Tennis News

From around the world

Lajovic Lifts Maiden Trophy In Umag

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2019

Lajovic Lifts Maiden Trophy In Umag

Serbian dropped one set throughout the week

Dusan Lajovic capped his week at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag by reaching a career milestone on Sunday.

The fourth-seeded Serbian claimed his maiden ATP Tour title after rallying from 3-5 down in the opening set to defeat qualifier Attila Balazs 7-5, 7-5. Lajovic dropped one set en route to the title, making further progress in a year of improvement on the ATP Tour.

In April, Lajovic became the second player since 2013 to reach his first tour-level final at an ATP Masters 1000 event. The Serbian did not drop a set en route to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters championship match before falling to Fabio Fognini. Eight days later, Lajovic reached a career-high No. 23 in the ATP Rankings.

Lajovic improves to 17-16 at tour-level this year and 7-5 at the ATP 250 event following his one-hour, 50-minute victory. The 29-year-old broke serve on four occasions, winning 44 per cent of return points (36/82).

Watch Live

It was Balazs who made the first move in the opening set at 3-3, taking control of points with depth on his returns to break. But Lajovic soon raised his level at the perfect time, bringing his forehand into play on his third break point of the match to reach 5-5. Lajovic repeated the strategy two games later to convert his third set point, moving around his backhand to rip a cross-court forehand return. 

Lajovic rode the momentum into the second set, playing with great court coverage to earn his second break point of the fourth game. The World No. 36 played with consistency before driving a backhand to the laces of his opponent to move into a 3-1 lead.

You May Also Like: For Serbia’s Lajovic, Business Is Good On And Off The Court

Two games away from the title at 4-2, Lajovic surrendered his serve as Balazs increased his aggression on his forehand. But Lajovic soon refocused, breaking serve at 6-5 on his first championship point, before collapsing to the clay in celebration.

Balazs was aiming to become the first qualifier to capture an ATP Tour trophy this season. Five years after retiring from the sport, the Hungarian was contesting his first tour-level final. His previous best mark at an ATP Tour event came in 2012, when he reached the Bucharest semi-finals (l. to Fognini).

Lajovic receives 250 ATP Ranking points and €90,390 in prize money. Balazs earns 150 ATP Ranking points and €48,870.

Source link

Isner Makes History With Fourth Newport Title

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2019

Isner Makes History With Fourth Newport Title

Top seed defeats Bublik on Sunday

John Isner lived up to his top seed status on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Open, becoming the first player to win four titles in Newport with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over seventh-seeded Kazakh Alexander Bublik.

“My very first ATP Tour event was here in 2007 and I didn’t enjoy the courts that much back then because I didn’t know how to play on them,” said Isner. “To say that I’ve won this event four times isn’t something I thought would be possible.”

The American won his first ATP Tour title of the year on the back of landing 79 per cent of his first serves. He converted all three of his break points en route to the 76-minute victory. The match also marks Isner’s first ATP Tour title since becoming a father. He and his wife, Madison, welcomed their first child last September, a baby girl named Hunter Grace.

You May Also Like: Jarry Chases Down First Title In Båstad

Isner will also be encouraged by remaining at full strength after this week. Newport is his second tournament back from a broken left foot, which he sustained in April during his Miami Open presented by Itau final against Roger Federer. Isner’s foot withstood three-set battles in three of his four matches this week, which saw him spend nearly eight hours on court.

“I’ve definitely lacked court time in the last three months. The best way to get back in shape is by spending time on the court and playing matches, which is the most important thing,” said Isner. “I haven’t played many tournaments this year, but I still feel like I’ve had a pretty good year.”

Despite the loss, Bublik can be pleased at reaching his first ATP Tour final. He has primarily competed on the ATP Challenger Tour and picked up four Challenger titles in the past year. Bublik is guaranteed to reach a career-high ATP Ranking when the newest standings are released on Monday and will crack the Top 75 for the first time.

“It’s my first final and I’m going to remember this day forever,” said Bublik. “John’s a great player and he showed me how to play in the important tournaments.”

Watch Live

Bublik earned the first break of the match at 5-5 in the opening set after Isner pushed a backhand long, but the Kazakh promptly double faulted in the next game to send the set to a tie-break. Isner fired a forehand passing shot for a 2/0 mini-break lead and raced through the tie-break to clinch the early advantage.

The 22-year-old Bublik dropped serve at 2-2 after gambling on a 124 mph second serve that landed well long. With the seventh seed serving at 3-5, Isner ended the match emphatically by ripping a forehand passing shot winner for his 15th ATP Tour singles title.

Isner picked up 250 ATP Rankings points and $100,600, while Bublik earned 150 ATP Rankings points and $54,395.

Both men will compete next week at the BB&T Atlanta Open and could meet in the second round. Isner, a five-time champion in Atlanta, has a first-round bye as the top seed. Bublik will start his week against American Reilly Opelka.

Source link

Jarry Chases Down First Title In Båstad

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2019

Jarry Chases Down First Title In Båstad

Chilean fires 10 aces in 90-minute victory

In his third ATP Tour championship match, Nicolas Jarry made a significant breakthrough at the Swedish Open on Sunday.

The 23-year-old defeated Juan Ignacio Londero 7-6(7), 6-4 to earn his first tour-level trophy in Båstad, landing 10 aces and converting both break points he created to triumph in 90 minutes. Jarry did not drop a set en route to the trophy in his maiden appearance at the clay-court ATP 250 event, improving on previous career-best runner-up finishes in Sao Paulo last year and Geneva in May.

“It is amazing. I am really happy for [the title],” said Jarry. “It was a really tough match… Juan Ignacio was playing great. There was a lot of wind and I couldn’t manage to play as well as the other days, but [with] titles, you have to win them as you can and I am really happy to be able to pull this one off.”

Jarry produced his best tennis on Swedish west coast to improve to 19-15 at tour-level in 2019, powering past Henri Laaksonen, home favourite Mikael Ymer, Jeremy Chardy and Federico Delbonis before overcoming Londero for the first time. In February, Londero defeated Jarry in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter during his title run at the inaugural Cordoba Open.

Watch Live

Jarry joins his grandfather, Jaime Fillol Sr., as an tour-level titlist. Fillol Sr. lifted six tour-level trophies between 1971 and 1982, including four crowns on clay, and reached a career-high No. 14 in the ATP Rankings in 1974.

“I had some chances back in Geneva and I think this time it went to my side. I am extremely happy. I have been working for this for a long time and it really means a lot. We are a big team back home and I really appreciate everybody that has been behind me for a long time.”

Jarry made a quick start to his third tour-level championship match, breaking Londero to love with depth on his return en route to a 3-0 lead. The Chilean failed to maintain his advantage, dropping serve in the fifth game of the match with a forehand unforced error, and soon found himself facing two set points at 4/6 down in the tie-break. But Jarry raised his level under pressure, increasing his aggression in all areas to overpower his opponent, converting his first set point with his sixth ace of the match.

The Santiago-born star made the crucial breakthrough at 3-3 in the second set with powerful play, stepping inside the court to extract errors from his opponent. Jarry maintained his composure from that point, taking the title on his second match point with a familiar combination. After a powerful first serve out wide, the Chilean fired a forehand into the corner before falling to his knees in celebration.

Londero was aiming to double his ATP Tour trophy count, after earning his first crown at the Cordoba Open in February. The 25-year-old has earned 18 wins from 30 tour-level clashes this year.

Jarry collects 250 ATP Ranking points and €90,390 in prize money. Londero gains 150 points and €48,870.

Source link

Vliegen/Gille Lift Maiden ATP Tour Trophy In Båstad

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2019

Vliegen/Gille Lift Maiden ATP Tour Trophy In Båstad

Belgian duo triumphs in first ATP Tour final

Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen captured their first tour-level trophy as a team at the Swedish Open on Sunday, recovering from a set down to beat third seeds Federico Delbonis and Horacio Zeballos 6-7(5), 7-5, 10-5.

The Belgian tandem saved three of four break points and claimed 77 per cent of first-serve points (48/62) to clinch the title after one hour and 48 minutes. Two months ago, Gille and Vliegen also claimed silverware on the ATP Challenger Tour, winning each of the eight sets they contested on the clay at the Bratislava Open.

“I am super happy,” said Gille. “It is just something we didn’t expect at the beginning of the week. We haven’t played many ATP Tour events yet and… we felt good right from the start, started winning matches and then, all of a sudden, we are getting the title. It is just an unbelievable feeling and I am very happy.”

Gille and Vliegen were forced to battle through three Match Tie-breaks throughout the week in Båstad, having also rallied from a set down to beat Sander Arends and David Pel in the first round and top seeds Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop in the semi-finals.

Watch Live

It is a first tour-level trophy for No. 76 Gille and No. 58 Vliegen, who are both currently competing at career-high positions in the ATP Doubles Rankings. Gille and Vliegen’s previous best performance on the ATP Tour came at the inaugural Cordoba Open in February, where they reached their first ATP Tour semi-final (l. to M. Gonzalez/Zeballos).

“We have been playing together a long time, progressing through Futures, Challengers and occasionally ATP Tour events, but [I have] no words yet. We need some time to process this,” said Vliegen.

Competing in their first tour-level event as a team, Delbonis and Zeballos were bidding to lift their first team trophy. Their only prior appearance as a partnership came at Challenger level in 2011, where they reached the championship match in Marburg (l. to Emmrich/Phau). Zeballos was also aiming to lift the Båstad doubles trophy for the second straight year after triumphing in 2018 alongside Julio Peralta.

Gille and Vliegen gain 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and share €29,650 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Delbonis and Zeballos earn 150 points and split €15,200.

Source link

Emotional Kafelnikov Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2019

Emotional Kafelnikov Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

Former No. 1 pays tribute to those who helped him throughout his life and career

Yevgeny Kafelnikov predicted that he would get emotional on Saturday evening when speaking to the crowd in Newport, Rhode Island, where he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But what he might not have expected, as the sun set on the Newport Casino, was to talk about omelettes.

It’s been a long journey for the Russian to reach this moment, having his name permanently etched into tennis’ history books for the rest of his life. The former World No. 1, who won two Grand Slam singles titles, an Olympic gold medal in singles in 2000, 27 tour-level doubles titles including four major triumphs, and much more, started his career like all other professionals — working his way up the tennis ladder.

You May Also Like: Kafelnikov On Hall Of Fame Induction: ‘Finally My Whole Career Is Completed’

Kafelnikov took the crowd in the stands and the countless watching on television throughout the world back to the start of 1992, when he was competing in Portugal, with coach Anatoly Lepeshin by his side.

“He basically was like a second father to me, who told me how to compete, how to behave on the court, and how to be very professional,” Kafelnikov said. “It was six in the morning. He woke up and basically was looking after me, making me ham and cheese omelettes. That’s the story. Then obviously my success at the young age really belongs to him, winning my first major in Paris in 1996. He was never giving me any freedom, so-called, if I can say that. We were practising five, six hours a day. So I’m thankful to him very much.”

Kafelnikov’s speech was entirely dedicated to thanking those around him who helped him to this day. He was introduced by another coach of his, Larry Stefanki, who worked with him from 1999-2001, helping the Russian win the 1999 Australian Open and become the first man from his country to reach No. 1 in the ATP Rankings later that year.

“We had a very similar thought process about competing at the very top level. Yevgeny learned the game of tennis old-school style. He was definitely a workhorse. Early on, he learned the importance of fundamentals, footwork, repetition, fitness and a work ethic that would bring him great success on tour,” Stefanki said. “He definitely had the mindset of a champion early on, and the self-belief that would propel him to the top of the game.”

Kafelnikov Stefanki

Kafelnikov also thanked his first coach, Valery Shishkin, who taught him the fundamentals of the game, straight from how to hold the racquet. He even helped set him on a path to develop what would become some of the signatures of his tennis.

“Juniors at the age of nine, 10, they trying to imitate their idols. I was nine years old [and] I was trying to figure out what should I have, a one-handed backhand or two-handed backhand?” Kafelnikov remembered. “He said to me, ‘Look, Yevgeny, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but your two-handed backhand will make you win so many titles.’ So ever since I never had a one-handed backhand. [The] two-handed backhand was my shot, especially up the line.”

In introducing Kafelnikov, Stefanki said that as much as his former charge accomplished on the court — Kafelnikov tallied a combined 967 tour-level wins in singles and doubles — he did plenty off of it, too, something that should be remembered alongside his efforts as a player.

“Yevgeny is a very generous individual. He donated his [winnings from the] 2001 and fifth Moscow Open victory in a row to the [victims of the] Siberian air disaster on the Black Sea. He started a pediatric hospital in his hometown where the kids could not afford surgeries. He also started an academy in his hometown outside Sochi, which started his playing career,” Stefanki said.

Kafelnikov made sure to pay homage to the most important people in his life: his parents. They could not make the ceremony, but he knew they’d be watching back home in Russia.

“I felt nothing but love, warmth and care. Mom and Dad, I know you’re watching it, I love you so much,” Kafelnikov said. “You’ve been there for me through thick and thin. I love you. When I come back home, we will celebrate this wonderful day.”

Kafelnikov was keen to take in all the history around him throughout the weekend. And now, after the induction ceremony, he is now part of that history as a Hall of Famer.

“I know what it’s like and how to be a Hall of Famer, and I will definitely carry that responsibility for the rest of my life.”


Source link

Martin Breaks Down Kafelnikov's Strengths: 'He Made You Do Something Special'

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2019

Martin Breaks Down Kafelnikov’s Strengths: ‘He Made You Do Something Special’

Russian inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday

Todd Martin, the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the tournament director of the Hall of Fame Open, knows this year’s male inductee plenty well. The American, former World No. 4, played Yevgeny Kafelnikov 10 times, with the Russian winning seven of their 10 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

Nine of the pair’s 10 meetings came at the Nitto ATP Finals, a Grand Slam, or an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, so Martin and Kafelnikov consistently competed against one another on the biggest stages in tennis. Martin spoke exclusively to about the challenges in playing the former World No. 1, the Russian’s accomplishments, and more.

What were the challenges facing Yevgeny?
I found Yevgeny and then Lleyton Hewitt to be the two most challenging returners of serve that I faced. Everybody rightly gives Andre Agassi a lot of credit for being the great returner he was. But Yevgeny was a punishing returner, so if you didn’t hit your spot or if he guessed right, he could hurt you.

I hit my spot with my serve most of the time, so Yevgeny did a wonderful job of still getting the ball back with one hand if I stretched him. And then anything that was hittable, the ball was always in the court and for me, the fewer free points that I could get, the more work it was for me.

How frustrating was that when you could do what you wanted, but still be put in a difficult position against him?
I felt like I could always play against his serve, If Yevgeny had Sampras’ serve, I wouldn’t want to play him, ever. Yevgeny was great, but you got to play. The interesting thing, and I didn’t experience it because I played so aggressively, was that he had to attack me or else I was going to attack him.

I remember watching a Davis Cup match of his against a teammate of mine and he played so calmly and really passively. I didn’t think you could play great tennis passively. I felt like you had to take the initiative. But it almost looked like a bull fight in that my teammate was the bull and Yevgeny was the bull fighter. He was constantly poking. He wasn’t trying to knock my teammate out. He just let the guy lose. So it might have been 3, 3 and 4, but it probably took three hours, which especially then, was a crazy match.


How impressive was it that he could change his game and succeed on each surface?
He was spectacular on hard courts and obviously he won the French. But… in large part because of his grips, winning the French was a huge accomplishment for him. It wasn’t like we were at that point where everybody was spinning the ball like crazy. But for a guy who was backhand-dominant and not a Spaniard with just an amazing amount of spin, I was a little surprised that he won the French, although the French played so fast back then.

In spite of that, I don’t think he ever did great on grass, but I wouldn’t have wanted to play him [on grass] because he got his racquet on every return. He figured out how to make you play and usually made you do something special.

You May Also Like: Kafelnikov On Hall Of Fame Induction: ‘Finally My Whole Career Is Completed’

Speaking of Roland Garros, Yevgeny won there in singles and doubles in the same year, which is something that hasn’t been done since. How special was that accomplishment?
I think it’s going to be difficult for it to happen again. We’ve gotten more and more specialised in singles and doubles. But with Yevgeny, I really felt like doubles helped him. Doubles made him a better player — it forced him to volley and get comfortable at net. And not because he was ever going to be Stefan Edberg, but because all the players are challenged to be the best form of themselves. There’s a lot of improvement that needs to occur along the way and competing, in many ways, is the quickest way to improve.

What’s it like to see someone who you played so often get inducted?
With my tongue somewhat in my cheek, in some ways it’s the worst part of my job. I have to participate in the celebration of everybody who put me out of business (laughs).

With so much time passed, I’ve been retired for 15 years, we’re just excited to see each other and I think it’s especially nice for me. Last year, Michael Stich, a couple years ago Andy Roddick, three years ago Marat Safin and this year Yevgeny. It’s nice because I know these guys. Whether we were great friends, good friends, acquaintances or even unfriendly rivals, it doesn’t matter. You know somebody and you know how much they are touched by the honour.

As CEO of the Hall of Fame, it’s like I’m a little bit of both. In fact, I’m much more CEO of the Hall of Fame now than I am a former player. My memory is fading. But for me, knowing these guys, knowing where they come from and seeing a life in tennis rewarded is fun. It’s more fun knowing who they are.

Source link