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Bopanna/Middelkoop Claim Spot In Antwerp Semi-finals

  • Posted: Oct 23, 2020

Rohan Bopanna and Matwe Middelkoop completed the European Open semi-final line-up on Friday with a 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 triumph against Alex de Minaur and Matt Reid.

Bopanna and Middelkoop, who beat fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski in the first round, converted three of six break points to reach the semi-finals in 70 minutes. The Indian-Dutch tandem is making its team debut this week.


Bopanna and Middelkoop are both chasing their second ATP Tour crowns of the year. Bopanna began the year with success at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (w/Koolhof), while Middelkoop completed a title run at the Cordoba Open (w/Demoliner).

The unseeded pair will face home favourites Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen for a place in the final. The Belgians, who are yet to drop a set in Antwerp, beat Daniel Evans and Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-3 in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Klaasen/McLachlan Reach Cologne Doubles Final
Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan dented the chances of Nitto ATP Finals contenders Max Purcell and Luke Saville on Friday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over 74 minutes for a place in the bett1HULKS Championship final. Klaasen has a 16-20 record in tour-level finals, while McLachlan is 5-5 in title matches.

Purcell and Saville, this year’s Australian Open finalists, are currently No. 9 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings and are chasing a spot at The O2 season finale from 15-22 November. They are 75 points behind eighth-placed Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski (1,500 points).


Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald extended their winning streak to six matches by beating top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-2, 4-6, 10-3 in the quarter-finals over 87 minutes. They will next challenge Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers and two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies on Saturday.

Daniell and Philipp captured their first ATP Tour team title at last week’s Forte Village Sardegna Open (d. Cabal/Farah). They also reached the ASB Classic final in Auckland (l. to Bambridge/McLachlan) in January.

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Electing To Receive: Is The Risk Worth The Reward?

  • Posted: Oct 23, 2020

You just won the toss. Should you choose to serve or receive?

The answer to that question is directly connected to your immediate goal at the beginning of the match. Is it more important for you to take care of your own serve in the early stages, or are you focused on being the first to break? It is widely recognised that the serve is the most dominant shot in our sport, so why would players defer first use of it?

An Infosys ATP Insights deep dive into 127 main draw matches at Roland Garros this year uncovered that the player who won the toss chose to receive an overwhelming 62 per cent (79), and serve 38 per cent (48) of the time. The tournament champion, Rafael Nadal, and finalist, Novak Djokovic, both won the toss three times out of seven matches and chose to serve on each occasion.

It’s also interesting to note that Djokovic won the toss in the final and elected to serve. Semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas won the toss four out of six times and elected to serve every time, while the other semi-finalist, Diego Schwartzman, won the toss twice out of six times and chose to receive both times.

This analysis is only focused on the first four games of the opening set to uncover hidden trends early in the match that may be influenced by winning the coin toss. The data set was also divided into three outcomes from the first four games for whomever won the toss.

1. AHEAD – Was the coin-toss winner ahead after four games? (Game score = 3-1 or 4-0)
2. EVEN – Was the game score tied at 2-2?
3. BEHIND – Was the coin-toss winner trailing after four games? (Game score 1-3 or 0-4).

Winning The Toss & Receiving
The obvious reason for winning the toss and not electing to serve first is to gain an immediate break of serve while your opponent is not yet firing on all cylinders. It turns out that is exactly what happened. There were more breaks of serve in the first game of the match when the coin-toss winner chose to receive than any other game, at 30.4 per cent (24/79). All other return scenarios broke serve in the 27 per cent range.

So, if being the first to break serve and forge ahead early in the match is key to your strategy, the match metrics fully support winning the toss and electing to receive. The most likely outcome is that the game score will be even after four games at 2-2, but the percentages also state you will be ahead more than you will be behind (32% to 30%).

Outcome After Four Games – Winning The Toss & Receiving / Serving

Game Score Won Toss & Received Won Toss & Served
Even 38% 44%
Ahead 32% 31%
Behind 30% 25%

Part 2: Winning The Toss & Serving
Winning the toss and serving makes sense for a lot of players as they want to start the match strongly with a hold and then continue to serve from ahead for the rest of the set. When a player won the toss and elected to serve, he held 77.1 per cent (37/48) of the time in his opening service game, which was the highest of the four possible serve scenarios.

You are more likely to be even in the game score at 2-2 when you elect to serve than when you receive. What’s interesting is that players who won the toss and served were less likely to be behind after four games. When choosing to serve first, players were trailing 1-3 or 0-4 only 25% of the time. When electing to return first, that number jumped up to 30 per cent. Overall, being ahead was almost identical, only separated by one percentage point (32% to 31%).

The analysis uncovers the risk versus reward for winning the toss and electing to serve or receive. If you choose to receive, the chances are comparatively higher you will break first, but you also take on more risk that you will be trailing after four games. When you choose to serve, you are less likely to be trailing after four games which avoids potential scoreboard damage to kick off the match.

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Schwartzman On Comeback Win: ‘Tennis Is Crazy’

  • Posted: Oct 23, 2020

Diego Schwartzman recorded a memorable comeback victory to earn his spot in the bett1HULKS Championship semi-finals in Cologne on Friday.

The World No. 9 trailed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-6, 2-5, but battled back to claim a 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 victory in two hours and nine minutes. Davidovich Fokina served for the match on three occasions and held match point at 5-2, but was unable to convert his opportunity as he fired wide with a crosscourt backhand.


“Tennis sometimes is crazy,” said Schwartzman in an on-court interview. “Maybe today I got lucky to be here answering questions. But that is why I am here as well with this ranking, because I am always trying to find a way to win the matches. Today was not the exception to the rule.

“I was trying really hard, but obviously he is a great player and the first two sets I was just on court trying to do something but there was no chance. He was playing perfect and the first two sets he deserved to win, for sure.”

The win could prove crucial in Schwartzman’s bid to clinch one of the two remaining Nitto ATP Finals qualification spots. The second seed began the week in the ninth and final qualification position in the FedEx ATP Battle For London, 105 points ahead of 10th-placed Matteo Berrettini. The Italian will drop 200 points from his total on 9 November due to his round robin win at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals.

Schwartzman will attempt to reach his third ATP Tour championship match of the year when he faces Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals. Auger-Aliassime overcame Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-4 to earn a Tour-leading 14th indoor victory of 2020.

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Evans Saves M.P. To Eliminate Khachanov In Antwerp

  • Posted: Oct 23, 2020

Daniel Evans produced an impressive comeback to earn his spot in the European Open semi-finals on Friday. The British No. 1 saved match point to beat third seed Karen Khachanov 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 in Antwerp.

Evans served with power and precision in the second-set tie-break to escape danger at 5/6 and force a third set, before capitalising on a series of errors to establish an early lead in the decider. Evans dropped just two points behind his first serve in the final set (14/16) and moved up the court well to finish the match in two hours and 40 minutes.

Evans improves to 2-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Khachanov. Earlier this year, the 30-year-old claimed another three-set comeback win against the Russian at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.


The Brit has performed well against the biggest stars on the ATP Tour this year, compiling a 7-6 record against Top 20 opposition in 2020. Alongside two wins against Khachanov, Evans has also claimed two victories against Andrey Rublev and beaten David Goffin, Fabio Fognini and Alex de Minaur.

“It is nice to play these guys and it is why you play the sport, to play the better players” said Evans. “I am pretty clear on how I have to play to beat them and that is what I do. I try and execute that plan and I have done that pretty good against the better guys.”

Evans will face Ugo Humbert for a spot in the championship match. The Frenchman advanced to his third semi-final of the season with a 6-3, 7-6(2) win against Lloyd Harris of South Africa. Humbert, who captured his maiden ATP Tour trophy at the ASB Classic in January, won 83 per cent of first-serve points (29/35) to advance in one hour and 35 minutes.

Alex de Minaur converted four of five break points to beat Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-0 in 58 minutes. The 21-year-old, who came within two points of defeat in his opening match against Richard Gasquet, will face Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the final. The Bulgarian moved through to the semi-finals when Milos Raonic withdrew from the tournament with an abdominal strain.

Did You Know?
Evans is attempting to become the third consecutive British player to win the European Open. Kyle Edmund earned his first ATP Tour crown at the ATP 250 in 2018 and Andy Murray lifted his 46th tour-level title at the event last year.

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Sinner Stops Simon Streak For Cologne Semi-final Spot

  • Posted: Oct 23, 2020

Jannik Sinner recovered after losing eight straight games to work his way past former World No. 6 Gilles Simon on Friday afternoon at the bett1HULKS Championship.

The Italian wild card fought back from 0-2 down in the deciding set to win 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 over two hours and 33 minutes. He will next play top-seeded German Alexander Zverev or Adrian Mannarino of France in the Cologne semi-finals.

“He didn’t give me any angles and played down the middle. He was very solid and I tried to play more on his forehand,” said Sinner, in an on-court interview. “Losing eight games [in a row] can happen, but next time I need to find a solution earlier. He played far better than me in the second set. I got a little emotional in the third set, but I wanted to show that I wanted to win.”

Sinner regained the momentum by pushing Simon deep behind the baseline in the third game of the third set and decisively broke at 3-3. The 19-year-old saved three break points when serving for his 13th match win of 2020 and closed out with a crosscourt backhand volley.


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