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Barrientos' Diving Hot Shot Gives Colombian First Win Since 2016

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

Barrientos’ Diving Hot Shot Gives Colombian First Win Since 2016

Colombian produces moment of magic in Segovia

Careful, Nico! The elbow!

Over the past three years, Nicolas Barrientos has battled to return to the court after undergoing elbow surgery. The 32-year-old was forced to stop playing in 2016 due to a complete muscle tear in his elbow. But now he’s back and targeting a successful comeback.

Maybe diving on a hard court isn’t the best idea. On Monday, Barrientos scored his first match win on the singles court since 2016, defeating Dan Added 6-4, 7-5 at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Segovia. While serving for the match at 6-4, 6-5, the Colombian scrambled to deny Added’s passing shot, leaving his feet to complete the perfect dive volley. He crashed to the court as the ball cleared the net and landed on his opponent’s side.

“Diving is something that I’ve always done since I’m little,” Barrientos told “It’s always inside my head. Really I don’t think about it. When I see the ball coming, it’s just an instinct. I don’t want to let the ball go. I was taught by my coach, who took me to a sand pit and hit the ball against the wall and made me dive on the sand. I loved it.”

Barrientos, who ascended to a career-high No. 71 in doubles and reached an ATP Tour final in Bogota in 2014, with countryman Juan Sebastian Cabal, owns four Challenger titles. He continues to be inspired by Cabal and Robert Farah, who became the first Colombians to triumph at Wimbledon earlier this month.

“It’s amazing to see guys like Cabal and Farah doing so well. I actually did my offseason with Cabal in December. And today I was especially inspired by Egan Bernal, who won the Tour de France yesterday. I know it was a first round and just another match, but for me it’s something I needed to overcome. Winning that first match was going to be really hard and I got some strength from thinking about them. It inspired me a lot.”

Barrientos says he had six doctors review his case and that surgery was the best course of action. He continued to experience pain upon returning last year and, not wanting to push it, stopped to work with some juniors in his home country.

“I came back again this year and only played doubles from the start. Then I wanted to play more singles and while my serving ability was limited, because the more serves I hit the more inflammation I had, the ATP physio told me that I just needed to build up my tolerance. I took some time doing this, going from only being able to hit 10 serves to hitting 100 in a row. Now I am completely pain-free.”

Barrientos, who is using a protected ranking this week at the Open Castilla y Leon, will next face fifth seed Nicola Kuhn on Tuesday night.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Thiem: If I Drop My Level, Every Player Can Beat Me

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

Thiem: If I Drop My Level, Every Player Can Beat Me

Top seed trying to become first Austrian Kitzbuhel winner since 1993

World No. 4 Dominic Thiem is seeking home glory at tour-level for the first time this week at the Generali Open. Although he knows that his ATP Ranking makes him the top seed and, therefore, the favourite, the Austrian is taking nothing for granted.

“I will try everything to win the title, of course. I also know if I play my 100 per cent that my chances are pretty high,” Thiem said. “But at the same time, every single player in the main draw is that good that if I drop some per cent, they will all beat me. So it depends if I can play my top tennis and I will do everything to do so.”

There’s even more pressure on Thiem this week since he is playing in front of his home fans for the first time this season. The top seed has lost his opening match in Kitzbühel in each of his past two appearances (2016 & 2018), but he hopes to turn that around this year as he pursues his maiden title at the ATP 250 tournament.

“[It’s] very special. It doesn’t happen that often [that I play at home]. Only two home events unfortunately all year, but that makes it very special,” said Thiem, who made the 2014 Kitzbühel final. “I have so many nice memories from here, also some tough memories from which I learned, hopefully. It’s already my ninth time playing here. Such a long time ago I played here the first time… I can’t wait to start again.”

In the second round, Thiem — who has a first-round bye — will play a countryman in wild card Sebastian Ofner or qualifier Lucas Miedler, guaranteeing that a home favourite will advance to the quarter-finals. An Austrian has not lifted the singles trophy in Kitzbühel since Thomas Muster in 1993.

“It’s very important. I’m playing an Austrian for sure in the second round, which is very good for Austrian tennis,” Thiem said. “I think for all the region here and for Austrian tennis, the tournament is super-important.”

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It has been a strong season for Thiem, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open before reaching his second consecutive Roland Garros final in Paris. The 25-year-old also won an ATP 500 title in Barcelona.

“I think it’s my best season so far, especially Indian Wells and Roland Garros were amazing,” Thiem said. “But that’s the past, and I’m fully ready for the second part of the season and I hope to get off to a great start here.”

The grass-court season was a short one for Thiem, whose lone match on the surface this year came in an opening-round loss against Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. But after getting his feet dirty on the Hamburg clay last week, advancing to the quarter-finals, the nine-time clay-court ATP Tour champion is ready to begin another surge this week in Austria.

“I’m physically very fresh, mentally very ready. I didn’t have so many matches in the past six or seven weeks,” Thiem said. “I’m really fresh and ready for everything that’s coming.”

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Sonego Wins Three-Hour, 36-Minute Marathon In Kitzbuhel

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

Sonego Wins Three-Hour, 36-Minute Marathon In Kitzbuhel

Seventh seed saves 12 of the 16 break points he faces

Earlier this year, Lorenzo Sonego defeated Federico Delbonis in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at the Brasil Open, triumphing in straight sets after one hour and 24 minutes. On Monday, the Italian needed more than two and a half times that long to oust the Argentine.

Sonego defeated Delbonis 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(4) in a three-hour, 36-minute marathon to reach the second round of the Generali Open, an ATP 250 tournament held in Kitzbühel, Austria. The seventh seed won seven fewer points than Delbonis in their battle, but emerged victorious in large part due to saving all eight break points he faced in the deciding set.

The World No. 56, who claimed his maiden ATP Tour title last month on the grass of Antalya, was No. 116 in the ATP Rankings at this point last year. But he has climbed as high as No. 46 in 2019, reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

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Sonego will play Roberto Carballes Baena for a spot in the last eight. The Spaniard rallied past Bolivian Hugo Dellien 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 49 minutes. Carballes Baena defeated Sonego in Buenos Aires in straight sets earlier this year.

Qualifier Matthias Bachinger outlasted Slovakian Martin Klizan 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-6(4) after two hours and 58 minutes. The German had not won a tour-level main draw match since February, when he made the quarter-finals of the Open 13 Provence (l. to Humbert). Bachinger will next face eighth seed Pablo Carreno Busta or Casper Ruud.

In other action, Dennis Novak advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against fellow wild card Jurij Rodionov. He will next try to upset fourth seed Pablo Cuevas.

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Atlanta Open: Dom Inglot & Austin Krajicek beat Bryan brothers to win doubles

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

Britain’s Dom Inglot and his American partner Austin Krajicek have won their second ATP Tour doubles title of the year by securing the Atlanta Open.

The second seeds saved two championship points to beat two-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 11-9.

It was the first match the top-seeded Bryan brothers, who have won 118 Tour titles, had lost in Atlanta.

Australia’s Alex de Minaur beat American Taylor Fritz 6-3 7-6 (7-2) to win the men’s singles title.

Fritz had beaten British number two Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals.

“Things were looking good for us in the [second set] tie-break, but they came up with the goods when they needed to. That’s why they’re the best [team] that’s ever been,” said Inglot of his American opponents.

“It was back and forth in the match tie-break, but Austin played two unbelievable points to get us the tournament.”

Inglot and Krajicek won their first doubles crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in June, with the former securing his 13th ATP Tour doubles title.

  • Jamie Murray column: Playing with brother Andy, preparing for the hard court season and enjoying sunny Scotland

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30 Things To Watch In Washington, Kitzbuhel & Los Cabos

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

30 Things To Watch In Washington, Kitzbuhel & Los Cabos

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour

For the second straight week, ATP 500 action headlines another busy week on the ATP Tour. Top 10 stars Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev all feature at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., World No. 4 Dominic Thiem looks to finish his 2019 clay-court campaign with success at the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel and defending champion Fabio Fognini leads the way at the Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex in Los Cabos.

Two-time Citi Open semi-finalist Marin Cilic is already enjoying his time in the American capital, after joining a group of players on a sightseeing bus tour of the city. The former World No. 3 returns to the ATP 500 event, where he owns a 6-3 record, for the first time since 2015.

“It is always nice to get a little bit of free time to go and see what we can,” said Cilic. “This bus tour, organised by the tournament, is the best place to see something that maybe I haven’t seen in the past over here and in a different kind of way. [I am] enjoying the Washington Monument and everything that we have seen so far.”

10 Things To Watch In Washington, D.C.

1) Citi Life: The U.S. hard court series moves to Washington, D.C. for the Citi Open. Three of the newest members of the ATP Rankings Top 10 — 20-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and 23-year-old Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev — are the top three seeds at the ATP 500 event. They are joined by former champion Milos Raonic and 2018 finalist Alex de Minaur.

2) Greece Lightning: Top seed Tsitsipas was ranked No. 32 coming into the Citi Open last year, where the Greek began an impressive run of form. The Greek raced to the semi-finals in D.C. before falling to eventual champion Alexander Zverev and then defeated four Top 10 players en route to the Rogers Cup final. That two-week span propelled him into the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings.

3) Rising Russian: Khachanov made his Top 10 debut on 10 June after reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros. He became the first Russian in the Top 10 since Mikhail Youzhny in 2011. Khachanov seeks his first Citi Open win; he lost to Denis Kudla in his 2018 opener.

4) Present Tens: Medvedev joined his compatriot Khachanov in the Top 10 after Wimbledon, marking the first time two Russians were ranked in the Top 10 simultaneously since Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko in October 2010. Medvedev reached the Citi Open quarter-finals in 2017.

5) Former Champ: No. 8 seed Raonic is the only prior Citi Open champion in the draw this year. The former World No. 3 from Canada defeated his countryman Vasek Pospisil in the 2014 final for what is, to date, his sole title at ATP 500-level or higher. He has an 8-2 win-loss record in D.C.

6) Felix Flying: Another Canadian in the field is No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, the only player aged 18 or under currently in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings. The #NextGenATP star has reached his first three ATP Tour singles finals this season, rocketing from outside the Top 100 at the start of the year to a career-high of No. 21 on 10 June. Auger-Aliassime celebrates his 19th birthday on 8 August.

Read Washington, D.C.: All You Need To Know

7) One More Step: American No. 1 John Isner is two weeks removed from winning his first title of the year at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Isner had a career breakthrough in Washington in 2007, where earned five straight wins in final-set tiebreaks to reach his first tour-level singles final as a 416th-ranked wild card. He also reached the final in 2013 and 2015, but still seeks his first D.C. trophy.

8) Hard Court Hits: No. 4 seed Kevin Anderson had his own breakthrough at the 2017 Citi Open, making the final after a series of injuries had hindered him in the previous year. From there, the South African spurred himself on to an impressive 2017 hard court season, culminating in a first Grand Slam final at the 2017 US Open. He reached his second Grand Slam final last year at Wimbledon.

9) Hometown Heroes: No. 16 seed Frances Tiafoe, from Hyattsville, Md., and Denis Kudla, of Arlington, Va., are back at the Citi Open. Kudla was 0-4 in main-draw matches at the event before racing to the quarter-finals last year. Tiafoe got his first D.C. wins in 2018 to make the third round.

10) Double Up: Andy Murray will pair with his brother Jamie Murray as part of a stellar doubles field in D.C. Four-time Citi Open champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan and Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies are in the mix, while Wimbledon champions and World No. 1’s Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah face Nick Kyrgios and Tsitsipas in a blockbuster first round.

Read Doubles Draw Preview

10 Things To Watch In Kitzbuhel

1) Clay Finale: Kitzbuhel, Austria hosts the last ATP Tour clay tournament of the season this week, with a draw boasting World No. 4 Dominic Thiem along with three former Top 10 players: Fernando Verdasco, Richard Gasquet, and Pablo Carreno Busta.

2) Former Champs Return: Three previous Kitzbuhel titlists return in 2019 — defending champion Martin Klizan, two-time winner Philipp Kohlschreiber (2015, ‘17) and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (2009) — aiming to reclaim the trophy. World No. 158 Garcia-Lopez enters as a qualifier this year.

3) The 200 Club: Albert Ramos-Vinolas enters Kitzbuhel on a hot streak, having won his second ATP Tour title on the clay courts in Gstaad on Sunday. The victory also marked his 200th career tour-level win.

4) Success Continues for Thiem: World No. 4 Dominic Thiem enters Kitzbuhel with two titles this year (Indian Wells, Barcelona) and a second appearance in the Roland Garros final to his name. His season has included wins against No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, and No. 3 Roger Federer.

5) Veterans and Rookies: Sixteen years separate the youngest and oldest members of the draw, 20-year-old Jurij Rodionov of Austria and 36-year-old Garcia-Lopez.

6) Keeping it in the Family: Dominic Thiem’s 19-year-old brother Moritz Thiem enters the Kitzbuhel doubles draw with 39-year-old Nicolas Massu of Chile as a wild card pairing. Massu, the former World No. 9 and two-time Olympic gold medalist, began working as Dominic’s coach earlier this year.

7) Banner Summer: Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille arrive in Kitzbuhel after winning their second tour-level doubles trophy as a team in as many weeks. The Belgians won titles in Båstad (d. Delbonis/Zeballos) and Gstaad (d. Oswald/Polasek).

Read Kitzbuhel: All You Need To Know

8) Splitting Forces: Defending doubles champions Roman Jebavy and Andres Molteni are back in the Kitzbuhel draw, but this time on different ends of the draw. Jebavy teams up with 2016 champion Matwe Middelkoop as the No. 3 seeds, while Molteni partners countryman Leonardo Mayer.

9) Doubles Champs: 2017 Kitzbuhel doubles champions Pablo Cuevas and Guillermo Duran join forces for their third ATP Tour event together. Cuevas owns nine doubles titles, with his last coming at 2017 Vienna (w/Bopanna).

10) Home Court Advantage: Five Austrians — Thiem, Rodionov, Dennis Novak, Lucas Miedler and Sebastian Ofner — feature in the singles main draw. The all-Austrian duo of Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer, who lifted the Hamburg European Open trophy last week, lead the pack as the top doubles seeds.

10 Things To Watch In Los Cabos

1) Take Four: The fourth edition of the Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex will take place in Los Cabos this week, with top seed Fabio Fognini back to try to defend his title. Guido Pella, Diego Schwartzman, and Lucas Pouille, each of whom are making their tournament debuts, round out the top four seeds, while former finalist Thanasi Kokkinakis is also in the mix.

2) Fog Rolling In: Fognini made his debut at the event last year, and after dropping the first set of his opening match, raced through his next eight sets with ease to capture the title, including a 6-4 6-2 win against then-World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro in the final. Fognini returns to Los Cabos as a Top 10 player and ATP Masters 1000 champion, having won the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title.

3) Great Guido: Pella accepted a wild card into the tournament, and will contest his first event since his breakthrough run to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon. Pella’s performance in London continued a season of milestones, which has included his first ATP Tour singles title at the Brasil Open in his fifth career final, and a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 21 on 13 May.

4) Diego For It: Schwartzman seeks his first singles title since winning in Rio de Janeiro in February 2018. The Argentine has come close in doubles twice this year, reaching finals alongside Thiem in Madrid and Buenos Aires. Schwartzman and Pella are seeded No. 2 in the doubles draw.

5) French Twist: Pouille came into the 2019 Australian Open with an 0-5 record at that event, but won five straight matches in Melbourne to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. The Frenchman lost five tour-level matches in a row following that tournament, but recovered form on the grass, reaching the Stuttgart quarter-finals and the third round of Wimbledon.

6) Wild One: Kokkinakis has received a wild card at Los Cabos for the third straight edition. The Australian made his sole ATP Tour singles final to date here in 2017 while ranked No. 454 in the ATP Rankings, but he lost in the first round last year to Taylor Fritz, an opponent he defeated during his 2017 run.

Read Los Cabos: All You Need To Know

7) Fritz Flying: No. 5 seed Fritz reached the Los Cabos quarter-finals in 2017 and returns this year on a hot streak. The 21-year-old American won his first ATP Tour singles title in Eastbourne in June, made another final in Atlanta last week and hit a new career-high ATP Ranking of No. 28 on Monday.

8) Tip Top: Janko Tipsarevic, who reached a career-high World No. 8 in the ATP Rankings in 2012, makes his Los Cabos debut. The Serb missed all of 2018, but returned from hamstring surgeries in January, won his first tour-level match since the 2017 US Open in Miami and made his first ATP Tour quarter-final since 2016 in Houston.

9) Qualies Quarter: Soonwoo Kwon has qualified for his second ATP Tour main draw in the past two weeks. The 21-year-old made the second round in Atlanta last week and now has a new career-high ATP Ranking of No. 112. He is joined in the main draw by fellow qualifiers Dominik Koepfer, Maxime Janvier and Jason Jung.

10) Doubles Duty: Mexico’s Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela paired with Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador to capture a first ATP Tour doubles title in Los Cabos last year. They are back to try to defend their title, but will face stiff competition from the field, including top seeds Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek, who have already won two titles in 2019.

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De Minaur Climbs ATP Rankings, Mover Of The Week

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

De Minaur Climbs ATP Rankings, Mover Of The Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 29 July 2019

No. 25 Alex de Minaur, +9
The 20-year-old lifted his second ATP Tour title at the BB&T Atlanta Open, becoming the youngest winner in tournament history. De Minaur dropped just seven first-serve points throughout the week (116/123) and did not face a break point during victories against Bradley Klahn, Bernard Tomic, Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz. De Minaur rises nine places to No. 25 in the ATP Rankings, one spot below his career-high position achieved on 4 March. Read More.

You May Also Like: De Minaur On Return To Form: ‘It’s Just A Matter Of Time’

No. 49 Andrey Rublev, +29
The Russian reached his first ATP 500 championship match at the Hamburg European Open. Rublev overcame two-time ATP Tour titlist Cristian Garin, Casper Ruud, top seed Dominic Thiem and Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the championship match in northern Germany. Despite falling to defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final, Rublev soars 29 places to No. 49 in the ATP Rankings. It is the first time Rublev has occupied a Top 50 position since 9 September last year.

No. 69 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, +16
Ramos-Vinolas claimed his second ATP Tour trophy at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad. The Spaniard did not drop a set en route to the trophy, beating Henri Laaksonen, second seed Fernando Verdasco, Roberto Carballes Baena, Pablo Andujar and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Ramos-Vinolas jumps 16 positions to No. 69 in the ATP Rankings. Read More.

Other Notable Movers
No. 43 (Career High) Reilly Opelka, +14
No. 47 Pablo Carreno Busta, +12
No. 48 Filip Krajinovic, +10
No. 55 Nicolas Jarry, -17
No. 81 Leonardo Mayer, -30
No. 96 Bernard Tomic, +10

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Inglot/Krajicek Save 2 M.P. To Beat Bryans For Atlanta Title

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

Inglot/Krajicek Save 2 M.P. To Beat Bryans For Atlanta Title

Second seeds prevail on Sunday

Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek took their second ATP Tour doubles title of 2019 in dramatic fashion on Sunday at the BB&T Atlanta Open. The second seeds saved two championship points to oust top seeds and two-time champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-7(5), 11-9.

“Things were looking good for us in the [second set] tie-break, but they came up with the goods when they needed to. That’s why they’re the best [team] that’s ever been,” said Inglot. “It was back and forth in the Match Tie-break, but Austin played two unbelievable points to get us the tournament.”

Inglot/Krajicek saved three set points at 5-6 in the second set and led 5/2 in the tie-break, but the Bryan brothers raced through five consecutive points to force a Match Tie-break. The top seeds held two championship points at 9/7, but Inglot/Krajicek won the last four points to prevail in one hour and 31 minutes. The match marked the first loss in Atlanta for the Bryan brothers (11-1).

You May Also Like: Melzer/Marach Capture Maiden Team Trophy In Hamburg

The British-American duo won their first ATP Tour doubles title together last month in ’s-Hertogenbosch (d. Daniel/Koolhof). Inglot now has 13 ATP Tour doubles titles and Krajicek has three.

“We definitely gritted out some matches early this week,” said Krajicek. “There’s been a lot of reps on the practice court, but we’re playing well and it’s something we can build on.”

Bryan/Bryan were seeking their 119th ATP Tour doubles title as a team. They prevailed earlier this season in Delray Beach (d. Skupski/Skupski) and Miami (d. Koolhof/Tsitsipas).

Inglot/Krajicek earned 250 ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $39,300. Bryan/Bryan picked up 150 ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $20,140.

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Ymer Closes In On Top 100 With Tampere Crown

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

Ymer Closes In On Top 100 With Tampere Crown

Revisit the week that was on the ATP Challenger Tour as we applaud the achievements of those on the rise and look ahead to the week to come

Tampere Open (Tampere, Finland): One year ago, Mikael Ymer was outside the Top 300, clawing his way up the ATP Rankings in his return from hip surgery. What a difference a year makes.

On Sunday, Ymer clinched his second ATP Challenger Tour crown with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over defending champion Tallon Griekspoor in Tampere. The 20-year-old Swede is now on the doorstep of making his Top 100 breakthrough, rising to a career-high No. 108 in the ATP Rankings. Also sitting in 10th in the ATP Race To Milan, he has his sights firmly set on the Next Gen ATP Finals as the calendar flips to August.

Finally healthy, Ymer is plotting his ascent with authority. Under the tutelage of doubles star Frederik Nielsen, he has won two titles from four finals in 2019. Also the champion at the season-opening hard-court event in Noumea, he would finish runner-up on the clay of Murcia and Bordeaux as well.

The Swede, seeded third, was made to work to lift the trophy in Tampere. He became the first player since 2015 to win five deciding-set matches in a single tournament, spending a combined 11 hours and 38 minutes on court. That year, Nikoloz Basilashvili went the distance in all of his matches en route to the title in Scheveningen.

“The final was my best match of the tournament,” said Ymer. “My serve was good and I was in control of my game. Tallon is a good friend and I know his game well. He is a tough opponent. I also know I had a lot of fans in Tampere and I thank them for their support. It was like I was in Sweden and I felt at home.”

#NextGenATP Winners In 2019

Player Age Title
Jannik Sinner 17 years, 6 months Bergamo, ITA
Corentin Moutet 19 years, 9 months Chennai, IND
J.J. Wolf 20 years Columbus, USA
Corentin Moutet 20 years, 1 month Lyon, FRA
Emil Ruusuvuori 20 years, 2 months Fergana, UZB
Mikael Ymer 20 years, 3 months Noumea, NC
Ugo Humbert 20 years, 7 months Cherbourg, FRA
Jay Clarke 20 years, 8 months Anning, CHN
Mikael Ymer 20 years, 10 months Tampere, FIN

Challenger Banque Nationale de Granby (Granby, Canada): Much like Ymer, it has been a long journey in recent years for Ernesto Escobedo. The American has also battled injuries as he fought to sustain momentum and confidence on the court. But now, Escobedo is making moves once again.

The 23-year-old clinched his first ATP Challenger Tour title since 2016, fighting to the finish line in Granby. He defeated third seed Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6(5), 6-4 on Sunday, needing one hour and 32 minutes to triumph under the Canadian sun.

Escobedo, a native of Los Angeles, initially broke through with a pair of Challenger titles in Lexington and Monterrey three years ago, cracking the Top 100 at No. 67. Three years later, with new coach Jan-Michael Gambill at the helm, he is thriving with a renewed mentality and approach on the court.

Projected to rise 74 spots in the ATP Rankings, Escobedo is up to No. 214 on Monday.

Photo: Sarah-Jade Champagne – Tennis Canada

Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger (Binghamton, New York, USA): Yuichi Sugita was the last man standing in Binghamton, notching his 10th Challenger crown on Sunday. The 30-year-old defeated Joao Menezes 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-2 to take the title in upstate New York.

It had been more than two years since Sugita last reached a final, having prevailed on the grass of the [ATP Tour] Antalya Open in 2017. He would rise to a career-high No. 36 in the ATP Rankings. But, having fallen outside the Top 200 earlier this year, the Japanese is targeting another ascent.

Sugita joins an illustrious list of champions in Binghamton that includes Kyle Edmund (2015), Kei Nishikori (2010), Andy Murray (2005), Ivo Karlovic (2003) and Leander Paes (1994).

Advantage Cars Prague Open (Prague, Czech Republic): Mario Vilella Martinez became the 23rd first-time winner of 2019, securing his maiden Challenger crown on the clay of Prague. The 24-year-old defeated Chun-hsin Tseng 6-4, 6-2 for the title on Sunday, completing a ruthless run that saw him refuse to drop a set in six matches.

Vilella Martinez gave Spain a tour-leading 10th title of the year, adding to triumphs by Pablo Andujar (3), Roberto Carballes Baena (2), Tommy Robredo (2), Marcel Granollers and Enrique Lopez Perez.

Moreover, the week was noteworthy for Tseng’s first final appearance. The 17-year-old, a former junior No. 1, is the second-youngest player (Sinner) to reach a Challenger championship this year. He turned around his season in one week, having previously won just four Challenger-level matches.

Vilella Martinez

Fourth seed Ze Zhang returns to defend his title in Chengdu, while Hyeon Chung makes his long-awaited return to action following a back injury. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion is competing for the first time since February.

In Sopot, the second edition of the BNP Paribas Sopot Open features Paolo Lorenzi seeking a successful title defence, while Mikael Ymer looks to go back-to-back after lifting the trophy in Tampere. Stefano Travaglia is the top seed.

In Segovia, the 29th edition of the Open Castilla y Leon includes Tampere finalist Tallon Griekspoor as its second seed and Blaz Rola leading the charge. #NextGenATP star Nicola Kuhn is the top Spaniard in the field.

The U.S. swing continues in Lexington, with Peter Polansky seeded first. Teen sensation Jannik Sinner is third, with J.J. Wolf leading the American charge.

Finally, in Liberec, Czech Republic, defending champ Andrej Martin seeks a fourth title of the year, while Attila Balazs looks to add to his strong run of form after reaching his first ATP Tour final in Umag.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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#NextGenATP De Minaur Flawless On Serve To Clinch Atlanta Title

  • Posted: Jul 29, 2019

#NextGenATP De Minaur Flawless On Serve To Clinch Atlanta Title

Aussie defeats Fritz on Sunday

Third seed Alex de Minaur saved his best for last on Sunday at the BB&T Atlanta Open. The #NextGenATP Aussie dropped just 10 points on serve to defeat second-seeded American Taylor Fritz 6-3, 7-6(2) and clinch his second ATP Tour title.

The 20-year-old lost a mere seven first-serve points throughout the week (116/123) to become the youngest winner in tournament history. He didn’t face a break point in his four matches and held in all 42 service games. De Minaur is only the third player (since stats started being kept in 1991) to win a tournament without facing a break point (Haas 2007 Memphis, Isner 2017 Newport).

“This one is really special to me. I felt like I really needed this. To start the year with a bang and then be slowed down by injuries… you expect your level to be right there once you come back, but you have to slowly grind your way back,” said De Minaur. “I’ve been playing great tennis and felt like if I could keep it all together, the good results will come. This is a week that will really help me out.”

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The Aussie’s year got off to a flying start with his first ATP Tour crown at the Sydney International (d. Seppi), but a groin injury contributed to a string of early exits on clay and grass. But De Minaur is 15-4 on hard courts this season and has looked confident since he stepped back on his best surface.

His outstanding week will also propel him from No. 6 to No. 3 in the latest ATP Race to Milan standings. De Minaur looks poised to make his second appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals, held in Milan from 5-9 November. He finished runner-up at last year’s event (l. to Tsitsipas). 

“I don’t think I could start the American hard-court season any better than this,” said De Minaur. “I’m happy with where I am and enjoying every day. I can’t wait to get back on court and keep improving.”

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De Minaur was nearly perfect in his service games throughout the opening set against Fritz and dropped only one point on serve (16/17). The flawless display put the second seed under pressure and his baseline game began to unravel. De Minaur clinched the first break of the match at 3-3 and broke once more for the early advantage.

Both players traded comfortable service holds throughout the second set to force a tie-break. Fritz blinked first and a pair of unforced errors gave De Minaur a commanding 5/2 advantage. The third seed converted his first championship point with a backhand volley winner and let out a yell of delight after 78 minutes.

Despite the loss, Fritz can be pleased with his recent from. He earned his first ATP Tour title last month at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey) and has won nine of his past 11 matches. The American is also projected to surpass his career-high ATP Ranking and move to No. 28 on Monday.

“It was a good week. It’s my first time being one of the top seeds [at an ATP Tour tournament] and I made it to the final. He played really well and I just needed to up it even more if I wanted to win,” said Fritz. “It hurts so much to lose a final, but I’m still confident and will keep moving forward.”

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