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Zverev Before Going For Munich Three-Peat: 'My Game Is Pretty Much Back'

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Zverev Before Going For Munich Three-Peat: ‘My Game Is Pretty Much Back’

Six Top 25 players featuring at ATP 250 event

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev arrives at the BMW Open by FWU without having won multiple matches at a tournament since reaching the Acapulco final the first weekend of March. But the two-time defending champion will hope that returning home to Munich, where he has enjoyed plenty of success, will help him get back on track.

“Obviously I didn’t play my best the past few weeks. But I feel good on the court, I’m happy on the court and this is the most important thing,” Zverev said. “I feel like my game is pretty much back on the practice courts in the way I hit the ball, but I just have to show it in the matches. I think I’ll have a few very tough matches and if I win them, I think I’m in good shape and good form. We’ll see how it goes.”

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The top seed has won 11 of his past 12 matches in Munich, and he will look to add to that when he faces Cordoba champion Juan Ignacio Londero or German wild card Maximilian Marterer in the second round. Sixth seed Diego Schwartzman, a dangerous clay-court foe who triumphed at the ATP 500 tournament in Rio de Janeiro last year, is the first seeded player Zverev could face.

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Zverev’s countryman Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated the World No. 3 in Indian Wells, is in the same half of the draw, as are third seed and 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato and eighth seed Marton Fucsovics.

“Especially in Munich, the draw is always very, very difficult and there are always a lot of good players. And even the past two years when I won I had to go through a lot of tough matches and a lot of great players and great opponents,” Zverev said. “For me, it’s great to be here but I know it’s not going to be an easy week and I’m looking forward to it.”

There are six players inside the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings overall, with Russian Karen Khachanov of Russia the second seed. Khachanov could face a stiff test in his opening match, as he could potentially face three-time titlist Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has emerged victorious at this ATP 250 tournament more than any other player. Kohlschreiber plays Italian Andreas Seppi in the first round.

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Nineteen of the 28 competitors in the main draw have won an ATP Tour title, with two-time titlist Matteo Berrettini lifting the Hungarian Open trophy in Budapest on Sunday. But the favourite will be Zverev, who is pursuing his first crown of 2019.

The home favourite is trying to win his third title at a single tournament for the first time (he has also won the Citi Open twice). The only other player to triumph in Munich three times is fellow German Kohlschreiber, who is on the opposite side of the draw. No player has lifted the trophy here in three consecutive years.

“It’s always a great feeling when you know you’ve done this here and you know that you normally play well here and this gives you confidence,” Zverev said. “This is exactly what I need and I’m happy to be here.”

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Tsitsipas Looks Ahead To Tough Estoril Field

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Tsitsipas Looks Ahead To Tough Estoril Field

Top seed looks for second ATP Tour title of 2019

Stefanos Tsitsipas has a habit of going deep in draws, but the top seed will have his work cut out for him if he hopes to do that once again at the Millennium Estoril Open.

The Greek star reached the semi-finals last year in his maiden trip to Portugal. With all eight seeds inside the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings, Tsitsipas knows he’ll need to be ready from the first ball.

“It’s a very strong [ATP] 250 [event], but that’s what makes it so special and an event that everyone wants to win. For me, it’s an extra motivation. Competing against all of these guys will only make you better,” said Tsitsipas during the pre-tournament player party. “I have very nice memories from this place. I got a lot of support last year, really nice vibes and really nice energy coming from the crowd and the city itself.”

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The champion and runner-up at this year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Fabio Fognini and Dusan Lajovic, headline as the second seed and fifth seed, respectively. Defending champion and local favourite Joao Sousa also features in the draw, along with 2017 champion Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. The intriguing field is already generating plenty of buzz.

“We’ve got some very good clay-courters in good form, so it’s an exciting place to play tennis,” said John Millman of Australia. “A lot of people came out for the qualifying, which is always a good sign for strong crowds for the rest of the week.”

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The relaxed atmosphere and picturesque scenery have made Estoril a priority stop for the players competing this week, with #NextGenATP Aussie and sixth seed Alex de Minaur raving over the “incredible views from the hotel and coastline.” Sousa is competing in Estoril for the fourth consecutive year and believes the tournament has gotten better with each edition.

“It’s going to be a great tournament,” said Sousa. “There are a lot of good players and the organisation is making a big effort to have one of the best tournaments in the world here.”

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Puerto Vallarta Kicks Off Second Edition In Paradise

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Puerto Vallarta Kicks Off Second Edition In Paradise

Top seed Alexander Bublik and reigning champion Adrian Menendez-Maceiras lead the charge at the 2018 Challenger of the Year

It’s tennis in paradise. Last year, the Puerto Vallarta Open made a stunning debut under the radiant glow of the Mexican sun. With the Pacific Ocean glistening in the distance and the Sierra Madre mountains towering overhead, it provided the perfect setting for a tournament on the ATP Challenger Tour.

With a tournament hotel that doubles as a beach resort for thousands of vacation-goers, all-inclusive food and multiple practise courts on the premises, it’s no wonder that many players arrived early to enjoy a rare mid-season break. Next week, the award-winning 2018 Tournament of the Year returns for a second edition and once again features an impressive field.

With nine players inside the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings and World No. 98 Alexander Bublik leading the charge, fans will be treated to a show all week at the Parque Parota. Bublik is seeking a staggering fourth ATP Challenger Tour title in 2019, with his previous three triumphs coming on the hard courts of Budapest, Pau and Monterrey.

One year ago, the 21-year-old Kazakh was recovering from a broken ankle suffered in Indian Wells, but now he is dominating in his comeback campaign. Already back inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, Bublik has his sights set on yet another triumph on Mexican soil. He opens against either Renzo Olivo or Joao Menezes, with 13th seed Darian King looming in the third round.

Also in the top half of the draw, fourth seed Dustin Brown looms large as one of the hottest players on tour. The German streaked to the title in Sophia Antipolis, France, earlier this month, putting on a show with his patented highlight reel shotmaking. Brown is targeting a Top 100 return with a strong showing in Puerto Vallarta. He opens against either Kevin King or Baptiste Crepatte. Aussie John-Patrick Smith, Colombian veteran Santiago Giraldo and this week’s Leon semi-finalist James Ward also loom in that quarter. Ward could face 2018 runner-up Danilo Petrovic to open his campaign.

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Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the draw, defending champion Adrian Menendez-Maceiras is seeded second. The Spaniard was the comeback king a year ago, rallying from a set down on three occasions, en route to the title. He faces either Scott Griekspoor or Manuel Sanchez first, with third seed Peter Polansky, fifth seed Sebastian Ofner and 16th seed Blaz Rola the biggest threats in that half of the draw. Rola is coming off a title run in nearby Leon on Sunday.

Mexico has never had it so good. With five tournaments on the calendar in March and April, the country is greatly invested in growing the game at the Challenger level. Morelos champion Matias Franco Descotte, Monterrey champ Bublik, San Luis Potosi winner Marc-Andrea Huesler and Leon titlist Rola are all competing in Puerto Vallarta.

First round action begins on Monday, with seeded players kicking off their campaigns on Tuesday. If you’re already in Mexico or merely want an excuse to break away for a week of paradise, there are few better weeks to enjoy a tennis holiday on the ATP Challenger Tour.

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Kvitova wins in Stuttgart – and is the only player to have won two WTA titles in 2019

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Petra Kvitova has become the first player to win two WTA singles titles this year after beating Anett Kontaveit in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final.

The Czech, 29, won 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in one hour 31 minutes in Stuttgart on Sunday.

World number 15 Kontaveit reached the final after world number one Naomi Osaka withdrew from Saturday’s semi-final because of an abdominal injury.

Prior to Kvitova’s triumph, the 18 previous WTA Tour events this year had all been won by different players.

Estonian Kontaveit, 23, led 3-1 in the second set before world number three Kvitova responded to force a tie-break.

The two-time Wimbledon champion then dominated, lining up six match points and winning on the third to claim her maiden title at the clay tournament as she builds towards next month’s French Open.

Kvitova won the Sydney International in January before being beaten in the Australian Open final by Osaka later that month. She also lost to Belinda Bencic in the Dubai Championships in February.

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Thiem beats Medvedev to win first Barcelona Open title

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

World number five Dominic Thiem won his first Barcelona Open title with a comfortable victory over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

The Austrian, 25, was broken early on but then took 12 of the next 13 games to win 6-4 6-0 in one hour 13 minutes.

Thiem ended Rafael Nadal’s hopes of a 12th title in the clay tournament in Saturday’s semi-final, having lost to the Spaniard in the 2017 final.

“It’s such an honour to win this tournament,” said Thiem.

“Looking at all the names who have won it I’m very happy and proud that my name is also there now.”

After going 3-0 down, Thiem used drop shots to continually trouble world number 14 Medvedev, who also required treatment on his right shoulder.

“I had some troubles at the beginning with the slice then it got better and that’s the only thing you can do against him and I’m happy that I made it work,” added Thiem.

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Thiem Sprints Past Medvedev To Clinch Barcelona Title

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Thiem Sprints Past Medvedev To Clinch Barcelona Title

Austrian wins ninth ATP Tour title on clay

Dominic Thiem started slowly and finished brilliantly on Sunday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The third seed went down an early break to seventh seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, but won 12 of the last 13 games to take the title 6-4, 6-0.

The Austrian became just the fourth player in the past 15 years to lift the title in Barcelona, joining Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori and Fernando Verdasco. He’s also the first Austrian winner at this event since Thomas Muster in 1996. Thiem now has 13 ATP Tour titles, nine of which have come on clay.

“Winning this means a lot to me because it’s such a traditional and special tournament,” said Thiem. “Only great players have won here. Rafa has won it 11 times and it means a lot that Muster won it twice. It’s a big moment for me.”

Thiem was at the top of the game from the first ball this week. He raced to the title without dropping a set and made headlines with his semi-final upset over 11-time Barcelona champion Nadal. Thiem became the first player to ever beat Nadal in the semi-finals or beyond at this event and picked up his fourth clay-court win over the three-time defending champion. 

His current form will make him one of the favourites when he competes next at the Mutua Madrid Open. Thiem has been the runner-up in Madrid for the past two years.

“A title like this always gives you a lot of confidence, so I’ll be in a good mood going into Madrid. But the special thing about tennis is that I’ll start from zero in Madrid,” said Thiem. “All the guys there are really strong, so I’ll need to be ready from the first point.”

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Despite the loss, Medvedev has plenty of positives to take from his start to the clay season. The Russian is 8-2 on clay this year after also reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final last week at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Lajovic). The World No. 14 in the ATP Rankings has reached at least the semi-finals in five of his nine ATP Tour events this season and won more matches (25) than anyone else in 2019.

“I tried my best, but Dominic was too good,” said Medvedev. “At one point today, even just getting a point off him was a great achievement.” 

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Medvedev started the match in perfect form. He mixed up the pace and depth on his shots to get Thiem out of his rhythm and earned a 3-0 lead. But once Thiem found his footing, he used his forehand to create angles that pushed Medvedev off the court and opened up ample opportunities for winners. Thiem went on a five-game run and fired an aggressive forehand to wrap up the opening set.

The backlog of matches this week finally caught up with Medvedev, who took a medical timeout at 4-5 in the opening set for treatment on his right shoulder. Thiem dominated the second set, dropping just five points and going on a 14-point run at one stage. A forehand volley winner on his first championship point wrapped up the contest after 73 minutes.

Thiem picked up 500 ATP Rankings points and a cheque for €503,015. Medvedev earned 300 ATP Rankings points and €253,000.

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Berrettini The Best In Budapest

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Berrettini The Best In Budapest

Italian lifts his second ATP Tour trophy

Matteo Berrettini arrived in Budapest on a five-match tour-level losing streak. But the Italian is leaving with his second ATP Tour title.

Berrettini defeated qualifier Filip Krajinovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Sunday to win the Hungarian Open. His aggressive play from the baseline slowly wore down Krajinovic’s defences, dropping his racquet to the red clay in celebration after one hour and 41 minutes.

“It was a really tough match. The conditions [were tough], it was cold and windy. The balls were moving a lot. So I was really focused on my game,” Berrettini said. “After the first set I just told myself to fight game after game, point after point and I’m really happy because it was really difficult.”

Outside of one hiccup in the opening set, Berrettini set the tone for the match with his serve, winning 81 per cent of his service points. The victory will send the 23-year-old to a career-high ATP Ranking inside the Top 40 on Monday. 

The Italian won 15 of his first 16 service points in the match. But one sloppy game against the solid Krajinovic was enough to allow the Serbian to win the opening set. However, Berrettini held the match on his racquet, dictating from the baseline with his forehand, while also throwing in a number of drop shots to keep Krajinovic thinking. 

Berrettini did not let slip his momentum in the third set, playing aggressive tennis while maintaining consistency, as Krajinovic began to make more mistakes. The Italian won 10 of the final 12 games and captured 59 per cent of his return points in the decider, breaking three times in the third set.

“I was winning not too much and I think the key was my serve. I improved a lot my backhand. Those were the keys,” Berrettini said. “My forehand, especially on the clay, is a good weapon. Today was a great day for my forehand. But during the tournament my backhand and my serve helped me a lot.”

Berrettini leaves Hungary with €90,390 in prize money and 250 ATP Ranking points, while Krajinovic adds 150 points and €48,870.

Krajinovic fell just short on his second chance to win his maiden ATP Tour title. The 27-year-old Serbian reached his first final two years ago at the Rolex Paris Masters. He struggled with injuries in 2018, but Krajinovic’s efforts this week will send him back into the Top 100.

“He deserved to win, so I’m happy for him,” Krajinovic said. “It’s been a great week for me coming through qualies, now into the final. I’m going home happy.”

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Cabal/Farah Win Barcelona Title

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Cabal/Farah Win Barcelona Title

Colombians avenge Sydney final defeat against Murray/Soares

Third seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah won their 12th ATP Tour doubles title as a team on Sunday, defeating second seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-4, 7-6(4) to triumph at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The Colombians have played more than 350 tour-level matches together and last year, for the first time, they qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals. Their long journey as a team keeps paying off.

“[It takes] a lot of patience. It’s just resilience I think, sticking together and improving together and moving forward, pushing each other to achieve more goals through the years. I think this week that’s what we did. We pushed hard,” Farah said. “We both came out as a team and we got the victory.”

Revenge was sweet for the Colombians, as they lost to Murray and Soares in the Sydney final in January, their only other championship match this season. In fact, Cabal and Farah entered Sunday’s clash having lost four consecutive matches against the British-Brazilian duo, including last year’s Cincinnati final.

But Cabal and Farah came from a break down in both sets and saved five set points in the second set to emerge victorious in Barcelona after one hour and 39 minutes. The Colombians saved nine of the 12 break points they faced.

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It’s not long ago that the Colombians were unsure they’d be able to compete this week due to a Cabal injury. But holding the trophies, that seems a distant memory.

“It’s really special, especially this week. One week ago I didn’t know if I could play the tournament. I was really struggling with an injury and now we’re the champions,” Cabal said. “It was hard work, teamwork, and it’s more special than sometimes the other [wins]. It shows us that we’re doing things on the right track, so it’s good motivation for the rest of the year.”

Cabal and Farah leave Spain with 500 ATP Doubles Ranking points each and a share of €169,300. Murray and Soares fell short of lifting their 10th tour-level trophy as a team, but they take 300 points and a split of €82,880.

Did You Know?
Three of the first five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings between Cabal/Farah and Murray/Soares went to a Match Tie-break. But their four matches since have all gone in straight sets. Murray/Soares now lead their rivalry 6-3.

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The Two Homes That Made De Minaur A Star

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

The Two Homes That Made De Minaur A Star

#NextGenATP Aussie details growing up in Australia and Spain in his ATP My Story delivered by FedEx

#NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur is returning to action in Estoril this week for the first time since the BNP Paribas Open due to a hip injury. While competing at the Millennium Estoril Open might seem a long way from home, it isn’t for the 20-year-old.

“I was born in Australia, in Sydney. When I was five, the whole family, we moved over to Spain for eight years, grew up there, started going to school there,” De Minaur said in his ATP My Story delivered by FedEx. “Because of the financial crisis, we all had to move back to Australia as a family. We spent three years there where Australia just helped me out massively. I was able to pursue my dream of playing tennis and we ended up moving back to Spain with all the help of Tennis Australia.”

Spain and Portugal are neighbours, so De Minaur is plenty familiar with the country, and he reached the second round in Estoril last year. This year’s Sydney champion has also been coached by Spaniard Adolfo Gutierrez since he was nine.

“I’ve had the honour to be in both places and to sort of try and absorb the best things of the two countries. It’s different cultures and different ways of living,” De Minaur said. “I sort of like the contrast of the more relaxed Spanish lifestyle and then the hardworking and on-the-ball Australian life. It’s really helped me become the player and the person I am right now.”

De Minaur was 111th in the ATP Rankings this time last year, but he has quickly ascended since. The Australian No. 1, easygoing off the court but as competitive as they come on it, will try to lift his second ATP Tour trophy this week on the Portuguese red clay.

“At the end of the day I’ve probably spent half of my life in each country,” De Minaur said. “But in my heart I’ll always be Australian.”

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Skupski Brothers Triumph In Budapest For Second Team Title

  • Posted: Apr 28, 2019

Skupski Brothers Triumph In Budapest For Second Team Title

Brits go unbroken in the final to lift the trophy

Brits Neal Skupski and Ken Skupski made four ATP Tour finals together over the past 10 months, falling short of lifting the title on each occasion. But the brothers would not be denied on Sunday, defeating New Zealand’s Marcus Daniell and Dutchman Wesley Koolhof 6-3, 6-4 to win the Hungarian Open for their second team title.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. We’ve been in a few finals over the past 12 months and we haven’t been able to get over the line,” Neal said. “It’s our first title on clay together at an ATP 250. It’s been a great week and hopefully we could keep on going heading into the French Open.”

The Skupski brothers also triumphed together last February in Montpellier. This is Ken’s fifth tour-level trophy and Neal’s third. Ken is seven years Neal’s elder. And while Ken noted that sometimes losing could be tougher when sharing the court with a sibling, it makes winning even sweeter.

“It’s the best thing in the world to share winning things with your brother,” Ken said. “You can get over things when you lose and you move on, but winning is so much more special.”

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Skupski/Skupski were clutch on serve in their 71-minute win, saving all four break points they faced. They earned 75 per cent of their service points compared to just 60 per cent for Daniell and Koolhof.

“I think we played lights-out, really. I think it was probably our best match of the week, in very tough conditions. It was very windy so we thought [of aiming for] bigger targets, a lot of first serves,” Neal said. “We just kept putting the pressure on. Putting the pressure on in the wind is a very good thing to do and it obviously worked.”

The Skupski brothers leave Budapest with 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points each and a share of €29,650. They will be the third seeds next week in Munich.

This was Daniell and Koolhof’s third ATP Tour final as a pair, having won in Brisbane this year and finished runner-up in Stockholm in 2018. The Kiwi-Dutch team adds 150 points each and a split of €15,200.

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