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First-Time Winner Spotlight: Taro Daniel

  • Posted: May 06, 2018

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Taro Daniel

Japanese thought he’d play qualifying in Estoril, wins maiden title in Istanbul

Taro Daniel arrived at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open having never advanced to an ATP World Tour semi-final. The Japanese right-hander was on the verge of falling short again, trailing 0-4 in the deciding set of his quarter-final. But after an impressive performance Sunday against fellow first-time tour-level finalist Malek Jaziri, Daniel raised his first ATP World Tour trophy. 

Daniel spoke to after the match about what the victory means to him, how he approached the moment and more.

How does it feel to be holding your first ATP World Tour trophy?
Obviously I’m very happy. But I’m very surprised, mostly. I lost in the first round of a Challenger two weeks ago, so winning an ATP World Tour event is amazing.

Was your goal growing up always to one day win an ATP World Tour trophy?
It’s something I always dreamt of, but I was never the kind of guy to say, ‘Oh, it would be so good to win something’. I just always trusted the process. It’s been a really fun road.

It was the first final for both of you today. What was your mindset and approach and how did you feel when you walked on the court?
I think we were both nervous because it was a great opportunity for us to win our first ATP [World Tour title]. Maybe he was more nervous — he had more to lose than me. I kept telling myself that, because I was nervous. But if he was more nervous, then I could be a little bit more relaxed.

Can you talk about your road to the final? You came down from a break in the third set twice in the semi-finals against Jeremy Chardy and then you also came back in the quarter-finals against Rogerio Dutra Silva.
When I won the first match here against [Matteo] Berrettini, I felt very good. It was a good match, and I felt like I could do something decent here. And then I beat [Aljaz] Bedene really well. I played extremely well in that match and then I had faith to win. I beat Dutra Silva and Chardy in very tough matches, a little bit lucky because I was down in both matches in the third set. But then when you win those, you think anything can happen.

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What did you do best this week? Was it that you came down in matches that you almost lost?
Coming into this tournament was very chaotic because I actually went to Estoril to play qualies and then I ended up coming here at the last minute, so I didn’t have much time to think about anything. That made me play a little bit looser and without much to lose.

You came into the tournament at a season-low in the ATP Rankings and on Monday you’ll crack your career-best, reaching No. 82. Can you talk about that ranking improvement?
’ve been in the Top 100 or 110 the past two and a half years or maybe even three years. So it’s great to finally have a career-high again. When you think about winning an ATP event, I thought I was going to jump a little bit higher. But these 250 points are going to allow me to be patient for results again.

Now that you have reached a new career-high ATP Ranking, do you have any new ranking goals for this season?
It would be great to break into the Top 80, which is something I’ve never done. We’ll see. I never play well when I think about what I want to achieve in terms of rankings or results, so I just want to keep concentrate on my process of improving.

Is there anyone you want to thank for helping you to this moment in your career?
My parents, especially my Dad because he’s the one who got me into tennis. He’s always been there. He never pressured me like maybe some of the other parents, so I’m very thankful for that. And obviously all the coaches that I’ve encountered, but especially the ones now that I’m working with in the Japanese federation.

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Madrid Open: Johanna Konta beats Magdalena Rybarikova in round one

  • Posted: May 06, 2018

British number one Johanna Konta beat 16th seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3 7-5 in the first round of the Madrid Open.

Konta, 26, has reached only one quarter-final this season and lost to teenage Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar in Charleston last month.

But the world number 23, unseeded in the Spanish capital, beat Slovakia’s Rybarikova in an hour and 59 minutes.

Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – the top two players in the world rankings – secured comfortable wins.

World number one Halep, who has won this event in each of the past two years, needed only 51 minutes to beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-0.

And second seed Wozniacki won nine of the last 10 games to defeat Australia’s world number 24 Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-1.

Konta joined them in the second round with a third successive victory over Rybarikova.

The Briton, who had won only eight previous matches this season, claimed an early break and moved 5-2 ahead after a 20-minute seventh game in which she staved off four break points.

Having secured the set she had break-point chances in the opening game of the next but it was Rybarikov awho built a 4-1 lead, before Konta won three consecutive games to level at 4-4.

She secured the decisive break in the ninth game and comfortably served out to set up a second-round match with American qualifier Bernarda Pera, the world number 98.

Elsewhere Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who is aiming to progress beyond the second round of her home tournament for the first time, overcame China’s Peng Shuai 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 39 minutes.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova, who beat Halep to win the Madrid title in 2014, won for the first time since January’s Australian Open as she beat Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4 6-1 in an hour and 22 minutes.

The 31-year-old Russian, who has had an arm injury in recent weeks, had lost her past four matches and dropped out of the top 50 after being beaten in the first round in Stuttgart last week.

But she earned a second-round match with another Romanian – Irina-Camelia Begu.

Begu beat fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday, when eighth seed Venus Williams, playing her first match on clay this year, lost the deciding set against 22-year-old Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.

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Britain's Jonny O'Mara & Scott Clayton lose Glasgow Trophy doubles final to Spanish duo

  • Posted: May 06, 2018

Top seeds Jonny O’Mara and Scott Clayton were unable to mark the inaugural Glasgow Trophy with a home win as they lost the doubles final to Gerard Granollers and Guillermo Olaso.

O’Mara, from Arbroath, and Jersey’s Clayton lost 6-1 7-5 to the unseeded Spaniards in the ATP Challenger event.

The 23-year-old O’Mara said: “It was a tough match. We got off to a slow start, which in doubles can be costly.

“At the end of the day, it was a good week. We have to take the positives.”

  • O’Mara and Clayton reach final

O’Mara, ranked 132 in the world at doubles, vowed to try to go one better next time he is in front of a sold-out home crowd.

“It’s a shame personally for me that that match didn’t quite happen in a final in Glasgow, but hopefully we get another chance at it again here in the future,” he said.

“The crowd massively helped us. It was our fault that we didn’t really get them into it in the first set.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere.”

Clayton, 24, from Jersey, paid tribute to the victors at Scotstoun.

“Credit where credit’s due, our opponents played a very good match and had obviously looked at a few things and their tactics were pretty much spot on,” he said.

It was a first ATP Challenger doubles title for the Spaniards and Olaso said: “We’ve known each other for 20 years, so winning a tournament together is something special.”

The top seed did live up to his billing in the singles, with Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko beating unseeded Italian Luca Vanni.

However, the 32-year-old threatened to repeat his last victory over the world 104 before Lacko secured a 4-6 7-6 6-4 success.

Lacko said: “Luca beat me two years ago, both of us like this kind of fast surface, where the balls bounce low, so I knew it was not going to be easy and, in the end, it was just two points and I took my chances.”

The 30-year-old Slovak, who has been ranked as high as 40, had been on a losing streak and suffered a lack of confidence ahead of the tournament.

“It’s a good feeling when you win a tournament, especially because I’ve been struggling the last two months,” he said.

“I played surfaces I don’t like and then I took four weeks off to reset and prepare, so coming back after two months and winning this tournament is pretty satisfying.”

Vanni hoped that, despite defeat in the final, the ranking points would prove valuable.

“It’s been an amazing week, because it is my first ATP Challenger final since 2016, when I was near top-100, and I think I am going the right way to go back up to the top 250,” he added.

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Dimitrov Motivated By Nadal's Success

  • Posted: May 06, 2018

Dimitrov Motivated By Nadal’s Success

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion enjoys the challenge Nadal presents

There may be an air of inevitability coming into the Mutua Madrid Open, with Rafael Nadal once again on a clay court rampage in 2018. But third seed Grigor Dimitrov is seeing the gauntlet laid down by the Spaniard as a challenge he’s up for facing.

Nadal comes into Madrid after his 11th tournament wins, respectively, in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. He is on a 12-match winning streak in all competitions and is looking to retain his title in the Spanish capital. Dimitrov will be one of those tasked with stopping the Mallorcan, and is relishing the opportunity to keep working and get himself to a level on clay where he can try to bring down Nadal.

“For me personally, [Rafa’s success] pushes me to do better and to work on the things that I think I can do better,” Dimitrov told assembled media on Sunday at the Caja Magica. “It’s nice to have such a measuring cup – so to speak! He’s the greatest player out there on clay. With the way he plays, you know where the ball is going to be and how it’s going to come, you know what to expect, but there’s not much you can do.

“This is something I enjoy a lot. I love practising against him, I love playing matches. I think it’s great to have a reference like that to improve yourself. It pushes you to do better. You have to give 100 per cent… and try to exploit his weaknesses. You can find them, but the problem is sustaining it during the match.”

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Dimitrov comes into Madrid after a solid start to the European clay swing, reaching the semi-finals in at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Nadal) and the quarter-finals at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (l. to Carreno Busta). With Madrid at 700 metres above sea level, and the courts playing faster at altitude, the 26-year-old Dimitrov is hopeful of continuing his good run of form this week.

The Haskovo native opens his campaign at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament against Milos Raonic or qualifier Nicolas Kicker.

“I always like coming here a bit earlier. It always brings back good memories,” said the right-hander. “I enjoy playing here a lot. I think this is one of the events on clay that I really like. The clay is a little bit faster, so I really like that. It favours me. I’m looking forward to getting on the court. Everything is back to normal and healthy. That’s all I can ask for right now.

“I’ve never had a good relationship with Roland Garros,” said Dimitrov about the upcoming clay-court major, where he has never been past the third round. “But time has passed, and I’ve started the season pretty well on the clay. I want to keep playing that way and winning matches. When Roland Garros comes around, I hope I can do better. Simple as that.”

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Edmund and Norrie win Estoril Open doubles

  • Posted: May 06, 2018

Britain’s Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie claimed the first ATP Tour doubles title of their careers by winning the Estoril Open.

The pair beat New Zealand’s Artem Sitak and Dutchman Wesley Koolhof 6-4 6-2.

The British number one and three respectively had not dropped a set on their way to the final in Portugal.

World number 23, Edmund had lost in the quarter-finals of the singles event, while Norrie, ranked 103rd, lost in the last 16.

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Sascha Shining: Zverev Retains Munich Title

  • Posted: May 06, 2018

Sascha Shining: Zverev Retains Munich Title

German No.1 defeats three-time champion to retain title

Alexander Zverev won his second successive BMW Open by FWU title on Sunday, defeating countryman and three-time champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3.

The top seed dropped just two points behind his second serve and converted four of his six break point chances to clinch the title for a second time after 71 minutes. The final was the first all-German championship match since Zverev lost to Florian Mayer at the 2016 Gerry Weber Open. After successfully retaining a tour-level event for the first time, Zverev now owns seven ATP World Tour titles. Zverev’s last title came at the 2017 Rogers Cup (d. Federer).

Kohlschreiber was bidding for a record fourth crown in Munich in his sixth final. The World No. 34 has won an ATP World Tour title in six of the past seven seasons, including the previous four years.

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The 21-year-old Zverev found himself 2-3 15/40 down against Kohlschreiber, but, after managing to level the scores at 3-3, won three further games without reply to take a one-set lead. After exchanging breaks early in the second set, the same pattern appeared with Zverev securing three straight games from 3-3 to lift the title as Kohlschreiber’s final forehand return landed wide and clear of the baseline.

Zverev receives 250 ATP Ranking points and collects €89,435 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Kohlschreiber gains 150 points and receives €47,105.

Did You Know?
Alexander Zverev is the third man to win consecutive BMW Open by FWU trophies. Only Argentines Guillermo Perez-Roldan and Franco Squillari had previously won successive titles in Munich.

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