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Edmund beats Tsonga to reach Washington quarter-finals

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

British number one Kyle Edmund reached the quarter-finals of the Washington Open for the first time with a three-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Edmund, 24, came from behind to beat the Frenchman 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours 23 minutes.

The 13th seed will play Canada’s eighth seed Milos Raonic or Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk in the last eight.

Edmund is aiming to become the first Briton to reach a singles final in Washington since Andy Murray in 2006.

On that occasion, now three-time Grand Slam champion Murray lost to France’s Arnaud Clement, while Tim Henman was the last British winner of the tournament in 2003.

Tsonga, 34, went a break up early in the opening set and managed to hold on to the advantage despite scuppering four further break points.

The second set stayed on serve but while world number 34 Edmund twice held break point in the fourth game, it wasn’t until the eighth that he finally broke Tsonga’s serve before taking the set.

Edmund broke Tsonga again early in the decider before the remainder of the set stayed with the serve, Edmund wrapping up the victory on his first match point.

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Thiem Moves Closer To First Home Title In Kitzbühel

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Thiem Moves Closer To First Home Title In Kitzbühel

#NextGenATP Ruud continues strong 2019 season

Dominic Thiem has accomplished a lot in 2019: winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, reaching his second Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, triumphing in Barcelona for the first time and plenty more. And on Thursday, the World No. 4 moved to within two wins of capturing his maiden ATP Tour trophy at home in Austria.

Thiem defeated Spaniard Pablo Andujar 7-6(4), 6-4 in one hour and 44 minutes to reach the semi-finals of the Generali Open in Kitzbühel. It is the third time the home favourite has made it this far at the ATP 250 tournament in his eighth appearance since it became a tour-level event in 2011.

The key was success on second serves, as Thiem won 61 per cent of his second-serve points, while Andujar only earned 35 per cent of his. The Austrian broke four times in the match, twice in each set.

The top seed now leads Andujar 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and he will next face seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego, who eliminated third seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 35 minutes.

Sonego, at 24, has enjoyed the best season of his career, reaching his first Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and then earning his first ATP Tour crown at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya.

The Italian saved four of the five break points he faced against Verdasco, winning 82 per cent of his first-serve points against the Spaniard. Sonego needed a final-set tie-break in each of his first two matches, but he found some of his best tennis to advance to his second tour-level semi-final. He has never previously played Thiem.

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#NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud continued his pursuit of a trip to the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 5-9 November, beating fourth seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour and 36 minutes.

Ruud has played just one match each on hard court and grass court this season, losing both, but the 20-year-old has shone on clay. The World No. 65 is now 17-7 on the surface in 2019, reaching his first ATP Tour final in Houston on the red dirt.

Ruud will try to make another championship match when he battles Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who moved past Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes. The Spaniard has rounded into form, winning 11 of his past 12 matches, including a title last week at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad.

Ramos-Vinolas has beaten Ruud in their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, which both came on clay. The lefty won all five sets they played.

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Naomi Osaka 'hasn't enjoyed' tennis since Australian Open

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Former world number one Naomi Osaka says she “hasn’t had fun playing tennis” since winning the Australian Open.

Osaka, 21, beat Czech Petra Kvitova in a thrilling final in January to seal back-to-back Grand Slams, topping the world rankings.

But she has been hampered by injuries and struggled with poor form since.

“The last few months have been really rough for me tennis-wise,” Osaka wrote on Instagram.

“Thankfully I am surrounded by people I love and who love me back.

“Whenever things go wrong I blame myself 100%. I have a tendency to shut down because I don’t want to burden anyone with my thoughts or problems, but they taught me to trust them and not take everything on by myself.

“Unexpectedly though the worst months of my life have also had some of the best moments because I’ve met new people and been able to do things that I have never even considered doing before.

“That being said I can honestly reflect and say I probably haven’t had fun playing tennis since Australia and I’m finally coming to terms with that while relearning that fun feeling.”

  • Osaka pulls out of Stuttgart semi-final
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Osaka parted ways with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open, withdrew from the Stuttgart Open and Italian Open through injury, then suffered defeats at the French Open and Wimbledon.

“I have put so much weight on the results of my matches instead of learning from them, which is what I ‘normally’ do,” she wrote.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and feel I grew so much as a person these past years so I’m really excited what the future looks like.

“See you in the US swing.”

Osaka, who lost her world number one ranking in June, aims to defend her US Open title at Flushing Meadows, starting 26 August.

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Down On His Luck, Tsitsipas Turned To Federer

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Down On His Luck, Tsitsipas Turned To Federer

20-year-old was feeling blue after early Wimbledon loss

Stefanos Tsitsipas wanted to be alone. Greece’s #NextGenATP star had lost in the first round of Wimbledon, a five-setter to Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano in which Tsitsipas had three break points early in the fifth set but converted none.

The 20-year-old locked himself in his London room for three days. He spent time on his computer and read books. That’s it.

“I thought about this match a lot,” he said on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. “I was very upset.”

But Tsitsipas didn’t exclusively turn to fantasy fiction or a topic that would let him completely think about something other than tennis. Tsitsipas read the novel The Alchemist and a book on his tennis idol, Roger Federer.

You May Also Like: Tsitsipas Holds Off Home Favourite Paul

I was reading an autobiography [by] another journalist concerning the life of Roger Federer. One really interesting book about him,” Tsitsipas said. “The details in there are pretty accurate.”

Eventually, though, Tsitsipas did step away from the sport, going on a two-week vacation. “I think that was very important to refuel, recharge my batteries coming in here,” he said.

The World No. 6 returned to his winning ways on Stadium Court at the Citi Open, an ATP 500 event, beating home favourite Tommy Paul of the U.S. 6-3, 7-5 to make the third round. Tsitsipas advanced to the semi-finals last year in Washington before falling to eventual champion Alexander Zverev of Germany.

I was a bit nervous in the beginning. Didn’t know what to expect. I’m really happy that I got through that first match. It was quite a challenging match,” Tsitsipas said.

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On Monday, he and Aussie Nick Kyrgios joined forces for the first time, playing doubles against the No. 1 ranked team in the world, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. The reigning Wimbledon champions beat Kyrgios/Tsitsipas, but the extra match time hasn’t hurt either of them. Kyrgios also reached the third round with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win against Gilles Simon.

“I think that released some pressure out of me compared to if I wouldn’t have played doubles,” Tsitsipas said.

The pair plan to play together again at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which begins 11 August. In Washington, Tsitsipas will next meet Aussie Jordan Thompson, who fought past German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7(8), 6-4, 7-5.

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Fognini Fights Back In Los Cabos Opener

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Fognini Fights Back In Los Cabos Opener

Pella and Schwartzman prevail on Wednesday

Fabio Fognini has never successfully defended an ATP Tour title, but he moved closer to doing just that at the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex in Los Cabos. The top seed shook off a slow start on Wednesday to win his opening match over Spaniard Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Fognini dropped the first four games against Granollers before he began to dial in from the baseline. The top seed broke twice in each of the last two sets to advance in two hours and nine minutes. Fognini, who improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Granollers to 4-4, currently sits at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 9.

Awaiting the Italian in the quarter-finals is fifth-seeded American Taylor Fritz, who continued his top form by rallying to defeat Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Fritz finished runner-up last week at the BB&T Atlanta Open (l. to de Minaur) and has won 11 of his past 13 matches. The 21-year-old, who clinched his maiden ATP Tour title this June at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey), is at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 28.

Third seed Diego Schwartzman made his Los Cabos debut a memorable one as he raced through the last nine games of his match with Latvian Ernests Gulbis to reach the quarter-finals 7-5, 6-0. Schwartzman dropped just 10 points in the second set.

You May Also Like: Tsitsipas Holds Off Home Favourite Paul

Next up for him is eighth-seeded Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin, who defeated Cameron Norrie 7-5, 7-5. The Brit served for both sets at 5-4, but Kukushkin fought back to advance in one hour and 35 minutes. The 31-year-old is enjoying a career-best season that includes a runner-up finish in Marseille (l. to Tsitsipas) and advancing to the second week at Wimbledon. Kukushkin and Schwartzman are even in their FedEx ATP Head2Head at 1-1, but haven’t played in two years. 

Second-seed Guido Pella opened his Los Cabos campaign in style by moving past Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2 for his eighth ATP Tour quarter-final of the year. Pella went on a six-game run to lead 5-0 in the second set before closing out the match in 71 minutes. The 29-year-old Argentine won his maiden ATP Tour crown this March in Sao Paulo (d. Garin) and reached a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 21 in May.

Awaiting Pella is South Korean qualifier Soonwoo Kwon, who took out Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 for his first ATP Tour quarter-final. The 21-year-old has primarily competed on the ATP Challenger Tour and picked up two titles this season. Kwon, currently No. 112 in the ATP Rankings, will become the third South Korean to crack the Top 100 if he can reach the semi-finals this week.

Seventh-seeded Moldovan Radu Albot scored seven breaks of serve in dispatching Japanese Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-2. He’ll take on Australian wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis, who continued his love affair with Los Cabos by upsetting fourth-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Injuries have limited Kokkinakis to five events this season, but both of his career ATP Tour quarter-finals have come at this event. The Aussie finished runner-up here in 2017 (l. to Querrey).

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Tsitsipas Holds Off Home Favourite Paul

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Tsitsipas Holds Off Home Favourite Paul

De Minaur upset; Kyrgios advances

Stefanos Tsitsipas had to hit one, two and sometimes three winners to put away Tommy Paul during their second-round match on Wednesday. But Greece’s #NextGenATP star stayed patient and persistent to move past the 22-year-old 6-3, 7-5 at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

The top-seeded Tsitsipas, 20, erased three break points in the fifth game and then promptly broke Paul before taking the opener. Paul, playing at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 128, made the Washington quarter-finals in 2017 and had three match points against Kei Nishikori for a semi-final spot.

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But he couldn’t capitalise on his chances against the World No. 6 Tsitsipas, who made the semi-finals in Washington a year ago (l. to Zverev). Paul broke for 5-3 in the second set but couldn’t serve it and lost the final four games of the match. Tsitsipas will next meet Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff or Aussie Jordan Thompson.

Eighth seed Milos Raonic, the 2014 champion, dropped only two first-serve points (26/28, 93%) in a 6-1, 6-4 victory against American qualifier Tim Smyczek.

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Raonic will face Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk, who ended Alex de Minaur’s four-match winning streak 6-3, 7-6(6). The #NextGenATP Aussie won his second ATP Tour title on Sunday at the BB&T Atlanta Open (d. Fritz).

Nick Kyrgios has yet to drop a set in reaching the third round. The 24-year-old Aussie delivered 24 aces and beat French veteran Gilles Simon 6-4, 7-6(5). Kyrgios will meet the winner between seventh seed David Goffin and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

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Djokovic, Federer, Nadal & Wimbledon Top July's Most-Read Stories

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Djokovic, Federer, Nadal & Wimbledon Top July’s Most-Read Stories recaps a memorable month

Two of the most memorable matches of the 2019 season captured fans in July. Roger Federer prevailed past Rafael Nadal during their 40th FedEx ATP Head2Head matchup to make the Wimbledon final, but Novak Djokovic had the final smile of the fortnight when he saved two match points to beat Federer and win back-to-back Wimbledon crowns.

Below, remembers five of the most popular stories from the month of July.

1. Federer Beats Nadal, Sets Sights On Ninth SW19 Title
From 12 July:
Roger Federer booked a place in his 12th final at The Championships, where he will attempt to lift a record-extending ninth trophy, after a tactical masterclass against his long-time rival Rafael Nadal, a two-time former titlist, on Friday at Wimbledon.

The Swiss superstar played at his aggressive best on return of serve, at the net and in long rallies to beat World No. 2 Nadal 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in their semi-final, which lasted three hours and two minutes, on Centre Court.

Federer seized the momentum in his 40th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against Nadal with a break of serve at 3-1 in the third set and, in spite of an early break in the fourth set, kept 18-time Grand Slam championship winner Nadal at bay before converting his fifth match point chance. It was their first grass-court clash since their legendary 2008 Wimbledon final, which Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth set.

“It’s always very, very cool to play against Rafa here, especially [as we] haven’t played [here] in so long,” said Federer. “It lived up to the hype, especially from coming out of the gates, we were both playing very well. Then, the climax at the end, with the crazy last game, some tough rallies there. It had everything at the end, which was great, I guess. I’m just relieved it’s all over at this point.”

2. Djokovic Beats Federer: How The Final Was Won
From 14 July: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic captured his fifth crown at The Championships, Wimbledon, on Sunday with a thrilling 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) victory over second seed Roger Federer, the eight-time former titlist from Switzerland, in four hours and 55 minutes on Centre Court. Federer had two championship points at 8-7, 40/15 on serve, in the fifth set that lasted two hours and two minutes.

It was the third major championship match that Djokovic saved two match points to beat Federer (also 2010 US Open semi-finals and 2011 US Open semi-finals). It was the first time since the 1948 Wimbledon final — American Robert Falkenburg beat John Bromwich of Australia 7-5, 0-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, after being three match points down — that a player had been championship points down and won.

3. Berrettini Asks Federer How Much He Owes For Tennis Lesson
From 8 July: World No. 20 Matteo Berrettini is getting his wallet out.

After Roger Federer punched a forehand volley into the open court to complete his straight-sets victory, the Swiss congratulated the Italian on a strong grass-court season, leading Berrettini to come back with a witty response.

“I said, ‘Thanks for the tennis lesson, how much do I owe you?’”

Federer lost only 11 service points in the match, cruising to victory after 74 minutes on the back of 24 winners. The 37-year-old made just five unforced errors in the match.

I think for sure I didn’t play my best match, but he was just too good for me today. He was playing good and I was kind of tight, also,” Berrettini said. “Before the match I was ready for that stuff, and also when he started to play like this, for me, it was really tough to do anything.”

4. Nadal Gains Revenge Against Kyrgios At Wimbledon
From 4 July:
Nick Kyrgios brought underhand aces, tweeners and blistering exchanges. But Rafael Nadal absorbed them all to earn another Grand Slam milestone on Thursday at Wimbledon.

Two-time champion Nadal held off an in-form Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) on Centre Court to reach the Wimbledon third round and become only the ninth player in the Open Era to earn 50 wins at SW19 (50-11).

“Been a tough match obviously against a very tough opponent… Very happy the way that I hold the pressure. Very happy the way I played the tie-breaks with the right determination,” Nadal said

5. Djokovic Matches Federer On Big Titles Leaderboard
From 15 July: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for his fifth Wimbledon title on Sunday, and now the Serbian is dangerously close to also surpassing Federer on the all-time “Big Titles” leaderboard.

Djokovic saved two match points to beat the eight-time champion in an epic final, 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3), the first fifth-set tie-break in Wimbledon singles history.

The 32-year-old won his 16th Grand Slam crown and 54th Big Title, a combination of Grand Slam, Nitto ATP Finals and ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Federer, the all-time Grand Slam championships leader with 20, still has four more major victories than Djokovic, and the Swiss has celebrated one more Nitto ATP Finals title (six) than the Serbian (five). But Djokovic has won five more Masters 1000 titles (33-28), creating the tie atop the Big Titles leaderboard.

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Andy Murray & Jamie Murray win at Washington Open

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2019

Andy Murray and Jamie Murray returned to court together for the first time since 2016 with a gutsy three-set win over experienced French pair Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The Scottish brothers missed three match points before sealing a 6-4 6-7 (7-9) 10-5 win at the Washington Open.

They trailed 5-2 in the decider – a first-to-10 champions tie-break – but won eight straight points for victory.

Andy Murray, 32, is playing his fourth event since hip surgery in January.

The former world number one feared his career might be over before having the hip resurfacing operation, but returned to the doubles court five months later when he won the Queen’s title alongside Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

The three-time Grand Slam champion says he could make a singles return at the Cincinnati Masters later this month and looked in the best shape he has been since resuming his career as he won alongside his older brother Jamie.

  • Playing with Andy is going to be fun – Jamie Murray column

Murray’s demeanour on his return to the American capital was markedly different to 12 months ago when, struggling to cope with the pain in his hip, he broke down in tears at the end of his third-round singles win against Marius Copil at about 3am local time.

Now he is pain free – looking happy on court and as fiercely competitive as ever – as he continues towards his ultimate goal of returning to singles action.

“I’m in a much better place than last year – physically I feel better, I’m not restricted in hitting shots, I’m still a bit slow but hopefully that will improve,” he said.

“To come back here and be pain free is brilliant.”

The Murray brothers, who won doubles titles together in Valencia in 2010 and Tokyo in 2011, complemented each other well as they impressed with their quick reactions around the net and solid serving.

A tight first set swung the way of the Britons when a brilliant cross-court backhand from Andy Murray brought up three sets points as Jamie Murray – who won this tournament with Brazilian Bruno Soares last year – converted the first by threading a winner between the Frenchmen.

Another finely-balanced set stayed on serve – with Andy Murray particularly dominant – to take the second into a tie-break where Mahut and Roger-Vasselin dug deep to fight off three match points.

The momentum initially stayed with the Frenchmen as they moved ahead in the decider before the Murrays battled back to clinch an entertaining match to reach the last eight.

“The level of tennis was really good. Doubles matches are tough because they can turn on a few points,” said Andy Murray. “But we felt we were in control for most of the match and I think we deserved it.”

Jamie Murray added: “It was a lot of fun. To play tennis together again was really special and we’re glad to get another match.”

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