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Ivanisevic The Fan Favourite In Hall Of Fame Voting

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Ivanisevic The Fan Favourite In Hall Of Fame Voting

Croatian one of four nominees for the 2020 Hall of Fame class

Croatia’s Goran Ivanisevic is a little bit closer to making the International Tennis Hall of Fame next July. The 2001 Wimbledon champion received the most fan votes during a recent five-week voting period that drew interest from fans in more than 120 countries.

Ivanisevic finished in first place, followed by 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez of Spain, Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman, winner of nine major doubles titles and former doubles World No. 1, and Spain’s Sergi Bruguera, back-to-back Roland Garros champion. This year marks the second time that the International Tennis Hall of Fame has incorporated a fan vote into its induction process.

You May Also Like: Ivanisevic, Bruguera, Bjorkman Named To 2020 Hall Of Fame Ballot

“In today’s digital world, sports fans are more knowledgeable and connected to athletes than ever before. It makes sense to give them a voice in determining who will be the recipients of tennis’ ultimate honour. With votes coming in from more than 120 countries around the world, we’re glad to see that so many tennis fans have embraced fan voting as a means to engage with tennis history and stay connected with tennis greats beyond their playing days,” said Todd Martin, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Nominees are determined by a combination of the results of the votes from the official voting group, comprised of journalists, historians, and Hall of Famers, as well as bonus points earned through the fan vote. To be inducted, a candidate must receive 75 per cent or more affirmative votes from the combined results of the official voting group and fan vote bonuses.

Ivanisevic will receive three bonus percentage points, Martínez two and Bjorkman one. Once the official voting group results and fan vote bonuses are compiled, the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be officially announced during the Australian Open in January.

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Read & Watch: Zverev Routs Felix, Surges Forward In Race To London

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Read & Watch: Zverev Routs Felix, Surges Forward In Race To London

German looking to end season at The O2 for third straight year

Alexander Zverev leapfrogged into 10th place in the ATP Race To London – two away from the eighth and final qualification spot – on Thursday with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 win against Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime at the China Open in Beijing.

The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion played confidently and showed clear thinking all match to reach his ninth quarter-final of the season at the ATP 500.

Zverev broke in the fifth game of the opener when Auger-Aliassime lifted a backhand long. The German finished the set with a drop shot on approach.

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Auger-Aliassime, who’s close to qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, gathered momentum by erasing a break point in his opening service game of the second set. But Zverev never let the 19-year-old into the match, stepping into the court and pinning the Canadian behind the baseline to break twice more.

Zverev is looking to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the third consecutive season. The German beat Novak Djokovic in the 2018 final for the biggest title of his career.

You May Also Like: Tsitsipas Beats Defending Champion Basilashvili In Beijing

Zverev currently has 2,165 points in the Race, only 15 points behind ninth-placed Kei Nishikori of Japan (2,180) and 20 points behind eighth-placed Matteo Berrettini of Italy (2,185). Zverev can add 45 more points to his tally and slide into eighth place by beating American Sam Querrey and making the semi-finals.

Querrey showed impressive resolve, fighting past Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 7-6(2), 6-7(3), 6-3. Querrey served for the second set at 5-4 but recovered in the third to make his first quarter-final since July at Wimbledon.

In their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head matchup, Zverev beat Querrey at the 2017 Laver Cup in Prague 6-4, 6-4.

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China Open: Bianca Andreescu to meet Naomi Osaka in quarter-finals

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Bianca Andreescu will play Naomi Osaka for the first time after both players advanced to the quarter-finals of the China Open.

Osaka, 21, lost only four games with a 6-4 6-0 win over USA’s Alison Riske, before Andreescu came past American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-1 6-3.

The 19-year-old Canadian is on a 16-match-winning streak, which saw her lift the US Open trophy last month.

World number four Osaka, from Japan, is the current Australian Open Champion.

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Matsuoka's Dream Of Historic Japanese Week Comes To Fruition In Tokyo

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Matsuoka’s Dream Of Historic Japanese Week Comes To Fruition In Tokyo

Matsuoka reached a career-high No. 46 in the ATP Rankings

Wild card Taro Daniel defeated Jordan Thompson on Thursday to join qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships quarter-finals, marking the first time since 1972 that two Japanese players have accomplished the feat. For former Japanese ATP Tour star Shuzo Matsuoka, it has been a long time coming.

“I’m always dreaming [of this]. That’s why I started helping with the juniors 20 years ago,” said Matsuoka, who runs a Japanese camp for kids ranging in age from 10 to 18. “All the men’s tennis [in Japan] is coming together like one. Even 10-year-olds to Davis Cup players, the whole team is on one street. This is the biggest weapon for us. We have to keep going on like this.”

Before Kei Nishikori, Matsuoka was the biggest star in Japanese tennis. Matsuoka was so big that ‘Project 45’ was tagged to Nishikori to inspire him and other Japanese players to try to surpass Matsuoka’s career-high ATP Ranking of No. 46, which he set in July 1992.

You May Also Like: Daniel Creates Japanese History 47 Years In The Making

So it was inspiring for Matsuoka to see four Japanese players reach the second round of this ATP 500 event, the first time that had been done since 2003, when there was a 48-player draw compared to today’s 32. Matsuoka made only one quarter-final from 13 tries at this event.

The two Japanese through to the last eight — Daniel and Uchiyama — have followed different paths. Daniel, who has climbed as high as World No. 64, won an ATP Tour title last year in Istanbul and has defeated Novak Djokovic. Now 26, he first cracked the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings when he was only 22.

“I’ve been telling him from [the] first year [I knew him], you have a chance to be at least Top 30, but you have to play big,” Daniel said. “He can run, but when he just pushes balls back, you can be maybe Top 100, but that’s it: a Challenger player. Now he’s playing ATP Tour tennis.”

As Daniel himself admitted, he did not arrive in Tokyo with much momentum. In his previous five tournaments, he made four ATP Challenger Tour quarter-finals and lost in the first round of US Open qualifying. And Matsuoka believes that after falling in Flushing Meadows, a switch went off.

“I know he was growing up in Spain and I was saying to him that, ‘You will have a big tennis.’ He is very tall, strong, but he was just playing so far back, very close to the umpires. He has to get in and he’s tried to change. But especially this year, he lost his mind, especially after the US Open,” Matsuoka said. “After that he really had to change his tennis and be more aggressive and enjoy. [He] won [his] first round and got lots of confidence. The way he plays now, he can be tough.”

After upsetting second seed Borna Coric in the first round, Daniel said he did not have high expectations entering the week. But against Thompson, he began to feel more nerves as his own expectations grew.

“I think it’s a big deal for the Japanese people, especially two Japanese [making the quarter-finals] without Kei. It’s a pretty rare occasion, obviously,” Daniel said. “Tennis-level wise, I think it’s not that surprising, but when Japanese guys do this in Japan, it’s a special occasion.”

Although this is a special moment for Daniel, he has been under the spotlight before. Uchiyama is a year older, but at a career-high No. 136, he is first finding his stride. The Japanese made his first ATP Tour quarter-final in Brisbane this year and won a Challenger crown in Shanghai last month.

To Matusoka, Uchiyama’s success has been a long time coming.

“I’ve known him since he’s 10. He’s a great player. He’s tall, strong. But he didn’t have a strong mentality… finally he realised that he has to change. This is the first time, he’s changed his life. His tennis and his life are going to change for sure,” Matsuoka said. “When [he came to my] camp, he was so negative. Every time he said, ‘I cannot do this.’ It’s amazing the negative things. So I made him go back home twice and his mother came to me and he was crying he didn’t want to go back.

“If he can make it, he can start playing good tennis and be a good player, a singles player. I’ve been telling him, ‘You should play only doubles. Your personality, your attitude and your mental [game], you’re not for singles. I always said that to him.’ He said to me, ‘Shuzo, I can play the singles.’ You can see it. He was coming back and this is the first time he made it.”

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Uchiyama lifted the doubles title in Tokyo two years ago alongside countryman Ben McLachlan. But this is the first time he is into an ATP 500 quarter-final.

“He’s always been a guy who I’ve always wondered why his [ATP] Ranking has been a little bit lower than he should be, because whenever I practise with him, I feel like he’s really good,” Daniel said. “So finally he’s starting to step into where he should be playing. I’m glad to see him doing well.”

Even though Daniel and Uchiyama are in the middle of a historic run, Nishikori has redefined expectations from the home fans. The Japanese icon has ascended as high as World No. 4 and lifted the Tokyo trophy twice, in 2012 and 2014.

“It’s a little bit different because when I was playing, there was no one near the Top 100 except me, so all the attention came on me. But now, it’s Kei. They are happy to win maybe the first round, maybe the second round. It’s an unbelievable thing [to make it to] the quarter-finals,” Matusoka said. “Kei is winning, he’s won a couple times over here, so they always compare with Kei. The other Japanese players have it very tough. When it was [my] time, if this was happening, it’s amazing, all newspapers it’d maybe be the first page. But now with Kei, it’s a little bit different.”

Neither player’s run is over yet. On Friday, Daniel will face John Millman and Uchiyama will play Reilly Opelka, both of whom are unseeded. Based on their performances so far this week, there’s no reason to believe that the Japanese can’t continue making history.

“For Japanese tennis, it’s the biggest thing in a couple years,” Matsuoka said. “We still have a chance with good draws, so we hope they keep going.”

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Defending Champions Melo/Kubot Reach Beijing Semi-finals

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Defending Champions Melo/Kubot Reach Beijing Semi-finals

Pouille/Struff eliminate third seeds in Tokyo

Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo recorded their sixth straight victory at the China Open on Thursday, beating Mao-Xin Gong and Ze Zhang 6-1, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals.

The defending champions claimed 82 per cent of first-serve points (27/33) and did not face a break point to advance after 68 minutes. The Polish-Brazilian duo, who haven’t dropped a set this week, will face Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev for a place in the championship match.

Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek also reached the last four in Beijing. The Cincinnati champions converted four of six break points to overcome Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4.

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Seeds Fall In Tokyo Quarter-finals
Lucas Pouille and Jan-Lennard Struff saved one match point to beat third seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 6-4, 11-9 and book their place in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships semi-finals.

The unseeded pairing trailed 8/9 in the Match Tie-break before winning three straight points to confirm a semi-final clash against Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor. The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters titlists edged Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 5-7, 11-9.

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Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek grabbed the last remaining semi-final spot on Colosseum, beating fourth seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 7-6(6), 7-6(6). The Atlanta winners saved all four break points they faced and will meet second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin for a spot in the championship match.

Did You Know?
Struff is aiming to capture his second straight Tokyo crown. The German also lifted the trophy last year alongside two-time champion Ben McLachlan.

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Tsitsipas Beats Defending Champion Basilashvili In Beijing

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Tsitsipas Beats Defending Champion Basilashvili In Beijing

Greek converts his first break point at 12th time of asking

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas ended Nikoloz Basilashvili’s hopes of retaining the China Open title on Thursday with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 second-round victory in Beijing.

Tsitsipas, who will face American John Isner on Friday, is now the fifth player in 2019 to record 40 tour-level match wins, following in the footsteps of Daniil Medvedev (54), Rafael Nadal (48), Roger Federer (45) and Novak Djokovic (43).

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas did not add any points to his 2019 ATP Race To London tally with victory over Basilashvili, but he is in a strong position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, is in sixth position on 3,160 points.

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Basilashvili came through a tight opening set — hitting 17 winners and 17 unforced errors. The Georgian also saved six break points with an element of luck.

It wasn’t until the fourth game of the second set that Tsitsipas finally made the breakthrough on his 12th break point when Basilashvili, who struck five of his nine double faults in the game, fired a forehand wide.

While Tsitsipas saved one break point for a 4-1 advantage, the 21-year-old carried the momentum and from 5-3 in the second set he won three straight games. A third service break came in the seventh game of the decider.

Basilashvili committed 32 unforced errors in the second and third sets of the pair’s second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (also 2019 Australian Open), which lasted two hours and eight minutes.

You May Also Like: Isner Edges Evans, Now Plays Tsitsipas In Beijing

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Britain's Evans loses to big-serving Isner in Beijing

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Dan Evans’ bid to become the British number one ended when he lost in straight sets to John Isner in the second round of the China Open.

Evans could not break the American’s serve and was beaten 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

The 29-year-old, the world number 48, would have overtaken compatriot Kyle Edmund if he had reached the last four.

Evans’ defeat leaves Andy Murray, who faces top-seed Dominic Thiem of Austria in the last eight on Friday, as the sole remaining Briton in the field.

Evans earned two break points in the ninth game of the first set but could not take either and big-serving Isner, 34, took the tie-break 7-3.

The second set looked to be heading for a tie-break too, until Isner found some magic to secure the only break of serve in the match and book a quarter-final spot against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Greek player beat defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 4-6 6-3 6-2.

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Chung Ousts Cilic In Tokyo, Calls It 'One Of The Best Wins In My Career'

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Chung Ousts Cilic In Tokyo, Calls It ‘One Of The Best Wins In My Career’

South Korean to meet Goffin in quarter-finals

The first three times Hyeon Chung played former World No. 3 Marin Cilic, he did not win a set. But on Thursday evening in Tokyo, Chung flipped the script, and denied the Croat a milestone achievement.

Chung finished strong against Cilic for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory, reaching the quarter-finals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships after two hours and two minutes. The South Korean also denied Cilic his 500th tour-level win in the process.

“I’m just really happy because this is one of the best wins in my career so far. It was a really tough match against one of the best players in the world,” Chung said. “I’m just trying to enjoy every point.”

You May Also Like: Daniel Creates Japanese History 47 Years In The Making

Facing Cilic was a special challenge for Chung, who had not played the sixth seed since 2016 Brisbane. Cilic rallied to force a decider and then used two big first serves to save two break points in the first game of the third set. But Chung kept battling to break for a 1-0 lead, and he never relinquished that advantage.

“We played a few times before, but I never beat him in one set, so I was just trying to do my best,” Chung said. “He’s also a nice guy on and off the court, so I’m just trying to follow him all the time and I’m happy to win tonight.”

Chung struck 11 aces and won 90 per cent of his first-serve points (37/41), earning 53 per cent of his return points in the third set.

“I think it was good serving and I think I played good from the baseline,” Chung said. “I’m just trying to stay calm all the time.”

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The former World No. 19, who won the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in 2017, struggled for much of this season with a back injury. But Chung will now face 2017 Tokyo titlist David Goffin for a spot in his first ATP Tour semi-final since 2018 Munich. The Belgian has won two of their three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

“He’s really one of the best players in the world,” Chung said. “We know how to play each other because we practised many times and we played a few matches, so I’m just trying to do my best tomorrow.”

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Isner Edges Past Evans; Awaits Tsitsipas Or Basilashvili In Beijing

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Isner Edges Past Evans; Awaits Tsitsipas Or Basilashvili In Beijing

One break of serve enough for American

John Isner hit 21 aces to advance to the China Open quarter-finals on Thursday with a 7-6(3), 7-5 win over Briton Daniel Evans in one hour and 51 minutes.

With his 28th match win of the year, Isner added 45 points to join 15th-placed Swiss Stan Wawrinka on 1,670 points in the 2019 ATP Race To London. Four of the eight singles berths remains up for grabs at the Nitto ATP Finals.

The 34-year-old American will next challenge third-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is also vying to compete at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, or defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

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Isner, a 2010 semi-finalist in Beijing, recovered from 15/40 at 4-4 in the first set. He broke clear of Evans at 3/3 in the tie-break by winning four straight points. As pressure mounted on Evans’ serve in the second set, the World No. 48 was broken in the 11th game.

Evans had beaten the American en route to his first ATP Tour final at the Delray Beach Open by (l. to Albot) in February.

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Read & Watch: 2017 Champ Goffin Glides Past Shapovalov In Tokyo

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2019

Read & Watch: 2017 Champ Goffin Glides Past Shapovalov In Tokyo

Belgian set to face Chung

Third seed David Goffin has proven tough to beat in Tokyo, walking onto Colosseum at Ariake Tennis Park Thursday with a 10-1 record at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. And despite some moments of brilliance, #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov could not find a way in the key moments to change that.

Goffin, the 2017 Tokyo champion, defeated Shapovalov 7-6(5), 7-6(2) after one hour and 57 minutes to reach the quarter-finals at this ATP 500 event for the third time in three appearances. In 2016, the Belgian made the final before losing to Aussie Nick Kyrgios.

“It was tough. He was serving really well and I knew it’d be long sets with some tie-breaks. I tried to break him during the whole match, I didn’t, but I served really well. We were both really solid on our service games and during the tie-breaks I played very well,” Goffin said. “I’m really happy about my performance because it was a good fight.”

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There were no breaks of serve in the battle, with Goffin saving the two break points he faced and Shapovalov staving off the four opportunities he confronted. But 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up Goffin won six of the first seven points in the first-set tie-breaks and the first six points of the second-set tie-break to gain insurmountable leads against the shotmaking 20-year-old.

Shapovalov showed plenty of fight, coming from 1/6 in the first-set tie-break to 5/6. But the dynamic lefty dug himself holes too deep to climb out of. And Goffin continued his pursuit of a fifth ATP Tour title.

Goffin, who became the first Belgian to reach an ATP Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati, is into his seventh tour-level quarter-final of 2019. He will next play 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung, who upset sixth seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

You May Also Like: Chung Ousts Cilic In Tokyo, Calls It ‘One Of The Best Wins In My Career’

“Today I think I was a little bit better. But he was serving so well, lefty, serving everywhere, great second serve as well, so it was tough to break him today,” Goffin said of Shapovalov. “I had to fight, but I was playing much better today.”

Shapovalov has also performed well in Tokyo, making the semi-finals last year on his debut. But the Canadian could not reach the quarter-finals for the second consecutive week after making the last four last week in Chengdu.

Did You Know?
Goffin is trying to finish inside the year-end Top 20 of the ATP Rankings for the fourth time in five years. Last year, the Belgian completed his season as World No. 22.

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