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Teens Claim Back-To-Back Challenger Milestones

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

Teens Claim Back-To-Back Challenger Milestones

Lorenzo Musetti and Carlos Alcaraz Garfia become first players born in 2002 and 2003, respectively, to win ATP Challenger Tour matches

It was nearly four years ago that a precocious 14-year-old with heaps of potential etched his name in the record books. A first ATP Challenger Tour match win was secured by a player born in the year 2000, as Felix Auger-Aliassime celebrated a breakthrough on home soil in Granby.

Flash forward to 2019 and not only has the Canadian transitioned from Challenger prodigy to ATP Tour star, he is enjoying a meteoric rise up the ATP Rankings to the Top 50. But Auger-Aliassime is not alone. The 18-year-old is carrying the mantle for players born in the 2000s, with many others earning breakthroughs of their own this year.

This week, the Challenger circuit welcomed two fresh faces to the winners’ circle, as 17-year-old Lorenzo Musetti and 15-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia celebrated their first match wins in thrilling fashion.

On Monday, Musetti became the first player born in the year 2002 to win a Challenger match, advancing at the Mouratoglou Open in Sophia Antipolis, France. He stormed back from a set down to defeat Karim-Mohamed Maamoun 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

A native of Carrara, Italy, Musetti would eventually fall to fellow teen and World No. 118 Alexei Popyrin on Tuesday. But the 2019 Australian Open junior champion has certainly made his mark to open his professional career. With the victory, he earns his first ATP Rankings points.

“It’s something that you cannot describe,” Musetti said of his first taste of victory, “There are a lot of emotions on and off the court. This is completely different from juniors and it’s the real tour here. You meet players older than you with a lot of matches behind their shoulders.

“I feel like I am playing at home and I really enjoy playing with the crowd that supports you from the beginning.”

Musetti, who trains at the Mouratoglou Academy, finished runner-up in the US Open boys’ final last year, before capping his junior career with the title at Melbourne Park. He is competing in just his second Challenger main draw, following a first-round exit in Bergamo in February to open his professional career.

The 2000s Club

Year Born
First Player To Win A Match Tournament
2003 Carlos Alcaraz Garfia
Alicante 2019
2002 Lorenzo Musetti Sophia Antipolis 2019
2001 Sergey Fomin Fergana 2017
2000 Felix Auger-Aliassime Granby 2015

Meanwhile, in nearby Alicante, Spain, a 15-year-old named Carlos Alcaraz Garfia claimed a slice of history of his own. One day after Musetti became the first player born in the year 2002 to win a match, Alcaraz Garfia became the first born in the year 2003 to emerge victorious.

Held at former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero’s academy in the town of Villena, the tournament is celebrating its second edition this week. Alcaraz Garfia, who trains at the academy, defeated fellow teen Jannik Sinner 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in Tuesday’s opener. Trailing 0-3 in the deciding set, he would mount an impressive comeback, reeling off the final six games to earn his first ATP Rankings points.

“I entered the court knowing that I could win by playing my game,” said the Spaniard. “I was able to compete against a player who is young and has been doing very well, so my feelings are very good. “I came here with good results last week from a junior tournament. I’m playing like it’s my house and that’s always a plus that really helps. I played very well with a lot of courage and it gives me confidence for the next match.

Youngest To Win A Match In 20 Years

Player Tournament Age
Felix Auger-Aliassime Granby 2015 14 years, 11 months
Rafael Nadal Sevilla 2001 15 years, 3 months
Nikolai Soloviev Hamburg 2002 15 years, 9 months
Carlos Alcaraz Garfia Alicante 2019
15 years, 10 months

“I know I can win against great players now. Tomorrow I have another match and I hope to continue playing like I did today. I like to play at home, both in Murcia and here. Playing in front of your people, who cheer for you and who try to lift you when you go down, is great. That gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that I have the people behind me.”

With his victory, Alcaraz Garfia becomes the fourth-youngest player to win a Challenger match in the last 20 years. Only Felix Auger-Aliassime, Rafael Nadal and Nikolai Soloviev were younger. His Challenger debut continues on Tuesday with a second-round clash against eighth seed Lukas Rosol.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Fans See Tsitsipas As Likely New Face In London

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

Fans See Tsitsipas As Likely New Face In London

Tsitsipas tabbed to be first-time qualifier

The votes are in, and fans believe that seven of the eight players who competed at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals will return to the season finale at The O2 again from 10-17 November. The Top 8 vote-getters, in order, were Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic.

Fans were provided with an opportunity to pick the eight players they believed would qualify for November’s Nitto ATP Finals by 31 March, with the opportunity to win the ultimate trip for two to London to attend this year’s season finale. Nearly 17,000 people participated, selecting more than 5,200 different combinations.

Top 8 Vote-Getters

 Player  % of Voters
 1. Novak Djokovic  98.5%
 2. Rafael Nadal  94.8%
 3. Roger Federer  94.0%
 4. Alexander Zverev  88.8%
 5. Stefanos Tsitsipas  58.4%
 6. Kei Nishikori  55.3%
 7. Dominic Thiem  53.4%
 8. Marin Cilic  37.8%

Fans — more than 58 per cent of them to be exact — believe that reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, currently fourth in the ATP Race To London, will make his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals. The #NextGenATP Greek is trying to become the first player to compete in Milan one year and reach London the next.

The ‘Big Three’ of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer each received at least 94 per cent of fans’ backing to reach London. Between them, they have qualified for the year-end championships 35 times. Federer (6) and Djokovic (5) have captured the title in 11 of the past 16 years.

Despite his modest start to 2019, fans also feel that reigning champion Alexander Zverev, currently 22nd in the Race, will make it to The O2 to try to retain his crown. He received nearly 89 per cent of voters’ selections. Of the eight players whom fans picked to reach London, only five of the eight are currently in the Top 8 in the Race.

Federer leads the Race after the Miami Open presented by Itau for the third consecutive year, as he tries to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the 17th time.

Fans’ Most Popular Combination (351 picks): Kevin Anderson, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev

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Federer Full Of Praise For Bob Bryan

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

Federer Full Of Praise For Bob Bryan

Bryan brothers captured first ATP Masters 1000 title since Bob’s hip replacement

Eight months ago, Bob Bryan’s future on the ATP Tour appeared in jeopardy when he underwent right hip replacement surgery. Nobody had come back from such an operation before. But three months into his comeback, on Saturday, Bob and twin Mike Bryan won the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Even Roger Federer has taken notice. When asked about the 40-year-old lefty after winning his own title in Miami on Sunday, the Swiss had nothing but praise for Bob.

“What Bob is doing is definitely I think inspiring for a lot of the players, even if it’s just doubles in the sense that it’s not as physical as the singles,” Federer said. “Nevertheless, he’s not just playing a little bit; he’s winning, and that is just beautiful to watch. I’m really happy for him.”

While the Bryan brothers have captured 118 tour-level doubles titles as a team, in singles, Bob climbed as high as No. 116 in the ATP Rankings in 2000. At 2001 Marseille, he actually played Federer in singles, falling short in a straight-sets defeat. Federer first competed in the Miami main draw in 1999. The only player from that draw who is still active: Bob Bryan.

“We go way back with Bob,” Federer said. “It’s great when they come back. I’m sure also Bob is a big inspiration for [Andy] Murray to come back. I hope that’s going to help Andy maybe finding a way back.”

Former World No. 1 Murray underwent the same surgery as Bryan after the Australian Open. Serbian Nenad Zimonjic returned from double hip replacement in February at the Sofia Open, and he is seeking the first match win of his own comeback.

“A doctor was cutting me open eight months ago and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it back on court,” said Bob. “To win this title is a dream and certainly wasn’t possible eight months ago. This is huge for us.”

While many have been impressed by Bob’s efforts, the journey hits nobody closer to home than Mike. The right-handed Bryan, playing with Jack Sock, won Wimbledon, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals last year. But there was never a doubt that he would join forces with his brother once again, when Bob was ready.

“Bob’s been through a lot on the couch. To have him back at full strength and winning here in Miami, [our] hometown, with all the friends and family support is unreal,” said Mike. “This is a special event for us and to defend it is amazing.”

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Andy Murray Is Back Hitting Balls Again

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

Andy Murray Is Back Hitting Balls Again

Former World No. 1 underwent hip resurfacing surgery on 28 January

It is unclear what the future may hold for former World No. 1 Andy Murray. But fans around the world will be happy about one thing: the Scot is hitting tennis balls again.

On Monday, Murray posted a video of himself hitting balls against a wall on his Instagram stories, just more than two months after he underwent hip resurfacing surgery on 28 January.

“I think he will [return], [but] I think he’s aware it might not be possible,” Murray’s Mom, Judy Murray, told the Associated Press in February. “He’s a smart guy. He has a lot of interest in different things [and] he has a lot of options in life after tennis.”

Murray’s most recent match came in the first round of the Australian Open, where he played inspired tennis to push Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut to five sets. While at the time he was undecided about whether or not he would undergo the surgery, Murray knew that the future was unclear. He has taken inspiration from watching Bob Bryan return to action, as the American underwent a similar surgery last August. Bryan and his twin, Mike Bryan, won the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“Having an operation like that, there’s absolutely no guarantees I’d be able to play again. I’m fully aware of that. It’s a really big operation. There’s no guarantees that you can come back from that,” Murray said after losing to Bautista Agut. “But there is the possibility, because guys have done it before. Bob Bryan is doing it just now. Some other athletes have given it a go. But, like I said, there’s no guarantees. That’s kind of the decision I have to make, that possibility of not having one more match by having the operation.”

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One Thing That Brexit Won’t Change? Britain’s Love For Federer

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

One Thing That Brexit Won’t Change? Britain’s Love For Federer

Roger’s Miami performance brought up in House of Commons

After Britain’s parliament again rejected a Brexit deal to withdraw from the European Union on Monday, there was little to encourage House Speaker John Bercow. But there was one exception: a tennis match on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nothing is won tonight. In what do I take comfort? Well, Roger Federer put on a majestic masterclass in Miami last night, so I’m happy about that,” Bercow said.

Federer defeated 2018 champion John Isner on Sunday to win his fourth Miami Open presented by Itau trophy, also his 28th ATP Masters 1000 title. It’s not the first time that Bercow has taken notice of Federer during these Brexit proceedings, though. He also used Federer to inject humour into the conversation in March.

“I always say the best thing about Switzerland is not its watches or its financial services or its chocolate. The best thing about Switzerland is Roger Federer,” Bercow said.

Last year, with the help of the Speaker, the launch event for the Nitto ATP Finals was held at the Houses of Parliament.

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Murray shares first hit on court following surgery

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

Andy Murray has returned to a tennis court just two months after hip surgery – albeit somewhat tentatively.

The two-time Wimbledon champion has posted a video on Instagram of him hitting against a wall alongside the caption: “It’s a start.”

Murray, 31, underwent a hip resurfacing procedure in January, which he said meant it was possible he would not be able to play professionally again.

But it was his only option if he wanted to return to competitive action.

In March, the three-time Grand Slam champion said he is “pain-free” following the surgery, but his chances of playing singles at Wimbledon this year are “less than 50%”.

He added he was under “no pressure” to resume a career which has also seen him win two Olympic gold medals among 45 singles titles.

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Trio Of Star-Studded Challengers Take Centre Stage

  • Posted: Apr 02, 2019

Trio Of Star-Studded Challengers Take Centre Stage

Tournaments in Mexico, France and Spain are on the schedule this week

In need of a tennis fix this week? While the ATP Tour is on a one-week hiatus ahead of the clay-court season, the ATP Challenger Tour is still going strong. Stars abound across three tournaments, with a total of 10 players inside the Top 100 competing.

Don’t miss a moment of the action, with free live streaming of all 141 matches available on

Abierto GNP Seguros: The prestigious Challenger 125 event in Monterrey, Mexico, is back for a fifth edition and is headlined by Americans Tennys Sandgren and Bradley Klahn, with Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez and #NextGenATP star Casper Ruud rounding out the Top 4 seeds. Ernesto Escobedo, champion in 2016, is unseeded.

One of just two combined ATP Challenger and WTA Tour events on the calendar, along with Nottingham, UK, the hard-court tournament is a favourite among all players. In 2015, it took home Challenger of the Year honours in its inaugural edition. Located at the base of a vast mountain range extending from the United States to Central America, peaks tower over the Club Sonoma, contributing to the event’s intimate atmosphere.

Mouratoglou Open: After a one-year hiatus, the clay-court event in Sophia Antipolis, France, is back. Held at the world-class Mouratoglous Tennis Academy, the tournament features an equally impressive field. Top 100 stalwarts Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Robin Haase, Benoit Paire and Albert Ramos-Vinolas are joined by Filip Krajinovic, who is coming off a Round of 16 finish at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

#NextGenATP stars Alexei Popyrin, Rudolf Molleker and Lorenzo Musetti are also in the field. On Monday, 17-year-old Musetti won his opener, making him the first player born in the year 2002 to win a match on the ATP Challenger Tour. The Italian claimed the Australian Open junior title in January.

ATP Challenger Tour 

Ferrero Challenger Open: With former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero at the helm, the first edition of the tournament in Alicante, Spain, was a great success in 2018. Now, the clay-court event is back for a second year and a familiar face is leading the charge: top seed and reigning champion Pablo Andujar.

Andujar is joined by Jiri Vesely, Elias Ymer and talented teens Jurij Rodionov, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Nicola Kuhn in the field. Held at Ferrero’s Equelite Sport Academy, it is one of two Challengers staged on the grounds of a Spanish legend’s academy, along with the Rafa Nadal Open in August.


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