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Fed Cup: Johanna Konta & Katie Boulter give Great Britain win over Slovenia

  • Posted: Feb 06, 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.

Johanna Konta held her nerve to secure victory for Great Britain over Slovenia in their first home Fed Cup tie for 26 years.

Britain’s world number 39 saved three set points in a tense first-set tie-break, before eventually beating Dalila Jakupovic 7-6 (9-7) 6-2.

Earlier, Katie Boulter gave GB a winning start by overcoming 18-year-old Kaja Juvan 6-4 6-2 in Bath.

Those wins gave GB an unassailable 2-0 lead in the round-robin tie.

GB are bidding to reach the World Group II play-offs for a third consecutive year.

There are eight teams – split into two groups – taking part in the Europe/Africa round-robin event in Bath between Wednesday and Saturday, with only one side able to progress to April’s play-off event to fight for promotion to the second tier.

‘Ultimate pro’ Konta seals victory

It took Konta an hour and 20 minutes to win a gripping first set against 27-year-old world number 86 Jakupovic.

There were eight breaks of serve and Konta saved three set points by winning four points in a row in the tie-break before slamming a forehand on to the outside edge of the line to claim the set.

She produced a more commanding performance to take the second set, wrapping up victory on her third match point when Jakupovic netted a service return.

“Jo did a great job to come through that first set. It wasn’t easy but Jo is the ultimate pro,” GB captain Anne Keothavong told BBC Sport.

“She’s focused, she’s been there, she knows how to do it and with someone like her, you have to respect that she knows what she’s doing.”

Boulter races to swift win

Earlier, Leicester-born Boulter, who is at a career-high singles ranking of 83 in the world, dominated her rubber, cheered on by a sell-out crowd at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village.

Her victory in one hour two minutes was 18 minutes quicker than Konta’s first set.

“Being here is quite tremendous. Everyone showed so much support out there,” said Boulter, who was making her singles debut in the Fed Cup.

“I had a great team around me to help me with those nerves and put me in the right place mentally.”

Watson misses out with illness

GB’s Harriet Dart and Katie Swan will take on Jakupovic and Juvan in Wednesday evening’s doubles, with British number three Heather Watson unavailable because of illness.

Watson, who was replaced by Boulter as British number two last month, is the most experienced member of the team with 31 Fed Cup appearances compared to 20 for Konta.

Keothavong said she was “hopeful” Watson would recover in time to play this week but did not give details of the illness.

“She was on the practice court with us yesterday and we thought she was getting better but it wasn’t the case,” she said.

“So she just needs time to recover and get herself in the best shape possible. She’s still very much part of this team. She’s desperate to play a part in this home tie.”

While the tie has already been won, the result of the doubles rubber could still be important in the final standings if teams are level.

Greece and Hungary make up the rest of Group A, with each team playing one round-robin fixture on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday, the table-toppers will face the winners of Group B to decide who will progress from Bath to April’s World Group II play-off.

Great Britain – ranked 18th in the world – are the favourites to top Group A, as they bid to end their long wait for a return to the second tier, having been outside the World Group since 1993.

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Bautista Agut Rallies To Earn Sofia QF Spot

  • Posted: Feb 06, 2019

Bautista Agut Rallies To Earn Sofia QF Spot

Verdasco also through to last eight

Roberto Bautista Agut reached his third quarter-final of the season on Wednesday, recovering from a set down to beat Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the Sofia Open.

The Doha champion (d. Berdych) notched his 10th victory in 11 matches this season after one hour and 49 minutes, withstanding 11 aces from his opponent and converting four of nine break points en route to victory. Bautista Agut will meet Yannick Maden or Marton Fucsovics for a place in the semi-finals. Fucsovics advanced to the second round after defeating eighth seed Andreas Seppi 6-2, 7-6(2).

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Fernando Verdasco raced into his first quarter-final of the season, beating Bulgarian qualifier Alexandar Lazarov 6-2, 6-1 in 51 minutes. The sixth-seeded Spaniard will face 2018 runner-up Marius Copil in the second round.

Martin Klizan eliminated defending champion Mirza Basic 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the second round. The six-time tour-level titlist converted all five break points he created to set a second-round clash against German qualifier Daniel Brands.

Mikhail Kukushkin will meet Gael Monfils for a quarter-final spot. The 31-year-old Kazakh edged Laslo Djere of Serbia 7-6(6), 6-4.

Did You Know?
Bautista Agut won three five-set matches in his opening four encounters at this year’s Australian Open to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final. The Spaniard ended a nine-match losing streak in Grand Slam fourth-round matches to make it to the last eight in Melbourne, where he lost in four sets to #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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Tsonga Downs Simon To Reach Montpellier Quarter-finals

  • Posted: Feb 06, 2019

Tsonga Downs Simon To Reach Montpellier Quarter-finals

Berdych drops two games to reach last eight

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached his fourth Open Sud de France quarter-final on Wednesday, beating countryman Gilles Simon 6-2, 7-6(3).

The 33-year-old, who owns a 6-2 record this year, landed 11 aces and saved four of five break points to advance after one hour and 34 minutes. Tsonga improves to 6-1 against Simon on home soil and 9-3 overall in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“I’m very happy to win this match. It was something great, at a good level. I hope i will be able to go far in this tournament,” Tsonga said.

Tsonga will hope to extend his 3-0 unbeaten record in Montpellier quarter-finals when he meets Brisbane semi-finalist Jeremy Chardy. Chardy also overcame French opposition to reach the last eight, defeating qualifier Antoine Hoang 6-3, 7-5. The sixth seed played well in crucial moments, saving five of six break points and converting four of his five break opportunities.

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Tomas Berdych continued his fine start to the 2019 ATP Tour season, cruising past Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-0. The 2012 champion, who improves to 6-0 in Montpellier, won eight straight games from 4-2 in the first set to eliminate the eighth seed after 58 minutes. Berdych dropped just five points behind his first serve (22/27) and converted five of 10 break points to reach the last eight.

The Doha runner-up (l. to Bautista Agut) now leads Paire 4-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head series and will meet Filip Krajinovic for a place in the semi-finals. The 26-year-old Serbian saved all four break points he faced en route to a 6-4, 6-4 win over second seed David Goffin.

Radu Albot needed just 72 minutes to defeat fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-3. The 29-year-old converted each of his three break-point chances to set a second-round clash against Ernests Gulbis.

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Marcos Baghdatis booked a meeting with defending champion Lucas Pouille, beating lucky loser Ruben Bemelmans 6-2, 6-4. Ilya Ivashka also reached the second round, rallying from a set down to defeat Thomas Fabbiano 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Did You Know?
Berdych and Paire have both reached the Open Sud de France championship match. In 2012, Berdych defeated Gael Monfils to lift the trophy, while Paire fell in straight sets to Richard Gasquet in the 2013 final.

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Naomi Osaka: World number one withdraws from Qatar Open with back injury

  • Posted: Feb 06, 2019

World number one Naomi Osaka has pulled out of next week’s Qatar Open with a back injury.

It was scheduled to be the Japanese’s first tournament since triumphing in the Australian Open in January to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

“I am sorry to have to withdraw from Doha this year as I was looking forward to playing and seeing my fans there,” the 21-year-old said in a statement.

“I wish everyone a great week and hope to see everyone next year.”

Osaka has previously suffered with a back injury, missing October’s Hong Kong Open with the problem.

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With New Hips, Nenad Zimonjic Returns In Sofia

  • Posted: Feb 06, 2019

With New Hips, Nenad Zimonjic Returns In Sofia

Veteran Serbian talks to about his journey back

A lot of people think he is crazy to come back. His doctors can’t believe he played through the pain for so long. Yet almost seven months to the day after he underwent bilateral hip surgery, 42-year-old Nenad Zimonjic is returning to the ATP Tour this week.

After 10 years of pain and degenerative joint disease, the Serbian had no choice and underwent a two-and-a-half-hour operation on 8 June 2018 at the Endogap Clinic in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in a bid to simply improve his future quality of life. Extending his professional tennis career to a 25th season was far from his thoughts.

“I knew I may have played the final match of my professional career,” Zimonjic exclusively told, ahead of his return at the Sofia Open on Wednesday. “There were no guarantees that I would come back. It was risky, but in the past three or four years I experienced a lot of pain. I had no choice. I did my research and consulted with my doctors.”

The Serbian, who has always taken great pride in his conditioning and match preparation, was often ridiculed by fellow players for the time he spent on tournament physio tables, but only a select few, including Clay Sniteman, a Senior Director of Medical Services, and his ATP colleague, Graham Anderson, knew the full story.

“In 2008 at Wimbledon, I felt a really strong pain in my groin after one match with Daniel Nestor,” said Zimonjic. “After the match, Clay told me to do a CT scan and x-ray, which I did. They told me I had a really big problem with my right hip, to begin with. There was, at that time, already below 50 per cent cartilage. I had a couple of different suggestions regarding the operation, to do orthoscopy or clean it, but there was no guarantee to come back. I decided to wait on having surgery.”

Zimonjic battled on, rising to No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 17 November 2008, but year after year, the pain increased to 24 hours a day. By early 2018, he began to research a solution at specialists in England, Germany and Serbia. “Everyone agreed that at some point I would need total reconstruction surgery,” said Zimonjic. “The past three to four years, it was extremely difficult and I came to the point where I needed to have surgery.”


“For the past 10-11 years, I’ve done all of my rehab in Eden Reha, in Donaustauf, near Regensburg, with Klaus Eder, a physiotherapist with an amazing reputation, who has over 30 years of experience with tennis players, footballers, summer and winter Olympic athletes in Germany,” said Zimonjic. “He has also worked in the past with Boris Becker and he recommended that I have the operation in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany with Dr. Christian Fulghum and his partner, Dr. Andres Berger.

“Even before the operation they couldn’t believe I could play with my hips, sitting on a bench for seven hours at a time, then play for up for three-and-a-half, four hours the next day in a Davis Cup tie. They saw there was absolutely no cartilage in both hips and they said it was amazing how much pain I could handle and that I could play at a high level.”

On the morning of 8 June 2018, only a few days after playing his last doubles match at the BMW Open by FWU in Munich, Zimonjic had bilateral hip surgery, one procedure. Two days later, he started to take his first tentative steps on crutches along the corridors of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen hospital during a seven-day post-operation stay. “It wasn’t until two weeks after the surgery that I realised how much pain I’d gone through, for so long,” admitted Zimonjic, who walked unaided six days after the operation.

“Shortly before the operation, they asked me when I would come back to play professionally? I was very surprised, as I’d only thought I’d play recreational sport and be pain free. But they said, ‘If it everything goes well, you can come back and try to play.’ For sure, it was emotional. It was a little light at the end of the tunnel. Before, I’d joked with my wife, Mina, that I’d like to play just one tournament with both of my hips replaced.

“After the operation, it really was starting from scratch once again. How to walk, everything. I underwent my rehabilitation in Eden Reha once again for five weeks. I then went on a much-needed two-to-three-week vacation with his wife and our twins, Leon and Luna… Once I got the green light to play, I started with my fitness coach, Ivan Dimitrijevic, and my tennis coach Marko Nesic [who Zimonjic partnered to the national doubles title in 1993].”

“I was very motivated and I enjoyed the process. It was a long, long journey, being away from family in Germany. When I trained in Serbia for up to 10-11 hours each day, starting at 8-8:30 a.m. each morning, and would only take half-an-hour for lunch, sometimes finishing at 7 p.m., after manual therapy, electro therapy and work in the pool. I respected everything the doctors told me and Klaus and his team.”

Zimonjic’s journey has been captured on film, over the past three years by Billy Peterson, of Epic Match Media, who has charted the challenges the Serbian faced to become a professional player, a World No. 1, and now as an aging athlete with two new hips.

At an age when the vast majority of his contemporaries have retired, what does the 54-time tour-level titlist have to prove? When asked, Zimonjic explained, “I am returning for myself. I also hope, in doing so, that I can inspire others to continue to pursue their dreams, to come back and prolong their careers after major surgery.

“It is going to be difficult to play for the first time in months, but I’m very excited and ready. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going on the court to see how I play. It’s going to be a case of one match, one tournament at a time. I’m going into an unknown territory, but it will be nice to play pain-free and enjoy those moments again. I am coming back because I love the sport.”

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Vancouver, Heilbronn & Puerto Vallarta Named Best 2018 Challengers

  • Posted: Feb 06, 2019

Vancouver, Heilbronn & Puerto Vallarta Named Best 2018 Challengers

Vancouver and Heilbronn scoop top honours for second straight year; Puerto Vallarta wins on debut

The ATP has announced the 2018 ATP Challenger Tour Tournaments of the Year, with players voting for Vancouver (Canada) and Heilbronn (Germany) as two of their favourite Challenger Tour stops for the second consecutive year, along with Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) which made its debut on the ATP Challenger Tour calendar in 2018.  

The Challenger of the Year Awards recognise excellence in standards set across the global Challenger Tour comprising 159 tournaments staged in 40 countries last year. Vancouver’s Odlum Brown VanOpen, relaunched in 2017, and the NECKARCUP, staged for five years in Heilbronn, have continued ambitious improvements each year, while the Puerto Vallarta Open burst onto the calendar with an exceptional inaugural event.

ATP Challenger Tour Committee Co-Chairs, Alison Lee, ATP International Executive Vice President and Ross Hutchins, Chief Player Officer, said “These three Challengers are relatively new on the ATP Challenger Tour calendar and the organisers have set themselves very high standards to win these awards of excellence. It takes hard work, dedication and a passion for tennis to make successful tournaments, and players, fans, sponsors and media will have all seen these Challenger promoters’ enormous efforts come to fruition.”

Odlum Brown VanOpen Tournament Chair Carlota Lee said: “It is a thrill to be honoured as one of the 2018 Challenger of the Year Award winners for the second straight year. The Tournament of the Year Award represents the great work of our team, including Hollyburn Country Club members and staff, incredible partners, officials, volunteers and ball kids, and our steadfast and supportive title sponsor, Odlum Brown, whose commitment to tennis in Canada makes our tournament possible.”

“We are honoured to receive the prestigious Challenger of the Year Award for a second consecutive year as voted by the players. We offer a unique player experience and strive to improve on it year after year,” said Odlum Brown VanOpen Tournament Director Rik de Voest. “We look forward to this year’s event and upholding the reputation as one of the players’ favourite Challenger Tour tournaments in the world.”

NECKARCUP Tournament Director Metehan Cebeci and Chief of Organisations Mine Cebeci said: “You cannot imagine how lucky we feel to be awarded again for the best Challenger. This is the best news for us and is such an honour. The award is a great motivation for us, knowing the players are satisfied with our efforts. We really appreciate receiving this award as it shows us that all our efforts and passionate work lead to this success.”


127-year-old TC Heilbronn Trappensee in Heilbronn, Germany

Puerto Vallarta Open Tournament Director, Francisco Javier Romero Gonzalez, said, “We are proud of promoting sports values among Mexicans. We sincerely thank ATP and are deeply grateful to all those who made PVO possible, not only those who worked and contributed their knowledge, but also those who believed in us and placed their trust in our first edition of the Puerto Vallarta Open.

“It is a source of great joy to be able to take the name of Puerto Vallarta to the highest place in world tennis and present it for what it is, one of the most complete and beautiful tourist destinations on the planet.”

You May Also Like: Sun, Scenery & History: Puerto Vallarta Sparkles In Challenger Debut

The ATP Challenger Tour is a launching pad for up-and-coming players to improve their skills, gain experience and necessary ATP Ranking points. Challenger tournaments provide ATP players with important playing opportunities for much of the year and provide local tennis fans with the chance to see world-class tennis and rising stars.

In 2018, the ATP Challenger Tour included 159 events in 40 countries which provided US$13.092 million prize money. More than 820,000 spectators attended these tournaments worldwide. ATP Challenger Tour matches are streamed live on

In 2019, a number of changes have been introduced to the Challenger Tour to further professionalise the sport and provide growth in prize money at the lower levels of men’s professional tennis, and lead to a greatly enhanced player pathway. The changes for 2019 are the result of an extensive strategic review the ATP has undertaken as it strives to enhance the player pathway and improve the viability of professional tennis at the lower levels of the sport.

The changes taking place from 2019 are across the following key areas of the ATP Challenger Tour:

➢ Draw Size
The Singles Main Draw size at ATP Challenger Tour events is increasing from 32 to 48, leading to an annual increase of approximately 2,400 available professional job opportunities with prize money and hotel accommodation included.

➢ Tournament Schedule
Tournaments will take place across 7 days from Monday to Sunday including qualifying, with no overlap from week to week between tournaments.

➢ Hospitality
Starting in 2019, all ATP Challenger tournaments are providing hotel accommodation for all Main Draw players.

➢ Prize Money
All Main Draw players will earn prize money. The increased Singles Main Draw size (from 32 to 48) will lead to 16 more players per tournament earning prize money from 2019. The highest-level Challengers will offer US$ 162,480 (€137,560) in 2019.

➢ Branding
ATP Challenger Tour tournament categories have been re-branded in accordance with the number of ATP Rankings points on offer to the respective tournament champion, similar to ATP Tour tournaments (ATP 250, 500, and Masters 1000). There are five ATP Challenger Tour categories – ATP Challenger 80, 90, 100, 110 and 125.

➢ On-Site Facilities, Conditions and Streaming
Increased services will be provided across ATP Officiating as well as ATP Medical Services, with better access on offer to qualified Physiotherapists. From 2019, all Main Draw Singles matches are intended to be streamed online, with more than double the number of matches available to viewers worldwide.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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