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Medvedev in sixth straight final, sets up Zverev clash in Shanghai

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Daniil Medvedev

Shanghai: Dominant Daniil Medvedev reached a staggering sixth final in a row but will need to beat Alexander Zverev for the first time to win the Shanghai Masters.

The US Open finalist defeated fellow rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

In the other semi-final on Saturday, Germany’s Zverev eased past Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-3, 6-4 in a showdown between two more budding talents.

With Roger Federer and world number one Novak Djokovic ousted in the quarter-finals on Friday, the next generation of men’s tennis stars has made its mark in China.

The 23-year-old Russian Medvedev embellished his fast-growing reputation with a fifth victory in as many matches against Tsitsipas, 21.

In contrast, he is yet to overcome the 22-year-old Zverev in four attempts.

“I did say before this year and during this year in the beginning that Sascha (Zverev) was the best in our ‘Next Gen’ group,” the world number four said.

“He won three Masters when none of us were even close to doing this.

“Positions have changed a little bit so I think I can contest him right now.” The seventh-ranked Tsitsipas, who dumped out defending champion Djokovic in three sets on Friday, said that Medvedev’s formidable serve had been the difference.

“Same vibes, same thing all over again,” said Tsitsipas of yet another defeat to the red-hot Russian.

“I don’t mean to be rude at all, but it’s just boring.

“It’s so boring that I hate myself for putting myself into that kind of situation where I have to play in his own terms and not in my terms.” Sixth-ranked Zverev, long touted as the man most likely to join the “Big Three” of Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, has had a disappointing year, winning only one title.

But the German defeated 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer on Friday and took that momentum into his last-four clash with the 23-year-old Berrettini.

The Italian, 13th in the world, put up a better fight in the second set but was broken in the ninth game as his hopes of an upset faded.

Zverev said the victory over Federer had given him a major confidence boost.

But he said that past meetings with Medvedev stood for nothing because the Russian has improved markedly since their last match, in 2018.

“He’s different this year than previous years,” said a wary Zverev.

“He’s been playing some unbelievable tennis in the last few months.

“He’s probably the best player in the world, making six finals in a row, winning a Masters (in Cincinnati in August) and making the US Open final.

“He’s definitely playing the best tennis of his life.” Nadal, the world number two and winner over Medvedev at Flushing Meadows, is not in Shanghai because of a wrist injury.

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Another feather on cap: Roger Federer to play 1,500th match at Basel Open

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Basel: Roger Federer will check off another landmark on Monday when he starts his bid for a 10th Basel title by playing the 1,500th match of his career.

The 38-year-old begins his bid for his 103rd title against German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has beaten the German twice — including at Indian Wells last March.

“My preparation had to be a little faster than usual since I have to start Monday,” said Federer ahead of the Swiss Indoors tournament, which he first attended as a ballboy.

“I’ve already practiced Friday and Saturday in Basel. I hope to really start strong and have a great indoor season.” Federer, who has made the Basel final on all of his last 12 visits, owns ATP titles this season in Dubai, Miami and Halle.

Despite not adding to his tally of majors, he still stands at 47-8 for the year, a record bettered only by eternal rival Rafael Nadal, whose triumphs at Roland Garros and the US Open have taken the Spaniard to 19 Grand Slams.

Federer made the final at Wimbledon in July where he had two match points before losing to Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic.

He revealed on Sunday that his philosophy about those losses has become “forget them and move on”.

However, he added: “I try to keep the highest possible level always. Sometimes it’s the opponent, sometimes it’s your own mind or game that goes off the boil.

“And, of course, you work with the right work ethic in practice, with the right concentration and everything.

“Only a few (matches this season) stand out to me that maybe I could have won that I didn’t.

“If I look back at my whole career I’ve had a lot of matches that I could have won that I lost. But also I won much more than I should have or could have.”

After Basel, Federer is likely to make his usual last-minute decision on whether to carry on for the Paris Masters, the concluding Masters 1000 event of the season which starts a week on Monday.

He has already qualified for the ATP Finals in London from November 10 in what will be his 17th appearance at the money-spinning season finale.

“It’s been a solid season. It started well for me. I hope to pick it up for the year-end,” he added.

Meanwhile, Federer briefly paused his preparation for Basel to send best wishes to newly-married rival Nadal.

Explaining that he was not part of the festivities, the father of four said: “I was not invited by Rafa, but I had not expected to be.

“I congratulated him and hope he had the best day of his life.” Nadal and longtime girlfriend Xisca Perello were married on Saturday on their home island of Mallorca.

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Rafael Nadal marries long-time partner Perello

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Madrid: Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca.

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

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Owe my long career to Navratilova, says Leander Paes

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Mumbai: Veteran Leander Paes says if he is still able to withstand the rigours of the physically demanding ATP tour, the credit goes to legendary Martina Navratilova, who transformed him into a fitness freak.

Navratilova, winner of an incredible 59 Grand Slam titles including 18 singles, teamed up with Paes in the latter part of her astonishing career.

The two of her 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam trophies — Wimbledon and Australian Open in 2003 — came with Paes. She was the oldest player on Tour and was active when she was nearing 50.

“Navratilova taught us on how physical fitness was a pre-requisite. Navaratilova taught me importance of physical fitness and that is the reason I had such a long career,” said Paes, who is 46.

“She epitomises perseverance and the re-invention that an athlete can go through. Navratilova took fitness and gym work to a new level. To have played with Navratilova over three years and to being that close to her over time has helped me in my career, that at 46 I keep re-inventing myself, my training methods, my diets and my fitness.”

Paes also had a successful pairing with Swiss great Martina Hingis and he had words of praise for her also.

“Hingis taught me a lot about technique. Because I don’t consider myself a very talented tennis player, I am more of an athlete. I felt that playing with Hingis — her ground strokes, technique, volley or just technique itself was phenomenal. Playing with her I used to practice hours and hours and the matches were just extension of practice sessions,” he said.

Talking about global tennis icon Roger Federer, Paes said it is amazing to see how the Swiss has re-invented himself to keep winning grand-slams.

“This year Australian Open is going to be unique. Roger Federer just announced that he will play the Olympics in 2020. I think for tennis fans around the world it is fantastic because there is always a question whether he is going to continue or not (playing),” Paes said here.

He was speaking after Tennis Australia and Sony Pictures India Private Limited announced a three-year extension of their broadcast relationship at the Australian Open 2020 media launch.

Paes said that he has not decided on his goals for 2020.

“I would find out in the next couple of days as to what my goals in 2020 are. For me I play for trophies (and) they are memories. Medals and trophies are memories that never go. For me to rewrite the history books, is what I have lived for. I had a very blessed career, so if I have another year in it… I get to another Olympics (it would be) wonderful, if I don’t still (it would be) wonderful,” he said.

In the over 20 minute conversation, Paes was asked about how does he approach an Olympic year, and he avoided giving a direct reply.

“You know the Olympics is a away. I was born for the Olympics. Everything I dreamt for and wished to play for off-late is to play for our people.

“(If I am approached to play for our country), rest assured I will be there. As far as that goes, I have got the World Record for most number of Olympics played but I think an eighth Olympics would be India’s record to actually make sure that we seal that record to play eight Olympics on the trot,” he said.

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