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Kecmanovic Beats Fucsovics, Rain In Doha; View Friday Schedule

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

Kecmanovic Beats Fucsovics, Rain In Doha; View Friday Schedule

Wawrinka, Rublev to resume quarter-final matches Friday

#NextGenATP star Miomir Kecmanovic secured his place in the semi-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open before rain washed out the remainder of play on Thursday in Doha. Kecmanovic raced to 6-2, 6-0 win over Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics in 56 minutes. 

“It was pretty good timing. Good thing that I was able to finish before this happened,” said Kecmanovic. “I’m feeling good. I’m playing good. Hopefully I can keep it up.”

The 20-year-old Serbian has yet to drop a set this week, including a second-round win over 2012 Doha champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday. Kecmanovic, who finished 2019 with a semi-final run at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan (l. to Sinner), said his off-season training in Dubai with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Karen Khachanov has already made a difference. 

“It was definitely a good group of guys to practise with,” he said. “And I definitely think I’ve maybe sped up my game a little bit because they take time away for you so much. I think I’ve kind of got a little bit used to it and maybe it’s now a little bit easier to play against some of the other guys.

“But it’s definitely something I still have to work on and definitely something that will, if I can, let’s say perfect or let’s say be my normal game, that I could take it far if that happens.”

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Kecmanovic awaits the winner between second-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who will resume their quarter-final match on Friday. Kecmanovic prevailed against Herbert in a third-set tie-break last year at the Citi Open, but has never faced the 22-year-old Rublev at the tour level.

“I played him a long time ago in juniors, but I haven’t played him since then,” he said. “It would definitely be an exciting match, but he still has to win tomorrow…. I’m definitely looking forward to coming out again and to playing my best game.”

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CENTER COURT start 1:00 pm
[Q] C. Moutet (FRA) vs F. Verdasco (ESP) 
[1] S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs A. Bedene (SLO) 00
M. Kecmanovic (SRB) vs P. Herbert (FRA) or [2] A. Rublev (RUS) 
[1] S. Wawrinka (SUI) or A. Bedene (SLO) vs [Q] C. Moutet (FRA) or F. Verdasco (ESP) 

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
P. Herbert (FRA) vs [2] A. Rublev (RUS) 11
Possible Court Change – F. Nielsen (DEN) / T. Puetz (GER) or L. Bambridge (GBR) / S. Gonzalez (MEX) vs [3] R. Bopanna (IND) / W. Koolhof (NED) or [2] H. Kontinen (FIN) / F. Skugor (CRO) 
COURT 2 start 12:30 pm
F. Nielsen (DEN) / T. Puetz (GER) vs L. Bambridge (GBR) / S. Gonzalez (MEX) 62 02

COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
[3] R. Bopanna (IND) / W. Koolhof (NED) vs [2] H. Kontinen (FIN) / F. Skugor (CRO) 00

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Anderson Receives 2019 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award In Brisbane

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

Anderson Receives 2019 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award In Brisbane

South African received his award in Brisbane

Kevin Anderson was presented with his Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award from the 2019 ATP Awards on Wednesday in Brisbane during the ATP Cup ahead of South Africa’s tie against France.

“It means a lot. Obviously we spend a lot of time out here on the court and it’s very competitive, but I think it’s really important to try to give back as much as you can and fortunately as my career has gone on I feel I’ve been able to create a bit of a platform and I’ve tried to use that time as much as I can to give back,” Anderson told the crowd. “I couldn’t do this without my wife [Kelsey] as well. She’s been instrumental and we share the same vision. Hopefully as the years go by we’ll be able to increase our efforts off the court.”

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Anderson Receives Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award

Anderson also received a 2020 ATP ACES For Charity grant worth $/€15,000 to support First Serve, for which he is an ambassador. Headquartered in South Florida, First Serve is an after-school program that serves children from impoverished and high-crime areas, with the goal of engaging, educating and empowering students and helping develop them into leaders in their communities.

“I think we can all do better. I certainly challenge myself every day. There are a lot of great causes you can get involved with,” Anderson said. “I just try to do better each and every single day.”

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Medvedev, Khachanov Push Unbeaten Russia To SF

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

Medvedev, Khachanov Push Unbeaten Russia To SF

Russians to next face Serbia or Canada

Team Russia sent a clear message to the rest of the ATP Cup field on Thursday night: Look out.

The young and powerful squad, led by two 6’6” 23-year-olds – No. 5 Daniil Medvedev and No. 17 Karen Khachanov – beat Argentina in the Final Eight in Sydney behind two more wins from their top singles players, who both improved to 4-0 in singles at the inaugural ATP Cup.

We made our job. All the matches were won in singles, which is amazing, and I think only Spain did the same so far,” Medvedev said. “It’s really great. We played great with Karen. Hopefully we can go all the way, but I’m really happy with the way ATP Cup is going for Team Russia.”

Medvedev clinched the tie victory with a gritty 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win against Diego Schwartzman, improving to 3-0 against the 5’7″ right-hander in their ATP Head2Head series. But the match wasn’t without its tension.

Medvedev was given a point penalty after striking the umpire’s chair with his racquet at 6-4, 3-4 and earned a lengthy chat from the usually soft spoken Marat Safin, the Russian captain, during the following changeover. And as Schwartzman ascended, the Argentines in the crowd showered him with “Olé, olé, olé, olé, Diego, Diego!”

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“It was important for him to stay mentally strong, just hold on to what he can. Give the best and see what’s going to come. Not to go too crazy and not to rush with the approach shots, with hitting the ball too hard,” Safin said. “You have to be smart and sometimes squeeze yourself together and maintain yourself calm and see what’s going to come.”

But Medvedev refocused in the third set and broke Schwartzman in the eighth game with a whipping crosscourt backhand winner. The semi-final singles match was played on the baseline, which at times favoured Schwartzman’s speed and patience to construct points. Medvedev, however, had too much power and too many angles after two hours and 22 minutes.

“It was a super tough match,” Medvedev said. “Physically, [it] was really tough. I felt like I was not getting the balls I can. I was not hitting as strong as I can usually. So it made me problems. But that I won this match is the most important, and I’m really happy about it.”

Khachanov gave Russia a 1-0 lead in the tie by beating Argentina’s Guido Pella 6-2, 7-6(4). Khachanov saved five of six break points and controlled play against the left-hander.

<a href=''>Karen Khachanov</a> looks to push Russia to the inaugural <a href=''>ATP Cup</a> title in Sydney.

I started to get really pumped, aggressive, and basically making the shots, not missing. That’s important when you want to play aggressive. And I think that was working pretty well,” Khachanov said. “Overall, I’m really happy with my performance today.”

Khachanov raced through the opener, breaking three times and dropping only one first-serve point. Pella regrouped in the second set, but the Russian No. 2 clinched it with his sixth ace.

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De Minaur: ‘It’s One Of The Best Days Of My Life’

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

De Minaur: ‘It’s One Of The Best Days Of My Life’

Kyrgios also calls tie, “probably one of the best moments in my career”.

Alex de Minaur suffered an excruciating defeat on Thursday in the Final Eight of the ATP Cup, losing to Briton Daniel Evans in the longest match of the tournament, which lasted three hours and 24 minutes.

But the beauty of the ATP Cup is that when you lose one match, you don’t go home. It’s all about the team and representing your country, and De Minaur got another crack at glory, partnering Nick Kyrgios past Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 6-3, 18-16, saving four match points to help Australia reach the semi-finals.

“After I got called up for the doubles, I had already forgotten about the singles,” De Minaur said. “With the doubles win, it’s one of the best days of my life. Not gonna lie.”

Throughout the deciding doubles match, De Minaur and Kyrgios fired up themselves with chest bumps and enthusiastic high fives with their countrymen in the Australian Team Zone. After Salisbury missed a return on match point, the close friends fell to the court and rolled around embracing one another. And when they got up, Kyrgios picked up De Minaur and put the 20-year-old over his shoulder.

“It was unreal. The adrenaline has kind of worn off and I’m exhausted after that match,” Kyrgios said. “It was awesome. Today was probably one of the best moments in my career, definitely. Just making it through to the semi-final, the first-ever ATP Cup in that type of fashion, was pretty special. The whole team, we genuinely care for each other, and they were genuinely just so ecstatic to get through.”

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All the players on the court — those competing, and those in their respective Team Zones — were emotionally invested in the match. The likes of Evans, John Millman, and captains Lleyton Hewitt and Tim Henman were on their feet every point, screaming at the top of their lungs in support of their countrymen.

“Players want to play for their country. There is no doubt about that. Tennis is such an individual sport throughout the year,” Hewitt said. “So for these guys to get the opportunity to play for their country, it’s pretty special for these guys. I said before we started this event we are very fortunate and lucky that it’s in our backyard, and we get the opportunity to play as a team for our country on our home courts. We feel privileged to be able to do that.”

There was news before the match started, as Hewitt made the decision to change his doubles line-up, swapping Chris Guccione and John Peers for De Minaur and Kyrgios. De Minaur had just lost a heartbreaker, and Guccione and Peers learned they would not be playing in the tie. But everyone chipped in to a memorable moment that will go down in ATP Cup history.

“I’m going to do anything for the team. I mean, I knew that if I was going to step out on the doubles court, then I was going to make sure that I was going to be fired up, ready to go, and full of energy,” De Minaur said. “It’s just amazing to see what Nick just brings day after day. He’s come back from an epic win against Stefanos, and today he just played clinical in the singles and doubles. I had a match that didn’t go my way, but still, I couldn’t have had a more supportive person after the match and even on the doubles court. So it was great to be on the same side of the court as Nick, and hopefully there is plenty of more times.”

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Kyrgios constantly speaks about how much he enjoys the team environment. After his singles win to start the day against Cameron Norrie, Kyrgios was back in Australia’s Team Zone cheering on De Minaur by the end of the first set. After every great shot in the doubles, Kyrgios waved at the crowd to get them involved.

“It was so much going on. The crowd was amazing. The atmosphere. There was so much going on. I just tried to stay in the moment,” Kyrgios said. “We had a match point, and we didn’t take it, and I didn’t even bother thinking about that again. It was just such an epic match that I was just always thinking of the next point. The stars aligned on that doubles for us. I thought Evo got pretty lucky in some cases in their singles match. Some luck had to go in our way in that doubles.”

All of this happened as the players were competing for more than themselves. Throughout the year when a player loses, they disappoint themselves. At the ATP Cup, they play for the love of country. De Minaur and Kyrgios certainly embraced that on Ken Rosewall Arena.

“When you’re playing for your country, you’ve always got those added nerves. And it’s tougher when things don’t go your way. I was just incredibly proud of the whole team, and everyone out there had my back for the whole match and even after the match,” De Minaur said. “[John] Peersy and [Chris] Gucc[ione], they were coaching us on the bench, telling us what to expect and what to be ready for, and what happened today was just completely a team effort. We couldn’t have done it with anybody else.”

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World number one Barty beaten in Brisbane as Williams wins in Auckland

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

World number one Ashleigh Barty lost her first match of the year as she was beaten by qualifier Jennifer Brady at the Brisbane International.

Australia’s Barty, who had a first-round bye, lost 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to Brady in the second round.

Barty did not create a break point during the match and won just one point on the American’s first serve.

Brady, who beat Maria Sharapova in the first round in Brisbane, will play fifth seed Petra Kvitova next.

Czech Kvitova, who reached the Australian Open final in 2019, breezed past Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova 6-3 6-2 in 61 minutes.

  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Women’s event ‘second hand’ – Sharapova

Barty was knocked out in the first round in her previous appearance at Brisbane in 2018.

The 23-year-old said she did not feel any extra pressure because of her top ranking.

“It doesn’t change the way that I practise. It doesn’t change me as a person,” Barty said.

“I think that you guys [journalists] enjoy the fact that you get something to write about and you have something to talk about.

“So hopefully I make it interesting for you, but I don’t look at it beyond that.”

Williams survives scare in Auckland

Serena Williams fought back from a set down to beat fellow American Christina McHale and reach the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic.

Williams, who reached the doubles semi-finals with Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday, eventually came through 3-6 6-2 6-3.

“I really need to play matches like that to get to my goals,” the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion said.

“Tournament time is super important. After losing that first set I’m just glad to be still in the event.”

Williams has also put a dress she wore earlier in the week up for auction to raise money for the bushfire relief fund in Australia.

She will face Laura Siegemund next after the German beat 15-year-old Coco Gauff 5-7 6-2 6-3.

American Gauff jokingly told off her father and coach, Corey, for swearing during an on court during a change of ends.

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GB beaten in thrilling ATP quarter-final by Australia

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

Great Britain missed out on the ATP Cup semi-finals after Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury lost the decisive doubles rubber against Australia despite having four match points.

The 3-6 6-3 18-16 win for Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur after a match tie-break gave the hosts a 2-1 win.

Dan Evans had earlier kept Britain in the tie with a thrilling three-set win over De Minaur.

Kyrgios had beaten Cameron Norrie in the opening singles in Sydney.

Australia will play Spain or Belgium on Saturday for a place in the final of the inaugural edition of the men’s team tournament.

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More knockout-stage heartbreak for GB

Fewer than seven weeks after the last men’s team tennis event – the rival Davis Cup – Great Britain have once again suffered an agonisingly close defeat in the knockout stage following their semi-final loss to Spain that also came down to the doubles.

Murray will be left kicking himself over one squandered opportunity in particular – a terrible volley at the net – on Britain’s second match point at 11-10 in the decider.

With almost the whole court at his disposal, the Scot somehow overcooked his shot and put his hands on his head in disbelief.

Instead it was Australia celebrating a few points later when Salisbury sent a backhand long on the hosts’ fifth match point.

Kyrgios carried De Minaur over his shoulder after they hugged on the ground and the home cheers rang out.

De Minaur and Kyrgios had not even meant to be playing in the doubles but were brought in instead of Chris Guccione and John Peers in what captain Lleyton Hewitt said had been a “tough” decision.

While Kyrgios had breezed through his 6-2 6-2 singles win over Norrie in one hour 12 minutes, De Minaur, 20, spent nearly three and a half hours on court for his epic singles match against Evans before he was asked to play again.

“Nick was playing extremely well in singles and was pretty fresh, Alex is a hell of a doubles player,” Hewitt said. “I thought I’d throw on a bit of firepower and it ended up paying off.”

‘Phenomenal’ Evans delivers for Britain again

British number one Evans, who upset world number 11 David Goffin to inspire the turnaround against Belgium in the group stage that kept his team in the tournament, once again showed he has the mettle and the shots to beat higher ranked opponents.

He sealed a thrilling 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) win in three hours 24 minutes – the longest match of the tournament.

The Briton, ranked 24 places below De Minaur at 42nd in the world, put behind him a poor start to break back in the fifth game and took the first set on a tie-break when his opponent netted.

The young Australian, who won three ATP titles last year, kept himself in the match by holding on to an early break to take the second set.

Evans had looked to be in charge of the third when he went 3-0 up but was then pegged back in what became an absorbing final set.

A time violation for Evans on his serve – given when it looked like he had already started his service motion – may have been playing on his mind to allow De Minaur a break back courtesy of a passing shot that was helped by the net cord.

Evans had four match points at 6-5 but a nerveless De Minaur saved them all with three emphatic winners and an ace to eventually force a tie-break.

With Kyrgios encouraging the home crowd to make even more noise with gestures from the bench, it was Evans who seemed to feed off the atmosphere, with a beautiful lob and stinging forehand winner at the net setting the tone as the Briton set up another four match points.

This time he converted without hesitation, wrapping up victory when De Minaur returned wide.

But De Minaur picked himself up from the loss to play an instrumental role in the doubles victory, where his constant threat at the net proved a menace for Britain.

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De Minaur & Kyrgios Win Deciding Doubles To Reach Semis Of The ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

De Minaur & Kyrgios Win Deciding Doubles To Reach Semis Of The ATP Cup

Australia will face Belgium or Spain on Saturday evening

Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios saved four match points to defeat Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 6-3, 18-16 on Thursday afternoon, giving Australia a 2-1 victory against Great Britain and sending their country to the semi-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup.

After Salisbury missed a backhand return on Australia’s fifth match point, the Brits challenged whether the serve landed on the service line. And once confirmed, De Minaur and Kyrgios fell onto the court in an embrace, before getting up to shake hands. Kyrgios then quickly lifted De Minaur onto his shoulders and paraded around in celebration as the Ken Rosewall Arena crowd erupted for their countrymen.

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The Aussie victory completed a wild tie to open Final Eight play in Sydney. Daniel Evans beat De Minaur in the No. 1 singles match after three hours and 24 minutes, winning a final-set tie-break to level the tie and force a deciding doubles match.

Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt made a bold decision to change his doubles line-up, replacing two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion John Peers and five-time ATP Tour doubles titlist Chris Guccione, who won all three of their Group F matches, with De Minaur and Kyrgios. That switch paid dividends for Hewitt and the Aussies.

As expected, the crowd was fully behind the Australians, roaring after nearly every point won. De Minaur and Kyrgios also leapt into chest bumps several times throughout the match, giving every ounce of physical and emotional energy they had, with Hewitt and countryman John Millman among those in the Australian Team Zone consistently taking a couple of steps out of that zone to motivate the Aussies.

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Former doubles World No. 1 Murray and 2019 Nitto ATP Finals doubles qualifier Salisbury had the edge in doubles experience. But it was the Brits who succumbed under pressure, with Murray missing a backhand groundstroke on top of the net on one of Great Britain’s match points.

De Minaur and Kyrgios hit some incredible returns under pressure, hitting back-to-back backhand return winners up the line past the net man late in the Match Tie-break to set up the match point that the Aussies converted.

And while the Brits did well throughout the match to put themselves in strong positions to swat away volleys at net, the dynamic Aussies unleashed some powerful and heavy groundstrokes in key moments to make life difficult for Murray and Salisbury.

Australia will play Belgium or Spain on Saturday evening.

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Selfies & Vuvuzelas: Why The Argentines Feel They 'Are Playing At Home' In Sydney

  • Posted: Jan 09, 2020

Selfies & Vuvuzelas: Why The Argentines Feel They ‘Are Playing At Home’ In Sydney

Argentina to play Russia in the Final Eight on Thursday evening

More than 11,000 kilometres separate Argentina and Australia. But for Guido Pella, Diego Schwartzman and the rest of Team Argentina, the Argentine fans have made that distance feel significantly smaller.

“[It] was an unbelievable feeling. It’s like we are playing at home,” Pella said of the crowds inside Ken Rosewall Arena during his win against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic on Thursday evening. “So it’s amazing to step into the court and feel that, because we not only play for our country, it’s like we play for everyone. This is a very nice feeling.”

The Argentines needed to defeat Croatia to win Group E, and their fans certainly helped the cause. From playing the drums and vuvuzelas to endless cheers — “Ole! Ole Ole Ole! Guido! Guido!”, for example — there was plenty of motivation for the players to leave everything on the court.

“[Wednesday] I was really, really focussed and not thinking about that,” said Schwartzman, who defeated Borna Coric to clinch Argentina’s win against Croatia. “But [in] the second match against [Dominic] Thiem, a few moments I was enjoying a lot. Those moments you need to enjoy. You never know when it’s going to repeat, playing in Sydney with more Argentines than maybe Australian people in the court.”

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Nobody competing at the ATP Cup needs extra motivation to represent their country. But hearing screaming fans supporting the players for hours on end certainly doesn’t hurt.

“When you step into the court and there are a lot of people watching you, you feel a little bit of pressure, more than maybe in the regular tournaments,” Pella said. “But I think tonight I felt very good, I felt better than maybe the previous days. So I think I played very good, very solid from the baseline, and I think I did a very good job to get the win.”

When Pella arrived in Sydney for this inaugural event, he expected to invest his own emotions into competing for his country. But he didn’t think fans from home would turn out in swarms to sing his name.

“I never expected that at all. I think it was a huge surprise not only for me, for the entire team, because it was not only here at the venue. It was on the streets. There are a lot of Argentines living here, having vacation here,” Pella said. “So it’s very nice to chat with them, because we are very, very far from home right now. So it’s very nice to see Argentines.”

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The player hotel is in the city, while the venue, Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, is in the suburbs. But everywhere the Argentines have gone, they have had fans come up to them for pictures and to wish them luck.

“We took a lot of selfies the other day. It was very good, because like I said, we are very far from home. And to find a lot of Argentines who are here, who are living, who are on vacation in Australia, is very nice,” Pella said. “And also because I love this country. I like to come here a lot and it’s very special when I come here, because I like to play.”

Schwartzman shares the same sentiments. The World No. 13 has enjoyed the support throughout the city, on and off the court.

“We knew already since a few years ago what to expect here, because of the Argentine people,” Schwartzman said. “In the street, it’s really nice. In the beach, it’s really nice. In places around Sydney, it’s crazy how many Argentines we have, and here on court the same happens.”

Argentina will hope to parlay that support into success in the Final Eight. On Thursday evening, the Argentines will play Russia, the Group D winner, led by World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev. And although it will be a tough tie, they hope the crowd will give them the edge they need.

“It was amazing the past three days, a lot of people from our country,” Schwartzman said. “We are really happy to be here and playing like at home.”

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