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Two Weeks, An Eight-Hour Drive & Two Titles For Thiem

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2020

Two Weeks, An Eight-Hour Drive & Two Titles For Thiem

Relive Thiem’s impressive two-week 2015 run in Umag and Gstaad

Dominic Thiem arrived at the 2015 Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag with one ATP Tour title. The Austrian, who was 21 at the time, was on a three-match losing streak. But across two weeks in two cities with an eight-hour drive in between, Thiem went on a memorable run that he won’t soon forget.

It started in Umag, where Thiem upset top seed Gael Monfils in the semi-finals. In the championship match, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was watching the action from the stands. Djokovic hadn’t competed in the event, but he was able to watch one of the ATP Tour’s rising stars in Thiem, against whom he had only played once. 

Thiem showed his abilities on the Croatian clay, beating Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1 in 61 minutes for his second tour-level trophy.

“I am really happy about this week. I was able to improve my game in the semi-final and final. I didn’t make many mistakes today,” Thiem said. “It is really special to win here after playing juniors matches in this stadium.”

The Austrian didn’t have much time to celebrate his accomplishment. The next day, he had to make an eight-hour drive to Gstaad for the Swiss Open Gstaad.

“I will have a nice dinner with my friends tonight to celebrate,” Thiem said. “It won’t be a big party for me as I have to drive eight hours to go to Gstaad tomorrow.”

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Like he did in Umag, Thiem had a bye in Gstaad. That was all the time he needed to recover, winning two three-setters en route to the title in Switzerland. The Austrian eliminated the top two seeds — second seed Feliciano Lopez in the semi-finals and first seed David Goffin in the final — to lift another trophy.

Goffin entered the championship match with a 3-1 ATP Head2Head lead against Thiem, with the Austrian’s win coming in a first-set retirement. But the third seed again played his best to beat the Belgian 7-5, 6-2.

ATP Coach Programme

“I returned and served well, which is very important against such a great return player,” Thiem said. “Each title is very special. I’m extremely happy that my family was here this week. It’s such a great event here and a beautiful place.”

Another reason the two-week run is memorable is it’s the only time Thiem has won titles in back-to-back weeks. Thiem used that stretch to crack the Top 25 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time and he has remained in the elite group ever since. He is currently at a career-high World No. 3.

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Flashback: Wawrinka Outlasts Djokovic For Maiden Crown In Umag

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2020

Flashback: Wawrinka Outlasts Djokovic For Maiden Crown In Umag

Swiss also defeats teenage Del Potro & Cilic at 2006 event

With a losing record on clay (6-7) in 2006, Stan Wawrinka arrived at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag seeking more match play on the surface. He left with his first ATP Tour title after weathering a challenging draw that included three teenagers who would become future stars: Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic.

The unseeded Swiss, No. 67 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, started his week with a first-round 7-6(3), 6-3 upset of sixth-seeded Spaniard Alberto Martin to set up a clash with local wild card Cilic. The 17-year-old Croatian was coming off his first ATP Tour semi-final earlier that month in Gstaad. Although the centre court crowd was firmly in favour of Cilic, Wawrinka overcame them and a mid-match surge from his opponent to win their first ATP Head2Head meeting 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

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Next up for Wawrinka was another talented 17-year-old in Del Potro, who recorded his maiden tour-level quarter-final the previous week in Stuttgart. Despite the Argentine landing 85 per cent of his first serves, Wawrinka racked up seven break points and converted four to advance 6-1, 2-6. 6-4. The victory clinched his third tour-level semi-final of the season.

Wawrinka then sought revenge against Filippo Volandri after the Italian dismissed him three years earlier in Umag. Although Volandri won more points on the day (87 to 82), the Swiss prevailed in the rallies that mattered most. The 21-year-old stepped up in the final minutes of the match and defeated Volandri 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 for his first tour-level final of the year.

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Wawrinka & Djokovic Reunite On Instagram Live

Standing in the way of his first ATP Tour title was Djokovic, who scored a dominant straight-sets win in the other semi-final against former World No. 1 and 1998 Roland Garros champion Carlos Moya. The final had plenty of hype since the 19-year-old Djokovic won his first tour-level crown a week earlier in Amersfoort (d. Massu) and held a nine-match winning streak.

Unfortunately, the championship clash didn’t fully materialise. Djokovic experienced severe respiratory problems throughout the first set and a physician held his chest at one point to help him breathe properly. Trailing 1/3 in the opening-set tie-break, Djokovic lay down on court as his father, Srdjan, ran out to check his pulse alongside a doctor. The Serbian was helped to his seat and retired minutes later.

The match was their first ATP Head2Head meeting in a rivalry that has spanned 14 years. Djokovic has won five of their six clay-court battles since Umag, but Wawrinka made his lone victory count by defeating the Serbian in the 2015 Roland Garros final. The Swiss has since gone to capture 16 tour-level titles including three Grand Slams (2014 Australian Open, 2015 Roland Garros, 2016 US Open).

Wawrinka also hasn’t beaten Del Potro on clay (1-3) since their Umag showdown, but he has maintained his flawless record against Cilic (6-0) on the surface.

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The Lucky Hairdo That Sparked Fognini's Los Cabos Title Run

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2020

The Lucky Hairdo That Sparked Fognini’s Los Cabos Title Run

The Italian lifted the Los Cabos trophy in 2018

Fabio Fognini won his third ATP Tour title of the 2018 season at the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex. Perhaps keeping his good-luck charm for the week in Los Cabos was the key.

On Monday that week, the Italian No. 1 posted a photo on Instagram of his new hairdo. The ATP Tour’s Instagram challenged him to maintain the interesting style throughout the week if its own post got at least 20,000 likes, which it did. The Italian agreed, and he didn’t lose with it.

“I lost a bet with the ATP and it’s brought me luck,” Fognini said after the semi-finals. “Of course, tomorrow I’m going to play [with my hair] like that!”

After losing his first set of the tournament against Quentin Halys, Fognini overcame the Frenchman and stormed past Yoshihito Nishioka and Cameron Norrie to reach the championship match.

The Italian played perhaps his best tennis of the week in the final, defeating Juan Martin del Potro, 6-4, 6-2 to lift the trophy.

“It’s amazing… He’s one of the best players,” Fognini said. “I am really happy about my performance.”

The tournament’s final was the last day on which Fognini’s maintained his lucky hairdo. Given his streak of success you might ask a simple question: why?

“I have too much pain in my hair!”

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ATP Announces Cancellation Of The 2020 Citi Open

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2020

ATP Announces Cancellation Of The 2020 Citi Open

The decision has been made due to continued uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic

The ATP and organisers of the Citi Open, the ATP 500 event in Washington, D.C., have announced the cancellation of the 2020 Citi Open.

The tournament, which was scheduled to begin on 13 August, marked the planned resumption of the ATP Tour following the suspension of professional tennis in March. However, with continued uncertainties affecting the ability to meet key event planning deadlines, the decision has been made to cancel the event. The ATP continues to work closely with the USTA on the Western & Southern Open and the US Open, which are scheduled to take place back-to-back in New York, beginning on 20 August. 

“It’s disappointing that due to these unprecedented times, the Citi Open will not be able to go ahead this year,” said Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman. “I know how hard Mark Ein and his team have worked to adapt to new and continually changing conditions and would like to recognize their outstanding commitment to staging the event. Unfortunately for the moment there are still large factors at play which are outside of our control. We look forward to the Citi Open returning as one of our signature American events in 2021.”

“After months of tireless work by our team and close collaboration with our many stakeholders, we are heartbroken to announce that we must unfortunately postpone the 52nd Citi Open until the summer of 2021,” said Mark Ein, Chairman, Citi Open. “With only 23 days left until the start of the tournament, there are too many unresolved external issues, including various international travel restrictions as well as troubling health and safety trends, that have forced us to make this decision now in fairness to our players, suppliers and partners, so that they can have certainty around their planning.”

The ATP continues to work on the revised 2020 calendar with a further update expected in the next fortnight on a provisional schedule of events including the final section of the season through to the Nitto ATP Finals in November.

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Tecau Bulldozes His Way To The Best Doubles Serve

  • Posted: Jul 21, 2020

Tecau Bulldozes His Way To The Best Doubles Serve

The Ultimate Doubles Player: Best Serves

One of the most important shots in tennis is the serve. It starts the point, and it is the only shot a player fully controls. In doubles, a good server can win free points and set up his partner for an easy putaway.

If a player is struggling on serve, he allows the returning team to play more aggressively and gain confidence, changing the tone of the match.

According to some of the best doubles players in the world, being a “great doubles server” does not boil down to one skill. A great server could overwhelm opponents with power, or he could keep returners off balance with an assortment of spins and locations.

In the first installation of’s ‘Ultimate Doubles Player’ series, some of the world’s doubles stars selected the man whom they believe is the best doubles server.

Players’ Choice, Best Serve: Horia Tecau
“I think there are two ways of serving in doubles: First there’s the bulldozer style, and I’d categorise Horia Tecau with that. When he gets his rhythm going, he really can just get through you with his serve and it’s really difficult to deal with. It’s actually quite nice to be his net player because you don’t end up having to do much work. Regardless of conditions, whether the ball is playing heavy or it’s at night or whether it’s a clay court, his sheer ability to generate force [is amazing].” – Raven Klaasen

“Playing with Horia was very easy. I take it he’s called ‘Sniper’ for that reason, because he’s always hitting his target. He does serve very, very well. When it comes to serving, Horia is just solid. [His serve is] always within a small margin of speed. He rarely drops below, he just serves at a high speed all the time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s windy or anything. He always seems to time the ball well and that’s an unbelievable skill to have, no matter what weather you have or anything, just to always deliver the same quality shot. When it’s windy, I need a map and compass to find my toss.” – Robert Lindstedt

“He has a very, very good serve. He’s always solid. It doesn’t matter if he stops for three, six months or he’s playing every day, it’s the same. His serve is unbelievable. He can serve wherever he wants, the way he wants. He’s always dangerous when he serves and it’s very tough to break him.” – Marcelo Melo

Bob Bryan
“Definitely throughout his career it’s been one of the most respected serves. When he’s on a roll, it’s just impossible to do anything with it. You don’t know where he’s serving, he’s got a great pace, great swing and even if you do manage to get it back, you’ve got Mike cleaning up at the net.” – Joe Salisbury 

“Over the course of the past 20 years, Bob’s serve has always been the one that most people have said is the best serve in the game. It’s his power, his ability to put the ball where he wants in big moments. He’s got a pretty decent partner to finish things at the net. For those guys to win so much, they’ve both been very reliable at everything they’ve done over the years. But Bob being the lefty, and the actual pace of his serve, it’s very difficult to get the ball away from both guys, especially Mike when he’s taking the middle at the net.”  Ken Skupski

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Henri Kontinen
“He has a very good serve, especially on the deuce side. Probably one of the best wide swingers on the deuce side. Gets it very short, and his shoulder turn when he goes back, he gets so much rotation and that’s where all his power comes from. He changes the spin up a lot of the time. You think he’s going to hit a big pop, but then he takes a lot off it and puts a lot of spin on it. I find Henri very tough to read, and also, he doesn’t hold back on his serve. Even if it’s a big point, he may even go big on his second serve. You can’t really get on his serve consistently and that’s why he holds pretty easily.” – Neal Skupski

“When he was at his best, he could go 200 kilometres per hours on both serves and returning bombs, so he doesn’t give you rhythm. He makes you doubt all the time, because you don’t have rhythm, and he was on fire all the time making shots and had the talent to make really crazy shots.” – Bruno Soares 

Ben McLachlan
“There’s a different style of serving, too. I think one of the younger guys, Ben McLachlan, has a fantastic service action. He’s a very explosive guy. He’s able to make the ball jump, he’s able to make the ball slide. He’s able to go with pure pace, too, and when he tosses it up you know he’s coming with a variety of stuff to you. He keeps you off balance with his ability to shape the ball and move the ball, but he still has plenty of power to get it through you.” – Raven Klaasen

“He’s got a super-live arm, can create power with really no effort, can hit all the spots on both sides of the court and from ‘I’, from regular. He’s got a great kick serve, a great second serve. I just feel like when he steps up to the line, you know you’re getting a big serve. He’s at the top of the list.” – Rajeev Ram

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Jack Sock
“He has a lot of movement on his first serve. It’s not only the pace. He can serve hard, but he can move it around really well. It’s also because of what comes after the serve. He’s very tough to play.” – Jurgen Melzer

Nicolas Mahut
“His serve is maybe not the biggest, but he always finds a great spot. He’s really tough to return against, and he’s always giving you difficulty. He’s really preparing the situation for winning the point. Maybe not with just the serve, but with the serve and one more ball.” – Filip Polasek

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