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10 Things To Watch In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

10 Things To Watch In Shanghai

Federer, Del Potro could meet in Shanghai SF

1. Federer vs. Djokovic: Two-time champion Roger Federer and three-time champion Novak Djokovic will battle for No. 2 in the ATP Rankings this week at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Federer leads Djokovic by 455 points entering the tournament. But the Swiss is defending 1,000 points as the reigning champion. Djokovic missed the 2017 event and is not defending any points.

2. Advantage Federer: As the top two seeds, Federer and Djokovic could meet in the Rolex Shanghai Masters final for the first time. Djokovic leads their head-to-head 24-22 overall, but Federer is 2-0 in Shanghai with straight-set wins in the 2010 and 2014 semi-finals. Since starting the 2018 season a career-best 17-0, Federer is 19-6 with only one title at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Stuttgart.

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3. Race for No. 1: If he wins a record fourth Shanghai title, Djokovic will trail World No. 1 Rafael Nadal by just 35 points in the ATP Race to London. The Race becomes the year-end rankings following the Nitto ATP Finals. Both Djokovic and Nadal are trying to finish No. 1 for the fifth time. Djokovic is 65-9 overall in China with 10 championships and the Beijing Olympics bronze medal.

4. Don’t Forget Delpo: Besides Federer and Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro can be the World No. 2 on 15 October. Del Potro hopes to end a 13-year run of Big Four dominance. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray are the only men to have been ranked in the Top 2 since 25 July 2005.

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5. Eyes on London: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Del Potro have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals. Four spots in the year-end championships remain and the next four men in line are playing at the Rolex Shanghai Masters: Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson and Dominic Thiem.

6. 10 Quick Titles: Zverev’s next ATP World Tour title will be the 10th of his career. The 21-year-old German has until 20 April 2019 to join the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray among the players to win 10 championships before turning 22. Federer won his 10th title following his 22nd birthday.

Read Draw Preview: Federer, Delpo Could Clash In Shanghai SF

7. Big Birthday: No Grand Slam men’s singles champions are currently under the age of 30 following Cilic’s 30th birthday on 28 September. There are three Grand Slam runners-up still in their twenties: Thiem (2018 Roland Garros), Milos Raonic (2016 Wimbledon) and Kei Nishikori (2014 US Open).

8. Twice as Nice: When Anderson played in the 2017 US Open championship match as a 31-year-old, he became the oldest first-time Grand Slam finalist since Niki Pilic at 1973 Roland Garros. Unlike Pilic, Anderson is not a one-Slam wonder. He reached the Wimbledon final this summer.

9. Thiem’s Travails: Thiem leads the ATP World Tour with 48 victories in 2018. But he’s yet to play this season in China, where he’s struggled to a 3-7 career record across appearances in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu. Thiem suffered second-round Shanghai losses in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

10. Next is Now: Nineteen-year-old #NextGenATP stars Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur are among the Next Gen ATP Finals contenders competing in Shanghai. As of 1 October, Shapovalov has achieved a new career-high ranking 11 times this season and de Minaur has done so 16 times.

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Del Potro Going For Trio of Titles In 2018

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

Del Potro Going For Trio of Titles In 2018

Argentine is 2-3 in tour-level finals this season

Juan Martin del Potro reached his sixth ATP World Tour final of the season on Saturday, although the Argentine would have preferred a different final step before the China Open title match in Beijing.

Watch Highlights: Delpo, Basilashvili To Meet In Beijing Final

Del Potro advanced when Italy’s Fabio Fognini withdrew before their semi-final because of ankle pain. “Of course, I wanted to play with Fabio,” Del Potro said. “I am sad for him because he is a friend… I wish him all the best.”

Del Potro, who sounded as if he had a cold, wasn’t too disappointed with the walkover, though. “For me it will be a good moment to rest because I’m not feeling 100 per cent,” he said. “But anyways tomorrow is a final and the final has to be played so I will try to do my best.”

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He will go for his third title of the season against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Brit Kyle Edmund 7-6(6), 6-4 on Saturday. Del Potro won their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, at the 2017 Rolex Shanghai Masters in three sets.

You May Also Like: Read & Watch: Big-Hitting Basilashvili To Face Delpo In Beijing Final

[Basilashvili] already won Hamburg,” said Del Potro. “He has big potential, his game is so strong and it is going to be an interesting final.”

Del Potro is looking to build momentum before next week’s Rolex Shanghai Masters, where he reached the semi-finals last year (l. to Federer) and before he makes his return to the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November at The O2 in London. Del Potro will make his fifth appearance at the season finale and his first since 2013.

Read More: Del Potro Books London Spot

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Read & Watch: Big-Hitting Basilashvili To Face Delpo In Beijing Final

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

Read & Watch: Big-Hitting Basilashvili To Face Delpo In Beijing Final

Georgian will try to beat Delpo for the first time

Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili will play for his second ATP World Tour title on Sunday. The 26-year-old improved upon his career year again on Saturday at the China Open in Beijing, beating top Brit Kyle Edmund 7-6(6), 6-4 to reach the ATP World Tour 500-level final.

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“Really pleased with how I played today. I think it was a very tough match,” said Basilashvili, who was bothered by a headache at the start of the semi-final. “I managed to stay calm in the first set even though I wasn’t feeling so well.”

It’s the second such title match Basilashvili has made in 2018. He hoisted his maiden ATP World Tour title in July at the 500-level clay-court tournament in Hamburg.

The Georgian will face top seed Juan Martin del Potro in the final. The Argentine advanced to the championship match when Italy’s Fabio Fognini withdrew because of ankle pain before their semi-final.

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Edmund had been 2-0 against Basilashvili in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and the Brit had the upper hand in the opener, seeing three set points, including two consecutively from 4-5, 15/40 on Basilashvili’s serve. But the Georgian erased all three and clinched the opener on his third set point in the tie-break.

Basilashvili’s big-hitting from both sides wore down Edmund in the second. The 23-year-old Brit broke back at 3-5 but Basilashvili finished off the semi-final with his third break of the match.

He and Del Potro have played once before, last year at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Del Potro won in three sets. “It’s going to be a really interesting match. I’m really looking forward for it… I think it’s going to be a really tough match,” Basilashvili said.

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Britain's Edmund loses China Open semi-final

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

British number one Kyle Edmund missed out on what would have been his second ATP Tour final by losing to Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili at the China Open.

World number 16 and fifth seed Edmund was beaten 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in 98 minutes by the world number 34 in their semi-final Beijing.

Edmund lost his maiden ATP Tour final in Morocco in April.

Basilashvili will face Argentina’s world number four and top seed Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday’s final.

Edmund was playing his first competitive event since his US Open first-round loss in August, having endured a tough year because of illness, including recurring bouts of tonsillitis.

  • Kyle Edmund beats Peter Gojowczyk to reach second round
  • Kyle Edmund through to quarter-finals with hard-fought win
  • Kyle Edmund reaches semi-finals in Beijing

Edmund, 23, was broken in the first game of the match, but hit back to lead 2-1 before Basilashvili required a short break for medical attention.

The Briton had two set points at 5-4 and another at 6-5, but on both occasions Basilashvili fought back to hold to eventually force the tie-break.

Edmund saved two set points in the tie-break to recover from 6-4 down having led 4-1, only for Basilashvili to seal the first set at the third time of asking with an ace.

Basilashvili, 26, raced into a 3-0 lead at the start of the second set with an early break of the Edmund serve.

The Georgian had his first match point at 5-2 on the Edmund serve but fired a return into the net to allow the Briton to eventually hold.

Edmund extended the match with a break of his own to get the set back on serve at 5-4.

But Basilashvili was not to be denied again as the Georgian sealed the win on his second of three match points on the Edmund serve in the 10th game.

Del Potro advanced to the final after Italy’s Fabio Fognini withdrew from their semi-final because of injury.

At the Japan Open, home favourite Kei Nishikori will face Daniil Medvedev in the final after beating France’s Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 in 89 minutes.

Japanese world number 12 Nishikori, who won the Japan Open in 2012 and 2014, is aiming to win his first ATP event since February 2016.

“I figured there might be a tiebreak in there,” said Nishikori, who has lost seven consecutive ATP finals, most recently to Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo in April.

“He’s such a dangerous opponent, but I stayed focused and found a nice groove.”

Russian qualifier Medvedev beat Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov 6-3 6-3.

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China Open: 'Stressed' Naomi Osaka struggling to 'prove herself' after US Open win

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

Naomi Osaka says the pressure of expectation after her US Open win is causing her “stress” as the Japanese world number six tries to “prove” herself.

The 20-year-old’s first Grand Slam win earlier this month was overshadowed by Serena Williams’ row with the umpire.

“I think definitely as the weeks go by, I have this feeling of wanting to prove myself,” said Osaka.

“I think that takes a toll a little bit because I stress myself out.”

Osaka missed out on becoming the first player in 2018 to reach three consecutive finals, losing 6-4 6-4 to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova in the semi-finals of the China Open in Beijing.

An emotional Osaka apologised to opponent Zhang Shuai after her quarter-final win over the Chinese a day earlier, having been close to tears at points during the match on Friday.

“If you don’t win a tournament, then people will say, ‘Oh, she hasn’t won a tournament.’ If you haven’t won a Slam, they’ll say, ‘She hasn’t won a Slam,'” added Osaka.

“Then if you win one Grand Slam, they’re like, ‘Oh, she only won one Grand Slam.’

“I know it’s bad, but I sort of read the comments. I’m just like, ‘Oh, I guess I have to do more, to be better.'”

  • Angelique Kerber out, Naomi Osaka through to quarter-finals
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Against world number 20 Sevastova, Osaka was broken once in the first set to concede the opener in 46 minutes.

Sevastova broke again for a 4-2 lead in the second set against a visibly struggling Osaka, who was complaining of a back injury.

The world number six briefly rallied after a medical timeout and drew level at 4-4 with a break of her own.

But Sevastova reclaimed the break before sealing victory in 91 minutes on her first match point.

“Naomi is one of the best players this year so you need to be aggressive and concentrate,” said Sevastova, who will play world number two Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

Wozniacki beat Chinese wildcard Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3 in 82 minutes.

“I was focused and I stayed focused. She has been winning a lot of matches recently and I knew it was going to be a very tough match,” said Wozniacki.

Australian Open champion Wozniacki took an early 2-0 lead before pulling further clear with another break to seal the first set in 37 minutes.

The Dane also grabbed an early break at the start of the second, but this time Wang responded to lead 3-2.

Wozniacki broke back for a 4-3 lead before wrapping up the win with another break of the Wang serve.

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Pavic/Marach Reach Ninth Final Of 2018 In Beijing

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

Pavic/Marach Reach Ninth Final Of 2018 In Beijing

Kubot/Melo edge Cabal/Farah in Match Tie-break

Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic reached their ninth tour-level final of the season on Saturday, overcoming Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 7-6(6), 6-2 to move into the championship match of the China Open.

The ATP Doubles Race To London frontrunners saved one set point, at 5/6 in the opening set tie-break, before racing away with the second set to advance after 80 minutes. Marach and Pavic won 87 per cent of first-serve points and saved the only break point they faced en route to victory.

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Marach and Pavic, who captured three titles in January to open their 2018 campaign, are searching for their first trophy since winning the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open in May. Since then, the top-seeded pairing have lost both finals they have contested, at Roland Garros (l. to Herbert/Mahut) and the German Tennis Championships presented by Kampmann (l. to Peralta/Zeballos).

In Sunday’s final, Marach and Pavic will meet second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo for the trophy. The Polish-Brazilian duo overcame Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4, 1-6, 10-6. Kubot and Melo saved four of six break points to reach their first final in the Chinese capital, two years after falling in the semi-finals to Jack Sock and Bernard Tomic.

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Klaasen/Venus Save 6 M.P.; Triumph In 34-Point Match Tie-break

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2018

Klaasen/Venus Save 6 M.P.; Triumph In 34-Point Match Tie-break

Third seeds to meet McLachlan/Struff in final

It is not every day that you see a 34-point Match Tie-break on the ATP World Tour. But on Saturday evening, No. 3 seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus outlasted Joe Salisbury and Yasutaka Uchiyama 4-6, 7-6(2), 18-16, saving six match points in a thriller to reach the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 final.

Is there even a way to describe what it feels like to save that many match points in front of a plethora of excited fans on Arena 1 in Tokyo?

“No, not really,” Venus said, smiling. “I think both our heart rates were racing like none other there throughout that, so we just tried to keep each other calm and focus on what we were trying to do and take it one point at a time.”

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Salisbury and Uchiyama did not trail through the first 18 points of the Match Tie-break. And it looked like it might come to an end when Klaasen double faulted at 11/11. But Uchiyama gave that advantage right back. And eventually, after one hour and 51 minutes, Klaasen and Venus reached their fifth final of the season (1-3) in their first year as a team.

“I’ve never been part of a tie-break like that. It’s hard to sit and think that we got that far without someone taking a match point,” Klaasen said. “I hit a double fault and then he hit one right back to me and I was like, ‘Oh, man!’ So exciting and nervy and the crowd was feeling it too, so we’re really happy we were able to pull that through.”

Klaasen and Venus will now face defending champion Ben McLachlan (w/ Uchiyama) and his partner, Jan-Lennard Struff. The Japanese-German pair will compete in their first ATP World Tour final as a pair. They reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and in Miami earlier this year, while McLachlan triumphed last week at the Shenzhen Open with Salisbury.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time to calm down, but we have to regroup and make sure we don’t get too lost in this win today,” Klaasen said. “There’s a job to do tomorrow.”

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