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Isner Wins Battle Of Doubles Partners At W&S Open

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Isner Wins Battle Of Doubles Partners At W&S Open

No. 16 seed will next face Mannarino or Millman

John Isner and Hubert Hurkacz cruised past reigning Australian Open finalists Max Purcell and Luke Saville in their doubles opener Saturday at the Western & Southern Open. But when they faced one another on the singles court Sunday, only one was able to advance to the second round at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Isner got his return to action off to a good start, using a typically strong serving performance to eliminate Hurkacz 7-5, 6-4 after one hour and 39 minutes. The World No. 21 finished the match in style with a leaping backhand overhead, reminiscent of one of Roger Federer’s signature shots.

“I just went after it and hit a great backhand overhead,” Isner told ESPN after the match. “I really don’t have that shot, so I got a little lucky and I’m happy to be off the court in two sets.”

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The action on Grandstand at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center featured few lengthy rallies, with both players looking to get the first big strike in during the point, sometimes following those shots into the net. The match came down to who withstood pressure better, with Isner saving the two break points he faced while breaking his 23-year-old opponent twice.

Isner finally broke through at the end of the first set on his fifth set point. Hurkacz was forced to curl a low forehand approach shot up and down, missing long to give the No. 16 seed the opener.

Hurkacz took a medical timeout at 1-2, 15/15 in the second set to have his right index finger wrapped. However, he was able to stick close with Isner until the end of the set. The home favourite did not need as many opportunities this time, converting his first match point to set up a clash against Adrian Mannarino or John Millman. Isner signed the on-court camera, “Hi HG and Hobbs” with a smiley face, giving a shoutout to his children, Hunter Grace and John Hobbs.

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Hurkacz’s coach, Craig Boynton, coached Isner from 2009-12. Isner and Hurkacz will compete on the same side of the net once again on Monday when they face Pablo Carreno Busta and Alex de Minaur in the second round of the doubles draw.

Did You Know?
Isner became the oldest first-time Masters 1000 champion in series history at the 2018 Miami Open presented by Itau, lifting that trophy at 32.

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Chung Kicks Off Restart; Wawrinka Seeks Second Straight Prague Title

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Chung Kicks Off Restart; Wawrinka Seeks Second Straight Prague Title

Korean and Swiss headline at Prague II

On Saturday, former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka lifted his first trophy of the 2020 season. The Swiss kicked off the ATP Challenger Tour restart by claiming his first piece of silverware in three years at the I.CLTK Prague Open by Moneta.

Wawrinka was battle-tested all week, earning three straight wins from a set down before defeating Aslan Karatsev in the championship. With the goal of building confidence and match rhythm on the court, following the five-month COVID-19 hiatus, the 35-year-old is not wasting any time. He is back in action this week in the Czech capital, competing at the second clay-court Challenger 125 event there.

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Wawrinka Claims First Trophy Of Challenger Restart

Held at the TK Spoje Praha, the RPM Prague Open features Wawrinka as its leading man, accompanied by second seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert and the restart debut of 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung. This is Chung’s second tournament of the year after suffering a hand injury in January.

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Wawrinka will open his campaign against qualifier Goncalo Oliveira on Tuesday. He could face either 15th seed Botic van de Zandschulp or Czech qualifier Marek Gengel in the Round of 16, with a potential quarter-final clash against former World No. 10 Ernests Gulbis looming large.


Also in the top half of the draw is fourth seed Yannick Maden and 2020 wins leader Arthur Rinderknech. Rinderknech lifted the doubles trophy on Saturday with Herbert. The Frenchman could face 22-year-old Brit Jay Clarke in what would be a blockbuster Round of 16 encounter.

In the bottom half, Herbert opens against either countryman Elliot Benchetrit or fellow veteran Ruben Bemelmans. Chung will kick off his restart against Zdenek Kolar. Other Top 10 seeds in their half of the draw include No. 5 Kimmer Coppejans, No. 6 Martin Klizan and No. 9 Sebastian Ofner.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of young Czech talent on display. Last week, 20-year-old Michael Vrbensky reached his first Challenger semi-final, before falling to Wawrinka. He faces another tall task this week, opening against Maden. Tomas Machac, aged 19, won his maiden title in Koblenz, Germany, earlier this year. He will battle former World No. 33 Robin Haase on Tuesday. And fellow 19-year-old Jonas Forejtek will kick off his bid against Ofner.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Khachanov Safely Past Bublik At W&S Open

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Khachanov Safely Past Bublik At W&S Open

Russian star first winner on Sunday

Karen Khachanov blasted his way past Alexander Bublik on Sunday to get off to a winning start at the Western & Southern Open.

In his first match for 177 days, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, 11th seed Khachanov completed a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 84 minutes for a place in the second round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

The Russian, whose last tour-level match came on 28 February when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-finals, will next challenge Pablo Carreno Busta.

Khachanov broke serve in the first game and clinched the 41-minute opener when Bublik hit a forehand into the net. At 4-4 in the second set, Khachanov hit a slower-paced return to the net-rushing Bublik and then followed it in to place a backhand winner. Khachanov hit seven aces and won 79 per cent of his first-service points.

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Diego Schwartzman, who was sidelined with a left leg injury for much of February prior to the ATP Tour suspension, came through a highly competitive opener against Casper Ruud 7-6(2), 6-2 in one hour and 56 minutes.

The ninth-seeded Argentine broke clear at 2/2 in the first set tie-break, winning five straight points and finishing with a crosscourt forehand return winner. Schwartzman then won the first three games of the second set and went on to extend his perfect ATP Head2Head record to 5-0 against Ruud. He now faces Reilly Opelka.

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Covid Cut? Milos Says, 'No Thanks!'

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Covid Cut? Milos Says, ‘No Thanks!’

Canadian discusses the caution he has used during the pandemic

Milos Raonic has long been known for paying a lot of attention to his hair, keeping it immaculate. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that.

There were no fans on Court 17 to watch the former World No. 3’s first-round match at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday. But people watching from home could tell that the Canadian has been growing out his locks.

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When was the last time Raonic cut his hair? “Before Australia,” he said during his post-match virtual press conference. That’s seven months ago!

But the Canadian has been cautious throughout the pandemic, worrying about his parents. He saw his mother for a day and a half after the Australian Open, and he has not seen his father in 2020.

“I didn’t get a haircut. I was really cautious. We had about six people in our group — I would have gotten a haircut [if I could],” Raonic said, later adding, “My motivation was plain and simple. It’s my parents.”

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Raonic is staying in private housing rather than one of the two player hotels. He also has not been spending much time with other players, staying in the private suite he received as a seeded player and only going into the locker room for a 10-minute shower after practice.

“It’s something that I’m going to continue to do. Not just here because it’s a part of the program, but [at the] French Open, Rome, whichever tournaments are coming up in the future,” Raonic said. “Whatever the conditions may be, it’s something that I have committed to and I’m prepared to follow through with.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Raonic’s massive serve. The Canadian hit 19 aces in a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Sam Querrey, winning 87 per cent of his first-serve points. One of every two first serves he landed (38) resulted in an ace.

“I have been playing really well the last few weeks, and today I’m happy with how I dealt with a lot of things,” Raonic said. “There are a lot of things out of my control that you can’t mimic in a practice.”

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Shapovalov's Serve Shines In W&S Open Win Vs. 2016 Champ Cilic

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Shapovalov’s Serve Shines In W&S Open Win Vs. 2016 Champ Cilic

Canadian will next face big-hitting Struff

Denis Shapovalov’s last win before the ATP Tour was suspended due to COVID-19 was against Marin Cilic at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille. It was only fitting that he returned to the court after more than five months with a triumph against Cilic, too.

The 12th-seeded Canadian was sharp in a 6-3, 6-3 victory against the 2016 champion to reach the second round of the Western & Southern Open.

“I don’t think I could have played much better. It was a really tough draw to play Marin [in the] first round. He’s such an amazing player, and he’s proven that time and time again,” Shapovalov said. “It was definitely not easy for both of us out there, so I’m really happy to get a win against him and start back really strong.”

Shapovalov was dominant on serve, saving the only break point he faced in the 79-minute match. The lefty struck nine aces and won 60 per cent of his second-serve points compared to 29 per cent for Cilic.

World No. 37 Cilic has enjoyed success at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the ATP Masters 1000 is being held because of the pandemic. In 2014, the Croatian won the US Open at Flushing Meadows. But Cilic struggled to gain an attacking rhythm from the baseline, with the shotmaking Shapovalov keeping the 31-year-old off balance with his overall aggression and crisp passing shots.

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The 21-year-old is known to use the “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd to push him forward. But with no fans in attendance, Shapovalov still managed to keep his energy high throughout to take a 3-1 ATP Head2Head series lead against Cilic.

“I love the fans and I love the roar of the
crowd when you hit an amazing shot. But when I was
dialed in, focussed, I wasn’t paying too much attention to it,” Shapovalov said. “At the end of the day, it just came down to playing tennis. Definitely, it’s different, but we have gone through it.”

Shapovalov will next play another big-hitter in German Jan-Lennard Struff, who earned his first victory in his third ATP Head2Head meeting against Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-4 in 81 minutes.

Struff has won three of his four clashes against Shapovalov. However, the Canadian was victorious in their only hard-court battle at the 2018 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, triumphing 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 after saving a match point in the second-set tie-break.

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Preview & Schedule: Tsitsipas Headlines Sunday Action At W&S Open

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Preview & Schedule: Tsitsipas Headlines Sunday Action At W&S Open

Last year’s runner-up Goffin to face Coric

Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the way in New York on Sunday, as four Top 10 seeds begin their title bids at the Western & Southern Open.

The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion will make his return to the ATP Tour against Kevin Anderson, who battled past Kyle Edmund in three sets on Saturday. This will be Tsitsipas and Anderson’s fourth ATP Head2Head meeting (Tsitsipas leads 2-1), with each of their three previous encounters taking place in 2018.

”It’s a great opportunity to be able to perform and play at such a high level again,” said Tsitsipas. “Personally speaking, I’m very happy I get to be back on the court… I’m just happy competing again, just happy to be able to be back to my normal happiness.”

Tsitsipas will aim to return to the level he was playing at prior to the ATP Tour suspension in March. In his two most recent ATP Tour events, the Greek captured the Open 13 Provence in Marseille for the second straight year and finished as runner-up at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“I was on a good run back in Marseille and Dubai which was quite disappointing when [COVID-19 struck],” said Tsitsipas. “It kept me a little bit off balance and I wasn’t expecting it. But I kept practising, I kept perfecting things. I’m back now, which gives me the perfect opportunity to prove myself once again.”

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Last year’s finalist David Goffin will make his return to action against Croatian No. 1 Borna Coric. The 29-year-old owns an 8-2 record at the ATP Masters 1000 event since 2018, when he defeated three Top 15 players in straight sets en route to the semi-finals. Goffin is unbeaten in four ATP Head2Head clashes against Coric.

Ninth seed Diego Schwartzman and Andrey Rublev will compete in the opening two matches on Court 17. Schwartzman will face Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud, before Doha and Adelaide titlist Rublev takes on Daniel Evans.

Former champion Grigor Dimitrov will look to add to his 15-7 record at the Masters 1000 tournament when he meets Auckland champion Ugo Humbert on Court 10. John Isner, the 2013 runner-up, will face Hubert Hurkacz in the first ATP Tour match of the day on Grandstand.

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am

WTA Match
WTA Match

Not Before 3:00 pm
[16] John Isner vs Hubert Hurkacz

Not Before 5:00 pm
[PR] Kevin Anderson vs [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA Match

COURT 17 start 11:00 am
Casper Ruud vs [9] Diego Schwartzman
Daniel Evans vs [10] Andrey Rublev

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA Match
WTA Match

Not Before 7:00 pm
Borna Coric vs [7] David Goffin

COURT 10 start 11:00 am
WTA Match
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald vs [Q] Marcos Giron
[14] Grigor Dimitrov vs Ugo Humbert
[Q] J.J. Wolf vs Richard Gasquet

Click here to view the full Day 2 schedule.

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Murray/Skupski Oust Top Seeds At W&S Open

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Murray/Skupski Oust Top Seeds At W&S Open

Reigning Australian Open champs Ram/Salisbury battle on

Brits Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski upset top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on Saturday to reach the second round of the Western & Southern Open 7-6(5), 7-6(3).

“It was nice to put in a good performance against a top, top team, the World No. 1s,” Skupski said. “I thought we executed very well today. We put in a good week’s practice going to Connecticut early, we worked on a few things before coming here and it paid off. Hopefully we can continue the good work on the practice court and it will continue to pay off on the match court. Very happy to get the win and hopefully we can push forward the rest of the week.”

One year ago at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Cabal and Farah beat Murray and Skupski in the semi-finals en route to the US Open title. The Western & Southern Open is being held at the same venue this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a good start to ‘Cincinnati’. It’s a bit strange having ‘Cincinnati’ at the home of the US Open,” Skupski said. “But it was nice to get back on the court with Jamie for a match for the first time since February when we lost in Dubai.

“It was very strange to play in front of no fans. I thought we did a good job of bringing a lot of energy to the court today because we weren’t getting it from the fans. Hopefully the fans will be back very soon, but until then we’ll have to bring our own energy on the court and try and keep each other motivated as much as possible.”

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Reigning Australian Open champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury also had a tight match in the first round, but the third seeds found a way to win. The American-British team defeated Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-7(3), 10-6.

“It’s better than starting off with a loss, that’s for sure,” Ram said. “It was fun to get out there and play again, which all of us probably felt that way after such a long break. It was fun to get out and compete in an ATP event.”

Seventh seeds Raven Klaasen and Oliver Marach advanced past Tim Puetz and Alexander Zverev 7-6(6), 3-6, 10-6, while eighth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic eliminated Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-2.

Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner will be opponents on Sunday, but they played together on Saturday to earn a 6-3, 6-0 victory against Australian Open finalists Max Purcell and Luke Saville. 

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Why Petr Korda Loves Being In Sebastian's Shadow

  • Posted: Aug 23, 2020

Why Petr Korda Loves Being In Sebastian’s Shadow

Sebastian Korda is into his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw

Sebastian Korda earned one of the biggest wins of his young career on Friday at the Western & Southern Open, rallying past former World No. 6 Gilles Simon in three sets to qualify for his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw.

The victory earned the #NextGenATP American three special deliveries wrapped in one: Boston Bruins t-shirts he had delivered to his house in Florida and carrying them, one of his coaches, former World No. 2 Petr Korda. Sebastian is Petr’s son.

The 1998 Australian Open champion would be plenty happy if nobody else notices his arrival. He is simply thrilled to be there with Sebastian, who will compete in just his second ATP Tour main draw.

“I like to be in his shadow. It’s fantastic. I love that. I’m enjoying being in the shadow of my kid,” Petr told “He’s the engine and I’m just the wheels. I’m a very proud dad and it should stay like that. He’s the one who should be giving the interviews, not me. The parents don’t normally give interviews.”

Petr Korda Sebastian Korda

Korda tested negative for COVID-19 in Bradenton and flew to New York on Saturday.

“They did the swab test and they put that thing up through my nose and it felt like they were cleaning my brain,” said Korda, who knew he’d need to take another test at the tournament hotel upon his arrival, quarantining until he gets his results. “There’s still the possibility he’s going to ask me to stay in the hotel even when he’s going to play singles. I don’t mind. I’ll do whatever he asks me.”

The 20-time tour-level titlist (10 singles, 10 doubles trophies) is his son’s coach. However, Korda has full trust in another one of Sebastian’s coaches, Dean Goldfine, and he is more concerned with his role as dad.

“We talk every day. We don’t necessarily need to talk before the match. I know he likes to have his own space,” Korda said, adding that he passes tactics to his son through Goldfine. “With Sebi we just talked this week more about other stuff in life, not about tennis. I’m not just his coach, I’m his dad.”

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Korda, Wolf Qualify For Western & Southern Open

The younger Korda received attention two and a half years ago when he won the Australian Open boys’ singles title. After his victory, he paid homage to his father by replicating Petr’s famous scissor kick celebration. Less than a month later, he competed in the 2018 New York Open as a wild card, losing against Frances Tiafoe in three sets. After Korda returned to Florida, he got sick for five days.

“In the first week he grew close to an inch. [The growing] upset [his body] and that year he grew another two inches. It’s a lot. The growing process is very important. We’re just making sure his growth plates are closed,” Petr said. “We don’t put too much pressure on his body because tennis is a marathon. He just turned 20 and hopefully he has another 10, 15 years ahead of him to play tennis.”

Korda has steadily climbed the FedEx ATP Rankings. When he played the New York Open, he was outside the Top 800. He is currently World No. 224, one spot off his career-high.

“He is learning on the court, off the court. It’s phenomenal for him,” Petr said. “He is learning about the game left and right. He still has one or two more years when he’s going to need to learn quite a lot.”

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Sebastian is not the only Korda trying to make waves as a professional athlete. His older sisters, Jessica and Nelly, are professional golfers. Although they rarely get to spend time together because of travelling to tournaments, they are a tight-knit family. They use the hashtag #KeepingupwiththeKordashians on Instagram.

“Our family has a very close connection and close ties. Their time is very precious when they’re together, so we let them be kids. [Even though they’re professional athletes], they still will be our kids,” Petr said. “They have daily conversations between them. If one of them isn’t doing well, they try to support each other. It’s an effort from all three corners.”

Sebastian plays fellow qualifier and #NextGenATP Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round. According to Petr, “The guy whipped Sebi’s butt” at the same venue three years ago in the US Open boys’ singles event. No matter what happens when they meet again Sunday, Petr is just happy his son has another chance to learn, especially on a stage like the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in a Masters 1000 event. 

More than anything else, Petr is simply proud to sit in the background, with all eyes on his son.

“I’m very happy for him,” Korda said. “He worked really hard for this moment.”

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