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Ruud Races Past Andujar In Buenos Aires

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Ruud Races Past Andujar In Buenos Aires

Norwegian to face Cecchinato or Carballes Baena in second round

Casper Ruud made a fast start to his Argentina Open campaign on Monday, beating Pablo Andujar 6-2, 6-3 to reach the second round in Buenos Aires.

The 21-year-old, who is aiming to capture his maiden ATP Tour title this week, struck six aces and broke serve on three occasions to advance after 72 minutes. Ruud reached his maiden tour-level championship match on clay at last year’s Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston and reached two further ATP Tour semi-finals on the surface in 2019 (Sao Paulo, Kitzbühel).

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Ruud improves to 3-3 this season, adding to career-best wins at the ATP Cup. Representing Team Norway in Perth, the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier beat two Top 20 players — Fabio Fognini and John Isner — to open his 2020 ATP Tour season at the innovative team competition.

The eighth seed will meet defending champion Marco Cecchinato or Roberto Carballes Baena for a spot in the quarter-finals. Cecchinato defeated Diego Schwartzman in last year’s championship match to earn his third ATP Tour crown.

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Thiago Monteiro booked a second-round clash against fourth seed Borna Coric in the Argentine capital. The 25-year-old Brazilian saved 10 of 11 break points to move past Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-3.

In other action, six-time ATP Tour clay-court titlist Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay dismissed Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-4. Cuevas will next meet seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain or home wild card Leonardo Mayer.

Home favourite Federico Delbonis also advanced, beating Bolivian Hugo Dellien 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 and will meet top-seeded countryman Diego Schwartzman in the second round. Schwartzman fell in the Cordoba Open final to Chile’s Cristian Garin on Sunday.

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Deuces Don't Slow Down Dimitrov's Serve

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Deuces Don’t Slow Down Dimitrov’s Serve

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how the Bulgarian digs deep on serve

The longer his service games are extended on hard courts, the more Grigor Dimitrov digs in and finds a way to hold.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of players holding serve when their service games are extended to two or more deuces on hard court over the past five seasons identifies Dimitrov as the leader of the pack with 199 service games held from this precarious scenario.

This metric is somewhat of a double-edged sword as Dimitrov, like all players on Tour, would naturally prefer to hold his service games with greater ease.

But theory and reality don’t always mix, and Dimitrov has shown great resolve to hold serve when opponents are pushing their way deeper and deeper into his service games.

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The leading 10 players from 2015-2019 that held the most service games from two or more deuces:
1. Grigor Dimitrov = 199
2. Stan Wawrinka = 192
3. Dominic Thiem = 164
4. David Goffin = 159
T5. Alexander Zverev = 153
T5. Adrian Mannarino = 153
7. Novak Djokovic = 149
T8. Benoit Paire = 145
T8. Kei Nishikori = 145
10. Fernando Verdasco = 145

Dimitrov is currently No. 22 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. He held his career-high of No. 3 in November 2017 after winning the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

In the past five seasons, Dimitrov’s single season effort in 2016 of holding 58 times from two or more deuces is the best.

2015-2019 Season Leader: Holding Two Or More Deuces
2019: Stefanos Tsitsipas = 53
2018: Grigor Dimitrov = 50
2017: Alexander Zverev = 51
2016: Grigor Dimitrov = 58
2015: Stan Wawrinka = 56

Overall, Dimitrov has held an impressive 76.8 per cent (199/259) of the time when his service games have been extended to two or more deuces, which is ahead of the Tour average of 73.4 per cent (9270/12636).

The player with the highest win percentage from 2015-2019, with a minimum of 50 attempts, is Ivo Karlovic, who won 85.6 per cent (83/97). The five best win percentages:

1: Ivo Karlovic = 85.6% (83/97)
2: Milos Raonic = 84.7% (100/118)
3: Nick Kyrgios = 84.4% (119/141)
4: Juan Martin del Potro = 84.3% (75/89)
5: Reilly Opelka = 83.6% (46/55)

Having your service games extended to two or more deuces is going to happen no matter if you like it or not. Dimitrov’s resilience in this specific situation helps keep him at the top tier of our sport.

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Find Out Who Isner, Karlovic, Opelka & Humbert Struggled To Ace In New York

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Find Out Who Isner, Karlovic, Opelka & Humbert Struggled To Ace In New York

Tennis stars try their hand at lacrosse

John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Reilly Opelka are three of the biggest servers in the history of tennis. 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Ugo Humbert serves well, too. But the quartet faced a different returning challenge on Monday before starting the New York Open.

Members of the New York Riptide, a professional lacrosse team that competes at the same venue as this ATP 250 tournament, jumped on court with the ATP Tour stars to see if they could catch the monstrous deliveries. And to their credit, Tyson Bomberry, Connor Kelly and Jake Fox were able to do so, even when the players ramped up the velocity and kick on their serve.

Everyone then switched roles, with the tennis players attempting to catch the lacrosse players’ serves.

“That was actually very fun. I said earlier that they are much better at tennis than we are lacrosse. They were serving to us and they actually served very well in my opinion,” Isner said. “All of us as lacrosse players leave a lot to be desired out there, I could say. We could catch it pretty well, but our passes were not accurate at all. Those guys are extremely tough. I love watching it on TV. Those guys put their bodies on the line every single time they go out there, so lacrosse is a fantastic sport to watch.”

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Opelka, the defending champion at the New York Open, watched 38 Isner aces whiz by him in last year’s semi-finals. The 22-year-old tried a new approach on Monday, seeing if he could catch his countryman’s serve with a lacrosse stick.

“I like to think my serve is difficult to return even with a tennis racquet in your hand, but throw a lacrosse stick in Reilly’s hand and he was having a little bit of trouble,” Isner said. “I wasn’t cranking it up. I was cranking it up against the professional players, and that was a lot of fun.”

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Ivo Karlovic is 40, and in all his travels he’d never gotten to play lacrosse. The Croat was excited to try something new before playing Jordan Thompson in the first round.

“It is always fun. It’s interesting. I never did this before and I didn’t know at all how it is,” Karlovic said. “It is really fun, I liked it a lot.”

In Humbert’s case, lacrosse was more than just something he had never played.

“I don’t know the sport, in France we don’t have it,” said Humbert, who will play Jack Sock or Marcos Giron. “I enjoyed to be with those guys, it was good. I was having some fun before my first match. It’s always great for my mind.”

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Farah will not be banned despite positive test

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion Robert Farah will not be banned despite being found in breach of the tennis anti-doping programme.

The Colombian, 33, was provisionally suspended last month after testing positive for a banned substance.

Farah said anabolic steroid Boldenone was the result of eating contaminated meat in his home country.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) accepted Farah “bears no fault or negligence for the violation”.

The positive test occurred in October and was confirmed to Farah by the ITF last month, causing him to miss the Australian Open.

After being told of the positive result he wrote on Twitter: “Two weeks before the test mentioned… I did an anti-doping test in Shanghai which had a negative result.

“I was also tested at least 15 other times randomly in the international circuit throughout the year with the same negative result.

“As stated by the Colombian Olympic Committee in 2018, this substance is found frequently in Colombian meat and may affect athletes’ test results.”

In 2018, Canadian-born Farah was given a suspended ban and fined £3,800 for promoting a gambling website on social media.

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Bautista Agut Overcomes Fucsovics Test In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Bautista Agut Overcomes Fucsovics Test In Rotterdam

Spaniard to meet Carreno Busta in second round

Roberto Bautista Agut’s hopes of a first title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament were almost ended in the first round on Monday, but the Spaniard survived a second-set tie-break before racing to a 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-1 victory against Marton Fucsovics.

The World No. 12 recorded his ninth victory in 10 matches this season after two hours and 17 inutes, converting five of eight break points to secure the three-set victory. Bautista Agut is appearing in Rotterdam for the first time since 2016, when he advanced to the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 event for the first time.

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Bautista Agut has started the 2020 ATP Tour season in fine form, winning all 12 sets he contested at the inaugural ATP Cup. At the Australian Open, the 31-year-old fell in five sets to 2018 runner-up Marin Cilic in the third round.

Bautista Agut will face countryman Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the third round. The 28-year-old needed two hours and 45 minutes to move past Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4.

Bautista Agut leads Carreno Busta 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. Each of the pair’s three previous encounters went to decisive final set.

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St Petersburg Ladies Trophy: Johanna Konta returns with doubles win

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Johanna Konta stepped up her return to full fitness with a doubles win at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy.

Konta, 28, sat out Great Britain’s Fed Cup defeat by Slovakia at the weekend to reduce her workload.

The British number one has only played two singles games since September’s US Open because of a knee injury.

But she and Caroline Garcia of France won 6-3 3-6 10-5 against Germany’s Vivian Heisen and Valeriya Strakhova of Ukraine to reach the quarter-finals.

Konta, ranked 14th in the world, was playing her first game since losing to Ons Jabeur in the first round of the Australian Open on 21 January.

She is also scheduled to play in the singles in St Petersburg and, as the fourth seed, has been given a bye to the second round.

Konta will face either Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova or Oceane Dodin of France on Wednesday.

  • Fed Cup: Great Britain hope to persuade Johanna Konta to play

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Vesely Jumps Back Into Top 100, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Vesely Jumps Back Into Top 100, Mover Of Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the FedEx ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 10 February 2020

No. 72 Jiri Vesely, +35
The Czech rises back into the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time since 13 May 2019 with his second ATP Tour title at the Tata Open Maharashtra (d. Gerasimov). Vesely became only the eighth player since 2013 to save match points in two matches en route to an ATP Tour crown. The former World No. 35 saved two match points to beat Ilya Ivashka in a final-set tie-break in the quarter-finals and survived four match points in another deciding-set tie-break against Ricardas Berankis in the semi-finals.

No. 26 Cristian Garin (Career High), +5
The Chilean rose five spots to break into the Top 30 for the first time at a career-high No. 26 after he captured his second ATP Tour crown at the Cordoba Open (d. Schwartzman). He lifted his first trophy in January 2015 at the ASB Classic (d. Mannarino).

View Latest FedEx ATP Rankings

Other Notable Movers
No. 39 Filip Krajinovic, +5
No. 58 Pablo Andujar, +5
No. 65 Ricardas Berankis, +8
No. 71 Egor Gerasimov (Career High), +19
No. 83 James Duckworth, +13
No. 93 Andrej Martin (Career High), +7

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Innovation & Southern Hospitality: A Formula Of Success In Dallas

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Innovation & Southern Hospitality: A Formula Of Success In Dallas

The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas has established itself as a premier stop on the ATP Challenger Tour

The year was 2007. The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas was embarking on its second decade on the ATP Challenger Tour, as the tournament steadily continued to grow roots in the Texas metropolis.

At the time, the circuit was growing and developing at a rapid rate. An influx of new tournaments provided fresh opportunities for players, while giving fans in non-traditional tennis locales the chance to catch world-class action in a more intimate setting.

That year, something unique was happening at T Bar M Racquet Club. The age of social media was in its infancy and so was the concept of live streaming. People were beginning to be connected across the globe with the press of a button and the folks in Dallas had taken notice.

You can call them innovators and pioneers, but the tournament staff merely wanted to extend the fan experience outside the cozy confines of T Bar. Armed with just a camera and a long pole, the first-ever ATP Challenger Tour live stream in North America was born. It wasn’t a high definition feed, but it didn’t matter. The ability to connect a Challenger event to the rest of the world was an incredible concept.

While live streaming had already been established in Europe, it was revolutionary for a tournament across the pond. And having identified the great potential of a live streaming service, they took it one step further in 2008. With current tournament emcee Craig Karseno and former club instructor turned professional coach Craig O’Shannessy serving as commentators, they launched a full-scale operation.

Club member Marc Lemke was the brains behind it all, creating his own company called Front Row Tennis and establishing the entire operation from scratch. A former executive at IBM, he spent six months learning the business and the technology behind live streaming. Identifying it as a potentially lucrative investment,  Lemke purchased the equipment which included six cameras, broadcast gear, sound mixers and green screens for off-court player interviews. The rest was history.

Watch: The Birth Of Live Streaming In Dallas

A total of 350,000 people accessed the stream in its first year, consuming not only the live action, but instant replays with highlights, interviews, as well as commercials from local businesses. Lemke would manage the production for four years in total, with a pair of viral moments providing a surge of publicity. In 2008, a match point foot fault led to a memorable tirade and in 2011, Michael Yani made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays on ESPN with a diving winner.

“Marc took a leap of faith, investing his own time and money,” Karseno told “He took six months off from work, figured out the technology and hired a crew. At first, it was just a long pole with a hook that went on the top of the fence and points down. The following year, Marc established his company and saw an opportunity to make it a permanent fixture.”

“I remember Judy Murray contacted the tournament and thanked us for giving her the chance to see her son Jamie Murray play a tournament on the other side of the world,” said tournament founder Bob Raedisch. “She was so excited. At the time, unless you qualified for a Slam, you weren’t getting exposure or getting interviewed. It morphed into something bigger than what the tournament ever imagined.”

In Dallas, while they are constantly seeking ways to set themselves apart, there is one thing that has never changed in 22 years: the tournament’s culture.  

Photo: Tessa Kolodny

On the Challenger circuit, every tournament has their own method of establishing a unique sporting culture within the community, while striving to attract potential sponsors. At T Bar, they have been laying the foundation through years of hard work and dedication to create the perfect tennis experience.

A modest tennis facility in North Dallas, T Bar has been home to the Challenger 100 event for more than two decades. If you walk through the main entrance during the tournament, you won’t find any flashing lights, dramatic player entrances and boisterous entertainment. The event has always stayed true to its roots and that is reflected in the passion and core values of its founders and current staff.

‘Southern hospitality’ describes the warm and welcoming attitude of people in the Southern United States. At T Bar, they take that philosophy to the next level. The tournament’s culture is predicated on a family-first mentality. That extends to the players battling between the lines, the fans streaming through the gates and the staff working tirelessly to make the event run as smooth as possible. If you’re there, you’re family.

“There is a strong appetite for tennis in the Dallas area,” said Karseno. “In terms of the club membership and the community’s demographic, this has been the place to be on a Saturday night. Women are getting dolled up and people are getting babysitters for their kids ahead of a night out. It’s a party and it still is a big social event in the city. People will mingle in our pavilion, enjoying locally catered food and drinks, before taking their seats for a night of tennis.

“And from what players tell us, it’s all about the way we take care of them. It’s a relationship that we build. I don’t just interview a guy [for our social media] and then never talk to them the rest of the year. I always tell the champions that I hope we never see them back here again. You always want them to graduate to the next level. But when they’re here, we put them in housing in the mansions of our club members and they give them their cars for the week. It’s all about the relationships you build over time.”

The tournament has also become a social event for stars of other sports. A big tennis fan, NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki and his wife Jessica have visited the tournament nearly every year. This week, he was joined by former New York Knicks player Kurt Thomas, current Dallas Cowboys football star Michael Gallup and former Dallas Stars ice hockey goalie Marty Turco. In fact, Thomas and Gallup visited the tournament on multiple occasions throughout the week, staying for hours on end.

“It’s cool to see stars of other sports coming to watch us play,” said 2020 finalist Denis Kudla. “That doesn’t happen often. I never knew they were tennis fans.”

In addition to the players and the fans, local businesses have also taken notice. Many sponsors have been with the tournament since its inception in 1998. When Andy Teller agreed to make RBC the title sponsor, the goal was to not only organize meet-and-greets, pro-ams and clinics for his clients, but to engage with the local community and make it an integral part of the tournament’s culture. They aim to turn the non-club members into tennis fans that will continue coming back year after year.

Mackenzie McDonald, who reached the final in both 2018 and 2019, stays with the Teller family every year.

“I’ve always played pretty well here,” said the 24-year-old American. “The courts suit my game and the staff are very accommodating. They treat me like family and it just allows me to play my best tennis.”

Giving back to the community is just as important for the tournament and its sponsors, raising more than $1.25 million for charity over the years. The tournament has held its annual Pink Day for the past 12 years, supporting the Susan G. Komen foundation and the fight against breast cancer.


Photos: Tessa Kolodny

A tennis celebrity is invited to host the event, with more than 250 people – all dressed in pink – attending every year. In the past they had the likes of Stan Smith, Brad Gilbert and Patrick McEnroe managing the festivities, with Judy Murray taking the reins this year. It includes a speech by the host, a clinic on stadium court, meet-and-greet and catered lunch, in addition to tickets to watch the tennis.

Silent auctions are also held by local charities throughout the week, including the Dallas Tennis Association. The DTA helps underprivileged youth by providing donated racquets, shoes, balls and tennis clothing. The tournament also hosts a visit to a different children’s hospital each year, as well as a latino clinic and a hearing impaired clinic with ATP pros and club pros.

Dallas has a storied history of professional tennis, with another ATP Challenger Tour event running in nearby Irving from 2012-18. Prior to that, the World Championship Tennis Finals was held for nearly 20 years in the 1970s and 80s, featuring some of the top players in the world. That was staged at the Moody Coliseum and Reunion Arena.

“Back in the day, this area did not have pro tennis,” added Raedisch. “And there are so many high-end clubs here. There’s a lot of money here and many tennis players, with some top guys coming from the Dallas area. Dick Stockton was Top 10 in the world and he was a pro here at T Bar.”

Dallas in 2005

Now, the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas has become a critical stop on the ATP Challenger Tour. The week before the spring U.S. swing on the ATP Tour gets underway in New York, top players have flocked to the tournament over the years. In 2018, Kei Nishikori lifted the trophy in his comeback from a wrist injury, while Nick Kyrgios and John Isner both participated in the doubles in 2019. The tournament was also the site of Kyle Edmund’s title in 2016 and a runner-up finish by a 19-year-old Taylor Fritz the following year.

This week, Jurij Rodionov became the first #NextGenATP  champion of the 2020 season, winning six matches in seven days to lift his second Challenger trophy. He defeated Kudla in a thrilling final.

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Scouting Report: 15 Things To Watch In Rotterdam, New York & Buenos Aires

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Scouting Report: 15 Things To Watch In Rotterdam, New York & Buenos Aires

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

Once again this coming week there will be three ATP Tour events on three continents, led by the first ATP 500 tournament of the season in Rotterdam, home of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev leads the field there in hopes of capturing his first title of the season.

In the Western Hemisphere, John Isner is the top seed at the New York Open. The big-server will try to become the second straight American to win that ATP 250, while Diego Schwartzman is the No. 1 seed at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires.

Draws: Rotterdam | New York | Buenos Aires

1) Top 20 Stars:
There is a stacked field in Rotterdam, with 10 of the Top 20 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings action, including four members of the Top 10.

2) Medvedev Magic: Medvedev reached an ATP Tour-leading nine finals in 2019. The Russian will try to make his first of the season in Rotterdam. He has made at least the quarter-finals in each of his two appearances at this event, losing to Gael Monfils in the semi-finals last year.

3) Gael Goes For Glory Again: Monfils earned one of the biggest titles of his career here last season, navigating a tough draw that included David Goffin, Medvedev and Stan Wawrinka. The Frenchman, who also made the 2016 final in Rotterdam, is the third seed.

4) Tsitsipas-Hubi Headline Incredible Openers: There are plenty of exciting first-round matches at this ATP 500, including a clash between second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz. Fifth seed Fabio Fognini plays Karen Khachanov, eighth seed Denis Shapovalov faces Grigor Dimitrov, and seventh Andrey Rublev will battle fellow big-hitter Nikoloz Basilashvili.

5) Doubles Stars Galore: Seventeen of the 32 players in the Rotterdam doubles draw have competed in doubles in the Nitto ATP Finals. Top seeds Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies, second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut and fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau were three of the eight teams that played in the season finale at The O2 last year.

1) Isner Leads The Way:
Isner is the No. 1 American, and he is also the top seed in this tournament’s third New York edition. Its previous location was Memphis. Isner advanced to the semi-finals last year, losing to eventual champion Reilly Opelka.

2) Reilly’s Return: Opelka made his breakthrough at the New York Open, reaching his first ATP Tour final and lifting his first tour-level trophy. The American won back-to-back final-set tie-breaks against Isner and Brayden Schnur to claim victory on Long Island. He went on to enjoy the best season of his young career, climbing as high as World No. 31 last October.

3) Former World No. 3s: Second seed Milos Raonic and 2018 New York Open champion Kevin Anderson are the two former World No. 3s in the field. Both men have reached at least one Grand Slam final. Raonic is a three-time champion at this event, winning it from 2011-13 when it was held in Memphis.

4) 2019 Milan Competitors In NY: Two players who competed in the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals, Ugo Humbert and Miomir Kecmanovic, are seeded fourth and sixth, respectively. Both men are making their tournament debuts in New York.

5) Aussie Momentum: American Tennys Sandgren fell short against Roger Federer in five sets in the Australian Open quarter-finals, and he will look to maintain his momentum in New York, where play is contested on black hard courts. Sandgren has played at this event in each of the two editions held on Long Island.

1) Argentines Leading The Way:
Like in Cordoba, Schwartzman and Guido Pella are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Schwartzman made the Buenos Aires final last year, upsetting Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals. An Argentine will try to lift the trophy for the first time since 2008, when David Nalbandian did it.

2) Lajovic In Action: Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who made a clay-court ATP Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo last year, is the third seed. He reached the quarter-finals in Buenos Aires in 2016, and will be chasing his second ATP Tour title.

3) Coric’s Charge: Borna Coric, the 23-year-old who has climbed as high as World No. 12, is making his tournament debut. The Croat owns a higher winning percentage — 56.5 per cent — on clay than on any other service.

4) Cecchinato The Champ: Italian Marco Cecchinato beat Schwartzman in last year’s final to claim his third ATP Tour title. Although he is unseeded this year, Cecchinato did not lose a set in Buenos Aires last year.

5) Granollers/Zeballos Top Seeds: Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos are the top seeds in the doubles draw. The Spanish-Argentine duo won its first title together at last year’s ATP Masters 1000 Canada event in Montreal.

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Michael Russell On Federer's Win Over Sandgren: 'He Put On Robot Mode'

  • Posted: Feb 10, 2020

Michael Russell On Federer’s Win Over Sandgren: ‘He Put On Robot Mode’

Former World No. 60 coaches Sandgren and McDonald

Tennys Sandgren played one of the most memorable matches of the 2020 ATP Tour season thus far against Roger Federer in the Australian Open quarter-finals. spoke to his coach, former World No. 60 Michael Russell, about what was going through his mind during the match, how he approached his messaging to Sandgren afterwards, how he wants his charge to move forward, and more. Russell coaches both Sandgren and fellow American Mackenzie McDonald.

What was going through your mind during the match?
During three-out-of-five-set matches, there are a lot of swings. So I’m always very even-keeled anyways during a match. I don’t like to show too much emotion, never any negative emotion. But I want the player to be able to look over and see the calmness, but also the confidence as well.

I will show them some fist pumps and some verbal encouragement, but obviously your heart is racing at certain times in the match. You get more excited and you try to urge him on and keep that confidence in him, the patience, the confidence and the tranquility. There’s no panic at any moment.

Tennys had seven match points and it didn’t seem like he played those points poorly. Roger seemed to play as well as he did the whole match in those situations. How did you see it?
I’ll be candid. He played the match points conservatively, which is understandable in that situation. You feel like, ‘Okay, I don’t want to go for too much’ because you feel like, ‘I don’t know how many opportunities I’m going to have.’

So a little bit of it is kind of saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to play these balls to Roger. Roger might make an error.’ You can see that a little bit in there. He played a couple points aggressively, a little bit unlucky with that point where he came in, had the volley, went cross-court and not down the line, he knows that. Roger hit an amazing stick save.

He only had one match point on his serve, didn’t hit the spot that he wanted to on the serve and unfortunately lost the point. He could have played a little more aggressively of course in hindsight. But it’s easy in hindsight to look at that. He didn’t really make an error unless he was a little off balance. And kudos to Roger, he stepped up and basically put on freaking robot mode where he wasn’t going to miss a ball on those points.

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What did you say to Tennys when you got in the locker room?
Obviously, he was extremely disappointed being so close to beating such a good player in Federer in that stage, in a quarter-final. He not only wanted to beat Roger and be in the semi-finals, but he was really looking forward to the test of playing Djokovic. Sandgren is extremely fit and he wanted that physical test also of playing Novak. But there are so many positives to take away from the tournament.

Coming in he was even a little physically banged up. So to get through four matches — one five-setter against Berrettini, a Top 10 player, a really tough four-setter with a lot of drama against Fognini. he had to play Querrey, who’s a dangerous opponent, took him out in the fourth round of Wimbledon the year before — I was really proud of how well he competed and mentally engaged himself and just reminded him of that after the match. I reminded him how much opportunity, how much inspiration, how many positives he can really take away from this and really build on it in the rest of 2020. 

When you were talking to him afterwards, were you sort of reminding him that he was right there against Roger Federer?
It’s reminding him that he is a player that can be Top 25 in the world, Top 20, and not getting complacent in that mindset or mentality where, ‘I’m playing Roger, I had that opportunity, it’s lost.’ It’s more about, ‘Okay, I’ve been having great Grand Slam runs, I’ve done well at some 250s, I can do this. I can be a more consistent top-level player. This is just gratification showing how good I am, so let’s build on this. So yes, I’m disappointed. Yes, I was in a great situation. But at the same time, I put myself in this situation in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam.

This was not match points against Roger at a smaller tournament. This is a Grand Slam quarter-final. I’ve won a lot of matches, put a lot of hard yards in to get to this point. I can do this again, I can continue to do this. And now I’ve created an aura and energy that people know how fit I am. Let’s use this and build upon it.’

He’s had success at ATP 250s before, winning last year in Auckland, but Tennys has also had some patches where he hasn’t played as well. How much of this is about translating the level he’s shown on the big stages throughout the calendar to produce consistent results?
It’s taking that competitiveness, fierce mentality and focus from the Grand Slams into the ATP 250s, the ATP 500s, the ATP Masters 1000s and being able to do that consistently and sustaining that throughout the year, and that’s what makes somebody Top 20. 

People may not know that he got hurt in Zhuhai last September, and missed almost the entire rest of the season. So after dealing with that, how nice was it to see Tennys start his season like he did?
It was unfortunate. He basically played on a stress fracture even a little bit probably at the US Open and he made the third round. Played on it against Andy Murray in Zhuhai, played a great match, but then basically had to take the rest of the fall off.

He was healthy for the pre-season, which was really important, because he pushed really hard in that pre-season and that paid dividends right away in Australia. He was extremely fit, which he is, and that helped him really mentally battle through that adversity and those tough times.

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You were always well-known for your fitness, so is it nice to see the aura Tennys created in that regard in Australia?
I think it creates a definite advantage on court. Players are talking about it, they know this guy is extremely fit, plays physical tennis. So in a three-out-of-five-set match, it’s going to be a battle. I have to be willing to suffer and a lot of players, they might not be willing to put that type of suffering in while Tennys is definitely willing to do that and that’s giving him a lot of confidence. It’s also creating a lot of chatter in the locker room because people know that.

A lot of casual fans may now think of Tennys as the guy who was so close to beating Roger. So what will it take for him to take the next step, continue improving his FedEx ATP Ranking and shed that label?
It’s not getting so caught up in the noise around with media or players. It’s always keeping that focus and tunnel vision that you have on court, also on the practice court, even in your daily life.

He’s strict with his nutrition and his fitness. It’s always making sure you have that goal in sight. You’re always keeping that motivation and striving to keep progressing on court, off court. And I think, ultimately, that will help him be more consistent throughout the year. That’s what we’re striving for.

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In terms of Tennys’ game, he’s comfortable on defence, he serves well, he has an all-around game with which he can do a lot of different things, but sometimes he falls back to that base of playing defence. Is taking that next step from good to great playing aggressively in the big moments?
Definitely. You look at guys that are winning Slams or going deep, they’re willing to step up in those pressure moments. I’m not saying you just have to hit balls and run them down, but they’re playing attacking tennis at those pressure moments, whether that’s hitting a big groundstroke, whether that’s coming in, whether that’s taking time away, whether that’s attacking a second serve. So it’s getting comfortable in those situations through confidence and experience.

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