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Thiem Triumphs On Home Soil In Kitzbühel

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Thiem Triumphs On Home Soil In Kitzbühel

Austrian captures third title of the year

Five years after reaching his maiden ATP Tour final at the Generali Open, Dominic Thiem defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(0), 6-1 to lift his first title on home soil at the ATP 250 event.

The World No. 4, who fell in three sets to David Goffin in the 2014 championship match, saved all six break points he faced to overcome the Gstaad champion after one hour and 38 minutes. Thiem is only the second Austrian player to lift the title in Kitzbühel, following in the footsteps of former World No. 1 and 1993 champion Thomas Muster.

Thiem also joins his coach, Nicolas Massu, as a champion at the clay-court tournament. Massu beat Gaston Gaudio of Argentina to lift the trophy in 2004.

The 25-year-old, who improves to 28-11 this season, has claimed three titles from four tour-level championship matches in 2019. Thiem lifted his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer) and also triumphed at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Medvedev), before falling to Rafael Nadal in his second straight final at Roland Garros in June.

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In a marathon first set, which featured an extended rain delay at 4-5, Thiem was forced to save five break points en route to a tie-break. From there, the World No. 4 raised his level to extract crucial errors from his opponent and earn a 6/0 lead. Thiem wrapped up the set after 68 minutes by firing a forehand winner down the line.

The 14-time tour-level titlist rode the momentum into the second set, dropping just two of the opening 14 points to establish a 3-0 lead. Thiem returned with height and depth from behind the baseline to neutralise rallies, before stepping in to dictate play as Ramos-Vinolas committed forehand errors.

A second break followed for Thiem and the Austrian captured the title on his first championship point to the delight of the home crowd. The top seed collapsed to the clay as Ramos-Vinolas fired a forehand return beyond the baseline.

Ramos-Vinolas was aiming to win his second title in as many weeks on the ATP Tour. Last week, the Spaniard did not drop a set en route to his second tour-level crown at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad.

Thiem receives 250 ATP Ranking points and collects €90,390 in prize money. Ramos-Vinolas gains 150 ATP Ranking points and earns €48,870.

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Oswald/Polasek Turn The Tables To Lift Kitzbühel Trophy

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Oswald/Polasek Turn The Tables To Lift Kitzbühel Trophy

Second seeds deny Gille/Vliegen third title in as many weeks

Just six days after falling to Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad final, Philipp Oswald and Filip Polasek defeated the Belgian duo 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to claim their maiden ATP Tour team title at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel.

The second seeds, playing in just their second tour-level event as a team, were dominant on serve throughout the 69-minute championship match to take the trophy. Oswald and Polasek dropped just four points on serve (40/44) and did not face a break point to end Gille and Vliegen’s 11-match winning streak.

“This is a really special moment in my career,” said Oswald. “I played a junior tournament here in Kitzbuhel 20 years ago and I have always been dreaming about this moment. Today, it finally came true. The crowd was unbelievable and the atmosphere was unbelievable. It is one of the greatest matches I have ever played.”

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Oswald now owns 10 tour-level doubles trophies, adding to his most recent title at last month’s Plava Laguna Crotia Open Umag (w/Haase). The 33-year-old is the first Austrian to lift the doubles title in Kitzbühel since Julian Knowle in 2012 (w/Cermak).

”[Gille and Vliegen] played a really clean final last week in Gstaad,” said Oswald. “They were much better than us. We made some adjustments today and also the conditions were a bit quicker today. That suited us more and we executed our game plan quite well.”

This is Polasek’s 12th ATP Tour doubles trophy. The 34-year-old, who took an extended break from the game in 2013, ends a six-year wait for a tour-level crown. Polasek’s last ATP Tour title came at 2013 Casablanca (w/Knowle).

”It is a dream come true. I was fighting hard since my comeback last year in July and I was hoping that I can, at least one more time in my life, hang the trophy over my head and it happened. It couldn’t be any better,” said Polasek.

“I had an issue in 2013 and I had to pretty much retire… For three years, I was coaching. I was a head coach in an academy, coaching kids from 8 to 14 and then it got a bit better and I decided to come back… I wouldn’t have expected [the comeback] to have been as good as it has been. [It is] beyond the limit. With everything that has happened in the past six weeks, it is just more than I can ask for.”

Gille and Vliegen were bidding to claim their third tour-level title in three weeks. The Belgian tandem picked up trophies last month at the Swedish Open and the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad.

Oswald and Polasek earn 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and split €29,650 in prize money. Gille and Vliegen receive 150 points and share €15,200.

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Washington Open: Andy Murray and Jamie Murray lose in quarter-finals

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Andy and Jamie Murray lost in three sets to Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in the quarter-finals of the Washington Open.

The British pair took the first set on a tie-break but lost a second as all 24 games followed serve.

South African Klaasen and New Zealand’s Venus, seeded third, trailed 5-7 in the final tie-break but won five points in a row to win 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (8-6) 10-7.

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 winner says he could make a singles return at the Cincinnati Masters later this month – two weeks before the start of the US Open in New York – and has been practising singles play this week.

“I feel fine, just disappointed,” Murray said of his fitness after the defeat. “Practices have been fine.

“Just keep pressing next 10 days. If I feel ready, I’ll give it [singles in Cincinnati] a go. If not, I’ll probably wait until after New York.”

The Murray brothers, who were playing in doubles competition together for the first time since 2016, reached the Washington quarters after a gutsy three-set win over experienced French pair Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in their opening match.

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Schwartzman Wins Argentine Battle In Los Cabos

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Schwartzman Wins Argentine Battle In Los Cabos

Fritz plays Albot on Friday

Third seed Diego Schwartzman booked his place in the final of the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex in Los Cabos, but it came at the expense of a close friend. The 26-year-old defeated second seed and fellow Argentine Guido Pella 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in an entertaining semi-final on Friday.

It was clear that Schwartzman and Pella’s match would be competitive after 45 minutes were needed to complete the first six games, but the third seed grabbed the first break of the match at 3-2 in the opening set. The slight advantage was all Schwartzman needed. Pella saved four set points on his serve at 2-5, but Schwartzman held in the next game and took the early advantage.

Pella was far from discouraged. The second seed responded brilliantly as he raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set and ultimately levelled the match. But in another drastic momentum shift, it was Schwartzman who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the decider.

The third seed continued to apply pressure in his return games, racking up 18 break points on the night and converting four. A forehand sent long by Pella on Schwartzman’s first match point wrapped up play after two hours and 18 minutes. Schwartzman’s win evened his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Pella at 2-2.

You May Also Like: Tsitsipas Laces Up Semi-final Spot In Washington

Schwartzman seeks his first ATP Tour title of the year after finishing runner-up in February in Buenos Aires (l. to Cecchinato). He also defeated Kei Nishikori to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in May at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Awaiting him in the championship match is fifth-seeded American Taylor Fritz or seventh-seeded Moldovan Radu Albot. Schwartzman has never played Albot, but is even in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Fritz at 1-1. The American won their most recent match this May at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

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Read & Watch: Stefanos Seeks A Better Paire During Shoegate

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Read & Watch: Stefanos Seeks A Better Paire During Shoegate

Greek’s shoelace woes lead to interesting series of events in Washington, D.C.

There’s a new hashtag that might trend on social media Friday evening, and it has nothing to do with hot shots or bloopers. Call it #ShoeGate2019.

It all stems from an unusual moment in the quarter-finals of the Citi Open. Stefanos Tsitsipas was serving at 7-5, 2-0 40/40 against Benoit Paire when he had to return to his chair to change his sneaker. The top seed’s left shoelace sometimes breaks on the last hole when he slides into a forehand.

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It was the third time this week the Greek superstar had this problem, leading to a delay, and Paire was not thrilled waiting given he was making a push to get back on serve in the second set.

“In a way he was right that it happened many times in the past. There is nothing I can do about it. The only thing is probably [to] change my footwork,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ve been struggling with it, one of few players that has been struggling with it. I’m not doing it on purpose. Some people think I’m doing it on purpose. It always happens in crucial moments like this when I’m really trying hard, giving everything out on the court, trying to get every single ball back. That’s when it happens.

“It’s very irritating for me to keep playing with a shoe that’s not tight. It can fall off at any moment during the rally.”

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After play resumed, Paire lost the next point. But instead of shifting sides of the court, the Frenchman went back to his chair, deciding he needed to change his own sneaker, chucking one that he took off away. That elicited plenty of laughter and cheers from the crowd as he did it. Paire presumably did not need to make the change, but he wanted to make a point.

“That was funny,” Tsitsipas said. “I didn’t know whether I have to laugh or keep a serious face. It was hilarious.”

Instead of breaking back, Paire lost the next game and the three after that to see his run come to an end in Washington, D.C. But all is well that ends well, as there were no hard feelings between the competitors. After match point, the two men embraced at the net, sharing a smile with one another. Paire told the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion with a smile, “It’s okay. It was not against you.”

“We’re good friends,” Tsitsipas said. “We live in the same region, the south of France. We both practise there. He gets to come to the academy [where I train] pretty often. So I know him pretty well. He’s different on court when he plays than what he’s off court. There was nothing. He even told me there was nothing between me and him with the shoelace thing.”

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Kyrgios/Edmund Among Five Key First-Round Battles In Montreal

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Kyrgios/Edmund Among Five Key First-Round Battles In Montreal

Wawrinka to face Dimitrov in clash of former World No. 3s

The Top 8 seeds have a bye at the Coupe Rogers, Canada’s ATP Masters 1000 tournament. But Friday’s draw ceremony revealed plenty of tantalising first-round matches in Montreal, where four-time champion Rafael Nadal will look to retain his title.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Kyle Edmund
These 24-year-olds have only played one another once before, but that match provides plenty of reason to believe that this could be one of, if not the best match of the opening round in Canada. At last year’s Fever-Tree Championships, Kyrgios defeated Edmund 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 6-3.

Kyrgios struck 32 aces in that match, saving the only break point he faced. Once the competitors get into rallies, it should prove to be a battle of who can get a solid strike on a forehand first, as both players have the ability to control points off that wing, and even crush winners with one blow.

The winner will not have it any easier in the second round, with eighth seed Daniil Medvedev waiting in the wings.

Stan Wawrinka vs. Grigor Dimitrov
These former World No. 3s have played nine times in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, with eight of those matches coming at either a Grand Slam or a Masters 1000 tournament. And although Wawrinka has won three in a row, with each of those victories coming since Wimbledon last year, this still promises to be an entertaining affair.

Wawrinka, who leads the series 5-4, will look to hit through the Bulgarian with his powerful groundstrokes, using heavy shots from deep in the court to bide his time until he can unleash even bigger strokes. On the other hand, Dimitrov will attempt to use his variety to keep the rallies on his terms, keeping the Swiss from gaining rhythm and allowing him to take control.

Denis Shapovalov vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Nobody will soon forget Shapovalov’s magical run to the Montreal semi-finals two years ago, when he defeated Juan Martin del Potro and Nadal en route to the last four. That wasn’t an easy task for the #NextGenATP Canadian, nor will his opener this year.

Both Shapovalov and Herbert like to control play, and they are at their best when they use their serve to immediately put an opponent on defence before aggressively finishing the point. Earlier this year in Montpellier, Herbert defeated Shapovalov 7-5, 7-6(4), while the Canadian defeated the Frenchman at an ATP Challenger Tour event two years ago in Canberra.

The key will be for both players to return deep in the court to try to get to neutral in rallies as often as possible. Expect the Montreal crowd to be a factor as well, as the Canadians emphatically cheer on their home favourite.

Milos Raonic vs. Taylor Fritz
This will be a battle of experience against youth, a former World No. 3 against a player in great form, and a clash between two big hitters who will look to punish any ball that sits up for them. Raonic advanced to the 2013 final in Montreal, and he will look to get off to a good start against one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour.

Fritz has advanced to at least the semi-finals at three of his past four events, and he can reach his third final during that span in Los Cabos on Friday evening. He is trying to win a main draw match at a hard-court Masters 1000 tournament for the first time year.

Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Vasek Pospisil
There will be no shortness of electricity in the Montreal crowd for this one, the only all-Canadian match in the first round. And not only are Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil familiar foes, but they are also doubles partners next week.

Auger-Aliassime leads Pospisil 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with wins at last year’s BNP Paribas Open and Wimbledon this season. But the pressure will be on Felix, a #NextGenATP star, who is ranked nearly 200 spots higher than his elder countryman. The 29-year-old Pospisil is a dangerous opponent, though, armed with a big serve and overall aggressive game. The former World No. 25 has also enjoyed success in Montreal, making the last four here in 2013.

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Tsitsipas Laces Up Semi-final Spot In Washington

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Tsitsipas Laces Up Semi-final Spot In Washington

Kyrgios defeats Gombos on Friday

Stefanos Tsitsipas put in a performance worthy of his top seed status on Friday at the Citi Open, winning eight consecutive games to reach the semi-finals over No. 10 seed Benoit Paire of France 7-5, 6-0.

“I’m glad that I played well today,” said Tsitsipas. “I think I closed out the second set very professionally, very aggressively. I think that’s good for me psychologically. I didn’t give him much pace to play with and that played a big part overall.”

Paire has been in top form this season, winning titles in Marrakech (d. Andjuar) and Lyon (d. Auger-Aliassime). The 30-year-old hung tough with the #NextGenATP Greek in the opening set and matched his power from the baseline, but the top seed raised his level when it mattered most. At 5-5, Tsitsipas won eight consecutive points to grab the early advantage.

With Tsitsipas serving in the second set at 2-0, 40/40, his shoe laces broke and he went to his chair for a shoe change. The mid-game delay rattled Paire and he voiced his displeasure to the chair umpire.

“I’ve been struggling with it. One of few players that has been struggling with it,” said Tsitsipas. “I’m not doing it on purpose. It always happens in crucial moments like this when I’m really trying hard, giving everything out on the court, trying to get every single ball back. It’s very irritating for me to keep playing with a shoe that’s not tight. It can fall off at any moment during the rally.”

When play resumed, Tsitsipas won 15 of the next 20 points to advance in 75 minutes and even his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Paire at 1-1. Tsitsipas hasn’t dropped a set this week in booking his seventh tour-level semi-final of the season.

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Tsitsipas will now see Nick Kyrgios across the net after teaming up with him this week in doubles. The Aussie produced a red-hot performance to defeat Slovakian lucky loser Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-3.

“I’m super happy that all the work I’ve been doing off the court is translating on the court. Four days in a row and four matches at my highest level. I’m pretty happy about it,” said Kyrgios. “I love playing night matches. The crowd gets into it, so I’m just trying to give them some fun tennis and also give them some wins as well.”

Kyrgios fired 26 winners to just 10 unforced errors, with 15 of those winners coming in the second set. The 24-year-old hammered 19 aces and only lost eight points on serve (37/45) to advance in 57 minutes. Kyrgios is through to his first ATP Tour semi-final since taking the title in Acapulco this March (d. Zverev) and will look to score his first Top 10 win since that event. 

Watch Hot Shot: Kyrgios Pulls Off Houdini Act

“He’s an amazing player and I have the utmost respect for him,” said Kyrgios. “He goes about it differently than me. We’ve gotten to know each other this week and we’re literally the polar opposites! It’s going to be a lot of fun, so I’m excited for it.”

The Aussie’s entertainment value even went beyond the flashy shotmaking he displayed on Stadium Court. After firing an ace on match point, he ran to a fan in the front row and received a congratulatory hug and kiss.

“You never know what to expect from him,” said Tsitsipas. “I think his serve is the biggest weapon in his game. In the rally, he sometimes goes for crazy shots. He’s unpredictable. He just seems very relaxed when he plays. I’m going to have to be careful of his shot selection, trying to execute and not play his game, [but] play my game.”

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Murray Brothers Squander 1 M.P. & Rojer Earns 400th Doubles Win In Washington

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2019

Murray Brothers Squander 1 M.P. & Rojer Earns 400th Doubles Win In Washington

Klaasen/Venus advance to semi-finals

Andy Murray and Jamie Murray saw their much anticipated return as a doubles team end in quarter-final action on Friday at the Citi Open. The brothers couldn’t convert against third seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, who triumphed 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 10-7.

“I’m just disappointed that we lost the match,” said Andy. “I think both of us had been serving extremely well up until the [Match Tie-break]. I would have liked to serve a little bit better in those big moments.”

There were no service breaks in the match, but Klaasen/Venus saved a match point on their serve at 5/6 in the second-set tie-break before levelling the score. The third seeds also trailed 5/7 in the Match Tie-break, but won five consecutive points to advance in one hour and 53 minutes. 

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“We played a lot of good tennis. It’s good fun to play with Andy again, see him out there competing, fired up to play and playing really well,” said Jamie. “I guess it was a positive week. Disappointing to lose the way we did, but that happens in doubles sometimes.”

Klaasen/Venus have been in top form this season, taking the title in Halle (d. Kubot/Melo) and finishing runner-up in Rome (l. to Cabal/Farah) and Auckland (l. to McLachlan/Struff). They also reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and have won 10 of their past 11 matches. Next up for Klaasen/Venus are second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, with Melo riding high after picking up his 500th tour-level doubles win on Tuesday.

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The Murray brothers split up next week at the Coupe Rogers, with Andy partnering Feliciano Lopez and Jamie teaming up with full-time partner Neal Skupski. Murray/Lopez, who won a title this June at Queen’s Club in their first tournament together (d. Ram/Salisbury), face second seeds Kubot/Melo in the opening round, while Murray/Skupski start their week against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. The Murrays could potentially meet in the quarter-finals.

Jean-Julien Rojer picked up his 400th tour-level victory, partnering Horia Tecau past four-time Washington champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-8. Rojer has won 28 tour-level doubles titles, including two Grand Slams with Tecau at 2015 Wimbledon (d. J. Murray/Peers) and 2017 US Open (d. Lopez/Lopez). The 2014 Washington champions (d. Groth/Paes) will meet Alex de Minaur and John Peers in the semi-finals.

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