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Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch In Sofia

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

The final ATP 250 of the season begins on Sunday at the Sofia Open in Sofia, Bulgaria. Three Top 25 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings lead the singles draw, with the final spot in the Nitto ATP Finals doubles field still up for grabs.

Will Denis Shapovalov live up to his position as top seed? Will Felix Auger-Aliassime capture his first ATP Tour title? looks at 10 things to watch in Bulgaria.

View Sofia Draws: Singles | Doubles


1) Shapovalov Shining: The 21-year-old Canadian will make his Sofia debut against Radu Albot or Yuichi Sugita as he begins his pursuit of a first ATP Tour title in 2020. The lefty, who cracked the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time on 21 September, will try to finish inside the year-end Top 10 with a strong performance in Bulgaria.

2) Felix’s Pursuit: Auger-Aliassime has reached six ATP Tour finals, including three this season (Rotterdam, Marseille, Cologne-1). Will the 20-year-old Canadian claim his first tour-level title in Sofia? Auger-Aliassime, who will play in the Rolex Paris Masters doubles final on Sunday alongside Hubert Hurkacz, is making his debut at the ATP 250. He will play Caruso or Kuzmanov in the second round.

3) Canadian History: This is the first time that Canadians are the top two seeds at an ATP Tour event (since 1990). Shapovalov is the top seed for the first time at a tour-level event and Auger-Aliassime has twice previously been the second seed (2019 Chengdu and 2020 Adelaide).

4) De Minaur Delivering: Alex de Minaur is finishing the season on a high, reaching the Antwerp final and the Paris third round. The Australian will try to maintain his momentum in Bulgaria, where he will play a qualifier or lucky loser in his opener.

5) Sinner’s Surge: Reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner has surged into the Top 50 in the FedEx ATP Rankings this season. The 19-year-old will try to finish his 2020 on a high with a strong performance at this ATP 250, where he plays Marton Fucsovics in the first round. Sinner made his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros and then reached the semi-finals at Cologne-2.

6) Doubles Battle: The FedEx ATP Battle For London is nearly complete. Only one doubles place remains at the Nitto ATP Finals, and two teams will try to earn that spot in Sofia. If top seeds Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin make the final at the ATP 250, they will guarantee their qualification. If second seeds Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski do not make the championship match, Melzer and Roger-Vasselin will earn their place in London. The Brits must make the final to be in contention for qualification.

7) Bulgarian ATP Cup Stars: Two members of this year’s Bulgarian ATP Cup team received wild cards for Sofia: Kuzmanov and Adrian Andreev. Kuzmanov earned two straight-sets win at that event, defeating Belgium’s Steve Darcis and Moldova’s Alexander Cozbinov. He opens against Caruso.

8) First-Time Titlist: John Millman is fresh off winning his first ATP Tour title at the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The Aussie, who is making his Sofia debut, is the sixth seed. Millman will play Bulgarian wild card Adrian Andreev in the first round.

9) Returning Finalist Fucsovics: Last year, Hungarian Fucsovics made the Sofia final. Daniil Medvedev beat him 6-4, 6-3 for the trophy. Fucsovics is back and he will try to go one step further. The 28-year-old made the third round at the US Open and the fourth round at Roland Garros. He will begin his tournament against Sinner.

10) Junior Stars: Two of the tournament’s wild cards are 19 years old. In 2019, Czech Jonas Forejtek was the junior World No. 1 and won three junior Grand Slams (US Open singles, Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles). In 2018, Andreev — who was a member of Bulgaria’s ATP Cup team this year — reached World No. 2 and captured the junior US Open doubles crown.

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Preview: Medvedev Faces Familiar Foe In Paris Final

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Daniil Medvedev last reached a championship match on the ATP Tour 13 months ago, but the 24-year-old will likely feel a sense of familiarity when he steps onto the court Sunday to compete for the Rolex Paris Masters title.

The last final Medvedev played was also at an ATP Masters 1000 event: the 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters. The Russian succeeded on that occasion with a straight-sets victory against Alexander Zverev. The same man stands between him and this year’s Paris trophy.

Medvedev arrived in the French capital searching for form after losing five of his past eight matches. But the two-time Masters 1000 champion has raised his game at the Accor Arena to end his final drought. Medvedev has conceded only one set in Paris, with wins against Kevin Anderson, Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic.

When Medvedev met Zverev in last year’s Shanghai final, he was competing in a Tour-leading ninth final of the year. But despite this being his first run to a championship match in 2020, one of Medvedev’s rivals in Paris believes he might actually be playing better this year than during his breakthrough 2019 campaign.

“I think he’s playing just as well, maybe better,” said Raonic. “Just little things, the intangibles of confidence, maybe it makes a little bit of a difference here and there. But from what I have seen him play this week and [he] even played well at the US Open, played well [at the Western & Southern Open]…… all the events he’s played on hard courts, I thought he’s looked quite good.”

Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev pose for photographs following the Rolex Shanghai Masters final.

Medvedev will be competing in his fourth Masters 1000 final when he meets Zverev in Paris. The Moscow-native holds a 2-1 record in championship matches at the level, which includes victories in his past two final appearances. Prior to his title runs at the 2019 Western & Southern Open and Rolex Shanghai Masters, Medvedev finished as a runner-up to Rafael Nadal at last year’s Coupe Rogers in Montreal.

“Experience is a good key,” said Medvedev. “The first Masters [1000] final I lost actually very easy to Rafa, and then I won two… When you step out for your first Masters 1000 final, you are really tight, your hands are shaking a little bit because you think, ‘Okay, maybe that’s my last opportunity to be in the final of a Masters 1000.’ Then [the] second, third time, the more you get [to] them, the more it becomes easier to handle these emotions. So hopefully this experience can help me tomorrow.”

Medvedev may have experience and memories of defeating his Paris final opponent at this stage, but Zverev has an even greater understanding of competing in this environment. The German will be making his seventh Masters 1000 final appearance (3-3) and will be aiming to improve his 5-1 ATP Head2Head record against his Russian rival.

Prior to his loss to Medvedev in last year’s Shanghai final, Zverev had dropped just one set in four meetings against the crafty baseliner. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion also added a fifth victory against Medvedev to his tally at The O2 last year.

Zverev enters the Paris final in peak form. The 13-time tour-level titlist is on a 12-match winning streak, which includes back-to-back title runs at indoor hard court events in Cologne last month. Like his final opponent, Zverev has also dropped just one set en route to the final in Paris. Zverev made it through to the semi-finals with wins against Miomir Kecmanovic, Adrian Mannarino and Stan Wawrinka, before he ended 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal’s winning run in Paris on Saturday.

Medvedev is back to his best and has risen to this challenge before, but this time he faces Zverev in one of the most consistent periods of the German’s career. Both men know what it takes to beat the other and to succeed at this level, but only one player can lift his first Paris trophy on Sunday.

“Obviously, [the] two best players of the tournament are still left. I’m happy about it,” said Zverev. “I think [Daniil is] quite happy about it. We’re both not going to give each other anything tomorrow and we’ll see who can win.”

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Despite SF Loss, Nadal Says Paris Run 'Helpful For London'

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Rafael Nadal fell short of winning his first Rolex Paris Masters title this week. But after reaching the Bercy semi-finals, the Spaniard will take confidence as he turns his attention to the Nitto ATP Finals.

“It has not been not a bad tournament. I spent hours on court. Of course I wanted to win the tournament, but it’s always difficult,” Nadal said. “But I had the right attitude during the whole event, I think, fighting in every match. That gave me the chance to play four matches that I think will be helpful for London.”


Nadal won two three-setters en route to the last four, in which he battled hard before losing against fourth seed Alexander Zverev. The top seed has reached the semi-finals at the Rolex Paris Masters five times.

“I have been competitive, I have been there until the end against a player who is playing great on a surface that he’s winning a lot,” Nadal said. “[It] has been a positive tournament for me. Of course [I am] not happy about the loss, but that’s part of the game. I played against a great player, and I accept the defeat… He played a little bit better than me.”

Nadal will try to carry his good form to The O2 in London, where he will pursue his first trophy at the season finale. The lefty has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the 16th consecutive year.

“I need to adjust a couple of things, but I am doing well on all the important things,” Nadal said. “I have one week and a little bit more to keep working, and I hope be ready for it.”

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Zverev Beats Nadal To Reach Paris Final

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Alexander Zverev became the first German to reach the Rolex Paris Masters final in 25 years on Saturday, defeating Rafael Nadal 6-4, 7-5.

The fourth seed entered the match with a 1-5 ATP Head2Head record against the legendary lefty. But the 23-year-old crafted an impressive serving performance behind 13 aces to reach his seventh ATP Masters 1000 final.

Zverev, a three-time Masters 1000 champion, is on a 12-match winning streak following back-to-back titles in Cologne. He has won 21 of his 23 matches since the start of the US Open, where he reached his first Grand Slam final.

“I think I picked up my level at 4-5 down in the second set again and then it all went well,” Zverev said. “I’m happy to be in the final.”


Zverev halted Nadal’s pursuit of a maiden Paris-Bercy title. The Spaniard was also trying to tie Novak Djokovic’s record of 36 Masters 1000 titles.

The key for most of the match was Zverev’s dominance on serve. The German won his first eight service games, using a high first-serve percentage to maintain control of rallies.

But as always, Nadal tried to find a solution, and he did so successfully towards the end of the second set. The World No. 2 tried to break Zverev’s serving rhythm, moving his return position way back to put more balls in play. That affected Zverev’s first-serve percentage and allowed Nadal back into the match.

“I had a lot of chances in the second set. I think at 4-2 I had a 0/40 game on his serve, which I didn’t win,” Zverev said. “[In] those moments, the match can turn around, especially against Rafa. But I think I picked up my level at 4-5 down in the second set again and then it all went well. I’m happy to be in the final.”

Zverev has at times struggled with his second serve under pressure, and he hit his first double fault of the match at 4-3, 30/30 in the second set. He then missed a crosscourt forehand passing shot wide, levelling the set.

The fourth seed did not panic though, continuing to stay patient and maintaining his ground on the baseline. Zverev broke for the third time in the last game of the match, advancing to the final when Nadal missed a crosscourt backhand. 

Zverev will play Daniil Medvedev for the Rolex Paris Masters title. The German leads their ATP Head2Head series 5-1.

Did You Know?
Zverev’s coach, Spaniard David Ferrer, won the Rolex Paris Masters title in 2012.

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Medvedev's Last Time: Wrong Airport, Celebrity Selfie & His Cooking Specialty

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Daniil Medvedev reached his first final of the 2020 season on Saturday, defeating Milos Raonic to reach the Rolex Paris Masters championship match.

When is the last time you think the Russian missed a flight? Medvedev doesn’t like asking celebrities for selfies, but which football star did he break that rule for?

Learn all that and more in the newest installment of’s ‘The Last Time’ series.


Last time you missed a flight…
To be honest I missed [a flight] only once in my life if I’m not mistaken. It was long ago after Karen [Khachanov’s] wedding actually, which was going for two days and which was a little bit not easy for everybody who was there. I had to do my Australian visa the next day in Paris, which was really tough because after the wedding — the wedding finished at like 3 or 4 in the morning — I had a flight at like 7 in the morning from Barcelona to Paris.

I got it, I caught it, I made it and then I had the next one from Paris to Nice to come back home. I actually was really tired and I went to Orly because usually the tickets are cheaper from Orly [Airport], so I was sure I had the ticket from Orly. When I arrived I was like, ‘Okay, what terminal am I?’ I saw Charles de Gaulle and there was no way I could catch the flight. That’s probably the only time I missed a flight.

Last time you lost something important…
I lost something really important when I was coming back from St. Petersburg, but I already got it back. It’s a document that is really important to travel. Fortunately, I had a second document with me.

Last time you paid money to rent a tennis court…
I would say normally it was in Russia and of course when I was practising, I was paying for it sometimes. I don’t remember the last time, probably long ago.

Last time you strung a racquet…
I actually have never strung a racquet in my life. I don’t know how to do it. I hope I’m not the only one, but I’ve never strung a racquet in my life. I don’t think I would be able even to start it. Nowadays, we are in the 21st century, I would try to Google it. I would probably succeed.

Last time you cooked for yourself or for other people…
I am really bad at cooking. I think the last time would be a year ago because all the quarantine I spent with my wife and she’s a really good cook. She’s happy to cook for me, which is good, and if not we order some food.

I think I cooked something for my wife one year ago after Shanghai. It was edible. I can cook some meat and pasta, but nothing fancy. I don’t have the skills to do anything more than this. Meat and pasta, it’s not bad.

Last time you met a childhood idol…
To be honest we meet them every tournament. We don’t think about it anymore, but [it’s] when we see Rafa and Roger. When I was six they were already playing an unbelievable level. These are childhood idols and maybe we don’t appreciate it that much because we are close to their level sometimes on the tennis court, maybe beating them sometimes. I see them every tournament.

Last time you shared a hotel room with another player…
Last one was in Australia. I was playing a Challenger three years ago just before I won my first [ATP Tour] title in Sydney. It was a Challenger close to Adelaide, in Playford. I was sharing a room with a French guy whose name is Hugo Grenier, my good friend, because we practise together. That’s where I actually understood I could speak French quite good and that’s where I got my confidence with the French language.

Last time you asked someone famous or even not famous for a selfie…
I don’t usually do it, even when I was not famous. I remember last year when I was having a vacation in Mykonos, I saw that Kevin de Bruyne was there. I have a friend who looks exactly like him. You won’t see a difference. People in Europe sometimes ask him for a selfie. I was like, ‘I have to get a picture with Kevin just for my friend.’

It’s a funny story, because my wife went to a shop in the middle of Mykonos, in the middle of the town. I saw a lot of people passing by a little bit excited and I was like, ‘Why were there suddenly some people?’ Out of the shop where we were came De Bruyne, so all these people around the shop were excited. They were like, ‘Selfie, selfie.’ I was like, ‘I have to do it, even though I don’t really like to.’

I came and I felt so stupid because… I was a little bit excited. I wanted to say, ‘Oh my God, my friend looks exactly like you!’ But he didn’t know who I was and as a tennis player I know when people start talking to you about their life, it feels a little bit strange because you are thinking, ‘We’re not best friends.’ I switched my mind completely and I was like, ‘Don’t say anything.’ I just said, ‘Kevin, can I take a selfie?’ I took a selfie and that’s it.

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Medvedev Earns Clinical Raonic Win To Reach Paris Final

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Daniil Medvedev advanced to his first final in 13 months on Saturday, as he defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4) at the Rolex Paris Masters.

The third seed saved six of seven break points to reach his maiden championship match in Paris. Medvedev is through to his fourth ATP Masters 1000 final (2-1).

Medvedev entered the tournament searching for form, following five losses from his past eight matches. But the World No. 5 has rediscovered his best level at the Accor Arena with victories against Kevin Anderson, Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman and Raonic.


The two-time Nitto ATP Finals qualifier improved to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Raonic. Medvedev also earned quarter-final wins against the Canadian in Tokyo in 2018 and in Brisbane last year.

Raonic was attempting to reach his second Masters 1000 final of the year. The 29-year-old, who finished as runner-up at the Western & Southern Open in August, owns a 23-9 record this season.

Medvedev will meet top seed Rafael Nadal or fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the championship match. The 24-year-old trails Nadal 0-3 in their ATP Head2Head series and owns one win from six matches against Zverev.

Despite facing one of the most dominant servers on the ATP Tour, it was Medvedev who cruised through his service games in the first set. The Russian dropped just one point behind his first serve (16/17) and committed only three unforced errors in the opener. Medvedev secured the crucial break at 2-2 as he extended rallies and attacked Raonic’s forehand to extract errors.

After saving three break points at 3-4, Medvedev pushed Raonic out of position with deep returns to break serve at 5-5 and serve for the match. But Raonic came to the net and capitalised on forehand errors from his opponent to force a tie-break.

Medvedev showed patience from the baseline to race into a 4/0 tie-break lead and closed the match with strong serving. On his first match point, the Moscow-native came to the net and struck an overhead winner.

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Auger-Aliassime/Hurkacz Book Paris Final Spot

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz ended the six-match winning streak of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo on Saturday to reach their maiden team final at the Rolex Paris Masters.

The unseeded pair won 59 per cent of second-serve return points (10/17) to defeat Kubot and Melo 6-2, 1-6, 10-5 in 66 minutes. Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz are playing together for the second time, following a quarter-final finish at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in February.


Last week’s Vienna champions Kubot and Melo will now prepare for their fourth straight team appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals in London. The Polish-Brazilian tandem qualified for the event by defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the Paris quarter-finals.

Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz will face US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares or London contenders Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final. Melzer and Roger-Vasselin will clinch the final Nitto ATP Finals qualification spot if they defeat Pavic and Soares in the semi-finals.

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Why Serving On Break Point Is Extra Dangerous Against Nadal

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Rafael Nadal is more efficient at converting break points this season than any other of his illustrious career.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of break points converted from when official statistics were first recorded in 1991 shows that Nadal has reached rarified air this season. He is converting break points 49.2 per cent (126/256) of the time, a higher rate than any other season in his career. Nadal has led the Tour converting break points in three other seasons, but he is trying to cross the 50 per cent mark for the first time.

Nadal Year-End No. 1 Converting Break Points
• 2012 = 49.2% (213/433)
• 2014 = 48.4% (249/514)
• 2009 = 47.0% (295/627)

Hot on Nadal’s heels this season is 25-year-old Serbian Laslo Djere, who won the ATP 250 event in Sardinia in October. Djere has converted break points 48.3 per cent (72/149) of the time in 2020, and 54.3 per cent (19/35) en route to the Sardinia title. In third place is Italian teenage sensation, Jannik Sinner, who broke into the Top 50 just last month. Sinner is converting break points 47.3 per cent (88/186) of the time this season. In the three recent clay-court events in Kitzbühel, Rome and at Roland Garros, he was even more efficient, converting 54 per cent (73/136) of break points.

Rounding out the leading 10 players converting break points so far in 2020 are Diego Schwartzman (47.2%), Alexander Zverev (45.3%), Karen Khachanov (45%), Grigor Dimitrov (44.5%), Filip Krajinovic (44.4%), Andrey Rublev (43.8%) and Novak Djokovic (43.7%).

The high-water mark for this statistical category dates back to 2004, when Italian Filippo Volandri converted a staggering 53.1 per cent (212/399) of break points. The only other player to cross the 50 per cent threshold in a single season was Gustavo Kuerten in 1999, when the Brazilian converted 50.1 per cent (234/467) of break points.

Nadal has been ranked in the Top 10 in this specific category 12 times in his career and has always been one of the leading 20 players since 2004, when he won his maiden ATP title in Sopot, Poland.

2004-2020: Rafael Nadal Break Points Converted/Category Ranking


Break Points Converted %

Category Year-End Rank




















































*Entering Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals

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Melzer & Roger-Vasselin Move To Brink Of London Qualification

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2020

Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin are one win away from earning the final spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November.

The eighth seeds beat Rohan Bopanna and Oliver Marach 6-0, 7-6(6) on Friday to reach the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals. If Melzer and Roger-Vasselin defeat second seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares on Saturday, they will clinch their berth in the season finale.

Earlier in the day, fourth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo defeated fifth seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Marcelo Melo 6-7(4), 6-3, 10-8 to claim the seventh team spot in London. They will compete in the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year.

Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo oust defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the Paris quarter-finals.

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski began the week in seventh place in the FedEx ATP Battle For London, but they lose to Kubot and Melo on Thursday. That allowed the Polish-Brazilian duo to move into seventh place. Melzer and Roger-Vasselin then bumped the Brits to ninth place on Friday with their triumph. 

Kubot and Melo will next play singles stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz, who beat seventh seeds John Peers and Michael Venus 4-6, 7-5, 11-9. In other action, Pavic and Soares eliminated sixth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic 6-1, 7-6(4).

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