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Draw Preview: Tsitsipas & Hurkacz Resume Budding Rivalry In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020

Draw Preview: Tsitsipas & Hurkacz Resume Budding Rivalry In Rotterdam

Medvedev is the top seed in Rotterdam

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz have formed a budding ATP Head2Head rivalry over the past 15 months, and they will play once again at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Seven of the Top 15 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings, led by World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, are heading to Rotterdam for the first ATP 500 tournament of the season, and there are several first-round matches at which popcorn will be a requirement, with players who could make deep runs meeting in the opening round.

Second-seeded Tsitsipas has won four of his five matches against Hurkacz, with four of their battles coming in 2019. But their past three clashes have all been tightly contested, with Tsitsipas needing a final-set tie-break to triumph at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

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Tsitsipas loves to play aggressive tennis, serving big and working his way into the net. Hurkacz stands 6’5”, but he moves well for his height, making for a high level of tennis between two of the sport’s rising stars. Both men competed at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, where Tsitsipas emerged victorious.

Another match to watch features two players who were inside the Top 10 at the same time last year: fifth seed Fabio Fognini and big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov. They split their first two meetings last season, which took place in back-to-back weeks in China. Fognini and Khachanov are two of the cleanest ball-strikers on the ATP Tour.

Two players who also belong in that category are in-form Russian Andrey Rublev and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who will face one another for the fourth time. 

Basilashvili leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, including a victory in last year’s Hamburg final. But Rublev, who earned his lone win against the Georgian last season in Cincinnati, is in perhaps the best form of his career, winning a title in each of the first two weeks of the season, in Doha and Adelaide. The 22-year-old became the first player since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to start the season with back-to-back titles.

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Eighth seed Denis Shapovalov will try to level his record against 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov (0-1) when they meet in Rotterdam. If Shapovalov advances, he could face fellow #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who plays powerful German Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener.

The top seed is Medvedev, who starts his tournament against a qualifier or special exempt. The Russian was one of the revelations of 2019 on the ATP Tour, and he will push to reach his first final of the season after leading all players with nine of them at tour-level last year. The first seeded opponent he could face is Rublev in the quarter-finals.

Other players to watch for are defending champion Gael Monfils, who opens against Portuguese Joao Sousa, and sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who won all six of his matches at the ATP Cup before falling in a five-set thriller against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic at the Australian Open. The Spaniard will play a qualifier or special exempt.

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Krajinovic, Pospisil Reach Montpellier Semi-finals

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020

Krajinovic, Pospisil Reach Montpellier Semi-finals

Monfils, Goffin play during evening session

Seventh seed Filip Krajinovic saved two set points in the second set to beat France’s Gregoire Barrere 6-2, 7-5 in 75 minutes on Friday at the Open Sud de France. Krajinovic, who won the first four games of the match, saved two set points at 4-5, 15/40. He now plays Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, who led three-time former champion Richard Gasquet 6-1, 1-0 when the Frenchman retired after 32 minutes of play.

Later today, top-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, the 2010 and 2014 titlist, faces Norbert Gombos, while Pierre-Hugues Herbert looks to break a four-match losing streak against second seed David Goffin.

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Serbian/Croatian Team Reach Doubles Final
Nikola Cacic and Mate Pavic recovered from 1-4 down in the first set en route to a 7-6(3), 7-5 victory over Tomislav Brkic and Ante Pavic for a place in the Montpellier doubles final.

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Fed Cup: Great Britain trail Slovakia 1-0 in qualifier after Heather Watson beaten

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020
Fed Cup: Slovakia v Great Britain
Venue: AXA Arena NTC Bratislava, Slovakia Dates: 7-8 February (15:00 GMT) Surface: Clay
Coverage: Watch on BBC Red Button, iPlayer & online Friday, 7 February 14:45-19:00 & Saturday, 8 February 14:55-22:00; live text coverage on the BBC Sport website.

Great Britain trail Slovakia 1-0 in their Fed Cup qualifier after Heather Watson was beaten in straight sets by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Watson lost 6-2 6-3 to the world number 199 on clay at the AXA Arena in Bratislava.

The 27-year-old Briton, ranked 74, paid the price for only converting one of nine break points and 43 unforced errors.

Harriet Dart faces Viktoria Kuzmova in the second singles rubber on Friday.

The reverse singles and doubles rubber will be played on Saturday in the best-of-five tie.

  • Watch live coverage of Slovakia v Great Britain
  • Japan’s Osaka suffers shock loss to world number 78 in Fed Cup tie

The winner of the tie will join 11 other nations at the new Fed Cup Finals in Budapest from 14-19 April.

Watson lost the opening two games of the match, missing four break points in Schmiedlova’s opening service game.

She fought back to 2-2 and was then 30-0 up on her serve but the Slovakian won the next four points at the start of a run of six consecutive games.

Watson steadied herself in the second set but was always trailing and was broken again in the final game, a forehand volley wide when faced with an open court all too typical of her performance.

Britain are without world number 14 Johanna Konta, who has opted to sit out the Fed Cup this year to protect her body, and Katie Boulter.

GB, who returned to the World Group for the first time since 1996 by beating Kazakhstan in a play-off last April, are among eight seeded nations in the qualifiers.

  • Heather Watson column: Jet lag and Craig David

How does the new Fed Cup format work?

The eight winners of this week’s qualifying ties will join 2019 finalists Australia and France, hosts Hungary and the Czech Republic in the new 12-team Fed Cup Finals, which will be played on clay in Budapest.

There is an $18m (£14.2m) prize fund and of that, $12m (£9.5m) will go to the players, and the other $6m (£4.75m) to their national associations.

Under the previous format, the champions needed to negotiate three home or away ties. Now they play no more than one.

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Berankis Fights Back In Pune, Reach Fourth ATP Tour Semi-final

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020

Berankis Fights Back In Pune, Reach Fourth ATP Tour Semi-final

Vesely saves two match points in deciding-set tie-break

Second seed Ricardas Berankis booked a place in his first ATP Tour semi-final for more than two years on Friday after he recovered to beat fifth-seeded Japanese Yuichi Sugita 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in two hours and 16 minutes at the Tata Open Maharashtra.

Sugita, who reached an ATP Challenger Tour final in Noumea (l. to Wolf) at the start of the 2020 season, came within a point of a set and 3-0 lead on three occasions, but Berankis battled back for a place in his first semi-final since October 2017 at the VTB Kremlin Cup.

The Lithuanian, who is through to his fourth tour-level semi-final, now faces Jiri Vesely, who lived to fight another day after saving two match points against Ilya Ivashka in a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(11) victory over two hours and 30 minutes. The Czech saved match points at 5/6 and 9/10 in the third-set tie-break.

Later in the day, fourth seed Soonwoo Kwon takes on eighth seed Egor Gerasimov, while sixth seed James Duckworth meets qualifier Roberto Marcora.

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Osaka suffers shock loss to world number 78 in Fed Cup tie

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020

Former world number one Naomi Osaka suffered a shock 6-0 6-3 loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo as Spain took a 1-0 lead in their Fed Cup tie against Japan.

Osaka lost her opening 10 points on serve as Sorribes Tormo dominated in the opening set of the match at La Manga Club in Murcia.

The Japanese player led 2-0 in the second set, but Sorribes Tormo, ranked 78th in the world, fought back.

The winners will be one of 12 nations in April’s new-look Fed Cup Finals.

“We knew Sara could make it very uncomfortable for Naomi and she stuck to the gameplan perfectly,” said Spain captain Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Carla Suarez Navarro, playing in what is likely to be her last home Fed Cup tie, faces Japan’s Misaki Doi in the second singles match later on Friday.

Great Britain are also trying to book their place in the Fed Cup Finals and they play away in Slovakia this weekend.

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Londero Looking To Repeat In Cordoba

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020

Londero Looking To Repeat In Cordoba

Djere, Ramos-Vinolas also advance

Twelve months ago, Juan Ignacio Londero was a relative unknown on the ATP Tour. The Argentine, No. 112 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, hadn’t won a tour-level match and received a wild card at the inaugural Cordoba Open.

But Londero won the ATP 250 and during the past year, he has proven his maiden title run was no fluke. Londero is at a career-high No. 50, and he returned to the Cordoba quarter-finals on Thursday night.

The 26-year-old beat countryman Pedro Cachin 6-3, 6-3 and will next meet Serbian Laslo Djere. Londero won 79 per cent (26/33) of his first-serve points and saved all five break points faced.

I was a little nervous and that’s why I talked to myself a lot and that’s how I got in the game. The way I have to activate [myself] is by encouraging myself a lot. If I keep quiet, that doesn’t happen. It was a game with many nerves for me, and I am glad I won it in straight sets,” Londero said.

For me, it is more a motivation than a pressure to play in Cordoba and try to defend the title. If I had to defend the tournament elsewhere, without having the support of my family, my friends who can see me live, the truth is that I think it would be more difficult anywhere else. I have been having a good time.”

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Monfils Moves Past Mannarino In Montpellier

Djere, the 2019 Rio presented by Claro champion, beat Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez 6-3, 6-4. The Serbian finished 2019 on a seven-match losing streak but ended that in his first match of 2020 in Doha. He will try to reach his first semi-final since July at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag (l. to Balazs). 

The next match against Djere will be difficult, but I go game-by-game, point-by-point. I only think about the next one, to prepare well and be recovered,” Londero said.

Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas held off countryman Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 to make his second quarter-final of 2020 (Adelaide). Ramos-Vinolas, a two-time ATP Tour clay-court titlist, broke Andujar at 4-4 in the third after a 20-minute rain delay.

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Play resumed with Andujar serving at 4-4, 0/30. The 34-year-old recovered to deuce, but Ramos-Vinolas converted his third break point of the game and served it out. The left-hander broke eight times from 21 opportunities.

He will next meet the winner of top seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina and Spain’s Jaume Munar, who are playing the final match of the day.

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Monfils Moves Past Mannarino In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 07, 2020

Monfils Moves Past Mannarino In Montpellier

Frenchman rallies to continue pursuit of third Montpellier title

Top seed Gael Monfils navigated a tough match-up against fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals of the Open Sud de France in Montpellier for the fifth time in his seventh appearance.

The two-time champion earned 14 break points against the unorthodox lefty, converting five of his chances to advance after two hours and one minute. Monfils, the World No. 9, will face Slovakian Norbert Gombos for a spot in the semi-finals.

Mannarino has proven a tough opponent for Monfils, as they split their four previous ATP Head2Head meetings. But Monfils has now won two in a row, also defeating the 31-year-old World No. 45 last year at Roland Garros.

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Monfils is off to a good start in 2020, having reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. Last November, he returned to the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time since February 2017, finishing inside the year-end Top 10 for the second time (2016).

The Frenchman has reached a tour-level final in 15 straight years, and he is now just two victories from extending that streak to 16 consecutive seasons. Monfils is trying to lift his first ATP Tour trophy on home soil since 2014, when he triumphed in Montpellier.

World No. 104 Gombos reached the last eight by defeating #NextGenATP Norwegian Emil Ruusuvuori 7-5, 6-4. Gombos converted all three of his break points to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final since last year’s Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

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