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Djokovic beats Tsitsipas for 9th straight time at ATP Finals Switzerland beats Australia to win Billie Jean King Cup Nakashima beats Lehečka again to win Next Gen Finals title

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TURIN, Italy. Novak Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas for the ninth consecutive time 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the first players’ match at the ATP final on Monday.

Djokovic beat Tsitsipas in his third consecutive tournament after wins in Astana, Kazakhstan and the Paris Masters.

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“All the matches we’ve played have been decided by two or three points and it happened again today,” Djokovic said.

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He broke Tsitsipas in the first game and held the position to close the first set.

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“A break in these conditions is critical,” Djokovic said of the fast, indoor court.

A winning pass from the left at the crossroads helped Djokovic move forward in the second set.

Tsitsipas won two of his three first career matches against Djokovic, but did not beat the 21-time Grand Slam winner in over three years.

Earlier, Andrey Rublev won the rally with 37 shots on his fifth match point, sealing a 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(7) victory over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in another Red Group match.

After his victory, Rublev wrote “Peace, peace, peace, whatever we need” on a TV camera lens, clearly alluding to the war in Ukraine.

Rublev and Medvedev, like all Russian and Belarusian tennis players, compete without a flag or country next to their names as part of wide-ranging sports sanctions due to Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Rublev made a similar call in February, writing “No to war, please” on a TV camera shortly after the Russian invasion.

His last address came after Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, one of Ukraine’s biggest successes in the nearly nine-month war.

On Sunday, Taylor Fritz beat Rafael Nadal and Kasper Ruud defeated Feliz Auger-Aliassime in the Greens group.

GLASGOW, Scotland. Switzerland won the biggest prize in women’s team tennis for the first time since Belinda Bencic finished the tournament almost perfectly by beating Australia’s Alija Tomljanovic in straight sets in Sunday’s Billie Jean King Cup final.

The win gives Switzerland an undeniable 2-0 lead after Jill Teichmann beat Australia’s Storm Sanders 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the first singles match.

Bencic went undefeated in a set all week and extended that streak by beating Tomljanovic 6-2, 6-1 to take the title.

The Swiss have never won the competition formerly known as the Fed Cup, losing the final in 1998 and again last year. Australia has won it seven times, but the last time was in 1974. The Australians also lost in the final in 2019.

MILAN. American Brandon Nakashima performed to perfection in Milan by winning the ATP Next Gen final on Saturday, taking his second straight victory over Jiri Lehechka this week.

It took Nakashima just 80 minutes to win 4-3(5), 4-3(6), 4-2 to secure the title by scoring the first of three championship points when Lehechka landed a long right hand.

Fourth-placed Nakashima won all five of his matches at the year-ending under-21 tournament, including a group stage victory over Lehechka.

“It was a great season for me. I definitely learned a lot with every match, every tournament,” said Nakashima, who won his first ATP title in his hometown of San Diego in September.

“Of course, at the beginning of the year I had goals: to win my first ATP title and to be able to do it in San Diego was something special. Finishing the year here with a Next Gen title is something special. I think the whole year has been very consistent for me.”

Nakashima had to bounce back from a 3-1 loss in the first match and also faced two set points in the second set tiebreaker.

“I think in these stressful situations it all comes down to your mental game,” he said. “It’s about staying calm at times like this, of course there will be some nerves sometimes, but you just try to cope as best as you can.

“I think in these stressful situations, I’m pretty good this year.”

Lehechka wanted a rematch as well as a title and broke Nakashima’s serve in the first game. But Nakashima bounced back in Game 6 and took the set to a tiebreak, where the American took a 5-0 lead to win the set.

Lehechka threatened to start the second set in a similar fashion, but Nakashima managed to save two break points early on.

Indeed, the next service break was to be the most important, as it occurred in the final game of the tournament.

“It was a tough match. This week Brandon showed very good tennis,” said Lehechka. “He deserved to win, he played the best tennis of all here.

“I’m sad that today I didn’t take at least one set, in the first I had a breakthrough, in the second I had two set points, so it was kind of unlucky … He was more solid in decisive moments, that’s right I would explain today’s defeat.”

This was Nakashima’s second appearance in the Next Gen Finals after losing to compatriot Sebastian Korda in the semi-finals the previous year.

This is the fifth edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals, featuring shorter sets of games one through four and other experimental format changes. The new rules called for no substitutions after the first game of each set, and only one sit-in per set after three games; 15-second serving clock after aces, double faults and missed serves; and training during an opponent’s medical time-out or toilet break.

Current number 1 Carlos Alcaraz won last year’s tournament.

“This tournament is great. I think it’s great that all the young, up-and-coming players come together and compete in an enjoyable and fun way,” said Nakashima. “I think it opens up the younger generation really well, so I think it’s a great stepping stone for the ATP tour.

“Being on this list with all the past champions is a big achievement in my opinion and we just have to keep working hard and look forward to next year.”


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