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Paul Stuns Zverev In Acapulco

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Paul Stuns Zverev In Acapulco

Isner advances on Wednesday

American qualifier Tommy Paul scored the biggest win of his career on Wednesday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, shocking second seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals in Acapulco.

”It meant a lot. I was really excited to get out there and play. He put me under pressure in the first game and then from there, I played well for the rest of the match,” Paul said.

The victory is Paul’s first Top 10 win and another milestone in a breakout season for the 22-year-old. He currently sits at a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 66 after a strong start to the year that includes his first ATP Tour semi-final in Adelaide.

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Just like in his first-round win on Tuesday against qualifier Jason Jung, Zverev dropped his opening service game and was plagued early on by double faults. The slight advantage was all Paul needed and he cracked a forehand winner on set point to take the early advantage.

Zverev raised his level in the second set and began to assert himself in the baseline rallies. But as the second seed stared down a break point at 4-4, he experienced more serving woes and hit a double fault to hand the break to Paul. The rising American comfortably held serve in the next game to advance after one hour and 29 minutes.

Next up for Paul is fifth seed John Isner, who put on a serving clinic in his 6-3, 7-6(4) win over fellow American Marcos Giron. Isner hammered 28 aces on the day and has hit 50 aces across his first two rounds. He defeated Paul in their lone ATP Head2Head meeting three years ago in Cincinnati.

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Kyle Edmund continued his top form by scoring a 6-4, 6-4 upset against fourth-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Brit scored the lone break in each set to advance after one hour and 43 minutes. Auger-Aliassime had won nine of his past 11 matches after runner-up showings this month in Rotterdam (l. to Monfils) and Marseille (l. to Tsitsipas).

Edmund is also enjoying a strong run and extended his winning streak to seven matches. He captured his second ATP Tour title two weeks ago in New York (d. Seppi).

“He’s won a lot of matches and he’s seeing the ball big. Like him, I’m on a decent run as well,” Edmund said. “I liked how I created chances in both sets early. Overall, against a Top 20 player, it was a good result. I’m very pleased.”

Awaiting him in the quarter-finals is American Taylor Fritz, who cruised to a 6-4, 6-1 win over Frenchman Ugo Humbert. From 4-4 in the first set, Fritz went on a seven-game run en route to reaching his first quarter-final of the season. Fritz defeated Edmund in their lone ATP Head2Head meeting last year in Eastbourne.

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Ruud Marches On In Santiago

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Ruud Marches On In Santiago

Olivo upsets fourth seed on Wednesday

Second seed Casper Ruud faced a vocal crowd and a determined opponent in wild card Alejandro Tabilo, but he held off the home favourite 6-4, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago.

A pair of double faults from Tabilo at 5-5 in the second set handed Ruud a break and the Norwegian closed out the win after one hour and 31 minutes. The 21-year-old has now won six of his past seven matches, capturing his maiden ATP Tour title two weeks ago in Buenos Aires (d. Sousa).

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Awaiting him in the last eight is seventh-seeded Argentine Federico Delbonis, who moved past Salvatore Caruso 7-6(1), 6-3. The 29-year-old moved into his first ATP Tour quarter-final since last July in Bastad.

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Sixth seed Hugo Dellien defeated local wild card Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera 6-3, 7-6(2) in their second-round clash. The Bolivian fought off two set points on his serve at 4-5 in the second set before eventually advancing into his first tour-level quarter-final of the year.

Next up for Dellien is Argentine qualifier Renzo Olivo, who saved two match points to upset fourth-seeded Uruguyan Pablo Cuevas 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(8). Olivo battled back from 6/7 and 7/8 in the third-set tie-break to prevail in three hours and 24 minutes.

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'Saying goodbye': Sharapova retires from tennis aged 32

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is “saying goodbye” to tennis at the age of 32.

In an article written for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Sharapova said her body “had become a distraction” after a struggle with shoulder injuries.

The Russian won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2004 aged 17 and completed the career slam – all four major titles – by winning the French Open in 2012.

In 2016, she served a 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium.

After returning from her ban in 2017, Sharapova struggled to recapture her best form and suffered from a number of injuries.

She has dropped to 373 in the world, her lowest ranking since August 2002, and has lost in the first round of her past three Grand Slam tournaments.

In announcing her retirement, she said: “I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis – I’m saying goodbye.

“Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible.

“After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain – to compete on a different type of terrain.

“That relentless chase for victories, though? That won’t ever diminish. No matter what lies ahead, I will apply the same focus, the same work ethic, and all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

“In the meantime, there are a few simple things I’m really looking forward to: A sense of stillness with my family. Lingering over a morning cup of coffee. Unexpected weekend getaways. Workouts of my choice (hello, dance class!)”

Sharapova said her 6-1 6-1 first-round defeat by Serena Williams at last year’s US Open was the “final signal”.

“Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,” she said,

“Shoulder injuries are nothing new for me – over time my tendons have frayed like a string. I’ve had multiple surgeries – once in 2008, another procedure last year – and spent countless months in physical therapy.

“Just stepping on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory.”

Sharapova did not play again in 2019 after that defeat at Flushing Meadows and has played just twice this year, including a straight sets loss to Croat Donna Vekic in the Australian Open first round, her last competitive appearance..

A star is born at 17

Sharapova shot to stardom in 2004 aged just 17 when victory over Serena Williams saw her become the third-youngest woman to win the Wimbledon singles title.

She would go on to become one of the most high-profile names in women’s sport, winning 36 singles titles and earning more than $38m (£29m) in prize money.

In 2005 she became the first Russian woman to become world number one, and won her second Grand Slam singles title at the US Open the following year.

But 2007 saw the first of Sharapova’s struggles with injury, as she missed most of the clay court season with a shoulder problem.

She would return to form and fitness to win the Australian Open at the start of 2008, but a second shoulder injury kept her off tour for the second half of the season, meaning she missed the US Open and Beijing Olympics.

In 2012, Sharapova captured the French Open at Roland Garros to become the 10th woman to complete the career Grand Slam, before winning Olympic silver in London.

Yet another shoulder injury saw her miss the second half of the 2013 season, although she returned the following year to win her second French Open, and fifth and final Grand Slam.

Meldonium ban

In March 2016, Sharapova told a news conference she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open.

Meldonium, a heart disease drug, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.

Sharapova said she had been taking the drug since 2006 for health problems and was unaware it had been added to the banned list, insisting she had “not tried to use a performance-enhancing substance”.

She was banned for two years, later reduced to 15 months following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

She returned to tennis in April 2017, winning what would be her final career singles title at the Tianjin Open in October that year.

Sharapova reached the quarter-finals at the 2018 French Open and the last 16 of the Australian Open at the start of 2019, but injuries and loss of form began to take its toll.

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Dubai Tennis Championships: Dan Evans through to quarter-finals after beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

British number one Dan Evans saved three match points in the deciding set as he reached the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

World number 37 Evans, back on court just 24 hours after his first-round win, secured a narrow 7-5 3-6 7-6 (9-7) over 79th-ranked Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Evans, 29, came from 5-2 down to take the first set and trailed 4-6 and 6-7 in the deciding tie-break.

However, a Herbert error gave Evans victory after two hours and 46 minutes.

He next plays sixth seed Andrey Rublev, who defeated Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3) 6-0.

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Tsitsipas, Rublev Reach Dubai Quarter-finals; Evans Saves 3 M.P.

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Tsitsipas, Rublev Reach Dubai Quarter-finals; Evans Saves 3 M.P.

Rublev improves to 15-2 on the season

Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a familiar foe on Wednesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Five days on from beating Alexander Bublik en route to a successful title defence at the Open 13 Provence, second seed Tsitsipas defeated the Kazakhstani 7-6(1), 6-4 in one hour and 36 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals.

The 21-year-old Greek, who finished runner-up to Roger Federer in last year’s Dubai final, is now 9-4 on the 2020 season. He will next challenge Jan-Lennard Struff, who swept past Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-0 in just 39 minutes.

“Things were going quite well, although we reached the tie-break in the first set,” said Tsitsipas. “I knew I needed to serve well and takes risks, which gave me confidence. I experimented a little bit with other things in the second set. I’m trying to save as much energy as I can on court. I’ve had two two-sets wins this week and I need to keep the right attitude on the court.”

Bublik recovered from 15/40 at 5-6 in the first set, saving the first set point with a gutsy serve-volley play, and then an unreturned serve. But Tsitsipas was aggressive in a near-perfect tie-break to take the 54-minute set.

Tsitsipas dug deep at 3-4 in the second set, saving four break points, then gained a break to love in the next game when Bublik overhit a forehand. Tsitsipas completed his ninth match win of the year with a backhand slice winner.

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Andrey Rublev needed to fight hard on Wednesday afternoon at the Aviation Club. The sixth-seeded Russian, who improved to 15-2 on the season, avenged his recent ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-final loss to Filip Krajinovic in a 7-6(3), 6-0 victory over one hour and 41 minutes.

Rublev recovered from 1-4 down in the first set, prior to saving one set point with Krajinovic serving at 5-3, 40/30. The Serbian hit a backhand approach only to see Rublev strike a forehand passing shot. Rublev closed out the tie-break with his fifth ace and dominated the second set, with Krajinovic winning only 10 points.

“He had so many chances, two breaks and serving with one set point,” said Rublev, who hit 32 winners in their fourth ATP Head2Head meeting. “There was no key, I was just lucky and broke back. It wasn’t in these conditions. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as I lost to him two weeks ago in Rotterdam.”

Rublev will next play Briton’s Daniel Evans, who saved three match point in the deciding set tie-break of a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7) victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France in two hours and 47 minutes. Herbert, who struck 17 aces, failed to convert match points at 6/4 and 7/6. Evans closed out with a forehand winner.

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Kyrgios accuses fans of 'disrespect' after retirement in Mexico

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Nick Kyrgios accused the Mexican Open crowd of “disrespect” after he was booed off court following his first-round retirement against Ugo Humbert.

Kyrgios, 24, was only on court for 32 minutes before retiring with a wrist injury after losing the first set 6-3.

It was his first appearance since last month’s Australian Open because of wrist and shoulder injuries.

“I’m not healthy. I tried to come here, I tried to play,” said Kyrgios, who later swore during the news conference.

Kyrgios, who was defending champion in Acapulco, was 4-1 down when he called a medical timeout so he could receive treatment on his wrist.

He managed to continue and twice hold his serve, but after Frenchman Humbert saw out the set Kyrgios signalled that he was unable to continue.

Once the crowd realised Kyrgios was retiring, he was booed.

“I’ve been doing media for the tournament, been helping out,” added Kyrgios. “I tried to give the fans a little bit of tennis. And their disrespect?”

Kyrgios had not played since his fourth-round defeat by Rafael Nadal in Melbourne, where he had received praise for his improved on-court behaviour as well as his response to the Australian bushfires.

The Australian said he had “made progress as a human” after having been placed on a six-month probationary period and given a suspended 16-week ban in September for “aggravated behaviour” on court.

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Chile Proudly Celebrates ATP Tour Return

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Chile Proudly Celebrates ATP Tour Return

Santiago hosts first ATP Tour event in the country since 2014

At the Club San Carlos de Apoquindo, everything looks sparkling new. There’s a feeling in the air that only comes with a brand new tournament on the ATP Tour as tour-level tennis returns to Chile after a six-year absence with the Chile Dove Men+Care Open.

However, the scene in the Precordillera is one of perfect organisation. The tournament staff have also successfully hosted other editions of this tournament, with Tommy Robredo winning the most recent event held in Santiago in 2011. The Los Condes venue, both spacious and compact, allows concepts to be put into action that improve spectator hospitality, make it a fan-friendly event and ensure that everything meets expectations to satisfy the tournament organisers, fans and players.

Tournament Director Catalina Fillol acknowledged that the process leading up to the event had been both challenging and entertaining.

“Once you start to see everything you’re planning and imagining, it’s a nice feeling,” Fillol said. “For example, Court Central starts with the size, the seating plan… And that’s on a piece of paper, so seeing it in real life was exciting. It’s wonderful now to see it in action.”

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The tournament is a family experience. Catalina is the fourth daughter of Jaime Fillol Sr., who peaked at No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 1974. Fillol Sr. and his brother, Alvaro Fillol, ran the country’s biggest tennis tournament from 1993-2014, which alternated between venues in San Carlos de Apoquindo, Santa Rosa and Vina del Mar.

Since that last edition of this event at 2014 Vina del Mar, the goal has been to once again have an ATP Tour event in the country. From there came the SACS group (a Spanglish acronym for sisters, friends, brothers-in-law and members), which includes the five Fillol Haggstrom children and their spouses. The goal of organising themselves as a professional outlet started with ATP Challenger Tour events, allowing them to maintain the family tradition and bring world-class tennis back to Chile.

Their big break back came last year when Octagon, the company that owns the rights to this tournament and the Cordoba Open, was looking for a new city to host an ATP Tour event. Santiago was an attractive prospect with interesting ingredients. Tennis had become far more popular in Chile and the country had star power with local favourite Cristian Garin, who recently broke into the Top 20.

“Tennis has grown greatly here in recent years thanks to the new players. It’s a strong Latin Swing and Chile was a great chance to go back to a country with a lot of history”, said Jorge Salkeld, Vice President of Octagon. “With Garín in the Top 20 and a country that is behind the event… It’s the perfect combination. To him, it’s a great platform where he can play at home, which is always special.”

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Catalina is one of the few female tournament directors in the world. She said it made her immensely proud to be the only one for an ATP Tour event in South America, but quickly pointed out that getting this event off the ground was a family affair.

“Setting up the event in two months was non-stop work… But here we are. The history continues,” she said. “Now our families are working at the head of the tournament and our children are supporting us. I have children and nieces and nephews working as ball boys and girls, others are doing accreditations, my niece is in hospitality. It’s unique and we’re passionate about it.”

The tournament has produced great moments throughout its history, with several former World No. 1 players competing in Chile including Rafael Nadal, Gustavo Kuerten, Carlos Moya, Marcelo Rios, Mats Wilander and Jim Courier. This year, Catalina expects that fans will rally around home favourite Garin, who won his first ATP 500 event last week in Rio de Janeiro (d. Mager).

“He was always a quality player. He had huge potential and maybe it took a little longer and more hard work, but it was something that we were hoping might happen and he is doing it,” she explained. “He deserves credit. He is showing that he has the presence, the game and the status to be there.”

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With the semi-finals and final already sold out and the venue expected to host more than 3,500 people each day, the tournament is shaping up to be a week-long party in Santiago. As long as players and fans are enjoying themselves, Catalina will consider the event to be a success.

“If the players feel that they are having a good time, that they like it and feel at home… we’ll be more than happy,” she said. “We want it to be a sports event and also a show for the public. We’ve said that we want to create the best tournament in South America and we’re only just starting.”

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Zverev Races To Finish Line In Acapulco Opener

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Zverev Races To Finish Line In Acapulco Opener

Auger-Aliassime advances on Tuesday

Second seed Alexander Zverev shook off a slow start and rounded into form on Tuesday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, moving past qualifier Jason Jung of Chinese Taipei 7-6(6), 6-1 to reach the second round in Acapulco.

”The longer the match went, the better I started to play,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “My serve is something that I need to improve, but all in all, it’s the first round that I expected. It could have been a lot tougher.”

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The German quickly trailed 0-3 in the first set after three double faults led to him being broken in his opening service game. He found the range on his groundstrokes and broke Jung at 2-4 to get the set back on serve, which eventually moved into a tie-break.

Zverev reached set point at 6/5, but squandered his chance with an ill-advised drop shot. A backhand from Jung at 6/6 found the top of the tape and Zverev grabbed the early advantage with an aggressive approach.

The second seed relaxed considerably in the second set, breaking Jung three more times to advance in 73 minutes. Last year’s runner-up (l. to Kyrgios) will face another qualifier in the second round when he meets American Tommy Paul.

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Defending champion and sixth seed Nick Kyrgios saw his title defence in Acapulco last just 32 minutes. The Aussie was forced to retire with a left wrist injury against Ugo Humbert after the Frenchman took the first set 6-3.

Humbert moved to 10-4 this season, with the 21-year-old clinching his maiden ATP Tour title last month in Auckland. He’ll play Taylor Fritz in the second round after the American defeated Aussie John Millman 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

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Fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime continued his winning ways with a tight 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over Aussie lucky loser Alex Bolt. The #NextGenATP Canadian bravely saved two set points on his serve at 4-5 in the second set before going on to prevail in one hour and 36 minutes.

Auger-Aliassime has won nine of his past 11 matches after finishing runner-up this month in Rotterdam (l. to Monfils) and Marseille (l. to Tsitsipas). Awaiting him in the next round is Brit Kyle Edmund, who took his second ATP Tour title earlier this month in New York (d. Seppi).

Fifth seed John Isner hammered 22 aces and didn’t face a break point in dismissing German wild card Mischa Zverev 6-3, 7-6(4). He’ll take on a qualifier in the next round when he faces fellow American Marcos Giron.

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When The Score Is Deuce, Nadal Steps Up On Return

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

When The Score Is Deuce, Nadal Steps Up On Return

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers looks at Nadal’s clutch play in close return games

The longer it goes, the more Rafael Nadal thrives.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of players who break serve the most after extending service games to Deuce identifies that Nadal has no peer. The data set includes players who have had a minimum of 100 attempts to break from Deuce in the past five seasons from 2015-2019.

Nadal is the only player to break through the 40 percentile barrier with this specific metric, breaking serve 41.39 per cent (382/923) of the time when pushing the game to Deuce. And once you isolate the Spaniard just on clay, that percentage fast approaches a dead-even contest.

2015 – 2019: Nadal Breaking Serve From Deuce
Clay = 48.72% (190/390)
Hard = 35.12% (164/467)
Grass = 42.42% (28/66)
Combined = 41.39% (382/923)

Nadal has actually been above 50 per cent breaking from Deuce on clay in four of the past five seasons (2019, 2018, 2017, 2015), with the highest being 52.56 per cent (41/78) in 2018.

Andy Murray is ranked second overall in the past five seasons on all surfaces, breaking serve 38.10 per cent (253/664) of the time from Deuce. Murray is the hard-court leader in this category, breaking serve 37.56 per cent (157/418) on this surface from 2015-2019. The Brit was also the single-season leader in 2016, when he broke serve almost 44 per cent of the time from Deuce. The leaders over the past five seasons are.

2015-2019: Single Season Leader
2015: Rafael Nadal = 44.93% (93/207)
2016: Andy Murray = 43.86% (100/228)
2017: Yoshihito Nishioka = 48.84% (21/43)
2018: Rafael Nadal = 46.54% (74/159)
2019: Rafael Nadal = 41.12% (81/197)

Novak Djokovic sits in third place overall, breaking serve 36.62 per cent (377/1038) of the time from Deuce on all surfaces. 23-year-old Chilean Cristian Garin impressively sits in fourth position, breaking 36.25 per cent (58/160) of the time. Garin currently boasts a career-best FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 18 after winning the Cordoba Open and Rio Open.

The leading 10 players breaking from Deuce over the past five seasons are:

2015-2019: Breaking Serve From Deuce



Break % From Deuce

Breaks Total


Rafael Nadal




Andy Murray




Novak Djokovic




Cristian Garin




Damir Dzumhur




Yoshihito Nishioka




Richard Gasquet




Fabio Fognini




David Goffin




Diego Schwartzman



Pushing the server to Deuce is not an easy task in itself. These players are the best of the best at going the extra step and securing the break after an extended arm wrestle to Deuce and beyond.

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Dimitrov Off To Hot Start In Acapulco

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2020

Dimitrov Off To Hot Start In Acapulco

Nadal faces Andujar on Tuesday night

Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov wasted no time getting down to business on Tuesday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, powering past Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round in Acapulco.

“Amazing crowd out here. It’s a very special tournament for me,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “I was glad to get it going again as I haven’t played in a while and am happy to get that first win.”

The Bulgarian won 92 per cent of his first-serve points (24/26) and broke Dzumhur three times to advance in 74 minutes. Dimitrov now looks for his first quarter-final of the season when he meets Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the next round.

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Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez continued his outstanding form with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory over Moldovan Radu Albot. The 22-year-old entered this season having never won a tour-level match, but has prevailed in all five of his opening-round matches this year. Next up for Martinez is a second-round clash with third-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

Soonwoon Kwon outlasted Japanese lucky loser Taro Daniel 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. The 22-year-old South Korean sits at a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 76 after reaching three quarter-finals this month in Pune, New York and Delray Beach. He awaits the winner of eighth-seeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic and American Steve Johnson.

Top seed Rafael Nadal begins his Acapulco campaign on Tuesday night. The two-time champion (2005, 2013) starts with an all-Spanish battle against Pablo Andujar.

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