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Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Basel & Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2018

Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Basel & Vienna

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour

The last two of 13 ATP World Tour 500-level tournaments take place this week in Basel and Vienna, where valuable ATP Ranking points are at stake for the ATP Race To London and the ATP Race To Milan. The Nitto ATP Finals qualification cut-off is 5 November and the Next Gen ATP Finals cut-off is 29 October.

At the Swiss Indoors Basel, Roger Federer will look to thrill his home crowd and capture a ninth title. The Swiss is joined by World No. 5 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Marin Cilic and an exciting field of challengers, including Intrum Stockholm Open champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. Dominic Thiem tops the draw at the Erste Bank Open 500, where eight of the Top 15 players in the ATP Rankings are competing, including European Open winner Kyle Edmund. 

View Draws: Basel | Vienna

1) Race For London: There are three spots remaining for the Nitto ATP Finals and the top two seeds, Federer and Zverev, have already booked their tickets to the season finale. No. 3 seed and 2016 Basel champion Cilic is looking to secure a spot in London for the fourth time.

2) Hometown Hero: Eight-time Basel champion Federer owns a 66-9 record at his hometown tournament and he has reached the final in 11 straight appearances (2006-15, 2017). Overall, in 17 main draw appearances, Federer has made 13 finals, holding a 8-5 record. He has a 15-match winning streak in Basel since his last loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the 2013 final. Federer is 39-7 this season with three titles from five finals.

3) Millman Rematch: In the second round, Federer could face Aussie John Millman, who earned the biggest win of his career by stunning the Swiss in the fourth round of the US Open. Millman opens against German Jan-Lennard Struff.

4) Zverev Returns: The 21-year-old German is making his first visit to Basel since losing in the first round in 2014. The second seed is 3-2 in finals this season, winning titles in Munich, Madrid and Washington, D.C.

5) Basel Success: Cilic is the other former Basel champion in the draw. The 30-year-old Croat has a 13-4 record at the event, winning the title two years ago and reaching the semi-finals last year. He captured his 18th tour-level title at the Fever-Tree Championships and was runner-up at the Australian Open.

6) Arriving In-Form: Stockholm champion Tsitsipas and Moscow finalist Adrian Mannarino both arrive in Basel after strong showings last week. Tsitispas defeated Ernests Gulbis to lift his first tour-level trophy, with Mannarino falling to 0-6 in tour-level finals after an impressive week in the Russian capital.

7) Stan Is Back: Swiss No. 2 Stan Wawrinka is making his 14th Basel appearance in 16 years. The former World No. 3 is 11-13 in Basel, with two semi-final appearances, in 2006 and 2011. He is 17-17 this season.

8) Medvedev Moving Up: No. 7 seed Daniil Medvedev is making his Basel debut this week. The 22-year-old Russian is bidding to win his fourth tour-level trophy of the season on as many continents, after previous title runs in Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo.

9) Eye On Milan: The trio of No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and wild card Taylor Fritz have all qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

10) Doubles Draw: Top seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus are looking to become the next team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. They are No. 7 in the ATP Race To London. No. 3 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau are No. 13 in the Race.

1) Race For London: There are three spots remaining for the Nitto ATP Finals and seven of the Top 8 seeds in Vienna are in contention, led by No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson, who is No. 7 in the Race. He is followed by Thiem, John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Borna Coric, Fabio Fognini and Edmund.

2) Top-Seeded Thiem: Austrian star Thiem is the No. 1 seed in his hometown tournament for the first time. With a 6-7 record in Vienna, Thiem’s best result came in 2013 when he reached the quarter-finals. The Austrian will be hoping to enjoy the success of top seeds since 2010. Since then, five of the past eight champions were top seeds. Thiem is 48-16 on the season with titles in Buenos Aires, Lyon and St. Petersburg.

3) Returning Champion: Unseeded Lucas Pouille, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2017 championship match, is the No. 1 Frenchman at No. 22 in the ATP Rankings. He is 1-2 in finals this season, winning his fifth ATP World Tour title in Montpellier and finishing runner-up in Marseille and Dubai.

4) Former Champions: Besides Pouille, there are two other former champions in the draw: wild card Jurgen Melzer, the last Austrian titlist in 2010, and 2011 winner Tsonga, who also reached the final in 2016 and 2017.

5) Melzer’s Singles Finale: Melzer is competing on the singles court for the final time this week. The Austrian climbed as high as World No. 8 and captured five ATP World Tour titles. The 37-year-old left-hander faces former World No. 3 Milos Raonic in the first round. 

6) Next Gen Contenders: Wild card Felix Auger-Aliassime is trying to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals. The 18-year-old Canadian is the youngest player in the draw and is No. 13 in the ATP Race To Milan with a 24-13 record and two ATP Challenger Tour titles. He owns a 6-9 tour-level record in 2018. Frances Tiafoe, who is No. 5 in the ATP Race To Milan, has already qualified. The American is making his Vienna debut.

7) Edmund Eyes Another Title: After capturing his maiden tour-level trophy in Antwerp, No. 8 seed Edmund will enter the Austrian capital full of confidence. The Brit, who owns a 35-20 tour-level record this year, also reached the Grand Prix Hassan II championship match in April.

8) Monfils Returns: Antwerp runner-up Gael Monfils is making his first appearance in Vienna since 2015, when he advanced to the semi-finals. On his Vienna debut in 2008, Monfils reached the championship match (l. to Petzschner). The Frenchman opened the season by winning his seventh tour-level trophy in Doha.

9) Basilashvili On The Rise: Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has captured ATP World Tour 500-level titles in Hamburg and Beijing this year, has jumped from No. 82 on 22 July to a career-high No. 23 in the ATP Rankings.

10) Doubles Race: The Top four teams in the ATP Doubles Race To London have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals at The 02. This week, these teams are also the top four seeded teams in Vienna: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, No. 2 Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, the 2015-16 champions, No. 3 Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, and No. 4 Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.

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European Open: Britain's Kyle Edmund beats Gael Monfils to seal maiden title

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2018

British number one Kyle Edmund sealed his maiden ATP title with a 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) win against Gael Monfils at the European Open in Antwerp.

Monfils, 32, the world number 38, broke in Edmund’s first service game and took the opening set in 31 minutes.

Both men broke in the next but top seed Edmund, 23, world ranked 15, dominated the tie-break to force a deciding set.

The Briton then secured another tie-break to wrap up victory in two hours and 26 minutes.

It was only Edmund’s second final, having lost 6-2 6-2 to Spain’s Pablo Andujar at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakesh in April.

He was 3-0 down after barely seven minutes of play against Monfils but fought back impressively to take charge of the second set tie-break.

Edmund held off two break points at the start of the deciding set before sealing the title with his first match point.

“It’s a great feeling, just overall the bigger picture is the overriding emotion, like so many years putting in the work, on and off the court,” Edmund told BBC Sport.

“It fills you with confidence and belief, and next time you’re in that similar situation you have an experience to look back on and see how you reacted. That feeling is a positive one and it will definitely help me moving forwards for the future.

“The goal is always to be consistent, regardless of the result today I would’ve always said that.

“If you want to go up the rankings consistency is always key.”

Meanwhile, at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russian Karen Khachanov, world ranked 26, secured his third title with a 6-2 6-2 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, the world number 49.

The third seed needed only 54 minutes to complete victory.

And at the Stockholm Open, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world number 16, became the first Greek player to win an ATP title, beating Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes.

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Pliskova beats defending champion Wozniacki at WTA Finals

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2018

Karolina Pliskova beat defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 on the opening day of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Czech world number eight Pliskova, 26, broke early in both sets to win in one hour 32 minutes in the White Group.

Australian Open champion Wozniacki, from Denmark, failed to win any of the 10 break points she created.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina beat Czech Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-3 in the same group earlier on Sunday.

The event features the leading eight players this year, split into two groups of four.

The top two players from each round-robin group will progress to the semi-finals, with the final on 28 October.

In the Red Group on Monday, Japan’s US Open champion plays American Sloane Stephens, while top seed Angelique Kerber, from Germany, meets the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens.

The Finals are being held in Singapore for the fifth and final time before moving to Shenzhen in China.

  • WTA Finals: Everything you need to know

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Mahut/Roger-Vasselin Capture Team Title No. 6 In Antwerp

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2018

Mahut/Roger-Vasselin Capture Team Title No. 6 In Antwerp

Frenchmen victorious in Belgium without dropping a set

While Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin might not be full-time partners on the doubles court, the Frenchmen have certainly found success when they do team up.

Mahut and Roger-Vasselin defeated Marcelo Demoliner and Santiago Gonzalez 6-4, 7-5 on Sunday to win the European Open, capturing the title in Antwerp after one hour and 14 minutes. It is the pair’s sixth ATP World Tour title together, including a victory in Metz last month.

“This was a great week. Nico was a bit sick at the beginning of the week, so it was tough. But then of course we’re happy to have this wonderful trophy,” Roger-Vasselin said. “I think we probably played our best match of the week today. Tough week, but really happy to have this sixth title together.”

Before that title-run at the Moselle Open, Mahut and Roger-Vasselin had not lifted a trophy together in more than five years. But now, they’ve triumphed twice in less than a month. And perhaps most impressively, the Frenchmen won all 16 sets they’ve played in those two events. 

Mahut now owns 24 tour-level titles on the doubles court, while Roger-Vasselin has 16. The latter also won in Antwerp two years ago, when he partnered recently-retired Canadian Daniel Nestor. Mahut and his usual partner, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to take place at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Buy Your London Tickets

You May Also Like: Mike Bryan/Sock & Herbert/Mahut Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Spots

The Frenchmen not only leave Belgium with the title, but they each gain 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and share €33,210 in prize money. While Demoliner and Gonzalez will be disappointed to not finish the tournament as champions, the Brazilian-Mexican duo add 150 points to their totals and split €17,460. Gonzalez was also the runner-up in Antwerp last season.

“They were playing great. I think they’ve improved a lot this year,” Mahut said. “At the end of the day we have the trophy, a very beautiful one, I have to say.” 

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'They should say we'll now play the Isner Rule' – American backs Wimbledon change

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2018

John Isner has backed planned changes to Wimbledon aimed at preventing marathon matches – and says the rule should be named after him.

From next year, tie-breaks will be played at 12-12 in the final set, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has announced.

Isner was involved in the longest match in Wimbledon history in 2010, beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set.

“I have said all along 12-all is good,” he told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek.

“That is sensible – you’re getting people who like the advantage and people who like tie-breaks. It is bucking tradition but a lot of people believe that is not a bad thing,” said the American.

Isner’s semi-final with Kevin Anderson this summer was the second longest match in Wimbledon history, with the final set lasting almost three hours.

“The next match that gets to that, they should just say we will now play the Isner Rule,” he said. “I don’t think they are going to do that, but I think I’ve been a big driving force for it.”

  • Anderson calls for end to final set marathons

A tie-break is played in the fifth set at the US Open at 6-6, but at the Australian Open and French Open the final set must be won by two clear games.

Isner, 33, thinks the other Grand Slam events could follow Wimbledon’s lead.

“It may be that Wimbledon acting like this could drive them to do it as well,” the world number 10 said.

“There is drama enough in a tie-breaker. You could argue there is more drama in that,” he added.

The AELTC said “the time had come” to introduce a tie-break method at “a reasonable point” in a deciding set.

The winner will be the first player or team to reach seven points with an advantage of two or more points, with the ruling applying to all Wimbledon events – qualifying, men’s, women’s, mixed and junior singles and doubles.

Some of the most memorable Wimbledon matches to go beyond 12-12 in the final set:

  • 2009 final: Roger Federer v Andy Roddick – Federer won 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 16-14
  • 2010 first round: Nicolas Mahut v John Isner – Isner won 6-4 3-6 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-3) 70-68
  • 2012 third round: Marin Cilic v Sam Querrey – Cilic won 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-7(2-7) 6-7(3-7) 17-15
  • 2017 fourth round: Rafael Nadal v Gilles Muller – Muller won 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 15-13
  • 2018 semi-final: Kevin Anderson v John Isner – Anderson won 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 26-24

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