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From Opponents To Students: Felix & Zverev Learn From NHL MVP Draisaitl

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev clashed in the bett1HULKS Indoors final on Sunday. One day later, they both were taken to school.

Auger-Aliassime and Zverev got together in Cologne to learn from NHL Most Valuable Player Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers.

“It was good fun to meet Leon, the MVP this year in the league. [It is cool that he is] playing for a Canadian team, also,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I love to meet athletes from other sports, especially hockey. Myself, I play a little bit for fun in the winter over there [in Canada]. It’s cool to experience it, see them from up close, see how they do and it was impressive to see him take a couple shots at the net.”

Leon Draisaitl, Alexander Zverev
Photo Credit: bett1HULKS Championship/Paul Zimmer
Draisaitl has scored 93 goals and tallied 215 points for his team during the past two seasons, in which he has played 153 games. The hockey superstar was excited to interact with two of the world’s best tennis players. The trio shot pucks at small openings in a hockey net and also played tennis.

“They’re so good, they’re the best in the world. It’s not really my level here, but all in all it was a lot of fun,” Draisaitl said. “It’s fun to do it this way. Obviously as an athlete you always love watching other sports and it’s great to see those two. They’re obviously very successful. It was fun to meet them and [I] had a good day.”


German No. 1 Zverev enjoyed spending time with his countryman, Draisaitl, before beginning his run at this week’s bett1HULKS Championship. Zverev triumphed at the same venue last week.

“It’s always great to meet other athletes, especially somebody who has won the MVP in such a big sport as ice hockey and the NHL,” Zverev said. “It was great fun, but I’ll definitely stick to tennis.”

Auger-Aliassime and Zverev will put away the hockey sticks for now and refocus on tennis. Fifth-seeded Felix will play Egor Gerasimov in the second round, and Zverev will face John Millman or Fernando Verdasco.

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Sixth Time's The Charm For Johnson Against Cilic In Cologne

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

The sixth time was the charm for Steve Johnson against Marin Cilic on Monday. The American, who lost their first five meetings, battled past the former World No. 3 7-6(3), 6-4 to reach the second round of the bett1HULKS Championship in Cologne.

“I wouldn’t say [my game is] the perfect recipe [to beat] Marin. He’s beaten me five times pretty handily, so I’m just happy to get a win today, it works,” Johnson said on court after his victory. “Changed some things up in the strategy and every day is a new day out here. You have to give it your all.”

Cilic had won 12 of the pair’s 13 previous sets entering this clash. But he was unable to find much rhythm on the German hard court, making baseline errors in crucial moments.

“I thought I had to be a bit more aggressive, change up my style of play. Marin is an incredible player, he has been for 10, 15 years,” Johnson said. “I thought I made some good adjustments today, served well and served well in the important moments, which is always key. To not lose serve against Marin is goal number one.”


Johnson only converted one of nine break points he earned, but he saved all three break points he faced. The World No. 71 confronted a 0/30 deficit as he served for the match, but Johnson won four consecutive points to triumph after one hour and 58 minutes.

“I would have paid a handsome fee for a couple of aces,” said Johnson, who will next play Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Damir Dzumhur. “Got one, just got back to 30/30 and then played a couple points where I got lucky. Today things just went my way.”

Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka also advanced with a 6-4, 6-0 victory against Brit Kyle Edmund and eighth seed Adrian Mannarino cruised past Australian lucky loser Alexei Popyrin 6-2, 6-2. The Frenchman set a second-round clash against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who rallied past Indian Sumit Nagal 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-1.

The rest of the day’s matches ended in straight sets. Former Top 10 star Gilles Simon ousted Australian Jordan Thompson 6-3, 7-5 to earn a match against third seed Denis Shapovalov, and Belarusian Egor Gerasimov cruised past home favourite Daniel Altmaier 6-1, 6-0 to reach a second-round encounter against last week’s Cologne finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime. Altmaier recently reached the fourth round at Roland Garros.

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Tiafoe Roars On In Antwerp

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

American Frances Tiafoe made a good start to his first hard-court tournament since the US Open on Monday, beating sixth seed Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 7-6(6) to reach the second round of the European Open in Antwerp.

In their second ATP Head2Head meeting (tied 1-1), World No. 63 Tiafoe needed to work hard to advance in straight sets. The 22-year-old saved two set points in the second set, including one on Lajovic’s serve, to triumph after one hour and 21 minutes.

Tiafoe is in good form, winning his fifth ATP Challenger Tour title in Parma, Italy earlier this month. The American took advantage of two forehand errors from the Serbian to save both set points he faced. The 2018 Delray Beach Open by champion won 83 per cent of his first-serve points to move on in Belgium.


Tiafoe is competing in Antwerp for the fourth consecutive year. Last year, he advanced to the quarter-finals before losing a tough three-setter against Jannik Sinner. Tiafoe will next play Brit Daniel Evans or Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso.

Ugo Humbert, who reached the semi-finals at the ATP 250 last year, defeated Belgian wild card Kimmer Coppejans 6-4, 6-3 in 73 minutes. The Frenchman, who is at a career-high World No. 38, saved all three break points he faced and only lost two first-serve points (24/26).

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez also moved on with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against American Tommy Paul. The 39-year-old hit 13 aces and saved the only break point he faced.

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Moscow: An Event Dominated By Russian Stars

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

When the VTB Kremlin Cup held its inaugural edition in 1990, it became the first professional international tennis tournament in Russia.

Alongside the St. Petersburg Open, the ATP 250 is one of two tour-level events held in the country. The tournament would have been held this week if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. looks at five things to know about the event.

1) Regular Russian Success: Russian players have won 16 of the previous 30 singles editions of the VTB Kremlin Cup. Andrei Cherkasov claimed the opening two titles in the Russian capital and is one of nine Russian stars to win the ATP 250. Yevgeny Kafelnikov owns a tournament record five crowns (1997-2001) and Nikolay Davydenko lifted three trophies in Moscow (2004, 2006-07).

Alexander Volkov (1994), Igor Andreev (2005), Igor Kunitsyn (2008), Mikhail Youzhny (2009), Karen Khachanov (2018) and Andrey Rublev (2019) have all emerged victorious at the event. In doubles, Dmitry Tursunov won the trophy on three occasions (2007, ’10, ’15).

Nikolay Davydenko captured the VTB Kremlin Cup trophy on three occasions (2004, '06-'07).

2) Kafelnikov’s Five-Year Reign: No player has dominated the VTB Kremlin Cup quite like Yevgeny Kafelnikov. After falling to Goran Ivanisevic in the 1996 final, the former World No. 1 compiled 28 consecutive victories at the tournament.

Across five consecutive title runs between 1997 and 2001, the Sochi native dropped just four sets. His reign came to an end in the 2002 semi-finals, in which he was beaten by Dutchman Sjeng Schalken in straight sets. Kafelnikov made 12 consecutive appearances in Moscow from 1992 to 2003 and ended his career with a 40-7 tournament record.

3) Dzumhur Completes Russian Double: Four weeks after capturing his maiden ATP Tour trophy at the 2017 St. Petersburg Open, Damir Dzumhur returned to Russia to complete a memorable tournament double. The first player from Bosnia and Herzegovina to win an ATP Tour crown was forced to battle his way to his second trophy, winning four of his five matches in deciding sets.

After improving his 2017 record in Russia to 10-0 with a final victory against Ricardas Berankis, Dzumhur shared his thoughts on why his greatest weeks on the ATP Tour had come in the same country.

“I really don’t know, but there is something special here in Russia. Maybe the crowd,” said Dzumhur during the trophy ceremony, eliciting a roar from the fans.


4) Khachanov Realises Dream: After eight years without a Russian singles titlist, a record at the event, Karen Khachanov claimed the 2018 trophy to become the eighth Russian to win the Moscow event. After beating countryman Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals, Khachanov charged past Adrian Mannarino to win the championship match in just 54 minutes.

“[Winning in Russia] was one of the dreams I had when I was a kid,” said Khachanov. “Coming here [as a kid] I was asking top Russian players for autographs and dreaming one day to become a champion here. Today is the day and I am really happy. These are memories I will always keep in my head.”

5) Rublev’s Moscow Double: At the age of 18, Andrey Rublev joined forces with Tursunov to earn his maiden ATP Tour trophy in doubles at his home event.

They required Match Tie-breaks in each of their three matches, but held their nerves to claim the 2015 title. Rublev and Tursunov became the fourth all-Russian team to capture the trophy, following in the footsteps of Andreev/Davydenko (2004), Marat Safin/Tursunov (2007) and Kunitsyn/Tursunov (2010).

Four years after his doubles triumph alongside Tursunov, Rublev entered the singles event with an 0-6 record across qualifying and main draw matches in Moscow. As the sixth seed, Rublev dropped just four games in the final against Mannarino — as Khachanov had done the previous year — to win his hometown event on his 22nd birthday.

“I can’t find the right words for what it means to me to win here,” said Rublev. “I grew up with this tournament. I spent my whole childhood at the VTB Kremlin Cup. I will remember this tournament and this win for many years.”

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Stockholm: Where Tennis Royalty Has Found Regular Success

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

Alongside the Nordea Open in Båstad, the Stockholm Open is one of two Swedish ATP Tour events.

The ATP 250, first held in 1969, would have been played this week if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. looks at five things to know about the tournament.

1) Tennis Royalty In Stockholm: The Stockholm Open has welcomed the biggest stars in the sport to the Kungliga Tennishallen (Royal Tennis Hall) since its inaugural edition in 1969. Seven former World No. 1s have lifted the trophy at the two-time ATP 250 Tournament of the Year, including John McEnroe and Boris Becker.

McEnroe and Becker both triumphed on a record four occasions at the tournament. McEnroe won back-to-back trophies in 1978 and 1979 and repeated that feat with tournament victories in 1984 and 1985.

After winning his maiden trophy at the Kungliga Tennishallen in 1988, Becker claimed his remaining three trophies at the Ericsson Globe in 1990, 1991 and 1994. The tournament was held at that venue between 1989 and 1994, before returning north to the Kungliga Tennishallen in 1995.

2) Swedish Success: Swedish players have enjoyed consistent success in Stockholm. Home players have won 10 editions of the singles event and nine versions of the doubles tournament. Bjorn Borg (1980), Mats Wilander (1983), Stefan Edberg (1986-87), Thomas Enqvist (1995-96, ’99), Jonas Bjorkman (1997) and Thomas Johansson (2000, ’04) have all lifted the trophy in the Swedish capital.

Edberg (1987) and Bjorkman (2003, ’07-08) have also delighted home crowds with runs to the doubles trophy. The most recent home doubles champions were Elias Ymer and Mikael Ymer in 2016.

3) Borg, McEnroe Collide: Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe only met on 14 occasions throughout their careers, but two of those matches were held in Stockholm. They contested the first match of their ATP Head2Head rivalry in the 1978 semi-finals, with McEnroe earning a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

After contesting five-set finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1980, Borg and McEnroe met in their third final of the year in Stockholm. Borg gained revenge for his 1978 semi-final defeat, beating McEnroe by the same score to lift his only title at the event.

Bjorn Borg defeated John McEnroe to win the 1980 Stockholm Open.

4) Federer’s 2010 Run: Ten years after making his tournament debut in 2000, Roger Federer returned to Sweden in 2010 to capture the Stockholm crown. The Swiss earned wins against Taylor Dent, Stan Wawrinka and future coach Ivan Ljubicic to reach the championship match. With a final victory against Florian Mayer, Federer equalled Pete Sampras’ mark of 64 tour-level titles.

5) Creating New Stars: The honour roll in Stockholm is packed with past legends of the game, but it also features two of the brightest talents on the ATP Tour. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2018) and Denis Shapovalov (2019) both claimed their maiden ATP Tour trophies at the event and have since cracked the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time.


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Djere Soars Up FedEx ATP Rankings, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

No. 53 Laslo Djere, +21
The Serbian is close to breaking back into the Top 50 for the first time since 17 February 2020 after he captured his second ATP Tour title on Sunday with a 7-6(3), 7-5 victory over Marco Cecchinato in the Forte Village Sardegna Open final. The 25-year-old has risen 21 places to No. 53 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, 26 positions off his career-high of No. 27 on 10 October 2019. Read Sardinia Final Report

No. 8 Andrey Rublev, +2 (Career High)
The Russian continues his rise up the FedEx ATP Rankings and with his fourth ATP Tour crown of the year, he has moved firmly into contention for a Nitto ATP Finals spot. The 22-year-old jumped two spots to a career-high No. 8 after he defeated Borna Coric 7-6(5), 6-4 in the St. Petersburg Open final on Sunday. Rublev is 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). Read St. Petersburg Final Report & Watch Highlights

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 19 Milos Raonic, +2
No. 24 Borna Coric +3
No. 64 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, +7 (Career High)
No. 77 Marco Cecchinato, +26
No. 92 Pedro Martinez, +5 (Career High)

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Krawietz/Mies & Granollers/Zeballos Secure Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies and Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals. They are the third and fourth teams to clinch their spot at the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November.

Krawietz and Mies retained their Roland Garros crown with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares in their second Grand Slam championship final in Paris. This will be their second consecutive appearance in the Nitto ATP Finals.

The Germans are only the fourth team in the Open Era (since April 1968) to secure back-to-back Roland Garros trophies. The four-time tour-level titlists are the first pair to achieve the feat since Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in 2012.

Marcel Granollers, Horacio Zeballos

Granollers and Zeballos have excelled in their first full season as a team, leading the ATP Tour with three titles as a tandem (Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Rome). Granollers, the 2012 Nitto ATP Finals champion (w/Lopez), will be competing in the season finale with his third partner (also Dodig). This will be Zeballos’ debut in the prestigious event.

The Spanish-Argentine duo is 22-6 on the season. They made a splash on their team debut last August in Montreal, capturing the title. In addition to their three triumphs in 2020, they also made the Kitzbühel final.

Australian Open champions Joe Salisbury/Rajeev Ram and US Open titlists Pavic/Soares have also clinched their spots in London. Four doubles spots remain in the Nitto ATP Finals doubles field, with US Open finalists Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic next in line to qualify.

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Pep Talk From Rafa Carries Munar To Lisbon Crown

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

One week after clinching his 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal was back at home in Spain, spending his Sunday morning watching a final on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Nadal’s countryman and fellow Mallorca native Jaume Munar was competing in his first Challenger championship in nearly a year, in Lisbon, Portugal. Understanding the magnitude of the moment, the World No. 2 was ready to provide any words of wisdom that his young compatriot needed, ahead of the final.

“Rafa is someone I trust a lot and who helps me a lot,” said Munar. “Even today, before the final, I spoke to him. He told me to try to be calm, to follow my path and to continue my work like I’ve been doing all week.”

The advice paid off. Munar took a big step in his quest to return to the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, as the 23-year-old completed a dominant week at the Lisboa Belem Open. After dropping a combined seven games in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, Munar overcame home hope Pedro Sousa 7-6(3), 6-2 in the championship. The top seed defeated the second seed in one hour and 19 minutes to lift the trophy.

“What you see on the court is the result of a lot of hard work and Rafa knows that. I train at his academy [the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar] and my coach [Tomeu Salva] is his best friend, so I spend a lot of time with him on and off the court. It is a privilege.”

Photo Credit: Beatriz Ruivo

It marked the fourth straight year that Munar has emerged victorious on the ATP Challenger Tour, securing his fifth title in total. Nearly one year ago, the Spaniard prevailed on the clay of Montevideo, Uruguay, and his return to the winners’ circle in Lisbon was well worth the wait.

Munar, who ascended to a career-high No. 52 in the FeEx ATP Rankings in May 2019, is pushing towards a Top 100 return. He rises to No. 108 with his victory in the Portuguese capital.

“It was a very good week,” said Munar. “I’ve been playing well for a long time and I showed that when I’m feeling loose I play at a high level. This week I had good experiences and feelings and I will try to maintain this going forward.

“I have played several tournaments here, in Portugal. I try to come here as much as I can, because I love the country, the people and the way they treat me. The climate is similar to that of Mallorca and many people speak Spanish, so I feel a very nice connection.”

Munar is the third consecutive Spanish champion in Lisbon, after Tommy Robredo prevailed in 2018 and Roberto Carballes Baena triumphed a year ago.

Sousa, meanwhile, was competing in his second Challenger final in three weeks. Also the runner-up in Split, Croatia, the 32-year-old rises to No. 110 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“When you reach a final, it’s always a positive week,” said Sousa. “That gives me confidence, because I won a lot of matches. It was a good week for me. I’m playing well. I went to Roland Garros feeling good and then I made a final [in Split] and this week another final. It feels like my level is high at the moment.”

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Larry Turville, Co-founder Of Influential 1970s Satellite Circuit, Dies Aged 71

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2020

Larry Turville, co-founder of the WATCH (World Association of Tennis Champions) satellite tennis circuit, the first to award FedEx ATP Rankings points in the 1970s, has passed away due to cancer at the age of 71.

Turville, who graduated from Georgia Tech in Atlanta as a two-time All American in 1971, found breaking onto the main professional circuit difficult — like many others — so he decided to establish the WATCH circuit with his good friend, Armistead Neely.

When the FedEx ATP Rankings were first established in August 1973, Turville and Neely arranged for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) to award ranking points for the WATCH circuit. Every satellite tournament that has followed globally harks back to Turville and Neely’s grand vision.

Tournaments on the WATCH circuit — one of five satellite circuits across the United States — ran each summer for between five and 10 weeks, offering total prize money of $5,000 per event, with the winner taking home $3,000-4,000.

“There were a group of up-and-coming young players who didn’t have any tournaments to play in the winter,” Turville told The Washington Post in 1977. “So we decided to start our own circuit… We’re a training ground for inexperienced players. Most of the players we get have played local tournaments and college matches, but they haven’t had the experience of real tournament competition. Sometimes they’ll have to play two matches a day for three days in a row. It’s like the gladiator thing: throw ’em in the ring and see how they do. It’s good competition.”

Around 800 players from 40 different countries competed on the WATCH circuit that ran between 1971 and 1978, attracting the likes of Howard Schoenfield, Tim Gullikson and 1963 US Championships finalist Frank Froehling. There was a one-time fee of $25 to play on the circuit, a springboard to the main Grand Prix tour, and a $15 fee for each qualifying tournament. 

Turville, who stood at 6’7”, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, where his lawyer father, Edward, became the first President of the Florida Lawn Tennis Association in 1949 and was later a non-playing captain of the United States Davis Cup team. His brother, Ed Turville, was a member of the US junior Davis Cup team. Turville was the top junior in Florida, and he played at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open as a pro.

He attained a career-high ranking of No. 210 on 14 June 1976 and started coaching the men’s team at Rice University for more than 20 years from 1979, the year he handed over the running of the WATCH circuit to the USTA.

Turville’s passion and commitment to the sport for more than 50 years, extended to the development of the Florida Super Senior Grand Prix for players aged 55 and over. The format was reminiscent of the WATCH circuit, offering points and prize money.

From the age of 35, Turville also won 46 USTA age-group National singles and doubles championships and was once ranked No. 1 in the 60-and-over ITF World Rankings. In 2010, Turville beat Jorge Camina Borda of Spain to win the 60-and-over World Championships title held in Antalya, Turkey, and lost to France’s Bruno Renaulf in the 2017 World Championships in Orlando, Florida.

He was a member of T.C. Wolfsburg in Pforzheim, Germany for the past 10 years, helping them win nine titles.

Turville, a resident of Dunnellon, Florida, passed away with his wife, Kelli, by his side.

Larry Turville, tennis player, tournament director and coach, born 4 June 1949, died 10 October 2020.

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