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."

Novak Djokovic is aiming to match Roger Federer's record haul of six ATP Finals titles, though defending champion Daniil Medvedev will be out to deny the Serbian.

Djokovic has secured a record seventh year-ending world number one ranking, and gained vengeance on Medvedev for his US Open heartbreak by defeating the Russian at the Paris Masters earlier this month.

That win brought up a record 37th ATP 1000 title for Djokovic, who surpassed Rafael Nadal in that regard. The Spaniard, along with fellow great Federer, is not competing at these Finals.

While Nadal and Federer will be missed as the tournament makes its debut in Turin after 12 editions at London's O2 Arena, it provides Djokovic – who lost to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals last year – with a good chance of matching the latter's tally of Finals wins. 

Medvedev, the second seed, seems the most likely candidate to go up against Djokovic, though his first challenge is to negotiate the Red Group, which also includes 2018 champion Alexander Zverev, debutant Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Federer at Wimbledon, and Matteo Berrettini, who will have the backing of the Italian crowd. 

Djokovic, meanwhile, has to get past Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud and 2019 champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. It is certainly no foregone conclusion, as the next generation of stars catch up with one of the game's greats.

Medvedev unfazed by Djokovic familiarity

It is Medvedev who gets the tournament started, taking on Hurkacz on Monday. The world number two has gone from strength to strength since winning last year's season-ending showdown by beating Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

Medvedev has won four titles, including that crucial maiden grand slam, in 2021, with the 25-year-old reaching a further two finals, losing to Djokovic at the Australian Open and Paris Masters.

As well as meeting Djokovic three times so far this year (the record stands at 6-4 in the world number one's favour from 10 matches in total), Medvedev has also been practising with the world number one.

"You have to practise with other players," said Medvedev. "I think if you think, 'Oh my, he's going to see my weak side', your life in tennis will be too tough. You'd only be able to play with your sparring partner.

"You also need to play with the best players in the world to improve. The level of our matches will always be high, but you will try to adapt your style.

"I tried to re-watch the Australian Open final for the US Open final, and Novak watched the US Open match to change things [in Paris].

"We both did the right things [in Paris], but he played better on the day. You know nothing will ever come easily and you need to fight throughout the match."

Hurkacz will present a stern test. The Pole is 36-20 on the season having won three titles, while world number three Zverev edged out Djokovic in the 2018 finale. Berrettini, meanwhile, is making his second appearance at the Finals and will be eager to make home advantage count.

Tsitsipas happy with 2021 progress

Tsitsipas remains the only player to win both the NextGen and ATP Finals titles, but he has had to settle for something of a frustrating season. The Greek, ranked fourth in the world, has claimed two Tour victories, including his first Masters triumph, in Monte Carlo.

However, the Greek threw away a two-set lead in his first appearance in a grand slam final, as Djokovic fought back to clinch the French Open (his 19th major title, a tally he has now extended to 20).

The pair will meet again in the Green Group, though first up for Tsitsipas is Rublev, who he beat in Monte Carlo, though the Russian has won 48 matches in 2021.

"Overall, I am happy where I stand and I want to take an extra step and aim even higher next year. That will require new fresh goals. Working to find where the one per cent lies, or the five per cent, where I can benefit from it," Tsitsipas explained.

Ruud, the remaining member of the Green Group, should not be underestimated. The 22-year-old has won five titles this season and is the first Norweigian to appear at the event.

Carlos Alcaraz produced a dominant performance to seal a straight-sets semi-final victory against Sebastian Baez 4-2 4-1 4-2 at the Next Gen ATP Finals, and will now face Sebastian Korda in the final on Saturday.

The Spaniard, who is both the top seed and the youngest participant in the tournament, followed up his three wins in the round-robin stage in Milan by sweeping past his Argentine opponent in just 62 minutes on Friday.

Baez had become the first South American in the tournament's history to reach the semi-finals, but struggled to live with Alcaraz's power and footwork at the Allianz Cloud.

The 18-year-old will play Korda in the final after the American came through a five-set showdown in his semi-final with compatriot Brandon Nakashima.

Korda had to come from two sets to one down but eventually sealed his victory 4-3 (7-3) 2-4 1-4 4-2 4-2 in an hour and 54 minutes.

The 21-year-old admitted he had to change his approach to overcome the excellent form his opponent had shown in the first three sets.

After his win, Korda said on court: "Brandon was playing some unbelievable tennis, but I stayed with him and had some chances in the fourth and fifth sets, and took them and ran.

"I got more aggressive. I tried coming into the net more and placing my serves more, and that opened up the court for me."

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."

Sebastian Korda extended his perfect record at the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, while Brandon Nakashima and Sebastian Baez also made the semi-finals.

Korda, who recorded straight-sets victories in his opening two games, cruised past home favourite Lorenzo Musseti 4-2 4-3 (7-4) 4-2 to reach the last four in Milan.

In Group B's other game, Baez became the first South American in the tournament's history to reach the semi-finals after defeating Hugo Gaston 4-3 (7-2) 4-2 4-2 in 65 minutes.

In a winner-takes-all Group A clash, fourth seed Nakashima rallied from a set down to edge past Holger Rune 3-4 (3-7) 4-1 4-1 4-3 (7-1).

Nakashima, who has now won 11 of his past 13 matches, will meet the undefeated Korda in the next stage.

Carlos Alcaraz had already secured his semi-final berth but maintained his unbeaten record in Thursday's other clash as he overcame Juan Manuel Cerundolo 4-0 4-1 2-4 4-3 (7-3).

With the victory over Argentine Cerundolo, Alcaraz becomes the youngest player to earn 30 tour-level wins in a season since Rafael Nadal, aged 18, did so in 2004.

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."

Carlos Alcaraz became the first player to book his semi-final berth at the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals with a second successive straight-sets victory.

The 18-year-old Spaniard beat Brandon Nakashima 4-3 (7-4) 4-1 4-3 (7-4) in an impressive display in Milan, picking up where he left off in his opening encounter with Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune to top Group A.

Rune did claim his first win of the tournament against Juan Manuel Cerundolo, beating him over four sets, but the Dane remains third in the group behind Nakashima.

In Group B, Sebastian Korda also secured his second win from his two matches to move to the brink of securing his own semi-final slot, defeating Sebastian Baez in straight sets 4-3 (7-3) 4-2 4-2.

The American fought back from two sets down in his first match, becoming only the second player in tournament history to do so, but largely avoided any drama this time around.

There was plenty of excitement in the final showdown of the night, however, as Lorenzo Musetti's clash with Hugo Gaston went the distance, with the latter rallying from two sets down only to be beaten 4-2 in the decider.

Sebastian Korda produced an inspired turnaround from two sets down to defeat Hugo Gaston 3-4(2) 3-4(6) 4-0 4-3(3) 4-0 in his opening match at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

The American became only the second player in the history of this event to achieve the feat, after Borna Coric against Karen Khachanov in 2017.

Korda is the second seed in Milan this year following an impressive 2021 that saw him capture his first ATP title at the Emilia-Romagna Open, and reach the Miami Masters quarter-finals and Wimbledon fourth round.

The 21-year-old looked destined to begin Group B with a defeat after losing the opening two sets on tie-breaks, while he also saved match point at 3-2 down in the fourth.

Korda subsequently dominated the final set to complete a remarkable victory in just over two hours.

The world number 39 said: "[I] just stayed calm and kept thinking what I could do better. 

"I did play very well tactically in the first two sets, but I figured a couple of things out during the tie-break and I think that helped me for the rest of the match."

Meanwhile, top seed Carlos Alcaraz enjoyed a straight-sets victory over Holger Rune, prevailing 4-3(6) 4-2 4-0.

The Spanish teenager has also enjoyed a fruitful year on the ATP circuit, triumphing in Umag while beating world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas on the way to reaching the US Open quarter-finals.

And he made the perfect start in Group A; enjoying an 88 per cent first-serve success rate in a commanding win.

"I think it was a great match, both of us played really well," the world number 32 said.

"I am trying to go to the net and play aggressively in the important moments and stay calm. I am trying to do this every match."

Elsewhere, Brandon Nakashima – champion in Brest last month – made it 10 wins from 11 matches as he beat Juan Manuel Cerundolo 4-1 3-4(3) 4-1 4-0.

The 20-year-old, who became the youngest American to reach multiple tour-level finals since Andy Roddick earlier this year, was pegged back in the second set, but dominated the final two to seal victory in just over an hour-and-a-half.

However, there was no joy for home favourite Lorenzo Musetti, who was beaten in four sets by Sebastian Baez.

Though roared on by his home crowd, the world number 58 was unable to deliver in his opening match. Baez – a five-time Challenger Tour winner in 2021 – took full advantage to prevail 4-1 4-1 3-4(5) 4-3(5).

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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