The 2018 ATP World Tour season has been a breakout campaign for Aussie Alex de Minaur, who continued his rise with a 1-6, 7-6(0), 7-6(5) victory against fellow #NextGenATP player Hubert Hurkacz at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Monday.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but it’s a very important win for me,” De Minaur said. “I managed to dig deep, stay tough and beat a quality opponent.”
De Minaur, the youngest player in the Atlanta field at 19 years, five months, won three fewer points than the Pole in the match. However, he won 76 per cent of second-serve points en route to his 12th tour-level victory of the year (12-11).
The right-hander finished 2017 at No. 208 in the ATP Rankings. But a semi-final showing in Brisbane and his first championship match in Sydney to start the year set De Minaur in the right direction. And thanks to a third-round appearance at Wimbledon, the Aussie is up to a career-best World No. 68. But while trailing a set and a break on Monday, it appeared the teenager was in danger of a first-round exit.
“I just tried to stay positive throughout the whole match, tried to dig deep,” De Minaur said. “I knew that if I could just sort of get my teeth into it, I was going to start playing some better tennis and I played some big points on the big occasions. That got me that second set and then I was able to get that momentum going.”
De Minaur served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, and then held a 4/1 advantage in the final-set tie-break. But while Hurkacz evened the tie-break at 5/5, he could not complete the comeback. At 5/5, Hurkacz hit a big cross-court forehand to elicit an error from De Minaur, but a challenge revealed that his shot missed just wide. And on match point, the 19-year-old struck a backhand return that barely scraped the baseline, clinching his triumph.
De Minaur will next face top seed John Isner, who will be competing in his first match since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals. In other action, Eastbourne runner-up Lukas Lacko cruised past Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-2, 6-2 in 52 minutes. Croat Ivo Karlovic led American Donald Young 6-2, 5-5 before heavy rain forced the cancellation of the day’s remaining play.
Third Seeds Hold Off Kyrgios/Kokkinakis Three of De Minaur’s countrymen were involved in a first-round doubles clash with John-Patrick Smith and American Nicholas Monroe teaming to deny wild card pairing Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios. The No. 3 seeds prevailed 7-6(2), 6-4, withstanding 11 aces and saving all nine break points faced.
British pair Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara dropped just seven first-serve points on their way past Romanian-German duo Marius Copil and Mischa Zverev, 6-4, 6-4, while another Brit, Ken Skupski, teamed with India’s Purav Raja to see off the Lithuanian-Tunisian combination of Ricardas Berankis and Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-3. Raja/Skupski broke four times in the 67-minute encounter.
Did You Know? De Minaur entered 2018 with two tour-level match wins. He now owns a 12-11 record this season.
World No. 2 has won three titles from seven events in 2018
Roger Federer has announced his withdrawal from the Rogers Cup. The Swiss is a two-time champion at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, which alternates between Toronto and Montreal. He reached the final on his last visit to Toronto in 2014 (l. to Tsonga), and was also a runner-up last year in Montreal (l. to Zverev).
“I’m so disappointed not to play at the Rogers Cup this summer,” said Federer. “I had a fantastic time in Montreal last year and always enjoy playing in front of the Canadian fans, but unfortunately with scheduling being the key to my longevity moving forward, I have regrettably decided to withdraw from Toronto this year. I wish the tournament every success and am sorry to miss it.”
Federer, whose 37th birthday falls during the Rogers Cup, has won three titles from seven tournament appearances this season. Two weeks ago at Wimbledon, he bowed out in the quarter-finals, falling to Kevin Anderson in a 13-11 fifth set.
The World No. 2 is next scheduled to play at the Western & Southern Open, a Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, where he has won a tournament-record seven titles. Federer missed the tournament last year due to a back injury.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – winners of a combined 10 titles in Canada – will feature in a Rogers Cup field that includes 19 of the Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings. German Alexander Zverev, 21, will attempt to successfully defend his title, while Milos Raonic and #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov lead the Canadian charge.
“We are excited to have nine of the Top 10 on the ATP World Tour at the Rogers Cup, but it’s unfortunate that we won’t have Roger in Toronto this summer,” said Tournament Director Karl Hale. “With current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic plus Toronto’s hometown heroes in Milos and Denis legitimate title threats, this year’s entry list is one of the most exciting in recent memory. With the improvements we have made around the site and the festival of events we have planned, fans are in for a real treat.”
David Ferrer entered his match at the German Tennis Championships 2018 presented by Kampmann with 726 tour-level wins. His opponent, 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker, had played just four tour-level matches.
But the #NextGenATP German battled past the Spanish veteran on Monday, defeating the former World No. 3 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. One year ago, Molleker qualified in Hamburg, defeating Leonardo Mayer in the final round of qualifying. The Argentine would go on to capture the title as a lucky loser.
“This feels even more incredible, playing in front of the home crowd, on home soil. I did a good job last year, so it’s kind of hard, people have expectations because I qualified last year,” Molleker said. “Beating him [Ferrer] out here feels really incredible for me, so I’m looking forward to the next round. I’m just feeling good, now.”
It is the German’s second tour-level win, after earning his first in June at Stuttgart against compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff. Molleker had never won an ATP Challenger Tour match when he arrived in Heilbronn, Germany this May for the Neckarcup. But the teenager became the third player born in 2000 to triumph at the Challenger-level, joining Felix Auger-Aliassime and Nicola Kuhn.
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Molleker will next play qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who upset fourth seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-2, 6-4 in 89 minutes. It is the Slovakian’s highest-ranked victory since he beat then No. 6-ranked Marin Cilic in January 2017 at the Tata Open Maharashtra, when the tournament was played in Chennai.
“It’s definitely a tough match,” Molleker said. “He passed qualifying here and beat Damir Dzumhur, which is a big win, too. It’s going to be so hard for me, as hard as today, and I have to fight again and show my best out there.”
Did You Know? When Molleker played in Hamburg last year, he was No. 923 in the ATP Rankings. Now, he is at a career-best No. 271, and thanks to his victory against Ferrer, will continue to rise next Monday.
The #NextGenATP is coming, and two impressive performances on Monday at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad proved it.
Seventeen-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime earned the third tour-level match win of his career, defeating Argentine Guido Andreozzi 6-3, 7-6(3) in one hour, 31 minutes. The World No. 139, who hit eight aces and won 80 per cent of first-serve points in the match, will next face fifth seed Robin Haase or lucky loser Viktor Galovic.
Auger-Aliassime was the first player born in the 2000s to compete in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event at the BNP Paribas Open earlier this year, when he captured his first tour-level victory against compatriot Vasek Pospisil. The teenager earned his second win in Umag last week before falling in three sets against defending champion and fellow #NextGenATP star Andrey Rublev.
But the Canadian was not the only #NextGenATP player to impress on day one in Gstaad. Jaume Munar stormed into the second round, dropping just one game to beat countryman Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-1, 6-0. Munar won 70 per cent of second-serve return points and converted five of 15 break point chances en route to a 67-minute win. Munar will meet second seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round.
Roberto Carballes Baena made a strong debut in Switzerland, beating seventh seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6(3), 6-2.
The 25-year-old Spaniard, who lifted his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Ecuador Open in February, needed just 89 minutes to move past the 2008 semi-finalist. Carballes Baena won 75 per cent of service points and converted three of eight break-point opportunities to secure his 11th tour-level victory of the season.
Carballes Baena will face Taro Daniel of Japan for a spot in the quarter-finals. The TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open titlist edged Elias Ymer 7-6(9), 7-5.
In an all-qualifier clash, Jurgen Zopp squeezed past German Yannick Hanfmann 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4). Zopp will face defending champion and newly crowned SkiStar Swedish Open winner Fabio Fognini for a place in the last eight.
Did You Know? Fabio Fognini is bidding to become the first man to win back-to-back titles at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad since Sergi Bruguera. The Spaniard won three consecutive titles at the event between 1992 and 1994.