Djokovic, Federer set for ATP Finals showdown after Berrettini win

Switzerland's Roger Federer and Serbia's Novak Djokovic before their group stage match. ( REUTERS/Toby Melville)
Updated 14 November 2019

Djokovic, Federer set for ATP Finals showdown after Berrettini win

LONDON: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer prepared to face off for a place in the last four of the ATP Finals on Thursday after Matteo Berrettini made history with a consolation win in London.
The heavyweights, who have won the season-ending tournament 11 times between them, will meet for the 49th time in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final.
Djokovic, who holds a 26-22 advantage, has won their past five meetings, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July, during which he saved two championship points.
The Serbian is bidding to equal Federer’s record of six ATP Finals titles and is also challenging Rafael Nadal for the year-end number one ranking.
The second seed, 32, will leapfrog Nadal to finish in the top spot if he wins the title at the O2 Arena and Nadal does not reach the final.
The Serbian, who can claim a record-equalling sixth year-end number one finish, is hungry to finish the year on top.
“One of the two biggest achievements that you can have as a professional competitive tennis player is winning a Grand Slam and being number one in the world at the end of the season,” he said before the tournament started.
Federer was asked earlier this week whether the Wimbledon defeat had left emotional or mental scars.
“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the 38-year-old. “A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”
He added: “Actually, it’s good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is, but at the end of the day, I’m here for the World Tour Finals and not because of the Wimbledon finals.”
In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Berrettini beat Austria’s Dominic Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
In doing so, the 23-year-old became the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending championships.
Berrettini finished with a 1-2 record this week. Thiem had already qualified for the semifinals after his win on Tuesday against Djokovic.
Berrettini arrived in London at a career-high number eight in the ATP rankings after starting the season outside of the top 50.
“I always had great fights against (Thiem),” said the Italian. “I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set.
“I played a great tie-break, so I’m very happy with my performance.”
Fifth-seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semifinals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.


Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

Updated 11 December 2019

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

  • Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation

MOSCOW: Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one-and-a-half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly.

World Athletics, the global body governing athletics, last month halted the reinstatement procedures for Russia’s athletics federation after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.

As a result of these fresh sanctions, World Athletics also said it was reviewing the process it has used in the past to clear some Russians, including Lasitskene, to compete internationally as neutrals.

“Why have we arrived at a situation when an athlete is supposed to be delighted about getting neutral status?” Lasitskene wrote.

“Was the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee really happy with the Russian athletics federation’s work?”

The president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on Monday dismissed the sanctions against Russia as inappropriate and excessive.