Zverev denies abuse charges as top players prepare for ATP Finals

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CONTAINS WHITE FLASHES

SHOWS: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (NOVEMBER 14, 2020) (ATP MEDIA/IMG - NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER SEVEN TENNIS PLAYER, ALEXANDER ZVEREV, ON DOMESTIC ABUSE ALLEGATIONS, SAYING:

"I mean look, we're all here to play tennis. I'm looking forward to be playing, I really do, but in the last few days, as you know, the focus has shifted a little bit to the off court. Many people have asked me why I kept my mouth shut, why I didn't say anything and why I kept my mouth shut on such accusations. While I very much regret that those accusations were made, I have to stick to my initial thing of them being just untrue and, you know, continue to deny them. But these accusations are just unfounded. They're untrue. We had our ups and downs, but the way our relation is described in the public is not how it was. And that's not who I am. That's not how I was raised by my parents. That's not, just simply, who I am as a person. You know, it makes me sad that the impact of such a false accusation can have on the sport, on the outside world, and on myself as well. I truly apologise that the focus has shifted away from the sport. We all love playing tennis. That's what we're here to do. That's what we're here to be focusing on. Unfortunately, as I said, it has shifted. I am looking forward to playing here for the last time in London. And as I said, I have to keep denying them because they're just untrue. And it's sad to see that those unfounded accusations can make such a big impact on everything."

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3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER SEVEN TENNIS PLAYER, ALEXANDER ZVEREV, ON FACING NOVAK DJOKOVIC IN THE ATP FINALS, SAYING:

"I think, you know, Novak (Djokovic) is a great player, No matter where you play him, he's tough to beat. Yeah, I played him twice here in the same year. Obviously, I won once, I lost once. But he's gonna be difficult. I think he's the favourite in our group and everybody's going to look forward to playing him. Yeah, you have to play your best to have a chance against him."

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5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE TENNIS PLAYER, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, ON COMING INTO ATP FINALS AS WORLD NUMBER ONE, SAYING:

"Well, obviously, coming into the tournament and knowing that I clinched the year at number one for sure, it releases some of the pressure, definitely. But, at the same time, it doesn't change what I hope to achieve in this tournament and why I am here. You know, I really want to win every single match that I get to play and try to get my hands on the trophy. And I want this trophy as much as anybody, really, in this tournament. So, I'm really hoping that I can end the season in the best possible way. And the success that I had previously here in the last ten years helps me feel more comfortable and more confident about myself and my game on the court."

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7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE TENNIS PLAYER, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, ON THE TOKYO OLYMPICS, SAYING:

"Tokyo Olympics are potentially happening (in the) summertime, end of July, August, so there's still quite a lot of time up to that month when we are supposed to be part of the Olympic Games. So, I'm hoping that it will happen and I'm hoping that the crowd will be allowed because it's really difficult to imagine the Olympic Games played with no crowd. You know, not just tennis, but all the other sports. And yes, I am planning to be in Tokyo for the Olympic Games. I was really looking forward to it this year and I'm looking forward to it next year. So that's going to be obviously on my schedule for 2021."

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9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER TWO TENNIS PLAYER, RAFA NADAL, ON PLAYING IN THE ATP FINALS AMIDST COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS, SAYING:

"Yes, we are in the hotel next to the O2 (Arena). Different conditions. We even cannot walk from the hotel to the O2 which is just I think 200 meters (650 feet) away. We are lucky. We are very lucky to be able to keep playing our sport. That's the only thing that I can say. I can't be negative. The only thing that I can say is thanks to the ATP, thanks to the tournaments, thanks to the Grand Slams for making it happen under these very challenging conditions. Of course, we'll be sad, especially playing with no crowd in this amazing stadium is something that is not perfect, but as I said before, we can play tennis, so we can't complain at all. We are very lucky."

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11. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER TWO TENNIS PLAYER, RAFA NADAL, ON THE TOKYO OLYMPICS, SAYING:

"Yes, it was very negative news to postpone the Olympic Games last year. But I think it is the least negative news, because we are facing a terrible pandemic. The world is suffering. I really hope that we can compete in the Olympic Games in a couple of months and I really hope that the situation will improve. Let's see if we're able to make that happen. I am sure that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be unforgettable. And I think the world of sport is very excited to compete in the Olympics in Japan. I think it will be am amazing experience."

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13. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER THREE TENNIS PLAYER, DOMINIC THIEM, THE ATP FINALS, SAYING:

"It's tough to say anything on this tournament always in London because in most of the other tournaments, you at least have a little bit of time to get in shape, to get used to the conditions, to everything, but here, it starts 100% from the first point. It is only matches between top ten players. I guess this year, all of the eight players are in good form. Everybody is healthy as well, I guess, because this season was not too long. So, I think it only depends on the day this year. The guy who has the better day is gonna win and the guy who has the most good days is gonna end up winning the tournament. Well, the only thing I'm gonna try to do is to be there 100% and to be there completely ready on Sunday afternoon (November 15). And I think the head to head (comparison) is something to think about, but it's not too important. Especially in this tournament."

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15. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER THREE TENNIS PLAYER, DOMINIC THIEM, ON COMPETING IN THE OLYMPICS, SAYING:

"Yeah, I really hope the Olympic Games are going to happen in Tokyo. Of course, under safe circumstances, that's always important. But it would be great for everybody if they're going to happen. And especially in Tokyo, which is a great city, actually one of my favourite cities. I got lucky, to say, because I wasn't able to play the Olympics in 2020 because I was playing in Kitzbuhel back then, or I was supposed to. But, 2021 I think I'm able to play the Olympics. And honestly, I changed my mind a little bit about the Olympics from the beginning of my career when other tournaments were more important for me. But now, really it would be a dream for me to participate in the Olympics. So, if there's the chance, I'd definitely want to play next summer."

STORY: Alexander Zverev will begin his challenge at the ATP Finals on Monday (November 16) still under a cloud in the wake of accusations of domestic abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova.

The German, ranked seventh in the world, responded to the allegations after arriving in London for the eight-day event that will bring the curtain down on the season.

"I am looking forward to playing, but the last few days the focus has shifted a little bit to the off court," Zverev, the champion in London in 2018, said in a statement.

"While I very much regret that those allegations have been made, I have to stick to my initial thing of them being untrue and continue to deny them.

"These accusations are just unfounded, untrue. We had our ups and downs, but the way our relationship was described in the public is not how it was. That's not who I am, not how I was raised by my parents."

Zverev, 23, reached the final of the Paris Masters this month but his on-court performances have been overshadowed by the comments of former Russian junior player Sharypova.

Sharypova said in an interview with Racquet Magazine that she does not want to press charges.

"It makes me sad the impact that such accusations can have on the sport, on the outside world, on myself as well," Zverev said of the accusations.

The ATP Tour issued a statement this week saying that it condemns any form of violence or abuse.

Zverev starts against Daniil Medvedev on Monday (November 16).

Other top players including world number one, Novak Djokovic, world number two Rafa Nadal, and world number three Dominic Thiem said they were looking forward to the ATP Finals which will be hosted in London for the last time before it moves to Turin.

The players also said they hoped they would be able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics which were postponed this summer and moved to 2021.