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Wawrinka Downs Raonic To Claim Rotterdam QF Spot

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2019

Wawrinka Downs Raonic To Claim Rotterdam QF Spot

Shapovalov routs Berdych

Stan Wawrinka snapped a three-match losing streak against Milos Raonic on Wednesday, defeating the Canadian 6-4, 7-6(4) at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

The 2015 champion, whose last win over Raonic came en route to his lone title in Rotterdam, won 91 per cent of first-serve points (30/33) and landed 27 winners. Last month, Raonic defeated Wawrinka in a four-hour epic en route to the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Pouille).

“Tonight was a really good level, that is for sure,” said Wawrinka. “It is one of the matches I have played in many months now… So far I [played] two great matches, tonight was a great performance.”

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For his career, Wawrinka has won eight of his 10 matches – which includes three straight wins against Top 15 opposition – at the opening ATP 500 tournament of the season.

Wawrinka improved to 5-3 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Raonic and will next meet #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The left-hander dominated Czech Tomas Berdych, hitting 33 winners to Berdych’s nine and advanced 6-4, 6-3. “I had a good rhythm on the strokes. I was really feeling good,” Shapovalov said.

The Canadian hit for an hour before his match, and the extra preparation paid off. Shapovalov won 77 per cent of the points that started on his racquet. The 19-year-old beat Wawrinka last October in Tokyo during their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter. “It’s going to be a really tough match, but it’s going to be fun,” Shapovalov said.

Wawrinka started strongly, defending well and attacking Raonic’s forehand to break for a 2-1 lead. The Swiss continued to impress throughout the set, striking 11 winners and dropping just two points behind his first serve (13/15) to move into a one-set lead after 45 minutes.

In a second set dominated by serve, Raonic grew in confidence to force Wawrinka into a tie-break. But the Swiss got off to the perfect start, firing a forehand passing shot past his opponent to earn the opening mini-break. Despite surrendering his advantage, Wawrinka continued to punish Raonic with power and accuracy on his backhand side before securing victory with a crosscourt forehand winner.

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“I was moving way better and I was reacting better [than the past three matches against Milos],” said Wawrinka. “I was feeling great physically, so that is how I can start to engage the rally. [I was] returning better because I reacted better and that gave me way more chances to be aggressive.

“I was always trying not to give him too much time. [I was] trying to play aggressive with my game, to always dictate and put him under pressure. That is what I did well tonight.”

Did You Know?
The second set marked the 11th time in eight FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings that Wawrinka and Raonic have contested a tie-break (Wawrinka leads 7-4 in tie-breaks). At the Australian Open last month, Raonic defeated Wawrinka in four tie-break sets 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(11), 7-6(5).


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Tecau/Rojer Snap Losing Streak In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2019

Tecau/Rojer Snap Losing Streak In Rotterdam

Top seeds Marach/Pavic beaten in Match Tie-break

Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau claimed their first victory of the 2019 ATP Tour season on Wednesday, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili and Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-4 at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

The 2015 champions, who entered the match with a 0-3 record this year, saved all seven break points they faced to claim victory after 63 minutes. Rojer and Tecau will meet Wesley Koolhof and Jurgen Melzer for a place in the semi-finals.

Koolhof and Melzer upset third seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals. The wild card pairing won 71 per cent of service points (39/55) en route to a 74-minute victory.

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Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin continued their fine run of form, beating top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-3. The Open Sud de France champions dropped just seven points behind their first serves (39/46) and saved the only break point they faced to triumph after one hour and 31 minutes.

Marach and Pavic were defending 300 ATP Doubles Ranking points after reaching the championship match last year (l. to Herbert/Mahut). Dodig and Roger-Vasselin will face Jeremy Chardy and Henri Kontinen for a semi-final spot.

Fourth seeds Marcel Granollers and Nikola Mektic also advanced, beating Dutch qualifiers Sander Arends and David Pel 7-5, 6-4. Granollers and Mektic will meet Philipp Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-finals.

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Laura Robson: Comeback from hip surgery 'better than expected'

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2019

Former British number one Laura Robson says she felt “better than expected” after fearing she “would be terrible” in her comeback tournament following eight months out.

The 25-year-old, who had hip surgery last June, lost 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (8-10) 6-0 to Liechtenstein’s Kathinka von Deichmann in the ITF W60 in Shrewsbury.

“It was nice to be back,” Robson, the current world number 511, told BBC Shropshire after Tuesday’s match.

“I’m quite happy that my body held up.”

Having lost in the final round of qualifying for the World Tour event, Robson faced world number 162 Von Deichmann as a ‘lucky loser’ at the Shrewsbury Club.

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Robson, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2013 and was ranked world number 27 in the same year, added: “I definitely had some rust but that can only improve by playing more matches.

“Especially with the second round of surgery, it’s quite difficult to find the motivation to rehab all over again, so I’m really happy that I’ve actually made it back on to a tournament.”

Robson was courtside in Bath last week to watch Great Britain win four consecutive Fed Cup ties, culminating with Saturday’s decisive win over Serbia.

She said: “All I wanted to get out of this week was to enjoy being on court.

“I enjoyed it out there and I competed pretty well for someone who has been away for months.”

Robson intends to play at Glasgow’s W25 tournament next week.

Laura Robson was talking to BBC Shropshire’s Mark Elliott.

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Thompson On A Tear: Confidence Proving Key For The Aussie

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2019

Thompson On A Tear: Confidence Proving Key For The Aussie

Seventh seed faces Eubanks for spot in New York Open quarter-finals

In 2018, Jordan Thompson enjoyed a historic season. The Aussie won 52 matches on the ATP Challenger Tour, the second-most in history. He lifted three trophies at that level last year, and is now up to a career-high No. 60 in the ATP Rankings.

“I’m very happy. I’m at a career-high. Obviously looking to push forward from there, but I’m taking it one match at a time,” said Thompson, who on Monday won his first-round clash at the New York Open against home favourite Noah Rubin. “Hopefully I can get inside the Top 50, but there’s a long way to go still.”

Thompson has proven he is capable of competing against some of the best players in the world on a big stage. Two years ago, he defeated then-World No. 1 Andy Murray at the Fever-Tree Championships, a tournament the Brit has won five times. 

“I think playing at this level every week is the key. In 2017 I won a lot of matches on Tour. Last year wasn’t the case, I didn’t do so well and went back to the Challenger level to try to get match fit,” Thompson said. “I feel comfortable in every situation and I think it helped.”

Most ATP Challenger Tour Match Wins In A Season

 Player  Wins  Year
 1. Carlos Berlocq  57  2010
 2. Jordan Thompson  52  2018
 3. Boris Pashanski  51  2005

Last year, the 24-year-old was just 1-11 at tour-level. But not only did he win 14 of 15 ATP Challenger Tour matches to close the season, he has already triumphed in four tour-level matches this year.

“I think confidence goes a long way in tennis and when you lose a bit of confidence, it really shows. Going back and getting a lot of matches, I got my confidence up again,” Thompson said. “The last few tournaments of 2018 really helped. I made a final and won two Challengers in Australia… Most of those matches I got better and better and played a couple of my best matches of the year. The last few weeks of the year really helped.”

Now it’s about Thompson maintaining his momentum. While his 52-win Challenger campaign put him in the history books, the Aussie would rather not add his name under the same category again. Thompson aims to continue his climb and make his mark at ATP Tour events.

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“I’d like to be playing every week at tour-level. I want to stay at this level, to be playing these events and Grand Slams year-round and try to play the least number of Challengers as possible,” Thompson said. “I don’t think anyone wants to be seen as the Challenger guy. I think everyone wants to be on the main Tour. That’s why we play tennis, to be the best. But a lot of guys have had great Challenger success like Dudi Sela and Yen-Hsun Lu. They’ve won an incredible number of titles at the Challenger level and have both gotten to around 30th in the world, so there’s no shame in that, either.”

Against Rubin, who had the entire crowd on his side on Long Island, Thompson missed out on eight set points in the opener before settling down and slowly turning the match around, winning in three sets. For many players, losing those opportunities would have been a major mental hurdle to overcome.

“It’s been like that my whole career. I pride myself on competing my [behind] off, really,” Thompson said. “A lot of guys would have had about seven or eight set points in the first set and I think a lot of guys would go away [mentally] if they were in my position. But I hung tough and scraped out a win.”

Thompson, with confidence and momentum on his side, will hope to battle to another victory on Wednesday against American qualifier Christopher Eubanks.

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