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Monfils Sets Sights On Top 5, Further Success In 2020

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Monfils Sets Sights On Top 5, Further Success In 2020

Frenchman owns 13-2 record in 2020

After winning nine consecutive matches to capture multiple titles in a single season for the first time, Gael Monfils made one thing clear at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament: he is just getting started.

“[In the FedEx ATP Rankings, I want] to reach the fifth spot. I have been sixth,” said Monfils.

The World No. 9, who reached a career-high No. 6 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in November 2016, defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets on Sunday to add to the record-tying third Montpellier title he lifted last week. Monfils has won 13 of 15 matches this year, with his only losses coming against Australian Open finalists Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem in the opening month of the 2020 ATP Tour season.

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A Top 5 position is not the only goal on Monfils’ checklist. The Frenchman also targeted a return to an ATP Masters 1000 final. Monfils has finished as a runner-up on three occasions at a Masters 1000 event, most recently at the 2016 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

“[I would like] to reach the final at another Masters 1000,” said Monfils. “Why not try to win one?”

Monfils’ long-term goal is to put himself in a position to win a Grand Slam title and end France’s 37-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion. Yannick Noah, the 1983 Roland Garros titlist, is the only French man to win a Grand Slam singles trophy in the Open Era (since 1968).

“The dream is to win a Grand Slam and that is what I am playing for and training for,” said Monfils. “It is tough, but I believe that maybe one day I will be lucky enough to win one.”

Whether Monfils will be able to achieve these goals is a question that only time can answer, but the Frenchman knows the foundation he will need to give himself a chance of success.

“I need to keep healthy, to keep being 100 per cent and definitely to keep the belief that I can make it.”

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Inglot/Qureshi Take First Team Title In New York

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Inglot/Qureshi Take First Team Title In New York

British-Pakistani pair prevail on Sunday

Dominic Inglot/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi took their partnership to new heights at the New York Open, clinching the doubles title on Sunday with a tight 7-6(5), 7-6(6) win over Steve Johnson/Reilly Opelka.

Inglot/Qureshi picked up their first ATP Tour doubles title as a team. The British-Pakistani duo began playing at the start of this year and finished runner-up last week in Montpellier (l. to Cacic/Pavic). This is the 14th tour-level doubles title for Inglot and the 18th for Qureshi.

”They put up an absolute fight and it’s never over until it’s over. We were panicking when they kept breaking us, so pulling this out means a lot,” Inglot said. “Aisam and I had a tough week losing in the final last week, so I’m glad we were able to make it one step further here.”

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Johnson dropped to 1-2 in tour-level doubles finals and Opelka still seeks his first doubles crown. The American pair were competing as a team for just the second time, having lost in the opening round last year at this event.

”Reilly let me down. My back is still hurting from trying to carry you,” joked Johnson. “This was a fun week and I always enjoy coming back here.”

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Inglot/Qureshi started out strongly, breaking Opelka in the second game of the match and taking 12 of the first 13 points. The American pair found their footing and earned the break back after Inglot let slip a 40/0 lead on his serve at 3/1.

A double fault from Opelka at 1/1 in the first-set tie-break gave Inglot/Qureshi a mini-break advantage and they quickly built a 6/2 lead. The American pair saved the first three set points, but Johnson missed a routine backhand volley at 6/5 to wrap up the opening set.

Inglot/Qureshi grabbed the momentum at 3-3 in the second set by breaking Johnson after Qureshi knocked off a volley winner. Qureshi couldn’t convert his opportunity to serve out the match at 5-4 and Johnson/Opelka broke back to the delight of the home crowd.

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The British-Pakistani team earned their first championship point at 6/5 in the second-set tie-break, but Johnson erased it with a forehand volley winner. With the score tied at 6/6, Johnson sent a forehand passing shot just wide and a big serve from Inglot wrapped up play after one hour and 34 minutes.

Inglot/Qureshi picked up 250 FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $40,690. Johnson/Opelka walked away with 150 FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $20,860.

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Casper's A Champ! Ruud Wins First ATP Tour Title In Buenos Aires

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Casper’s A Champ! Ruud Wins First ATP Tour Title In Buenos Aires

Ruud is first Norwegian to win an ATP Tour title

Casper Ruud will never forget his trip to the 2020 Argentina Open.

The 21-year-old became the first Norwegian to win an ATP Tour title on Sunday, defeating Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 11 minutes. Not only was the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier thrilled to lift his maiden tour-level trophy, but he will have family bragging rights on Monday.

Christian Ruud, Casper’s father and coach, reached a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 39 in October 1995, more than three years before his son was born. But on Monday, Casper will surpass his father as the highest-ranked Norwegian ever, as he is projected to climb to a career-best World No. 34.

Ruud became the youngest Buenos Aires champion by one year (Guillermo Coria, 22, 2004) with a flawless performance against Sousa, a lucky loser, pushing the first-time ATP Tour finalist well behind the baseline throughout the match and forcing the Portuguese to stay on defence or go for risky shots, leading to unforced errors. Ruud won all nine of his service games without facing a break point, while he broke three times and won 43 per cent of his return points.

The eighth seed broke in his first return game of the match when Sousa, who had his left leg heavily wrapped, missed a cross-court forehand wide. That set the tone for the match, as Ruud used his heavy forehand to open up the court throughout. While Sousa often leapt into backhands to try to add some extra pace to the ball from deep in the court, he never found a way to take Ruud out of his comfort zone.

Ruud crushed an inside-in return winner to secure a second break in the opener, before another Sousa unforced error — he missed a forehand down the middle long — gave the Norwegian the opening set. The Portuguese then hit back-to-back double faults in the first game of the second set to hand Ruud the break.

The Oslo-native Ruud did not look back from there, weathering Sousa’s improving level and the crowd, which was behind the Portuguese. Sousa let the ball fly as Ruud served for the match, earning a 15/30 advantage and later saving a championship point with a rocketed forehand down the line. But Ruud held his nerve, dropping his racquet and lifting both arms in the air after Sousa missed a final forehand from well off the court.

Ruud showed his clay-court prowess from a young age, reaching the 2017 Rio Open presented by Claro semi-finals when he was 18. He advanced to his first ATP Tour final last year in Houston at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, where he was the youngest finalist since 19-year-old Andy Roddick in 2002.

The Norwegian, who has won more than 64 per cent of his tour-level matches on this surface (34-19), adds 250 ranking points and $102,535. Sousa, the third Portuguese ATP Tour finalist in the Open Era, claims 150 points and $56,760.

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Scouting Report: 15 Things To Watch In Rio de Janeiro, Marseille & Delray Beach

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Scouting Report: 15 Things To Watch In Rio de Janeiro, Marseille & Delray Beach

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

There will be an ATP 500 tournament and two ATP 250 events for the second consecutive week, with four of the Top 10 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings in action. Dominic Thiem leads the way at the season’s first clay-court ATP 500, the Rio Open presented by Claro, while Daniil Medvedev and Nick Kyrgios are the top seeds at the Open 13 Provence and the Delray Beach Open by, respectively.

Draws: Rio de Janeiro | Marseille | Delray Beach

Stream live on Tennis TV or watch on your local TV channel – see more information on the ATP Tour TV Schedule.

1) Thiem Time:
Dominic Thiem, who pushed Novak Djokovic to the brink in a five-set Australian Open final, is the top seed in Rio de Janeiro. The Austrian owns a 10-3 record at this event, where he lifted the trophy in 2017.

2) Dusan’s Drive: Dusan Lajovic has enjoyed a tremendous start to the season, winning four matches at the ATP Cup, reaching the third round of the Australian Open and making the quarter-finals in Buenos Aires. The second seed will try to maintain his momentum in Rio de Janeiro, where he is the second seed.

3) 2016 Champ Back: Besides Thiem, the only former champion in the draw is 2016 winner Pablo Cuevas. The Uruguayan has won 61 per cent of the clay-court matches he has played in his career, ranking as his top surface.

4) Ruud Roaring: 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Casper Ruud has proven himself a clay-court stalwart, and he made his first big breakthrough on the ATP Tour three years ago in Rio de Janeiro. When he was 18, the Norwegian made the semi-finals at this ATP 500. This edition, he is the eighth seed.

5) From London To Rio: Two doubles teams that competed in last year’s Nitto ATP Finals are the top two seeds in the doubles draw in Rio de Janeiro: No. 1 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah and No. 2 seeds Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo. 

<a href=''>Dominic Thiem</a> enjoys a visit to Arpoador ahead of the 2020 <a href=''>Rio Open presented by Claro</a>.
Dominic Thiem is the top seed in Rio de Janeiro.
1) Six Top 20 Players: Six of the Top 20 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings will compete in Marseille, as will former Top 10 players Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon, who are unseeded. Simon has triumphed in Marseille twice.

2) #NextGenATP Stars: Two former Next Gen ATP Finals champions competing in the Open 13 Provence are second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and unseeded Italian star Jannik Sinner. There are five other players who have competed in Milan in the draw. Tsitsipas is the defending champion. #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime is the seventh seed.

3) Medvedev Magic: Top seed Daniil Medvedev reached an ATP Tour-leading nine finals in 2019. The Russian, who has a first-round bye, will try to reach his first championship match of 2020 in Marseille.

4) Goffin Goes For Glory: Third seed David Goffin, the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up, is pursuing his first ATP Tour title since 2017 Tokyo. The Belgian is off to a fast start in 2020, beating Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the ATP Cup and making the Montpellier semi-finals.

5) Blockbuster Showdown: The top seeds in the doubles draw, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, will play reigning Nitto ATP Finals singles champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother, Petros Tsitsipas, in the first round. Krawietz and Mies defeated Stefanos and Michail Pervolarakis at the ATP Cup, triumphing in an epic 32-point Match Tie-break.

<a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> wins the <a href=''>Open 13 Provence</a> title without dropping a set.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the defending champion in Marseille.
1) Radu Returns: One year ago, Radu Albot became the first Moldovan to win an ATP Tour title, saving three championship points against Daniel Evans to beat the Brit in a final-set tie-break and triumph in Delray Beach. Now 30, Albot returns to the home of his maiden trophy as the eighth seed.

2) Nick In Action: Nick Kyrgios is the top seed at this ATP 250 event, and the Aussie will compete for the first time since falling in a three-hour, 38-minute thriller against Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the Australian Open. Kyrgios fell against Albot in his Delray Beach debut last year.

3) Raonic Ready To Roar: Former World No. 3 Milos Raonic is pursuing his first ATP Tour title since 2016 Brisbane, and he will take confidence knowing he has enjoyed success in Delray Beach. The big-serving Canadian made the final on his debut in 2017, but could not compete in the final due to a hamstring tear in his right leg. Raonic is 5-1 at this tournament.

4) New York Meets Delray: Kyrgios may headline the top section, but there is plenty of New York flavour in it as well. Four players who made last week’s New York Open quarter-finals will be whittled down to one by the last eight. Sixth seed Ugo Humbert will play Kyle Edmund and Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic will face Aussie Jordan Thompson.

5) Bryan Brothers Go For No. 6: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will compete in Delray Beach for the last time, and they will try to go out with a bang. The twins, who own more doubles titles at this event than any other tandem, pursue their sixth trophy at this ATP 250. They will play Kyrgios and Thompson in the first round.

<a href=''>Radu Albot</a> overcomes <a href=''>Steve Johnson</a> in a final-set tie-break to reach the <a href=''>Delray Beach Open by</a> semi-finals.
Radu Albot won his first ATP Tour trophy in Delray Beach last year.

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Andreas Seppi: From Italy To… Colorado?

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Andreas Seppi: From Italy To… Colorado?

Seppi is the sixth seed at the Delray Beach Open

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on 18 February 2019. Andreas Seppi will compete in the New York Open final.

It’s not all that surprising to hear of an Italian player spending time training in the southern United States. For example, Fabio Fognini has spent time practising in Miami, Florida.

But an Italian setting up their future in frigid Boulder, Colorado? That’s a different story. Yet that’s exactly what veteran Andreas Seppi has done over the past couple of years.

Seppi’s wife wanted to earn a Master’s degree at the University of Colorado. So the couple went to Boulder in November of 2017. And by December, they bought a house.

“We were there for two months and I did my off-season there. We liked the place, it’s a really nice place. It’s similar to where we live back home in Italy. We live in the Dolomites, which is in the mountains,” Seppi said. “When we have the chance and we have some off time, we always go back there.”

Last year, Seppi missed nearly two months after Rotterdam due to a hip injury. Where did he go? Colorado. The Italian also returned with his wife to Boulder for a couple of weeks before the US Open. He then completed his second off-season in Colorado.

Many players spend November and December regrouping with their teams to refine their games, strengthen their bodies and mentally recoup for the season ahead. But Seppi has trained without his team, instead playing with current or former local college players.

“I did everything by myself actually so that was also something different because I usually have everybody around,” Seppi said. “I had my physical program [from my fitness trainer], but I had to do everything. It was nice. It was also nice to be a little bit alone with my wife for a couple of months because normally there’s a lot of people around and you don’t have so much time alone. It’s good to have some time for us a little bit.”

It still has been a significant change. While Seppi long trained near his parents’ home in Italy, and then for two off-seasons in Monte-Carlo, he has not dealt with altitude like he does now in Colorado. While he enjoys the area, that is the lone challenge.

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“Especially hitting the first week, it’s very difficult. The ball flies a little bit more and you have to adapt. It’s never easy at the beginning. Normally i’m there for more than a week, so it’s okay,” Seppi said. “But if you’re there just for a week, it’s hard. But it’s good for physical conditioning, breathing and everything.”

Whatever training Seppi has done in Colorado has worked. In 2018, he won an ATP Challenger Tour event in Canberra, Australia in the second week of the season before advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open and later reaching the semi-finals in Rotterdam. This year, Seppi made the Sydney final and the third round of the Australian Open.

“It means that I can do it also by myself,” Seppi said, cracking a laugh. “It’s still a good place to practise and everything.”

Last season was a special one for Italian tennis, with Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato breaking through for his first two ATP Tour titles (Budapest & Umag) and Fabio Fognini lifting three ATP 250 crowns (Sao Paulo, Bastad & Los Cabos).

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“It’s always nice seeing some friends and players who you have a good relationship with doing well. It makes you work hard and do some good results,” Seppi said. “Especially Marco, he was practising with me when I was back in Italy. I practised with him when he was about 20 years old. We were practising together for two years and seeing him now, it’s nice.”

While Seppi has no plans of retiring yet, he now has a home away from home of sorts. And while he probably wouldn’t have expected it earlier in his career, he hopes to settle down in Colorado.

“That’s the plan. It’s not a tennis place, but me and my wife, we are just buying a ranch there. Her parents are into the hotel business, so we actually want to open a lodge-resort there,” Seppi said. “Working as a coach is difficult after being on the road for 20 years, and I would like to have a family with kids and everything. So being on the road [more after my career], it’s not my favourite thing. This is a good chance to stay in a nice place and do something there. If it works out, it will be nice.”

For now, Seppi is focused on the Delray Beach Open, where he is the sixth seed. The Italian plays Aussie Bernard Tomic in the first round.

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Herbert/Mahut Capture Second Rotterdam Crown

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Herbert/Mahut Capture Second Rotterdam Crown

French pairing owns 9-1 record in Rotterdam

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut extended their impressive record at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Sunday, beating Henri Kontinen and Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-7 to lift their second trophy in three team appearances in Rotterdam.

The Frenchmen recorded their seventh straight victory at the ATP 500 event in one hour and 34 minutes, saving five of seven break points en route to victory. Herbert and Mahut also claimed the title on their last visit to the Rotterdam Ahoy in 2018. The second seeds have now won 16 titles from 22 finals as a partnership.

“It is a tournament I love,” said Mahut. “The first time I came here, I saw the Centre Court [and] it is amazing. One of the greatest on the Tour, definitely. I have a special feeling when I play in Holland… There is something special here.”

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Mahut has now clinched 29 tour-level doubles crowns, while Herbert adds an 18th title to his collection. Mahut owns an 18-3 record and four trophies in Rotterdam, having also triumphed at the opening ATP 500 event of the year in 2014 (w/Llodra) and 2016 (w/Pospisil). This is the French pair’s first trophy since lifting the Nitto ATP Finals title for the first time last November.

“In the tough times, you have to stick together as a team and I think we could do that the whole weekend because our semi-final was also a tough one,” said Herbert. “We were still believing in ourselves and we found the solution to win maybe the one or two points that you need to make a difference in a match like this.”

Australian Open quarter-finalists Kontinen and Struff were attempting to capture their first team trophy in just their second appearance together. Kontinen was also bidding to win his second straight trophy in Rotterdam after his title run alongside Jeremy Chardy last year.

Herbert and Mahut receive 500 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points and split €130,680 in prize money. Kontinen and Struff gain 300 points and share €63,980.

“I have to say we were a little bit lucky to win this one,” said Mahut. “It is a strong team [we played]. I am pretty sure they will be in London at the end of the season. Definitely one of the top eight teams.”

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New York Open: Kyle Edmund beats Miomir Kecmanovic to reach final

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

British number three Kyle Edmund reached the final of the New York Open after beating Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-4.

The victory has seen the 25-year-old reach his first ATP final since he won the European Open in Antwerp in October 2018.

“This is great to be back in a final, playing the matches you want to be playing,” Edmund said.

“I obviously want to go all the way, but I’m enjoying my tennis.”

Edmund will play Italy’s Andreas Seppi or American Jason Jung in the final.

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Edmund Powers Into New York Final

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2020

Edmund Powers Into New York Final

Seppi plays Jung in Saturday evening session

Eighth-seeded Brit Kyle Edmund wasted no time getting down to business on Saturday at the New York Open, racing into the final with a 6-1, 6-4 win over sixth seed and #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

”This is great to be back in a final, playing the matches you want to be playing,” Edmund said. “I obviously want to go all the way, but I’m enjoying my tennis. I’ve kept improving and learning with each match.”

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Edmund is through to his first tour-level final in 16 months, when he captured his maiden ATP Tour crown in Antwerp (d. Monfils). The 25-year-old awaits the winner of the evening session semi-final between Italian Andreas Seppi and qualifier Jason Jung of Chinese Taipei. Edmund leads his ATP Head2Head series with Seppi 4-1, including a victory last month in Auckland.

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The first five games of the match went to deuce, but Edmund came out on top in all of them. Striking his forehand with authority, he used that wing to bully Kecmanovic throughout their baseline exchanges. The Serbian scored a moral victory by holding serve at 0-5, but Edmund comfortably grabbed the early advantage in the next game.

Kecmanovic raised his level in the second set and stayed with Edmund throughout most of it, but the Brit found a new gear in the final minutes of the match. Edmund took 12 of the last 13 points, breaking his opponent to love at 4-4 and firing three aces in the next game to wrap up play after 72 minutes.

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