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Bachinger: 'You Always Dream About Playing A Final'

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2018

Bachinger: ‘You Always Dream About Playing A Final’

German qualifier faces Simon in his maiden ATP World Tour final

When qualifying for the Moselle Open in Metz began, it would have been difficult to envision Matthias Bachinger advancing all the way to the final of the main draw. Entering the week, the German had earned just one tour-level win all year.

Considering Bachinger had not made an ATP World Tour quarter-final since he reached the last four in Stockholm four years ago, a big run in France was unlikely. Before the tournament, did the 31-year-old expect to be celebrating a victory against former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori on Saturday, earning himself the biggest opportunity of his career?

“No,” Bachinger told ATPWorldTour.com, laughing. “Of course not.”

But these are the moments that Bachinger has been working towards. Currently No. 166 in the ATP Rankings, the German can become the second lowest-ranked player to triumph on the ATP World Tour this year (No. 355 Pablo Andujar, Marrakech). If he beats two-time Metz titlist Gilles Simon on Sunday, Bachinger would also become the sixth qualifier to triumph in 2018. Ironically, that’s who he faced in his first semi-final six years ago in Bucharest.

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“Of course it feels great. My first final at an ATP World Tour event, and then to beat Nishikori in the semis, it’s a special moment for me,” Bachinger said. “It means a lot for me to play a final at a tour event. And right now I’m just really, really happy.”

In a way, this is the culmination of one long comeback for Bachinger. In January of 2016, he underwent knee surgery, which sent him plummeting as low as World No. 574. Last July, the Munich native remained outside the Top 400. But slowly, Bachinger has grinded away, working his way back toward his career-high of No. 85, which he achieved in 2011.

“It wasn’t easy for me. Last year I also played some Futures to come back,” Bachinger said. “This year at the beginning it was good. I qualified for the Australian Open, played some good matches during the year [like in] Halle against Nishikori. But now this is the best result of my career and I want to enjoy this moment.”

Bachinger

Bachinger had only won one match against an opponent inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings before facing Nishikori. But the Japanese star was a familiar foe, having pushed him to three sets at an ATP Challenger Tour match in Dallas this February, before losing a tight two-setter against the recent US Open semi-finalist in June at Halle.

“I knew that the matches before were tough,” Bachinger said. “He’s in great shape. He’s coming from a success at the US Open, but I also knew that I would get my chances. I’ve been playing really good this week. In the end, I was trying to hold my serve, I got some break chances and I took it. It was really, really close and I made the big points today.”

It is interesting to note that the German his making his big breakthrough at the age of 31. If he upsets Simon, who owns a 2-0 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, Bachinger will not only be the 11th first-time winner of the season, but the oldest of that group.

“Of course 31 is not the youngest player, but it’s also not the oldest. Many players got their biggest success when they’re over 30,” said Bachinger, who can become the second straight German qualifier to triumph in Metz after Peter Gojowczyk did so last year. “That always gave me the hope that one day I will have a big success, maybe a final like here. I don’t really look at my age, I just look at how I play tennis, how I feel, how my body is, and I feel really good at the moment. I hope it’s better than ever. I have no pain. Age is just a number. I don’t care how old I am.”

But the job is not done yet. While this accomplishment is the biggest of Bachinger’s career, he is just two sets from making this week even more special.

“It’s easy to focus. It’s the biggest match of my career,” Bachinger said. “Tomorrow I will be 100 per cent focused on that match. Tonight I will enjoy the moment, being in the final. But from tomorrow I will be ready 100 per cent and have everything I have focused on Gilles.

“For this moment you practise day by day, give everything,” Bachinger said. “To have this moment, it’s really, really special. You always dream about playing a final, and now it’s real. At the moment, it’s tough to believe it, that’s the truth. I’m looking forward to the final tomorrow.”

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Murray Hoping To 'Get On A Bit Of A Run'

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2018

Murray Hoping To ‘Get On A Bit Of A Run’

The Scot is in action this week at the Shenzhen Open

In a way, it’s like déjà vu for Andy Murray.

The last time Murray played the Shenzhen Open was in 2014, when he was one year on from back surgery. The right-hander had just fallen outside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time in more than six years. But he would win 20 of his next 22 matches, starting with a title-run in China.

Now Murray, who underwent hip surgery in January, is on the comeback trail again. He returned to action at the Fever-Tree Championships in June. And Murray has shown flashes of his best form in the five tournaments he has played, beating former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in Eastbourne and British No. 1 Kyle Edmund in Washington, D.C.

But the 31-year-old, who is currently World No. 308, knows he has room to continue improving.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been back, but yeah it’s kind of a similar-ish situation,” Murray said. “I’ve been playing a lot more in the build-up to Shenzhen, but it’s similar in some ways in that I’m not quite back to where I’d like to be yet, but kind of improving each week. Hopefully I can play some good tennis and get on a bit of a run.”

It has not been an easy comeback for Murray, who has tallied a 5-4 record in 2018. But the Scot says that while he’s not back at his best, he’s moving closer to it.

“[I’m] probably 85 per cent, 90 per cent. That’s from a physical perspective,” Murray said of how close he is to his top level. “I think I need matches and tournaments and also more time training where I’m feeling good so I can get a lot of practice on the court. This year for me has been a lot of starting, practising, playing a couple of tournaments and then stopping, resting, rehabbing. Like after New York, I didn’t hit a ball for two weeks and I was doing a lot of training and conditioning.”

But now in Shenzhen, Murray will have an opportunity to get more matches in. The 45-time tour-level champion opens against home favourite Zhizhen Zhang, before potentially clashing against top seed David Goffin.

Ahead of the tournament, on Saturday, Murray announced on Facebook that Shenzhen and the China Open in Beijing will be his final two tournaments of 2018. While he is happy with the ‘big strides’ he has made this year since undergoing surgery, Murray wants to finish his last couple of events in this campaign strong before buckling down for a lengthy training block to further his improvements.

“I’ve decided along with my team that I need a long period of training and reconditioning to get myself in the best shape possible for the beginning of the 2019 season and getting myself back competing for the biggest tournaments again,” Murray said in the video.

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Berrettini/Fognini Into St. Petersburg Final On Team Debut

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2018

Berrettini/Fognini Into St. Petersburg Final On Team Debut

Mahut/Roger-Vasselin cruise to Metz championship match

In their maiden tour-level event as a team, Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini reached their first final at the St. Petersburg Open, beating Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald 7-6(5), 6-3.

The Italian duo converted both their break-point opportunites to secure victory after 78 minutes, setting a championship match meeting with third seeds Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop. Jebavy and Middelkoop advanced to the final on Friday, edging past second-seeded duo Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos 7-6(4), 1-6, 10-8.

Berrettini and Fognini have been on a roll since dropping their first set of the tournament, winning six consecutive sets since then. Berrettini teamed with Daniele Bracciali to earn the crown in Gstaad earlier this year for his first ATP World Tour doubles victory, while Fognini owns four tour-level doubles trophies, including the 2015 Australian Open, where he partnered Simone Bolelli.

Mahut/Roger-Vasselin Cruise Into Metz Final
Home favourites Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin played to their top-seeded billing on Saturday, dropping just two games en route to the Moselle Open final.

The French pairing delighted home fans, breaking serve on six occasions to march past third seeds Wesley Koolhof and Andres Molteni 6-1, 6-1 in 51 minutes. Mahut and Roger-Vasselin will meet this year’s Open Sud de France titlists, Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski, for the title. The British brothers recovered from a set down on Friday to beat Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer 4-6, 6-3, 10-5.

Mahut and Roger-Vasselin have claimed four tour-level titles together, including three in France in 2012. The Frenchmen triumphed in Metz that year, winning three of their four matches in straight sets. They have combined to capture 36 trophies in their careers.

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Andy Murray to end comeback season early after competing in China events

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2018

Andy Murray has decided to end his comeback season early, saying he wants to be “the best shape possible” for the start of the 2019 season.

Britain’s former world number one plans to play in the Shenzhen and Beijing tournaments over the next two weeks.

But he will not play in either of the remaining two Masters series events in Shanghai or Paris in October.

Murray hopes reconditioning and “some hard training” and will help him “make some big improvements”.

The 31-year-old Scot had hip surgery in January and has only played nine matches this year after returning to the ATP Tour in June.

He withdrew from Wimbledon on the eve of the tournament and lost in the second round at the US Open on his return to Grand Slams.

“I need a long period of training and reconditioning to get myself in the best shape possible for the beginning of the 2019 season and getting myself back competing for the biggest tournaments again,” Murray, now ranked 308th in the world, said in a video on Facebook.

“Looking forward to getting some hard training done and making some more improvements.

“It’s been really positive the last few months. I feel like I made big strides forward in the rehab from the hip surgery. With another strong training period, I’ll make some big improvements.

“Hopefully, the next couple of weeks go well in China, looking forward to it.”

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Federer and Djokovic lose doubles in Laver Cup

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2018

Former world number ones Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic lost in the Laver Cup doubles but Team Europe lead Team World 3-1 after day one of the event.

The pair were beaten 6-7 6-3 10-6 by American Jack Sock and South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in Chicago.

Federer and Djokovic took a while to settle into the format and won the opening set but their opponents soon found their rhythm.

Earlier in the singles, Britain’s Kyle Edmund defeated Sock 6-4 5-7 10-6.

There were also wins for Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who beat America’s Frances Tiafoe 6-1 6-4 and for Belgium’s David Goffin, who defeated Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-4 4-6 11-9.

But it was the doubles match which created the most excitement.

Djokovic accidently hit his partner with the ball in the third game but both players laughed off the incident, much to the amusement of the crowd.

They claimed the first set on a tie-break but Sock’s experience as a three-time doubles major champion shone through at key moments as he impressed at the net.

Sock and Anderson levelled the match and having seen their team-mates lose in two deciders earlier in the day, the pair made sure not to waste their opportunity when Federer double-faulted at 4-4.

An impressive return winner from Sock sealed the set 10-6, giving captain John McEnroe some relief before day two where two points will be up for grabs.

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