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Kubot/Melo Continue Surge For London

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2020

Entering the week Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, who have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals as a team in three consecutive years, appeared in danger of missing a spot at the season finale, to be held in London from 15-22 November. But the Polish-Brazilian pair, which was in 11th place in the FedEx ATP Battle For London, is surging at the perfect time.

Kubot and Melo beat two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 on Saturday to reach the final of the Erste Bank Open. If the 2015 and 2016 Vienna champions add a third team title at the Austrian ATP 500, they will jump into one of the last four qualifying spot heading into the Rolex Paris Masters.


Kubot and Melo will face Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski for the title. The only previous ATP Head2Head meetings between the teams came at last year’s Winston-Salem Open, where Kubot and Melo triumphed 6-2, 6-3. The 500 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points that go to the winner could prove critical, as both teams are battling for a spot at The O2. By reaching the final, Murray and Skupski are into seventh place as they pursue their first Nitto ATP Finals qualifications as a tandem.

Kubot and Melo trailed Krawietz and Mies 5/7 in the Match Tie-break, but they won five of the final six points to advance after one hour and 27 minutes. The third seeds saved nine of the 10 break points they faced.

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Sonego Backs Up Djokovic Win, Earns Shot At Vienna Title

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2020

Lorenzo Sonego earned what he called, “the best victory of my life” on Friday against Novak Djokovic. His confidence showed on Saturday, when the World No. 42 played impressive tennis to reach the Erste Bank Open final.

The Italian, competing in his first ATP 500 semi-final in Vienna, defeated British No. 1 Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes to set a final clash against red-hot Russian Andrey Rublev.

“I’m really happy,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “After yesterday it was not easy playing against Evans because he has a good talent. He has a good backhand and it was not easy. But today I won and I am so happy.”

The 25-year-old lost in the final round of qualifying against Aljaz Bedene six days ago, but he entered the draw as a lucky loser when Diego Schwartzman withdrew. Sonego is the first lucky loser to reach the Vienna final since home favourite Andreas Haider-Maurer in 2010.

“It’s amazing. I started this tournament [by losing] in the qualies. It’s not easy after losing my [qualifying] match to win four matches and now I got to the final,” Sonego said. “I don’t have any expectations. I go with confidence and I [will] try to do my best tomorrow.”

Sonego had never previously played Evans, but he managed to outsmart one of the best tacticians on the ATP Tour. The Briton has eight Top 20 victories this season, many of which he has earned by getting players out of their comfort zone with his intelligent use of angles and spins. 


But Sonego set the tone with big hitting early to prevent Evans from finding his own rhythm, and the Italian consistently used his forehand drop shot throughout the match to keep his 30-year-old opponent off balance. Entering this event, Sonego had lost 10 consecutive tour-level matches on hard courts.

“This week I’ve improved my tennis for sure. I improved my return, my serve,” Sonego said. “I worked so hard and now I have the confidence to win this match and the experience. I needed to [get] some experience.”

Evans attempted to shake things up as the match wore on, even throwing in serve-and-volley attempts and charging the net early in points. But Sonego had an answer for everything Evans threw at him, winning 78 per cent of his service points and breaking serve three times to triumph.

Sonego will meet Rublev for the first time in their ATP Head2Head series on Sunday. Rublev is pursuing his fifth ATP Tour title of the season, while Sonego is trying to lift the second tour-level trophy of his career.

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Red-Hot Rublev's Roll Continues Into Vienna Final

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2020

The Andrey Rublev train is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The red-hot Russian was leading Kevin Anderson 6-4, 4-1 on Saturday when the two-time Grand Slam finalist retired due to a right leg injury. Rublev advanced to the Erste Bank Open final and he has now won 18 of his past 19 matches. The World No. 8 will play for an ATP Tour-leading fifth title of the season in Vienna.

“I don’t know why it’s going so well. I have such an amazing team, such amazing friends around me that always support me and probably that’s why I’m playing so good,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “I came here thinking that I have nothing to lose. I already did a really great season, so I came here to enjoy, to do my best, to fight for every point, every match, and now here I am in the final. I want to keep thinking in the same way and we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”


The fifth seed, who eliminated defending champion Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals, has not dropped a set this week, nor has he lost any of his 28 service games. Rublev has won two ATP 500 titles since the ATP Tour restarted in August and he will play Daniel Evans or Lorenzo Sonego for a third.

“I was not even thinking about it,” Rublev said. “I’m serving really well this week, so we’ll see. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Anderson struggled with his second serve early, hitting double faults on his first three second-serve points. The South African, who upset Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals, competed well from the baseline to hang with Rublev. But on the Russian’s third set point in the first set, Anderson hit his fifth double fault to give the Russian the set.

After one game in the second set, Anderson took an injury timeout to have his upper right leg examined. Immediately following that he got broken, missing a forehand approach shot into the net. At 4-1, Anderson decided he could not continue. This was his first ATP Tour semi-final since winning January 2019 when he triumphed in Pune.

Two spots remain in the singles field at the Nitto ATP Finals, and Rublev is next in line to qualify. The Russian is pushing for his first berth into the season finale, which will take place from 15-22 November at The O2 in London.

Did You Know?
Rublev has not lost a final this season (4-0). He began the season with two ATP Tour titles.

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Another Day, Another Comeback For Millman

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2020

After saving two match points against Tommy Paul on Friday, John Millman produced another comeback victory to reach his third ATP Tour final at the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

The fourth seed hit 16 winners and found success in extended rallies to defeat Frances Tiafoe 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and reach an ATP Tour championship match for the third straight year. Millman is attempting to capture his first tour-level trophy after runner up finishes in Budapest in 2018 and Tokyo last year.

“I definitely didn’t want to play three sets. I was pretty tired after yesterday’s match. It was tough out there today with really physical tennis,” said Millman in an on-court interview. “Frances is a top player. He is obviously so dangerous.”

Millman, who owns a 15-11 record in 2020, gained revenge for his loss to Tiafoe at last month’s US Open. The Australian won 79 per cent of second-serve return points (11/14) in the decider, where he rallied from a 0-3 deficit to record his third win in four ATP Head2Head clashes against Tiafoe.

”It is so hard to make finals in ATP events,” said Millman. “It has been a really unexpected surprise, but in every tournament you go out there to hopefully try and win it. I am glad I am in a position to [do that].”

Tiafoe was attempting to reach his first ATP Tour championship since the 2018 Millennium Estoril Open. The American earned wins against Corentin Moutet, second seed Miomir Kecmanovic and Egor Gerasimov and leaves Nur-Sultan with a 12-11 record this season.

Millman will face Adrian Mannarino for the trophy. The Frenchman saved four of five break points to beat Emil Ruusuvuori 7-5, 6-2 and reach his 10th ATP Tour championship match.

Mannarino is yet to drop a set this week in Nur-Sultan. The third seed dropped just seven games en route to the semi-finals with wins against Yuichi Sugita and Mackenzie McDonald.

Millman owns a 2-0 ATP Head2Head advantage against Mannarino. The Brisbane native recovered from a set down to beat Mannarino in Tokyo last year and at this year’s Western & Southern Open.

”Adrian Mannarino is an established Top 100 player… He is very comfortable on these courts,” said Millman. “He is a lefty [who is] so tough to break down… I am really glad that I can be in a position to play for the title.”

After reaching 3-3 in the first set, Tiafoe claimed three straight games to earn a one-set lead. The American broke serve in back-to-back return games, as he played with aggression on his forehand and capitalised on Millman forehand errors.

Millman broke late in the second set to force a decider. The 31-year-old battled from the back of the court in extended rallies and drove backhand winners up the line to win consecutive games from 4-4.

From 0-3 down in the third set, the World No. 45 dictated rallies with his forehand and dragged Tiafoe out of position to serve for the match at 5-4. Millman converted his first match point when Tiafoe fired a crosscourt backhand into the tramline.

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Nadal Learns Path To Paris Trophy

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2020

Just more than three weeks after capturing his 13th Roland Garros crown, Rafael Nadal returns to Paris as one of seven Top 10 players seeking their first title at the Rolex Paris Masters.

Nadal will attempt to tie Novak Djokovic’s record haul of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles with a championship run in the French capital. The Spaniard, who owns a 19-5 record at the final Masters 1000 event of the year, will open his campaign against Filip Krajinovic or Feliciano Lopez in the second round.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will attempt to claim his 1000th tour-level victory in his opening match of the tournament (999-201). If he reaches that milestone, he could face 15th seed Borna Coric in the third round for the fifth time in their ATP Head2Head series (tied at 2-2).

Nadal shares the top quarter of the draw with countryman Pablo Carreno Busta and eighth seed David Goffin. Carreno Busta, the recent US Open semi-finalist, will meet French wild card Hugo Gaston in the first round. Earlier this month, Gaston forced two-time Roland Garros runner-up Dominic Thiem to five sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev headlines the second quarter of the draw. The German, who won back-to-back titles in Cologne this month, will meet Miomir Kecmanovic or Nur-Sultan finalist John Millman in the second round.

Zverev is joined in a packed section of the draw by fifth seed Andrey Rublev. The in-form Russian is attempting to secure one of the two remaining qualification positions at the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will begin his title bid against Antwerp champion Ugo Humbert or Casper Ruud. Making his third straight appearance at the Masters 1000 event, last year’s quarter-finalist is joined in the fourth quarter by seventh seed Matteo Berrettini and 2014 runner-up Milos Raonic.

Third seed Daniil Medvedev will look to build on his quarter-final run in Vienna next week. The Russian could meet the man who beat him in Vienna in his first match: Kevin Anderson. Anderson will begin the tournament against a qualifier or a lucky loser in the first round.

Sixth seed Diego Schwartzman also appears in the third quarter of the draw. The Roland Garros semi-finalist will face home favourite Richard Gasquet or Taylor Fritz in the second round. If Schwartzman makes it through that match, he could face 2018 champion Karen Khachanov in the third round.

Other notable first-round matches include Stan Wawrinka and Daniel Evans’ second meeting in four weeks. At the St. Petersburg Open, Wawrinka saved three match points to extend his unbeaten ATP Head2Head record against the Brit to 4-0. Evans is in good form, set to compete in the Vienna semi-finals on Saturday.

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Marin Cilic will also meet in the first round. Auger-Aliassime will be making his tournament debut, while Cilic will be appearing at the Accor Arena for the 12th time. The former World No. 3 achieved his best result in 2016, when he reached the semi-finals.

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Purcell/Saville Claim Spot In Nur-Sultan Final

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2020

Nitto ATP Finals contenders Max Purcell and Luke Saville rallied from a set down to reach their second final of the year at the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

The Aussies overcame Ben McLachlan and Franko Skugor 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 to advance in 75 minutes. Purcell and Saville dropped just three points behind their first serves in the second set (16/19) and returned with skill in the Match Tie-break to improve to 13-9 at tour-level this season.


The Australian Open finalists are bidding to clinch one of the remaining four qualification spots for the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November. Purcell and Saville started the week in ninth position in the FedEx ATP Battle For London.

The second seeds will face Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen for the trophy. The top seeds reached their first championship match of 2020 with a 7-6(4), 7-6(3) victory against Marcelo Arevalo and Tomislav Brkic.

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Djokovic: ‘He Just Blew Me Off The Court’

  • Posted: Oct 30, 2020

Novak Djokovic suffered just his third loss of the season on Friday at the Erste Bank Open against Italian Lorenzo Sonego, but the World No. 1 was in good spirits after the match.

“He just blew me off the court, that’s all,” Djokovic said. “He was better in every segment of the game… it was a pretty bad match from my side, but amazing from his side. He definitely deserved this result.”

The Serbian fell to 39-3 in 2020, but he is still an overwhelming favourite to clinch the year-end No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking, which will be presented at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he is a five-time champion.

“Looking forward to it. It’s the final tournament of the year. Obviously I’ll do my best to prepare well and have a shot at the title,” Djokovic said. “[The] best eight players in this season are going to be there. After Slams it’s probably the strongest event we have on our Tour, maybe the strongest because of the field of players. Every match that you get to play is against a top eight player in the world.

“I’ve had plenty of success in that arena [The O2]. It’s obviously going to be different without the crowd, but hopefully I can have a strong finish.”


Had Djokovic won his second Vienna trophy (also 2007), he would have tied Pete Sampras’ record by guaranteeing a sixth year-end No. 1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“I came here with the intention to try to earn more points and secure the [World] No. 1 at the end of the year,” Djokovic said. “I’m happy, I’m pleased [that] I’m healthy and hopefully I can have a strong finish in London.”

More than anything else, Djokovic was complimentary of Sonego’s performance in Austria, where the lucky loser earned his first Top 10 win by upsetting the Serbian.

“I move on completely fine with today’s result and [I am] looking to the next chapter.”

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Sonego Stuns Djokovic In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 30, 2020

Lorenzo Sonego stunned World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 on Friday for the biggest win of his career, advancing to the Erste Bank Open semi-finals.

“For sure it’s the best victory of my life. Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing.”


Five days ago, the Italian lost a three-setter in the final round of Vienna qualifying against Aljaz Bedene. The 25-year-old, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser replacing Diego Schwartzman, has not lost a set since, playing his top level to shock the 81-time tour-level titlist after 68 minutes.

“I played the best match in my life,” Sonego said. “I’m so happy for this.”

Lorenzo Sonego
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Djokovic let slip a chance to guarantee his spot atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings this week. Had the Serbian won the Vienna title, he would have tied Pete Sampras’ record with six year-end No. 1 finishes. He falls to 39-3 on the season. 

Sonego had not won a set in three previous matches against Top 10 opponents. But the World No. 42 held his nerve to become the first lucky loser to defeat Djokovic (1-12). The Italian didn’t earn his first FedEx ATP Ranking point until he was 19 and on Friday, just more than six years later, he had the Vienna crowd on its feet in awe of his performance.

“I was focussed on my tennis. Today I played good. I served so good, I returned good and I played the best tennis and moved so good the ball,” Sonego said. “I like it here, I like the conditions. It’s so fast for my serve. All good today.”

The top seed earned six break points in two games in the second set, but Sonego rose to the occasion to maintain his advantage. It seemed Djokovic needed one momentum-shifting point to dig his teeth into the match, but Sonego didn’t allow that with his consistently high level.

Djokovic made an unusually high number of unforced errors, which gave Sonego confidence. The Serbian dumped a neutral forehand into the net to relinquish a service break in the first game of the match and that set the tone.

“He just blew me off the court, that’s all,” Djokovic said. “He was better in every segment of the game… it was a pretty bad match from my side, but amazing from his side. He definitely deserved this result.”

Sonego, who won his lone ATP Tour title in Antalya last year, began the week with a 6-16 tour-level record on hard courts. But the unseeded Italian looked comfortable playing aggressive tennis against one of the best defenders in history, showing no fear with his heavy forehand.  

Djokovic got off to a slow start in the second set, once again missing a forehand into the net on break point in the first game. With Sonego serving at 2-1, the World No. 1 earned three break points to get back on serve and put pressure on the Turin-native. But after Djokovic let slip that opportunity, Sonego put his foot on the gas in the next game to take a double-break advantage with a curling forehand passing shot down the line on the dead run. 

Sonego won 80 per cent of his first-serve points against one of the world’s best returners and he earned 53 per cent of his return points to set a semi-final clash against Daniel Evans. The British No. 1 battled past 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 after two hours and 43 minutes.

“It feels great. Really happy to come through the match, it was a difficult match,” Evans said in his on-court interview. “I played very well and just happy to serve it out under quite a bit of pressure, so I’m really happy.”

Evans, who made the Antwerp semi-finals last week, will try to reach his third ATP Tour final (2017 Sydney, 2019 Delray Beach). The 30-year-old has never played Sonego.

“I saw his match tonight. All the matches in this tournament are very difficult,” Evans said. “There are some great players here and I’m just very happy to have won and rest tonight, have a good sleep.”

Did You Know?
Sonego is the first Italian to beat a World No. 1 since Fabio Fognini beat Andy Murray at the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

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