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Monfils Extends Perfect Record Against Troicki

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2019

Monfils Extends Perfect Record Against Troicki

Basilashvili beaten in straight sets

On his Sofia Open debut, Gael Monfils needed just under an hour to defeat Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Frenchman won 84 per cent of first-serve points (26/31) and saved all four break points he faced against the 2016 runner-up to reach the second round. With his fourth straight-sets victory over Troicki, Monfils improves to 5-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the Serbian.

“I feel very good [in Sofia]. There is a great energy here, the people are very nice and it is an amazing stadium,” said Monfils. “It was a very good [match], I returned very good and the key was a great serve.”

Monfils will face Laslo Djere or Mikhail Kukushkin for a place in the quarter-finals. The 32-year-old owns a 1-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series record against Kukushkin and has not met Djere at tour-level. 

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Robin Haase defeated Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-4 in 74 minutes. The 31-year-old saved all three break points the wild card earned to book a second-round meeting against third seed Daniil Medvedev.

Daniel Brands upset fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(7), 7-5 to book his place in the second round. The German qualifier, appearing in his first ATP Tour event this season, saved two set points in each set to claim his first tour-level victory since beating Marco Chiudinelli in the Bulgarian capital two years ago.

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Fellow qualifier Yannick Maden also reached the second round, upsetting Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(4). Maden will meet eighth seed Andreas Seppi or Marton Fucsovics for a quarter-final spot.

There were mixed fortunes for Italian players in Sofia. Roman Matteo Berrettini defeated Denis Istomin 6-4, 7-6(7) to reach the second round, but Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany overcame qualifier Stefano Travaglia 6-4, 6-3. Berrettini will meet top seed Karen Khachanov in the second round, while Struff will face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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Berdych Passes Bachinger Test In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2019

Berdych Passes Bachinger Test In Montpellier

Gulbis through in straight sets

Seven years after lifting the trophy, Tomas Berdych made a winning return to the Open Sud de France on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old, who improves to 5-0 in Montpellier, recovered from a set down to beat Matthias Bachinger 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes. Berdych landed 11 aces throughout the first-round contest and saved seven of 11 break points en route to victory.

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Berdych has enjoyed an impressive return to action this year, after being forced to end his 2018 ATP Tour season in June, due to a back injury. The former World No. 4 reached his first final in over 19 months, in the opening week of this season, at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (l. to Bautista Agut) before a straight-sets loss to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open fourth round.

Berdych will meet eighth seed Benoit Paire or Evgeny Donskoy of Russia for a quarter-final spot. The Czech owns a 3-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Paire and has not met Donskoy at tour-level. 

Ernests Gulbis fired 14 aces to defeat 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 7-6(5). The 30-year-old Latvian did not face a break point throughout the one-hour, 38-minute contest and will meet fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber or Radu Albot in the second round.

French qualifier Antoine Hoang earned his first tour-level victory, cruising past Steve Darcis 6-1, 6-2. The 23-year-old, who made his ATP Tour debut at last month’s Tata Open Maharashtra, converted five of six break points and will face countryman Jeremy Chardy for a place in the quarter-finals.

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Filip Krajinovic also advanced, defeating Nicolas Mahut 7-6(7), 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes. The 26-year-old Serbian saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break before booking a second-round clash against second seed David Goffin.

Did You Know?
In 11 of the past 13 years, Berdych has reached the fourth round or better at the Australian Open.

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GB hope first home crowd in 26 years can inspire Fed Cup success

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2019
Fed Cup 2019
Venue: University of Bath Dates: 6-9 February 2019
Coverage: BBC website will have live text commentaries on selected GB matches from 16:30 GMT on Wed-Fri.

Great Britain’s Fed Cup team are hoping that playing in front of a home crowd for the first time in 26 years can inspire them to end a painful recent record.

They can look forward to a sell-out crowd in Bath this week when they host an eight-team Europe/Africa round-robin event.

GB have been stuck in the third tier of the women’s team tennis competition since 1993 and play-off defeats in four of the past eight years have ended their promotion bids at the final hurdle.

“Those losses certainly hurt,” Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong told BBC Sport.

While Britain’s men have enjoyed home ties in the Davis Cup, including in 2015 when they won the title, the women have played in 15 different countries since their last home match in Nottingham in May 1993.

“Hopefully it will be great because the players have always spoken about how much they want to play in front of a home crowd,” Keothavong said.

“We’ve seen with the men – the Davis Cup team – how the crowd has been able to inspire those guys when they are out there on the court and I’m hoping for the same for the women.”

Former world number one and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray said in January that he will be retiring this year, and when asked if the Fed Cup team could lift the mood of British tennis fans still reeling from that announcement, Keothavong replied: “I hope so.

“Andy has been a great supporter of women’s tennis and women in sport and I’m sure he will be following how the team do very closely.

“I hope everyone gets to see the British women giving it their absolute best, playing with their all and passion out there. They have prepared the best they can and are in the best shape possible.”

GB’s round-robin matches
Wednesday, 6 February: Great Britain v Slovenia (16:30 GMT)
Thursday, 7 February: Great Britain v Greece (16:30)
Friday, 8 February: Great Britain v Hungary (16:30)
  • Fed Cup schedule, results & standings

Who is in the British team?

Keothavong has picked her strongest team of Britain’s top five players, including number one Johanna Konta.

  • One to watch – Johanna Konta

The British number one will be the third-highest-ranked player at the competition.

They are boosted by a strong run of form by 22-year-old Katie Boulter, who has this year overtaken Heather Watson as British number two and on Monday reached a career-high ranking of 83.

Asked if that might affect the team dynamic, Keothavong said: “I know how competitive the other girls are so that will spur them on to want to do better as well – so you have this knock-on effect.”

Also in the team are Katie Swan and Harriet Dart, who has dropped just one place below her career-high ranking of 121 this week.

Great Britain are in Group A with Slovenia, Greece and Hungary. While household names are lacking, the stiffest tests are likely to come in the shape of Greek world number 38 Maria Sakkari and Hungarian former world number one doubles player Timea Babos.

Group B features Serbia, Georgia, Turkey and Croatia, who boast the highest-ranked singles player at the event in world number 25 Donna Vekic.

Great Britain team Ranking Age Fed Cup appearances
Katie Boulter 83 22 2
Harriet Dart 122 22 0
Johanna Konta 39 27 19
Katie Swan 174 19 3
Heather Watson 110 26 31

The stats behind Britain’s Fed Cup

  • GB all of their most recent home ties in May 1993 – Luxembourg (3-0), Lithuania (3-0), Russia (3-0), Ukraine (3-0) and Turkey (3-0) to advance to the World Group.
  • They have qualified for the World Group II play-off four times – in 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018.
  • Johanna Konta defeated 2018 US Open champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets in Japan at last year’s World Group II play-off.
  • Katie Swan became the youngest woman (16 years and 316 days) to represent Britain at this event when she made her debut in 2016.
  • Harriet Dart is making her Fed Cup debut this year.
  • Heather Watson is the most experienced member of GB’s team, having played every year since 2011.

The ‘brutal’ format – how does it work?

The eight teams are split into two groups. Each team plays three round-robin ties in their groups – with each tie comprising two singles and one doubles match.

The group winners face each other on Saturday, with the winner going through to April’s World Group II play-offs.

That play-off is the golden ticket to promotion – and it is at that stage where Britain fell short in 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018.

The World Group in the Fed Cup is split into two divisions of eight teams, which means the winners of April’s play-off would have to earn another promotion in 2020 to be able to compete for the title in 2021.

“There is no room for mistakes, it is pretty straightforward – beat every nation you are up against and you go through. Lose and there’s nothing for another year,” Keothavong said.

“Mentally it’s tough on the players, coming out each day, the recovery, doing it all over again. Intensity levels are high, pressure is high, you just can’t underestimate any of those factors.

“It’s a brutal format,” she added, “The team put so much into this competition and they really want to do well, and despite things not going as well as we would like in those play-off matches, we’re still able to field a full-strength team and that says it all – they are back and they are hungry for more.”

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Norrie loses to world number 280 at Cordoba Open

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2019

British number two Cameron Norrie has been knocked out of the Cordoba Open in the first round by Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin.

Norrie, 23, was beaten 6-4 6-4 in just over an hour and 20 minutes in Argentina against the world number 280.

Cachin broke Norrie in the first game and held on to take the opening set.

World number 64 Norrie was decisively broken for a second time at 4-4 in the second set and Cachin served out for the match.

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Pella Leads Argentines During Celebratory Day In Cordoba

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2019

Pella Leads Argentines During Celebratory Day In Cordoba

Bedene books second-round showdown with top seed Fognini

On the first day of the inaugural edition of the Cordoba Open, Argentines, rightfully, stole the show. Two of the three home favourites in action on Monday advanced as qualifier Pedro Cachin and eighth seed Guido Pella advanced.

Cachin earned his first tour-level victory 6-4, 6-4 against Brit Cameron Norrie, who reached the ASB Classic final in Auckland (l. to Sandgren) to start the year. Cachin had been 0-2 in tour-level matches, but won 92 per cent of his first-serve points (23/25) and stayed steady as Norrie grew frustrated.

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The 23-year-old will face fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain for a place in the quarter-finals.

Pella broke Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi four times, including thrice in the second set, to improve to 2-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-1, 6-3. The 28-year-old Argentine awaits the winner of Chile’s Christian Garin and Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

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Tunisian Malek Jaziri won nearly half of his first-serve return points (46%) against Carlos Berlocq to keep the Argentines from going unbeaten, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4). Jaziri will next meet Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas or Argenine qualifier Facundo Bagnis.

In other singles action, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene setup a second-round meeting with top seed Fabio Fognini by dismissing German Maximilian Marterer 6-3, 6-4. Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego saved all three break points and beat Spaniard Pablo Andujar, a four-time clay-court ATP Tour titlist, 6-3, 6-2.

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