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Zverev: I'm With Lendl To Win The Biggest Tournaments

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2018

Zverev: I’m With Lendl To Win The Biggest Tournaments

German discusses bringing Lendl onto his team

After losing a five-setter against Ernests Gulbis at Wimbledon, Alexander Zverev began to think it was the perfect time to try something new. At the time, he was No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and had recently earned his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Madrid.

But the 21-year-old wanted more, and he took a step toward achieving more by adding both a proven coach and player to his team ahead of the US Open: former World No. 1 Ivan Lendl.

“The reason I’m with him is to compete and win the biggest tournaments in the world,” Zverev said. “That’s the only reason he would join, as well. It’s great having him here. Hopefully it will show in the results.”

Jez Green, Zverev’s fitness coach, worked with former World No. 1 Andy Murray during one of Lendl’s stints with Scot’s team. So between Lendl’s previous coaching success and his experience with members of the German’s team, it was a perfect fit.

“He’s a smart man, a great guy. Done it as a player, done it as a coach, so he knows what it takes,” Zverev said. “He knows how to do it. He knows how to make the best players even better. This is why I took him.”

Lendl Zverev

Zverev’s father, Alexander Zverev Sr., is still one of his coaches. But Lendl is another set of eyes and a mentor who can give the World No. 4 insight into the mind of a man who himself won 94 tour-level titles and 1,068 matches.

“There’s a lot of tactical work, for sure. There’s a lot of mental work, as well, to kind of show me what it takes to compete for Grand Slams, to win Grand Slams,” Zverev said. “That for sure he has shown me a little bit.

“The training sessions are tough. The training sessions have always been tough when I work. I’m a pretty hard working guy, so I know what it takes. I’m not somebody who sits on my [behind] when I’m alone. I’m always constantly trying to figure out ways to get better. That hasn’t changed that much. The training sessions are still tough. The training sessions are tough when I’m by myself.”

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It’s not that Zverev has been unsuccessful before hiring Lendl. In fact, the opposite is true. The Monte-Carlo-resident leads the ATP World Tour in 2018 with 43 match wins. In second is World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who owns 40. But to Zverev, Lendl could add that little bit more to his corner to help him continue his ascent.

“Practices have probably gone up a little bit in intensity. They have gone up a little bit in value probably, as well. Just having him around on the court brings the value,” Zverev said. “So far the relationship is going well. So far everything is going as it should. Hopefully it will continue so.”

Zverev will hope his early work with Lendl could pay immediate dividends in Flushing Meadows. One year ago, he was arguably one of the hottest players on tour, fresh off triumphs in Washington, D.C. and Montreal. But his tournament came to a screeching halt in the second round against Borna Coric, his third exit by the second round in three New York-appearances.

“Last year I was a little burnt out,” Zverev said. “Last year I played a lot, I won a lot. Mentally it was tough for me because everybody saw me for the first time as a favorite. That was new for me, as well. Expectations got ahead of me a little bit.

“I’m trying to play my best tennis here in New York, which I’ve never really done before. I’ve never really played the best tennis here. I’m trying to change that. I’m trying to change it this year. Hopefully it will work out that way.”

And maybe with Lendl in his corner, Zverev could find his top level at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where he begins his campaign against Peter Polansky. For now, there’s no timeframe on this new player-coach relationship.

“As long as it works,” Zverev said. “If I win the US Open here, it’s going to be probably a little while.”

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'I'll tough it out if I need to' – Murray on playing at the US Open, Instagram and Slovenian bees

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2018
2018 US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 27 August-9 September Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Andy Murray is set to make his return to Grand Slam tennis at the US Open on Monday – his first Grand Slam appearance in 14 months after a hip injury led to surgery. In his regular BBC Sport column, the 31-year-old Scot talks about why the US Open is special to him, where he hangs out in New York during the tournament and becoming an Instagram ‘sensation’…

Playing at the US Open holds a special place in my heart and I’m pleased to be making my Grand Slam return here.

I still wish I was able to play at Wimbledon and not have to pull out on the eve of the tournament, but it is nice to be playing my first Slam in 14 months here in New York.

I enjoy the tournament because of the energy. When I was younger I used to love coming to visit the city and the tournament itself is very different to the other Slams.

It has an amazing energy, it is a great place to play, I love the centre court and having played my first Grand Slam final here, and then winning my first Grand Slam here, I have some great memories.

My family came over to New York a few days ago, so I hadn’t seen them for three or four weeks.

Obviously the kids change a lot in that time, which is nice in some ways to see after a period because you’ve changed a bit, but also sad that maybe you’ve missed some stuff.

That was the best part about being injured, or the only good part about being injured, was I got to spend lots and lots of time with them growing up. That’s been nice.

I’m happy they’re here. We went to Central Park with Amelie Mauresmo and her kids which was nice. And we’ve got friends here with their children so you just find family-friendly things to do.

There is plenty going on in New York!

‘Posting on Instagram is fun and stops misinterpretation’

Recently I’ve been posting a lot on Instagram while I’ve been training in the States – videos of me and Nick Kyrgios on a rollercoaster, pictures of old haircuts and answering some ‘interesting’ questions from fans…

It is fun and something I enjoy.

I used to post on Twitter a lot, then stopped using it so much. I’m a very visual person myself and there is a bit less abuse on Instagram!

After beating Marius Copil in Washington, I put on a post with a caption saying ‘Boring, miserable, no personality’ – it was just something fun and not because I’m trying to change public perception of me.

That’s something I was branded as from a very young age just because in interviews I didn’t give much away.

I remember the very first time I played at Wimbledon people were saying ‘he’s absolutely brilliant, he’s a fresh of breath air, he says what he thinks, so different to Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman’.

Then I learned very quickly that all it takes is a couple of comments and a couple of jokes that get taken the wrong way.

Posting things from your own Instagram account is something that you’re ultimately able to control more than how someone interprets your words in an article.

  • Murray not expecting to go far at US Open
  • Murray, Konta & Edmund lead Britons at US Open
  • Murray to face James Duckworth on Grand Slam return

‘UN visit was really cool’

As a long-time Unicef ambassador, I went to the offices here in New York which are next to the UN headquarters.

I had a tour of the Unicef building and met the team who co-ordinate the emergency response when disasters or war strikes around the world. They do an amazing job and are responsible for getting aid and relief to families and children in need.

We then walked over to the UN building, where most of the world leaders regularly gather.

It was interesting. One of the security guards showing us around had some funny stories but I’m not sure I am allowed tell them!

There are lots of artefacts around the grounds, which is considered to be on international territory even though it’s in the US, as all of the member states have donated something.

There is a piece of the Berlin Wall there from Germany, Slovenia had donated Slovenian bees so they have beehives in the garden, and all sorts of other things from the different nations.

‘Playing five-set matches again is positive – whatever happens’

Having not played a five-set match for a long time, I won’t know how my body will cope with that until I actually get there and do it.

I’m sure I’ll be able to tough it out if I need to – but it might not be particularly comfortable.

That’s something I will find out if I’m in that situation.

It is important for me to go through that and see exactly where I’m at, to see how I feel after playing an extremely long match.

That will inform what I do over the next few months as well, maybe show I need to adjust things building up to Australia next year.

I’m glad to be back competing in a Slam and it’s going to be positive for me putting myself in that position again.

Andy Murray was speaking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko

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Felix Qualifies For First Grand Slam; Krueger Leads American Charge

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2018

Felix Qualifies For First Grand Slam; Krueger Leads American Charge

#NextGenATP Canadian and 24-year-old American are two of five to qualify for first Grand Slam

The Grand Slam career of Felix Auger-Aliassime has officially begun. Two years after lifting the US Open trophy as a junior, the 18-year-old made an emphatic statement in qualifying for his first main draw at a major.

Auger-Aliassime became the youngest to qualify for a Grand Slam since a 17-year-old Andrey Rublev at the 2015 US Open, completing a dominant run this week at Flushing Meadows. He punched his ticket without dropping a set, capped by a decisive 6-3, 6-0 win over Gerald Melzer in just 61 minutes on Friday. The #NextGenATP star reeled off the last nine games of the match to seal the victory.

“It feels amazing,” Auger-Aliassime told following the win. “As a kid it’s something you dream of for a long time. To be in the main draw means I’m already there. I’ve thought about this for a long time. I was able to finish strong and I had the right objectives for every match. I had a good plan and was able to serve well at the right moments and was aggressive constantly.”

The Canadian’s reward? A first-round date with close friend and countryman Denis Shapovalov.

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Auger-Aliassime is joined by fellow Next Gen ATP Finals contenders Ugo Humbert and Lloyd Harris in qualifying for their first Grand Slam main draws. Both Humbert and Harris have been dominating on the ATP Challenger Tour as of late and that success translated to the hard courts of New York. The Frenchman defeated Marc Polmans 7-5, 6-2, while the South African ousted JC Aragone 6-4, 6-2.

Humbert, who recently lifted his maiden ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Segovia, Spain, will open against fellow qualifier Collin Altamirano. Harris, a first-time winner in Lexington, U.S.A. earlier this month, faces veteran Gilles Simon.

Altamirano, Donald Young and Mitchell Krueger were the lone Americans to qualify on Friday. Five years removed from making his US Open debut as a wild card, Altamirano earned his way back to Flushing Meadows, not dropping a set all week. He notched impressive wins over seeds Ivo Karlovic and Lorenzo Sonego to book his spot. Meanwhile, Young overcame Peter Polansky 7-5, 1-6, 6-3, and Krueger rallied past Calvin Hemery 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Mitchell Krueger will make his Grand Slam debut in New York

“It feels great, especially being the US Open,” said Krueger. “I’ve always wanted to be in the main draw of a Grand Slam and it’s that much better that it’s the home slam. I earned my way into it. It feels amazing. This is the one thing I wanted. I finally got into the main draw of ATP World Tour events the past few years and I won my first match last year. I can’t put it into words right now. I’m insanely excited.”

It was a dramatic 24 hours for Krueger, as the Texas native registered back-to-back comeback wins to qualify for his first Grand Slam. Having walked off the court at 10:30pm on Thursday after saving three match points, he stormed back from a set and a break down to outlast Hemery in front of a packed Court 11. Krueger has been fighting for his tennis dreams on the ATP Challenger Tour for the past six years. On Friday, those dreams became a reality.

“Yesterday I was lucky that they were all on my own serve,” Krueger added, referring to the match points saved in the second round. “I’m in control of my own destiny. At that point, you just put the ball deep in the court and the margins are so small. And then I didn’t get off the court until past 10pm. It was tough. I tried to get to bed at a normal time. The body can only take so much and the energy was low, but I just stuck in there and fought for every point.”

Casper Ruud qualifies for his third Grand Slam of the year

Other qualifiers include #NextGenATP stars Hubert Hurkacz and Casper Ruud – No. 9 and No. 10 in the ATP Race To Milan – as well as Grand Slam debutant Federico Gaio of Italy and his countryman Stefano Travaglia, Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo, Argentines Facundo Bagnis and Carlos Berlocq, Germany’s Yannick Maden and Austrian Dennis Novak.

Robredo will be making his 15th appearance at the US Open and first since 2015, as he returns to the big stage following a series of injuries. 

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Johnson To Go For ATP Trifecta In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2018

Johnson To Go For ATP Trifecta In Winston-Salem

American will meet Medvedev for the fifth time

Steve Johnson will have a chance at a rare ATP World Tour trifecta on Saturday at the Winston-Salem Open. The American, who beat Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to advance to the final, will try to become the first player in 2018 to win a title on three different surfaces.

Johnson won the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship title in Houston (clay) in April and the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open (grass) last month.

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The 28-year-old saved six of seven break points and won 52 per cent of his second-serve points against the 2016 champion to reach his third final of the season. “I thought I played really well from the ground. I played smart,” Johnson said.

The eighth seed will face Russian Daniil Medvedev, who breezed past Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-1 in only 65 minutes.

Medvedev, a semi-finalist the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals, won almost 75 per cent of his service points and teed off on Daniel’s second serve, winning 63 per cent of those points.

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The Russian will try to win his second ATP World Tour title after capturing his maiden crown in January at the Sydney International. “It’s a great feeling,” Medvedev said. “I just did what I had to do. I’m happy to go through.”

Medvedev leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, including both of their hard-court matches.

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Shapovalov, Felix Set For US Open Blockbuster

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2018

Shapovalov, Felix Set For US Open Blockbuster

Canada’s #NextGenATP stars will face off in round one

The future of Canadian tennis will be on showcase from the start of the US Open, which begins Monday. The bad news for Canadian tennis fans: One of their brightest #NextGenATP stars won’t survive the first round.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18, and Denis Shapovalov, 19, will meet for the first time at tour-level in New York. The two played last year at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Drummondville (indoor hard), with Shapovalov winning 7-5, 6-3.

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The left-hander is the 28th seed and will try to back up his fourth-round run of a year ago (l. to Carreno Busta). Auger-Aliassime qualified to make his Grand Slam main-draw debut.

Both players are in strong contention to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan. Shapovalov is currently third in the ATP Race To Milan; Auger-Aliassime is in 12th place. The top seven players in the Race will qualify automatically, while the eighth spot will be reserved for the winner of an all-Italian qualifier tournament to be held just prior to the prestigious 21-and-under event in Milan.

It will be the second meeting between the teens, having previously clashed at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Drummondville, Canada, last year. Shapovalov prevailed 7-5, 6-3, en route to his first Challenger title. 

Watch Highlights Of Felix vs. Denis In Drummondville 2017

ATP Race To Milan

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime’s countryman Peter Polansky snuck into the US Open main draw as a lucky loser. But the 30-year-old is starting to make that act look like skill. He became the first player to earn a lucky loser spot in all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year.

He might need a bit of luck during his opener: Polansky faces fourth seed Alexander Zverev. Other notable first-rounders featuring qualifiers include Spanish veteran vs. 15th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece; home favourite Donald Young vs. third seed and 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro; and Argentine Facundo Bagnis against 2016 semi-finalist Gael Monfils.

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Rojer/Tecau Achieve Tournament History With Second Winston-Salem Title

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2018

Rojer/Tecau Achieve Tournament History With Second Winston-Salem Title

Second seeds will look to repeat at the US Open as well

If history repeats itself next month, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau will soon have their third Grand Slam title as a team.

Rojer/Tecau repeated as doubles champions at the Winston-Salem Open on Friday, becoming the first team to do so in the tournament’s eight-year history. The Dutchman/Romanian team beat American Jamie Cerretani and Indian Leander Paes 6-4, 6-2.

The second seeds saved all four break points en route to their 18th team doubles title (18-4 in finals) and second of the season (Dubai).

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“Overall it was a good week. Horia and I came in here looking for some matches. We were lucky enough to play four matches this week so that was the main thing that we were after. So in that sense it was a big success. To win, of course, is always positive,” Rojer said.

The win should give the team, and especially Tecau, a jolt of belief ahead of the US Open, which begins Monday. Before earlier this month at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Tecau hadn’t played since 26 March because of a right foot injury.

“A few weeks ago I had no expectations of winning titles. I’m just very grateful that I’m healthy and can play the game again… I feel like the game is sharpening up and it’s getting towards where I want it,” Tecau said. “It’s really a fulfilling feeling to get a title after so many months of break and also a boost of confidence going into New York.”

Last year, Rojer/Tecau followed up their Winston-Salem title with their first US Open crown and second Grand Slam title (Wimbledon 2015). Perhaps they’ll again face Cerretani/Paes in Flushing Meadows? Rojer/Tecau also beat them for the Dubai crown.

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