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US Open Finalist Zverev Off To Strong Start At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Sep 27, 2020

US Open Finalist Zverev Off To Strong Start At Roland Garros

De Minaur, the 25th seed, upset by 2018 semi-finalist Cecchinato

Despite not playing a clay-court event before Roland Garros, Alexander Zverev didn’t seem bothered on Sunday evening in Paris. The sixth seed overcame a slow start to ease past Dennis Novak 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and five minutes.

“I won, which is important,” Zverev said, cracking a laugh. “Obviously I didn’t play any clay-court matches before coming in here, simply didn’t have the time.

“Happy to get through, because Dennis is
somebody that plays well on this surface. He can beat good players.”

The German has made a habit of going the distance at the clay-court Grand Slam, needing five sets in five of his previous eight victories at the tournament. But Zverev won five consecutive games from 2-5 down in the first set and never relinquished that momentum against the Austrian.

In the early going, Novak went after his shots and pushed Zverev back. Sometimes, the German is willing to camp well behind the baseline and wait his opponent out. But that was not the case on Court Philippe-Chatrier, as he stepped into the court whenever possible and used his booming serve to control points against the World No. 92.

Zverev won 83 per cent of his first-serve points and hit 37 winners in his triumph. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion is playing some of the best tennis of his career, fresh off reaching his first Grand Slam final at the US Open. The 23-year-old will next play home favourite Pierre-Hugues Herbert or American qualifier Michael Mmoh.

“I’m going to play hopefully seven matches here,” Zverev said. “Six more.”

Zverev will not have to face a seeded opponent until at least the fourth round after Marco Cecchinato raced to a 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-0 victory against 25th seed Alex de Minaur. The 2018 semi-finalist broke serve on eight occasions to move through to the second round in two hours and 51 minutes. 

Cecchinato has won four matches from qualifying without dropping a set in Paris. The Italian, who entered the clay-court Grand Slam championship with a 2-9 tour-level record this year, improves to 6-3 in main draw matches at Stade Roland Garros. He saved two set points in a tense first set.

“The biggest thing is I’m going through probably this rough patch, and everyone has it, but at the moment it’s what I’m dealing with,” said De Minaur. “I’m not happy with where I am, not happy with what I’m showing on court.

“It’s a little bit demoralising in itself that I can’t come out and play the tennis that I want to and that I know I can. It’s something that I’ve got to have a long hard look at myself in the mirror and figure out what’s happening, and basically just fix it and get back to where I want to be.”

Cecchinato will meet Juan Ignacio Londero for a spot in the third round. The Argentine outlasted countryman Federico Delbonis 6-4, 7-6 (1), 2-6, 1-6, 14-12 after four hours and 54 minutes in a match that featured 21 service breaks.

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Nishikori Takes Big Step Forward At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Sep 27, 2020

Nishikori Takes Big Step Forward At Roland Garros

Japanese star finds a way through

Kei Nishikori took another significant step on Sunday in his comeback from right elbow surgery almost one year ago. As the Japanese star sat back into his chair on Court 14, after a 1-6, 6-1, 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-4 victory over No. 32 seed Daniel Evans at Roland Garros, he breathed a huge sigh of relief.

In a match full of momentum shifts, Nishikori broke clear with a 3-0 lead in the decider, but fellow 30-year-old Evans responded and came within a point of breaking for a 4-3 advantage. Ultimately, it was Nishikori’s greater groundstroke power that earned him just his second win of 2020 over three hours and 49 minutes, when an aggressive backhand and forehand pinned Evans behind the baseline and forced the error in the final game. Evans had won 138 points to Nishikori’s 135 total points.

Nishikori, who returned to the ATP Tour earlier this month at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel, lost to Cristian Garin in the Hamburg European Open first round last week. He will next play Stefano Travaglia, who moved past Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes Travaglia won 48 of his 60 first-service points and struck 32 winners.

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Rublev Rallies, Earns First ATP 500 Crown In Hamburg

  • Posted: Sep 27, 2020

Rublev Rallies, Earns First ATP 500 Crown In Hamburg

Russian earns fifth tour-level crown

Andrey Rublev added a third trophy to his impressive 2020 collection on Sunday, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 at the Hamburg European Open.

The World No. 14 rallied from 3-5 down in the deciding set to earn his first ATP 500 trophy. Rublev was appearing in his second straight Hamburg final, after falling in three sets to defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili in last year’s championship match.

The Moscow native is the second player to win three or more tour-level titles this season. Rublev moves clear of two-time 2020 tournament winners Cristian Garin and Gael Monfils to take sole ownership of second place on this year’s titles leaderboard.

Multiple ATP Tour Titles In 2020

Player Titles Won Events Won
Novak Djokovic 4 Australian Open, Dubai, W&S Open, Rome
Andrey Rublev 3 Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg
Cristian Garin 2 Cordoba, Rio de Janeiro
Gael Monfils 2 Montpellier, Rotterdam

After winning one of his first three ATP Tour finals, Rublev has claimed victory in his past four championship matches. The 22-year-old won his home tournament in Moscow last year, before lifting back-to-back trophies at the start of 2020 in Doha and Adelaide. Rublev became the first man since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to start an ATP Tour season with consecutive trophies in the opening two weeks of the year.

Rublev has won 25 of his 31 tour-level contests this year. Only World No. 1 Novak Djokovic — who owns a 31-1 record in 2020 — owns more victories.

Most ATP Tour Wins In 2020

Rank Player Win/Loss Record
1 Novak Djokovic 31-1
2 Andrey Rublev 25-6
3 Stefanos Tsitsipas 22-9
4 Casper Ruud 20-9
5 Felix Auger-Aliassime 18-13

With his second win in three ATP Head2Head matches against Tsitsipas, Rublev becomes only the second Russian singles champion in Hamburg. The five-time ATP Tour titlist follows in the footsteps of former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko, who captured the title in 2009.

Tsitsipas was also aiming to capture his first ATP 500 title in his fifth final at the level. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion has reached three championship matches this year, highlighted by his second straight triumph at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

Rublev started the match at a high level, dictating rallies with strong returns and powerful forehands to establish a 2-1 lead. Despite dropping serve in the next game, as Tsitsipas increased his aggression from the baseline, Rublev attacked the Greek’s backhand to regain his advantage.

Tsitsipas played with patience and variety from the back of the court, moving his opponent out of position to extract forehand errors in the second set. The World No. 6 served with confidence to force a decider, winning 85 per cent of his first-serve points in the second set (17/20).

After trading breaks at 1-1 in the first set, Tsitsipas ripped multiple forehands to gain a second break and a 3-2 advantage. The five-time ATP Tour titlist served for the trophy at 5-4, but Rublev took advantage of errors from his opponent to turn the match in his favour.

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After a love service hold at 5-5, the Russian benefitted from Tsitsipas forehand errors to earn two championship points. Rublev screamed towards his player box and held his head in his hands when Tsitsipas committed only his second double fault of the final.

Rublev earns 500 FedEx ATP Ranking points and receives €79,330 in prize money. Tsitsipas collects 300 ATP Ranking points and €64,075.

Did You Know?
This was the first Hamburg final to feature two 22-and-under players since 2004. On that occasion, Roger Federer (22) defeated Guillermo Coria (22) in four sets to claim his second trophy at the event. Federer owns a tournament record four titles in Hamburg.

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Will Shapovalov, Felix Or Another #NextGenATP Star Make A Run In Paris?

  • Posted: Sep 27, 2020

Will Shapovalov, Felix Or Another #NextGenATP Star Make A Run In Paris?

There are 14 #NextGenATP players in the field

Fourteen #NextGenATP stars will try to make their mark at Roland Garros in the coming fortnight. ATPTour.com looks at seven of those players before the clay-court Grand Slam begins.

Denis Shapovalov
Shapovalov is the hottest #NextGenATP player leading into Roland Garros. The lefty, who has excelled under the guidance of former Russian star Mikhail Youzhny, cracked the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time Monday. The ninth seed, who is fresh off a run to the quarter-finals of the US Open and the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, will try to improve his 1-2 record at Roland Garros. Shapovalov plays French veteran Gilles Simon in the first round.

Felix Auger-Aliassime
The 19th seed is making his Roland Garros main draw debut. The Canadian reached last year’s Lyon final, but was unable to compete the following week in Paris due to a left adductor injury. Auger-Aliassime has shown great promise on clay, making his first big tour-level splash at the 2019 Rio Open presented by Claro, where he reached the final as the World No. 104. The 20-year-old faces Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round.

Alex de Minaur
De Minaur, who like Shapovalov made his maiden major quarter-final at the US Open, will try to play his best clay-court tennis yet in Paris. The Aussie is 2-10 at tour-level on the surface, but he is widely recognised as one of the quickest players on Tour. In cooler, slower conditions, it will be incredibly difficult for players to hit through the 25th seed, who opens his run against 2018 semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato.

Jannik Sinner
When Roland Garros was played in 2019, Sinner was outside the Top 200 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Now World No. 74, the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion is rapidly rising. The Italian faces a tough test in his Roland Garros debut against 11th seed David Goffin. However, not only did he win his only previous ATP Head2Head meeting against the Belgian, but he is fresh off a victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome.

Corentin Moutet
France’s top #NextGenATP hope Moutet is trying to back up strong Roland Garros performances from 2018 and 2019. The dynamic lefty, who is unafraid of the forecourt, reached the second round two years ago in Paris and the third round last year. The 21-year-old, who recently collaborated on a rap song with Shapovalov, plays Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino in the first round.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Few players on the ATP Tour are as fond of the drop shot as Davidovich Fokina, and the Spaniard will certainly use it on the slow Roland Garros clay. The Spaniard, who is at a career-high World No. 69, won three matches to qualify in Rome and also reached the fourth round of the US Open. Davidovich Fokina opens against fellow #NextGenATP player Harold Mayot, a French wild card.

Miomir Kecmanovic
The Serbian is flying high after lifting his first ATP Tour trophy in Kitzbuhel. World No. 40 Kecmanovic has established himself inside the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, and now he will try to cause an upset at Roland Garros against Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman, the 12th seed. Kecmanovic has made the second round at four of his past five majors, but he has never advanced further at a Grand Slam.

Did You Know?
The other seven #NextGenATP players competing at Roland Garros are Hugo Gaston, Sebastian Korda, Tomas Machac, Harold Mayot, Alexei Popyrin, Jurij Rodionov and Emil Ruusuvuori.

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Will Murray Get Roland Garros Revenge Against Wawrinka On Day 1?

  • Posted: Sep 27, 2020

Will Murray Get Roland Garros Revenge Against Wawrinka On Day 1?

Goffin and Sinner to clash on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Fans won’t have to wait long for the biggest first-round blockbuster in the Roland Garros draw, as former World No. 1 Andy Murray and 16th seed Stan Wawrinka highlight Sunday’s action in a battle of three-time Grand Slam champions.

Three years ago, Wawrinka needed four hours and 34 minutes to battle past Murray in an epic semi-final. Sunday evening on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Murray will try to get his revenge in his first clay-court match since that memorable encounter.

“Been a long journey to get back on Court Philippe-Chatrier,” Murray wrote before the draw in an Instagram post. “Three-and-a-half years since I played @stanwawrinka85 in a brutal five-set semi-final, which turned out to be the end of my hip.”

 

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Been a long journey to get back on Court Philipe Chatrier. 3 and half years since I played @stanwawrinka85 in a brutal 5 set semi final which turned out to be the end of my hip. It was a pleasure to be back @rolandgarros and a huge thank you to the @fftennis for giving me the opportunity to play here again 🙏 The new stadium with the roof looks amazing and all the changes and improvements they have made for the players is much appreciated👍 @castore_sportswear @headtennis_official #tennis #paris

A post shared by Andy Murray (@andymurray) on

In 2017, both Murray and Wawrinka were flying high, challenging for the Coupe des Mousquetaires. Now they are working back towards their top form after both underwent multiple surgeries (Murray’s right hip, Wawrinka’s left knee).

Wawrinka showed great form in Paris last year, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals, in which he fell short against Roger Federer in four tight sets. Murray will try to quickly adjust to moving on clay, a surface on which he owns two ATP Masters 1000 titles. Wawrinka has won four of their five ATP Head2Head meetings on clay, but Murray leads their overall series 12-8 and triumphed against the Swiss in last year’s Antwerp final.

This will mark the first time that Grand Slam champions have faced each other in a Grand Slam first round since Novak Djokovic defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero at 2012 Wimbledon.

View Full Sunday Order Of Play

The other men’s match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day One promises to be a cracker between 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin and reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner. 

The Italian won their only previous clash 7-6(7), 7-5 earlier this year in Rotterdam, but that match was played on an indoor hard court, which is completely different conditions than the outdoor Parisian red clay in September. Sinner has easy power from the baseline, but his Belgian opponent does well to use his footwork to take control of rallies and strategically counterpunch.

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev will play his first match since the US Open final against Austrian Dennis Novak. The German has reached back-to-back quarter-finals at this event, but he will have to be sharp in his first clay-court tournament of the year. Novak, Dominic Thiem’s close friend, is making his Roland Garros main draw debut. He will happily play aggressively in rallies if given the opportunity.

Two in-form players on clay will also meet on Court Simonne-Mathieu: 12th seed Diego Schwartzman and Kitzbuhel champion Miomir Kecmanovic. They have not previously met, but they will certainly engage in fun baseline rallies. Schwartzman was at his aggressive best to beat Rafael Nadal at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia en route to his first Masters 1000 final. But if he is not at his very best, Kecmanovic will be ready to take advantage.

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Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros

Another baseline duel to watch for will be 32nd seed Daniel Evans against two-time Barcelona champion Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star leads the pair’s rivalry 2-1, but he is still recovering from right elbow surgery, which he had last October.

It will be an interesting battle of patience on Court 14, as Evans will use his variety of shots — especially his backhand slice — to try to goad the former World No. 4 into making poor shot selections. Nishikori will try to balance waiting for the right moment to strike and attacking early enough to keep the Brit from going on offence.

#NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur, the 25th seed, will try to get off to a good start against 2018 semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato, who came through qualifying this year. De Minaur has triumphed in three of their four matches, but the clash Cecchinato won was their only meeting on clay (2019 Rome).

Big-serving John Isner begins his run against home favourite Elliot Benchetrit. The 21st seed has not lost in the first round in Paris since pushing Nadal to five sets in his 2011 opener. Dominik Koepfer, a Rome quarter-finalist who was the only player to win a set against Djokovic at the Foro Italico, plays Frenchman Antoine Hoang.

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