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Kyle Edmund: British number one beaten in Winstom-Salem quarter-finals

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018

British number one Kyle Edmund suffered a setback in his US Open preparations as he was was easily beaten by American Steve Johnson in the quarter-finals of the Winston-Salem Open.

Third seed Edmund fell to a 6-1 6-2 defeat in one hour four minutes.

World number 32 Johnson dominated throughout to set up a semi-final against either Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta or South Korea’s Chung Hyeon.

Edmund, 23, will face Paolo Lorenzi in the US Open first round.

He was drawn against the Italian earlier on Thursday, with the fourth and final Grand Slam of the season starting in New York on Monday.

Edmund was looking for his first ATP Tour title in North Carolina and had beaten his second- and third-round opponents Leonardo Mayer and Roberto Carballes Baena respectively in straight sets.

But he lost the first five games against Johnson, who also established a double break early in the second set to claim a comfortable victory.

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Defending Champ Nadal Sizes Up US Open Competition

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018

Defending Champ Nadal Sizes Up US Open Competition

World No. 1 begins his campaign against compatriot Ferrer

World No. 1 and defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal said at Thursday’s draw ceremony in Manhattan that deciding who the favourite is in Flushing Meadows is not a difficult task. In the Spaniard’s mind, there is none.

“I think it’s not clear, one favourite,” Nadal said. “Even when somebody thinks somebody’s a clear favourite, from inside it doesn’t look like this. Of course Novak [Djokovic], Roger [Federer], they’re doing very well. Especially [since] they like the hard courts. Let’s see, let’s see what’s going on.”

One of those favourites is certainly Nadal, who resides atop the ATP Rankings. Despite struggling with a right hip injury early in the year, that caused him to struggle physically at the Australian Open and withdraw from Acapulco, he has found his best form, tallying a 40-3 record in 2018.

Nadal has captured five tour-level titles this season, including his 11th Coupe des Mousquetaires at Roland Garros, and most recently, a triumph on the hard courts of Toronto at the Rogers Cup, his record 33rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 victory.

“It’s been a positive year, of course,” Nadal said. “Since I came back, I was playing well and winning a lot of matches. Toronto gave me the possibility to rest a little bit. I’m getting a little bit older, as everybody knows. I took that week, nothing against Cincinnati, it’s about just trying to save my body, to play as long as possible. That’s something that I’m really looking forward to making happen, and let’s see. I rested, I practised and here I am.”

Nadal has enjoyed plenty of success in New York over the years, lifting the trophy in 2010, 2013 and 2017. He has advanced to the semi-finals or better six times, doing so in five straight appearances from 2008-11 and 2013, missing the tournament in 2012 due to knee tendinitis.

“We practise every day to try to be ready for the action, for the competition, even more for the big ones,” Nadal said. “The atmosphere here in New York is difficult to compare with any other place. I love the night sessions, I love the connection with the crowd. I always feel very comfortable here.”

There are plenty of tough challengers in the field. Fifth seed Kevin Anderson, whom Nadal beat in last year’s US Open final, and ninth seed Dominic Thiem, whom the Spaniard defeated earlier this year to triumph at Roland Garros, are the highest-ranked seeds in Nadal’s quarter. The 32-year-old believes many other players can also make a deep run in Flushing Meadows.

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“Especially now with this young generation coming, you never know. When you have young people there, you never know about the potential of what they have. They can propose something different and they can increase their level very quickly,” Nadal said. “[Alexander] Zverev, at some point he has to move forward and fight for the titles, that’s [something] he’s already doing. [Denis] Shapovalov, let’s see [Nick] Kyrgios, [John] Isner, just [with these] kind of players, anything can happen.“

The women’s defending champion, Sloane Stephens, wouldn’t look at the draw during the ceremony. Seeing his possible opponents doesn’t bother Nadal.

“I’m not crazy about the draw, but of course I really don’t care,” Nadal said. “At the end of the day, you will have to know your opponent… the tournament starts from the first round.”

For now, Nadal’s focus will be squarely set on his first-round opponent, former World No. 3 David Ferrer.

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Murray to face Australian Duckworth in US Open

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018
2018 US Open
Dates: 27 August-9 September Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live and text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Andy Murray will play Australia’s James Duckworth when he makes his return to Grand Slam tennis after a 14-month absence with a hip injury.

The former world number one, now ranked 378th, could play third seed Juan Martin del Potro in the third round.

Kyle Edmund, his replacement as British number one, faces Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi, while Cameron Norrie meets Australian Jordan Thompson.

Johanna Konta has a tough match against French sixth seed Caroline Garcia.

British number one Konta, 27, has dropped to 46 in the rankings after a year in which she has struggled to find consistency.

Heather Watson and Katie Swan are still trying to come through qualifying, as is Liam Broady in the men’s draw.

The US Open, the fourth and final major of the year, begins in New York on Monday.

  • Preview: Murray set for Grand Slam comeback

Murray avoids major names

Murray, 31, is set to return to five-set matches at Flushing Meadows – the scene of the first of his three Slam triumphs in 2012 – after pulling out of this year’s Wimbledon on the eve of the tournament.

Duckworth, himself coming back from a catalogue of injuries which sidelined him for a year, is ranked 445th in the world.

Murray decided he was not ready to compete in five-set matches last month, instead preferring to train on the American hard courts in preparation for the US Open.

The Scot had surgery in January to rectify a long-standing hip injury which had kept him out of competitive action since his defeat by Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July 2017.

An 11-month absence from the ATP Tour ended with a three-set defeat by Australian Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s in June and he has since played three other tournaments – Eastbourne in the run-up to Wimbledon, followed by Washington and Cincinnati this month.

Murray won three matches in Washington before pulling out of his quarter-final, then lost in the opening round at Cincinnati to France’s world number 17 Lucas Pouille.

Murray has direct entry into the main draw at Flushing Meadows because of his protected ranking.

If the unseeded Briton beats Duckworth, he will face a Spaniard in either Feliciano Lopez or 30th seed Fernando Verdasco before a potential third-round match against Argentina’s 2009 US Open champion Del Potro.

Federer and Djokovic drawn in same quarter

World number one Rafael Nadal plays fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the opening match of his title defence, while second seed Roger Federer meets Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in a first contest between the pair.

Nadal, 32, and Federer, 37, cannot meet until the final – if they get that far – in what would be their first encounter at Flushing Meadows.

Federer could face Novak Djokovic, who is looking to move level with Pete Sampras on 14 Slam triumphs, in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic, who beat the Swiss in the Cincinnati Open final last week, will play Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in the first round.

Bulgarian eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov faces three-time Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who is a wildcard as he continues to rebuild his career after injury, in the first round – a repeat of their Wimbledon opener this year, which the Swiss won.

Williams sisters could meet in third round

Serena Williams, 36, is seeded 17th as she continues to make her comeback after giving birth last September – and could meet older sister Venus, seeded 16th, in the third round.

One of the Williams sisters could then face world number one Simona Halep, who plays Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, in the last 16.

Serena Williams, who is bidding for her seventh US Open title, plays Poland’s world number 60 Magda Linette in her opener.

Defending women’s champion Sloane Stephens starts her defence against Evgeniya Rodina, with two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka potentially awaiting her in the third round.

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Kafelnikov & Muster Highlight Class Of 2019 ITHF Candidates

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018

Kafelnikov & Muster Highlight Class Of 2019 ITHF Candidates

Former ATP greats among candidates for 2019

Five former ATP World Tour stars are candidates on the ballot for International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019, it was announced Wednesday.

Leading the elite group are former World No. 1s in the ATP Rankings, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Thomas Muster. They are joined by former No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings Jonas Bjorkman, 22-time tour-level champion Goran Ivanisevic and 1993-94 Roland Garros titlist Sergi Bruguera.

Conchita Martinez, Li Na and Mary Pierce are also on the ballot. The International Tennis Hall of Fame will be utlising a fan vote — which will open on 27 August and close on 7 October — for the first time.

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“This is an exciting year for the International Tennis Hall of Fame election process, with a broad-ranging group of candidates and our first-ever Fan Vote. The eight candidates on the ballot come from seven nations, and have achieved tremendous results on tennis’ biggest stages – winning Grand Slam titles and Olympic medals, and topping the world rankings,” stated ITHF President Stan Smith, who also serves as Chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. “Each has done much for the sport and I hope we’ll see their many fans turn out to vote online to support their Hall of Fame candidacy.”

The five ATP World Tour players combined to lift 112 tour-level singles trophies, and they all cracked the world’s Top 5. Bjorkman captured 54 tour-level doubles trophies, while Kafelnikov also climbed as high as No. 4 in the discipline.

The three players who place highest in the fan vote will receive three, two and one additional percentage points on top of the ITHF’s voting group to determine their final result. Players must receive a 75 per cent affirmative ballot to be inducted. Former World No. 2 Michael Stich was inducted as part of the Class of 2018 in July.

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The Rankings That Changed Tennis (Part I)

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018

The Rankings That Changed Tennis (Part I)

The Emirates ATP Rankings were born on 23 August 1973. After quickly earning legitimacy and credibility, the rankings have become an indispensable part of tennis accepted universally by players, tournaments and fans.

It’s a universal goal of tennis players: To become the No. 1 player in the world. Kids dream of it, pros fight tooth and nail for it, yet it remains among the most elusive achievements in the sport. In the 40-year history of the Emirates ATP Rankings, only 25 players have reached the summit, with just 16 finishing the season as year-end No. 1.

Yet without the foresight of ATP founding fathers, the rankings landscape may look entirely different. From the dawn of Open Era tennis in 1968, rankings were largely a subjective calculation, generated by national tennis associations, circuits and a number of eminent tennis journalists who compiled their own lists.

“Tingay’s was really the only one that counted,” recalls former ATP European Director and acclaimed tennis writer Richard Evans, referring to the rankings produced by The Daily Telegraph’s Lance Tingay. “National Associations produced their own rankings, which meant that tournament committees attempted to secure the No. 1 player from each country,” remembers John Barrett, a former player and ATP Board member. “The major championships permitted associations to nominate four players from their country.”

It was all low tech and with no real purpose, as tournaments invited players on the basis of their reputation as Stan Smith, the World No. 1 in 1971-72, highlights. “The history leading up to the ranking system included a ‘star system’ as far as entries into the tournaments. Some players would be on a list as players that could help sell tickets for the event and they would have priority over others in acceptance into tournaments. This caused great concern for those that didn’t have a big name and were borderline getting into events. There were definitely some battles with tournaments over this star system.” Bob Kramer adds, “Tournament draws often featured eight players based on domestic national rankings, eight players based on an international ranking and a handful of other players worthy of acceptance.”

By August 1972, it became clear that the newly created Association of Tennis Professionals needed to establish a ranking system free of personal opinion and prejudice. “Jack Kramer, the first Executive Director of the ATP, wanted prize money only tournaments and not events that offered guarantees to players – as had happened in the ‘shamateur’ era of the past decade, when you were invited on reputation,” adds Barrett. Smith remembers, “The ranking system was a hot point for the players and it continued to be very important. The ATP felt that it wanted to control the ranking program and not let the ITF or anyone else control it.”

Working with the first ATP President, Cliff Drysdale, Jack Kramer sought help from the ATP Board including Arthur Ashe, Jim McManus and Charlie Pasarell, and received special input from Owen Davidson, Mike Estep, Fred McNair, Sherwood Stewart and others to devise a practical computer ranking that provided a fair analysis of a player’s performance as well as an objective means to determine entries into tournament. “We did not want the computer to be used as a way to incentivise a player to enter any particular tournament,” says Drysdale. “In other words, to purely be a way to rank players according to ability. Nothing more. In those early days we also gave points weighted according to the ranking of players he beat. So if you beat a seed, you got more points.”

Twelve months after the ATP was founded, Ilie Nastase became the first No. 1. He was among 186 players to be listed in the first ‘ATP International Player Rankings’ of Monday, 23 August 1973 (pictured below), produced and printed out on gigantic computer paper by TRW, a major aerospace company, having been meticulously calculated by Bob Kramer from his Los Angeles office. Dennis Spencer, who replaced Bob Kramer on ATP Rankings duty in December 1975, says, “Bob made an agreement with a guy from TRW to process the rankings. Most journalists thought that made sense because in their minds the ATP Rankings might as well have been from outer space!”

Bob Kramer recalls, “I struck a deal with Simon Ramo of TRW to provide a resource based on a points system to establish the rankings, which was one of the key principles behind the founding of the ATP in 1972. Ramo was a renowned physicist, engineer, and LA business leader/founder and the ‘R’ in aerospace manufacturing legend, TRW. As tennis enthusiast, neighbour and a friend of Jack Kramer’s, he ‘loaned’ us the computer time and initially one of his computer engineers, Bob Kurle, to help ATP run the rankings data each month and eventually, weekly.

“Administered by a panel of people, tournaments were initially divided into categories – A, B, C, etc. – which enabled event organisers to select the players according to their ATP Ranking and determine seedings. I provided the tournament results and related information to Bob Kurle.” Kurle then imputed the data into a server the size of the first floor of the ATP Americas office in Ponte-Vedra Beach [2,020 square metres]. “Within three days, Simon and Bob returned the rankings on huge perforated sheets. I remember putting ATP Rankings sheets from floor to ceiling, week after week on the walls of our LA office. I would double check results, circle inaccuracies and, if required, returned the sheets to TRW for a re-run. Because the ATP produced the rankings once a month in the first few years, we had the time for the manual process, unlike today.”

Spencer confirms Bob Kramer’s memories, but insists that, “There were many weeks when for whatever reason the ‘computer’ didn’t work so I did the rankings by hand. I would print the previous rankings out on the large computer paper, lay it out on my living room floor, get on my hands and knees to mark out the week(s) that were dropping off, add the new results and calculate the new rankings.”

Read Part II: The Rankings That Changed Tennis

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Chung Finding His Form In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018

Chung Finding His Form In Winston-Salem

South Korean looking good on the U.S. hard courts

Sixth seed Hyeon Chung of South Korea made it back-to-back quarter-finals at the Winston-Salem Open on Wednesday, beating Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Chung, the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, broke in the eighth game of the third set and then held to 15 to advance past the Roman, who won his maiden ATP World Tour title last month on clay in Gstaad.

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“It was a really tough match against a big server. I had never played him before. I was just trying to focus on every point,” Chung said.

The 22-year-old from Suwon will next meet second seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who saved all five break points and beat 16th seed Peter Gojowczyk 6-2, 7-6(5). It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

Home favourite Steve Johnson ended the run of #NextGenATP Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-4, 6-4. Johnson, a champion in Houston and Newport earlier this year, didn’t face a break point and is through to his fifth quarter-final of the season.

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The four-time ATP World Tour champion will next meet third seed Kyle Edmund, who also didn’t face a break point and beat Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 7-5, 7-5.

Chile’s Nicolas Jarry advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final on hard courts and his seventh overall this season by beating 2017 semi-finalist Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-2, 6-2.

“It was a very solid performance. I served very well, and I even returned a lot his serves. He’s a great server, great groundstrokes, very powerful, and it was tough to keep up but I was able to manage well his speed,” Jarry said.

The 14th seed will next play Japan’s Taro Daniel, who went 2-0 on Wednesday. Daniel beat American Sam Querrey 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) in a match that was postponed because of rain on Tuesday night. The Japanese right-hander then advanced past German Dominik Koepfer 7-6(4), 7-6(3).

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Felix Leads #NextGenATP Surge At US Open Qualifying

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2018

Felix Leads #NextGenATP Surge At US Open Qualifying

Canadian is one of four teenagers to advance on Wednesday

The youth movement is alive at US Open qualifying, as the #NextGenATP contingent ruled on Day 2.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, the youngest player in the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings, led the charge with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Tallon Griekspoor. The 18-year-old moved into the second round after one hour and 32 minutes, overcoming a stern test from his Dutch opponent.

Griekspoor had a 0/40 look at Auger-Aliassime’s serve at 5-all in the first set, but the clutch Canadian fired four consecutive aces to deny the break chances and secure the hold. The swing in momentum was critical, as the teen reeled off eight of the last 11 games to close out the victory with authority.

“It could have gone the other way quickly,” Auger-Aliassime told “He had 0/40 at 5-all in the first and I hit four aces in a row. That’s never happened to me before. I just tried to go for big first serves in that moment. I’m just happy it happened, but it could have gone either way. And it’s fun to see a lot of Canadians and a lot of people supporting me. It’s also very appreciated for a player to have that support, playing away from home. I’m very happy and I want to thank everybody who came out.”

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Auger-Aliassime will look to go one step further than last year, when he exited in the second round of qualifying. He will face a tall order against big-serving Christopher Eubanks on Thursday, following the American’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over Antoine Hoang. 

Both Auger-Aliassime (No. 12) and Casper Ruud (No. 10) are seeking strong performances in New York to propel them up the ATP Race To Milan standings. Ruud kicked off play on Wednesday with an efficient 6-2, 6-2 rout of Andrea Arnaboldi in 69 minutes. He sets up an all-#NextGenATP encounter against Max Purcell, who downed Blaz Rola 6-3, 6-4.

Fans on Court 11 were greeted with an early evening treat, as 18-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic earned his first US Open qualifying victory, rallying past home hope Reilly Opelka 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes. The Serbian withstood 17 aces from the American, cracking his big serve with a break at 3-2 in second set and in the first game of the decider. He will battle countryman Nikola Milojevic next.


“I know Reilly and obviously his serve is the biggest issue,” said Kecmanovic. “When his serve is going well, there’s not much you can do. I just have to hold my own games and hope to make some returns and wait for an error. And that’s tough to do because the ball bounces a lot here. I’m really happy I got through. It’s not every day you win a Grand Slam match.”

While Opelka’s qualifying quest came to an end, fellow Americans Ernesto Escobedo, Brandon Nakashima, Collin Altamirano, Mitchell Krueger and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski all emerged victorious in front of the home crowd. For 17-year-old Nakashima, it was a breakthrough afternoon on Court 5, rallying past Ante Pavic 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) in his tour-level debut.

Read Day 1 Report

Meanwhile, Escobedo also needed a deciding tie-break to advance, outlasting top seed Jozef Kovalik 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4). He is eyeing a third straight main draw appearance in New York.

“It was a very tough match,” said Escobedo. “I just stayed mentally positive. He took control in the second set and I had to regroup and keep my focus. You just have to enjoy the moment. It’s incredible to play here in New York. It’s always a dream come true. I still have a long way to go but that was a good first round match.”

The Top 4 seeds in qualifying were all shown an early exit, with Kovalik joining Jurgen Zopp, Ilya Ivashka and Hugo Dellien among first-round losers. 

Other notable results include Ivo Karlovic defeating Illya Marchenko 6-3, 7-6(7) and Ugo Humbert surviving Pedja Krstin 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(3). Seeking his 15th main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows, Karlovic needed only 13 aces to advance. Humbert, meanwhile, is hoping to build on a strong lead-up to the US Open, which saw the 20-year-old reach three straight ATP Challenger Tour finals and lift his first trophy in Segovia, Spain. He has vaulted to a career-high No. 139 in the ATP Rankings and 14th place in the ATP Race To Milan.

The entire second round will be played on Thursday.

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