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Cincinnati Native Wolf Makes Winning Start At W&S Open Qualifying

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2020

Cincinnati Native Wolf Makes Winning Start At W&S Open Qualifying

Wild card to face Munar for a place in the main draw

J.J. Wolf may not be able to play in his home city this year, but that did not stop the Cincinnati native from producing his best level in qualifying at the Western & Southern Open in New York.

In the first day of qualifying at the ATP Masters 1000 event, the wild card needed just 52 minutes to eliminate 11th seed Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 6-3, 6-1 on Grandstand. The 21-year-old, who captured two ATP Challenger Tour trophies earlier this year, converted each of his four break points to claim his spot in the final qualifying round for the third straight year.

Standing between Wolf and a place in the main draw is Spain’s Jaume Munar. The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist made a quick start against 17th seed Federico Delbonis, before closing out the contest 6-1, 7-6(3).

<a href=Jaume Munar beats Federico Delbonis in straight sets at the Western & Southern Open.” />

Munar’s countryman Pedro Martinez also secured a victory on his return to action, overcoming sixth seed Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2 after two hours and 25 minutes. Martinez saved each of the four break points he faced to book a meeting with Marton Fucsovics. The Hungarian beat #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 6-4 in 85 minutes.

France’s Gregoire Barrere will face Marcos Giron for a spot in the main draw. Both men cruised through to the final qualifying round, with Barrere defeating ninth seed Radu Albot 6-3, 6-2 and Giron charging past Laslo Djere of Serbia 6-2, 6-2.

Adelaide runner-up Lloyd Harris edged Mikael Ymer 7-5, 7-5 to confirm his spot in the final qualifying round. Harris will meet Andrej Martin in his next match, following the 30-year-old’s 6-2, 7-5 win against Rio Open presented by Claro finalist Gianluca Mager.

Soonwoo Kwon rallied from a set down to move past Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The South Korean will face alternate Norbert Gombos for a place in the main draw. The 30-year-old defeated Stefano Travaglia 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-4.

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Berrettini Blooms Through Zoom: Coaches' Corner

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2020

Berrettini Blooms Through Zoom: Coaches’ Corner

Learn how Berrettini’s coaching team improvised during the COVID-19 pandemic

Vincenzo Santopadre and Matteo Berrettini are like family, with the former coaching the latter for a decade.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, they had to improvise, with Santopadre and the rest of their team advising Berrettini through Zoom while the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier spent time in Florida. catches up with Santopadre about that experience as well as what it will be like for him to not be in New York with his charge during the Western & Southern Open and the US Open.

Throughout the year you are always working hard with Matteo, but how did you approach a situation like this given the circumstances in the world?
In every situation we try to figure out how to be better. We know somewhere there is always an opportunity to be better, we just have to look for it. Of course like anybody else, a good tennis player has to adapt to every situation. This kind of situation of course was terrible, it was not up to us. We just had to be patient and understand that not everything could be under our control. It’s the same as a tennis match. You can do whatever you want, you can do your best, but sometimes there are some things you have to accept. Our team’s philosophy, including Matteo, is the same in that way.

We continued to work because Matteo [was able to] work to solve 100 per cent his physical problems (hernia/groin)… He had to recover from the injury and then he had a chance to be aware of things that happened last year. The past two, three years went so fast. The things he did to become Top 10 in the world, it was a lot.

This time was so perfect to stop for a while and to realise the things he accomplished, because they were really important and of course he had to be happy about this. I think this time off was a very useful time to him and to us and we had a chance to do it by call because he was passing the lockdown in the States [until the end of May] and everybody on the team was at home in Europe.

It gave us a chance and every week we were having a team meeting on Zoom and we were working a lot on tactics, working together with Craig O’Shannessy and with the rest of the team on tactics. Maybe sometimes we don’t have time to work on this aspect. Of course we work every day on tactics. But we had a chance to concentrate on this.

I think right now he is ready to play. He is excited. Everybody is excited to restart. Of course we know that the situation can’t be the same as last year, but nobody wants it because we know the situation is different. We had a meeting regarding our aim for the Western & Southern Open and the US Open. I think the most important thing is finally he can feel again the smell of a tournament, to feel the stakes, to be in competition. He’s really enthusiastic to have the pleasure of being in competition.

What was working with Matteo on Zoom like?
It’s something that we never did before. But the thing is we were lucky because everybody in the team has been working with him for a long time, especially me. We don’t need to be together physically. Of course that’s much better, but if it happens that we’re distanced, I don’t think the distance was so [bad]. This distance was mostly because of our minds, not because of thoughts. We know each other so well. Of course for everybody we had to create a new model [during this time]. It was three months he stayed in the States, but we tried to let him [enjoy his time there in Florida] a little bit.

He was practising, he had the opportunity to be for a long period with his girlfriend, WTA player Ajla Tomljanovic. We had a chance also for everybody to have time to reflect a little bit and recharge. Staying on Tour all year long is really nice, but also tiring. We recharged and me and the team, we thought that the best chance was to get the opportunity to work on tactics and we didn’t need to be physically there [to do that]. We were working on statistics. It was something that we could do by chatting [on Zoom].

Are you able to tell us at all what you were working on with his tactics?
We worked a lot on serve and return because we think that of course the game is on those strokes and especially for Matteo. We concentrated ourselves on the beginning of the game.

Will you be coming to New York with Matteo?
I’m not because I don’t feel so comfortable. I’m getting older and older, I know that. To be there you have to consider everything. If I get positive there, I’d feel too far from Europe, from my hometown, from my sisters, from my son, from my daughter and I feel that this is a special moment. I feel more comfortable, more safe here. We are lucky because we have on the team also an assistant coach, Marco Gulisano, and Ramon Punzano, who is the physio. Of course he will have Ajla Tomljanovic, his girlfriend. I was lucky to feel I could decide this without any pressure and Matteo of course understood everything.

<a href=Matteo Berrettini, Vincenzo Santopadre” />

Will you still be using Zoom with Matteo while he is in New York?
Of course I will speak to him. [It’s not totally new because] once he was in St. Petersburg with Marco [without me]. I try to understand the moment and to feel if we need to talk a little bit more or a little bit less. Of course Marco is there and he can help, but of course I will speak to Matteo. Normally we have a relationship where we don’t have to [constantly] speak [to understand each other]. I for sure will speak to him or send messages trying to feel how things are, to help him, to understand how he’s feeling with his game.

What will be most important for him to do well as play begins?
To do well to me is if he stays [focussed] in the situation, to adapt. Normally we like to say he has to be ready. Every time he has to stay in the moment. This kind of situation [requires players] to be ready to play. You have to be happy to play. You have to be happy to come back on court and that’s what we shared with Matteo before he left: to stay in the moment and appreciate the opportunity, to be happy to be there.

Matteo likes to compete. He likes to be in tournaments. This is his first tournament since January because he just played in Melbourne. He lost in the second round and then he couldn’t play because he got injured. He wants to play again.

Even though you’ll be at home, what are you looking forward to the most? Last year, Matteo had a great tournament in New York, so are you excited to watch him compete there again?
I’m excited because we have special memories there, strong memories. Of course we know that our life is not lived remembering things, but they are special memories. I think there will be good vibes, even if I’m staying so many miles away in Rome. The distance is a lot, but I will feel like I am there.

Matteo had some great results before the US Open. But how much do you think his run to the semi-finals there changed him?
He had an unbelievable season. Of course he had some fantastic tournaments on grass, he won in Budapest, played the final in Munich, but to me in Wimbledon… after that [fourth-round] match against Federer he was able to understand that he was coming and almost ready to jump [towards the top of the game].

The US Open for me was the result that helped him and me and everybody to realise, seeing the result, seeing how he got there and how he performed, that he was a fantastic player… At the US Open, he had such a tough tournament, best of five in heavy conditions, it was hot. He was playing well. He was suffering. Since that tournament he realised that he is a very, very, very good player.

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Gil Reyes’ Advice: ‘Don’t Panic, Just Play’

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2020

Gil Reyes’ Advice: ‘Don’t Panic, Just Play’

Agassi’s fitness coach provides his keys to success for the return to tennis

With the ATP Tour returning this week at the Western & Southern Open, players will want to get off to a quick start. Early momentum, especially at an ATP Masters 1000 event, could prove key to a strong end to the season.

But according to Gil Reyes, who is known for his work as Andre Agassi’s strength and conditioning coach, players should not get too far ahead of themselves if they don’t come out of the gates firing.

“No one pulled away from you while you were out. Don’t panic, just play. As you were. Pick up where you were because you had no other choice,” Reyes told “You don’t have many matches under your belt… My advice is just the facts themselves: nobody else has been playing, either. You want to win, but so do they. You’re not as sharp, but neither are they. You’re rested, but so are they.

“I’m not sure that anyone is really ready because nobody’s had to go through this before. It’s hard to measure anything now because there is no precedent for this… Nobody really knows. When you get out there, get ready to run.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Reyes points out that it’s normal for athletes to have time off when they’re hurt. But during that time a player wonders whether the pack is closing in or pulling away. In this special circumstance, everyone has been out of competition.

“You need to get out there, you need to get your matches. Mentally you’re behind because you’re seeing peers playing and in this case nobody’s playing. That’s going to be a tough thing mentally for everybody,” Reyes said. “This is unique in the sense that everybody is coming out shaking off the cobwebs.”

Reyes described tennis as a sport of timing and reflex, from the hand-eye coordination to the geometry and the physics that are employed in points. Players use angles, spin, speed, calculate the bounce and more. It will be a lot to process immediately in a live match for the first time, making maintaining positivity essential.

“Don’t expect yourself to be match sharp because you’re not going to be,” Reyes said. “But hope everything else is ready, because it won’t be long before they open all the gates and here we go.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

A player whom Reyes works with in Las Vegas from time to time is 36-year-old Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. The veteran visited with Reyes just before the ATP Tour was suspended due to COVID-19 in March. The fitness coach says one of the big keys for the Spaniard during this time was maintaining his physicality.

“His calling card is his strength, his physicality. If you ask 10 people to describe his game, I’m going to guess nine would say power,” Reyes said. “When he was here we certainly discussed wear and tear. It will be a detriment to you if you push and you redline on every workout because now you’re asking your body to endure.

“Fernando just needs to stay fit for sure, stay strong. You’re not going to forget how to play. He’s been hitting since he was a little boy and hitting in a pretty unique way, so he just does it. He doesn’t need to play and work so much. He just needs to stay physically sharp because that is connected directly to his and every athlete’s head. They know when they feel good and strong out there and they know when they don’t.”

Reyes is interested to see how the return plays out.

“I think everybody is going to be ready. I really do. I think the war horses are going to be ready because they’re rested. I think the young warriors are going to be chomping at the bit because they haven’t been playing. I think it’s going to be really good,” Reyes said. “We don’t know about the timing in the first tournament or two, but I think this will in a weird way produce some good results physically for our tennis athletes.”

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Who Will Make A Speedy Start In New York?

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2020

Who Will Make A Speedy Start In New York? looks back at the players who made a quick start to 2020

After more than five months away from the ATP Tour, many leading players will make their return to action at the Western & Southern Open in New York this week. But after an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may prove difficult for fans to predict which players will quickly hit top form.

The first place they could look is to those who got off to hot starts in 2020. Four players — Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev and Roberto Bautista Agut — came out firing this year. looks at how each of them performed before the suspension of play.

<a href=Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev and Roberto Bautista Agut made strong starts to the 2020 ATP Tour season.” />

Novak Djokovic (2020 Record: 18-0)
After finishing the 2019 season at No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Novak Djokovic opened his 2020 campaign with 18 consecutive victories. That helped the Serbian overtake Rafael Nadal as World No. 1.

Djokovic started the year in style, winning each of his eight matches across singles and doubles at the ATP Cup to capture the team title for his nation. The Belgrade native continued his fine opening to the season at the Australian Open, beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals and Dominic Thiem in the championship match to lift a record-extending eighth trophy in Melbourne. Despite facing three consecutive match points against Gael Monfils in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals, Djokovic added a fifth crown to his collection at the ATP 500. He earned a straight-sets victory against reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Dominic Thiem (2020 Record: 9-4)
Following a runner-up finish at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Tsitsipas), Thiem made another hard-court breakthrough this January. The Austrian advanced to his maiden Australian Open final, powering past Nadal in the quarter-finals before earning a four-set victory against Alexander Zverev.

Thiem became the first player to lead Novak Djokovic after three sets of an Australian Open final, before falling to the 17-time Grand Slam champion in five sets. Four weeks later, the Austrian rose to a career-high No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Thiem is the first man outside the Big Three of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer to occupy a Top 3 position since Zverev in May 2019.

Andrey Rublev (2020 Record: 15-3)
Andrey Rublev opened the 2020 season with two of the most successful weeks of his career. The Russian began the year with two ATP Tour titles but, by 18 January, he doubled that figure to four trophies.

Rublev did not drop a set at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and then added a second trophy the following week at the inaugural Adelaide International. In South Australia, Rublev battled through three-set clashes against Daniel Evans and Felix Auger-Aliassime before dominating Lloyd Harris in the championship match. Rublev is the first player since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win back-to-back titles in the opening two weeks of the season.

The Moscow-born star extended his winning run to 10 matches by reaching the Round of 16 at the Australian Open (l. to Zverev) and also reached quarter-finals at ATP 500 events in Rotterdam and Dubai.

<a href=Andrey Rublev owns an 8-0 record this season.” />

Roberto Bautista Agut (2020 Record: 9-3)
Roberto Bautista Agut is known for speedy starts to ATP Tour seasons. From 2016 to 2019, the Spaniard began each year with an ATP Tour title in January. The 32-year-old was unable to keep that streak going this year, but he still dropped only one set in his opening eight matches.

Competing as Spain’s No. 2 singles player at the ATP Cup, Bautista Agut delivered six straight-sets victories for his nation. The 6’0” right-hander put his country one win away from the ATP Cup title, before Djokovic led an inspired comeback from Team Serbia in the championship match. Bautista Agut’s unbeaten start to the year ended in the Australian Open third round, when 2018 runner-up Marin Cilic recorded a five-set triumph after four hours and 10 minutes.

<a href=Roberto Bautista Agut” />

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#NextGenATP Sinner Headlines W&S Open Qualifying Draw

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2020

#NextGenATP Sinner Headlines W&S Open Qualifying Draw

Former World No. 6 Simon is the top seed

Reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner leads a strong contingent of young players into qualifying at the Western & Southern Open, which begins Thursday. This is the first ATP Tour event since the suspension of play in March due to COVID-19. The main draw starts Saturday.

This will be Sinner’s first appearance in a hard-court ATP Masters 1000 event. This week last year, the Italian star was No. 131 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old, who is seeded 14th, will play countryman Salvatore Caruso in the first round of qualifying, fourth on Court 11 after 11 a.m. Sinner defeated Caruso in three sets in last year’s Bergamo ATP Challenger Tour event.

View Qualifying Draw | View Thursday Order Of Play

In addition to Sinner, other #NextGenATP stars who will play in qualifying are 2019 Milan competitor Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, American Brandon Nakashima and fellow home favourite Sebastian Korda, the son of former World No. 2 Petr Korda.

<a href=Sebastian Korda” />
Sebastian Korda is among the wild cards competing in qualifying.
Ruusuvuori, the World No. 101, is on the verge of cracking the Top 100 for the first time. He will face second seed Jeremy Chardy. Nakashima is World No. 220, but he has shown in 2020 an ability to compete on the ATP Tour. He made his tour-level debut at this year’s Delray Beach Open by, advancing to the quarter-finals. In his next event, he made the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Challenger.

Former Next Gen ATP Finals competitors Mikael Ymer (2019) and Jaume Munar (2018) will also try to battle their way into the main draw. Ymer, the 10th seed, will open against 2018 Milan alternate Lloyd Harris. Munar will face 17th seed Federico Delbonis.

The top seed in qualifying is former World No. 6 Gilles Simon. The Frenchman is trying to reach the Western & Southern Open main draw for the 12th time. Simon, who will play Japan’s Taro Daniel, advanced to the quarter-finals of this Masters 1000 event in 2009 and 2011.

Other players to watch include trick-shot sensation Pablo Cuevas and No. 6 seed Steve Johnson, who is the only seeded American in the qualifying draw.

Did You Know?
The Western & Southern Open is being held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open. Sinner has good memories of the venue, where he made it through qualifying at the 2019 US Open and pushed former champion Stan Wawrinka to four sets. 

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