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Nishioka Ready For The Spotlight After Beating 'Hero' Nishikori

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Nishioka Ready For The Spotlight After Beating ‘Hero’ Nishikori

Qualifier beats Nishikori on Wednesday in Cincinnati

Kei Nishikori has achieved celebrity status in Japan with his career on the ATP Tour. But after scoring his first Top 10 win by defeating the man he described as his “hero” on Wednesday at the Western & Southern Open, Yoshihito Nishioka is ready for his own closeup.

“I want to check the morning news tomorrow to see what they’re going to say. Hopefully many spotlight on me,” said Nishioka, cracking a smile. “In Japanese tennis, the only famous players are Kei and Naomi [Osaka]. I want to change that. Hopefully [fans] are going to maybe watch me after the match today.”

In a battle between the two highest-ranked Japanese players on the ATP Tour, it was Nishioka who played like a seasoned veteran. He racked up 12 break points and converted three, hammered serves that clocked in at more than 120 miles per hour and came up with clutch shots at crucial moments.

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The 23-year-old Nishioka may not have looked nervous, but that didn’t reflect how he felt. He admitted to intense nerves and the dream of facing his idol led to a sleepless night before the match.

“I was so excited to play with him because he’s the hero of Japanese tennis. I couldn’t sleep yesterday,” said Nishioka. “I was watching him when I was a junior and learning many things from him. I just was trying my best against my hero. I’m very happy today, but most happy about playing with him.” 

Nishikori isn’t a total stranger to him, though. Nishioka used to train during his junior days at the IMG Academy in Florida, where Nishikori is still based, and shared the court with him for practice sessions.

“We played with each other many times in practice. The first time was maybe six or seven years ago. But it’s a very different feeling playing a match,” said Nishioka. “I was always nervous practising with him, but even more nervous today.”

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With the pressure of facing his hero off the table, Nishioka can get the night of rest he’ll need as he next faces #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur. Having come through qualifying this week, their showdown will be Nishioka’s fifth match in six days. But with a chance to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final, he’s ready to make another push.

“Right now I’m feeling very good,” said Nishioka. “I got the chance to go as far as I can. I want a higher [ATP Ranking]. My body’s a little bit tired, but I can’t say that. I’ll just try my best.”

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Vancouver Receives 2018 'Challenger Of The Year' Award

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Vancouver Receives 2018 ‘Challenger Of The Year’ Award

The Odlum Brown VanOpen celebrates in front of the home fans in Vancouver

Canada has never had it so good. The months of July and August are a grand celebration of tennis, as the summer kicks into high gear with a bevy of professional tournaments.

Consecutive ATP Challenger Tour stops in Winnipeg, Gatineau and Granby are followed by the Rogers Cup – an ATP Masters 1000 event – and it all culminates with the award-winning Odlum Brown VanOpen in Vancouver. These tournaments have become a breeding ground for Canadian talent and Vancouver is fast gaining the recognition it deserves as one of the elite events on the pro scene.

On Tuesday, all eyes were on the Challenger 100 event as it was honoured for a second straight year. It is not an easy feat to earn ‘Tournament of the Year’ honours on the circuit. It takes years of hard work, dedication and commitment to growing the game and providing a world-class experience for the players and fans.

That said, to take home the award on multiple occasions is an extraordinary accomplishment. The Odlum Brown VanOpen did just that in 2017 and 2018, culminating with a special celebration on Tuesday evening at Hollyburn Country Club.

In front of a packed crowd on Center Court, ahead of the Day 2 night session, the tournament was presented with the 2018 Challenger of the Year award. Tournament director and former champion Rik de Voest and tournament chair Carlota Lee received the crystal trophy.


“In early 2005, [club CEO] Ed Laughlin walked into a senior leadership meeting and announced that Hollyburn would be hosting a professional tennis event on the ATP Challenger Tour,” De Voest said during the ceremony. “Little did anyone realize just how many lives this tournament would impact, including my own.

“We are honoured and humbled to be receiving this award from the ATP for the second year in a row. It’s a testament to our dream of bringing professional tennis to Vancouver. And finally, to the tenacity and hard work of Carlota Lee, who executes ideas at a whole other level.

“Carlota and I are so proud of the example this tournament sets in the tennis world and to future tennis generations. For the last 17 years, this tournament has been bringing people together in a meaningful way that has resulted in many memorable moments and life-changing stories.”


Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ruben Bemelmans were also on court during the ceremony. Bemelmans is making his seventh straight appearance in Vancouver, while Kokkinakis returned for a third season. It’s easy to see why players keep coming back year after year. Surrounded by the Howe Sound and Coast Mountains, players visiting Hollyburn have not only been treated to a world-class and opulent facility, but a relaxing retreat during the hectic summer hard-court season.

And perhaps the tournament’s greatest feature is the housing it offers its players. Traveling throughout the season can take its toll both physically and emotionally. A slice of home life on the road is always welcomed and with Hollyburn members opening their doors – and fast cars – players are treated to some of the finest hospitality the tour has to offer. Million-dollar mansions are the norm at this Challenger stop and both Kokkinakis and Bemelmans made sure to acknowledge their host families during the award presentation.

Watch their speeches below…

The Challenger Awards are a recognition of excellence, selected by players from the global Challenger Tour of 160 events staged in 40 different countries. In its 14th edition, the Odlum Brown VanOpen was once again recognised as being outstanding in terms of facilities, organisation, imagination, promotion and player welcome.

The commitment and hard work of the tournament team, the support of the municipality, local authorities, sponsors, the press and the public produced a wonderful week of professional tennis. Moreover, the tournament joined the NECKARCUP in Heilbronn, Sparkassen Open in Braunschweig, Germany, as well as the former Ethias Trophy in Mons, Belgium in winning the award on multiple occasions.

In 2018, three tournaments were recognised with the Challenger of the Year award, with Vancouver accompanying Heilbronn and the Puerto Vallarta Open in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the winners’ circle.

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Struff Has An Opinion, And Is Having His Best Season

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Struff Has An Opinion, And Is Having His Best Season

German upset Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday in Cincinnati

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published 2 June 2019.

To many, it might seem like a forgettable moment, a request typical of a player to a coach. But to coach Carsten Arriens, what Jan-Lennard Struff said to him during his first-round match at Roland Garros explains everything about why his player has a chance to upset No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Monday and reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

Struff was down 0-3 against #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. But more importantly, the German couldn’t see his coach during changeovers.

Arriens and Struff’s physio, Uwe Liedtke, were seated in a corner behind a baseline, and, during sitdowns, the chair umpire was blocking Struff’s view of them.

For years, Arriens had asked Struff if he minded where he sat. “Oh, no. I don’t care,” the soft-spoken Struff would say, waving off the question.

But lately, in between and away from the tramlines, Struff has been speaking up more often and showing that he’s not OK just going along with the flow – a pattern that’s extended to his tennis.

After the first changeover, Struff rose from his chair, walked over to his coach and, before play resumed, instructed Arriens in the way only a self-described “quiet guy, enjoying life” could.

“Hey,” Struff said, “Can you sit somewhere else, please?”

To Arriens, it was a moment to celebrate. “Yes! Yes!” he said, pumping his fist as he recalled the story in the players’ restaurant beneath Court Philippe Chatrier.

Struff was taking control of the situation, which is why his coach says he’s into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time and, as Arriens predicted last December, is having the best season of his career at 29 years old.

“He’s becoming a person with an opinion and telling the opinion and I can see that on the court,” Arriens told

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Struff had reached two Grand Slam third rounds (2018 Wimbledon, 2018 US Open) before making the Round of 16 this fortnight, beating 17th seed Shapovalov, Delray Beach champion Radu Albot and 13th seed Borna Coric. He’ll face 2016 champion Djokovic for a place in his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

From 2014-2018, Struff went 2-13 against Top 10 opponents. But this year, he’s 3-2, including victories earlier this clay-court season against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Marin Cilic.

“I like the game on clay. You have a little bit more time. I have hard groundstrokes, and I have time to set them up,” Struff told

But the German, despite growing up on the surface, never had the results he’s had this year, which, Arriens said, is because he’s never been as intentional as he is now.

In the past four years, it didn’t matter the topic, Struff would often waffle or defer to his natural politeness.

Practising? He’d groove the ball nice and easy down the middle so the other player could have a good session. Hungry? “Oh, you choose the restaurant, you choose the restaurant,” Struff would say. If he played against fellow Germans, Arriens said, Struff always felt like he needed to be friendly while playing.

Arriens would encourage him to be more decisive. He’d warn him that not choosing a restaurant might also lead to not following his forehand to the net.

Listen, this is exactly the pattern on the court when you don’t know what to do and you’re just following whatever,” Arriens remembers telling him. “I want you to be consciously following a pattern on the court and a game plan, but in order to do that, you have to decide and you have to choose.”

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Tsitsipas Reflects On Five-Hour Fourth-Round Loss To Wawrinka
After Five Hours, Wawrinka Escapes Tsitsipas To Make QF
Fognini On Fatherhood & Fantastic Form

Struff would waver during matches: Sometimes he’d hang back, other times he’d go forward. But lately, and especially the past eight months, Struff has been intentional on the court.

He’s attacking – at Roland Garros, he’s gone to net 129 times, winning 66 per cent of those attempts (86/129) – and he’s questioning Arriens every day about how they work.

Before he was just following, not asking. Now it’s, ‘Why do we do this exercise, and what is it for? We should do it this way,’” Arriens said.

Struff gives his input on match game plans as well. “Maybe we should do 1, 2 and 4 and not 3,” Arriens said. “When it’s clear, he’s coming back to it all the time. If he’s losing [the plan] for a game or two, he’s coming back to it.”

The plan has been working: come forward as often as possible, stay out of the corners, and keep the points short. Let his emotions, and the crowd, help him as well.

In the first game of Struff’s third-round match against Coric, which the German won 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(1), 11-9, Struff was following his plan to be more vocal, shouting, “Come on!” and clenching his fist.

Infosys powers real-time insights for every point

Two years ago, three years ago, he wouldn’t do that once in a match,” Arriens said. “He’s 29, but he’s still developing a lot.”

His peers have noticed. Shapovalov, who went 1-1 against Struff during the clay-court season, called him a “dark horse”.

He’s a guy you don’t want to see in the draw,” Shapovalov, No. 24 in the ATP Rankings, said of Struff, No. 45.

Coric, after his four-hour and 22-minute match with the German, added: “He’s not afraid.”

The praise matters to Struff, but not as much as a win against Djokovic and a place in the last eight would.

With the quotes from Shapo I realise, OK, they have a high opinion of me as well,” Struff told “It feels good to hear that but I try to work on that, to get my ranking higher and higher so that the opinion gets even better.”

If Struff shocks Djokovic, the world’s opinion – and his coach’s of him – would jump to its highest level yet, and his coach would, no question, have another moment to celebrate.

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Rublev Dispatches Of Wawrinka, Now For Federer

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Rublev Dispatches Of Wawrinka, Now For Federer

Russian to face the World No. 3 for the first time

Russian Andrey Rublev is slowly making his way back into the form that saw him reach the US Open quarter-finals two years ago and back-to-back Next Gen ATP Finals appearances in Milan.

The 21-year-old Rublev saved all five break points against World No. 23 Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday to advance 6-4, 6-4 and reach the third round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. It’s the third time Rublev has made the third round at an ATP Masters 1000 event (Indian Wells, Miami) this year and comes on the heels of his best tournament of the season, the Hamburg European Open last month.

“I’m just trying to work every day, trying to do my best every day,” Rublev said.

More From #CincyTennis
Nishioka Fulfulls Dream, Earns First Top 10 Win
Why Federer Felt Bad In Juniors
Djokovic Reveals How Losses Fueled His Wins
Struff Hangs Tough To Upset Tsitsipas

There, Rublev gained his first Top 5 win (1-6) against No. 4 Dominic Thiem, made his first ATP Tour final since January 2018 (Doha, l. to Monfils) and his first ATP 500 final. The Russian fell to Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final but avenged that loss in his Cincinnati opener before breezing past Wawrinka, who landed only 48 per cent of his first serves.

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Rublev has long been one to watch on the ATP Tour. He reached the final of 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals (l. to Chung) and made the semi-finals in Milan in 2018. But a lower back stress fracture forced him to miss three months last season and a wrist injury kept him out of Roland Garros and the start of the grass-court season this year.

Rublev will next meet seven-time Cincy champion Roger Federer in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Federer beat Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday night. The Swiss is playing in his first tournament since falling to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on 14 July.

“I always wanted to meet him,” Rublev said of playing Federer. “Finally, we meet and we’ll see tomorrow. I will do my best. I will fight until the end.”

Watch Rublev’s Off-season Training

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Murray brothers could meet in men's doubles quarter-finals in Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Jamie Murray could face brother Andy in the men’s doubles quarter-finals at the Cincinnati Masters after he and Neal Skupski defeated French pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

British duo Murray and Skupski beat the fifth-seeded Australian Open champions 6-3 6-3 in the second-round match.

Andy and Feliciano Lopez must defeat Americans Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock on Thursday to reach the last eight.

The Murray brothers played together at the Washington Open earlier in August.

  • Murray has second thoughts over US Open decision
  • Williams pulls out of Cincinnati with injury

Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy, 32, and Spanish partner Lopez were crowned champions at Queen’s Club in June and beat fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in the first round.

The two-time Wimbledon champion made his singles comeback from hip surgery in Cincinnati on Monday, losing to Richard Gasquet.

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Nishioka Fulfills Dream, Beats Nishikori In Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Nishioka Fulfills Dream, Beats Nishikori In Cincinnati

Qualifier records first Top 10 win

Yoshihito Nishioka dreamt of this moment for years. When the Western & Southern Open draw came out, Nishioka knew with one win his hopes of playing the Japanese flagbearer, his practice partner and friend, would be realised.

Shortly after match point on Wednesday, you couldn’t take the smile from Nishioka’s face after the 23-year-old qualifier recorded the first Top 10 win of his career with a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over Nishikori in one hour and 40 minutes. Nishikori left Grandstand stadium to the sound of ‘There goes my hero’, by the American rock group Foo Fighters.

The World No. 77, who committed only 13 unforced errors in the baseline dual, will next face Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who was a 7-6(3), 6-4 victor over American wild card Reilly Opelka in one hour and 34 minutes. De Minaur is through to the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the second time (also 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters).

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Nishioka didn’t allow sixth seed Nishikori to build up any rhythm in recording his 13th match of the year. He first broke serve in the third game and came within two points of the 54-minute first set at 5-4, but tightened up on serve. Nishioka took a 6/0 lead in the tie-break, which eventually ended when Nishikori struck a double fault.

Nishikori, who called for on-court treatment on two occasions, gained a 4-3 advantage in the second set, but groundstroke errors cost the Nitto ATP Finals contender, who is currently in eighth position in the 2019 ATP Race To London. The match ended when Nishikori struck a backhand wide — his 33rd unforced error.

“It was a tough match for me,” said Nishikori. “I think he played good tennis. Served well… [It is] good to see he’s getting stronger, growing up… [The] past two weeks, I’m having [a] tough [time] to breathe, some reason. I’ve got to go check.”

The 29-year-old Nishikori, winner of the Brisbane International (d. Medvedev) in January, is now 27-13 on the season.

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Williams pulls out of Cincinnati with back injury

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Cincinnati Masters with a recurring back injury, just days after pulling out of the Rogers Cup final.

Williams, 37, was set to face Zarina Diyas in the first round on Tuesday.

“I am so sad to withdraw as it is truly one of the tournaments I most love to play,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said.

The American has had to retire or withdraw from all five of her non-Grand Slam events this year.

During last weekend’s Rogers Cup final she was left in tears because of back spasms and retired in the first set to hand the title to Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

“I came to Mason [Ohio] on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning,” Williams said in a statement. “But unfortunately my back is still not right.”

Her latest withdrawal comes less than two weeks before the start of the US Open, where she will be chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

Meanwhile, sister Venus Williams beat defending champion and fifth seed Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4) in a second-round battle in Ohio that lasted two hours and 17 minutes.

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Zverev, Winless In Cincy, Eyes 'Breakthrough Week'

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Zverev, Winless In Cincy, Eyes ‘Breakthrough Week’

German looking to make a deep run in Cincy

Alexander Zverev has won three ATP Masters 1000 titles, including one on hard court at the 2017 Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Surely the German has had plenty of success at this week’s Western & Southern Open, a hard-court Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.

Try 0-4. All four times Zverev has lost three-setters, including last year against Dutchman Robin Haase. Two years ago, following Zverev’s Montreal title, #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe upset the Top 10 mainstay.

It’s a place where I’ve never won a match so far in my life, but I hope I can change it now and hopefully make a deep run here,” Zverev said.

The German has reason for optimism. At three of his past four tournaments, he has made the quarter-finals or better, including last week during his return to Montreal, where he reached the last eight before falling to Russian Karen Khachanov in straight sets.

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My performance hasn’t been the best still, obviously I got to the quarter-finals. I had a great match in the [opener] and then my level actually went backwards a little bit, the longer the tournament went,” Zverev said.

I didn’t have success here yet, but I hope it will change this year, and this maybe will be my breakthrough week. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited to be back here.”

The World No. 6 will face #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday. Kecmanovic is looking to make his second Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season this week. Kecmanovic made the quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March. The 19-year-old beat World No. 21 Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to make the second round in Cincinnati.

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Citi Open champion Nick Kyrgios and the eighth-seeded Khachanov will play the final match on Centre Court during their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Kyrgios will look to take a step closer to his second Cincinnati final (2017, l. to Dimitrov).

A number of other seeds get their Cincy campaigns going: Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany; 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, Wimbledon semi-finalist, tangles with Tiafoe; and sixth seed Kei Nishikori plays the first match on Grandstand against countryman Yoshihito Nishioka.

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
WTA Match

Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA Match
[7] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs [Q] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
WTA Match

Not Before 8:30 pm
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs [8] Karen Khachanov (RUS)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[6] Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs [Q] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs [5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
WTA Match

Not Before 7:00 pm
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs [11] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
[8] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) vs Ivan Dodig (CRO) / Filip Polasek (SVK)

Click here to view Wednesday’s entire schedule.

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Why Medvedev Embraces His 'Weird' And 'Sloppy' Tennis

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Why Medvedev Embraces His ‘Weird’ And ‘Sloppy’ Tennis

Russian advances on Tuesday in Cincinnati

Former Top 5 player Brad Gilbert’s best-selling book ‘Winning Ugly’ showed recreational tennis players how to win with strategy and mental warfare in lieu of flashy groundstrokes. It’s safe to say Daniil Medvedev fits the mold.

“He has a very weird game. It’s very sloppy, but a good sloppy,” said Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has yet to beat the Russian in their four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. “I don’t mean this in a bad way. He’s just very uncomfortable to play against.”

In an era rich with heavy topspin and power hitting from the baseline, the 24-year-old Medvedev offers a throwback with his brand of tennis. He possesses one of the flattest backhands on Tour and uses off-speed shots to frustrate players, imposing his game by taking his opponents out of theirs.

“He has this completely different way of playing, flat and low, without giving you much angle to work with,” said Tsitsipas. “It can be very disturbing to play against him. He can make you miss without understanding why you missed.”

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Although his style may not be conventional, it’s clearly working. The Russian reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final last week at the Coupe Rogers (l. to Nadal), finished runner-up the week before at the Citi Open (l. to Kyrgios) and sits at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 8. On Tuesday, he scored a first-round victory over Kyle Edmund at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

His winning ways could be why Medvedev is far from insulted by Tsitsipas’ assessment of his “sloppy” game.

“I completely agree,” said Medvedev, cracking a smile. “That’s what I’m trying to do. I want to make people miss with shots that they’re not used to playing. I’ve won many matches because they don’t ever get used to it. I try to find a weak spot in my opponent and then push to it.

“As long as you’re not playing an 18-year-old wild card, you know how everybody plays. If you play Rafael Nadal you know, well, not his weak spots, but what you shouldn’t do… and then you still lose 6-3, 6-0!”

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But while Medvedev prides himself on driving other players crazy, he only recently learned how to stop doing that to himself. The Russian isn’t shy to admit his temperamental past, but credits his recent success with learning how to better control his emotions. Medvedev joked during his runner-up finish two weeks ago in Washington that it was the first time he hadn’t blown up during a tournament.

“I also didn’t get crazy at all [in Montreal],” said Medvedev. “It feels much nicer, but it doesn’t mean that one day, maybe tomorrow, I’m not going to smash three racquets. I’m working on it and hopefully I can continue it for as long as possible.”

Medvedev is also quickly learning that winning brings extra attention. Last year in Cincinnati, he was forced to qualify for the main draw. This year, both of his press conferences so far this week have taken place in the main interview room. But rather than shy away from the attention, Medvedev has embraced it and hopes for more.

“I like interviews as long as you don’t ask me any inappropriate questions,” he joked. “I try not to fake anything. I like to express myself and hopefully show my personality.”

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Why Federer Felt Bad In The Juniors

  • Posted: Aug 14, 2019

Why Federer Felt Bad In The Juniors

Swiss star reflects on fulfilling expectations after Cincinnati win

Roger Federer has done a lot of winning in his career. The Swiss Superstar has captured 102 tour-level titles, 1,223 match wins and plenty more. But what’s easy to forget is that with his victories have come losses for the player on the other side of the net.

“In the juniors maybe I felt bad sometimes, just because I did. Don’t know why,” Federer said. “Afterwards, I guess it’s part of the business. You want everybody to do well, and that’s why I’m generally happy when somebody does well, because not everybody can attain whatever it is [they are aiming for], but what you can attain is the best of yourself.”

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The World No. 3, who made a strong start to his pursuit of an eighth Western & Southern Open title Tuesday evening, has surpassed his hopes and dreams. And many players on the ATP Tour have achieved amazing things on the tennis court, even if they haven’t earned quite as many wins or titles.

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“I think probably if you ask a lot of the guys on the Tour, they’d say, ‘I probably did much better than I expected’, because the dream is, of course, to be Top 100, Top 10, World No. 1, winning tournaments and all that stuff. But to be able to make a living from what you wanted to do, I think that’s the cool bit,” Federer said. “That’s when sometimes it gets a bit rough. All of a sudden you achieve your dream and you have been told you’re terrible because you didn’t win so-and-so. You’re like, ‘Okay, you know what? Get lost. I don’t care what you say.

“You’ve got to do what you can do best and make yourself proud, your family, your country, whatever it is. And in tennis, very quickly, take another sport, but if you’re [the] No. 100 best player or athlete or whatever of your sport, you’re a champ. In tennis you say, ‘Oh, he’s just 100’, and I disagree with that.”

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Earning one victory is plenty difficult, especially at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments like this week’s event. It is made even harder for a player like Federer, who is competing for the first time since Wimbledon. This is also the first season since 2016 that he has played on clay, making the transition that much more uncertain.

Nevertheless, Federer overcame the challenge against Cordoba Open champion Juan Ignacio Londero, defeating the Argentine in straight sets in 61 minutes, with the match lasting about as long as the rain delay in the middle of the second set.

“[I’m] very happy. I thought it was tricky with the rain delay and everything, but I’m happy to be back on the courts,” Federer said. “It’s totally different to the grass courts and the clay courts we have seen, so this is the beginning of a long, long hard-court swing. So it’s nice to start off with a win.”

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