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Vasek's Vegas Victory: Pospisil Returns To Winners' Circle

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2019

Vasek’s Vegas Victory: Pospisil Returns To Winners’ Circle

Revisit the week that was on the ATP Challenger Tour as we applaud the achievements of those on the rise and look ahead to the week to come

A LOOK BACK
Las Vegas Tennis Open (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA): In January, Vasek Pospisil was laying on an operating table. The Canadian had undergone back surgery to repair a herniated disc and would miss the next five months, before returning at Wimbledon.

On Sunday, Pospisil found his way back to the winners’ circle. The 29-year-old claimed his eighth ATP Challenger Tour title and first in nearly two years, prevailing on the hard courts of Las Vegas. He defeated Aussie James Duckworth 7-5, 6-7(11), 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

“He’s a great competitor and it was just a really good match,” said Pospisil. “It had some ups and downs and drama, which is expected in a final. I’m just happy I got through it. I wasn’t serving as well as I would have liked to. The difference was that I started to be a little more aggressive. It was a very competitive match. From my end, it was about doing well on second serve returns and applying a bit of pressure.”

Duckworth did well to deny five match points in the second set tie-break, but it was Pospisil who eventually converted his sixth. He completed an impressive week that saw him not drop a set en route to the final, also defeating Michael Mmoh, Peter Polansky, Mitchell Krueger, Taro Daniel and a red-hot Christopher O’Connell.

It has been an impressive comeback campaign for the Canadian, who is just 10 days removed from a Round of 16 appearance at the Rolex Shanghai Masters as a qualifier. There, he earned his second Top 20 win in recent weeks, upsetting Diego Schwartzman after toppling Karen Khachanov at the US Open.

“I still I have a lot of work to do. Tennis is all about ups and downs like anything else in life. For the moment I’m enjoying the wave I’m on and we’ll see where it takes me.”

The former World No. 25 will rise to No. 168 in the ATP Rankings.

Pospisil

International Men’s Challenger (Ningbo, China): Yasutaka Uchiyama is saving his best tennis for the final months of the season. The Japanese No. 3 turned in a masterclass on Sunday in Ningbo, needing 71 minutes to dismiss Steven Diez 6-1, 6-3 for the championship. Uchiyama dropped one set all week to secure his fifth Challenger title.

“It was tough, especially at the beginning of the match,” said Uchiyama. “I wasn’t serving well, but after 3-1 in the first set I started to get my rhythm. And at the end of the match, it wasn’t easy to close it out but I’m happy to win in two sets.”

At the age of 27, the victory moves Uchiyama into the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time. He is in the midst of a dominant run of form in recent weeks, also lifting the Challenger trophy in nearby Shanghai and streaking to the quarter-finals at his hometown ATP Tour event in Tokyo. It will all culminate in a career-high position of No. 87 on Monday.

Uchiyama

Wolffkran Open (Ismaning, Germany): On the lightning-fast carpet courts of Ismaning, it was Lukas Lacko who sprinted into the winners’ circle on Sunday. The Slovakian defeated Maxime Cressy 6-3, 6-0 in just 50 minutes to lift the trophy.

Lacko, who saved three match points in Saturday’s semi-final victory over Julian Lenz, proceeded to lift his 13th Challenger trophy and first of the year. The former World No. 44 is pushing towards a Top 100 return at the age of 31. He rises to No. 192 in the ATP Rankings with the triumph.

Lacko
Photo: Juergen Hasenkopf

A LOOK AHEAD
It’s the final week of the ATP Race To Milan and Ugo Humbert is on the brink of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals. Sitting in eighth position, he enters Brest, France as the top seed. Roberto Carballes Baena, Thomas Fabbiano and Corentin Moutet are also competing at the Challenger 100 event.

In Traralgon, Australia, Uchiyama looks to secure titles in back-to-back weeks. The first of a two-week Aussie swing also features home hopes James Duckworth, Marc Polmans, Alex Bolt and Andrew Harris.

Hamburg debuts with Salvatore Caruso and Elias Ymer leading the indoor hard court event. And the Chinese swing moves to Liuzhou, where Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina are the top seeds.

Meanwhile, in Lima, Peru, native son Juan Pablo Varillas returns home to a hero’s welcome after securing his country’s first Challenger title in 11 years. The Lima Challenger is the first of three clay-court tournaments in South America, to be followed by Guayaquil, Ecuador and Montevideo, Uruguay.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Why A First-Round Loss Was 'The Best Thing That Ever Happened' To Tsitsipas

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2019

Why A First-Round Loss Was ‘The Best Thing That Ever Happened’ To Tsitsipas

#NextGenATP Greek competes this week in Basel

Most ATP Tour players wouldn’t look back fondly on a first-round exit, but Stefanos Tsitsipas believes his opening-round defeat at this year’s US Open was a blessing in disguise.

”It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” Tsitsipas said ahead of the Swiss Indoors Basel, where he is seeded third. “I stayed in New York for six or seven days after and it gave me time to discover new things. It was important for me to enjoy and realise what I needed in my life.

”It was my decision to live life how I wanted to, not how others wanted me to. There was a time last summer when I doubted myself, [thought] that I wasn’t interesting as a person. I wanted to be someone else, but now I understand that it’s awesome to be myself.”

Since New York, the #NextGenATP Greek has succeeded with his unique brand of tennis. He finished runner-up in Beijing (l. to Thiem) and scored a win over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to a semi-final showing at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. The pair of results helped clinch his maiden appearance at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held from 10-17 November at The O2 in London.

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Tsitsipas also credited his recent form with a different approach to his tennis. In keeping with the need to be himself, he decided to accept his limitations and play to his strengths. A player with as much variety as Tsitsipas can sometimes have difficulty selecting what shot to hit, so the Greek opted to keep things simple on the practice court and in matches.

“I practise more efficiently. I focus on things that may work not in the long term, but [will] in the short term. I know where I should push more,” Tsitsipas said. “Before, I was always seeking more and didn’t really understand what my orientations were. That would make me crazy, even during matches, and I’d have outbursts.

“I took things way too seriously and thought that was how I got the titles, whatever I was pushing towards. I was pushing way too much and sometimes I have to enjoy it. I can’t win every single week.”

But Tsitsipas isn’t just making changes on the court. Once an avid social media user, he let his manager handle his personal accounts and deleted all of his social media apps (except for Gidget and WhatsApp). He believes the decision sparked more authentic interactions in his life and allowed him to relax away from the court.

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“I’m not checking Instagram on my phone for 30 or 40 minutes like I used to. It was really stressful and drove me crazy a little bit,” Tsitsipas said. “I feel a difference in my behavior and how I feel. I can connect with people better. Being away from social media and spending more quality time is one of the best things that’s happened to me.”

After a challenging four-month stretch this season that saw Tsitsipas endure six opening-round exits, he has emerged as a stronger player. Although the Greek would love to clinch his first ATP 500 title in Basel, the end result won’t deter his belief that he’s moving in the right direction.

“I’m currently in the best state of my life,” Tsitsipas said. “It doesn’t have to do with results or playing good tennis or bad tennis. I’ve been feeling very happy and very well. I’ve been enjoying life more in general and that reflects in my game. It makes me happy and makes me want to live better.”

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Nadal Gets Married In Spain

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2019

Nadal Gets Married In Spain

Spaniard shares the news on social media

In a year filled with highs on the court, Rafael Nadal is also creating unforgettable moments off the court. The Spaniard tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello over the weekend in Mallorca.

Nadal revealed the news via his academy’s social media accounts on Sunday. Fabio Fognini, Jeremy Chardy and Marc Lopez are among the players who have expressed their excitement.

Nadal is scheduled to return to action later this month at the Rolex Paris Masters before turning his attention to the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held from 10-17 at The O2 in London.

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Scouting Report: The Key Things To Watch In Vienna & Basel

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2019

Scouting Report: The Key Things To Watch In Vienna & Basel

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

The final two ATP 500 events of the season take centre stage this week. Two-time defending champion and top seed Roger Federer will bid to lift his 10th title at the Swiss Indoors Basel, while home favourite Dominic Thiem leads the way at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. With 500 ATP Rankings points available to the champions at each event, the two European indoor tournaments could prove crucial in the ATP Race To London and ATP Race To Milan.

View Draws: Vienna | Basel

Things To Watch In Vienna
1) Top Seed Thiem: World No. 5 Dominic Thiem will make his 10th straight appearance in Vienna this year. The 26-year-old is hoping to advance past the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 event for the first time. Thiem will be confident of success at home this year after lifting his first trophy on Austrian soil at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel two months ago.

2) Tsonga Returns: Thiem’s first-round opponent in Vienna will be 2011 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Making his seventh appearance in Vienna this year, Tsonga has compiled a 15-5 record and reached three championship matches at this event. Tsonga is chasing his third indoor trophy of the year, after title runs at ATP 250 tournaments in Montpellier and Metz.

Read Vienna Draw Preview

3) Matteo In The Race: Third seed Matteo Berrettini is aiming to pick up crucial points in the ATP Race To London. The 23-year-old currently occupies the eighth and final qualification spot, with a 40-point lead over ninth-placed Roberto Bautista Agut. Making his debut in Vienna, Berrettini will bid to reach his first indoor final on the ATP Tour.

4) More Tennis For Denis: Intrum Stockholm Open titlist Denis Shapovalov is back in action after lifting his maiden tour-level trophy in the Swedish capital on Sunday. The #NextGenATP Canadian did not drop a set en route to the ATP 250 title, but can expect to be tested in his opening match against Chengdu champion Pablo Carreno Busta. During his week in Stockholm, Shapovalov also qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals for the third straight year.

5) Going For No. 3: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo are aiming to lift their third Vienna trophy as a team. The top seeds claimed back-to-back titles in the Austrian capital in 2015 and 2016 and enter the tournament in impressive form. The Polish-Brazilian pairing reached back-to-back finals in its two most recent events: Beijing and Shanghai.

Things To Watch In Basel
1) Welcome Home: Roger Federer is looking to lift his 10th Swiss Indoors Basel title this year. The World No. 3 — a former ball kid in Basel — has won his past 20 matches at this event and owns a 71-9 tournament record. Federer will contest his 1,500th tour-level match in the opening round against Peter Gojowczyk. The Swiss has reached the championship match in each of his 12 most recent appearances at the ATP 500 event.

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2) Zverev Continues Push: Alexander Zverev can qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals this week if he wins the Basel title and other results go his way. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals titlist currently occupies seventh position in the ATP Race To London with just two places remaining at the elite eight-man event to be held at The O2 from 10-17 November. Zverev reached the semi-finals in Basel last year and will be aiming to lift his fourth ATP Tour indoor trophy.

3) The Chasing Pack: Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin and Fabio Fognini all feature in the Basel draw. They occupy positions 9-11 in the ATP Race To London and will be hoping to narrow the gap on Zverev and Berrettini with just two weeks remaining for players to book their spot in London.

Read Basel Draw Preview

4) Wild Card Copil: Last year’s runner-up Marius Copil returns to Basel as a wild card this year and will face Nitto ATP Finals contender Bautista Agut in the first round. The Romanian defeated two Top 10 players — Zverev and Marin Cilic — to reach his first ATP 500 final last year. Copil fell in straight sets to nine-time champion Federer in the championship match.

5) In-Form Germans: Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies enter Basel in form after capturing the European Open doubles trophy on Sunday. Krawietz and Mies are attempting to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time this year and currently occupy third place in the ATP Doubles Race To London. The German pairing has lifted three ATP Tour trophies this season.

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Victorious In Antwerp! Mies/Krawietz Capture Third Title

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2019

Victorious In Antwerp! Mies/Krawietz Capture Third Title

Germans surge into third place in ATP Doubles Race To London

Entering this year’s New York Open, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies had mostly competed on the ATP Challenger Tour, only playing three tour-level events together before that week. But the Germans won that title and they have not looked back since.

Top seeds Krawietz and Mies captured their third title of the season on Sunday in Antwerp, defeating second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6(1), 6-3 in one hour and 14 minutes to triumph at the European Open.

“We enjoyed it a lot all week. The tournament was really nice, very well organised… We had a lot of fun this week,” Mies said. “We had a good time.”

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The Germans, who won Roland Garros this year, surge into third place in the ATP Doubles Race To London thanks to their Antwerp victory. Krawietz and Mies are trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, and they saved the only break point they faced against Ram and Salisbury in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

“The Belgians were really loud, actually. We had a great atmosphere. It really helps for the doubles when you have Stan Wawrinka against Andy Murray in the final coming up after our match,” Mies said. “It was pretty packed and we really enjoyed the atmosphere. It was unbelievable, and we played one of our best matches this year.”

Krawietz and Mies earn 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points each and a share of €35,960 for their efforts. They did not drop a set at this ATP 250 event.

“Lovely tournament. A lot of people came for the doubles final, also for the rounds before. The crowd was huge yesterday,” Krawietz said. “[We] enjoyed the game and enjoyed the tournament.”

Ram and Salisbury, who are also in Nitto ATP Finals contention, could have surpassed Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau for sixth place in the Race if they defeated the Germans. Instead, the American-British pair add 150 points to their tallies and split €18,430.

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Tearful Murray wins first singles title since career-saving surgery

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2019

Andy Murray broke down in tears after winning his first singles title since career-saving hip surgery by beating Stan Wawrinka at the European Open.

The Briton, 32, launched a stunning comeback from a set and a break down to win 3-6 6-4 6-4 in Antwerp to take his first title for more than two years.

Murray had surgery in January and was playing in just his seventh tournament since returning to singles.

He described it as “one of the biggest” wins of his career.

“It means a lot,” the three-time Grand Slam champion said. “The last few years have been extremely difficult.

“I didn’t expect to be in this position at all. I’m happy, very happy.”

Fellow Grand Slam champion Wawrinka, who has also had a number of recent injury issues, said: “To see you back at this level, it’s amazing.

“We’re all really happy. I’m sad I lost today but I’m really happy to see you back.”

  • Reaction to Murray’s victory

‘Hip hip hurray’ – reaction

Former British number one Greg Rusedski: “Andy Murray has won his first ATP singles title with a metal hip. Incredible effort. What a competitor to win from a set and a break down against Stan the man. Who would have believed it. Amazing.”

Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith: “An astonishing effort Andy Murray. So so proud of you!!!!”

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel: “Best news of the day. Who’d have thought it? Andy your spirit and your fight are remarkable. Skill has never been in doubt.”

Former world number three Ivan Ljubicic: “Hip hip hurray Murray. Amazing stuff. Congrats to the whole team.”

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Bencic and Ostapenko win Russia and Luxembourg titles

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2019

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic came back from a set down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6 6-1 6-1 in the Kremlin Cup final in Russia.

By reaching the final, Bencic secured the eighth and last place in the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

Meanwhile, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko won the Luxembourg Open with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Julia Goerges.

The win gave former French Open champion Ostapenko her first title since September 2017.

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Denis' Day: Shapovalov Lifts First Title In Stockholm

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2019

Denis’ Day: Shapovalov Lifts First Title In Stockholm

Canadian triumphs in straight sets

Since his breakthrough semi-final run at the 2017 Coupe Rogers, Denis Shapovalov has been named as a title contender at ATP Tour events across the world.

On Sunday, the #NextGenATP Canadian became an ATP Tour champion for the first time at the Intrum Stockholm Open. Shapovalov became the 15th first-time tour-level champion of the year in the Swedish capital, defeating Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 6-4 in 84 minutes.

First-Time ATP Champions In 2019

Player Age Tournament
Alex de Minaur 19 Sydney
Tennys Sandgren 27 Auckland
Juan Ignacio Londero 25 Cordoba
Laslo Djere 23 Rio de Janeiro
Reilly Opelka 21 New York
Radu Albot 28 Delray Beach
Guido Pella 28 Sao Paulo
Cristian Garin 22 Houston
Adrian Mannarino 30 ‘s-Hertogenbosch
Taylor Fritz 21 Eastbourne
Lorenzo Sonego 24 Antalya
Nicolas Jarry 23 Bastad
Dusan Lajovic 29 Umag
Hubert Hurkacz 22 Winston-Salem
Denis Shapovalov 20 Stockholm

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Shapovalov did not drop a set en route to the trophy in Stockholm. The fourth seed beat Alexei Popyrin and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe to reach his eighth tour-level semi-final, before snapping his seven-match losing streak in last-four clashes against Yuichi Sugita on Saturday.

The three-time Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier’s victory marks the second straight year that a #NextGenATP star has captured his first ATP Tour crown at this ATP 250 event. In 2018, Stefanos Tsitsipas picked up his maiden trophy in Stockholm before triumphing at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Shapovalov’s title run comes in the same week that he booked his place at this year’s 21-and-under event. The third edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals will take place from 5-9 November at the Allianz Cloud.

Krajinovic was also attempting to claim his first ATP Tour trophy. The 27-year-old was competing in his third tour-level championship match, with previous runner-up finishes at this year’s Hungarian Open and the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters.

Shapovalov earns 250 ATP Ranking points and collects €109,590 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Krajinovic receives 150 ATP Ranking points and €59,255.

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