Tsitsipas 'Caravaggio' Image Named One Of Time's Top 100 Photos Of 2021

Fans will remember this year’s Roland Garros final — in which Novak Djokovic rallied past Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets — for years to come. Getty Images photographer Julian Finney was there to document it, with one of his images from the match recently being named one of TIME’s Top 100 Photos of 2021.

Finney captured Tsitsipas sliding into a backhand slice on Court Philippe Chatrier, with a pocket of light shining perfectly on the Greek as if he were under a spotlight. According to the photographer, the moment came “out of nowhere”.

“The usual nice light us photographers love had gone from the court as the sun was beginning to go down behind the stadium. Without a fifth set this picture wouldn’t have been possible,” Finney said. “I was aware of new pockets of light formed by the new centre court construction, but what occurred at this split moment was something I didn’t plan for. It’s one of those golden moments that comes and goes very quickly.

“What was so special was the low light beaming through a gangway in the stadium above whilst at the same time it was also reflecting off a window up a few rows behind me. Stefanos was also playing a low sliding backhand in the very limited spot of light. It all came together. It is the kind of lighting you’d expect from a studio set up.”

View TIME’S Top 100 Photos Of 2021

Finney, who was using a 24-70mm lens, knew as soon as he shot the image that he “had something special”, which was rewarding.

“When in that moment Stefanos played this particular shot low and sliding into this spot on the court, I couldn’t believe it paid off to shoot it loosely cropped,” Finney said. “The way the light is flaring through, the very certain spot he played the shot, the timing, his white top helped elevate the reflection of the light, [everything worked]. I knew as soon as I looked at the back of my camera I had a very special image.

“One friend mentioned it having a feel of a Caravaggio painting, quite the compliment! I also think the fact no one else got the same image, [which does not happen often] these days, is something to treasure.”

Tiafoe on ‘f****** play hard’ & Bublik’s Medvedev impression – Davis Cup Finals diary

From sipping mimosas to saving match points

Frances Tiafoe was in Cabo vacationing with his girlfriend, sipping mimosas and enjoying some down time at the end of a long and taxing season when he got a last-minute call-up to join the US team at the Davis Cup Finals in Turin. It was Saturday, just five days ahead of tournament kick-off.

The American cut his holiday short, hopped on a plane, had a cancelled flight and got stuck in Houston before finally linking up with his team-mates in northern Italy on Tuesday.

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On Sunday, Tiafoe played his heart out against an inspired Nicolas Mejia, saving two match points en route to a 4-6 6-3 7-6(7) victory that gave Team USA a 1-0 advantage over Colombia.

It was Tiafoe’s first-ever win in the Davis Cup – he was 0-2 in the competition coming in – and the emotions he showed as he celebrated with his team before sitting at his bench with a towel draped over his head portrayed just how much it meant to him.

“It felt extremely good. Never won a Davis Cup match before. Last tie I played in 2018, lost both, lost in the fifth rubber. I just really wanted to win,” said Tiafoe.

I was on vacation before this. I wasn’t supposed to play. I came out here, I’m going to give it my all. Yeah, it was emotional, but in the end I’m happy I got a win for everybody and I put myself on the line for the country.

Tiafoe had a strong finish to his 2021 ATP season. The 23-year-old made the fourth round at the US Open, final in Vienna – beating the likes of Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas along the way – and wrapped up the year with a semi-final showing in Stockholm. Or so he thought.

“Thought my season was done after Stockholm. I was cool with it. I was getting ready to eat my feast for Thanksgiving, and plans changed real quick,” said the world No.38.

“Flight got cancelled in Houston, got stuck in Houston. So I had a lot of adversity things going in. So I was like, ‘If I’m playing, I’m gonna f****** play hard’. It was nice. I’m happy my girlfriend came here with me. I’m happy I ended up getting a win.”

John Isner, who lost both his singles matches this week against Italy and Colombia, gave props to Tiafoe for reporting for duty after he had pulled the plug on his season.

“I thought it was extremely impressive what Frances did,” said Isner. “I thought what his opponent did, as well, was very impressive. But Frances to literally answer the call off of vacation, like actually vacation, and come here and play for this team and play for his country and play like that today, that was no small feat, because he had shut down his year, but he had to gear back up. That’s really not easy to do, not easy to do at all. What he did out there today I thought was very impressive.”

‘I will work 10 times harder’

Mejia was playing just his third-ever Davis Cup match and the world No.275 looked inconsolable after he squandered a 6-4 lead in the deciding tiebreak before falling to Tiafoe.

The 21-year-old from Bogota seemed to have an answer for every trick Tiafoe tried to pull on him throughout the contest and received a glowing appraisal from his opponent after the match – something Mejia was touched to hear.

“I appreciate those words. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s kind of the same generation as me, and he’s one of the players that you always kind of looked up to because he was one of the best in our generation,” said Mejia of Tiafoe. “Having the chance to play against him at the highest stage in tennis or one of the highest stages in tennis and play at the level that I played, I think it’s very satisfying.”

Mejia showed an incredible level in both of his singles matches against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego and against Tiafoe and the Colombian believes his week in Turin can only benefit him moving forward.

“I’m just thinking is just going back home and I will work 10 times harder, work my a** off and hopefully next time I have an opportunity like this, I will take it. Yeah, just gotta work a lot harder. That’s all,” he said.

I cannot say I belong exactly to this level, because my ranking, it’s 275 at the moment, and I’ve got to work my way up and I have to earn my right to be playing with these guys.

Bublik’s nod to Medvedev

Alexander Bublik is one of the most colourful personalities on the ATP tour and on Sunday, he was happy to put on a show as he secured Kazakhstan’s place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2 7-6(6) win over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.

Besides blasting 14 aces, winning 88 percent of his first-serve points and surprising his opponent with an underarm serve, Bublik revelled in the fact that the crowd was against him and took great pleasure in silencing them upon victory, putting his finger to his mouth as he strutted to the net and later borrowing a line from Daniil Medvedev, who famously taunted the New York crowd on his way to the US Open final two years ago.

“As one legend said, ‘when you go to sleep guys, know that I won because of you’,” Bublik said on court in Madrid as the crowd whistled and booed him.

He later added in his press conference:

I think it’s all part of the big show. The same guy who boos you, 20 minutes later they ask for autographs. I have nothing against them. It’s a show; they’re coming in; they’re enjoying the time.

“For sure they enjoy to boo. I would do as well, why not? That is just part of the game. I find it funny. I mean, trust me, these people will see me on the street, say, ‘Good play’. I would be happy to see them as well. That’s part of our game. So no hard feelings, I guess.”

On his decision to quote Medvedev during his on-court interview, Bublik said: “I remember making so many jokes with him about it. We were joking about it for probably two years. I mean, that was a funny situation with him. I think it’s the same with me. That’s why I said that.”

Lopez stays a hero ‘til the bitter end

Another day, another impressive win by the 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez – this time against world No.5 Andrey Rublev on Sunday in Madrid.

After his opening singles win in Spain’s tie against Ecuador on Friday, Lopez upped the ante and stunned Rublev 2-6 6-3 6-4 to give his side an early advantage over Russia and earn his first top-five victory in four and a half years.

“As you can imagine this is over any expectations to be honest,” said Lopez. “For me it was already amazing to be here representing my country at 40 years old. I didn’t expect to be the one playing singles, but we had a lot of issues during the week and I had to take that role, walk out on court playing singles.

“Honestly today, playing against Andrey, number five in the world, at this stage of my career in my hometown, this is over any expectations.”

Lopez returned to the court a couple of hours later and lost a three-set heartbreaker in doubles alongside Marcel Granollers to Rublev and Aslan Karatsev.

Serbians owe Russians a drink

Spain’s doubles defeat to the Russians sent the hosts out of the competition and gifted Serbia a place in the quarter-finals as the second-best runners-up in the Group stage.

The Serbians’ fate was left hanging in the balance after they lost to Germany on Saturday and they needed Russia to beat Spain in order to advance.

Medvedev joked when a Serbian journalist started to ask him a question in his press conference after the tie: “You must be happy, Vuk,” the Russian said with a chuckle.

It’s funny, because during the match, we are already receiving some messages from some people from Serbia, let’s call it like this, because I’m not going to say who, and not only me, but a lot of us, saying, ‘Let’s go, guys, we believe in you’.

“I feel like that’s where it’s funny in a good way this format where, yeah, they had to be close to their TVs to cheer us up, let’s call it like this.”

Leaving their mark

They may have missed out on a place in the quarter-finals, but nations like Czech Republic and Hungary can walk away from the Davis Cup Finals with their heads held high after some brave performances against more experienced opposition.

Ranked 143 in the world, the 21-year-old Tomas Machac of Czech Republic made his competition debut and pulled off two singles victories in as many ties against French veteran Richard Gasquet and British world No.25 Daniel Evans.

His 20-year-old compatriot Jiri Lehecka also gave world No.12 Cameron Norrie a run for his money by stretching the Brit to three sets before surrendering.

Meanwhile, Hungarian world No.282 Zsombor Piros produced two stellar upsets in singles, defeating Australia’s John Millman and former US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia.

“I’m shaking, to be honest. I try to rest in the locker room. My hands, my legs were a little bit shaking, so it’s hard to handle physically,” the 22-year-old said after downing Cilic on Sunday.

I’m proud of myself, for my team, because we have maybe the biggest heart and we are fighting and we are showing it to the world this weekend. I’m very glad that so many people see the Hungarian spirit.

“If this doesn’t give me the drive, then I don’t know what will. I think it will give me very much confidence for the next year and for the next matches,” added the former Australian Open junior champion.

Quote of the day

“It was a fun experience. I just wish, you know, in a team competition, I wish I could have helped my team out more, and I didn’t. It’s pretty disappointing. You know, you feel like you sort of let the guys down. I mean, I know they don’t feel that way, but it’s hard for me not to feel that way. That’s really the beauty of these competitions. It’s the beauty of it, and it’s the beast of it too. You can be the person that doesn’t contribute. That was me.”

– Isner offers a solid perspective after his loss to Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan.

Stats of the day

  • Lopez won 30 of his 52 net approaches during his three-set win over Rublev.
  • Great Britain are through to the quarter-finals for the sixth time since 2014.
  • With their 2-1 tie victory over Austria on Sunday, Germany are now a perfect 6-0 against their neighbours in Davis Cup.
  • Kazakhstan’s Bublik is now 6-1 win-loss in Davis Cup singles matches following his triumph over Pospisil on Sunday.

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Tsitsipas 'Focused On Healthier Future' After Elbow Injury Update

Stefanos Tsitsipas insists that he is “focused on a happier and healthier future” after posting a photograph on Facebook Thursday with bandages over his right elbow.

“Things often get tougher before they get easier, but with each struggle we get an opportunity to create our own unique story,” wrote Tsitsipas, in his Facebook post from a Swiss hospital bed. “Some days life is all about your dreams, hopes and visions for the future. There are also days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other and that’s okay too.

“To all the fans, thank you for your continuous support and encouragement. [I’m now] focused on a healthier and happier future. Next stop, pre-season in Dubai two weeks from now and then looking forwards to Australia.”

The World No. 4 retired in his first match against Alexei Popyrin at the Rolex Paris Masters on 3 November, then withdrew from last week’s Nitto ATP Finals after a round-robin loss to Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas compiled a 55-19 match record this year, including his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Rublev) and at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (d. Norrie), an ATP 250 event.

The 23-year-old, who rose to a career-high No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 9 August, was runner-up in his first major championship final at Roland Garros (l. to Djokovic). He also reached finals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco (l. to Zverev) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (l. to Nadal).

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'They're not intimidated anymore' – Djokovic 'vulnerable' to rising stars says Wilander

Novak Djokovic is now ‘vulnerable’ against the group of rising ATP Tour stars, says Eurosport’s Mats Wilander, who believes ‘they are not intimidated anymore’.

There has been a lot of talk around a new ‘big four’ in men’s tennis with the world number one joined by US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, who won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and took the ATP Finals title in Turin.

Djokovic, who will be targeting a 21st Grand Slam title in 2022 to move ahead of his long-standing rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, suddenly has a lot more serious competition, according to Wilander.

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“I think the biggest difference is the guys that are coming from behind or that are surrounding Novak, they now have the confidence that they can beat Novak on any surface on any given day,” Wilander told Eurosport.

I think they are not intimidated anymore unless you get to a fourth or fifth set in a Grand Slam.

“But even then, I feel like they have seen Novak most probably have the best year on Tour ever in 2021. Still, at the end of it, he looked a little bit vulnerable at the US Open, at the ATP Finals, and maybe even in the Olympics.

“So maybe the Olympics was a bad idea for Novak. That is why it seemed like he lost a little bit of confidence, lost a little bit of drive. I mean, what an unbelievable year for Novak, and he does not look a day older than 24 years old, not 34.

“The ATP Finals to him is not a Grand Slam. He is clearly aiming at winning Grand Slams, not the ATP Finals, although for his confidence, maybe it was a little bit of a defeat. But yeah, I think it’s two completely different situations.

“I think he was having fun. He is thinking about next year or the year after. It is just pacing himself to enjoy his tennis until it’s over.”

‘We’ll have to wait and see’ – Djokovic still unsure about Australian Open participation

Djokovic has still not revealed his final decision as to whether he is willing to participate at the Australian Open, given the decision taken by Tennis Australia to accept only vaccinated players.

“I think the Australian Open is obviously doing the thing that they have to do and the Australian government has decided this is what is going to happen,” Wilander said.

“I can easily see that some players are not going to get vaccinated and they are not going to go. Is it a big deal? Yeah, it is a big deal for the Australian Open, but it gives opportunities to other players. I don’t know what Novak Djokovic is going to do.

“Is the Australian Open the most important tournament in his career? Well, it is the most successful Grand Slam for him. I’m not sure if it is more important than the French Open or Wimbledon or the US Open, but it is his most successful Slam.

“It would be the most natural place for him to break the tie of 20 Grand Slams with Roger and Rafa. But at the same time, Novak Djokovic, I think, is thinking about his own health.

He’s thinking about the future. He’s thinking long-term, and so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Novak doesn’t go.

“Is it going to hurt the tournament? Yeah, it will hurt the tournament in one way. But at the same time, we have a better chance to see a new Grand Slam champion, so I would not be that concerned.

“I think we’re still in the Covid era, and I think we have to be thankful for any tournament that is being played. Thankful for any professional tennis player that is able to show up, that is healthy, that is willing to live under quarantine rules, sometimes in a bubble.

“It’s been a rough year for players and tournaments and I still think we have to be just appreciative to take whatever we get with players and tournaments.”

‘This is not about tennis’ – Zverev hopes Djokovic will play at Australian Open

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'New top four are Djokovic, Medvedev, Zverev and Tsitsipas' – Mischa Zverev

The ‘new top four’ ahead of the 2022 season are Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, according to Eurosport expert Mischa Zverev.

Zverev won the ATP Finals for the second time on Sunday as he defeated Medvedev, the defending champion, in straight sets in Turin. The German came through to win 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes to secure a tour-best sixth trophy of the year and end a five-match losing run against his opponent.

It was the world number three’s 59th victory of a highly successful season as he posted a 32-4 record since his Olympic Gold triumph in Tokyo to suggest he will be a major force in 2022, and his brother Mischa believes he is now part of a ‘new top four’.

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“Compared to his last ATP Finals victory in 2018, he plays better, more mature, more intelligent and more complete in the overall package,” Zverev told Eurosport. “He is the best Zverev there has been so far, but he can get even better.

”He has improved his volleys a lot, he also reads the game better, he knows when to attack or retreat. The selection of his strokes has also got better and he’s moving well, very intelligently, at the moment. Against Medvedev, he found an excellent balance and correctly assessed when he needed to move forward and play calmly. There were a lot of tempo changes in the game, but it was all controlled.

‘We’ll have to wait and see’ – Djokovic still unsure about Australian Open participation

”Don’t forget Tsitsipas, he was unbelievably strong for half the year. I also believe that someone like Rublev can annoy the other players. We also have to wait and see how things go with Nadal in the coming year. Is he coming back or not? How does he play the clay court season?

From my point of view, the new top four are Djokovic, Medvedev, Sascha and Tsitsipas. That’s just my feeling; that can, of course, still change.

“It is mathematically possible to become number one without a Grand Slam title, but it is very unlikely. In the last 20 years, I think only Marcelo Rios has managed to get to the top without a Grand Slam victory.

“There are people who win a Grand Slam but have never won a Masters. You can then say that it was a lucky coup, but if you’ve already won a number of Masters and twice the ATP Finals, then that’s not lucky.

“Sascha is one of the 10 players who have become world champions [ATP Finals] more than once. This list includes players like McEnroe, Borg, Becker and Sampras.

“From a purely statistical point of view, it should be enough for a Grand Slam victory. I don’t want to rely too much on the past, but rather see how Sascha can develop further in the future.”

Medvedev expects Zverev to win a Grand Slam soon

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Djokovic shocked at Kyrgios support

Djokovic was asked in a press conference about Nick Kyrgios’ recent comments made on his No Boundaries podcast, in which he supported the Serb’s views against mandating the Covid-19 vaccine.

Kyrgios said he was double-vaccinated but doesn’t think anyone should be forced to take the jab, noting that athletes like Djokovic and Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving have sacrificed a lot for their sports, and deserve to have autonomy over such decisions.

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“That was unexpected, knowing what was coming from him towards me in the last couple of years,” Djokovic said laughing. “But this time I must agree with him that the freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it’s me or somebody else.

“Doesn’t really matter whether it’s vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body.”

What Djokovic probably doesn’t know, is that Kyrgios had posted a video retracting most of what he said on the podcast, and backed the idea of banning unvaccinated players from competing at the Australian Open.

That didn’t last long!

Djokovic: ‘It’s shocking that Peng is missing’

A man with a plan

Novak Djokovic is a true student of the game and it’s always fascinating how much he knows about all the players on tour, even the ones he has never faced or practised with.

He’d be in a tournament in Dubai, and can discuss, in detail, a match that happened overnight in Acapulco. You’d mention to him the name of a player ranked outside the top 200 and he’d tell you a few random facts about him. He scouts the young up-and-comers, so they don’t take him by surprise, and thoroughly does his homework before stepping on court to play someone.

So it’s no surprise that when Djokovic took on Andrey Rublev for the first time on Wednesday, he knew exactly what to do to throw the Russian world No.5 off his game.
Rublev, who had a near flawless performance against Stefanos Tsitsipas in his ATP Finals opener on Monday, broke Djokovic in the first game of the match then went ahead and lost the plot.

The powerful 24-year-old looked unsettled throughout, rushing through his decision-making and committing 26 unforced errors in a 6-3 6-2 defeat to the top seed.

At one point, Rublev apologised for a net cord before realising the ball actually landed on his side of the net. It was that kind of day for the No.5 seed.

After the match, Djokovic acknowledged that Rublev hits the biggest ball on tour and that he takes time away from his opponents by hugging the baseline and firing lightning-fast groundstrokes, but noted how he had a plan to deal with that going into the contest.

“He’s the kind of player if something goes wrong, it’s difficult for him, he makes a lot of unforced errors. So I wanted to put him out of the comfort zone, take away the time from him, mix up the pace; just a great performance overall,” Djokovic said after the match.

Shortly after, Rublev walked into the press conference room and pretty much confirmed that Djokovic’s plan worked perfectly to the Serb’s advantage.

“It felt maybe a bit like rushing, like you’re playing one of the best players and you feel, ‘Okay, now I have a chance to finish the point or to take a lead during the rally and play there aggressively’. You think too much sometimes,” explained Rublev.

“In the end, ‘Okay, this is the chance, I have to go’. You go. And in the end, instead of making it, like usually you do in other matches, you are missing them. Or maybe you’re hitting not that good or not that smart that he catches you, and in the end he makes you pass shots and stuff like that. I think always over-thinking, like stress, rushing.”

The confusion was precisely what Djokovic wanted to happen.

Djokovic has another first-time opponent coming up next in the form of Cameron Norrie, who replaced Stefanos Tsitsipas in the draw as the second alternate.

“Great, great, why not? I always like playing new players, particularly in one of the greatest tournaments in the world here in Turin,” said the world No.1 enthusiastically about the prospect of facing Norrie. He’s probably already drawn up the game plan for their Friday clash.

‘Federer deserves a proper farewell’

As Novak Djokovic continues his quest for a record-tying sixth ATP Finals trophy, the man he is trying to equal, Roger Federer, is still sidelined with a knee injury and revealed he is unlikely to return to the tour before mid-2022.

Federer cast doubt on his participation in Wimbledon next year, and is unsure if he’ll ever compete in a Grand Slam again – although he’ll keep trying to make that happen.

“Obviously Roger is an icon of our sport and people around the world love him,” said Djokovic on Wednesday, reacting to the Swiss’ latest news.

“So for the sake of our sport, I sincerely hope that we can see him play at least another time. I’m sure he doesn’t want to end his career this way. I think he’s going to definitely try to give it a last push, a last try.

“I think for everything that he has achieved and created for this sport, he deserves to play and he deserves to have a proper farewell, I mean, if his injury is not allowing him to play more frequently on the tour.”

‘Huge cheer straight away’ – Federer gets standing ovation at Laver Cup

Ruud passes mental test

No.8 seed Casper Ruud woke up on Wednesday thinking he was going to face world No.4 Tsitsipas that evening but ended up taking on second alternate Norrie, who replaced the injured Greek in the Green Group.

For Ruud, it wasn’t just a matter of preparing to face a lefty instead of a righty; the Norwegian explained how tricky it was mentally to go from being an underdog against Tsitsipas to a slight favourite against Norrie, who lost their previous meeting 6-0, 6-2 in San Diego a few months ago.

Ruud managed to get the win anyway, overcoming Norrie 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s a big match for me, it’s the first time I’m here so to get a win is a very good thing for me,” said the 22-year-old Ruud.

“It all changed today for me because I woke up prepared to play Stefanos, knowing that I was the underdog, that I can play freely and then you hear that he’s pulling out.

“So then kind of everything changed, I was feeling the pressure a little more, this was an opportunity for me to get my first win. The last time I beat Norrie, the scoreline was too easy because we both know how good he is and then the week after he went on and won Indian Wells.

“It didn’t, in a way, feel right to win 6-0, 6-2 because I know how tough of a player he is and that day everything went my way, so I knew that today was going to be different; not every day is like that. I was prepared for a tough match and a tough match it was.”

Clutch moment of the day

Facing a second match point while trailing Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 9-10 in the match tie-break of their evening doubles encounter, Rajeev Ram fired a beauty of a backhand return winner that painted the line to keep his team’s chances alive.

Four points later, the American unleashed another massive backhand return to secure himself and his partner Joe Salisbury a 6-7(7), 6-0, [13-11] victory over the Frenchmen.

Stats of the day

Rublev has fallen behind to 0-3 win-loss against world No.1s following his defeat to Djokovic on Wednesday. Incidentally, he also won just five games in each of his losses to then-No.1 Andy Murray at the 2017 Australian Open and then-No. 1 Rafael Nadal at the 2017 US Open.

Djokovic qualified for his 10th ATP Finals semi-finals, tying Pete Sampras in third place on the list of most last-four appearances in tournament history.

With his three-set win over Norrie, Ruud is now an impressive 13-3 in deciding sets this season.

Subbing in for Tsitsipas, Norrie became the fourth Brit to compete in the ATP Finals in singles on Wednesday.

This is just the third time in tournament history, and first since 1998, that two alternates have replaced players in the draw mid-tournament.

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'I'm heartbroken' – Emotional Tsitsipas on 'very difficult' withdrawal from ATP Finals

Stefanos Tsitsipas was forced to withdraw from the ATP Finals in Turin on Wednesday, citing an elbow injury, and he has spoken of the emotions he is going through as a result.

The Greek world number four having to pull out paved the way for Britain’s Cameron Norrie to make his first appearance at the year-end tournament in his place as the second alternate.
Norrie, who capped a stunning breakthrough year by winning the Indian Wells title last month, lost out to Casper Ruud in Green Group later on Wednesday and will next face world number one Novak Djokovic on Friday.

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The 26-year-old Brit became the second alternate to have to rush to Turin after home favourite Jannik Sinner replaced his Italian compatriot Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal was ahead of Norrie in the race to Turin rankings but the Spaniard ended his season in August to deal with a foot injury.

“I’ve taken the very difficult decision to retire from the 2021 ATP World Tour Finals due to my elbow injury, which has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now,” Tsitsipas explained in Turin.

“It’s a very difficult decision from my side and I was working really hard this year to get to play the finals and be part of this amazing event, but unfortunately I won’t be able to continue.

Stefanos Tsitsipas hat sein Auftaktmatch bei den ATP Finals verloren

Image credit: Getty Images

“I’ll be travelling today to see a specialist regarding my elbow, who is going to help me get ready for the new season, the upcoming season in Australia and feel 100 per cent again ready to compete with my highest.

“I think it was important to take that decision and not continue playing with pain and giving the opportunity to someone else who is in better physical condition than I am to potentially maybe make the semi-finals this year.

“I’m not in a state to be out on the court and I much more prefer to give that opportunity to someone else.

I’m heartbroken and I really hope I can get back to playing at 100 per cent again and be in front of my fans and perform at my best.

Highlights: Rublev beats former champion Tsitsipas at ATP Finals

Tsitsipas was considered a fitness doubt in the lead up to the tournament after he was forced to withdraw from the Paris Masters with an elbow problem.

The Greek star decided not to respond to a question posed regarding his fitness in Turin after he suffered a defeat in his opening match against Andrey Rublev.

– – –

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ATP Finals

Ruud battles back to beat debutant Norrie in three

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Ruud battles back to beat debutant Norrie in three

Cameron Norrie ultimately suffered disappointment as his ATP finals bow ended in a three-set defeat to Casper Ruud.

The British number one was drafted in to replace Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek withdrew from the tournament with a right elbow injury, but could not pick up a win on debut as he was beaten 6-1 3-6 4-6.

It means Ruud will reach the semi finals in Turin if he defeats Andrey Rublev on Friday. Novak Djokovic is already through to the last four and is guaranteed to top Green Group.

ATP Finals

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11 HOURS AGO

Norrie had arrived in Italy as second alternative and was not expecting to feature as an active player in the tournament. However, with both Matteo Berrettini and Tsitsipas unable to continue following their first matches it opened the door for Norrie to come in along with Jannik Sinner.

The Brit was keen to make the most of his opportunity and made an emphatic start as his depth of return lured some surprising errors off the Ruud forehand and helped him reel off five games in a row. Indeed, Norrie, who is only the fourth Briton to play singles in the event’s history, was rarely tested until he served for the set as he fended off a break point before getting the job done in just 33 minutes.

The second set was a cagier affair as Ruud showed more of the form that had seen him demolish Norrie 6-0 6-2 in the 2021 San Diego final in their only previous meeting. Both players looked strong on serve until Norrie blinked first with a pair of unforced errors off the forehand and a timid volley into the net that allowed the world number eight to snare the decisive break and go on to force a decider.

Ruud began to threaten more as he applied pressure on the Norrie serve and it paid huge dividends in game five of Set 3 when a double fault on a third break point gave the Norwegian the edge.

The momentum remained firmly with Ruud from that moment on as he once again got the better of the Brit by serving out a hard-fought battle in one-hour and 52 minutes on his fourth match point to pick up a maiden triumph at the event.

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15/11/2021 AT 19:54

Cameron Norrie v Casper Ruud – LIVE

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Singles | Round Robin

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Live

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C.Norrie

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6

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17 November 2021.css-amlxws-StyledSmallDivider-StyledSmallDivider{border-right:solid 1px #FFFFFF;opacity:0.25;margin:0 10px;}@media (min-width:700px){.css-amlxws-StyledSmallDivider-StyledSmallDivider{margin:0 13px;}}Centre Court

Norrie set to replace injured Tsitsipas – reports

Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie looks set for a sensational debut at the ATP Finals after reports in Italy suggested he will step in for Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Sky Italia claim Greek world number four Tsitsipas will pull out due to an elbow complaint, paving the way for Norrie to make his first appearance at the year-end tournament.

Norrie capped a brilliant breakthrough year by winning the Indian Wells title in October.

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Should he feature, the 26-year-old will become the second alternate on show after Jannik Sinner replaced fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal was ahead of Norrie in the race to Turin rankings but the Spaniard ended his season in August to deal with a foot injury.

Dropping like flies

In her latest ATP Finals diary, Reem Abulleil noted that the third alternate, Aslan Karatsev, was reportedly already on his way to Turin.

“The last time two alternates came in as replacements mid-tournament during an ATP Finals was 1998 when Albert Costa and Greg Rusedski replaced Marcelo Rios and Andre Agassi,” she continued.

“There has never been an occurrence where three alternates got in on the action during the same edition of the season-ending championships. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that in Turin.”

“What an incredible week” – Norrie becomes first British man to win at Indian Wells

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