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Demon Delivers! De Minaur Edges Dimitrov In Antwerp

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

Alex de Minaur held his nerve in a tense victory over Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday evening for a place in the European Open final.

The eighth-seeded Australian weathered some blistering shot-making from fourth seed Dimitrov to triumph 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4 in two hours and 48 minutes. He will next challenge France’s Ugo Humbert in his seventh ATP Tour title match (3-3 record).

De Minaur, who has a 10-7 record on the season and is through to his first tour-level final in 12 months (2019 Swiss Indoors Basel), was slightly stronger on serve in the deciding set, which featured three straight service breaks from 3-3.


De Minaur won the first five points of the first-set tie-break, after both players struggled to hold serve. Dimitrov, who won 44 per cent of his first-service points in the 55-minute opener, stepped up in the second and played a solid tie-break, winning the first six points.

When De Minaur broke for a 4-3 lead in the decider, the 21-year-old looked on course for victory, but Dimitrov broke back to love only to make three groundstroke errors at 4-4. De Minaur then took his time when serving for the match.

The 29-year-old Dimitrov had been bitting to reach his 16th ATP Tour final (8-7), the last of which came in February 2018 at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. to Federer). The Bulgarian is now 16-10 on the year.

De Minaur have not met Humbert before. Humbert needs three hours and 13 minutes to beat Daniel Evans in the first semi-final on Saturday.

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Zverev Closes In On Cologne Double

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak in Cologne to seven matches on Saturday with a 7-6(3), 6-3 semi-final victory against Jannik Sinner at the bett1HULKS Championship.

The World No. 7 closed the match in fine form on serve, as he won 82 per cent of first-serve points in the second set (18/22) to prevail in one hour and 48 minutes. Zverev is attempting to clinch two titles in as many weeks in Cologne after lifting the bett1HULKS Indoors trophy at this venue last week.

With his 22nd win of 2020, Zverev gains revenge for his most recent loss. Earlier this month, the US Open runner-up lost his first ATP Head2Head contest against Sinner in the Round of 16 at Roland Garros.

“I was playing a player I just lost to at Roland Garros. That was still in the back of my head. I was not going to lose today,” said Zverev in an on-court interview.

The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion, who will compete at The O2 for the fourth consecutive year from 15-22 November, will face Diego Schwartzman in his sixth championship match on German soil (3-2). Schwartzman outlasted Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 31 minutes to reach his third final of 2020 (0-2). Zverev trails Schwartzman 1-2 in their ATP Head2Head series.

Sinner was attempting to reach his first final on the ATP Tour. The World No. 46 earned victories against James Duckworth, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Gilles Simon to reach his first ATP Tour semi-final since the 2019 European Open in Antwerp.

“He is an up and coming superstar. I think he is going to be Top 10 very shortly. I think he is going to be competing for the biggest tournaments in the world,” said Zverev.


The Next Gen ATP Finals titlist returned with depth and played with great variety to open a 4-1 lead in the first set, but Zverev took advantage of errors and played with aggression on his backhand to get back into the set. With both players struggling to hold serve, Zverev moved to net and struck powerful forehands in the tie-break to claim a one-set advantage.

Zverev increased his lead early in the second set with passing shot winners as Sinner attempted to shorten points by moving to the net. The Hamburg-born star closed the match strongly, holding to love in the final game with powerful serving.

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Humbert Saves 4 M.P. In Antwerp Comeback For Final Spot

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

France’s Ugo Humbert lived dangerously on Saturday when he saved four match points to beat Daniel Evans for a place in the European Open final.

Humbert, who saw a 3-0 lead evaporate in the second set, was forced to recover from 3/6 and 6/7 down in the tie-break by producing superb firepower en route to a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over Evans in three hours and 14 minutes.

“The start of the match wasn’t easy as he didn’t give me much pace and suddenly he accelerated,” said Humbert. “I need to find a solution and came to the net more. I was four match points down, but I was mentally strong and I took my opportunities. I remained aggressive and when I won the second set, I knew I’d regained the momentum. I’m very pleased to have reached the second ATP Tour final of my career.”

Humbert, who captured his first ATP Tour title at the ASB Classic (d. Paire) in January, will now prepare to face eighth-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur, who beat fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in three sets later in the day. Humbert has never met De Minaur.

After three straight service breaks, Evans wrestled away control in the first set, which ended after 63 minutes when Humbert hit a backhand into the net. Once Evans bounced back from 0-3 down in the second set, the 30-year-old played with great poise and looked on course for his 18th victory of the season.

But Humbert stepped up his forehand aggression to save four match points in the tie-break, and at 7/7 ripped a forehand winner down the line that took the wind out of Evans’ sails. Humbert broke in the first game of the decider and held on, in spite of mounting pressure — particularly at 5-4, for his 20th match win of 2020. Humbert converted his third match point with an aggressive forehand that Evans could not return cleanly.


The 22-year-old Humbert is the fourth Frenchman to reach the Antwerp final after 2016 champion Richard Gasquet, 2017 titlist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 2018 runner-up Gael Monfils.

Evans, who is now 16-12 on the season, had been attempting to advance to his third ATP Tour final (0-2) and his first since the Delray Beach Open by (l. to Albot). The 30-year-old Briton saved one match point against Karen Khachanov on Friday in the Antwerp quarter-finals.

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Peers/Venus Reach Third Final Of 2020

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

John Peers and Michael Venus made it through to their third ATP Tour final of 2020 on Saturday, as they defeated Pablo Andujar and Sander Arends 6-3, 6-4.

The pair saved six of seven break points throughout the 64-minute encounter to continue their fine run of recent form. Since arriving at last month’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Peers and Venus have reached the semi-finals or better in four of their five tournament appearances.


Peers and Venus are yet to drop a set in Antwerp. Prior to their win against Andujar and Arends, the Dubai and Hamburg titlists earned straight-sets wins against Luke Bambridge and Jackson Withrow in the first round and Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez in the quarter-finals.

Peers and Venus will attempt to extend their unbeaten record in ATP Tour championship matches to 3-0 on Sunday. The second seeds will meet home favourites Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen or Rohan Bopanna and Matwe Middelkoop for the title.

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Thiem, Djokovic Handed Tricky Draws In Loaded Vienna Field

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is making his first appearance in the Erste Bank Open field for 13 years, and defending champion Dominic Thiem lead the ATP 500 tournament this week, which includes 18 players in the Top 30 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Djokovic, who beat Stan Wawrinka for the 2007 crown, will have his work cut out if he is to capture his fifth tour-level trophy this year. The Serbian star is in the same half of the Vienna draw as Stefanos Tsitsipas, who the Serbian beat in the Roland Garros semi-finals, and Nitto ATP Finals contenders Diego Schwartzman and Denis Shapovalov.

Djokovic opens his campaign against compatriot Filip Krajinovic, a semi-finalist at the Open 13 Provence and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (l. to Monfils both times). Schwartzman, who lost to Djokovic in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Nadal) is a potential quarter-final opponent in Vienna.

The 33-year-old Djokovic has a 37-2 match record on the season and will be playing his first match since losing to Nadal in the Roland Garros final on 11 October.

View Vienna Singles Draw

Thiem, who beat Schwartzman in last year’s final to become the first Austrian champion since Jurgen Melzer in 2010, has been given a tricky opener against Kei Nishikori, who leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-2. The Japanese star has a 2-4 record since the resumption of the ATP Tour in August, which saw his return to competitive tennis after a 12-month absence because of a right elbow injury.

Second seed Thiem, winner of his first Grand Slam championship title at last month’s US Open (d. Zverev), could meet Stan Wawrinka in the second round. World No. 3 Thiem could then face fifth seed Andrey Rublev or wild card Jannik Sinner, who is through to his second ATP Tour semi-final at the bett1HULKS Championship in Cologne.

Rublev, who has a 34-7 match record in 2020, begins against a qualifier and could potentially face Casper Ruud or Sinner in the second round. Djokovic and Rublev will each be going for an ATP Tour-best fifth title of the season. The 22-year-old Rublev, who is up to a career-high No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has won a pair of ATP 500 titles — Hamburg European Open (d. Tsitsipas) and St. Petersburg Open (d. Coric) — in the past month.

Third seed Tsitsipas, playing at his first tournament since Roland Garros, will need to battle past Jan-Lennard Struff to earn a second-round meeting against Karen Khachanov or Grigor Dimitrov.

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev will make his Erste Bank Open debut against Alex de Minaur and could meet Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Seventh seed Gael Monfils, who opens against in-form Pablo Carreno Busta, and 2018 champion Kevin Anderson also feature in Medvedev’s quarter of the draw.

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Bublik Looks To Make It Third Time Lucky In Nur-Sultan; All You Need To Know

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

Alexander Bublik leads home hopes at the Astana Open, as Kazakhstan welcomes the ATP Tour to its capital city of Nur-Sultan. The 23-year-old Bublik will be looking to claim his first tour-level title after reaching two ATP 250 finals in 2019 (Newport, Chengdu). He earned his biggest career win this past month at Roland Garros when he upset World No. 9 Gael Monfils in the first round.  

Bublik will be joined in the draw by 32-year-old countryman Mikhail Kukushkin, who claimed his lone ATP Tour title in 2010 at St. Petersburg. Kukushkin has reached three more finals, most recently in 2019 in Marseille (l. to Tsitsipas). 

A pair of Frenchmen, Benoit Paire and Adrian Mannarino, will be the top players in action in Nur-Sultan. Paire is a winner of three ATP Tour titles, all on clay, while Mannarino won the grass-court title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last year. 

The Nur-Sultan field is also set to feature Kitzbuhel champion Miomir Kecmanovic; former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco; Australians John Millman and Jordan Thompson; as well as Americans Tennys Sandgren, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul. 

Here’s all you need to know about the Nur-Sultan tennis tournament: what is the schedule, where to watch and more. 

Established: 2020

Tournament Dates: 26 October – 1 November 2020

Tournament Director: Attila Sebastien Richter 

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* Qualifying: Sunday – Monday
* Main Draw: Monday – Thursday at 12:00pm, Friday at 1:00pm, Saturday – Sunday at 2:00pm 

How To Watch
Watch Live On Tennis TV 
TV Schedule

Venue: National Tennis Center
Surface: Indoor Hard

Prize Money: $273,345 (Total Financial Commitment: $337,000)   

View Who Is Playing, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown

Hashtag: #ATP250Kazakhstan #ATP250AstanaOpen
Facebook: @kaztennis
Twitter: @AstanaOpen

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Djokovic, Thiem Lead Six Top 10 Players In Vienna; All You Need To Know

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and defending champion Dominic Thiem lead a strong Erste Bank Open field that features six Top 10 players, including Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman. 

Djokovic will be making his first Vienna appearance since his 2007 triumph (d. Wawrinka), while Thiem will be playing at this indoor ATP 500 tournament for a 10th time. Last year, Thiem defeated Schwartzman in the final to become the first Austrian champion since Jurgen Melzer in 2010.

Djokovic and Rublev will each be going for an ATP Tour-best fifth title of the season. The 22-year-old Rublev, who is up to a career-high No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has won a pair of ATP 500 titles — Hamburg European Open (d. Tsitsipas) and St. Petersburg Open (d. Coric) — in the past month. 

Gael Monfils, Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Kei Nishikori and 2018 champion Kevin Anderson are also among the player vying for the Vienna title. 

Here’s all you need to know about the Vienna tennis tournament: what is the schedule, where to watch, who has won and more.  

Established: 1974

Tournament Dates: 26 October – 1 November 2020

Tournament Director: Herwig Straka

Draw Ceremony: Saturday, 24 October, 12:00pm 

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Schedule (View On Official Website)
* Qualifying: Saturday from 11:00am, Sunday from 1:00pm
* Main draw: Monday – Saturday at 1:00pm (Wednesday at 12:00pm)
* Doubles final: Sunday, 1 November at 11:45am
* Singles final: Sunday, 1 November at 2:00pm

How To Watch
Watch Live On Tennis TV 
TV Schedule

Venue: Wiener Stadthalle
Surface: Indoor Hard

Prize Money: €1,409,510 (Total Financial Commitment: €1,550,950)   

View Who Is Playing, Past Champions, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown

Honour Roll (Open Era)
Most Titles, Singles: Brian Gottfried (4)
Most Titles, Doubles: Bob Hewitt, Anders Jarryd, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Lukasz Kubot, Frew McMillan (3)
Last Home Champion: Dominic Thiem in 2019
Oldest Champion: Tommy Haas, 35, in 2013
Youngest Champion: Horst Skoff, 20, in 1988
Highest-Ranked Champion: No. 1 Pete Sampras in 1998
Lowest-Ranked Champion (since 1978): No. 175 Anders Jarryd in 1990
Most Match Wins: Brian Gottfried (31)

2019 Finals
Singles: [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) d [5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 36 64 63   Read & Watch
Doubles: [4] Rajeev Ram (USA) / Joe Salisbury (GBR) d [1] Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA) 64 67(5) 10-53  Read More

Hashtag: #ErsteBankOpen
Facebook: @erstebankopen
Instagram: @erstebankopen
Twitter: @erstebankopen

Did You Know… With Thiem’s triumph in 2019, three different Austrians have now won the Vienna title. Horst Skoff became the first Austrian to triumph here, with victory over Thomas Muster in the 1988 final. Jurgen Melzer joined Skoff on the honour roll with back-to-back singles titles in 2009-10. Former World No. 1 Muster never won the Vienna title, though he reached the final three times. 

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Changeover Tunes: Rock 'N' Rolling In Cologne

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

The organisers of the bett1HULKS Indoors and the bett1HULKS Championship in Cologne were brainstorming how they could make their tournament experiences special in the lead-up to the events. They saw Jimmy Fallon’s in-house band ‘The Roots’ and thought there was room for something similar at their ATP 250s.

That led to one of the most unique entertainment experiences on the ATP Tour.

A band called ‘The Swag’ has performed live music during changeovers, jamming out to keep fans watching from around the world — and even the players — entertained during the 90 seconds splitting intense competition.

“We think this kind of perspective creates a new atmosphere for all — spectators and players. We bring two events together to one big picture of sports and entertainment,” said Ernesto Galarza Bello, an event and marketing consultant for e|motion group, which operates the tournaments. “The players love it. We got good vibes only as [their] reactions.”

Noise or entertainment during changeovers is common, but having a live band has impressed the players. Alexander Zverev won last week’s bett1HULKS Indoors and is into the semi-finals of the bett1HULKS Championships, so he has spent plenty of time listening to and enjoying the music.

“I think the band is quite good. I’m actually looking into some musical connections I have to help them out a little bit, because I’ve actually enjoyed them,” Zverev said. “I think they’re very good. I think the singers are very good. They have a mix of everything.”

‘The Swag’ is a seven-member band from Berlin comprised of musicians who play alongside other artists when they are not performing together. The MC is Rapturous Apollo Helio, King Solomon is the male vocalist, Sera Kalo is the female singer, Philipp Roidinger is on the keyboard, Stefan Fuhr plays the bass, Jan ‘Stix‘ Pfennig mans the drums and Sugarbear plays the guitar.

“They have a very good female voice, they have a very soft male voice and they have a great guy that can rap, what band can’t have that?” Zverev said. “I enjoyed it a lot so I’m actually trying to help them out a little bit.”


Momentum is crucial in tennis and sometimes halting another player’s momentum can make the difference between winning and losing a match. Felix Auger-Aliassime, last week’s finalist in Cologne, said having the band has helped his mindset during tough moments.

“I’m not a big listener to music before matches, it kind of sticks in my head,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But I like what you guys are doing on the side. It keeps me happy when things aren’t going so well during a match.”

In addition, the ATP 250s started the bett1 Sing & Dance Contest, a talent challenge that has taken place on certain days 30 minutes before the start of the matches. Different talents have taken the stage with ‘The Swag’ as players have warmed up on court.

If you’re watching action in Cologne from home this weekend, don’t turn your attention when the players take their seats for the changeover. Balls might not be struck during that time, but the right musical chords will be.

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Felix Books Schwartzman Clash In Cologne

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2020

Felix Auger-Aliassime improved his strong 2020 indoor record on Friday, as he beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-4 to reach the bett1HULKS Championship semi-finals.

The #NextGenATP Canadian landed 11 aces en route to a Tour-leading 14th victory on indoor hard courts this year after one hour and 32 minutes. Auger-Aliassime is through to his fourth semi-final from five events this year on the surface.

After trading breaks in the opening four games, Auger-Aliassime attacked with his forehand and proved the more consistent player from baseline to win five straight games from 3-3 and take control of the match. The 6’4” right-hander served with confidence in the second set as he dropped just three points behind his first serve (15/18) to claim his first victory in three ATP Head2Head encounters against the Japanese.


”The start was difficult for both of us, just to find a rhythm,” said Auger-Aliassime in an on-court interview. “I felt from the middle of the first set that things were starting to be better and better.

“I feel like since the last time I played him at Roland Garros, I have adjusted a few things well. It is actually the first time I have beaten him, so I think it is a good win for me… To be able to find solutions against a player that I have had difficulty beating in the past is really gratifying.”

The 20-year-old is attempting to reach his second final in as many weeks in Cologne. During last week’s bett1HULKS Indoors, which was played at the same venue, Auger-Aliassime reached his sixth ATP Tour championship match (l. to Zverev).

”I have always loved coming to Germany since I was a kid. I have always played well here. I made the final in Stuttgart last year,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I always get along well with everybody and I am always welcomed. It is a pleasure to be playing another match here and hopefully I will be able to play all the matches, a full two weeks in Cologne.”

Auger-Aliassime will face second seed Diego Schwartzman for the first time with a place in the championship match on the line. The Argentine saved match point and recovered from 2-6, 2-5 down to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 in the quarter-finals.

Auger-Aliassime survived his own scare in his opening match of the tournament. His first-round opponent Egor Gerasimov served for the match at 6-5 in the second set before the World No. 22 recovered to earn a final-set tie-break victory.

“[Diego is] a player that moves well around the court… He is going to make me work for it,” said Auger-Aliassime. “He is going to make me finish every point, so it is going to be interesting but I believe in my chances.”

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