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Varillas Claims Peru's First Title In 11 Years

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Varillas Claims Peru’s First Title In 11 Years

Revisit the week that was on the ATP Challenger Tour as we applaud the achievements of those on the rise and look ahead to the week to come

Campeonato Internacional de Tenis (Campinas, Brazil): Tennis in South America is on the rise. The continent is steadily making progress on the professional scene, with Nicolas Jarry and Cristian Garin bringing Chile back into the spotlight and Hugo Dellien putting Bolivia on the map. On Sunday, it was Peru’s turn to enter the fray.

Juan Pablo Varillas secured his nation’s first Challenger crown in 11 years with his maiden title on the clay of Campinas. Appearing in his first final, he completed a dramatic 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 comeback over another first-time finalist – Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina. Varillas did not drop a set in five matches to reach the Campinas championship.

It was a very happy 24th birthday for Varillas, who became the first Peruvian champion since Luis Horna in Lugano in 2008. The Lima native is the fifth player from his country to lift a trophy, joining Horna, Ivan Miranda, Jose-Luis Noriega and Pablo Arraya.

Peruvian Challenger Champions

Player Tournaments Won
Juan Pablo Varillas
Campinas 2019
Luis Horna Zagreb 2002, Furth 2002, Weiden 2002, Sevilla 2003, Bermuda 2004, Lugano 2008
Ivan Miranda Salinas 2002, Salinas 2008, Tunica Resorts 2008
Jose-Luis Noriega Cotia 1993
Pablo Arraya San Luis Potosi 1991

“Before the match, I talked to my coach and remembered that the first time I came to Brazil, I was playing Challenger qualifying,” said Varillas. “The matches were very hard and I never saw myself playing at this level. Four years later, winning a Challenger here is a result of hard work and continuing to fight even when things are not going well. I am very happy.

“My first set was really, really bad. I was nervous. I was hitting the ball hard all week, but today I was pushing it. Juan Pablo was really solid from the baseline and running a lot. It was a completely different match from the second set.”

Sitting at No. 332 in the ATP Rankings entering the week, Varillas is projected to soar 94 spots to a career-high No. 238 on Monday.


Nur-Sultan Challenger (Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan): In 2016, Illya Marchenko was playing the best tennis of his career. The Ukrainian earned his biggest win over David Ferrer at the ATP 250 in Doha, followed by a Top 50 breakthrough later in the year. He peaked at a career-high No. 49 in the ATP Rankings. But a shoulder ailment would cut his momentum short and Marchenko was forced to undergo surgery prior to his 2018 campaign. Starting from scratch, he fell outside the Top 1,000 exactly one year ago.

Now, Marchenko is on the rise once again. This week, the charismatic 32-year-old captured his seventh ATP Challenger Tour title – and perhaps his most gratifying. He rallied past Yannick Maden 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan. It was his first crown in more than two years, rising 103 spots to No. 275 in the ATP Rankings.


Sanchez-Casal Head By NH Hotel Group (Barcelona, Spain): Salvatore Caruso reigned in Barcelona on Sunday, defeating Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 6-2 for his second Challenger title. The Italian, who lifted his maiden trophy on home soil in Como last year, returned to the winners’ circle.

Caruso will make his Top 100 debut with the victory, rising to a career-high No. 98 in the ATP Rankings. It has been a breakthrough season for the 26-year-old, who scored his biggest win over David Goffin in Phoenix in March, followed by a first ATP Tour semi-final in Umag in July. He also reached the third round at Roland Garros as a qualifier.

The week will also be remembered for Kovalik’s magical run. One month after becoming a father and lifting the trophy in Szczecin, he saved a combined six match points to reach the final.


The biggest tournament in Latin American returns to Santo Domingo, where it will be a party once again in the Dominican Republic. Victor Estrella Burgos will bid farewell, competing in his final professional tournament. Last year’s runner-up Federico Delbonis is the top seed.

On the indoor hard courts of Mouilleron le Captif, Ugo Humbert and Gregoire Barrere lead the home charge on French soil. Mikael Ymer, champion a week ago in Orleans, looks to add another title to his growing resume.

And in northern California, Steve Johnson is the top seed in Fairfield. Countrymen Denis Kudla and Marcos Giron are seeded second and third, respectively.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Preview: Murray Eyeing More Positive Momentum In Shanghai; View Schedule

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Preview: Murray Eyeing More Positive Momentum In Shanghai; View Schedule

Scot last won the ATP Masters 1000 title in 2016

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray will look to add another positive week to his already impressive comeback at the Rolex Shanghai Masters this week.

Murray, who underwent a second hip surgery on 28 January, won back-to-back matches for the first time in more than 12 months last week at the China Open in Beijing. The Scot lost to the eventual champion, Dominic Thiem, for the second tournament in a row (Alex de Minaur, Zhuhai).

But Murray left the ATP 500 event with more positive momentum to take with him to the season’s penultimate ATP Masters 1000 event in China, which Murray has won three times: 2016, 2011 and 2010.

I think this was maybe the best in terms of how I played since I came back. It was great for me. I played three matches in four days, which is quite a lot. Actually I felt better than I expected today,” Murray said after falling to Thiem on Friday.

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It was just another step for me. I wasn’t expecting to go from here to my highest level or winning tournaments straightaway. Everything has kind of been a pretty gradual progress for me. This week was another step, I think, in the right direction.”

The 32-year-old wild card will face Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero, No. 59 in the ATP Rankings, for the first time on Monday. Londero won his maiden ATP Tour title in February at the clay-court Cordoba Open in Argentina, but the 26-year-old is 3-4 on hard court this season.

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Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini will try to pad their ATP Race To London tallies. Monfils, 12th in the Race with 2,125 points, meets Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego, and Fognini, 13th in the Race and only 70 points behind Monfils, will play American Sam Querrey, who made the Beijing quarter-finals last week (l. to Zverev).

Both Monfils and Fognini are chasing 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev, who holds the eighth and final qualification spot with 2,255 points, 130 points ahead of Monfils and 200 ahead of Fognini. The top eight in the Race will compete at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 10-17 November at The O2 in London.

More From #RolexShMasters
Shanghai Singles Draw Preview
Shanghai Doubles Draw Preview
* All You Need To Know
* Can You Pass Our Quiz?

Former Next Gen ATP Finals qualifiers Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. and Denis Shapovalov of Canada will renew their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry to kick off play on Centre Court. Shapovalov leads their series 2-1, which includes his three-set win in the Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finals in March.

Both remain in contention for to qualify for the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 5-9 November in Milan. Shapovalov is in fourth place in the ATP Race To Milan, with 1,210 points, and Tiafoe is right behind him in fifth place, with 960 points.

#NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic is in seventh place in the Race To Milan (883 points) and will meet Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in round one. In other action, 14th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina will face Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil, and top doubles seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah open against Austrians Oliver Marach/Jurgen Melzer.

CENTRE COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Denis Shapovalov (CAN)
[10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Sam Querrey (USA)
Not Before 6:30 pm
[WC] Andy Murray (GBR) vs [Q] Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG)
[WC] Ze Zhang (CHN) vs [Q] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)

SHOW COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) vs Marin Cilic (CRO)
[Q] Vasek Pospisil (CAN) vs [14] Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
[9] Gael Monfils (FRA) vs Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
Not Before 5:30 pm
Kukushkin (KAZ) vs Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)

View The Remainder Of Monday’s Schedule

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Fritz Outlasts Verdasco In Shanghai Opener

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Fritz Outlasts Verdasco In Shanghai Opener

Basilashvili through in three sets

Taylor Fritz advanced to the Rolex Shanghai Masters second round for the third time on Sunday, outlasting Fernando Verdasco 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-4.

The 21-year-old claimed his second victory in three FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters against the Spaniard after two hours and 39 minutes, saving eight of 10 break points en route to victory. The Nature Valley International champion improves to 28-25 at tour-level this year.

Fritz will face seventh seed Karen Khachanov for a spot in the third round. Khachanov arrives in Shanghai after a semi-final run at the China Open in Beijing.

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Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili recovered from a set down to defeat Radu Albot 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the opening match on Center Court. The 15th seed, who broke serve on four occasions throughout the first-round encounter, will next face Italy’s Marco Cecchinato or Benoit Paire of France.

Competing in his 45th tour-level match of the year (24-21), Hubert Hurkacz defeated Zhizen Zhang 7-6(5), 6-4. The Winston-Salem Open titlist saved all four break points he faced throughout the 81-minute encounter and will meet ninth seed Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Sonego in the second round.

Portugal’s Joao Sousa came from behind to move past Filip Krajinovic 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5). The World No. 62 landed 10 aces and claimed 78 per cent of first-serve points (45/58) to earn his first main draw win in five matches at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

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The 'Pleasant Surprise' Djokovic Received After Winning The Tokyo Title

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

The ‘Pleasant Surprise’ Djokovic Received After Winning The Tokyo Title

Serbian shares thoughts on praise from final opponent Millman

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic not only impressed the Tokyo crowd on Sunday by winning the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, but he made an impression on his opponent in the final, John Millman, too.

“It sound silly to say, but I hope everyone all around the world realizes just how good you are,” Millman said during his post-match speech. “You’re an absolute champion and you’re the type of person that’s going to be remembered forever. Your legacy is continuing to build and will live on long after you finish playing. But I’m sure you’ve got a fair few more years left.”

Djokovic claimed his 76th tour-level title and his fourth trophy of the year. It is the 11th time he has captured at least four crowns in a season. But it’s easy to get lost in the stats and lose sight of Djokovic’s tremendous level.

“I think we’ve been blessed in the game currently with a couple of massive superstars. I don’t want to leave out your Wawrinka’s and Murray’s in this, because that sounds silly to do that. But obviously I’m probably referring to Rafa, Roger and Novak,” Millman said. “Sometimes I feel like these guys are just so good, sometimes, whether it be Novak or Rafa or whoever, we forget how good they are, what they’ve done and what Novak is doing is incredible. My words to him were heartfelt in that as a tennis lover myself, I just admire and appreciate just how good he is and I just wanted to let him know that and I think I said and I hope people realise how good he is and not to take that for granted, because we’re not going to have these types of players forever.”

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Djokovic did not take those comments from Millman lightly. The Serbian noted that he does not try to think of himself in that manner or praise himself, but he appreciates the respect from his peer.

“I was very pleasantly surprised and touched with his words. It was very nice of him to say something like that,” Djokovic said. “I try to be humble and live in the present, even though, of course, I do understand that there’s going to be a time when I’m not going to play tennis anymore and the future generations will hopefully remember and talk about me in a positive way and the legacy and the impact that I left behind on this sport can be and I hope to be positive on these guys.”

The 32-year-old became the 10th World No. 1 to win the Tokyo event, and he also pulled to within 1,460 points of Rafael Nadal in the ATP Race To London as he continues his pursuit of a record-tying sixth finish atop the year-end ATP Rankings. But while the Serbian appreciates tennis history, that’s not all that drives him.

“The main source of motivation has to come from inside, rather than external. You play a tournament and you play a match, but that’s probably 10 per cent, maybe 20 per cent of your entire year of playing tennis. Everything else is practice,” Djokovic said. “So you need daily motivation that comes intrinsically and that guides you and moves you when you need to be moved, so to say, when you need to be inspired to go out and play with the good spirit.

“I respect obviously when people say, ‘work hard’, but I’m more for this approach where you work hard, but you bring good spirit into it, you enjoy it. If you do something that you don’t love, it really makes it really difficult to do it in the long run. I have been playing tennis all my life basically and competing in professional tennis for more than 15 years, so I still plan to play for many more years and hopefully I can be healthy and have the heart, mind and soul aligned for this to happen.”

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This doesn’t mean that Djokovic does not chase milestones. In fact, he told the media Sunday evening that he wants to be World No. 1 and win tennis’ biggest titles. But not needing those motivators to push him every day allows him to constantly maintain a high level and continue improving.

“The driving force or the biggest motivation is really the love for the game and that has to surface and that has to be the fuel every single day,” Djokovic said. “Of course goals are big, but in my case I try not to make them bigger than the biggest one.”

Djokovic faced few difficulties in his first Tokyo appearance, winning a title on his main draw tournament debut for the 10th time. The top seed did not drop a set during his run.

“It’s unfortunate when you come up against them,” Millman said. “But he’s a superstar and what he’s doing is he’s building a legend that long after he’s finished playing, people will remember just how good he is.”

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Thiem Holds Off Tsitsipas For Fourth Title Of 2019

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Thiem Holds Off Tsitsipas For Fourth Title Of 2019

Austrian wins second ATP 500 title of the season

Dominic Thiem weathered some of Stefanos Tsitsipas’ best tennis on Sunday to win his fourth title of the season 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and further pad his hard-court resume at the China Open in Beijing.

Thiem, who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals by reaching the ATP 500 final, broke in the second game of the deciding set to wrestle momentum away for good against the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, who was going for his first ATP 500 crown.

Thiem was too locked in during the deciding set, and the Austrian, who also beat Roger Federer for the BNP Paribas Open title in March, won his second hard-court title in a season for the first time in his career. The win also marks only the second time in Thiem’s career that he has won four championships in a single year (2016).

Tsitsipas and Thiem had endured bruising baseline battles during their three prior clay-court matchups. But Sunday’s final was nearly the opposite as both were keen to attack from the back of the court and charge forward, even serving and volleying on big points.

They combined for 58 net points, (Thiem: 17/25; Tsitsipas: 19/33) and the final featured more than a few cat-and-mouse points at net that had the Beijing crowd roaring.

Tsitsipas broke in the eighth game of the opener before serving it out. The two, after trading breaks early in the second, were on serve until the ninth game as Tsitsipas served to stay in the set.

The Greek, serving at 4-5, 30/40, had saved five of six break points for the set, including two from 0/40 down. But a Thiem backhand pass clipped the net and landed in, evening the final for the Austrian, and Tsitsipas never recovered. Thiem broke twice to start the third and served out the final.

“He doesn’t let people win. He always finds solutions,” Tsitsipas said.

Read More: Thiem Books Fourth Trip To London

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas was looking to add to his ATP Race To London tally with the third title of his season. But the Greek, with 3,370 points, is still currently in sixth place in the Race and next in line to qualify after the fifth-placed Thiem secured his spot on Saturday. The top eight in the Race will compete at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 10-17 November at The O2 in London.

Tsitsipas will receive 300 ATP Rankings points and $364,615 in prize money. Thiem earns 500 ATP Rankings points and $733,790 in prize money.

Did You Know?
Thiem picked up his first such victory since beating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in June during the Roland Garros semi-finals.

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China Open: Naomi Osaka beats world number one Ashleigh Barty in final

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Naomi Osaka came from a set down to beat world number one Ashleigh Barty in an enthralling China Open final.

The Japanese world number four came through 3-6 6-3 6-2 in just under two hours in Beijing on Sunday.

The win gives Osaka a second title in a row after victory at the Pan Pacific Open in her hometown of Osaka in September.

Since losing in the last 16 of the US Open last month, the 21-year-old has won 10 consecutive matches.

The title also ranks as one of the biggest of the two-time Grand Slam champion’s career because it is only her second premier WTA title – the top level of tournaments on the women’s tour after the majors.

Australia’s Barty replaced Osaka as world number one earlier this year, and between them they have won two of the four Grand Slams in 2019. This final was fitting of a match between two of the best players on the planet.

One break of serve for Barty settled the first set, with Osaka punished for three double faults in the sixth game.

But Osaka applied pressure early in the second set and eventually broke serve in the sixth game to level the match.

She repeated the feat in the first game of the decider, and did so again to take a 5-2 lead – before sealing victory on her second match point.

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Federer Feeling The Love In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Federer Feeling The Love In Shanghai

Swiss star makes his eighth appearance at this event

Roger Federer has the aura of an A-list celebrity when he walks around the grounds at any ATP Tour event. Fans pile around for autographs, cameras click and whirr, and his practise sessions are standing room only.

The energy surrounding Federer is heightened even further at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. The second-seeded Swiss is making his eighth appearance at this event, but the adoration he receives from the fans in Shanghai is still just as exciting for him.

”The fans get together [and] really make a conscious effort to show me how excited and happy they are,” Federer said at his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday. “I felt that yesterday at Fan Day. It means a lot to me. You don’t get fans grouping together like this anywhere else in the world.”

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Although keeping a low profile at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center isn’t quite possible for Federer, he has heartily embraced the extra attention. He realises that it takes just as much time to sign a tennis ball as it does to explain why you can’t sign one. Federer’s eagerness to make his fans a priority has only deepened their connection with him throughout his 21 years on Tour.

”When somebody asks you a question, you try to answer. When somebody asks you for a picture, you try to take it,” Federer said. “It means so much to any fan because it’s maybe the first time they’ve seen you or maybe they have travelled far just to get a chance to be near you or ask you a question.

”Sometimes you’re more tired than other days. For the most part, I try to lead by example for the new generation of players who I hope are going to be great for the game. I’m aware that I have the chance and the power to motivate, inspire younger children and set a good example. That’s something I have always appreciated and thought was very nice.”

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It’s not just the fans who are happy to see Federer, though. The Swiss had a chance to catch up with friend and longtime rival Andy Murray, who also headlines the draw this week. Federer said he’s been closely following Murray’s singles comeback and is optimistic that the Brit still has more great tennis in him.

“It was great to see him again and just chat with him for a little bit,” Federer said. “I think it’s super exciting for the Tour and for us players because he’s very much a guy we like and respect a lot. Doesn’t have enemies. We need guys like him who also lead by example with hard work and toughness and fairness.

”I love seeing Andy back. I also feel like he’s playing better and better, which is going to be great.”

But now that pleasantries have been exchanged, Federer is ready to get down to business. He has a challenging draw that will see him start against Croatian Marin Cilic or Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, but believes he’s playing well enough to win his third title in Shanghai.

”The draw is tough here,” Federer said. “It also depends on your opponents a little bit. It’s not just every match on my racquet, unfortunately, but I feel like I have good energy left in the tank to go and finish strong.”

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Polasek/Dodig Capture Beijing Crown

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

Polasek/Dodig Capture Beijing Crown

Unseeded duo claims second ATP Tour trophy

Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek continued their impressive start as a team at the China Open on Sunday, beating defending champions Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-3, 7-6(4) to lift their second ATP Tour title as a pairing.

Dodig and Polasek, competing in just their seventh event together, improved to 2-1 in ATP Tour championship matches after snapping Kubot and Melo’s seven-match Beijing win streak in 90 minutes. The unseeded pairing rallied from 2-5 down in the second set and saved a set point at 3-5 before taking the title in the tie-break.

“All the week we had a good time. We played good matches,” said Dodig. “The final was a really exciting match. It was very nice to play in front of a lot of people. We really enjoyed the quality of the match, [it was] very high.

“The first set was really, really good from our side. We started good. The second set we also made the break in beginning. We [had the match] under control. Then they played one really good game, broke back… In the end we were a little bit better in the crucial moments. I think we deserved to win this final even though the match could go both ways.”

Dodig and Polasek improve to 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Kubot and Melo. The Croatian-Slovakian team also defeated their final opponents en route to their maiden trophy as a pair at the Western & Southern Open in August.

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Dodig now owns a 15-15 record in ATP Tour doubles finals after picking up his fourth ATP Tour trophy of the season. Alongside the 34-year-old’s trophies with Polasek, Dodig also captured crowns in Montpellier and Lyon (w/Roger-Vasselin). Polasek, who owns an almost identical record in tour-level finals (14-15), also lifted the Kitzbuhel trophy with Philipp Oswald this year.

“We can really appreciate the way we played,” said Polasek. “We practised hard [in the] past 10 days. We already spent the week in Chengdu. I think we came here really prepared. We played well from the first match… It was a really hard [route to the title], beating Klaasen and Venus, Murray and Skupski and Kubot and Melo in the finals. Even the singles guys, Thiem and Fognini.

“We had a tough draw and had to fight through every single match. We are happy about the way we performed. It wasn’t like one match, it was four good matches in a row.”

Kubot and Melo were aiming to become only the second pairing to win back-to-back doubles trophies in the Chinese capital. In 2010, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan became the only team to achieve that feat in tournament history.

Dodig and Polasek receive 500 ATP Doubles Ranking points and split $228,110 in prize money. Kubot and Melo gain 300 points and share $111,660.

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The Key Things To Watch In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

The Key Things To Watch In Shanghai

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

The ATP Tour moves to Shanghai for the eighth ATP Masters 1000 event of the year and the conclusion of the three-week Asian Swing. The Rolex Shanghai Masters provides players with the chance to earn up to 1,000 ATP Rankings points, which could prove crucial in the ATP Race To London and ATP Race To Milan.

Shanghai Talking Points

17 of the Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings will compete at the 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters. The last nine Shanghai titles have been won by three players – top seed Novak Djokovic, second seed Roger Federer and wild card Andy Murray – who are all in the main draw.

World No. 1 and Tokyo champion Djokovic has a 32-4 win-loss record at the event and seeks a 34th ATP Masters 1000 crown, which would put him just one title behind Rafael Nadal in the all-time ATP Masters 1000 trophy standings.

Four of the five 2019 match-win leaders feature at the ATP Masters 1000 event:

2019 Match Win Leaders

Position Player Record Titles
1 Daniil Medvedev 54-17 3
2 Rafael Nadal 48-6 4
3 Novak Djokovic 46-8 4
4 Roger Federer 45-7 3
5 *Stefanos Tsitsipas 42-20 2

*Tsitsipas features in the China Open final on Sunday

Six of the Top seven players in the ATP Race to Milan are in the Shanghai main draw: Stefanos Tsitsipas (No. 1), Felix Auger-Aliassime (No. 2), Alex de Minaur (No. 3), Denis Shapovalov (No. 4), Frances Tiafoe (No. 5) and Miomir Kecmanovic (No. 7). Tsitsipas has already qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals and is also currently in sixth place in the ATP Race to London, which determines the eight qualifiers for the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Novak Djokovic wins Japan Open on return from injury

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2019

World number one Novak Djokovic beat John Millman to mark his return from injury by winning the Japan Open.

The 31-year-old won 6-3 6-2 in the final in Tokyo to claim a fourth title of the year and a 76th of his career.

It was the Serb’s first tournament since he withdrew from the US Open in September with a shoulder injury.

Djokovic needed just 70 minutes to see off 30-year-old Australian world number 80 Millman and did not drop a set throughout the tournament.

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