Marin Cilic carved more history for himself on Thursday at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The Croatian earned his 500th career win, beating countryman Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 7-6(5) to become only the 50th player in the Open Era to achieve the milestone and just the 10th active player with 500 or more victories.
Cilic raced through the opener behind two breaks and didn’t face a break point. In the second, Karlovic raised his level but Cilic fought through a tough 3-4 game in which he erased three break points and found a way to advance in the tie-break.
The two-time Moscow champion will next meet France’s Jeremy Chardy, who was untouchable on serve during a 6-3, 6-4 victory against eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic. Chardy won 83 per cent of his first-serve points and never faced a break point against the Next Gen ATP Finals hopeful.
Sixth seed Andrey Rublev hadn’t won a match at his home tournament before this week. Now the 21-year-old is into the quarter-finals.
Rublev beat Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov 7-6(3), 6-7(7), 6-2 to make the last eight at the ATP 250. Rublev saved six of seven (86%) break points and ran away with the deciding set behind two breaks of serve.
“I’ve known Egor for a long time and I know how he can play. His level does not match his ranking,” Rublev said of Gerasimov, No. 98 in the ATP Rankings. “He’s been showing it for the past couple of months. He is showing good results… against very strong players. He recently beat Matteo Berrettini. I knew it would be very hard.”
The Hamburg European Open finalist (l. to Basilashvili) will next meet Serbian lucky loser Nikola Milojevic, who beat Russian wild card Alen Avidzba 7-5, 6-0. Milojevic took the place of Daniil Medvedev at the top of the draw once Medvedev withdrew following his Rolex Shanghai Masters title on Sunday.
ATPTour.com pays tribute to the Croatian, who has recorded the 500th match win of his career in Moscow
Thirteen years after recording his first ATP Tour match win, Marin Cilic is continuing to add to his legacy.
The Croatian’s latest milestone arrived on Thursday when he earned his 500th tour-level win against Ivo Karlovic at the VTB Kremlin Cup. Cilic is one of just 10 active players on Tour to achieve the feat.
“It would definitely mean that I’ve had an amazing career. I’ve been on the Tour for many years and, more or less, every season has been quite consistent from me,” Cilic told ATPTour.com. “I’ve played a lot of matches and there’s always an opportunity to learn from every match. That’s the nice part of tennis.
“I’m aware of [the milestones] when I achieve them and it’s a huge satisfaction that the work is showing itself in the results. Overall, my goal is to be the best I can be. You always want to be pushing that limit and never be too satisfied. It’s definitely important to have that motivation to keep moving you forward.”
CAREER 500 MATCH WINS CLUB (Active players as of 17 October 2019)
1) Roger Federer (SUI)
2) Rafael Nadal (ESP)
3) Novak Djokovic (SRB)
4) Andy Murray (GBR)
5) Tomas Berdych (CZE)
6) Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
7) Richard Gasquet (FRA)
8) Tommy Robredo (ESP)
9) Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
10) Marin Cilic (CRO)
Utilising one of the best serves of his generation to set up an aggressive baseline game centered around his forehand, Cilic has been a staple at the highest levels of the sport for more than a decade. He’s won 18 tour-level singles crowns, including victories at the 2014 US Open (d. Nishikori) and 2016 Western & Southern Open (d. Murray). He also led Croatia to the Davis Cup title last year. The 31-year-old has spent 191 weeks inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings and peaked at No. 3 in January 2018.
Cilic’s maiden Grand Slam crown was “a dream come true” for him. From the moment he stepped on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time that year, the Croatian fed off the raucous energy of the New York crowd and delivered three of the greatest matches of his career in succession. Cilic sprinted past World No. 7 Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals, then emphatically defeated Roger Federer for the first time in six attempts before dominating Kei Nishikori in the championship clash.
Fittingly, among those in attendance was Goran Ivanisevic, Cilic’s then-coach and the only other Croatian man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam singles title.
“[I] had an incredible time… played tremendously well and just enjoyed every single moment,” Cilic told ATPTour.com in August. “It’s just an electrifying atmosphere with the whole stadium screaming and enjoying tennis, loving the game and giving us great pleasure to play. When you are there battling it out, you definitely feel appreciated by all the people. You just try to play the best you can and when you are pumped with adrenaline, I think the best tennis comes out of you.”
But while Cilic’s US Open triumph made him a hero in Croatia, he looks back on his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati with equal fondness. He hadn’t reached the last four at a Masters 1000 event prior to that week, but outlasted Grigor Dimitrov in a marathon semi-final that finished at 1:30 am before putting on a flawless serving display to defeat Andy Murray for the title.
“It was just incredible in every single department,” Cilic said. “When you’re a youngster just coming on the Tour, you feel that you have so many years in front of you and that your chance is going to come. But when you get on the Tour, you see the competition is extremely strong and everyone is so motivated. You start to notice that years are going by and you’re getting less chances.
“When you do take that chance as I did, it’s just incredible. It gives you extra belief and confidence in your own game. You don’t need to worry about if your game is good enough to win these types of events, especially against the best guys.”
Cilic isn’t one to rest on his past accomplishments, though. He still feels motivated to pursue more big wins on Tour and believes there are plenty of years left to continue adding to his tally.
“I’d like to be able to get 600 wins,” Cilic said. “It would be an amazing achievement.”
5 Things To Know About Shapovalov, Who Qualified For Milan
20-year-old looking to finish season strong before Milan
Denis Shapovalov has qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals once again. The 20-year-old Canadian, who debuted at the inaugural 21-and-under event in 2017, secured his place when Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic lost in Moscow on Thursday.
Here are five things to know about one of the #NextGenATP leaders.
1. He can play big on the big stages.
Shapovalov has reached at least one ATP Masters 1000 semi-final the past three seasons. In 2017, he beat Juan Martin del Potro and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal en route to the Coupe Rogers semi-finals in Montreal (l. to Zverev).
Shapovalov was staying in Felix Auger-Aliassime’s basement at the time, and his friend had a poster of Rafa hanging in his house. But Shapovalov ripped it down before upsetting Nadal in the third round.
In 2018, Shapovalov made the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open before falling to eventual champion Alexander Zverev, and this year, the Canadian fell to eventual champion Roger Federer at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
2. He and Federer go “way back”. Shapovalov lists Federer as his idol, and the two have been on the court together a couple times already. Shapovalov, then 15, warmed up Federer before his Masters 1000 semi-final against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez at the 2014 Rogers Cup in Toronto, Shapovalov’s hometown.
The Canadian has watched countless Federer matches, and the two faced off for the first time in Miami. Shapovalov had said that it was a dream come true to face the Swiss star on such a big stage. But Shapovalov’s favourite part of the 6-2, 6-4 loss ended up being “the warmup”.
“It’s kind of surreal, being on the court against him. Obviously I wasn’t trying to focus on the fact that it’s Roger on the other side,” Shapovalov said at the time. “I was just trying to play as good as I can, and he did a good job today. He played an excellent match. I wasn’t able to kind of stay at his level. So I’m just going to try to learn from this and move forward.”
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3. He has a former ATP Tour champion in his coaching corner. Since the Winston-Salem Open in August, Shapovalov has been working with former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who retired at last year’s St. Petersburg Open. During their first week together, Shapovalov reached his second ATP Tour semi-final of the season (l. to Hurkacz).
“We’ve definitely talked a lot, mentally speaking and how I want to approach these matches, and a couple things during the matches, what I should be focusing on. So he’s definitely helped me quite a bit,” Shapovalov said in Winston-Salem.
4. He could be a budding rapper.
Shapovalov can play well on the big stages, and he also can rap well in front of thousands of people. The Canadian showed off his rapping skills after beating Marin Cilic in March at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Watch: Shapovalov Raps After Indian Wells Win
5. He has had a special friend in his box. The stuffed wolf in Shapovalov’s corner is not a comfort animal from when he was younger; Shapovalov purchased the animal last year in Brisbane. The #NextGenATP Canadian tries to play tennis with the ferocity of a wolf, and thought “Storm” would make a good addition to his team.
“I kind of tried to resemble myself to a wolf. I like to have a couple friends with me. I have a close group of friends with me. I can be pretty, not playful, but I like to joke around off the court. When it’s down to business, when I’m hunting, when I’m on court, I’m pretty fierce, intense. I show my teeth. I’m very emotional, very similar to a wolf,” Shapovalov said last year.
“We kind of started calling ourselves the Wolf Pack. We thought we needed a mascot. We found this northern wolf in Brisbane. It was actually in the airport. We thought, ‘Listen, we’ve got to take him. Yeah, we got to adopt him into our family.’ He came with a little tag. His name was Storm.
“We didn’t even have to think of a name, which was good. We weren’t too good with names.”
Watch: Why Does Shapovalov Have A Wolf In His Players Box?
Andy Murray eased into the European Open quarter-finals with a straight-sets victory over eighth seed Pablo Cuevas in Antwerp.
Britain’s former world number one – now ranked 243rd – beat the Uruguayan 6-4 6-3 in 84 minutes.
It marks only Murray’s second ATP Tour-level win in 16 months as he continues his return from hip surgery.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, 32, will play Romania’s world number 92 Marius Copil in the last eight.
World number 45 Cuevas, 33, saved seven break points in the first set against Murray before the Scot eventually broke his serve at 5-4 up to take the early advantage.
Murray broke again in the sixth game of the second set before seeing out the match.
“I thought I served quite well for most of the match and, when I was able to get into the baseline rallies, I felt I was hitting the ball quite clean, which is good,” said Murray.
“He served very well, which made it difficult for me to get the breaks, but I thought for me it was a good match.”
In the other quarter-finals in Antwerp, Swiss fourth seed Stan Wawrinka will play Frenchman Gilles Simon while Italian 18-year-old Jannik Sinner – who shocked Gael Monfils – will take on Frances Tiafoe of the US.
Argentina’s Guido Pella will play either Ugo Humbert of France or Belgium’s David Goffin.
It hasn’t always been easy for Andy Murray during his comeback from January hip surgery. But the Scot is increasingly finding ways to win.
Murray reached his second ATP Tour quarter-final in three weeks on Thursday, defeating Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 6-3 to make the last eight of the European Open in Antwerp. The former World No. 1 now has a .500 record (7-7) at tour-level for the first time since his singles return in Cincinnati.
The 32-year-old let slip his first seven break point chances of the match, but the Scot kept pushing for a breakthrough. And once he did, he Scot never looked back, triumphing after one hour and 24 minutes.
“I felt a bit better today. I thought I served quite well for most of the match and when I was able to get into the baseline rallies, I felt I was hitting the ball quite clean, which is good,” Murray said. “He served very well, which made it difficult for me to get the breaks, but I thought for me it was a good match.”
With a 5-4 lead in the first set, Murray played aggressive tennis to break through Cuevas’ defences. He attacked the Uruguayan’s backhand, eliciting a slice error into the net to break for the opener.
Cuevas made a big push in the second set, earning the only four break point chances he had in the match in the set’s opening game. But Murray maintained his focus, and he would break for 4-2 when Cuevas pushed an inside-out forehand wide.
Murray leads Cuevas 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, never relinquishing more than four games in any of the seven sets they have played. The World No. 243 will next face Romanian Marius Copil, a qualifier who blasted 13 aces past third seed Diego Schwartzman to upset the Argentine 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(7).
“It’s getting there. It sometimes takes me a little bit longer to get warmed up in the matches and sort of feel confident with my movement,” Murray said of his physical progress. “But today I think from the beginning of the match I started pretty well. It was a good day.”
Murray has won both of his previous matches against Copil, including a three-hour, two-minute triumph last year at the Citi Open that ended at 3:02 am. The Romanian made last year’s Basel final.
“I know him a little bit. He’s had some good wins this week. He plays well on this surface, so I’ll need to be ready for that,” Murray said. “He serves extremely well, so I’ll need to return well.”
18-Year-Old Shining: Sinner Shocks Monfils In Antwerp
#NextGenATP Italian will next face 2018 Milan qualifier Tiafoe
This time last year, Jannik Sinner, then No. 778 in the ATP Rankings, was preparing to play a Futures tournament in Tunisia. What a difference a year can make.
The 18-year-old #NextGenATP star earned the biggest victory of his career Thursday, defeating top seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 to reach the last eight of the European Open for his first ATP Tour quarter-final.
Currently at a career-high World No. 119, Sinner has made good use of the wild card he received in Antwerp. The Italian saved the only break point he faced against Monfils, who at World No. 13 is the highest-ranked player Sinner has ever beaten.
Sinner, who has earned all five of his tour-level wins in 2019, had never previously defeated a Top 50 opponent, with his biggest victory before this coming against World No. 59 Steve Johnson at this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia. But he showed plenty of maturity against the veteran Frenchman, breaking Monfils’ serve four times in his 61-minute triumph.
Sinner misfired on a return on his first match point. But if he had any nerves, he did not show them, forcing an error off Monfils’ backhand slice to finish off his win. The Italian tried to contain his emotions, barely cracking a smile. After shaking hands with a congratulatory Monfils, though, Sinner let his joy show with a wide smile.
This was a crucial week for Monfils, who is trying to make a push for Nitto ATP Finals qualification. The Frenchman is in 13th place in the ATP Race To London with 2,170 points.
The teen will next face 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Frances Tiafoe, who ousted seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4 in 78 minutes. The American is currently placed fifth in the ATP Race To Milan, as he tries to return to the 21-and-under season finale for the second straight year.
Sinner is also making a late push to try to make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals. He began the week in 13th place in the Race.
Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to his seventh ATP Tour quarter-final of the year on Thursday at the Intrum Stockholm Open. The fifth-seeded Spaniard knocked out Gianluca Mager, a lucky loser from Italy, 6-3, 7-6(2) in 87 minutes and now plays American Sam Querrey on Friday. Carreno Busta, who is now 27-19 on the season, captured his first singles title since May 2017 at the Chengdu Open (d. Bublik) three weeks ago.
Japanese lucky loser Yuichi Sugita, competing in his third tour-level tournament since Wimbledon in July, overcame Stefano Travaglia of Italy 7-6(6), 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes. Travaglia hit 16 aces and could not convert a set point at 6/5 in the first-set tie-break.
“I am happy to make a quarter-final at tour-level this year,” Sugita, who also reached the 2017 quarter-finals, told ATPTour.com. “I played well, I am solid now and my tennis is back.”
Later today, top-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini, who has reached the semi-finals at the ATP 250 tournament for the past two years, meets Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia. Fognini is currently No. 11 in the 2019 ATP Race To London for one of the three remaining berths at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 from 10-17 November.
Cancer Research UK & Nitto ATP Finals Team Up To Help Beat Cancer
New partnership for 2019-2020
The ATP and Cancer Research UK have today announced a new partnership for the final two editions of the Nitto ATP Finals in London (2019-2020) before the season finale moves to Turin, Italy in 2021.
The partnership will see the world’s best eight qualified tennis players and doubles teams come together at the ATP’s prestigious season-ending tournament on a mission to help Cancer Research UK raise money to fund research into beating all 200 types of cancer affecting men, women and children.
To kick start the fundraising, the Nitto ATP Finals has given customers the opportunity to donate to Cancer Research UK when they buy their tickets. Throughout the eight-day tournament, set to take place this year from 10-17 November at The O2 in London, short films about Cancer Research UK’s work, including players and supporters, will be broadcast. Spectators will be encouraged to support by text-to-donate or via bucket collections, with all money raised via the partnership helping to fund life-saving cancer research.
Buy Your Tickets Today
The Nitto ATP Finals and Cancer Research UK will also be working together to show attendees at the tournament how 40 per cent of cancers can be prevented with Cancer Research UK nurses and volunteers on hand at the tournament to answer questions. Making changes such as stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight, being more active, drinking less alcohol and enjoying the sun safely will all help to reduce risk of cancer.
Caro Evans, Director of Partnerships at Cancer Research UK, said: “Our partnership with the Nitto ATP Finals is really exciting, and we are delighted they’ve chosen to work with us for the next two years. We’re excited to be able to reach tennis fans at the season finale to spread awareness about the causes of cancer and to help raise money to fund more cancer research. With many of the biggest tennis stars in the world, we are aiming to highlight small things all of us can do to help prevent cancer, including keeping an active and healthy lifestyle. All money raised through the partnership will go towards our life-saving work to beat cancer.”
Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said: “We’ve all been affected by cancer in some way, shape or form, so we’re delighted to welcome Cancer Research UK on board as our charity partner at our season finale. The aim of the partnership is to help raise as much awareness and money as possible for the incredible life-saving work Cancer Research UK carries out.”
Featuring only the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams of the season, this year’s Nitto ATP Finals looks set to provide a thrilling finale to the men’s professional tennis season, giving tennis fans in the UK an unmissable opportunity to watch the world’s best players go head-to-head as they battle for the last title of the season.
Stan Wawrinka’s debut appearance at the European Open got off to a dramatic start on Wednesday, as the fourth seed battled past Feliciano Lopez 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(4).
Making his first appearance since reaching the US Open quarter-finals last month, Wawrinka saved all three break points he faced throughout the two-hour, 19-minute encounter. The 34-year-old, who improves to 28-17 at tour-level this year, moves into a 5-3 lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Lopez.
Wawrinka will face Gilles Simon for a spot in the semi-finals. The Frenchman defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 7-5 to snap a four-match losing streak against the 2017 champion. Simon owns four FedEx ATP Head2Head victories from 13 meetings against Tsonga.
Frances Tiafoe improved his chances of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals for the second consecutive year. The 21-year-old American was forced to work hard to beat German qualifier Yannick Maden 7-6(7), 6-3 in one hour and 39 minutes to break a three-match losing streak. Tiafoe will play another German, Jan-Lennard Struff, in the Antwerp second round.
The World No. 53, who has reached four ATP Tour semi-finals this season, recovered from 1-4 down in the first set and saved set points at 4-5, 15/40, then at 4/6 and 6/7 in the tie-break. Tiafoe closed out on his third set-point chance and won the first three games of the second set.
Fifth seed Guido Pella defeated Soonwoo Kwon 7-5, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals in Antwerp for the first time. The 29-year-old fired 12 aces and dropped just four points behind his first serve (37/41) to reach the last eight after one hour and 54 minutes.
Eighth seed Pablo Cuevas beat Hugo Dellien 6-4, 6-3 to book a second-round meeting against Andy Murray. Cuevas won 27 of 28 first-serve points to notch his 24th victory in 44 tour-level matches this year.
Did You Know?
The highest seeded players in action today at each of this week’s three ATP 250 events were all taken to final-set tie-breaks. Alongside Wawrinka’s success in Antwerp, top seed Karen Khachanov saved five match points to triumph at the VTB Kremlin Cup. At the Intrum Stockholm Open, second seed Grigor Dimitrov fell to Sam Querrey.