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Opelka Tops Berrettini To Reach First Masters 1000 Quarter-final

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

Opelka Tops Berrettini To Reach First Masters 1000 Quarter-final

American strikes 50 aces in three matches this week

Reilly Opelka continued his sweep into the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals — his first at ATP Masters 1000 level — on Tuesday with a brisk 75-minute victory.

Opelka recorded just the fifth Top 10 win of his career with a 6-3, 7-6(4) triumph over sixth seed Matteo Berrettini. He now challenges fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or 2013 finalist John Isner.

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Opelka struck 29 winners, including 19 aces, and forced Berrettini into a forehand error for the only break of the match in the eighth game. The American won 33 of his 35 first-service points, committed 12 unforced errors and clinched 51 points under three shots to Berrettini’s 38.

Overall this week in New York, Opelka has struck 50 aces, including 18 against Cameron Norrie in the first round and 13 against Diego Schwartzman in the second round.

The 22-year-old is now 10-3 on the season, suspended for five months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. He lifted his second ATP Tour title in February at the Delray Beach Open by

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Djokovic's Night & Day Turnaround At The W&S Open

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

Djokovic’s Night & Day Turnaround At The W&S Open

After tough opening match, Djokovic finds top form vs. Sandgren

Novak Djokovic charged past Tennys Sandgren 6-2, 6-4 at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday afternoon to extend his unbeaten start to the year to 20 matches.

The World No. 1 won 84 per cent of first-serve points (26/31) and saved all four break points he faced to advance after 88 minutes. Djokovic underwent a medical timeout in his opening match against Ricardas Berankis on Monday evening to have his neck worked on, also reaching for his head in the second set after an awkward landing. But the 2018 champion showed no physical issues in the third round.

“I’m as close to [being] painless [in my] neck as I
can be,” Djokovic said. “I’m feeling very good and that has obviously positively reflected on my game today.”

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Djokovic is chasing his second trophy at this ATP Masters 1000 event this week. Two years ago, he became the first singles player to complete the Career Golden Masters by winning the Western & Southern Open for the first time. If Djokovic lifts the title, he will equal Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 35 Masters 1000 crowns.

Djokovic improves to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Sandgren, with two of those wins coming at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Serbian also beat Sandgren in four sets en route to the 2018 US Open title.

The five-time year-end World No. 1 made a quick start on Grandstand, breaking Sandgren’s serve in the opening game by moving up the court and playing with consistent depth from the baseline to force errors. Djokovic dictated rallies with his backhand to claim a second break at 4-2, before holding serve for a one-set lead.

Djokovic used his backhand to attack Sandgren’s forehand and earn a third break of serve at the start of the second set. After failing to convert five match points at 5-3, Djokovic held serve to love with a forehand winner to confirm his place in the last eight.

Djokovic will face Jan-Lennard Struff for a semi-final spot in New York. The 33-year-old is unbeaten in three ATP Head2Head contests against Struff.

<a href=Jan-Lennard Struff” />

Struff broke new ground early Tuesday afternoon when the 30-year-old beat 2019 finalist David Goffin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

“It was a tough one, very close one again. The conditions were very hot again. Yesterday I thought it was a bit worse, the conditions, but David is a very tough player,” said Struff, who narrowed his ATP Head2Head deficit against the Belgian to 2-3. “I had some chances, he had some chances… the last game was really good.”

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A Day In The Life Of Jan-Lennard Struff

The German powered past the seventh seed in two hours and nine minutes with a devastating final game of all-out attack. Struff hit 35 winners, including a bludgeoned forehand return on his first match point. It is the World No. 34’s eighth Top 10 victory, with six of those coming since the start of last season. He has won seven of his past 15 matches against the elite group.

”I played some good tennis early on [against Top 10 players] as well, but I lost the matches most of the time,” Struff said. “That gave me a bit of experience how it is to be on court with them… I played good tennis [today] and I’m very happy to get another Top 10 win.”

Djokovic has only lost a set in five of his 20 matches this season. One of those was in the first round of the Australian Open against Struff.

“It will be very nice. I played him at the Australian Open, which was a very good match, I think, a very good match for me,” Struff said. “I would love to play him again.”

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Medvedev Powers Into W&S Open Quarter-finals

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

Medvedev Powers Into W&S Open Quarter-finals

Russian star commits just nine unforced errors

Daniil Medvedev powered his way past qualifier Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday to keep alive his chances of retaining the Western & Southern Open title.

Third seed Medvedev was too solid in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over 68 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals, where he’ll play No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov or eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

“I returned much better than yesterday and was more solid,” said Medvedev. “To win by this score and quite easily against Aljaz is a big challenge. I got used to the conditions better today. It wasn’t easy for him as it was already his sixth match and I just took my chances. I don’t feel the courts are extra fast this year.”

Medvedev broke twice in the 31-minute first set, with a backhand winner at 1-1, 0/40 and when Bedene hit a forehand into the net in the ninth game. Medvedev won 90 per cent of his first-service points, while Bedene committed 16 unforced errors as the hot conditions in New York hindered the Slovenian. Medvedev took a 3-1 lead in the second set and didn’t look back.

Bedene beat No. 13 seed Cristian Garin and Taylor Fritz in his first two matches at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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A Day In The Life Of Jan-Lennard Struff

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

A Day In The Life Of Jan-Lennard Struff

The German blogs about a day in his life in New York

I hope everyone has been enjoying the tennis so far at the Western & Southern Open! I’m very pleased that tennis is back and I wanted to bring you behind the scenes and tell you what a day is like for me in New York.

I was very happy to get a three-set win in the second round against Denis Shapovalov yesterday. The day started many hours earlier with something important… breakfast!

I always order some breakfast from room service. I don’t go downstairs here, instead eating by myself in my room. Normally I enjoy breakfast with friends, but it’s obviously a different situation. I’ve been staying alone with my team, and we all eat breakfast separately.

I always speak with my girlfriend and my young son in the morning. Sometimes I have very bad luck, because my little one has nap time in the afternoon. From when I wake up until I leave, he is sleeping most of the time. If I play early in the day, I’m not happy because I cannot see him sometimes. Then I’m practising and it’s tough to see him on FaceTime because he has a nap.

I was talking to my girlfriend for 25 minutes yesterday morning and then the little one woke up and I had almost 10 more minutes with him, which was great. It was like I ate my breakfast with them, which was quite nice. My little son had lunch at the same time, so it was very funny.

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Then I took a shuttle to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with my team at 9 a.m. That is where things started to get a bit different. Since there are no fans this year, players who will be seeded in the US Open — the Western & Southern Open is at the same venue because of the pandemic — were provided with a private suite inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. That is where I go right away in the morning. I’m very happy about having that space, because I have time to be alone there and relax and talk to my coach ahead of the day’s match.

After we arrived we went to warm up with Karen Khachanov from 10:30-11 a.m. Then I went to the locker room to shower and got both of my ankles taped before having some lunch. Since the match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Tennys Sandgren went a bit long, I ordered one more rice portion. Then I warmed up outside by the gym and was ready for the match.

In a normal year here I would have eaten something upstairs in the player’s restaurant. Sometimes hanging out in the locker room after that to watch some matches is nice, and if there’s a great battle going on the atmosphere is amazing. It could be tough to get your focus, but you get used to it. This year it’s not that busy because we have a restriction for how many players are allowed in the locker room. Normally you have to try to look for a spot where you can relax, put your music on and get ready. Sometimes I’ll talk with friends as I prepare my racquets and drinks.

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It’s quite a bit different, but in general the habits before the match are not changing. Yesterday I stayed in the suite and watched some matches. I have two TVs so I can watch different matches, which I really like. It’s good because it’s a bit quieter and you can stay alone with your team before the match. I watched a bit of Daniel Evans against Milos Raonic, Daniil Medvedev playing Marcos Giron and a bit of Felix, too.

In my first match against Alex de Minaur, since there weren’t many people by the court, I was able to recognise some of the players in the stands. I think Dennis Novak and Kevin Krawietz were among the guys there. But for us, it’s much better to play with fans for sure.

It was a bit weird not having fans when I played against Denis. There was still a lot of energy from both of us, though. We both wanted to win and we both gave everything we had. I still enjoyed the battle. With fans it would have been even better, but I was happy to win 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4.

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Another thing that is different is that after the match, we put our masks on and go straight back. There are no autographs to sign or pictures to take. I remember trying to get autographs when I was a kid. Pictures were impossible at that point because we didn’t have smart phones! It’s not always possible to make everyone happy, but I like to give autographs and take pictures because I remember how much it meant to me and how happy I felt when I was able to get an autograph from one of my favourite tennis players.

After the match we did some cooling down like showering, stretching and speaking with the media. Then I called my girlfriend, but we only had five minutes to talk because she was going to sleep soon. It was already close to midnight back home!

I got on the shuttle back to the hotel around 7:30 p.m. It was a tough match, so even in normal times I probably wouldn’t go too far from the hotel. I might have even brought some food back with me or ordered something from a delivery service so I wouldn’t have to move that much. I’d prefer to relax with some friends or go very, very close to the hotel to have some dinner.

Where I am staying there is space for us where we’re allowed to sit outside, which is a pretty nice place for us to have some food. I always go with one person to have dinner with them, but we keep distance between us for safety. This is the situation now and that’s okay, we have to deal with it.

After that I just relaxed a bit and watched some of the NBA playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers were playing against the Portland Trailblazers. It was perfect. I wasn’t able to watch the whole thing because it was getting too late, but it was great to at least watch some of it. I love sports. Seeing the Champions League final on Sunday was great.

It’s a very different time right now, but I’m really happy tennis is back. I just want to thank everyone who is making it possible. I hope fans are able to enjoy watching it on TV. I think they all miss tennis, and I’ll be very happy when we’re able to see them in the stands again. I don’t know when that will happen, but I’m looking forward to it. I hope everyone enjoys my match today against David Goffin. Wish me luck!

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'He's So Tough To Lob!' Why Height Means Little For Klaasen's Overhead

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

‘He’s So Tough To Lob!’ Why Height Means Little For Klaasen’s Overhead

The newest installment of’s ‘Ultimate Doubles Player’ series examines the overhead

Who doesn’t love smashing away an overhead? It’s not as easy as the ATP Tour’s stars make it look.

“The shot doesn’t really pop up too much in doubles,” said Raven Klaasen, who has competed in the past four Nitto ATP Finals. “But it combines your ability to cover the court with your ability to finish the ball.”

There was no consensus among the world’s best in picking the player with the best overhead, but what was clear is that there is more to the shot than being tall and powerful. Klaasen, who stands 5’10”, was the only player to receive multiple votes. In the newest installment of’s ‘Ultimate Doubles Player’ series, read below for the players’ picks and explanations.

Raven Klaasen
“Just because of his athleticism. He’s got a good smash, but maybe it’s because he’s so tough to lob. He gets back to everything, so including the movement back to it he’s got the best smash.” – Joe Salisbury

“Raven Klaasen is a very athletic guy, gets back well for overheads. Most guys don’t miss smashes, but there’s a big difference between making a smash and getting back and still being able to give it a good smack and hit it for a winner or really force an opponent to hit a [poor] reply, and then you put the next one away.” – Jamie Murray

“He is one who is very athletic. He’s not very tall, but very difficult to lob because he’s so athletic. He gets back so quick and he’s able to get a bit of pop on the old smash.” – Neal Skupski

Ivan Dodig
“He has the best overhead in the game because he’s very athletic, moves very well backwards and it’s very hard to lob him.” – Jurgen Melzer

Robert Lindstedt
“Robby always said he has the best overhead in doubles and I think I have to agree. I never saw him miss one. I’ll give him the credit. He’s going to be happy.” – Marcelo Melo

<a href=Robert Lindstedt” />

Marcelo Melo
“He’s ‘The Giraffe’, people call him. He’s very difficult to lob. When he’s at the net, the best chance is to go through him rather than over him.” – Neal Skupski

Filip Polasek
“He was off the Tour for a little while and since he’s come back he’s flown up the [FedEx ATP Doubles] Rankings. He’s doing unbelievably well. He’s an absolute unit of a man, so first of all, to try and get the ball over him is a difficult job. But he has pure, brute power, a strong arm and I would really hope my partner would not choose to lob him if I was ever at the net because I would not want to be facing one of his smashes.” – Ken Skupski

Jean-Julien Rojer
“He doesn’t look big, but he’s really quick and it’s hard for me to recognise when we get it over him. He sees the ball, he reads the game. He always gets it and once he’s there, he’s not missing much.” – Filip Polasek

Joe Salisbury
“Partially because I don’t hit many of them, so he’s got to cover the whole court. He’s able to take balls from deep, short, angles and put them away. He can do amazing things with the overhead. He’s a great athlete.” – Rajeev Ram

“Someone like Joe Salisbury, he’s a very athletic tennis player. Very good at getting back to smashes, good around the net.” – Neal Skupski

<a href=Joe Salisbury” />

Bruno Soares
“Bruno has an amazing overhead, I think. He doesn’t really miss, but it’s also his ability to actually hit winners off the smash, which isn’t always that easy to do. Very impressed with him in the time that we played together. I always thought he had an amazing smash.” – Jamie Murray 

Horia Tecau
“He’s very good with anything over his head. He’s got really good timing with both his serve and overhead. I think he’s got very good hand-eye coordination when it comes to anything over head. If you look at his serve, it’s nothing very explosive, it’s just well-timed and he gets effortless power into everything he does up there. The whole motion is actually perfect, I would say. Maybe there could be some more action angle-wise on his overheads, but when he’s there it’s a very clean shot and tough to defend.” – Robert Lindstedt

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Murray: 'I Was Getting Belted By Everyone'

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

Murray: ‘I Was Getting Belted By Everyone’

Former World No. 1 reflects on his win against Zverev

Andy Murray found good form to battle past 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev on Monday in three sets to reach the third round of the Western & Southern Open. But did the former World No. 1 expect to find such a level in the first tournament since the ATP Tour was suspended due to COVID-19?

“If you watched my practice sets and stuff and the build-up to the tournament, you would have said, ‘No’. I was getting belted by everyone. That had also been the case when I had been playing practice matches and practice sets back home. Couldn’t win one,” Murray said, cracking a smile. “But practice doesn’t really matter. It’s what obviously you do on the match court.”

Murray doesn’t shy away from showing his frustration when he makes mistakes on court, like when the 33-year-old let slip a break advantage in the third said against Zverev. But the wild card said that doesn’t reflect his self-belief during those tough moments.

“Sometimes I think outwardly if you looked at me, if you’re watching me on the court and you’re watching from the stands, you might think that I get really down on myself and that I’m very negative,” Murray said. “Outwardly I definitely am. But I think inside me I have a very, very strong self-belief and know that I can win matches like that. Although it doesn’t always appear that way when you’re watching me on the court, I always believe, even when outwardly it seems like I might be flagging or being negative.”

It’s still only a year and a half since Murray underwent his second hip surgery. He was able to hang in there physically with 23-year-old Zverev to pull out the two-hour, 31-minute battle.

“I was moving pretty well at the end of the match. Definitely had some lulls in there, like drop-offs in intensity, a bit of energy at times. It was ridiculously hot at the beginning of the match, unbelievably hot and humid,” Murray said. “I think I would have gotten through a five-setter… it would have been tough, for sure.”

This will also serve as a confidence-builder for Murray. Instead of walking off the court disappointed following a tough loss, he departed Grandstand after proving to himself that physically and mentally he could compete against the No. 7 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

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“Obviously it was a big one to get through,” Murray said. “If I had lost the match from being 4-1 up in the third, having opportunities and the way that I played to go down from 4-1 to 4-5 was obviously not very good. Made some bad mistakes. Stopped moving my feet. Probably a bit of nerves in there, a bit of fatigue. Just a bit of rustiness, as well, I think from not playing and having to close matches out against top players for a long time.

“It would have been a tough one to lose. I was satisfied obviously to get through it, get a win against a top player after having not played for such a long time.”

Zverev was also impressed with Murray’s level. It was the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting since the 2016 Australian Open, when the German was only 18.

“It’s pretty good,” Zverev said of Murray’s level. “I was very surprised at how well he’s moving. He’s moving quite fine, quite normally.

“It was a scratchy match. I think after six months off, it’s not easy. And he played a three-setter [in the first round], which I think helped him a little bit. Credit to him. He fought to the end and he deserves to win.”

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Preview and Schedule: Murray, Raonic To Renew Rivalry On Tuesday At W&S Open

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

Preview and Schedule: Murray, Raonic To Renew Rivalry On Tuesday At W&S Open

Djokovic to meet Sandgren for third time

Andy Murray and Milos Raonic contested six ATP Head2Head matches in 2016, including finals at Wimbledon and The Queen’s Club, but since then, their rivalry has been on hold.

That will change on Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open when the pair meet for the 13th time (Murray leads 9-3) with a spot in the quarter-finals on the line. Murray will be aiming to make it nine victories in a row against the Canadian, who claimed each of his three wins in the first four matches of the rivalry.

Murray has impressed with his movement and stamina in his opening two matches of the year. The former World No. 1 has survived back-to-back three set matches against Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev. Raonic’s route to the third round has been far more straightforward, with no sets dropped and 42 aces struck across victories against Sam Querrey and Daniel Evans.

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“I have played him a lot. [He has a] huge serve. I saw a bit of the match today against Dan Evans. He is serving well, playing aggressive, which is when he plays his best,” said Murray.

“We have played each other in some big matches. We played at the US Open, Cincinnati, Wimbledon final, the Australian Open. He has had his injury struggles as well, so it is nice to see him back.”

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will attempt to take his unbeaten start to the year to 20 matches when he faces Tennys Sandgren. The 2018 champion leads Sandgren 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, which includes a four-set victory at the US Open in 2018.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Sandgren will be hoping to add to his 3-2 record against Top 20 opposition this year. The wild card beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in a final-set tie-break to reach the third round at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time on Monday.

“That is why you do the training, that is why you put yourself out there, to test yourself,” said Sandgren. “It is a blessing to be able to play against someone who is going to be one of the all-time greats.”

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Defending champion Daniil Medvedev and last year’s runner-up David Goffin will return to action. Medvedev will continue his title defence against Aljaz Bedene in the opening match on Grandstand, while Goffin will meet Jan-Lennard Struff for a place in the last eight.

Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas will face American opposition in back-to-back matches on Court 10. Sixth seed Berrettini meets Delray Beach Open by champion Reilly Opelka, before Tsitsipas battles 2013 runner-up John Isner.

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am

[3] Daniil Medvedev vs [Q] Aljaz Bedene
WTA Match

Not Before 3:30 pm
[1] Novak Djokovic vs [WC] Tennys Sandgren
[WC] Andy Murray vs Milos Raonic

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA Match

COURT 17 start 11:00 am
WTA Match
[11] Karen Khachanov vs [8] Roberto Bautista Agut

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA Match
WTA Match

Not Before 7:00 pm
[Q] Marton Fucsovics vs Filip Krajinovic

COURT 10 start 11:00 am
Jan-Lennard Struff vs [7] David Goffin
WTA Match
[6] Matteo Berrettini vs Reilly Opelka
[16] John Isner vs [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas

Click here to view the full Day 4 schedule.

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Berrettini's Big Battle: Sixth Seed Scrapes Past #NextGenATP Ruusuvuori

  • Posted: Aug 25, 2020

Berrettini’s Big Battle: Sixth Seed Scrapes Past #NextGenATP Ruusuvuori

Italian will next play big-serving Opelka

Matteo Berrettini was on the verge of a routine win against #NextGenATP Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round of the Western & Southern Open. But instead, he needed to battle for two hours and 41 minutes on Monday evening to eliminate the 21-year-old qualifier 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5.

“It was really tough because I thought the match was over,” Berrettini said. “I hit an ace, and I didn’t even hear the let on match point. I was telling myself, ‘You know this sport, it’s like that. A few balls and everything can change.'”

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The sixth seed was centimetres away from closing out Ruusuvuori at 6-4, 5-4 ,40/30. The Italian crushed what appeared to be an ace out wide, but it was a let. The Finn, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw match in the opening round against American qualifier Sebastian Korda, significantly raised his level from there, showing his promise.

“I have to say since that moment Emil started to play better and better and he started to serve really good. I was struggling on my return games,” Berrettini said. “Then it was a fight. I think I was really good mentally to be there after all the chances that I had, especially in the first two sets and also after 5-4, all those match points. I’m really happy with my mental performance.”

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Berrettini was unable to convert four more match points with Ruusuvuori serving at 4-5 in the decider. But in his next return game, he broke for the third time to seal the match. Berrettini will next play big-serving American Reilly Opelka, who upset ninth seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6(4) earlier in the day.

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