentially at such higher risk of spreading this – getting it and giving it," he said.

Speaking last month, Djokovic said: "I don't know if I'm going to Australia, I don't know what's going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.

"Of course, I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation."

Novak Djokovic claimed his sixth Paris Masters title on Sunday, overcoming Daniil Medvedev and gaining revenge for his defeat in the US Open final in the process.

Prior to this week's Masters 1000 event, Djokovic had not played since going down 6-4 6-4 6-4 to world number two Medvedev at Flushing Meadows in September.

That defeat ended Djokovic's hopes of sealing a calendar Grand Slam, but he was in fine form this week as he regained the title he last won in 2019, having not played in the competition last year.

Defending champion Medvedev started the final brilliantly, but Djokovic rallied to win 4-6 6-3 6-3, claiming a record-setting 37th Masters title in the process.

And the world number one explained how he learned from the mistakes he made in New York to prevail this time around, taking his head-to-head record with Medvedev to 6-4 in the process.

"I went back and reviewed the final of the US Open to see what I did wrong and what I did right," Djokovic told the Tennis Channel.

"I tried to read the patterns of his serve and the ball toss, maybe. I tried to look for the small details, because it was a match of small margins."

Reflecting on the showdown in Paris, Djokovic added: "He started better, broke my serve in the first game and I came back. He served the first set out pretty comfortably, but I felt as if I was there.

"I thought it was only a matter of time when I was going to read his serve better and start to make some plays.

"You can't go through him. You have to find a way to play with controlled aggression, play the right shots at the right time and make him come in. It's variety that wins matches against him. We both suffered on the court and there was a lot of gruelling rallies."

Djokovic, who had already secured a record seventh year-end number one, has won 49 matches in 2021, losing on just six occasions.

Novak Djokovic came from a set down to defeat Daniil Medvedev 4-6 6-3 6-3 and win the Paris Masters on Sunday.

Djokovic lost to Medvedev in the US Open final in September, with that defeat ending his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.

But the Serbian, whose semi-final win over Hubert Hurkacz ensured he will be the year-end world number one for a record seventh time, got his revenge in France.

It marks a fifth title of the year and a sixth triumph at this event for Djokovic, who did not compete in the tournament last year – Medvedev winning it in his place.

The 34-year-old had it far from his own way, with Medvedev instantly going a break up, and although Djokovic hit back to draw level at 2-2, the world number two held off a second break point before nosing himself ahead at 4-3.

Yet having served out the first set at the first time of asking, the US Open champion slipped up in the fourth game of the second as Djokovic reeled off some superb returns, and he did not look back.

With the momentum and crowd on his side, Djokovic broke Medvedev twice in quick succession in the decider, and although he was denied claiming the win on his serve, it merely delayed the inevitable.

Medvedev's powerful serve was not enough, with Djokovic keeping his composure to seal a record-setting 37th Masters 1000 title with a sublime forehand into the corner of the court following a draining rally.

Novak Djokovic will wait until he is retired to assess his stunning feats but recognises rankings records as "the paramount achievement of our sport".

The Serbian will finish the year as the world number one for a seventh time, a new record having previously been tied with Pete Sampras on six.

Djokovic, who also leads the way with 345 weeks at the top all-time, secured his position by advancing to the Paris Masters final with a last-four win over Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday.

"Every achievement is special," said the 20-time major champion. "I try to make myself aware of the fact that I am in a very unique position.

"It's difficult for me to understand the magnitude of these achievements, not just for myself but for the sport while I'm still [an] active player.

"Probably when I retire, I'll be able to reflect on that a little bit more and appreciate it a little bit more.

"Of course I'm very appreciative and grateful for it now, but what is the next challenge is always in your mind while you're an active player. It's constantly another task, another tournament.

"So [I] don't have really much time to enjoy the success, so to say, because you always have to turn the next page."

However, he added: "Being historically [the] number one-ranked player in the world is probably the paramount achievement of our sport.

"Also, finishing the season as year-end number one requires full commitment throughout the entire year and consistency and playing the best tennis in the biggest events, which accumulate the most points that enable you to be highly ranked. So that's what I have done this year."

Djokovic will have his work cut out as he pursues a 37th Masters 1000 title, now facing Daniil Medvedev, the man who denied him the calendar Grand Slam in the US Open final.

"The job is not done," added Djokovic. "Obviously reaching the finals of one of the biggest tournaments that we have in our sport on our tour is something that stands out regardless of the year-end achievement that is completed.

"So hopefully going to have another great match and then take it from there.

"For now I am just proud and extremely happy. Obviously that was one of the biggest goals and it's always one of the biggest goals, to try to be number one and end the season as number one.

"To do it for the record seventh time and surpass my childhood idol and role model, Pete, is incredible. Very grateful, very blessed to be in this position.

“I wasn't bored without tennis, but I like competing so I was looking forward to coming to Paris and the biggest reason coming here was to clinch the year-end number one.

"Now that I managed to do it, it's a huge relief, as well."

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