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Bryans Knock Out Reigning Madrid Champs In Rome

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Bryans Knock Out Reigning Madrid Champs In Rome

Americans seeking their fifth Rome title

Seventh seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Mutua Madrid Open champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-4, 7-6(4) on Tuesday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

The Bryans, four-time champions at the Foro Italico, won 85 per cent of their first-serve points and saved all four break points faced to win their first Rome match together since the 2017 semi-finals (l. to Herbert/Mahut).

The twin brothers will meet Karen Khachanov/Marc Lopez, who beat Pablo Cuevas/Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6(3), 13-11.

Watch Hot Shot: Khachanov Saves Match Point

Austrians Jurgen Melzer/Dominic Thiem set up a second-round showdown with top seeds Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo by beating Italian wild cards Filippo Baldi/Andrea Pellegrino 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and Spain’s Fernando Verdasco knocked out Madrid semi-finalists Wesley Koolhof/Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2, and will next face fifth seeds Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic.

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Cameron Norrie: Briton knocked out of Italian Open

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Britain’s Cameron Norrie was knocked out in the second round of the Italian Open following a 6-2 6-2 defeat to 13th seed Borna Coric.

Norrie, 23, was the only British male to make it through to the second round after beating Australia’s John Millman.

Coric converted two of his four break points to win the opening set and broke again twice in the second to win in less than an hour in Rome.

The Croat will face Swiss Roger Federer or Portugal’s Joao Sousa next.

British number one Johanna Konta takes on American seventh seed Sloane Stephens in the women’s second round on Wednesday.

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Federer criticises Italian Open organisers as they double ticket prices

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has criticised Italian Open organisers for doubling ticket prices after it was confirmed he would play.

Federer, 37, is playing the clay-court season for the first time since 2016.

The number three seed, who has a first-round bye and will begin his tournament against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, said the decision was “disappointing”.

“They made it in a way like they rewarded the fans who bought tickets earlier, which is sort of strange.”

Federer added: “I just really hope it doesn’t take away the fact I’m really happy to be here. There’s going to be good crowds hopefully, good atmosphere.”

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The Swiss was beaten in the third round by Dominic Thiem on his last appearance in Rome in 2016.

Thiem saved two match points to beat Federer and progress to the Madrid Open semi-finals last week, but Federer was pleased by a strong performance and has his eyes on a second French Open title in June.

His only Roland-Garros title came a decade ago when he beat Swede Robin Soderling in straight sets.

“I think I was playing well in Madrid, so I just said, again, ‘let’s come to Rome, a city I like so much as well’,” said Federer.

“Madrid is a tough place to play. I felt like playing maybe more sea-level conditions would be good for me. There would be excitement, more excitement than me coming to a practice court in Switzerland.

“Regardless of what happens here, I just think it’s good for me to play matches at this stage.”

Federer could come up against eight-time champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in Rome, and Madrid Open runner-up and eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals.

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Rome's Berrettini Upsets Zverev For Milestone Win

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Rome’s Berrettini Upsets Zverev For Milestone Win

Home favourite reaches third round at ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time

Campo Centrale was rocking once more on Tuesday afternoon as another Italian shook up the Internazionali BNL d’Italia draw.

Rome native Matteo Berrettini did the honours on day three, upsetting No. 5 and 2017 champion Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-5 to celebrate his first Top 5 victory in front of a rocking Roman crowd. The 23-year-old Italian, who won the Hungarian Open last month for his second ATP Tour title (Gstaad, both on clay), broke Zverev once in each set, including in the 12th game of the second, to advance to the Round of 16 at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.

Berrettini made his Masters 1000 debut only two years ago, when he was No. 249 in the ATP Rankings. But last week, the 6’5″ right-hander reached a new career-high at No. 31 in the ATP Rankings.

“Environment was great. The match that I played was horrendous,” Zverev said.

You May Also Like: Kyrgios Strikes 41 Winners To Beat Medvedev In Rome

The German was coming off a quarter-final run at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Tsitsipas), but has struggled to find his top level this season and fell to 15-10. Zverev finished 2018 with only 19 losses (58-19).

Berrettini was the second Italian to cause a stir in Rome. On Sunday, 17-year-old #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner upset American and four-time ATP Tour titlist Steve Johnson for only his second ATP Tour win and his first at the Masters 1000 level.

Read More: Sinner, 17, Already Knows His Advantage Over Tsitsipas

Berrettini, now 1-2 against Top 10 opponents, will now face Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who swept past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-4 in 73 minutes.

Elsewhere, Portugal’s Joao Sousa saved four match points at 5-6 in the deciding set of a 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(4) victory over American Frances Tiafoe in three hours. Sousa, who also trailed 1/4 in the deciding set tie-break, will play third seed Roger Federer in the second round.

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Khachanov Earns Confidence-Boosting Rome Win

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Khachanov Earns Confidence-Boosting Rome Win

Basilashvili, Fritz, Chardy move into second round

Karen Khachanov earned a confidence-boosting win against the ever-consistent Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The 22-year-old knuckled down to recover from a set and 3-4 deficit to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 29 minutes. By breaking a three-match losing streak against Bautista Agut, Khachanov will next play on Thursday against fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem or Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, whom he lost to at last week’s Mutua Madrid Open.

Khachanov wrestled control away from Bautista Agut by breaking in the ninth game of the second set, then powered through the decider for his ninth match win of 2019. Since winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Paris Masters in November 2018, he has won consecutive matches on two previous occasions: the Australian Open, where he reached the third round (l. to Bautista Agut) and at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where the Russian advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal). 

Borna Coric, the No. 13 seed, rebounded from a loss in his Madrid opener as he dismissed British qualifier Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-2 for his first main draw win in Rome. Coric, who reached back-to-back Masters 1000 quarter-finals earlier this year in Miami (l. to Auger-Aliassime) and Monte-Carlo (l. to Fognini), will next face the winner between No. 3 seed Roger Federer and Portugal’s Joao Sousa. 

You May Also Like: Nikoloz Basilashvili: Putting Together A Jigsaw

Elsewhere on day three at the Foro Italico in Rome, No. 14 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili defeated Rio Open presented by Claro champion Laslo Djere 7-5, 6-4. Djere had won their previous two FedEx Head2Head meetings, including their quarter-final match last month at the Hungarian Open.

In first-round action, American qualifier Taylor Fritz set up a clash with sixth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori after a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Guido Pella of Argentina.

Jeremy Chardy completed his one-set shootout against fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet, which had been carried over from Monday night at one-set apiece. Chardy triumphed 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 and now challenges second seed and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal on Wednesday.

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Kyrgios serves underarm again during Italian Open victory

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Unseeded Nick Kyrgios moved into the second round of the Italian Open by beating 12th seed Daniil Medvedev.

Australian Kyrgios, who produced underarm serves on a number of occasions, including the first point of the match, won 6-3 3-6 6-3 in Rome.

Medvedev received on-court treatment for a lower back injury before the second set and later smashed a racquet on the ground in frustration.

Kyrgios, who ended the match with four aces, plays Norway’s Casper Ruud next.

It was not the first time Kyrgios, 24, has served underarm this season – he used similar tactics during a second-round win over Rafael Nadal at the Mexican Open in February.

Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Nadal criticised Kyrgios after that match, saying the Australian “lacks respect for the public, the rival and himself”.

Kyrgios also twice served underarm during his 6-3 6-1 win over Serb Dusan Lajovic at the Miami Open in March, with former British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray saying Kyrgios was a “genius” for disrupting his opponent’s game.

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Cilic Battles Basso, Home Crowd For Win In Rome

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Cilic Battles Basso, Home Crowd For Win In Rome

Last year’s semi-finalist to play Struff

Marin Cilic didn’t have things all his own way at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia when Andrea Basso and the home crowd ensured it was far from easy.

In a match featuring seven breaks of serve, ninth seed Cilic recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the first set and a second-set comeback from 25-year-old Basso, making his ATP Tour debut, for a 6-1, 7-5 first-round victory over one hour and 39 minutes.

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The Croatian, who has recovered from food poisoning that prohibited him from competing in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals against Novak Djokovic, tightened up his game at 5-5 in the second set, returning with depth to break Basso en route to his eighth win in 14 matches this season. Last year’s Rome semi-finalist will now prepare to meet Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

Struff didn’t strike any of his 17 aces in the third set, but recovered from 1-3 down in the decider to overcome 2014 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 in two hours. Struff won 25 of 25 first-service points in the second set, which turned at 3/2 in the tie-break in Dimitrov’s favour. Last month, Dimitrov beat Struff 7-6(2), 6-4 in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters second round.

You May Also Like: Five Things To Know About Struff

Earlier in the day, Moldova’s Radu Albot knocked out Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-2 in 87 minutes for a meeting against Italian No. 10 seed Fabio Fognini at the Foro Italico. Albot’s best performance in his seven previous ATP Masters 1000 tournament appearances came in March at the BNP Paribas Open, where he advanced to the third round (l. to Edmund).

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Heilbronn Headlines Pivotal Week On Challenger Tour

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Heilbronn Headlines Pivotal Week On Challenger Tour

All 16 seeds are inside the Top 130 of the ATP Rankings in Heilbronn

The European clay-court swing is an important period of the season for competitors on the ATP Tour. With three ATP Masters 1000 events leading into the second Grand Slam of the year, there are critical ATP Rankings points up for grabs on the dirt.

The same can be said for those battling on the ATP Challenger Tour, with the month of May providing a true battleground for those seeking to round into form ahead of Roland Garros qualifying. Three straight weeks of signature Challenger tournaments began with a pair of French events in Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence, and culminate this week in Heilbronn, Germany. That’s three weeks in a row in three premier settings with three strong draws.

The NECKARCUP is setting the standard on the Challenger circuit, with back-to-back ‘Tournament of the Year’ honours in 2017-18. Tucked in the southwest corner of Germany, less than an hour north of Stuttgart, is the sleepy town of Heilbronn. With the river Neckar curling around the downtown district and a vast expanse of vineyards dotting the surrounding region, Heilbronn’s tranquility provides players with a relaxed setting for a tournament.

One of the few remaining clubs on the ATP Challenger Tour to be founded in the 1800s, the TC Heilbronn Trappensee E.V. 1892 has hosted the Neckarcup for the past five years. World No. 10 Alexander Zverev broke into the Top 100 for the first time after lifting the trophy in 2015.

This week, defending champion Rudolf Molleker is the talk of the town. The German was the youngest winner on tour last year, at the age of 17, having streaked to the title in Heilbronn. It was just his third Challenger main draw appearance. From the hunter to the hunted, his potential is no longer a secret, but he is ready for the challenge.

“It was my first Challenger title, so all the memories are coming back again,” said Molleker. “There are some points that I remember pretty well and of course my celebration too. That I will never forget. And this year I already got my first win here today, so I’m just getting ready for Sandgren tomorrow.”

Molleker will face second seed Tennys Sandgren in Tuesday’s night session, seeking the fifth Top 100 win already in his young career. The first came exactly one year ago in the Heilbronn final, where he stunned another second seed – Jiri Vesely.

With Roland Garros qualifying one week away, players have one last chance to fine tune their games and put themselves in the best position in the ATP Rankings prior to the grass season. Two Germans looking to build confidence ahead of moving to the terre battue of Paris are Dominik Koepfer and Oscar Otte. Koepfer, ranked 173, is coming off a quarter-final appearance at last week’s stop in Braga, Portugal, while No. 139 Otte reached the final in Francavilla al Mare, Italy, last month.

“You feel at home here,” said Koepfer. “The player area is the best you will find on tour. There’s plenty of food, enough bikes and a great place to cool down and warm up. You have your privacy too, which is important. They pick you up from the train station and airport too, which is 40 minutes away. You don’t get that at all Challengers. Transport is every 30 minutes and the hotel is very good. There are enough practice courts too. It’s just a great tournament, which really helps this time of year.

“I’m trying to build my ranking but it’s more fun to play better players here. That’s who you’re going to face next week in Paris. It’s been tough to get used to clay, but these past few weeks have been improving and getting better. I’ve only played a handful of Top 100 players so this is good for me [to open against Filip Krajinovic].”

With all 16 seeds inside the Top 130 of the ATP Rankings, the competition is fierce. Top seed and 2017 champion Krajinovic is in dominant form, coming off a signature victory over Stan Wawrinka at the ATP Masters 1000 stop in Miami, followed by a final run at the Challenger in Sophia Antipolis, France, and runner-up finish as a qualifier at the ATP 250 in Budapest. Other Top 100 stars  Sandgren, Alexander Bublik and Jiri Vesely are seeded second, third and fourth, respectively.

Heilbronn History

Year Champion Career-High ATP Ranking
2018 Rudolf Molleker (GER) No. 152
2017 Filip Krajinovic (SRB) No. 26
2016 Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) No. 17
2015 Alexander Zverev (GER) No. 3
2014 Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) No. 44

World No. 103 Denis Istomin rounds out the Top 5 seeds. The Uzbek will open against Otte on Wednesday, in what should be a featured early match at the clay-court event.

“It’s always great to play at home and this is my fourth time here,” said Otte. “Every year the tournament is improving and getting better. The whole organisation is great and the player area is a really high level for a Challenger. There’s also a lot of spectators supporting the Germans. We all like to play here. For me, it’s the best Challenger.

“This week is pretty important. Every week is important, but more so now, right in front of a Grand Slam qualifying. If you play well here it’s good preparation. You can check your level and the draw is always pretty strong. I think it helps you a lot for the end of the clay season.”

Also on this week’s slate is the Lisboa Belem Open, which returns for a third edition. Adrian Mannarino is the top seed, while 15th seed Joao Domingues looks to go back-to-back on home soil after lifting the trophy in nearby Braga on Sunday. And on the clay of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, top seed Corentin Moutet seeks a second title of the year. The tournament enters its 23rd edition on the circuit.

The lone hard-court stop of the week is in Gwangju, South Korea, where the three-week Korean swing concludes. Sergiy Stakhovsky and Brayden Schnur leads the charge, with sixth seed Soon-woo Kwon heading the home contingent. Defending champion Maverick Banes fell in the first round on Monday.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Italian Open: Caroline Wozniacki withdraws from first-round match with injury

  • Posted: May 14, 2019

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki retired from her first-round match at the Italian Open because of a leg injury.

Wozniacki, 28, lost the opening set 7-6 (7-5) against American Danielle Collins before she had to stop.

It is the second straight tournament at which the Dane has withdrawn early on.

She trailed 3-0 against Alize Cornet in the opening round of the Madrid Open earlier this month and had to pull out because of a back injury.

Wozniacki is ranked 12th in the world and will be hoping to be fit for the French Open, which starts on 26 May.

Collins, 25, will now play two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the second round on Wednesday.

“Obviously, I feel for Caroline, what she’s going through with her injuries,” said Collins.

“It’s never fun to go out there and play against somebody that’s hurt, and dealing with that kind of pain. I was happy with the way I played, but it’s just not a fun situation.”

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