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De Minaur, Baby Shark & Players' Love For Zhuhai Fans

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

De Minaur, Baby Shark & Players’ Love For Zhuhai Fans

De Minaur and Dzumhur reflect on fan support in China

It’s not every day that you’ll find a video of an ATP Tour player in an animal-shaped hat dancing to the viral song ‘Baby Shark’. But that’s exactly what Alex de Minaur did Tuesday in Zhuhai, another sign of players’ love for the Asian Swing, which has started for the Aussie at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships, where he is into the championship match.

“I actually really like playing here. I think the fans here in China are like nowhere else. They’re really loud. I don’t think anywhere else I get given gifts by the fans,” De Minaur said. “So I really enjoy playing here and it’s always a special feeling once you come out here and you’re able to perform and play at a good level and get the win in front of these fans.”

Fans have been flocking to not just matches, but players’ practices just to watch stars such as De Minaur strike the ball, getting even more excited if they are able to snag a selfie or an autograph as the player departs the court. In some cases, fans even bring gifts customised for particular players.

“I’ve gotten a couple tea sets to drink tea and also I’ve gotten a very interesting hat which I might have to post tonight a video of,” De Minaur said. “It’s a pretty funny hat.” 

That video was viewed more than 125,000 times on Instagram alone in less than a day. And plenty of players have commented about how much they enjoyed it.

“They always have some special gifts in China,” commented Italian Andreas Seppi, who reached the last eight at the inaugural ATP 250 event.

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur simply left five laughing emojis. Perhaps that’s because Dzumhur, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Zhuhai, knows a thing or two about getting gifts at this tournament.

“I got one gift yesterday as well,” Dzumhur said. “I got a small bowl with some Chinese paintings with a nice message from a fan.”

<a href=''>Damir Dzumhur</a>

Overall, it’s not simply about the gifts to the players. But they all enjoy the energetic atmosphere that the fans provide, with people in the crowd hanging onto every shot — whether in practice or a match.

“I think they just really enjoy seeing the best tennis players and I really like how they see it that way. It’s a little bit different in Europe, a little bit different in the U.S. But here, it’s special,” Dzumhur said. “They’re so amazed by some of the players and they really love to watch tennis. They really love to see somebody, they love to appreciate that, and by that they are giving some gifts and that was definitely a special gift that they gave Alex.”

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Middelkoop/Demoliner Power Into Zhuhai Final

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Middelkoop/Demoliner Power Into Zhuhai Final

Cacic/Lajovic advance to Chengdu final on Saturday

Matwe Middelkoop and Marcelo Demoliner have reached plenty of ATP Tour doubles finals this season, but have yet to clinch a title. They’ll have a chance to change that at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships after advancing to another final on Saturday with a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Goncalo OIiveira/Andrei Vasilevski.

The Dutch-Brazilian pair won 80 per cent of their first-serve points (35/44) to advance in 79 minutes. Middelkoop finished runner-up this year in Doha (w/Haase), Marseille (w/McLachlan) and Marrakech (w/Nielsen), while Demoliner was a finalist in Munich (w/Sharan). Middelkoop/Demoliner will play fourth-seeded Belgians Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen in the championship match.

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Nikola Cacic/Dusan Lajovic advanced to the Chengdu Open doubles final with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Americans Taylor Fritz/Nicholas Monroe. Fritz/Monroe won more points in the match (60 to 59), but the Serbians won most of the crucial deciding points on Center Court.

Cacic is through to his first ATP Tour doubles final and Lajovic will compete in his first since prevailing in 2015 Istanbul (w/Albot). They’ll face Jonathan Erlich/Fabrice Martin on Sunday.

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Dominant De Minaur Earns Zhuhai Final Spot

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Dominant De Minaur Earns Zhuhai Final Spot

Australian to meet Mannarino in final

When Alex de Minaur has reached an ATP Tour semi-final in 2019, he has gone on to win the title.

The Sydney and Atlanta champion kept his hopes of maintaining that record alive in emphatic fashion on Saturday at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships, cruising past World No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-2.

“[I was] pretty much playing with my eyes closed,” said De Minaur. “I could not do anything wrong today. It was just one of those days. [I was] playing poor before the match and I hit two of the luckiest shots I’ve hit in my life and my coach [said], ‘Today’s going to be a good day.’ And it was.”

De Minaur was at his best throughout the 78-minute encounter in Zhuhai, dropping just one point behind his first serve (19/20) and converting four of five break points to reach his third championship match of the season. The Australian No. 1 improves to 27-15 this year after recording his second Top 10 victory, adding to his maiden Top 10 win against Kei Nishikori at the US Open last month.

“I’ve got this level, the level I brought today. Now it’s all about trying to bring this level as often as I can,” said De Minaur.

”If I can try to bring this level almost every week, then I’ll be going deep in tournaments and beating these top guys and pushing for titles. It’s all about mentally staying in the moment and not losing concentration and trying to back up every day.”

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The 20-year-old made a quick start, breaking Bautista Agut in the fourth game with greater consistency from the baseline. De Minaur outlasted the Spaniard in a series of backhand rallies and used his pace well to cover the court before breaking to love for a 5-2 lead.

After converting set point with a powerful serve into Bautista Agut’s forehand, the World No. 31 repeated the same pattern in the second set to claim victory. De Minaur continued to focus his attack on his opponent’s backhand to extract errors and booked his place in the championship match with a crosscourt forehand winner.

De Minaur will face Adrian Mannarino for the first time in the final. The Frenchman defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 to reach his second tour-level championship match of the year.

“Mannarino is a very tricky player, a veteran player who has won a lot of matches and has been playing some great tennis this week,” said De Minaur. “I know it’s going to be really tough and it’s going to be very different to any match I’ve played this week, so I’m ready to fight off a lot of great points by him… and have some fun out there.”

The 31-year-old started and finished with a flourish to improve to 2-0 in ATP Tour semi-finals this year, winning the opening seven and final five games of the match to advance after two hours and three minutes. Ramos-Vinolas was aiming to notch his 30th tour-level victory of the year in his fourth ATP Tour semi-final of the season (2-2).

“That was a really tough match. Conditions are really humid here and it was really physical, but I was able to stay really concentrated. Even if I lost the second set, I stayed consistent with a lot of energy in the third set,” said Mannarino. “I finally got the break in a really close game at the beginning of the third set and that gave me a push up and I was able to finish well too. I am pretty happy with my performance today and I hope I am going to keep going like this in the final.”

Mannarino will be bidding to add a second ATP Tour trophy to his collection in the final. Appearing in his seventh tour-level championship match at the Libema Open in June, the Frenchman defeated Jordan Thompson in straight sets to become the oldest first-time champion on the ATP Tour this year.

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Zverev Handed Tiafoe Test, Murray To Play Berrettini In Beijing

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Zverev Handed Tiafoe Test, Murray To Play Berrettini In Beijing

Thiem shares top quarter with Berrettini and Murray

Alexander Zverev was handed a difficult start to his China Open campaign at the draw ceremony in Beijing on Saturday.

The second seed will meet American wild card Frances Tiafoe, for the sixth time, in the first round of the ATP 500 event. Zverev leads Tiafoe 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but was taken to a fifth set by the 21-year-old at the US Open last month.

Zverev will be hoping to extend his unbeaten 3-0 tally in Beijing first-round matches. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion owns a 6-3 record in the Chinese capital, highlighted by his run to the semi-finals in 2017.

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The winner of Zverev and Tiafoe will move forward to face #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or Zhuhai semi-finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round. Another Zhuhai semi-finalist — fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut — also features in the bottom quarter of the draw. 

Such is the quality of the draw each year in Beijing, top seed Dominic Thiem is searching for his first victory at the event on his third appearance. The BNP Paribas Open titlist, who lost to John Isner in 2015 and Alexander Zverev in 2016, will once again be heavily tested in a stacked quarter of the draw.

Thiem opens his campaign against 2013 semi-finalist Richard Gasquet and could face last year’s semi-finalist Kyle Edmund in the second round. US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini and former World No. 1 Andy Murray also feature in the top quarter of the draw, where they will meet each other in one of the picks of the first-round matches.

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Karen Khachanov and Fabio Fognini headline the second quarter. Fourth seed Khachanov will begin his title bid against a qualifier, while two-time semi-finalist Fognini faces Mikhail Kukushkin for a spot in the second round. The winner of that match will face Grigor Dimitrov or Andrey Rublev for a position in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the way in the third quarter of the draw. The 21-year-old Greek will meet Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic in the first round, with defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili or Guido Pella awaiting the winner of that clash.

Gael Monfils could meet the winner of that section in the quarter-finals, but the seventh-seeded Frenchman will have to overcome World No. 19 John Isner in his first match. Monfils leads Isner 7-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with each of their 11 previous encounters being played on hard courts.

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Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie win in China Open qualifying

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Britain’s Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie moved a step closer to the China Open main draw after winning their first round qualifying matches in Beijing.

Evans beat China’s Jie Cui 6-3 6-1 and faces Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, while Norrie beat Yecong He 6-2 6-1 and plays Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur.

Andy Murray has a tricky first round draw against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

Meanwhile, Heather Watson failed to reach the women’s first round after losing to Poland’s Magda Linette.

Watson, ranked 125 in the world, lost 6-2 6-1 in a match lasting 61 minutes.

Elsewhere, Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka beat American Alison Riske 6-3 3-6 6-1 to win the Wuhan Open.

At the Chengdu Open, Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 to set up a final against Kazakh Alexander Bublik on Sunday.

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Carreno Busta Books Bublik Final Clash In Chengdu

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Carreno Busta Books Bublik Final Clash In Chengdu

Spaniard owns 23-17 record in 2019

Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to his first ATP Tour championship match since 2017 on Saturday, defeating Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 at the Chengdu Open.

The Spaniard withstood 12 aces from the eighth seed to claim victory after 63 minutes, securing a single break in each set to snap a six-match losing streak in tour-level semi-finals. Competing in his 40th tour-level encounter of the season, Carreno Busta improves to 23-17 this year.

“I lost [semi-finals] in Antalya and Hamburg this year. Finally, I can win a semi-final to be in a final,” said Carreno Busta. “I am excited to play my first final of the year tomorrow.”

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The 28-year-old focussed his attack on Shapovalov’s forehand to clinch the first break of the match. Carreno Busta broke serve to love with a crosscourt forehand passing shot to earn a 4-2 lead and maintained his advantage to seal the set after 30 minutes.

The three-time ATP Tour titlist manufactured his only break point of the second set at 3-3, ripping a backhand return winner to move just two games from victory. Carreno Busta booked his place in the final on his first match point with a powerful serve to Shapovalov’s forehand.

Shapovalov was aiming to reach his first ATP Tour championship match. The 20-year-old Canadian also advanced to the last four in Miami and Winston-Salem this year.

”In the first game of the match, I saved two break points and maybe it was the key… He served really good during a lot of the match, but in the two games where I had break points, I broke serve,” said Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta will attempt to lift his first ATP Tour trophy since the 2017 Millennium Estoril Open when he meets Alexander Bublik in the championship match. The Spaniard leads Bublik 1-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series after winning their only previous encounter at the VTB Kremlin Cup.

“Alex is a tough player. He serves really good with his first and second serves… I need to be very focussed, try to win my service games and then wait for the moment and take advantage of my opportunities,” said Carreno Busta.

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Bublik reached his second tour-level final of the year by beating Lloyd Harris 7-6(6), 6-4. The Newport runner-up landed 21 aces throughout the 85-minute contest to record his 14th win in 24 tour-level matches this year.

“I played a great match… I am very happy to get through and I am looking forward to the final,” said Bublik.

Bublik will be aiming to join the list of first-time winners on the ATP Tour this season. The most recent player to join the list — Hubert Hurkacz — became the 14th maiden champion of the year following his title run at the Winston-Salem Open last month.

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Djokovic/Krajinovic To Face Early Test In Tokyo Doubles Draw

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Djokovic/Krajinovic To Face Early Test In Tokyo Doubles Draw

Serbians will face Pavic/Soares in first round

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is making the most out of his debut at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. The superstar, who will be the top seed in the singles event, is also competing in the doubles draw alongside fellow Serbian Filip Krajinovic.

This is the fourth time Djokovic has teamed with Krajinovic on the ATP Tour, with their last appearance together coming at 2015 Doha, where the pair reached the semi-finals. The 32-year-old has captured one tour-level doubles trophy, nine years ago at Queen’s Club with Jonathan Erlich.

In the first round the Serbians will face fourth seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares. The Croat and Brazilian paired up for the first time in London at the Fever-Tree Championships, and their best result thus far came in Cincinnati, where they made the semi-finals.

The top seeds in Tokyo are Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Argentine Horacio Zeballos. They recently made the US Open final in just their second tournament as a team. Granollers and Zeballos’ tandem debut came in Montreal, where they won the title. Granollers and Zeballos will play this year’s Monte-Carlo champions, Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor, in the first round.

Three of the Top 10 teams in the ATP Doubles Race To London — sixth-placed Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau, eight-placed Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury and 10th-placed Granollers/Zeballos — are in the draw.

Did You Know?
Ben McLachlan has triumphed in Tokyo in each of the past two years. In 2017, he won with compatriot Yasutaka Uchiyama, and in 2018 he emerged victorious alongside Jan-Lennard Struff. This year, the Japanese star is playing with his full-time partner, Brit Luke Bambridge.

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Djokovic Faces Dangerous Draw In Tokyo

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2019

Djokovic Faces Dangerous Draw In Tokyo

Serbian shares top half of the draw with third seed Goffin

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is making his debut at the Rakuten Open Tennis Championships, and he is being welcomed with a slew of potentially dangerous matches.

The top seed, who has won titles at the Australian Open, Madrid and Wimbledon this year, will play a qualifier in the opening round. Then the Serbian could face big-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round if the German ousts home favourite Go Soeda, a wild card, in his own opener.

Djokovic owns a 2-0 lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Struff, but the World No. 38 has enjoyed his most successful year yet, earning four of his six victories against players inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings in 2019. Struff upset Marin Cilic en route to the quarter-finals in Tokyo one year ago.

Japanese No. 2 Yoshihito Nishioka is in Djokovic’s section of the draw, and the first seed the World No. 1 can face is fifth seed Lucas Pouille, who made this year’s Australian Open semi-finals. 2017 Tokyo champion David Goffin — who opens against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta — and two-time semi-finalist and sixth seed Marin Cilic — who begins his run against Japanese wild card Yuichi Sugita — are in Djokovic’s half.

Leading the bottom half is second seed Borna Coric, who lost his only previous match in Tokyo four years ago, when he was only 18, against Kei Nishikori. The Croat plays Japanese wild card Taro Daniel, whom he has never faced, in the first round.

Looming in the quarter-finals for the World No. 14 could be eighth seed Alex de Minaur. The Australian is in good form, battling past Coric in three sets in the Zhuhai quarter-finals on Friday evening. The other seeds on the bottom half are No. 4 Benoit Paire of France and No. 7 Taylor Fritz of the United States.

There are several intriguing first-round matches, including a battle between two Next Gen ATP Finals contenders. Canadian Denis Shapovalov will begin his tournament against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, whom he ousted in straight sets in Winston-Salem. Shapovalov will look to blast through Kecmanovic’s solid baseline game once again, with both men trying to earn as many points as they can to make a push for Milan.

Fritz and fellow American Reilly Opelka, who are close friends, will also battle in the first round. Both men have claimed their first ATP Tour title this season, with Fritz doing so in Eastbourne and Opelka achieving the feat at New York’s ATP 250 event.

Did You Know?
Outside of Djokovic, the rest of the ‘Big Four’ have lifted the trophy in Tokyo. Roger Federer was victorious in 2006, Rafael Nadal triumphed in 2010 and Andy Murray earned the title here in 2011. Djokovic will try to join the club in his tournament debut.

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