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No Halep, no Williams – who will win the WTA Finals?

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki begins her WTA Finals campaign against Czech Karolina Pliskova in the opening night session on Sunday.

The Danish second seed has also been drawn in the same group as Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, top seed in Simona Halep’s absence, plays Kiki Bertens on Monday.

US Open champion Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens – both debutants at the season finale – complete their group.

The tournament, which also includes a doubles event, has a total prize fund of £5.36m.

Singapore is hosting the season-ending WTA Finals for the last time before the event moves to Chinese city Shenzhen next year.

No Halep or Williams – who has qualified?

World number one Halep finished top of the Race to Singapore rankings after a stellar season that saw her win a maiden Grand Slam at the French Open in June.

However, the Romanian – a beaten finalist in 2014 – withdrew from the event on Thursday because of a lower-back injury.

That means Germany’s Kerber is the top seed, ahead of Australian Open winner Wozniacki, with the pair separated in the group stage draw and unable to meet before the semi-finals.

Three other Grand Slam winners – Osaka, Kvitova and Stephens – are also among the eight contenders.

Ukraine’s Svitolina and former world number one Pliskova qualified on Wednesday following Bertens’ defeat in the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

But the Dutch player joined them in Singapore as the beneficiary of Halep’s withdrawal.

Another big name missing is 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who only returned midway through the season after having her first child and has not qualified.

Wozniacki, who claimed her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, comes into the finals having won the China Open this month.

“All the best players are here so there’s no easy matches,” Wozniacki said.

“I’m just excited to start the competition and do my best. As defending champion I want to defend my title and end the season on a high.”

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How does the tournament work?

The finals are the culmination of the WTA season and the singles title is contested by the eight players who have accumulated the most ranking points from 52 tournaments – including the four Grand Slams – over the year.

The eight singles players are seeded in terms of points accrued and split into two groups of four in a draw, which took place on Friday.

The groups are played in a round-robin format over the course of the week, with the top two players in each qualifying for the semi-finals on Saturday.

The winners meet in the final on Sunday at 12:30 BST (19:30 local time).

White Group
Seed World ranking
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 2 2
Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 4 7
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) 6 6
Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 7 5
Red Group
Seed World ranking
Angelique Kerber (Germany) 1 3
Naomi Osaka (Japan) 3 4
Sloane Stephens (United States) 5 8
Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) 8 10
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European Open: Kyle Edmund into semi-finals with walkover

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

British number one and top seed Kyle Edmund reached the European Open semi-finals after quarter-final opponent Ilya Ivashka withdrew through injury.

Ivashka, the 24-year-old world number 97 from Belarus, pulled out before the match with a thigh problem.

Edmund now plays fourth seed Richard Gasquet of France, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (11-9).

The other semi will be between another Frenchman, Gael Monfils, and Argentine second seed Diego Schwartzman.

Sixth seed Monfils saw off Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-5 6-4, while Schwartzman, runner-up for the past two years at this tournament, knocked out Gilles Simon 6-4 6-3.

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Kremlin Cup: Great Britain's Johanna Konta loses to Daria Kasatkina in Moscow

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

British number one Johanna Konta’s season ended when she lost in the Kremlin Cup semi-finals to Russian sixth seed Daria Kasatkina in Moscow.

Konta was aiming to make her second WTA final of a difficult season but lost 6-4 6-3 in Friday’s semi-final.

After struggling for form and dropping out of the world’s top 40, the 27-year-old has been working with prospective new coach Dimitri Zavialoff in Russia.

She responded by reaching the last four and tested Kasatkina before fading.

Victories against Elise Mertens, Daria Gavrilova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich – all above 44th-ranked Konta in the world – look to have boosted the Briton’s confidence after a disappointing season which led to her splitting with coach Michael Joyce last week.

And there were further positive signs – particularly in a tight opening set – for Konta to take, despite defeat by 21-year-old Kasatkina, who is ranked 14th in the world and considered one of the brightest talents on the WTA Tour.

Konta saved four set points at 5-2 down in the opener and broke back in the next game for 5-4 – after Kasatkina had saved three break points – when the 21-year-old double faulted.

However, Konta could not build on that momentum. She lost her serve again in the next game as Kasatkina took the opener having won just one more point than her opponent.

The former Wimbledon semi-finalist made an encouraging start to the second set by breaking Kasatkina’s serve, only for the Russian to take control and move 4-1 ahead as Konta’s aggressive baseline game began to lose its effectiveness.

The Briton saved a match point at 5-2 but Kasatkina held serve in the next game to reach the Moscow final for the second successive year.

Kasatkina will face Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur in Saturday’s final.

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Fifth-Set Tie-Break Coming To Wimbledon In 2019

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

Fifth-Set Tie-Break Coming To Wimbledon In 2019

Tie-break to begin at 12-12 in the decider

Wimbledon took a historic step on Friday, announcing that beginning with the next edition of The Championships, there will be a final-set tie-break at 12-12.

Debate over whether or not to introduce a final-set tie-break came to the forefront at SW19 earlier this year when Kevin Anderson defeated John Isner in the event’s longest semi-final in history, with the South African triumphing 26-24 in the fifth set. Isner also played the longest match of all-time at Wimbledon, defeating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set in 2010.

“Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tie-break method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set,” said Philip Brook, the chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. “While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tie-break at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete the match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable timeframe.”

The new rule will apply to all events at The Championships across Qualifying, Gentlemen’s, Ladies’, Mixed and Junior singles and doubles. It will be a traditional 12-point tie-break, with the first player to seven points — win by two — earning the victory. 

“In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analysed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience,” Brook said.

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Tsitsipas Recovers, Isner Continues London Push

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

Tsitsipas Recovers, Isner Continues London Push

Fognini continues pursuit of Italian history

Stefanos Tsitsipas kept alive his chances of reaching a third ATP World Tour final of the year on Friday by beating the experienced German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour and 36 minutes at the Intrum Stockholm Open.

Tsitsipas, a runner-up at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and the Rogers Cup (l. to Nadal both times), fought back from 1-4 down in the second set and saved two set points at 2-5, 15/40. The #NextGenATP Greek has already clinched his place at next month’s Next Gen ATP Finals. Buy Your Milan Tickets

“I showed character and a bit more passion for every shot that I played,” said Tsitsipas. “When I was a break down I concentrated hard. I played rallies and waited for an opportunity and put pressure on him to finish the points. In general, I was calm and I served pretty well today – much better than my first-round match. I’d like to push more and get more [ATP Rankings] points in the next few weeks.”

He’ll now play second seed Fabio Fognini for the first time. Fognini, who is currently No. 12 in the ATP Race To London, for one of the three remaining spots at the eight-man Nitto ATP Finals, was leading 7-5, 2-1 after 54 minutes of play when sixth-seeded South Korean Hyeon Chung retired due to a right foot injury. Fognini has won a career-best three titles this season, and is trying to become the first Italian on record to win four tour-level crowns in one year. 

American John Isner continued his push for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals on Friday, outlasting compatriot Tennys Sandgren 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 7-6(2) to reach the semi-finals in Stockholm. 

The top seed, competing in his first tournament as a father, has won both of his matches in third-set tie-breaks. In fact, all six of the sets he has played have gone to tie-breaks. Isner moves into ninth place in the ATP Race To London with 3,020 points thanks to his victory against Sandgren, putting him 515 points behind No. 8 Dominic Thiem. The 33-year-old is trying to qualify for the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, for the first time. 


It has been perhaps the strongest season of Isner’s career, as the American captured his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Isner also climbed as high as No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, after advancing to the Wimbledon semi-finals, his first trip to the last four of a Grand Slam.

Isner will look to keep it up against qualifier and World No. 145 Ernests Gulbis, who defeated 2017 Paris titlist Jack Sock 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first tour-level semi-final since Vienna in October 2015. Gulbis is the first qualifier to advance to the last four in Stockholm since Matthias Bachinger did it in 2014 before losing to Tomas Berdych.

British Pair Reach Doubles Final
Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara, who captured their first ATP World Tour title at the Nature Valley International in June (d. Skupskis), knocked out Simone Bolelli and Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes for a place in the doubles final.

Elsewhere, third seeds Marcus Daniell and Wesley Koolhof booked a place in the semi-finals by converting their fourth match point opportunity in a 6-7(3), 6-2, 11-9 victory over Matthew Ebden and Robert Lindstedt in one hour and 39 minutes. They will now play French team Julien Benneteau and Lucas Pouille on Saturday.

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Gasquet Saves MP To Reach Antwerp SF

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

Gasquet Saves MP To Reach Antwerp SF

Schwartzman, Monfils also through to the last four in Belgium

Fourth seed Richard Gasquet saved one match point at 7/8 in the deciding set tie-break of a 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(9) victory over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff on Friday at the European Open.

The 32-year-old continues his strong season, advancing to his sixth tour-level semi-final of the year. Earlier this month, the Frenchman made the last four at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018, another indoor hard-court event, where he lost to in-form Kei Nishikori. The Libema Open champion, who owns 15 ATP World Tour trophies, is trying to capture two titles in the same season for the fifth time in his career. 

Gasquet first held two match point chances at 6-5 in the third set, but finally converted his eighth match point — and his sixth of the tie-break — to complete his 34th match win of the season. He next plays Briton Kyle Edmund, who advanced when qualifier Ilya Ivashka withdrew due to a left thigh injury. Edmund has won two of the pair’s three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, and he is pursuing his maiden ATP World Tour title.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman is one match win away from reaching the Antwerp final for the third straight year. The second seed came through a match of nine service breaks to beat fifth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 36 minutes. Schwartzman will next face Frenchman Gael Monfils, who ousted Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-4. 

Monfils was fresh off a victory against compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. And in the quarter-finals, he maintained that momentum, striking 10 aces and saving the two break points he faced en route to a one-hour, 35-minute triumph. Schwartzman beat the Frenchman earlier this year at the Rio Open presented by Claro, where he eventually claimed the biggest title of his career. Monfils, who was victorious at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in January, will try to avenge that quarter-final defeat to reach his second tour-level final of 2018.

Demoliner/Gonzalez Advance To Doubles Final
Marcelo Demoliner and Santiago Gonzalez, winners of the Turkish Airlines Antalya Open title in June (d. Arends/Middelkoop), booked a place in the final by beating Spanish brothers Gerard Granollers and Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-4 in 59 minutes. They await the winners of second-seeded Frenchmen Nicholas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin and fourth seeds Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak.

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Khachanov Sets All-Russian SF In Moscow

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2018

Khachanov Sets All-Russian SF In Moscow

Khachanov and Medvedev to battle for a spot in Sunday’s final

It’s only fitting that at the VTB Kremlin Cup, held in Moscow, the Top 2 Russians in the ATP Rankings will battle for a spot in the final. 

Two-time ATP World Tour titlist Karen Khachanov thrilled his home crowd with a 6-2, 7-6(5) victory against Sofia champion Mirza Basic on Friday to reach the semi-finals at this event for the first time.

Khachanov has climbed as high as No. 24 in the ATP Rankings this year, and he showed his talent by not only earning his second tour-level crown at the Open 13 Provence, but also making the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup. That was his first trip to the last four at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament (l. to Nadal).

Khachanov will next face a friend in Daniil Medvedev. The Russian No. 1 beat lucky loser Ricardas Berankis 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to set his second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against Khachanov. Medvedev beat his compatriot at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals in four sets.

“I have no choice. We are both Russians. We are both playing at home. We are both motivated to win,” Khachanov said of playing his friend. “We are friends off court, but on court we are rivals. I think we’re going to have a great match.”

Medvedev is one of the most in-form players in the world at the moment, recently capturing his third title of the season at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018. Medvedev did not own a tour-level trophy when the year began, but the second seed could claim championship No. 4 this week, which would be his first on home soil.

France’s Adrian Mannarino saved five set points at 5-6 in the first set and withstood 14 aces from Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov in a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over one hour and 31 minutes on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.

Mannarino, who is pursuing his maiden ATP World Tour title, will next play Italy’s Andreas Seppi. The 2012 Moscow champion recovered from 1-4 down in the second set to beat fourth-seeded Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 7-6(2) in one hour and 53 minutes. He is through to his third tour-level semi-final of the year (also the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament and the Gazprom Hungarian Open).

Krajicek/Ram Reach Doubles Final
Second-seeded Americans Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram, who captured two ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2015 at Leon and Guadalajara, booked a place in the final with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Andreas Mies and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo in 69 minutes.

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