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Bolton International Indoors: Jordanne Whiley beaten in final

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Britain’s Jordanne Whiley narrowly missed out on consecutive tournament titles on her return to international wheelchair tennis after giving birth.

The 26-year-old was beaten 3-6 6-2 6-4 by Italian world number five Giulia Capocci in the final of the Bolton International Indoors.

Last week, Whiley won singles and doubles titles at the Wrexham International.

“I didn’t expect to make any finals so I can’t be disappointed,” she said.

“I had never played Giulia before and hadn’t seen her play so to go three sets with her was good.

“I’ve made massive progress.”

Whiley, who won her fourth consecutive Wimbledon women’s doubles title in July 2017, had baby Jackson in January 2018 and returned to domestic action in December’s National Championships where she won her fifth title.

To earn a world ranking again, the two-time Paralympic bronze medallist needed to play in two international tournaments and her performances in Bolton and Wrexham will see her return to the top 40 in the world.

On her way to the Bolton final, she beat world number three Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands while she defeated ninth ranked Katherina Kruger of Germany in the Wrexham decider.

“I didn’t expect to do as well against top-10 players,” added Whiley, who was watched on in Bolton by Jackson and partner Marc.

“Against Aniek I thought I was going to lose and I was prepared to lose but when it was close in the first set, I thought ‘this is winnable’, but I still knew it would be tough.

“Giulia played very well but I was tired and my body was hurting after ten matches in two weeks – I’m not used to it anymore.

“It has been hard combining tennis and mum duties because I miss Jackson when I’m away. I have heard him crying when I’ve been playing but Marc and my mum were here so he is being well looked after.”

Next up for Whiley is another indoor tournament in Biel, Switzerland and she will travel to Korea in April for more events in a bid to get her ranking high enough to be considered for a wildcard for Wimbledon in July.

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Bryan Brothers Reach Seventh Delray Beach Final

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Bryan Brothers Reach Seventh Delray Beach Final

Top seeds to face Skupski/Skupski or Albot/Nishioka

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have triumphed at the Delray Beach Open by four times, and on Sunday, they’ll have a chance to make it five titles at the ATP 250 event.

The twins on Saturday afternoon defeated Marcelo Arevalo and Jamie Cerretani 6-3, 7-5 in 70 minutes, giving themselves a chance to lift their 117th tour-level trophy as a team. This is their first championship match since Bob underwent a right hip replacement surgery last August.

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“I didn’t know if I was going to be in a position to hold up another professional trophy. I was happy when I played my first professional match back from the surgery, so this is a bonus,” Bob said. “We don’t take this for granted. We know this is the last chapter of our career and we’re just going to try to enjoy it as much as we can.”

The Americans enjoyed almost immediate success upon their return, advancing to the Australian Open quarter-finals. Bryan/Bryan lost to eventual champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in Melbourne, but it did not take long for them to find their groove.

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“It came pretty quickly. When you have 40 years of experience, it comes back pretty quickly. We had three weeks together in December when we played a bunch of practice matches,” Mike said. “It was basically just filling in the holes, and he just needed to move better, which he started doing in Australia. Then it’s just handling the pressure again together and that’s what you need to do after a long break, just play those big matches.”

Fittingly, Arevalo/Cerretani was one of the teams that the brothers practised with in December. Bryan/Bryan did not face break point in their semi-final, breaking Arevalo/Cerretani twice to advance to the final. On Sunday, Bryan/Bryan will face Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski (not twins) or singles semi-finalist Radu Albot and Yoshihito Nishioka.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas to face Mikhail Kukushkin in Marseille final

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reached the Open 13 Provence final in Marseille with a 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 victory over Belgian third seed David Goffin.

The 20-year-old, who beat Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open semi-finals, was twice broken in the first set but raced through the tie-break.

The world number 12 won eight of the last 10 games to triumph in 69 minutes.

In Sunday’s final he will play world number 50 Mikhail Kukushkin, who beat French wildcard Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-4.

Tsitsipas, who became the first Greek player to win an ATP World Tour title when he claimed the Stockholm Open in October, beat the Kazakh in three sets at last year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Kukushkin won his only ATP Tour title at the 2010 St Petersburg Open and reached his fourth ATP final with victory over Humbert in one hour and 33 minutes.

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Dubai Tennis Championships: Belinda Bencic beats Petra Kvitova in final

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Belinda Bencic upset world number four Petra Kvitova to win the Dubai Championships, her third WTA title.

Switzerland’s Bencic, ranked 45th, beat the Czech 6-3 1-6 6-2 to claim her first WTA title since 2015.

Saturday’s victory was also the 21-year-old’s fourth in a row against a player ranked in the world’s top 10 at the tournament.

“This is amazing. I just tried to put as many balls back as possible to create pressure,” said Bencic.

“I feel great. We worked a lot on my fitness, so maybe that was the secret.”

Bencic, who lost to 28-year-old Kvitova at the Australian Open in January, started quickly and broke her rival to love in the match’s opening game before taking the first set in commanding fashion.

She faded in the second but raised herself for the decider and made the most of a number of Kvitova errors.

In an impressive run, Bencic beat Romanian world number two Simona Halep, sixth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, who is ranked ninth, on her way to the final.

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Kukushkin Powers Into Marseille Final

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Kukushkin Powers Into Marseille Final

Kazakh to meet Tsitsipas or Goffin for the title

Mikhail Kukushkin reached his first tour-level championship match in more than four years on Saturday, ending the run of French wildcard Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-4 at the Open 13 Provence.

The 31-year-old Kazakh, who reached his third ATP Tour final at the 2015 Sydney International (l. to Troicki), advanced to the championship match after one hour and 33 minutes, winning 83 per cent of service points (38/46) en route to victory. Kukushkin will be aiming to capture his second tour-level crown in Sunday’s final, more than eight years after claiming his maiden title at the 2010 St. Petersburg Open (d. Youzhny).

Kukushkin will meet top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or third-seeded David Goffin for the title. The World No. 50 trails Tsitsipas 0-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and also lost his only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter against Goffin.

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After failing to convert five break points in a marathon opening game, Kukushkin earned the only break of the first set at 1-1 with a dipping cross-court forehand passing shot. The Kazakh, who won each of his 20 service points in the opening set, continued to apply pressure to Humbert’s serve in the second set, breaking at 2-2 with great court coverage. After dropping serve at 4-3, Kukushkin won back-to-back games, booking his place in the final with a well-placed backhand lob.

Appearing in his first ATP Tour semi-final, Humbert was aiming to add to a strong tradition of French finalists in Marseille. Since 2006, the home nation has had at least one representative in 10 of the past 13 singles finals.

Did You Know?
All four semi-finalists at the Open 13 Provence reached the last four without dropping a set.


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Federer To Meet Kohlschreiber In Dubai Opener

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Federer To Meet Kohlschreiber In Dubai Opener

Swiss joined by Raonic in bottom quarter of the draw

Chasing his 100th tour-level title, Roger Federer will begin his quest for a record eighth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title against Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The seven-time champion, who most recently lifted the trophy in 2015 (d. Djokovic), will be making his first tour-level appearance since falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open fourth round last month. With a perfect 13-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head series record against Kohlschreiber, Federer will be aiming to improve to 13-1 in first-round matches at the ATP 500 event. Andy Murray is the only man to have beaten the 99-time tour-level titlist in the first round, having defeated Federer in three sets in 2008.

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If Federer comes through his opening match against Kohlschreiber, the Swiss could potentially face Fernando Verdasco in the second round. Federer shares the bottom quarter of the draw with seventh-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who has opened his 2019 campaign with seven wins from 10 matches. The former World No. 3 reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Brisbane and at the Australian Open, before a second-round loss to eventual runner-up Stan Wawrinka in Rotterdam.

Karen Khachanov and Borna Coric will both feature in the same half of the draw as Federer. Khachanov, who opens against Nikoloz Basilashvili, will be eager to return to winning ways after back-to-back opening-match losses in Sofia (l. to Berrettini) and Rotterdam (l. to Griekspoor). After suffering a second-round defeat to Ugo Humbert in Marseille, Coric will be bidding to reach his third quarter-final in four appearances in Dubai.

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In the top half, No. 1 seed Kei Nishikori will be aiming to extend his winning streak against Benoit Paire to four matches. The Dubai debutant owns a 5-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Paire and will be hoping to continue his strong start to the season. Nishikori has reached the quarter-finals or better in each of his three tournament outings this year, which includes his title run at the Brisbane International (d. Medvedev) last month. Nishikori is joined in the top quarter of the draw by Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas, who is aiming to lift his second ATP Tour title this week in Marseille.

Two-time Dubai quarter-finalist Marin Cilic will return to the event for the first time since 2010. The third seed faces a tough opener against recently-crowned Rotterdam champion Gael Monfils. The in-form Frenchman is unbeaten in three FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters against Cilic.

Eighth seed Daniil Medvedev could meet the winner of that match in the quarter-finals. The 23-year-old Russian opens against a qualifier, with a potential second-round clash against Sofia semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini or Denis Kudla.

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Juan Martin del Potro: Argentine top seed loses to Mackenzie McDonald in Delray Beach Open quarter-final

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Juan Martin del Potro’s injury comeback ended with a three-set quarter-final defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald at the Delray Beach Open.

The Argentine top seed, was beaten 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-5) by the world number 84.

Del Potro was playing his first tournament since breaking a kneecap at the Shanghai Masters in October.

He defended two match points to win the second set, but McDonald converted his third match point in the third-set tie-break to seal victory.

McDonald, 23, next faces Moldova’s Radu Albot, who came from a set and a break down to beat fourth-seeded American Steve Johnson 1-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

In the other last-four tie in Florida, Britain’s Dan Evans will play his first ATP Tour semi-final for over two years against American John Isner.

Del Potro moves on to next week’s tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, where he accepted a wild card to defend his title before he plays at March’s Indian Wells Masters, which he also won last year.

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Del Potro: 'I Don’t Want To Be Home Watching The Tournaments On TV'

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

Del Potro: ‘I Don’t Want To Be Home Watching The Tournaments On TV’

Argentine seeks more matches after Delray Beach exit

Although Juan Martin del Potro wasn’t pleased with his quarter-final loss on Friday against Mackenzie McDonald at the Delray Beach Open by, the Argentine is taking the positives from the week.

Del Potro returned to action after sitting out four months with a right knee injury. He visibly struggled with the knee against McDonald, but showed plenty of heart in extending the match to a third-set tie-break. The Argentine has always been methodical in his comeback attempts, returning only when he’s ready instead of rushing back too soon, but admitted the desire for matches is as strong as ever.

“The doctors say I need time if I want to be 100 per cent, but I don’t want to be home watching the tournaments on TV. I’ve done that before and it was really bad for me,” he said. “I wanted to do a big effort tonight. I fought until the last ball and had many opportunities, but it’s hard to win matches when you can’t move at 100 per cent.”

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The good news for del Potro is that while his lateral movement understandably let him down against McDonald, his tennis did not. He held in 15 of 16 service games and racked up 16 aces. When he was in position to strike his forehand, he produced plenty of vintage winners.

Having secured two straight-sets wins this week, including a second-round victory over New York Open champion Reilly Opelka, the Argentine has plenty to build on.

“I played three matches after four months away and that’s the best thing for me,” he said. “I know how good I can be when I’m ready, but I’m not in the physical condition to play at this level yet.”

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One thing that never wavered is the support for the always-popular Argentine. Even against an American opponent, the Delray Beach crowd urged the top seed on against McDonald by chanting “Delpo” between points and on changeovers.

Del Potro has always fed off the energy of a packed stadium, but it could be even more crucial for him as he continues his efforts to return to full strength.

“I have a lot of respect for my fans who paid for a ticket and came to watch me play. I know they understand if I can’t play, but I wanted to try and think I did a good effort,” he said. “I wanted to play because this is the reason I came to Delray Beach. The final score doesn’t matter to me.”

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McDonald Upsets Del Potro In Delray Beach

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

McDonald Upsets Del Potro In Delray Beach

American reaches first ATP Tour semi-final on Friday.

Mackenzie McDonald recorded the biggest moment of his career on Friday at the Delray Beach Open by, holding off a determined Juan Martin del Potro in their quarter-final clash to defeat the top seed 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).

The win gave the American his first ATP Tour semi-final berth and first victory over a Top 5 player. Currently No. 84 in the ATP Rankings, McDonald is guaranteed to surpass his career-high of No. 76 when the newest standings are released on Monday.

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The match began with comfortable service holds from both men, but Del Potro’s movement appeared hampered by the middle of the first set. Walking gingerly between points and letting mid-pace balls pass him by for winners, the American won 10 consecutive points to take the early advantage.

With the crowd chanting “Delpo”, the Argentine battled valiantly in the second set. He increased the pace on his serve and gambled on his forehand in a bid to shorten the points. McDonald blinked first in the second set and floated a drop shot into the net down break point at 2-3. The slight advantage was all the top seed needed to bring the match to a decider.

Neither player dropped serve in the final set to force a tie-break. McDonald grabbed a mini-break advantage to lead 5/2 after a pair of forehand errors from del Potro. The American missed his first two match point opportunities, but struck a forehand volley winner at 6/5 and threw his racquet to the ground in celebration.

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Delray Beach is guaranteed to have a first-time ATP Tour finalist when McDonald next faces Radu Albot, who continued his top form with a comeback 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) upset over fourth seed Steve Johnson of the United States. The 29-year-old fought back from 4/5 in the third-set tie-break and jubilantly celebrated as he advanced in two hours and seven minutes.

“I was losing the whole time and was definitely not in control of the match, but was able to serve better, return better and get the win,” said Albot. “This week is the best achievement I’ve had on the ATP Tour, so hopefully I can go one step further and make the final.”

Two of Albot’s three ATP Tour semi-finals have come this month. The Moldovan also reached the last four two weeks ago at the Open Sud de France.

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#NextGenATP Auger-Aliassime Reaches Maiden SF In Rio

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2019

#NextGenATP Auger-Aliassime Reaches Maiden SF In Rio

Bedene, Djere reach final four on Friday

#NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime continued to create new milestones in his young career on Friday at the Rio Open presented by Claro. Two days after reaching his first 500-level quarter-final, the wild card defeated Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-4, 6-3 for his first ATP Tour semi-final in Rio de Janeiro.

“This is what I work for every day. It’s what I get up for every morning,” said Auger-Aliassime. “As soon as I walked on court, I felt the energy from the crowd and felt like I couldn’t get tired. The tournament isn’t over yet, but this feels great.”

The Canadian was undaunted by the occasion on Quadra Guga Kuerten and sprinted to a 4-1 lead in the first set. Munar began to sink his teeth into the lengthy baseline rallies, but the deficit proved too much and Auger-Aliassime grabbed the early advantage.

It appeared the 18-year-old would coast to victory after breaking Munar in the opening game of the second set, but the Spaniard hung tough and earned the break back at 2-3 with the help of a net cord. Munar reached 40/0 on his serve in the next game, but Auger-Aliassime found a new gear and dominated the remainder of the contest. A forehand winner on his first match point ended play after one hour and 38 minutes.

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Auger-Aliassime finished with 32 winners and 34 errors, compared to seven winners and 18 errors for Munar. The wild card’s baseline aggression allowed to him accumulate 10 break points and convert on four of them.

The World No. 104 in the ATP Rankings started the week by recording his first Top 15 win over second seed Fabio Fognini of Italy. Auger-Aliassime is guaranteed to make his Top 100 debut on Monday and land at least inside the Top 80. He will crack the Top 50 if he can win the title on Sunday.

Awaiting Auger-Aliassime in the next round is the winner of Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

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Laslo Djere of Serbia continued to back up his first-round upset over top seed and 2017 champion Dominic Thiem by defeating #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-5. Djere trailed 2-5, 0/30 against the qualifier in the second set, but rallied to win 20 of the final 28 points. The 23-year-old will look to reach his first ATP Tour final on Saturday.

Standing between him and that achievement is Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, who fought back to defeat qualifier Hugo Dellien of Bolivia 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Little separated the two players, who saw 10 of their 27 games reach deuce, but Bedene controlled the tempo in the latter stages to prevail in two hours and 23 minutes.

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