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Herbert Does Double Duty In Cologne, Wins Doubles Title With Mahut

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2020

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut captured their 17th tour-level title as a team on Sunday, defeating top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 6-4 to win the bett1HULKS Indoors in Cologne.

It was a busy day for Herbert, who won his final-round qualifying match for the bett1HULKS Championships — held at the same venue — earlier in the day.

“I’ve had a busy weekend I would say and I’m really happy,” Herbert said. “We started again after six months at Roland Garros and being able to share the court with him here, it’s just nice. It’s always a pleasure.

“Being able to play together, enjoy on court and win a tournament, it’s just amazing.”

Herbert and Mahut have now won multiple titles together in six consecutive seasons. Earlier this year, they triumphed in Rotterdam.

This was their fifth ATP Head2Head team clash against Kubot and Melo, whom they lead 3-2. It was the first time the two veteran duos met in a final, with the Frenchmen saving all four break points they faced.

“When we were one set up I think we were starting not to be more confident, but more relaxed,” Mahut said. “I think we played a high-level game at the end of the match.”

It was a difficult match against a team that has competed together in the Nitto ATP Finals in each of the past three years. But the second seeds managed to secure one break per set to lift the trophy.

“It’s always tough against them. We’ve played them many times,” Mahut said. “It’s always difficult. We know each other pretty well. This time [the match] was on our side. We’re really happy with the way we played.”

Herbert and Mahut earned a share of €8,840 and 250 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points, while Kubot and Melo pocketed a split of €6,450 and 150 points each.

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Rublev Reigns In Russia

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2020

Andrey Rublev added another chapter to his 2020 success story on Sunday, overcoming Borna Coric 7-6(5), 6-4 to win the St. Petersburg Open, lifting his fourth ATP Tour trophy of the year.

The Russian won 80 per cent of his service points (49/61) in a dominant one-hour, 39-minute serving performance. Rublev extended his winning streak to 10 matches on home soil, having lifted the VTB Kremlin Cup trophy in Moscow last year.

“I feel happy. This one is really special for me,” Rublev said. “I think this one is the most special for me, for the moment, and will always be special.”

The 22-year-old became the fifth Russian player to capture the St. Petersburg crown, following in the footsteps of Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1995), Marat Safin (2000-’01), Mikhail Youzhny (2004) and Daniil Medvedev (2019).

With his fourth ATP Head2Head win against Coric (4-0), Rublev increased his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. The six-time tour-level champion adds 500 points to his FedEx ATP Battle For London total and is now in pole position to become the seventh man to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The Russian is 249 points ahead of ninth-placed Diego Schwartzman, who occupies the final qualification position, and 354 points clear of 10th-placed Matteo Berrettini. Berrettini will drop 200 points from his total on 9 November due to his round-robin win at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals.

“I know I have a really good chance to qualify, but still it is not 100 per cent yet,” Rublev said. “This year, I didn’t expect that I would have a chance, so in the end nothing is going to change for me. Even if I don’t make it, the season was really good for me anyway. If I make it, it is really good news. [It is] one chance to compete against the best players, to do my best.”

FedEx ATP Battle For London

Ranking Player Points
8 Andrey Rublev 3,429
9 Diego Schwartzman 3,180
10 Matteo Berrettini 3,075
11 Gael Monfils 2,860
12 Denis Shapovalov 2,830

Rublev has found consistent success in 2020. The World No. 10 opened the season by becoming the first man since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win consecutive trophies in the first two weeks of the year (Doha, Adelaide). Since the return of the ATP Tour, Rublev has compiled a 19-4 record and clinched ATP 500 crowns in Hamburg and St. Petersburg.

“I am proud and I am happy with the way I am performing,” Rublev said. “I try not to think about it. I try to focus on the things I still need to improve, because there are so many things I can improve and I have to improve if I want to be at the same level or even better.”

Rublev is now level with fellow four-time 2020 titlist Novak Djokovic atop of the 2020 ATP Tour trophies leaderboard. The 6’2” right-hander is also in second place on the ATP Tour wins list this year with a 34-7 mark, trailing leader Djokovic by only three wins (37-2).

“On Friday, I lost my grandmother so… it was really tough,” Rublev said. “I am happy that this is the way I finished the tournament and it is a really special tournament for me.”

Coric was attempting to lift his first ATP Tour trophy since the 2018 NOVENTI OPEN in Halle. The Croatian finished as runner-up in St. Petersburg for the second straight year after falling to Medvedev in last year’s final.

“When I go back home I can train even more, I can train harder,” Coric said. “Next year I will come back for sure and hopefully I can win [the title].”

In a set that featured just one break point, Rublev rallied from 2/5 down in the tie-break to snatch the first set. The Russian covered his baseline well and focussed his attack on Coric’s forehand to extract six errors and move one set from the title.

Rublev switched his focus to Coric’s backhand to earn the first break of the match and continued to dominate his service games to maintain his advantage. The Moscow native, who did not face a break point throughout the championship match, charged to the net to claim the title with a forehand drive volley.

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Carlos The Conquerer: 17-Year-Old Alcaraz Enters Record Books With Alicante Title

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2020

It has been a meteoric and historic rise for 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. With every victory on the ATP Challenger Tour, the Spaniard further cements his name in the record books. On Sunday, Alcaraz once again found himself in elite company.

The teenager claimed his third Challenger title and second in as many weeks, prevailing on home soil in Alicante. Competing at his home base of the Equelite Ferrero Academy, in the town of Villena, Spain, he overcame countryman Pedro Martinez 7-6(6), 6-3 to emerge victorious.

With his third Challenger crown, Alcaraz is carving an unprecedented path up the FedEx ATP Rankings. At the age of 17 years and five months, he is the youngest player to lift trophies in consecutive weeks and the second-youngest to claim three titles in Challenger history. Only Richard Gasquet was younger (16 years, 10 months) when he triumphed for the third time in Napoli in 2003.

Moreover, Alcaraz joins an exclusive club of players who have won at least three titles at the age of 17 & under. Gasquet, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Felix Auger-Aliassime are the only other names on that list.

After opening his 2020 campaign just inside the Top 500, Alcaraz is blasting his way to the precipice of a Top 100 breakthrough. He is projected to soar to a career-high No. 136 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.

Youngest To Win Three Challenger Titles

Age Player
Third Title Won
16 years, 10 months Richard Gasquet Napoli 2003
17 years, 5 months Carlos Alcaraz Alicante 2020
17 years, 10 months, 9 days Felix Auger-Aliassime Lyon 2018
17 years, 10 months, 13 days Juan Martin del Potro Segovia 2006
17 years, 11 months Novak Djokovic San Remo 2005

There are few players as young as Alcaraz who can demonstrate the poise and maturity of a veteran. The Murcia native is as unflappable as they come, especially with the pressure on and his back against the wall.

After registering consecutive wins from a set down to reach the final, Alcaraz once again dug in his heels with his back against the wall on Sunday. He would break right back when Martinez served for the first set at 5-3 and saved a pair of set points 6/4 in the ensuing tie-break. In was one-way traffic from there, as Alcaraz sprinted to a 6-3 second set, prevailing after one hour and 44 minutes.

How good has Alcaraz been since the tour’s COVID-19 restart in August? Not only is he the first player to secure 20 match wins, posting a 20-3 record, but he also owns three titles in just three months. After claiming his maiden crown in Trieste, Italy, he added a second trophy in Barcelona last week, before going back-to-back on home soil in Alicante.

Two stats stand out above the rest: Not only did Alcaraz extend his staggering record in tie-breaks to 14-1 in his young career, but he remains a perfect 9-0 in 2020. In addition, he concludes the week with an 11-2 mark in deciding-set matches since the circuit resumed on 17 August.

Alcaraz will carry his 10-match win streak to Marbella for the Casino Admiral Trophy, set to commence in one week.

Challenger Match Wins Leaders (since COVID-19 restart on 17 Aug)

Player Win-Loss Titles Won
(1) Carlos Alcaraz
20-3 3
(2) Aslan Karatsev 15-1 2
(T3) Oscar Otte 12-3 1
(T3) Lorenzo Musetti 12-4 1

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Serbian Success: Djere Captures Sardinia Crown

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2020

Laslo Djere became the third Serbian to capture a tour-level trophy in 2020 on Sunday, claiming his second ATP Tour crown with a 7-6(3), 7-5 victory against Marco Cecchinato at the Forte Village Sardegna Open.

The 25-year-old joined countrymen Novak Djokovic (4) and Miomir Kecmanovic (1) to take his nation’s trophy haul to six titles this year after two hours and 19 minutes. Serbian players own a 6-1 record in championship matches this season and Djokovic also led Team Serbia to the inaugural ATP Cup trophy in January..

Serbia’s 2020 Success Story

Champion Title(s) Event(s)
Team Serbia 1 ATP Cup
Novak Djokovic 4 Australian Open
W&S Open
Miomir Kecmanovic 1 Kitzbühel
Laslo Djere 1 Sardinia

Eleven of Djere’s 13 tour-level victories this year have come on clay. Prior to his title run in Sardinia, the World No. 74 reached semi-finals on the surface in Cordoba and Kitzbühel. Djere has captured both his ATP Tour trophies at clay events, with his only previous triumph coming at last year’s Rio Open presented by Claro.

Cecchinato was attempting to become the first Italian to triumph at a home ATP Tour event since Filippo Volandri’s 2006 title run in Palermo. The 28-year-old saved match point in his first-round match against Gianluca Mager en route to his fourth tour-level championship match (3-1).


After trading breaks to open the final, a tie-break was required to decide the outcome of the first set. Djere concentrated his attack on Cecchinato’s backhand, extracting four errors in the opening six points to gain an commanding lead. The Serbian closed the set with a pinpoint backhand winner up the line.

Djere began to dictate rallies with his forehand in the second set and held two game points for a 3-0 lead, but Cecchinato continued to battle from the back of the court to find his way back into the match. Despite committing an increased number of errors, Djere maintained his forehand aggression to move closer to victory. Cecchinato attempted to close the net when serving at 5-6, but Djere found the target with two passing shot winners and a deep backhand return to take the title.

Djere earned 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and €13,320. Cecchinato collected 150 points and €11,130.

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Zverev Beats Felix In Cologne Final, Wins Title For Fifth Consecutive Season

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2020

Alexander Zverev won an ATP Tour title for the fifth consecutive year on Sunday, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 to triumph at the bett1HULKS Indoors.

“I had a very tough final in New York and the next final I played here I wanted to come out and obviously play my best tennis, finish the match,” Zverev said during the trophy ceremony.

Zverev and Auger-Aliassime were meeting in the first of what might be many finals, but it was the German who proved superior to take a 3-0 lead in their ATP Head2Head series. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion has not yet lost a set in their budding rivalry.

“Felix, you’re an unbelievable player. I know it doesn’t mean much right now, but I’m sure you are not only going to win one title, you’re going to win multiple, multiple titles in your career, bigger titles than this,” Zverev said. “We know each other incredibly well… you’re going to be lifting a winner’s trophy very soon.”

Alexander Zverev
Photo Credit: Christof Koepsel/Getty Images
The World No. 7 has now won three tour-level trophies in Germany and he was dominant for most of the week in his home country. Zverev only lost one set en route to the ATP 250 title, showing an impressive balance of offence and defence to defeat Auger-Aliassime after one hour and 20 minutes.

“It was a good match. [In] the final I played my best tennis, as you should do in a final,” Zverev said. “The week in general was very positive for me. Being back in Germany after over a year was very nice for me.”

Zverev, who is now a 12-time tour-level champion, has won 10 of his past 11 matches on hard courts following his run to the US Open final. He is also the first German to triumph on the ATP Tour this year. 

While Auger-Aliassime was able to power through the stout defences of second seed Roberto Bautista Agut in their semi-final Saturday, the 20-year-old couldn’t find the same success against the home favourite. Zverev did well to make the Canadian go for more from neutral positions, leading to errors on key points.

Zverev also gained more of an advantage behind his first serve, winning 80 per cent of those points compared to 59 per cent for Auger-Aliassime. The top seed held to love four times, while the third seed did so once. It was an uphill battle for Auger-Aliassime after he was broken in his first service game with a miss into the net. That set the tone for their clash.


Zverev’s only hiccup came when serving with a double-break advantage in the opener, hitting back-to-back double faults to concede one of those breaks. But the 23-year-old remained calm and that paid dividends. He threw both arms in the air after Auger-Aliassime missed a forehand long to end the match.

The Canadian is now 0-6 in ATP Tour finals. Auger-Aliassime was trying to become the fifth first-time winner in 2020.

“I just played bad from start to finish,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Zverev earned €24,880 for his efforts throughout the week and he adds 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points to his total. He has already qualified for a fourth consecutive appearance in the Nitto ATP Finals. Auger-Aliassime pocketed €19,790 and 150 points.

Both players will remain in Cologne to compete in next week’s bett1HULKS Championships. Zverev will again be the top seed and Auger-Aliassime will be seeded fifth.

“Quite happy that there are back-to-back weeks here at this indoor [venue],” Zverev said. “Next week is going to be difficult, but I’m looking forward to it already.”

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Melzer/Roger-Vasselin Claim First Team Title In St. Petersburg

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2020

Second seeds Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin captured their first team title on Sunday at the St. Petersburg Open, defeating Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop 6-2, 7-6(4) to lift the ATP 500 trophy.

The Austrian-French team has now soared into contention in the FedEx ATP Battle For London with the 500 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points they earned with their efforts in Russia. Both players have competed in the prestigious season finale with different partners, but they are trying to earn a spot at The O2 in London in their first season as a pair.

“We had a talk exactly this week last year and we decided to try to play the 2020 season,” Melzer said. “I’m happy that with four tournaments left, we still have a chance to go to London. That was our goal when we started the year and it’s still possible, so I’m very happy about that.”

Melzer and Roger-Vasselin first played together at the 2012 Winston-Salem Open, when they both still focussed on singles. They didn’t compete as a team again until last year’s Rolex Paris Masters and this year they have played together exclusively.


The second seeds rallied from a set down in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, but they weren’t pushed to a Match Tie-break in the championship match. Melzer and Roger-Vasselin won 81 per cent of their second-serve points in the final, only losing one point behind their second delivery in the second set. On clay, they switched returning sides, with Roger-Vasselin taking the ad side. But this week the Frenchman went back to the deuce side, which paid dividends.

“It’s all about communication. When we started together, we both knew we were good players,” Roger-Vasselin said. “We know each other very well on the court. We know what’s going to work, what’s not going to work. So this is why we know exactly what is the best for us to perform.”

Melzer and Roger-Vasselin broke four times from nine opportunities to triumph after one hour and 19 minutes. They saved three of the five break points they faced to earn 500 points each and a split of $35,750.

Demoliner and Middelkoop fell short of winning their third ATP Tour title as a team, but they leave St. Petersburg with 300 points and a share of $28,410.

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