#NextGenATP Seyboth Wild Breaks New Ground In Santiago
Teen is into his first ATP Tour quarter-final
#NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final on Thursday, battling past fifth seed Juan Ignacio Londero 7-6(7), 6-4 at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago.
Seyboth Wild began the season with one tour-level win, and he now has three in the past two weeks, after reaching the second round at the Rio Open presented by Claro. The 19-year-old will next face top seed Cristian Garin or 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for a semi-final spot.
The Brazilian was clutch under pressure against Londero, saving all three break points he faced. Seyboth Wild won 86 per cent of his first-serve points to triumph after one hour and 45 minutes. He wasn’t the only player from his country to reach the last eight in Santiago, though.
Eighth seed Thiago Monteiro ousted Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 23 minutes to reach his eighth ATP Tour quarter-final and his second of the season (Buenos Aires). Like Seyboth Wild, Monteiro also saved all three break points he faced.
World No. 88 Monteiro will next challenge third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Peruvian lucky loser Juan Pablo Varillas.
Brazilian teenager reaches first ATP Tour quarter-final in Santiago
Thiago Seyboth wild is continuing to thrive in South America. All four of the #NextGenATP Brazilian’s tour-level wins have come during the Latin Swing and he reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final on Thursday at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago.
ATPTour.com looks at five things to know about this rising 19-year-old.
1. He Finished His Junior Career On A High Seyboth Wild captured his maiden Grand Slam title in his final junior tournament at the 2018 US Open (d. Musetti). He became the first Brazilian to win the boys’ singles title in New York.
“Winning a Grand Slam is every junior player’s biggest dream,” Seyboth Wild said after the match. “Reaching it in my last chance makes it even more special to me because I’ve always dreamed about it.”
2. He’s Flourished On The ATP Challenger Tour The Brazilian captured his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title last November in Guayaquil. Seyboth Wild stepped up in his last three Challenger events of 2019, scoring his first four Top 100 wins and posting a 13-2 record.
3. He’s In Contention For Milan Seyboth Wild’s quarter-final run in Santiago means he’s projected to move to tenth on Monday in the season-long ATP Race to Milan, which determines the seven players that qualify for this year’s Next Gen ATP Finals at the Allianz Cloud from 10-14 November. He’ll jump to ninth if he advances to the semi-finals and crack the Top 7 if he reaches his maiden ATP Tour final.
4. Guga Has Taken An Interest Seyboth Wild first met Gustavo Kuerten at age six and the former No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings has continued to keep an eye on his fellow Brazilian.
5. He’s Still In School Education is important in Seyboth Wild’s family. Although his on-court success has prevented him from attending college as his mother had hoped for, he can be found hitting the books when he’s not training or competing.
“I’m actually taking online classes at the moment,” Seyboth Wild said last November to ATPTour.com. “It helps me keep my focus when I’m on the road for a long time and so I don’t waste energy on stuff I shouldn’t be.”
Djokovic Sweeps Past Khachanov, Still Perfect In 2020
World No. 1 will next face Monfils
Novak Djokovic confirmed he will remain at No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday by reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Four-time former titlist Djokovic extended his perfect record to 16-0 in 2020 on Thursday night after beating seventh-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-2 in 67 minutes at the Aviation Club.
“I don’t know if I’m playing the best tennis of my career, that’s a big statement, but I’m feeling and playing well,” said Djokovic, who struck 19 winners against Khachanov. “I like the conditions, but in windy conditions it’s not easy to serve and find rhythm. I know it wasn’t Karen’s day, but I think I played a very solid match. I’m trying to be in the present and execute my game plan.”
The Serbian star next faces third-seeded Gael Monfils, whom he leads 16-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. Monfils matched Djokovic’s tour-leading 16th match win of the season (16-2) by defeating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3 in an all-French clash to conclude day four play.
Watch Hot Shots From Dubai
Djokovic quickly took apart the powerful Khachanov game, breaking the Russian to love with a devastating forehand return down the line for a 3-1 lead. Clever service and groundstroke placement saw Djokovic put 6’6” Khachanov on the back foot and play reactionary tennis. Djokovic broke for a second time for a 5-1 advantage, but failed to convert one set point in the next game. At the third time of asking, Djokovic sealed with 32-minute set with a deep return off which Khachanov struck a backhand into the net.
Stepping up the court and targeting Khachanov’s backhand reaped dividends for Djokovic in the fourth game of the second set. Djokovic completed his 19th consecutive victory — dating back to last year’s Davis Cup Finals — by giving Khachanov the runaround, resulting in his fourth service break of the pair’s fourth meeting (Djokovic leads 3-1).
Djokovic helped Serbia clinch the inaugural ATP Cup title and his eighth Australian Open crown in January. He has a 39-6 record in Dubai, including title runs in 2009-11 and 2013.
Monfils extended his career-best winning streak to 12 matches — and 24 consecutive sets — with his 73-minute victory over Gasquet. He converted four of his 19 break point opportunities, as he improved to a 11-7 record against his countryman in their first meeting since 2018 Wimbledon.
The World No. 9 is looking to win his third straight title, following triumphs at the Open Sud de France (d. Pospisil) and ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Auger-Aliassime). Monfils’ only losses in 2020 have come against Djokovic at the ATP Cup and to eventual finalist Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open.
Tsitsipas, Evans Both Fight Into Dubai Semi-finals
Evans advances to fourth ATP Tour semi-final
Stefanos Tsitsipas dug deep to beat hard-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff on Thursday night for a place in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals. The second seed and 2019 runner-up was never comfortable, but stepped up towards the end of a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 quarter-final victory in two hours and 23 minutes at The Aviation Club.
The match turned in Tsitsipas favour in the final 10 minutes, at 4-4 in the deciding set, when Struff paid the price for failing to convert a 40/0 lead. The Greek, who successfully retained his Open 13 Provence crown last week, hit 31 winners — 10 fewer than Struff (41) — in their fourth meeting.
“I had to give it my all,” said Tsitsipas, after recording his 10th match win of 2020. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, as he’d beaten me a couple of times. I fought, I suffered on the court and I am really happy and proud to have kept the winning mindset and managed to get the break at the end.”
The 21-year-old will next face Briton’s Daniel Evans, who handed sixth seed Andrey Rublev just his third loss of the season in a 6-2, 7-6(9) victory in the first singles match of the day.
Struff, aiming for his third straight victory over Tsitsipas, stepped up and played aggressively throughout the first set to create three set point chances at 5-4. Tsitsipas recovered to 30/40, after Stuff hit two forehands into the net, but was unable to deny the German on his third opportunity when he attacked the net to hurry Tsitsipas into mistiming a forehand. Struff hit seven of his 13 winners off his forehand in the 45-minute opener.
Tsitsipas regrouped immediately and was handed the opening game of the second set by Struff, who hit a forehand long at 15/40. When serving for the second set at 5-4, Tsitsipas came back from 15/40 and converted his second set point with a forehand winner down the line. The Greek looked to carry the momentum in the decider, but Struff saved four break points in the opening game and it wasn’t until 4-4 that Tsitsipas made the breakthrough.
Earlier in the day, Evans played with great assurance to frustrate Rublev. The Briton moved through to just his fourth ATP Tour semi-final — and his first an ATP 500-level — in two hours and 11 minutes.
The 29-year-old, who lost to Rublev at the Adelaide International in January, recovered from 1-3 down in the second set and first served for the match at 5-4. He later saved two set points at 5/6 and 8/9 in the second-set tie-break, and finished the encounter on his third match point.
“I made a mess of some of the match points, especially my service game at 5-4 [in the second set],” said Evans. “I just stayed in there and knew I’d get my chances. I’m very happy with the way I played. Staying calm is the key, also getting the right balance and being aggressive with my feet. I’m happy to come through and I’ll prepare for tomorrow.”
Evans has previously reached tour-level semi-finals at three ATP 250-level events: 2014 Zagreb (semi-final), 2017 Sydney (final) and 2019 Delray Beach (final). The World No. 37 saved three match points in the deciding set tie-break of his second-round victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Evans carved up Rublev with his backhand slice and with aggression on his forehand, breaking in the first (forehand winner) and fifth (Rublev forehand error) games of first set to leave his Russian opponent frustrated. Evans completed the 50-minute opener, after coming through a 12-minute service game that included five break points for Rublev, who made a forehand error on Evans’ third set point.
Rublev took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but Evans battled back to win four straight games. However, the tables turned at 5-4 when Evans hit a double fault at 15/15 and followed it up with a forehand error. Rublev’s demeanour quickly changed, and he struck two big forehands to break serve at 30/40. Rublev recovered from 1/3 down in the tie-break, but could not convert set points at 6/5, when he hit a tight backhand, and at 9/8, when Evans struck a forehand winner.
The 22-year-old Rublev is now 16-3 on the season, which includes back-to-back ATP Tour crowns last month at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Moutet) and in Adelaide (d. Harris).
Grigor Dimitrov leaped over a critical mental hurdle on Wednesday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, saving two match points to survive Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-7(8), 6-2, 7-6(2) in an epic second-round match in Acapulco.
Dimitrov had lost his past four final-set tie-breaks, but drew on memories of third-set tie-break victories in the semi-finals and final of his title run at this event in 2014. The Bulgarian improved to 6-4 this year and moved into his maiden quarter-final of 2020.
”All I had to do was to stay in the match and fight. I don’t know why I have to make it so hard, but it what it is,” Dimitrov said. “The atmosphere here was electric once again. I’m just going to appreciate this moment.”
Dimitrov squandered a 4-2 lead in the opening set and held a set point at 8/7 in the first-set tie-break, which Mannarino erased with a forehand volley winner. The Frenchman grabbed the early advantage two points later with an overhead smash.
It appeared that Dimitrov had regained control after cruising through the second set and holding a 4-1 lead in the decider, but Mannarino responded with a four-game run of his own. He held a pair of match points with Dimitrov serving at 4-5, but the Bulgarian erased both with clean hitting.
The match fittingly moved into a final-set tie-break and Dimitrov saved his best tennis for when it mattered most, racing to a 4/0 lead and cracking a backhand winner on match point to end play after two hours and 45 minutes. He improved to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series with Mannarino.
Next up for Dimitrov is third-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka or Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez. He trails Wawrinka 4-7 in their ATP Head2Head rivalry.
Top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal closes out the night session on Wednesday against #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.
Djokovic Extends Winning Streak, Now Plays Khachanov In Dubai Quarter-finals
Monfils, Gasquet also advance
Novak Djokovic hit 15 matches unbeaten in 2020 on Wednesday by reaching the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-finals.
The World No. 1, who is aiming to capture his fifth title at The Aviation Club in Dubai, was never troubled in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber in just 59 minutes.
“It was a great performance,” said Djokovic. “I enjoyed the way I played, coming out with the right focus and tactics. Knowing Philipp beat me 12 months ago in Indian Wells, I needed to approach this match very seriously regardless of his ranking [No. 80]. He is one of the most experienced players on the tour and likes to play on the big stage, so he doesn’t falter too much.”
Djokovic, who is now 38-6 lifetime at the ATP 500-level hard-court tournament, hit 12 of his 23 total winners off his forehand wing and committed just 10 unforced errors. He won all 10 of his points at the net.
Djokovic gave 36-year-old Kohlschreiber the run around in the sixth game of the first set, breaking for a 4-2 advantage with a forehand winner. Djokovic clinched the 31-minute opener when Kohlschreiber flicked a backhand crosscourt wide.
From 5-3 in the first set, Djokovic won five straight games — including breaks of serve in the first (with a forehand winner) and third (backhand winner) games of the second set. He completed the victory with a forehand return winner.
The 32-year-old Djokovic will next play seventh-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who defeated Austrian qualifier Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-4 in 74 minutes. Djokovic leads Khachanov 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“I’ve had some interesting battles with him,” said Djokovic, looking ahead to the Khachanov match. “He is a great guy, a very powerful player. He is one of the guys who is a contender to be Top 5, Top 10. He is very dedicated, so hopefully I’ll be as sharp as I have been in the past two matches and start well.”
Djokovic’s best start to a season was in 2011 when he went 41-0 before losing to Roger Federer in the Roland Garros semi-finals.
In the final match of the day, third seed Gael Monfils extended his winning streak to a career-best 11 matches after beating qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-1, 6-2 in 66 minutes. Monfils, who has won his past two tournaments at the Open Sud de France (d. Pospisil) and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Auger-Aliassime), will next face fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who improved to 8-2 lifetime against Benoit Paire after beating his eighth-seeded compatriot 6-4, 6-4 in 81 minutes.
Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah got their season going on Wednesday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco. The top seeds picked up their first team win of the season by taking out Luke Bambridge/Ben McLachlan 6-0, 7-5.
At the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, John Peers/Michael Venus upset top seeds and defending champions Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals. Peers/Venus converted all four of their break point chances to defeat the reigning Australian Open champions in exactly one hour.
Third seeds Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies held off Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-7(7), 10-8 in first-round action. The reigning Roland Garros champion will face Jurgen Melzer/Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the next round.
Roberto Carballes Baena/Alejandro Davidovich Fokina were the first team to move into the semi-finals at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open. The Spanish duo upset third seeds Divij Sharan/Artem Sitak 6-3, 3-6, 10-4.
First-round action in Santiago saw second seeds Marcelo Arevalo/Jonny O’Mara battle past Roman Jebavy/Igor Zelenay 6-4, 4-6, 10-6. They’ll now play Federico Coria/Juan Ignacio Londero, who held off Sander Arends/David Pel 6-4, 1-6, 10-3.
Facundo Bagnis/Pablo Cuevas rounded out play with a 7-6(2), 6-4 win against Romain Arneodo/Andre Begemann.
A farewell tour – with the chance to perform one final time in Paris, London and New York – would not have been the Maria Sharapova way.
No longer competitive, and with a shoulder not fit for purpose, she would have hated making up the numbers at a benefit gig.
And so the end came in a well crafted essay published in Vogue and Vanity Fair – which very much is the Sharapova way.
The Russian leaves as one of only 10 women to have won each of the sport’s four Grand Slam titles, and as a former world number one who made a huge impact on both sport and the celebrity world.
Some of those achievements have been tarnished by the positive test she returned for meldonium. Even if her physical problems were escalating, she was just not the same player after her return.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova ‘says goodbye’ to tennis
Her road to winning Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 2004 had many twists and turns. Conceived 40 miles from Chernobyl in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster, Sharapova was born in Siberia after her grandmother persuaded her parents it would be safer to leave.
The family then moved on to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, before heading to Florida when Sharapova was just six to try to carve out a professional tennis career. Mum stayed in Russia, and the family was not reunited for the best part of two years.
Sharapova had signed with Nike and IMG by the age of 11, and was a Wimbledon champion just six years later. She won three of her Grand Slams by the age of 21, and even though two French Open titles were to follow – arguably her greatest achievement on a surface on which she once said she felt like a “cow on ice” – her shoulder was becoming an increasing hindrance.
And then came the positive test for meldonium – a heart disease drug – at the 2016 Australian Open. In the evidence she presented at her tribunal, Sharapova said the drug was prescribed in 2005 by a doctor in Moscow to treat a mineral metabolism disorder, which had left her prone to colds and tonsil infections.
It had been legal to take meldonium until 1 January that year. Sharapova argued the initial two-year ban imposed was “unfairly harsh” as it was purely an administrative error. She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), and her time in exile was reduced to 15 months.
Sharapova’s use of meldonium was cloaked in secrecy. Only her father and her agent knew she was taking it until she informed the Russian team doctor the year before her positive test. And although Sharapova tended to declare the use of other medicine and vitamins on her doping control forms, mentions of meldonium were strangely absent.
The original tribunal concluded her use of meldonium “on match days, and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels”. Cas saw it differently – concluding it would be wrong to call her an “intentional doper”.
Either way, a significant PR operation was launched to salvage her reputation. Blame was cast elsewhere; interviews carefully stage-managed. Humility was almost totally lacking, and Sharapova leaves the sport with many questions still unanswered.
She will not miss her peers, and they will not miss her. There were some notable exceptions, but the sparse number of social media tributes that greeted her retirement was striking.
Only Sharapova will know if that rankles even someone who wrote in an autobiography that she has “no interest in making friends on my battlefield”.
You had to admire her bloody mindedness, and her extreme desire to win. And, at times, it was hard not to enjoy her undiplomatic language and withering responses.
When quizzed about her high-pitched grunting being a distraction to other players, she once replied: “No-one important enough has told me to change.”
And when told Agnieszka Radwanska had expressed her displeasure (shortly after exiting the Australian Open), Sharapova replied with a cutting: “Isn’t she already back in Poland?”
The 32-year-old says she is now ready to compete on a different type of terrain.
Sponsors flocked to her for the majority of her career, with business magazine Forbes estimating she was the highest earning female athlete 11 years in a row.
You sense she has a shrewd business brain, although her “premium candy” line Sugarpova – perhaps a dubious product for an athlete to promote – may need a serious rebrand if it is ever to prosper in a more health-conscious world.
Sharapova may be going quietly into retirement, but it certainly will not be the last we hear of her.