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Tallahassee Celebrates 20 Years On ATP Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Tallahassee Celebrates 20 Years On ATP Challenger Tour celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger

For two decades, the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger has demonstrated a steadfast and unwavering commitment to growing the game on the ATP Challenger Tour. And this week, the tournament has reached a significant milestone, celebrating its 20th anniversary on the circuit.

The great heritage of Challenger tournaments in the United States continues to grow, with a sixth event crossing the 20-year mark. Tallahassee joins Aptos, Winnetka, Binghamton, Lexington and Dallas as tournaments spanning at least two decades.

It’s no surprise that the longest-running clay-court Challenger in the country continues to thrive. Boasting a winners’ circle that includes Top 10 stalwarts Mardy Fish (2006), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2007) and John Isner (2009), as well as two-time finalist and #NextGenATP star Frances Tiafoe (2015-16), the level of competition has set the bar over the years.

Held at Forestmeadows Tennis Center, located on the north side of Tallahassee, the tournament has been under the direction of Karen Vogter since 2004. All proceeds from the event go to the Vogter Endowment, which funds the Vogter Neuro Intensive Care Unit – named for her late husband Mark – at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.


The tournament is truly a community event, with more than 300 volunteers coming together to make it possible, in addition to an entire administration run by volunteers. Vogter, her staff and the entire Tallahassee community, including nearby Florida State University, rally around the tournament to ensure the more than 6,000 spectators have the best experience possible.

“It’s pretty rare to have a tournament like this that is entirely run by volunteers,” Vogter said. “It’s nice for Tallahassee to have a professional event. We’re the only one here. We’re growing every year and bringing more players and fans. What’s really fun about the tournament is the ability for people from the community to support foreign players who are from their countries. It’s fun to see how international it is.”

As a critical care nurse for years, Vogter has a passion for creating an inviting environment and world-class atmosphere for people. Her late husband Mark was a neurosurgeon before his unexpected passing. They had both spent countless years supporting the community and playing tennis and Vogter carries that legacy to this day.

It was only fitting that the tournament would invite 2018 champion Noah Rubin and runner-up Marc Polmans, in addition to doubles players Hunter Reese and Anderson Reed, to visit a new state-of-the-art wing at the neuro intensive care unit.

“It’s great to see that this is much more than a tennis tournament,” said Rubin. “The proceeds are helping people and to see an incredible place like this and the technology behind it, it’s really impressive. We always look for that outside motivation to show that it’s not just for us. It’s for people that truly need our help.”


Photo credit: Jacob Stuckey/Tallahassee Tennis Challenger

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Five Things To Know About Struff

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Five Things To Know About Struff

Get to know Struff, who faces Raonic for a spot in the Indian Wells QF

Jan-Lennard Struff is closing in on new territory at the ATP Masters 1000 level. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the 28-year-old German is one win away from making his first Masters 1000 quarter-final.

Struff beat Alexander Zverev on Monday to reach his fifth Round of 16 at the prestigious level. Struff will next meet Canadian and 2016 finalist Milos Raonic, who came back from 1-4 down in the third set to beat American Marcos Giron.

Here are five things to know about Struff, who loves football and going to the cinema – he names his favourite movie below – and was practically born into the sport of tennis.

1. He had never beaten Alexander Zverev before this week.
Dating back to their 2015 matchup on the ATP Challenger Tour, Zverev was 5-0, including four tour-level matchups. against his older countryman. But Struff beat Zverev 6-3, 6-1 to reach the Indian Wells Round of 16 for the first time.

It was his second Top 5 win. He beat then-No. 3 Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 Rolex Paris Masters.

“I was really happy that I won that match. The score, 6-3, 6-1, feels good for me,” Struff told “He’s such a good player, and I’m very happy that I could beat him.”

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2. He’s a doubles champion
Struff doesn’t play doubles to get used to the courts. He doesn’t join regular teammate Ben McLachlan of Japan for more match repetitions. No, his motivations for doubling his court time at tournaments are far simpler than that: “I like doubles. I like the game. I like to play,” Struff said.

He and McLachlan last year made the quarter-finals at the Mutua Madrid Open and Wimbledon and the semi-finals at the Australian Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau.

They won their first tour-level title together at the ATP 500 in Tokyo, and followed it with another title to start 2019 at the ASB Classic in Auckland and another final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“Last year was an amazing year for me in doubles, for Ben as well, his first year on Tour,” Struff said. “It feels really good, building up some self confidence around that, and helps a lot for singles, for sure. I definitely want to play a lot of doubles. It’s a bit exhausting some times, but it makes it a lot of fun.”

3. He loves tennis, but…
Both of Struff’s parents are tennis coaches at Tennis Park in his hometown of Warstein, Germany. “I always loved the game and still love it. Tennis is my life,” he said.

But if he’s not on Tour or at the club’s four outdoor clay courts or five indoor rubber courts, he’s supporting his one and only football team, Borussia Dortmund. “Just one team and just full for the team, everything,” Struff said. I live 10 minutes away from the stadium, and my father has season tickets.

I always went when I was small, not that often anymore, maybe two, three times.”

4. “Pursuit of Happyness” is one of his favourite movies.
Struff has seen the 2006 movie starring American actor Will Smith 10 or 15 times. He watched it again on his 16-hour flight from Dubai to Los Angeles before the BNP Paribas Open. “I love the story,” Struff said.

5. He beat Raonic for the first time last month.
The German was 0-1 against the former World No. 3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series before Dubai. But Struff saved six of seven break points to win their first-rounder on 25 February in Dubai.

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Cuevas Saves 1 M.P., Topples Top Seed Cilic In Budapest

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Cuevas Saves 1 M.P., Topples Top Seed Cilic In Budapest

Coric, Basilashvili advance on Thursday

Pablo Cuevas stared down match point against top seed Marin Cilic of Croatia at the Hungarian Open, but the Uruguayan dug deep and prevailed to reach the quarter-finals 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(3).

“To beat a player like Cilic is very important for me, so I’m very happy for this,” said Cuevas. “It was a very tough match, but I have confidence and fought for every ball today.”

Cuevas served to stay in the match at 4-5 and 5-6 in the second set. He then faced a match point at 5/6 in the tie-break, but Cilic pushed a forehand wide and Cuevas evened the score two points later. The Croatian saved a pair of match points in each of his service games at 4-5 and 5-6, but Cuevas hit a passing shot winner on his sixth match point to advance after three hours and 13 minutes.

The World No. 73 in the ATP Rankings reached at least the quarter-finals at three other ATP Tour clay-court events this year (Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro) and won last week’s clay-court ATP Challenger Tour event in Tunis without dropping a set. Cuevas will next play Matteo Berrettini of Italy, who saved two set points in beating Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia 7-6(8), 6-2.

Meanwhile, Cilic’s struggles continue this season. The World No. 11 in the ATP Rankings has won only one of his past seven matches.

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Second seed Borna Coric survived a tricky encounter with Dutchman Robin Haase to advance 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The Croatian has reached at least the quarter-finals in four of his past five tournaments. He’ll play Filip Krajinovic for a place in the last four after the Serbian qualifier defeated eighth seed Radu Albot of Moldova 7-5, 6-4.

“I started very well in the match, but was not putting so much pressure on him in the second set and he started to play better,” said Coric. “I just stayed calm and started to play better at the end of the match.”

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Fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Germany recovered from a shocking second set in which he only won eight points to defeat Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 0-6, 6-3. He’ll play fifth seed Laslo Djere of Serbia, who sprinted past Italian teenager Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-1. Sinner, 17, won his first ATP Tour main draw match on Wednesday.

Begemann/Gulbis Oust Top Seeds

All four doubles quarter-finals took place on Thursday. Andre Begemann of Germany and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia defeated top seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4. They’ll play third seeds Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski of Great Britain, who moved past Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Divij Sharan of India 7-6(6), 5-7, 10-7.

Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands upset fourth seeds Robin Haase of the Netherlands and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark 6-4, 7-6(5). Next up for them is the German pair of Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, who beat British duo Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara 3-6, 6-4, 10-6.

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'Need A Hand?' Kyrgios Helps Push Broken Car Home

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

‘Need A Hand?’ Kyrgios Helps Push Broken Car Home

Aussie praised on social media for act of kindness

This wasn’t supposed to be part of Nick Kyrgios’ endurance training.

The Aussie offered help on Thursday to a woman whose car died on the side of the road in his hometown of Canberra. Simon Anderson, whose girlfriend was involved, chronicled the story on Twitter and it quickly went viral.

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“She and a mate passed a woman whose car had died. The woman asked them to help her push it home, which they did. A car pulled up next to them and asked if they needed a hand, which after a few beers, they did,” he wrote. “Guy hops out the car to help and it’s Nick Kyrgios. So my girlfriend, her mate and Nick Kyrgios push this woman’s car home.

“Despite being on the way home from training and then helping push a car down a Canberra street, he takes a pic with them and then gets back in the car and goes home. Nick Kyrgios: good guy.”

Kyrgios was modest about his efforts as the thread picked up steam. He tweeted that “this sort of stuff shouldn’t be noticed, it’s an everyday thing, anytime.”

The reigning Acapulco champion will kick off his clay season next month at the Mutua Madrid Open.

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Nadal, Djokovic, Federer Know The Fine Margins In Tennis Better Than Anyone

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Nadal, Djokovic, Federer Know The Fine Margins In Tennis Better Than Anyone

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how the three all-time greats win just enough points to live at the top of the ATP Rankings

True of false: More than 20 per cent of the 2018 year-end Top 50 of the ATP Rankings failed to win more points than they lost?

It seems like an absurd question, as these players have all obtained a coveted end-of-season ATP Ranking from their dominant performances throughout the year, but the answer may surprise you…

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the year-end Top 50 from last season does indeed identify that 22 per cent (11 players) of the Top 50 lost more points than they won during the season.

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Rafael Nadal, who finished the year No. 2, won the highest percentage of points played in 2018 at 55.4 per cent. Novak Djokovic finished the season No. 1, and was second best in percentage of points won in 2018, at 54.54 per cent. Roger Federer was ranked third, and was also third best in percentage of points won, at 54.36.

Those three players were a cut above the Tour with percentage of points won, with no other player winning greater than 53 per cent of their points for the season.

Leading 3 Players: Percentage Of Points Won in 2018
Rafael Nadal = 55.40% (4281/7728).
Novak Djokovic = 54.54% (5796/10628)
Roger Federer = 54.36% (5097/9377)

The highest ranked player who lost more points than he won for the season was No. 20 Marco Cecchinato, who won 49.4 per cent (3785/7662) of points played. Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was ranked one spot behind Cecchinato at No. 21, also lost more points than he won for the season, at 48.96 per cent (4245/8670).

When you break the Top 50 down into five even groups of 10, you uncover that players ranked between 41-50 collectively lost more points than they won.

Top 50: 2018 Season Broken Down Into Five Groups

Ranking Group

2018 Points Won

2018 Points Played

2018 Win Percentage

























The Top 50 as a whole win just one more point out of every 100 that they play, averaging 51.11 per cent won. The two closest groups were 21-30 and 31-40, which averaged just 0.54 percentage points difference over the course of the season.

What does a player ranked 31-40 need to do to jump into the Top 10? On average, win right around two more points out of every 100 they play for the season, moving from the 50 per cent range up into the 52 per cent range.

This analysis also has implications for the mental and emotional aspects of our sport. To be at the elite level of tennis means taking a 50-50 battle and improving it by just a couple of points out of every hundred.

For example, Kevin Anderson finished No. 6 last year, winning just 51.79 per cent (6151/11877) of points for the season. That means he lost 48.21 per cent of all points he played, yet still earned $4,917,350, went 47-19 and won two titles.

You better get used to losing a lot of points and not get too upset about it. Losing these small battles is an integral part of the winning in the big picture.

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Stuttgart Open: Naomi Osaka beats Hsieh Su-wei to reach quarter-finals

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

World number one Naomi Osaka began her clay-court season with a straight-set victory over Hsieh Su-wei at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

The Japanese, who lost to Taiwan’s Hsieh at the Miami Open in March, won 6-4 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.

The victory ensures Osaka will retain the world number one ranking for at least another week.

Osaka will face Donna Vekic next after the Croat overcame Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-5.

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Nadal Ends Ferrer's Time In Barcelona

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Nadal Ends Ferrer’s Time In Barcelona

Spaniard on track for his 12th title at the ATP 500 event

Rafael Nadal might still be a match or two away from his top level on clay, but the 11-time Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell champion still has what it takes to continue his mastery against friend and countryman David Ferrer.

The top-seeded Nadal ended Ferrer’s time in Barcelona 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 event for the 13th time. Nadal admitted he didn’t compete well during his opening three-set win against Argentine Leonardo Mayer that saw his 30-set Barcelona win streak end.

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But Nadal upped his level during his 32nd – and perhaps final – FedEx ATP Head2Head matchup against the 37-year-old Ferrer. The World No. 2 pushed Ferrer feet behind the baseline before delivering drop shots that even Ferrer couldn’t track down.

“Big difference. It was a tough match in all ways yesterday. Today was a different energy, a different motivation. In general terms, for me, I needed to play with a different attitude to make a step forward, and that’s what I did today,” Nadal said.

The Spaniard broke in the sixth game when Ferrer missed an aggressive backhand wide, and, after a brief rain delay, clinched the set on his racquet. Nadal started quickly in the second, breaking in Ferrer’s opening two service games.

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Nadal, a 57-time clay-court champion, now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 26-6, including 20-2 on clay and 6-0 in Barcelona. Ferrer will play his final tournament in two weeks at the Mutua Madrid Open. The former World No. 3 was moved to tears while receiving a standing ovation and, as has become customary during his farewell tour, leaving his bandana on the T in the service box.

“He deserves much more. It has been an emotional day. Happy of course for the victory but very sad to say goodbye to one good friend and one friend [with whom] we shared all of these things… during our careers. It was a tough moment, but I really hope that he’s very happy with this decision, and he’s able to do whatever he wants,” Nadal said.

Nadal will next face German Jan-Lennard Struff, who bludgeoned 31 winners, including 18 from his forehand, to knock out defending finalist (l. to Nadal) and World No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Struff beat No. 3 Alexander Zverev to make the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open and made the semi-finals of the ASB Classic in Auckland. He and Nadal have never played.

Did You Know?
Nadal improved to 60-3 in Barcelona. He has now won 60 or more matches at four tournaments, including Roland Garros, 86-2; Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, 71-5; and the Australian Open, 61-13.

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Thiem, Nishikori Advance To Barcelona Quarter-finals

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Thiem, Nishikori Advance To Barcelona Quarter-finals

Medvedev records 2019 ATP Tour-best 23rd match win

Dominic Thiem was impressive in a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Spaniard Jaume Munar in cold and overcast conditions on Thursday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Third seed and 2017 finalist Thiem, who lifted his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer), is through to the Barcelona quarter-finals for the third consecutive year. He will next face France’s Benoit Paire, the recent Grand Prix Hassan II champion (d. Andujar) or Argentina’s Guido Pella, the Brasil Open titlist (d. Garin) in February.

After an exchange of service breaks mid set, Thiem capitalised on his third break point with consecutive errors from Munar to take a 6-5 lead and then closed out the 52-minute opener when his Spanish opponent mis-timed a drop shot.

Light rain, causing slippery conditions, briefly stopped play shortly after Thiem had broken Munar for a 2-1 advantage in the second set. Munar won just three points in the next four games as Thiem completed his 11th match win of the year in 90 minutes.

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Two-time former champion Kei Nishikori knocked out #NextGenATP Canadian No. 16 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-3 in 84 minutes. The fourth-seeded Japanese star will next play Chile’s Cristian Garin, winner of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship title earlier this month, or lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain.

Seventh seed Daniil Medvedev recorded an ATP Tour-best 23rd match win in 2019 after a 6-3, 6-2 win over American Mackenzie McDonald in 80 minutes. He awaits the winner of No. 13 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria or Chilean lucky loser Nicolas Jarry, winner over World No. 3 Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.

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'I have no idea of the time' – Azarenka battles jetlag to beat Zvonareva

  • Posted: Apr 25, 2019

Victoria Azarenka said jetlag left her with “no idea of the time or what’s happening” after beating Vera Zvonareva at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

Former world number one Azarenka, who travelled to the Stuttgart event from Australia, won 7-5 6-4 in round one.

The Belarusian said the effects of her flight proved a “huge challenge”, adding: “I’m very happy with the way I handled it.”

Azarenka, 29, now faces defending champion Karolina Pliskova.

Russian fourth seed Pliskova – the world number four – is among four of the world’s top five players featuring in the event.

Czech world number three Petra Kvitova, who received a bye to the second round, cruised through to the quarter-finals with a 6-1 6-4 win over Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen.

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