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Haase/Oswald Save 2 M.P. To Take Umag Title

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Haase/Oswald Save 2 M.P. To Take Umag Title

Second seeds defeat top seeds on Saturday

Second seeds Robin Haase and Philipp Oswald made sure their first week as a team was a memorable one. Just before midnight on Saturday, they saved two championship points and took the title at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag over top-seeded Austrians Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-7(2), 14-12.

Haase/Oswald erased championship points at 8/9 and 10/11 in the Match Tie-break and converted on their third championship point after one hour and 56 minutes. The Dutch-Austrian duo needed Match Tie-breaks for all three of their wins this week. They also saved three match points in their first-round victory over Andrey Rublev and Andrei Vasilevski.

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Both Haase and Oswald picked up their first ATP Tour doubles titles of the season. The win also completed a successful title defence for Haase, who prevailed here last year with Matwe Middelkoop.

Marach/Melzer were competing in their first ATP Tour doubles final as a team. Melzer prevailed this year in Marrakesh (w/Skugor) and Sofia (w/Mektic), while Melzer took the title in Geneva (w/Pavic).

Haase/Oswald picked up 250 ATP Doubles Rankings points and split €29,650, while Marach/Melzer earned 150 ATP Doubles Rankings points and split €15,200.

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Kafelnikov On Hall Of Fame Induction: 'Finally My Whole Career Is Completed'

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Kafelnikov On Hall Of Fame Induction: ‘Finally My Whole Career Is Completed’

Former World No. 1 reflects on his career and legacy before his induction

This January, Yevgeny Kafelnikov was on holiday in Dubai when his phone rang. The Russian didn’t know the number, but he knew it was from the United States. When Kafelnikov picked up, International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith was on the line.

“I just want to tell you that you’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Smith told him.

“I got stunned for five seconds and just replied, ‘Thank you, Stan. It’s great news that you’ve brought me.’”

That is when it started to set in for Kafelnikov, a 26-time tour-level singles titlist and 27-time doubles champion, who won nearly $24 million in combined prize money during his career. In his own words, finally, he was in.

“It’s one of those things where I understand that finally my whole career is completed,” Kafelnikov said. “This was the last sort of pinnacle that every professional athlete wants to accomplish. To be recognised as a Hall of Famer, it’s a huge honour.”

On Friday afternoon, Kafelnikov arrived at the Newport Casino for the first time, and he certainly took in his surroundings with a smile on his face. Immediately upon walking up the stairs of the museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Russian was examining every corner to learn about the history of the game and the sport’s legends.

<a href=''>Yevgeny Kafelnikov</a>

“It’s beyond understanding. Unless you really see for yourself what it’s like, what this place is all about, you’re not going to believe it,” Kafelnikov said. “For me, it was mind-blowing yesterday when I walked in. You really understand the history of the game. On top of that, you understand the whole value, being a member of the Hall of Fame.”

To earn this recognition, Kafelnikov finished inside the Top 5 of the year-end ATP Rankings five times, claimed Grand Slam singles titles at 1996 Roland Garros and the 1999 Australian Open, captured four major doubles trophies and the 2000 Olympic gold medal in singles. Combining both disciplines, Kafelnikov won 967 tour-level matches, and he is the last person to win the singles and doubles title at the same Grand Slam, doing so in Paris 23 years ago.

“I cannot put one above the other, talking about being No. 1 in the world, winning the Davis Cup, winning Olympic gold and winning two majors,” Kafelnikov said. “They all stand on the same plateau for me. They’re all important. I’m here because of those accomplishments.”


The Russian took great interest in all of the exhibits in the museum, recalling the matches from which there were racquets or clothing on display. Now, when fans visit Newport, Rhode Island, they will see that Kafelnikov is part of the illustrious group that has gained induction.

“Trust me, I would never in the slightest imagine myself accomplishing what I accomplished in my career,” Kafelnikov said. “If you ask me the question if it would be possible to go back in time to do it again, to go back to the age of 10, 11, I would never do that because I understand how difficult it was in terms of working hard and what kind of effort I put in to become what I am. It’s really special.”

To Kafelnikov, his story is one of hard work. He doesn’t feel that he won his matches and titles purely because of his skill.

“I was not even close to being as gifted as John McEnroe or Roger Federer or even Marat Safin, or Marcelo Rios or Nick Kyrgios,” Kafelnikov said. “I was never that gifted. But I was a really hard worker. I’m sure that because of that, I’ve got all my titles, all my goals.”

International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith was particularly impressed by Kafelnikov’s ability to succeed in both the singles and doubles court, as well as how well he was able to be like an “iron man”, doing both at the same time as well as shine for his country.

“Yevgeny was really solid. He was good on all surfaces. On the clay [of Roland Garros] he won the doubles three times, but he was also good on the hard courts. He had a relatively short career compared to Federer or somebody like that. Everybody is in that boat. [But] when he was playing, he was a tough opponent for anybody, any style of play, because he could play aggressively, play as a counter puncher. He had a good all-around game,” Smith said. “He wasn’t the type of guy where you’d say you’re not playing him on clay, so he’s not as good or you’re playing him on hard courts and he’s not as good. He was good on all surfaces.”

Today, Kafelnikov wakes up at 9 am, showers, has breakfast, and then heads to the local golf club where he enjoys a round with his close friends. He’s also the vice president of the Russian Tennis Federation, keeping him closely involved in the sport. So even though he enjoys his down time on the golf course, he has certainly not left tennis, and knows that his induction is also a responsibility.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” Kafelnikov said. “I understand that many years from now, I will understand how important it was for me to get into the Hall of Fame.”

<a href=''>Yevgeny Kafelnikov</a>

One of the first things an emotional Kafelnikov did when he set foot in the Woolard Family Enshrinement Gallery was look for the plaque there for his good friend Marat Safin, who was inducted in 2016. He remembers the conversation he had with Safin after he received the news of his own honour in January.

“He said, ‘Yevgeny, I’m very happy for you. I don’t know if I should say this, but you should be way before me into the Hall of Fame’,” Kafelnikov recalled. “I said, ‘Man, it’s better than never. Sooner rather than later. Now we’re both Hall of Famers.’ It’s definitely a big one for both of us, big one for Russia.”

Kafelnikov was the first Russian to reach No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, which he did in 1999. And he also was the first Russian man to win a Grand Slam singles title. He is happy to see the success of his countrymen since, with both Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev cracking the Top 10 this year.

“They’ll understand looking at myself and Marat, I’m sure they understand by now, everything is possible,” Kafelnikov said. “You just need to work hard. You just need to have goals and be really dedicated to the sport that you love most and I think that’s how I want to be remembered: as a player who just sacrificed many things to get to where I am right now.”

Kafelnikov’s tour finished in the Peggy Woolard Library, where he once again got emotional as he signed the museum’s memory book, with notes that the Hall of Famers sign just before their induction. He wrote the below, pausing to take in the moment:

Never ever I have been so emotional visiting this wonderful place! I am very honored to become a member of this place for the rest of my life! Love you all,

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

<a href=''>Yevgeny Kafelnikov</a>

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Ironman Bublik Marches Into Newport Final

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Ironman Bublik Marches Into Newport Final

Bublik to face Isner or Humbert in championship match

Seventh seed Alexander Bublik hasn’t had it easy at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, but he’s into his first ATP Tour final after his 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4 victory on Saturday over Spaniard Marcel Granollers.

The 22-year-old Kazakh required three sets for all four of his matches so far this week. He improved to 9-1 in deciding sets at tour-level with his latest win, which took two hours and 10 minutes to complete.

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Bublik has primarily competed on the ATP Challenger Tour and picked up four Challenger titles in the past year. He’s guaranteed to reach a career-high ATP Ranking when the newest standings are released on Monday and crack the Top 75 for the first time.

Next up for Bublik will be top-seeded American John Isner or fourth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

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Balazs Reaches First ATP Final In Umag

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Balazs Reaches First ATP Final In Umag

Hungarian to play Lajovic or Caruso in final

Five years ago, Attila Balazs retired from tennis. Now, the 30-year-old Hungarian is into his first ATP Tour final at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag.

The qualifier continued his dream week on Saturday by ousting third-seeded Serbian Laslo Djere 6-2, 6-4. There were understandable nerves from Balazs and he failed to convert a match point when trying to serve out the semi-final at 5-2, but the Hungarian made good on his second attempt to prevail in one hour and 39 minutes.

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Balazs’ only other ATP Tour semi-final came seven years ago in Bucharest. Currently No. 207 in the ATP Rankings, he is guaranteed to break his career-high standing of No. 153 when the new standings are released on Monday.

Awaiting Balazs in the final will be fourth-seeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic or Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso.

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Jarry, Zverev To Meet Again In Hamburg

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Jarry, Zverev To Meet Again In Hamburg

Thiem to meet Cuevas in first round

Alexander Zverev will face a familiar opponent in his opening match at next week’s Hamburg European Open.

The World No. 5 will meet Nicolas Jarry of Chile, for the third time on clay this season, with a place in the second round on the line. In their previous two FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, Zverev and Jarry went all the way to final-set tie-breaks with the winning player saving match points on each occasion.

At the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in April, Jarry saved one match point to defeat a Top 3 player in the ATP Rankings for the first time. One month later, in the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open final, Zverev withstood two championship points before claiming his 11th ATP Tour trophy.

The Hamburg-born star, who owns a 4-4 record at the ATP 500 tournament, is aiming to earn his first victory at his hometown event since reaching the semi-finals in 2014 at No. 285 in the ATP Rankings. If he overcomes Jarry, who will meet Juan Ignacio Londero in the Swedish Open final on Sunday, Zverev will face Argentina Open champion Marco Cecchinato or Swedish Open semi-finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas for a spot in the quarter-finals. Zverev shares the top quarter of the draw with sixth seed Laslo Djere.

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Defending champion and fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who could meet Zverev in the semi-finals, begins his title defence against a qualifier. The fourth seed is joined in the third quarter of the draw by fifth seed Benoit Paire, Båstad finalist Londero and Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag semi-finalist Salvatore Caruso, who meets Dusan Lajovic for a place in the championship match.

Top seed Dominic Thiem will open his campaign against Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. Thiem owns a 4-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the World No. 46, including wins in Buenos Aires and Roland Garros this year. Two-time ATP Tour titlist Cristian Garin also features in the top quarter of the draw. The Chilean will meet Andrey Rublev in the first round.

The second quarter of the draw is headlined by Fabio Fognini of Italy. The third seed, who lifted his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April, owns a 14-6 record at the clay-court event, highlighted by his title run in 2013 (d. Delbonis). Fognini could meet two-time winner Leonardo Mayer in the second round. Mayer faces German wild card Rudolf Molleker in the first round. Seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff joins Fognini as a fellow seed in this section.

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Jarry Downs Delbonis To Reach Båstad Final

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Jarry Downs Delbonis To Reach Båstad Final

Chilean to meet Londero in final

Nicolas Jarry advanced to his third ATP Tour championship match on Saturday, beating Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-2 in 64 minutes at the Swedish Open.

The 23-year-old, who is yet to drop a set in Båstad, saved three of four break points to improve to 18-15 at tour-level this season. In May, Jarry also reached the championship match in Geneva without dropping a set. The Chilean held two championship points against World No. 5 Alexander Zverev, before falling in a final-set tie-break.

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Jarry is aiming join his grandfather, Jaime Fillol Sr., as a tour-level titlist. Fillol Sr. lifted six tour-level trophies and reached a career-high No. 14 in the ATP Rankings in 1974.

Jarry will meet Cordoba champion Juan Ignacio Londero for the title. The Argentine overcame 2016 titlist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4 to reach his second ATP Tour final of the season. En route to the Cordoba trophy in February, Londero claimed victory in his only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head clash against Jarry.

Londero is making his second straight appearance in Båstad, after a first-round loss to Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland last year. The sixth seed has survived two three-set matches this week, including a quarter-final victory against last year’s runner-up Richard Gasquet.

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How Less Counting Is Turning Into More Winning For Bublik

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

How Less Counting Is Turning Into More Winning For Bublik

Bublik is in his first ATP Tour semi-final

Alexander Bublik advanced to his first ATP Tour semi-final on Friday, recovering from a slow start to defeat home favourite Tennys Sandgren at the Hall of Fame Open 0-6, 6-3, 6-0. But one thing you won’t find him doing in Newport, Rhode Island, is checking out how high he’ll climb in the ATP Rankings because of his efforts, and how high he can soar if he continues his career-best run.

“This was my problem when I was a kid. I was counting the points. Even if I didn’t win the match, before the match I started counting points, how much I’d earn,” Bublik told “This was my problem. I deleted all the apps, the live scoring, live rankings. Especially when there’s a deadline week and I needed to make something and I’d be like ‘Yes, I need to do it,’ I’d choke 0 and 1.”

In September 2017, the Kazakh broke into the Top 100 for the first time, spending four weeks there. But early in 2018, at the BNP Paribas Open, Bublik broke his ankle during qualifying, halting his momentum and forcing him to miss nearly two months of competition.

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Bublik dropped to as low as World No. 253 last November. But ever since, the 22-year-old has been on the ascent. And even though he won’t be looking into it, the six-time ATP Challenger Tour champion is projected to crack the Top 75 for the first time on Monday regardless of what happens the rest of the week.

“I entered two years ago for the first time, then I fell down. I have the level to play the guys here,” Bublik said. “This year I entered in April and I’ve stayed, so I hope to stay here a while. Maybe for all my career, hopefully.”

Bublik’s first big splash came in 2016, when as a 19-year-old he qualified in Moscow and advanced to the quarter-finals. He then accomplished the same feat at the same event the following year.

“When I was a kid I got in mental troubles a lot because I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to win this match. I want to win this tournament’,” Bublik said. “Then last year when I broke my ankle is when I realised it’s fine. If I make money on the ATP Challenger Tour it’s not good, so I’ve got to work hard to make it here, to make more and more, so that’s why I’m working hard every day trying to succeed.”

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If you haven’t seen Bublik play, his talent is apparent. Just this week, in the second round, he hit a forward-facing tweener lob for a winner against Viktor Troicki, which landed him a spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. In Friday’s quarter-final against Tennys Sandgren, Bublik hit four aces in a row at 4-0 in third set, punctuating the game with an underarm ace.

“I entertain myself first. That’s the most important thing for me,” Bublik said.

The World No. 83 has no problem being himself, on and off the court. In fact, it’s one of several tattoos on his right arm.


“Always be a leader, not a follower,” one of the tattoos reads. “You just have to be your own leader, make your own decisions,” Bublik said about the quote.

Another one reads, “You won’t break me, you’ll just make me stronger.” That is a song lyric from ‘Stronger Than I Was,’ a song by Eminem.

Bublik also has a bird because he travels a lot as a tennis player, a nod to his flying. He has a map that shows where he is from: Gatchina, Russia. Bublik has a tennis ball in the grip of a skeleton’s hand, his parents’ birthdates and a phrase from a Russian book that he had translated into Italian.

Part of Bublik’s maturation has also included him not putting as much pressure on himself as he once did. The Kazakh knows that he will not always bring his best tennis to the court every day, specifically pointing out that most days will be an average day. He’s just going out there, doing his best, and hoping the results will follow.

“At the end of the day it’s about hitting the yellow ball, making money, making wins,” Bublik said.

“I’m not playing my best tennis now, but I’m winning,” Bublik said.

Bublik will hope to emerge victorious again in Newport on Saturday against Spaniard Marcel Granollers with a spot in his first ATP Tour final on the line.

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Paes Still Going Strong After 28 Years On Tour

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2019

Paes Still Going Strong After 28 Years On Tour

Doubles legend through to Newport semi-finals

Leander Paes made his Hall of Fame Open debut in 1995. Everyone in the singles and doubles draws that year has long since retired, but nearly 30 years after turning pro, the Indian is still creating memorable moments.

Paes and Kiwi Marcus Daniell saved three match points on Friday to reach the doubles semi-finals in Newport over Robert Lindstedt and Matthew Ebden. At age 46, he’s the oldest ATP Tour semi-finalist since John McEnroe (age 47) at 2006 San Jose. But Paes prefers not to talk about age. With his volleys and reflexes around the net as youthful as ever, it’s easy to understand why.

“These are the nights that I live for,” said Paes. “The hard work, playing when you have a fever, being in the gym when you don’t want really want to be there… Most people see us travelling to lovely places and being on show courts, but the hard yards are what allow me to still compete at this level. The experience is still there, the legs are still there, the knowledge and strokes are there. It’s about finding the right doubles partners and I’ll have success.

“Being a student of life and the game, I used to try to learn from the older players. Now, I try to learn from the younger ones!”


Twenty-one years after winning his lone ATP Tour singles title in Newport, Paes’ passion for the game burns just as brightly. He’ll pump himself up after great shots and even throw in a chest bump or two with his partner. Paes is aware that he’s closer to end of his career than the beginning, but his remaining years on the ATP Tour are far from a mere nostalgia moment.

He’s already reached four ATP doubles semi-finals this season and continues to break records. Two months ago at Roland Garros (w/Paire), he became the oldest man in the Open Era to win a match at the second Grand Slam of the year.

Paes’ tireless commitment to improving has even sparked significant changes to his training in recent years.

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“I have to work three times as hard now as I did 10 or 15 years ago. That’s just age, but I love the work,” he explained. “When I was younger, I’d waste a lot of energy practising for five or six hours a day. My training is very specific now, focusing on improving specific areas of my game, focusing on my diet and recovery. The knowledge we have nowadays in tennis on fitness, health and recovery is why the margins of winning and losing are so slim.” 

With 766 match victories, Paes is sixth on the all-time doubles match win list. He’s just one of six players to pick up 750 tour-level doubles match wins, which he achieved in April 2018.


Career Doubles Match Record
1) Mike Bryan (USA)
2) Bob Bryan (USA)
3) Daniel Nestor (CAN)
4) Todd Woodbridge (AUS)
5) Max Mirnyi (BLR)
6) Leander Paes (IND)

His versatility has also produced staggering numbers. Paes has partnered with more than 100 players throughout his career and won ATP Tour doubles titles with 14 of them. He’s also won every Grand Slam doubles title with a different partner, racking up eight men’s doubles titles and 10 mixed doubles titles in his career.

The hunt for more big titles is a big part of what keeps Paes going. As long as he feels that he can remain competitive, his name will continue to appear in draws across the globe. But with nothing left to prove in his career, his motivation for playing is much more simple.

“I’d love to win another Grand Slam. I have 18 Grand Slams, but 20 sounds better than 18,” he joked. “But I’m playing for a lot of passion now. I really love my life and travelling the world. When I was younger, I was playing to put bread and butter on the table. I still am, but now I’m playing because I get a lot of happiness out of playing tennis.

“Every morning, I put on [tennis clothes] and have fun. Whether it’s an ATP Challenger Tour event or a Grand Slam, to me, tennis is tennis. It’s a beautiful sport to bring happiness to a lot of people.”

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