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Thiem Controls London Fate In Beijing

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Thiem Controls London Fate In Beijing

Austrian looking to finish the season strong

Dominic Thiem this week controls his destiny when it comes to qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year. Thiem will book his return ticket to The O2 in London if he reaches the China Open final in Beijing.

The 23-year-old Austrian is currently in fifth place in the ATP Race To London, with 3,845 points, and next in line to qualify for the season-ending championships, to be held 10-17 November. The top four players in the Race – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev – have already secured their places. In Beijing, the top-seeded Thiem opens against Richard Gasquet, who leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion, is in sixth place in the Race (3,160 points) and also will be looking to bolster his qualification prospects in China. The 20-year-old Greek is seeking his maiden London appearance and needs to make the semi-finals to be able to add any points to his Race tally.

The 2019 ATP Race To London as of 30 September 2019

Only 315 points separate seventh place and 12th place in the Race, meaning plenty of players could make moves this week with 500 points up for grabs in Tokyo and Beijing, respectively.

Seventh-placed Roberto Bautista Agut (2,395 points) is the fifth seed in Beijing and faces American Sam Querrey. Bautista Agut is seeking his debut showing in London and will add Race points if he makes the quarter-finals.

Eighth-placed Matteo Berrettini (2,185 points) meets former World No. 1 Andy Murray in Beijing as the Italian looks to continue to build off his US Open semi-final run. Berrettini will add points to his Race tally if he beats Murray.

You May Also Like: ATP Rankings vs ATP Race To London: What’s The Difference?

Ninth-placed Kei Nishikori (2,180) is nursing an injured elbow, but Gael Monfils (10th, 2,125), reigning champion Alexander Zverev (11th, 2,120) and 2017 finalist David Goffin (12th, 2,080) all have opportunities to make up ground this week.

Monfils faces John Isner in Beijing. The second-seeded Zverev, after beating Frances Tiafoe in his opener, will face #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round. Zverev needs to make the quarter-finals to be able to improve his Race position.

And Goffin, the 2017 Tokyo champion, will play Chengdu Open champion Pablo Carreno Busta in round one in Japan. Goffin will add points if he beats the Spaniard.

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Djokovic, And His Shoulder, Ready To Battle In Tokyo

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Djokovic, And His Shoulder, Ready To Battle In Tokyo

Serbian is chasing Nadal in the battle for year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings

Novak Djokovic says his shoulder is “fine”, and he’s ready to continue his climb up the all-time list of most weeks spent at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings this week at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

On Monday, Djokovic (271 weeks) passed Ivan Lendl (270) for third place on the all-time leaderboard. Now only Djokovic’s childhood idol, Pete Sampras (286), and all-time leader Roger Federer (310) remain in front of the Serbian.

You May Also Like: Djokovic Passes Lendl For 271st Week At No. 1 In ATP Rankings

I understand why people want to talk about record-breaking, but I feel like we all have our own path, and we all have different careers and just different journeys through life and through tennis,” Djokovic said.

I want to be able to build my own path and build my own legacy and focus on that rather than breaking someone else’s record. Of course, I care about history. Of course, I want to be the best I can possibly be in the history of this sport. But again, my main attention or focus goes to fuelling my own journey and creating my own legacy.”

Djokovic is making his debut at the ATP 500 event and is attempting to become the 11th World No. 1 to win the Tokyo title.

I’m excited to be in Tokyo,” he said. “I’ll hopefully get a chance to see a little bit of this country… and get to know the culture that I respect a lot and has some wonderful things that have been exported outside of this country and around the world.”

The Serbian has already experienced some of Japanese culture as he practised sumo wrestling on Monday.

More On Djokovic In Tokyo
Djokovic In The Dohyo: Novak Goes Sumo In Tokyo
 Draw Preview: Learn Djokovic’s Path In Tokyo
Djokovic, Coric Thrill Japanese Fans On ATP Sunday

I have to say that I’m very impressed with the way people treat each other and how nice they are, how humble they are, simple and kind. I feel very welcomed in Tokyo,” Djokovic said. “This is a really big tournament, a very successful tournament historically, so I look forward to hopefully having a successful singles week this week.”

Djokovic is battling Rafael Nadal to finish as the year-end No. 1 for a record-equalling sixth time (2011-12, ’14-15, ’18). Nadal currently leads Djokovic by 1,960 points in the ATP Race To London with only five weeks remaining in the ATP Tour regular season.

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The 32-year-old Djokovic last competed at the US Open, retiring from his fourth-round match against Swiss Stan Wawrinka down two sets to zero because of a left shoulder injury. But Djokovic, who also played doubles on Monday, said he’s ready for a full week.

I wanted to see how [my shoulder] feels during the matchplay. Obviously doubles is quite different from singles. But you’re still playing an official match, so you still feel the nerves and you battle on the court,” Djokovic said. “It’s quite different from playing a practice set or anything in practice, really.

It seems like my shoulder is fine,” said Djokovic, who faces Aussie qualifier Alexei Popyrin in his opener. “I’m hoping that that’s going to be the case this week as well for singles.”

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Edmund loses fifth straight match but Norrie and Evans through in China

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

British number one Kyle Edmund has been beaten by a wildcard player at the China Open – his fifth straight defeat.

Edmund, the world number 34, was defeated 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-5) in Beijing by Zhizhen Zhang, who is ranked 213.

Dan Evans beat another Chinese player Zhe Li 6-3 6-4, while Cameron Norrie was 7-6 (7-5) 1-0 up when opponent Cristian Garin of Chile retired.

Norrie could play Andy Murray in the second round, if the Scot overcomes Italian Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday.

Edmund has not won a match since beating Australian Nick Kyrgios at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal in August.

The 24-year-old has only won 12 matches at ATP Tour level in 2019 and he parted company with coach Mark Hilton after a first-round defeat at the Chengdu Open, also in China, last week.

Evans, 29, ranked 48th, will face either France’s Gael Monfils or American John Isner in round two.

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Zverev Sweeps Past Tiafoe Into Beijing Second Round

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Zverev Sweeps Past Tiafoe Into Beijing Second Round

Mixed day for British players

Alexander Zverev stepped up his bid to clinch a place at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he is the defending champion, by sweeping into the China Open second round on Monday.

The second-seeded German beat American wild card Frances Tiafoe for the fifth time in six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings 6-3, 6-2 in 70 minutes.

Zverev is currently in 11th position in the 2019 ATP Race To London, but only 65 points behind eighth-placed Italian Matteo Berrettini (2,185 points), with five weeks left in the regular ATP Tour season. Four singles spots are left for the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November.

With a strong service performance, Zverev recorded his 35th match win of the year by breaking Tiafoe for 3-1 lead in the first set and in the third and fifth games of the second set. He will next play Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Elsewhere, there were mixed fortunes for two British players. Chinese wild card Zhizhen Zhang knocked out last year’s semi-finalist Kyle Edmund 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5), but Daniel Evans beat wild card Zhe Li 6-3, 6-4. Qualifier Cameron Norrie progressed when leading 7-6(5), 1-0 when Cristian Garin retired due to a right ankle injury.

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Read & Watch: Cilic Cruises Past Japanese Hope Sugita In Tokyo

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Read & Watch: Cilic Cruises Past Japanese Hope Sugita In Tokyo

Croatian star next plays Chung

One year ago, top-seeded Marin Cilic lost his first-round match at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. On Monday, the Croat showed that he was determined not to suffer a disappointing early loss in Tokyo again.

Cilic battled hard to move past home favourite Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 6-4, reaching the second round after one hour and 14 minutes. The 31-year-old has lost his opening match at a tournament just once since May.

“I really, really like Yuichi. We’ve known each other since 2005. We played juniors together. He’s been coming to [former Cilic coach] Bob Brett’s academy for so many years, where I practised for more than nine years. We practised so many times, had so many practice sessions together,” Cilic said. “He’s an amazing guy in terms of he’s extremely humble, hard-working, too.”

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The sixth seed was clean on serve throughout the match, facing only one break point, which he erased. Cilic won 88 per cent of his first-serve points, losing just five points on his first delivery.

The World No. 30 was opportunistic as well, converting the two break points he earned on Colosseum, ousting Sugita in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Cilic will next face 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung, who rallied past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes.

Cilic is currently at his lowest ATP Ranking since February 2014. But he has shown signs of his best form, defeating John Isner en route to the fourth round of the US Open, where he fell against eventual champion Rafael Nadal. Cilic is pursuing his first title in Asia.

The Croat leads Chung 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with their most recent match coming at 2016 Brisbane, when Chung was only 19.

Did You Know?
Every season from 2008-18, Cilic captured at least one ATP Tour title. Without a trophy to his name so far this year, the Croat is trying to extend that streak to 12 straight seasons.

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Nishioka's Night: 'Yoshi' Thrills Tokyo Fans With Big Win

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Nishioka’s Night: ‘Yoshi’ Thrills Tokyo Fans With Big Win

First win in four attempts at the Ariake

Colosseum in Ariake Tennis Park could have been named Nishioka World Monday evening.

That’s because the Tokyo crowd urged Japanese No. 2 Yoshihito Nishioka to a 7-5, 6-3 victory against Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the first round of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. It marks Nishioka’s first victory here on his fourth attempt.

“This is my first win in this event, so I’m very happy for this,” Nishioka said. “Not many big tournaments have [a crowd like] here. This is the biggest tournament in Japan, so I’m very happy to play good tennis for many fans. I feel very good.”

Sousa broke at 4-4 in the opener to earn a chance to serve for the first set. But Nishioka maintained his focus, claiming his first two breaks of the match to take the set and with it, the momentum.

“The many people helped me, they gave me the power. That’s a very big reason for me playing my best tennis today,” Nishioka said. “I had a little bit of pressure on me, but many people cheered for me, so I think the home crowd was very special for a moment like this.”

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Nishioka will next play fifth seed Lucas Pouille, who ousted Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-3 to reach the second round of the ATP 500 tournament on his Tokyo debut. Pouille had trailed Hurkacz 0-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but he got his revenge to break even with a 19-19 record on the season.

Pouille has shown flashes of strong form on hard courts throughout the year, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the Moselle Open, as well as the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open.

The 25-year-old used his dominant first serve to power his way to a one-hour, 14-minute victory, winning 83 per cent of his first-serve points in the match. He also did well to work his way into Hurkacz’s service games, earning eight break points across the two sets.

Did You Know?
Pouille has captured one of his five ATP Tour titles at the ATP 500-level. In 2017, the Frenchman triumphed at the Erste Bank Open.

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De Minaur Jumps Nine Spots In 2019 ATP Race To London

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

De Minaur Jumps Nine Spots In 2019 ATP Race To London looks at the top Movers of the Week in the ATP Race To London, as of Monday, 30 September 2019

No. 22, Alex de Minaur, +9
The #NextGenATP Australian picked up his third ATP Tour trophy of the season at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships. De Minaur, who has also lifted titles in Sydney and Atlanta this year, defeated John Millman, former World No. 1 Andy Murray, fourth seed Borna Coric and second seed Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the championship match in Zhuhai. Following his final victory against Adrian Mannarino, the 20-year-old leaps nine spots to No. 22 in the ATP Race To London. Read Final Report.

No. 10, Gael Monfils, +2
The Frenchman enters the Top 10 in the ATP Race To London after reaching the quarter-finals in Zhuhai. Monfils defeated Cameron Norrie in three sets at the inauguaral edition of the ATP 250 event, before falling to Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain. The 2016 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier is just 60 points behind Matteo Berrettini, who currently occupies the eighth and final qualification position.

No. 31, Pablo Carreno Busta, +17
The 28-year-old captured his first ATP Tour crown since May 2017 following five straight victories at the Chengdu Open. Carreno Busta overcame Radu Albot, Benoit Paire, Cristian Garin and Denis Shapovalov to reach the championship match, where he outlasted Alexander Bublik in a final-set tie-break victory. The Spaniard, who appeared as an alternate at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, soars 17 spots to No. 31 in the ATP Race To London. Read Final Report.

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 41, Alexander Bublik, +14
No. 51, Adrian Mannarino, +12
No. 75, Mikael Ymer, +16
No. 85, Tommy Paul, +11
No. 98, Damir Dzumhur, +10

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The Key Things To Watch In Beijing & Tokyo

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

The Key Things To Watch In Beijing & Tokyo

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

The ATP Tour travels to the capital cities of China and Japan for the second week of the Asian Swing. The China Open and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships offer players the opportunity to earn up to 500 ATP Rankings points in the ATP Race To London and the ATP Race To Milan.

Five Top 10 stars — including Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev — headline in Beijing, while World No. 1 Novak Djokovic prepares for his tournament debut in Tokyo alongside Borna Coric and David Goffin.

Beijing Talking Points

Andy Murray joins defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili as the former titlists in the China Open field. Murray, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the 2016 Beijing final, claimed his second tour-level singles victory of the year – and his first since the first week of the year in Brisbane – by defeating Tennys Sandgren in Zhuhai last week. That avenged a loss to the American in Murray’s prior ATP Tour singles match, at Winston-Salem in August. Murray lost in the second round in Zhuhai to eventual champion Alex de Minaur.

No. 1 seed Dominic Thiem is seeking his first victory in a single-elimination main draw since a third-round win against Marin Cilic at the Coupe Rogers in August. Since that match, Thiem is 2-4 at tour-level, with the two wins coming at team events: Davis Cup group play and Laver Cup.

Read Beijing Draw Preview

Three of the Top 5 players in the ATP Race To Milan are in the Beijing main draw: Stefanos Tsitsipas (No. 1), Felix Auger-Aliassime (No. 2), and Frances Tiafoe (No. 5). Tsitsipas has already qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals and currently occupies sixth position in the ATP Race To London, which determines the eight qualifiers for the Nitto ATP Finals.

2016 runner-up Dimitrov jumped from No. 78 to No. 25 in the ATP Rankings after his run to the US Open semi-finals last month. The Bulgarian would claim his 300th career tour-level win if he defeats Andrey Rublev in the first round on Monday.

Tokyo Talking Points

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is making his first appearance at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships this year. Djokovic is aiming to win a title in a tournament debut for the 10th time in his career.

You May Also Like: Djokovic In The Dohyo: Novak Goes Sumo In Tokyo

David Goffin is the lone former champion in the draw. He has made the final in both of his previous appearances, falling to Nick Kyrgios in the 2016 championship match before defeating Adrian Mannarino for the title in 2017. The Belgian is 9-1 overall in Tokyo.

#NextGenATP Australian Alex de Minaur comes into Tokyo fresh from winning his third singles title of the year in Zhuhai on Sunday. The 20-year-old lost his first two ATP Tour singles finals last year, but has gone 3-0 in finals this season, also hoisting trophies in Atlanta and in his hometown of Sydney.

Read Tokyo Draw Preview

For the second week in a row, #NextGenATP contender Miomir Kecmanovic will face a fellow 20-year-old in the first round of an ATP Tour event. Last week in Zhuhai, Kecmanovic advanced past Casper Ruud; this week, the Serb will meet Denis Shapovalov in the opening round. Shapovalov is currently No. 4 in the ATP Race To Milan, while Kecmanovic is No. 7. (De Minaur is No. 3 and Ruud is No. 6).

Ben McLachlan is the two-time defending doubles champion in Tokyo. The 27-year-old won his first ATP Tour doubles title in 2017 alongside Yasutaka Uchiyama and then captured the crown again last year with Jan-Lennard Struff. McLachlan pairs with Luke Bambridge this year, as he goes for the hat trick with three different partners.

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Pavic/Soares Oust Djokovic/Krajinovic In Tokyo

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Pavic/Soares Oust Djokovic/Krajinovic In Tokyo

Inglot/Krajicek advance on Monday

Novak Djokovic made his Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships debut on Monday at Ariake Tennis Park — on the doubles court — but it did not go according to plan.

Croat Mate Pavic and Brazilian Bruno Soares, the fourth seeds, advanced to the second round in Tokyo with a 6-2, 4-6, 10-4 victory against Djokovic and his fellow Serbian, Filip Krajinovic. Soares captured the title at this ATP 500 event seven years ago alongside Austrian Alexander Peya.

It was an impressive effort by Djokovic and Krajinovic to rally for a Match Tie-break, though. The Serbians capitalised on both break points they earned in the second set to force a decider, but it was not enough.

In the finale, Pavic and Soares caught fire on their return of serve, winning five of seven points on their opponents’ serves. They are seeking their first championship crown as a team.

Pavic and Soares will next face Brit Dominic Inglot and American Austin Krajicek, who defeated the sixth-placed team in the ATP Doubles Team Race To London, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, 6-1, 6-3.

Inglot and Krajicek have captured ATP Tour titles this season in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Atlanta, and they were not broken against the Dutch-Romanian tandem. Inglot and Krajicek won 78 per cent of their first-serve points en route to their 56-minute victory.

You May Also Like: Djokovic Passes Lendl For 271st Week At No. 1 In ATP Rankings

At the China Open in Beijing, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski prevailed 6-4, 7-6(6) in their opening-round match against Argentines Guido Pella and Diego Schwartzman. Pella/Schwartzman served for the second set at 5-4, but Murray/Skupski rallied to advance in one hour and 35 minutes.

Did You Know?
Djokovic has captured one ATP Tour doubles title, triumphing at Queen’s Club in 2010 alongside Jonathan Erlich.

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Rublev Comes Out Swinging In Beijing

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Rublev Comes Out Swinging In Beijing

Zverev, Khachanov headline Monday action

Russian Andrey Rublev continued his top form on Monday at the China Open in Beijing, easing into the second round with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over US Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian was bidding for his 300th tour-level singles win.

Rublev won 76 per cent of his first-serve points (26/34) and broke Dimitrov twice in each set to advance in 75 minutes. The 21-year-old has won 12 of his past 16 matches and is now tied 2-2 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Dimitrov. Next up for Rublev is sixth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini or Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

Monday’s schedule also features second-seeded German Alexander Zverev taking on American Frances Tiafoe and fourth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov squaring off against Uruguayan qualifier Pablo Cuevas.

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