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Zverev Inches Closer To Another London Bid

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

Zverev Inches Closer To Another London Bid

German looking for chance to defend his title at The O2

Alexander Zverev is one step closer to returning to the Nitto ATP Finals. The sixth seed breezed past Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday to reach the third round of the Rolex Paris Masters.

Zverev added 90 points to his ATP Race To London tally and is currently in seventh place with 2,945 points. The 22-year-old will guarantee his place at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 10-17 November at The O2 in London, for a third consecutive year if he makes the Paris final.

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Zverev raced through the opening set, breaking Verdasco twice and saving both break points faced to wrap it up in only 26 minutes. The 6’6” right-hander was dominant on serve in the second as well. He won 87 per cent of his service points (33/38) for the match.

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Chardy Stuns Medvedev For Milestone Win In Paris

The German will next meet Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Denis Shapovalov or fellow Nitto ATP Finals hopeful Fabio Fognini in the third round.

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Chardy Stuns Medvedev For Milestone Win In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

Chardy Stuns Medvedev For Milestone Win In Paris

Frenchman through to the Paris third round for the first time

France’s Jeremy Chardy pulled off one of the biggest upsets of his career – and of the 2019 season – on Tuesday, knocking out World No. 4 Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the Rolex Paris Masters.

The big-hitting Chardy broke during a 13-point seventh game in the third set and fought off nerves to serve out the win in front of a roaring partisan crowd.

“It’s a beautiful victory,” said Chardy. “When you play a match like this on the central court in France and you win it, it’s a wonderful feeling. All the efforts that are deployed every day are aimed at achieving a goal like this one. It’s great, and I’m going to enjoy it tonight.”

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Medvedev was riding a nine-match winning streak since losing to Rafael Nadal in the US Open final on 8 September, and the Cincinnati and Shanghai champion had won his past 11 matches at ATP Masters 1000 events. The Russian had reached also six consecutive finals dating back to the Citi Open in Washington.

But the 32-year-old Chardy saved 14 of 15 break points, including one as he served for the match, to reach the third round of his home Masters 1000 event for the first time. Chardy is making his 10th appearance.

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“When you play players like that, that are of such a high level, you need to have a perfect game level,” said Chardy. “And all my break points, I played them well, so it’s frustrating when you’re the opponent. This has happened to me the other way round, and it was great to be on the right side of the court this time.

“It’s the last tournament of the year. I had been playing well for some tournaments now. I did great matches, but I also lost in thrilling matches, and it’s wonderful to finish up like this.”

He snapped a 10-match losing streak against members of the Top 10, which dated back to his win against No. 4 Dominic Thiem at the 2018 Miami Open presented by Itau. The Frenchman will next meet Chile’s Cristian Garin or 2016 finalist John Isner of the U.S.

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Paris Masters: Kyle Edmund beats Ricardas Berankis in opening round in France

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund ended his eight-match losing run as he beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-4 6-3 in round one of the Paris Masters.

Edmund, 24, had been 14th in the world and the British number one in January but a poor season has seen him drop to 75th, the third highest ranked Briton.

He had not won since an opening-round win against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the Rogers Cup in Canada in August.

Edmund will now play 14th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in round two.

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The Briton edged the first set, but instantly broke 29-year-old qualifier Berankis in the Lithuanian’s first service game of the second set on his way to holding a 5-0 lead.

Berankis, 70th in the world, gained one break back but Edmund got the game he needed to advance into the next phase.

If Edmund beats Schwartzman, then he could meet world number one Novak Djokovic in the last 16.

In the first of the round two matches, Russia’s eighth seed Karen Khachanov suffered a surprise 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-5 loss to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

The tournament in France features eight of the top 10 players in the rankings, although world number three Roger Federer withdrew from the event on Sunday.

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Mikael Ymer: 'I'm Not Only Playing For Me'

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

Mikael Ymer: ‘I’m Not Only Playing For Me’

Swede concludes breakout season at Next Gen ATP Finals

Five of the eight players in this year’s Next Gen ATP Finals are making their maiden appearance in Milan. Among them is Swede Mikael Ymer, who has jumped more than 180 spots in the ATP Rankings this season to reach a current career-high standing of No. 73.

But while some fans may be surprised to see so many new faces competing at the Allianz Cloud, the 20-year-old Ymer believed it was bound to happen.

“It’s part of the Tour. Sooner or later, if you work hard, you’re going to start winning matches. Once one person does it, then others get inspired,” Ymer said. “If you look at ‘breaking through’ as some kind of power, with that kind of power comes responsibility. It’s time for me to focus on what I can do to stay there.”

If his recent results are any indication, he won’t need to worry about exiting the Top 100 anytime soon. Ymer opened this year with his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Noumea and soon finished runner-up at two other Challenger events. He then qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw at Roland Garros and convincingly moved past Blaz Rola in the opening round.

Read More: Ymer Opens Up After Winning First Challenger

But it was his second-round defeat in Paris that proved to be the most valuable experience. Facing a Top 10 player for the first time in Alexander Zverev, Ymer found himself daunted by the prime-time setting and the German’s powerful baseline game. Although he lost the match, he gained plenty of insight in what to work on for the future.

“The one lesson I learned from that match is to have more belief in my own game. My focus went away from my strengths and too much toward his weaknesses,” Ymer said. But playing a Top 10 player like Sascha made me see that there is another level. It got me inspired and made me see a lot of things that I could improve in my own game. I went home and picked up a racquet straight after.”

Buoyed by his Grand slam breakthrough, Ymer picked up three more Challenger titles and won his opening-round matches at home ATP Tour events in Bastad and Stockholm. Perhaps most noticeably, he stepped out of the shadow of his older brother, Elias Ymer, by surpassing him for the first time in the ATP Rankings this July.

Read More: Mikael’s Magical Month: Ymer Wins Back-To-Back Challengers

The younger Ymer’s surge in the second half of the season was the result of a lifetime of persistence. He was first introduced to tennis at age three and immediately took to the sport. The Swede had an outstanding junior career that included reaching the Wimbledon boys’ singles final in 2015 and a career-high ITF Junior Ranking of No. 3 that year.

But just as he began to shift his attention to pro events, a hip injury sidelined him for nearly all of 2016. Rather than get discouraged, Ymer focussed on his recovery and was rewarded at the end of the season in Stockholm. The then-18-year-old won his first ATP Tour main draw match in singles and clinched his first tour-level doubles title with his brother.

Ymer credits his parents, Wondwosen and Kelem, with inspiring his determination. They left war-torn Ethiopia in the 1980s to begin a new life in Sweden, but had never met each other until they arrived in the country. Once they started a family, they always did what was possible to support their children’s pro tennis aspirations.

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“When it gets tougher, I have that in the back of my head, that people have sacrificed a lot. My family has sacrificed more or less their lives for us to be able to do this. So I’m not only playing for me. Having that in the back of my mind always helps me,” Ymer said. “Sometimes I’m still going to fail, but it definitely helps me to make sure I do the work. It also motivates me.”

Ymer looks to use that determination as a springboard to becoming an ATP Tour staple. He’s dominated the ATP Challenger Tour this season, but has limited experience against Top 100 players compared to the rest of his fellow competitors in Milan. The experience of multiple matches against his peers at that level will serve him well as he looks to continue climbing the ATP Rankings next year.

”The important thing for me is to keep working and not lose sight of the big picture, keep doing the right things no matter how the tennis goes,” Mikael said. “I’m very excited to get back to work so I can come back stronger and compete against the top players. The higher you get in the [ATP Rankings], the tougher your opponents will be, so that’s something I have to prepare myself for.”

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World number one Barty beaten by late replacement Bertens

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

Kiki Bertens beat world number one Ashleigh Barty at the WTA Finals just hours after being added to the tournament as a replacement.

The Dutch world number 10 took the place of Naomi Osaka, who withdrew on Tuesday with a shoulder injury.

Bertens was trailing by a set and a break but Australian Barty collapsed to a 3-6 6-3 6-4 defeat in Shenzhen.

Later, Swiss Belinda Bencic kept alive her hopes of reaching the semi-finals by battling past Petra Kvitova.

The world number seven stormed to the first set before being pegged back but came through a tight deciding set to win 6-1 3-6 6-4.

Bencic’s victory means all four players can still finish in the top two in Red Group and progress to the last four from the round-robin stage.

Bertens will only play two matches because of her late entry but can still advance. She meets Bencic on Thursday.

Barty would have qualified with a match to spare if she had beaten Bertens but will get another opportunity when she takes on Czech Kvitova.

Kvitova, who has lost both matches so far, could still progress if she beats the Australian.

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Bertens wins as Barty collapses

Bertens had been in China this week in case of an injury to one of the eight players and had to step in to play Barty less than four hours after Osaka announced her withdrawal shortly before 07:00 GMT.

The 27-year-old, who made her debut at the WTA Finals in 2018 and reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Elina Svitolina, started poorly, only holding serve once in four attempts in the first set.

She then twice trailed by a break in the second set – at 2-1 and 3-2 – before Barty’s level dropped dramatically with number of errors.

Bertens won seven games in a row to clinch the second set and move 4-0 ahead in the third, and, despite a late rally from Barty, Bertens closed out the match on serve at the first opportunity.

“It is a great atmosphere and it’s the last tournament of the year so I am trying to give all the energy I have left in me,” Bertens said.

“In the beginning I wasn’t playing as well and had to feel the court and got better and better as I tried to play aggressively and it turned out pretty well.”

The WTA Finals event features the world’s top eight players competing in two round-robin groups of four, with the winners and runners-up advancing to the semi-finals.

Ukraine’s Svitolina is in the Purple Group alongside world number two Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Romania’s Simona Halep and Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.

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Struff Stops Defending Champion Khachanov In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

Struff Stops Defending Champion Khachanov In Paris

Fritz beats fellow American Tiafoe

Jan-Lennard Struff completed the seventh Top 10 win of his career on Tuesday with a smash winner from the baseline at the Rolex Paris Masters. The 29-year-old German held his nerve to record a 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5 victory over World No. 8 Karen Khachanov, the defending champion, in two hours.

Struff will now prepare to face 10th-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini, a contender for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, or French wild card and 2008 titlist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round on Thursday.

Struff clinched the 46-minute first set with a backhand return winner at 5/5 in the tie-break, followed by his eighth ace. But Khachanov won 12 of the first 17 points for a 3-0 lead in the second set.

World No. 36 Struff could not capitalise on a 3-1 advantage in the final set, broken by Khachanov in the fifth game. But leading 6-5, Struff converted his first match point with his 43rd winner, a cleanly hit smash from the baseline. Khachanov, who is now 29-26 on the season, had previously beaten Struff in three sets at the Noventi Open in June.

Struff was particularly eager to come forward against the 6’6″ Russian, as seen in Hawkeye’s court coverage heat map, which demonstrate’s Stuff willingness to get to net. Additionally, Struff hit 31 per cent of his groundstrokes inside the baseline, almost double Khachanov’s rate of 16 per cent..

Hawk-Eye data


Khachanov forehand take two

The German also denied Khachanov the opportunity to take big cuts on his second serve, directing more than half of all second serves into the Russian’s body.

Struff second serve

Earlier in the day, Taylor Fritz recorded his 30th match win of the year to beat fellow American Frances Tiafoe. Fritz saved one set point in the first set tie-break on his debut at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament and ultimately triumphed 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and two minutes.

The 22-year-old Fritz led 4/1 in the tie-break, but Tiafoe won five of the next six points, only to mis-hit a backhand approach shot on set point. Tiafoe opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set and recovered from 1-4 down in the decider, only to be broken in the final game.

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Fritz, who captured his first ATP Tour title at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey) in June, will next play fifth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has already qualified for next month’s Nitto ATP Finals in London.

Tiafoe, a five-time ATP Tour quarter-finalist this year, drops to a 21-25 match record and will now prepare for next week’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

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Corentin Moutet, who came into the main draw as a lucky loser following the withdrawal of fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet, made the most of his opportunity by beating Dusan Lajovic, this year’s Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag titlist, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes.

“I’m very satisfied,” said Moutet, who had lost to Jeremy Chardy in the final round of qualifying on Sunday. “I tried to regain focus for this tournament, and I’m glad that I managed to get the upper hand and to continue on that path… My mind was not completely off the tournament. I was waiting until Wednesday to make sure that there was no empty seat for me.”

It was a first match win at an Masters 1000 tournament for the World No. 94, who will now face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the four-time former champion, in the second round on Wednesday.

When asked about facing Djokovic, the Frenchman added, “I don’t want to say that I’m impressed by him or any other player. But I have a lot of respect for his career because he’s been No. 1 for many years. He’s won a lot of Grand Slams. He’s managed to find his bearings and his place among the best. He is the best player in the world. He’s No. 1 right now. He’s very consistent. He often wins in tournaments. I will try not to be unworthy and to be better than him.”

– Hawkeye data and visuals courtesy ATP Media

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Naomi Osaka pulls out of WTA Finals with shoulder injury

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2019

World number three Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the WTA Finals in Shenzhen because of a shoulder injury.

Japan’s Osaka, 22, beat Petra Kvitova in three sets in her opening match on Sunday and was due to play world number one Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday.

The Australian Open champion will be replaced in the Red Group by alternate Kiki Bertens, the world number 10.

“I’m disappointed to have to withdraw. This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season,” said Osaka.

“I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year.”

The WTA Finals sees the world’s top eight players compete in two round-robin groups of four, with the winners and runners-up advancing to the semi-finals.

The tournament, which also includes a doubles event featuring the year’s top eight teams, has a record total prize fund of £10.8m.

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