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ATP, WTA Players Unite To Celebrate International Women’s Day

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2021

ATP Tour players today join their WTA Tour colleagues in celebrating International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme, #ChoosetoChallenge, is dedicated to further set aside bias and stereotypes, and to help forge a gender-equal world. In the world of sports, women have fought hard for equal recognition, respect and pay, and since the early 1970s, tennis has led the charge for unity.

ATP Tour players including Felix Auger-Aliassime joined in the global celebration of women’s rights. Players gave a shout out to the women in their lives who have inspired them the most. And it’s no surprise that moms received a lot of love. 

“My mom would take the first position, she’s obviously the reason I’m here and she is the most important person in my life,” said Auger-Aliassime, echoing sentiments made by Diego Schwartzman and Alex de Minaur. “And my sister as well, she inspires me because of how much she works and how disciplined she is and how she goes about her life. My girlfriend, we’ve been together for almost two years now. These would be the three most important women in my life.”

Frances Tiafoe named American actor and producer Viola Davis as someone who has inspired him.“The most influential woman to me is definitely Viola Davis,” he said. “One of the best actors I’ve ever seen, and actually I don’t think she gets the love she deserves. She’s achieved so much, and went through such hardship. I’m truly a fan of her and everything she represents.”

This week’s ATP 250 tournament in Santiago, Chile, the Dove Men+Care Open, has special reason to celebrate International Women’s Day celebration.

Tournament Director Catalina Fillol gathered women on her team for a group photo on the tournament’s ‘virtual stadium’ court. The event is a family affair as all four Fillol sisters work at the tournament: Natalia (Hospitality), Cecilia (Administration & Finance) and Angela (Transport) are all key members of the tournament team. The Fillol sisters are the daughters of former ATP Tour president and Top 20 player Jaime Fillol.

Chile Dove Men+Care Open

“My grandfather used to always say, ‘It’s about much more than the ball’,” WTA President Micky Lawler said. “I wondered, when I was a child, what he meant by that, and what he meant was that sports drives a platform, and so, you want to use that platform to its greatest benefit. 

“It’s about virtues, the virtues of being competitive, of working hard, of being the best that you can be. And then to create social change and to call for social justice.”

In recognition of International Women’s Day, WTA Tour players – past and present – came together to express some of the challenges they have endured and how they have persevered.

“When I was younger and starting to wear men’s clothes, I doubted myself,” said doubles champion Demi Schuurs. “But I was just being myself, and I think that’s really important in life. I don’t care what other people think about me and I just enjoy life, be myself and be happy. If you want to wear boys’ clothes, if you want to love a boy or girl, it doesn’t matter – be yourself, be happy and enjoy life.”

“Coming from the subcontinent, I think playing tennis itself was a big doubt that everybody had,” said Indian doubles star Sania Mirza. “I’ve been challenged from a very early age in my life, when I decided to play tennis and dreamt of playing Wimbledon one day. Every step of the way there were doubters, but obviously I am glad to have proven them wrong.

“I think that a lot of confidence came from within. My mom is one of the strongest women that I know. She was adamant and put in so much hard work for us to be where we are, for me to be where I am and I derive a lot of strength through her. She was the one who always believed that nothing is impossible.

“Never be scared to be the first person to do something, whether from your family or your country. If you believe in yourself and you work hard and love what you do, don’t ever be scared to be out-of-the-box. Don’t ever be scared to choose that for yourself and put everything that you have behind it.”

British player Francesca Jones echoed that sentiment. “Women have to build off each other. Ultimately, every woman has so much potential if they continuously put the work in and commit themselves. Just continue to believe in yourself and keep believing that you can achieve what you want,” she said.

“Every human being has doubts. It would be unrealistic of me to say that I feel 100 per cent confident in my ability on a daily basis. I’ve had people say before, especially when I was about 7 or 8 years old, that I wouldn’t be able to play tennis. That basically put fire in my belly to keep pushing forward and to commit to the sport and prove to myself that I can do whatever I set out to do. I am very lucky to have unbelievable parents who have always believed in me and given me the confidence to do what I need to do, and that makes it a little bit easier.”

Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova also admitted to her share of doubts: “I had a few doubts in my life – of course, especially after the attack. I didn’t know if I ever could hold a racquet and play tennis again after surgery. I heard many voices saying I would never ever play again at a high level,” she admitted. “My dad and my mom never gave up. I think it was very natural to have this attitude from them.

“Never give up. That’s probably my motto. When you’re down, you never give up and try to be better.”

“After playing two years on the pro circuit, I started getting troubles with my back,” said World No. 113 Greet Minnen. “It was like a stress injury – I got it when I had just come out to everyone. It was something new for me and my family and I think it wasn’t easy to adapt for the first time when I told them I fell in love with the same gender.

“I had a lot of good role models in tennis. Martina Navratilova did so much for tennis and for the LGBT community. I would just tell anyone to be yourself, to not feel ashamed. You always have to be yourself and try to be happy, and that’s the most important thing in life.”

2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens echoed the importance of role models. “I come from a long line of incredibly strong women who have always given me the confidence to be myself and the resolve to keep striving. Find your hype team! Root for each other and pick each other up when times are tough.”

“As a Black American living in the United States, I am going to face racism, sexism and microaggressions,” said Leslie Allen, former World No.21. “My ability is going to be questioned, and I am going to be asked whether I belong in a certain space. That’s just how it is. But I learned at an early age how to deal with that. And I also learned that I needed to be twice as good to achieve. So, when you face those types of things, this is what I want you to know: It’s not about your inability, it’s about their inability to see your value and to appreciate and acknowledge your brilliance. It’s not about you.

“One sentence changed my life, and it came from two-time Wimbledon and US Open champion Althea Gibson. She looked at me and said, ‘Leslie, with your wingspan, you need to think about winning WTA tournaments.’ I had just told her, ‘I’d like to be in the main draw.’ It changed everything and I changed my goal. Within a couple of years, I was winning WTA tournaments. Set your goals higher than you believe you can achieve. You’ll be surprised with what you can do.”

Madison Keys, a US Open finalist, found her strength within. “Throughout my entire career, there have been a lot of times of doubt within myself. I think that’s life, honestly,” she said.

“I really feel good when I’m trying to support other people, highlighting other people. With my Kindness Wins foundation, I have been really inspired by all of the people whom we have gotten to know and highlighted, and seen all of the amazing work they have been doing.

“It’s finding a mantra that’s yours and what you believe in, and I think doing the small things could really help.”

“After my Achilles surgery, I doubted myself if I could overcome my rehab and practise in full again,” said Kiki Bertens, World No.11. “My parents have always told me that if you want something then just go for it. And try to do your best in whatever you are doing.”

“I had surgery on my wrist a few years back and I wasn’t able to play for a few months,” said Ons Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab player in the world. “When coming back, people doubted me and basically told me to stop playing tennis. I always knew that I could overcome this, and I came back and even won my first junior title.

“My family stood by me and helped me get through this difficult period. They always made me believe in myself. I also had this person inside me that always believed that I could be a great tennis player, encouraged me to overcome this and this whole package helped me be where I am today.

“You have an inner power, everybody does. Try to use that power and make it worth your hard work.

“I have been very fortunate to find my place at organisations where being a woman would not prevent you from your goals. There are many closed doors that women have to face, but I truly believe that gender equality will continue to become a reality in the not-so-distant future.”

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Thiem: 'I Still Really Love To Watch Federer Play Tennis'

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2021

World No. 4 Dominic Thiem is looking forward to welcoming Roger Federer back to the ATP Tour this week at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

“We are rivals, and of course we want to beat each other in the tournament, [but] I still really love to watch him play tennis,” said Thiem, who is the top seed in Doha. “[He] looks so nice, the way he plays, the way he approaches the game of tennis.

“On the one hand, I’m also a big fan of his still, and that’s why I really love that he’s back and that I can watch him again. That’s what pretty much everybody is thinking, and I hope that he’s coming back strong, as well.”

The Austrian headlines the ATP 250 field in Doha alongside Federer, who is competing for the first time in more than 13 months after two right knee surgeries, and last week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament champion Andrey Rublev.

Thiem is competing for the first time since a fourth-round exit to Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open on 14 February. The 27-year-old will play Russia’s Aslan Karatsev in the Doha second round.

“The [Doha] draw is unbelievably strong, so [you] never know what’s [going to] happen, but I just try to have a good start and to be there on a good level from the very first point,” said Thiem, the 2018 Doha semi-finalist.

“It’s going to be my first tournament and [my] first match [in almost] a month, since [a] pretty devastating loss at the Australian Open… I needed some time to digest everything, to analyse everything [and] to settle down a little bit.

“Now it’s time to focus on new things. The tournament in Doha is the first chance to play better again, to get good results, to get confidence and to forget [a] pretty tough start of the season.”

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Djokovic Sets New All-Time Record For Weeks At No. 1 In FedEx ATP Rankings

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2021

Novak Djokovic has today set the record for most weeks at No. 1 in the 48-year history of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Djokovic, who captured his ninth Australian Open trophy and 18th Grand Slam title last month, also holds a record 36 ATP Masters 1000 trophies and first attained the No. 1 ranking on 4 July 2011. He has since held the top spot in the rankings across five different stints for a record 311 weeks, one week longer than Roger Federer, who broke Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at No. 1 on 16 July 2012.

Read Immersive Djokovic Feature

The 33-year-old Djokovic fell as low as No. 22 on 21 May 2018 and returned to the top spot on 5 November 2018. The Serbian has since spent 88 weeks at No. 1, across two different stints, and last season finished as the year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record-equalling sixth time.

“It really excites me to walk the path of legends and giants of this sport,” said Djokovic. “To know that I have earned my place among them by following my childhood dream is a beautiful confirmation that when you do things out of love and passion, everything is possible.”

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “Novak’s many achievements in tennis are nothing short of extraordinary. Among them this record may stand as his single most impressive. Reaching No. 1 is something many players dream of and very few ever accomplish, and to have held the top spot for longer than anyone is testament to the levels of sustained excellence that Novak has redefined in our sport.”


Player Weeks At No. 1
1) Novak Djokovic (SRB) 311
2) Roger Federer (SUI) 310
3) Pete Sampras (USA) 286
4) Ivan Lendl (CZE) 270
5) Jimmy Connors (USA) 268

Djokovic's five stints at No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings


Player No. Years
1=) Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6 2011-12, ’14-15, ’18, ’20
Pete Sampras (USA) 6 1993-98
3=) Jimmy Connors (USA) 5 1974-78
Roger Federer (SUI) 5 2004-07, ’09
Rafael Nadal (ESP) 5 2008, ’10, ’13, ’17, ’19
5=) John McEnroe (USA) 4 1981-84
5) Ivan Lendl (CZE) 4 1985-87, ’89

View a list of the 26 players who have ranked No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings (since 1973).

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Challenger #NextGenATP First-Time Winner: Carlos Gimeno Valero

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2021

In 2020, Carlos Alcaraz emerged as Spain’s teen sensation, launching his professional journey with a breakout campaign on the ATP Challenger Tour. In 2021, another Carlos is ready to join the Spanish Armada of the future.

Carlos Gimeno Valero lifted his first Challenger trophy on Sunday, battling to the title on home soil in Gran Canaria. After fighting through a trio of deciding-set matches during the week, the 19-year-old secured the crown with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kimmer Coppejans in the championship.

It marks the third straight year in which a Spanish teen has claimed a Challenger title, with Gimeno Valero following in the footsteps of Nicola Kuhn (2019) and Alcaraz (2020). The Valencia native soars from outside the Top 400 of the FedEx ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 295 on Monday.

2021 #NextGenATP First-Time Winners: Baez | Brooksby

In addition, at the age of 19 years and eight months, Gimeno Valero joins Brandon Nakashima as the second teenage titlist on the ATP Challenger Tour this year. He is also the third first-time #NextGenATP winner of 2021, along with Sebastian Baez and Jenson Brooksby.

Gimeno Valero, who trains at Juan Carlos Ferrero’s academy in Spain, was a Wimbledon junior finalist in 2019. He has made a seamless transition to the professional level, earning his first title in just his sixth Challenger appearance.

Gimeno Valero spoke to following the victory…

Congrats Carlos. How does it feel to win your first Challenger title?
I feel great after getting this win. At the start of the week, I wanted to play my best game but did not expect to win the tournament. I’m just very happy and I hope to play like this in the next tournaments.

What was the key in your first final? Were you nervous?
Yes, I was nervous at the start of the match. But with my coach, we made a very good plan and to be more aggressive than the last matches. I feel like I took the initiative and played very well in this match.

You had three wins in deciding sets. How important was your mental toughness this week?
I feel like I needed these kind of matches, to play third sets against top players. That gave me a lot of confidence in the final.

It is always special to win your first title. To win it in Spain is even more special. Describe that feeling, in front of the home fans.
It was incredible, playing with all the fans that came to support me this week. To play in front of so many people in these difficult times was amazing.

2021 #NextGenATP Challenger Winners

Player Age Title
Brandon Nakashima 19 years, 6 months Quimper II, FRA
Carlos Gimeno Valero
19 years, 8 months Gran Canaria II, ESP
Sebastian Baez 20 years, 1 month Concepcion, CHI
Jenson Brooksby 20 years, 3 months Potchefstroom II, RSA
Tomas Machac 20 years, 4 months Nur Sultan II, KAZ
Sebastian Korda 20 years, 6 months Quimper I, FRA

This is just your sixth Challenger tournament.  How do you explain your sudden success at this level?
There is a big difference here from the ITF tournaments. There are very good players, even in the first round and second round. I just feel that I am playing my game and staying with it all week. I stay focused every match and I hope to continue like this in the future.

The transition from juniors to pros is not easy. What is the most challenging part of playing Challengers?
The biggest difference is both the physical and the mental part. Players are stronger in every part of the game. It is not easy going to the Challengers, but I feel like I adapted very well.

Who is your coach and what did you work on to prepare for the 2021 season?
My coach is Fran Martinez, at the Ferrero Equelite Academy in Spain. We tried to improve all parts of my game, but worked a lot on my serve and to be more aggressive. We practised very hard for this.

You train at Juan Carlos Ferrero’s academy. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from Juan Carlos?
Building a strong character on the court. Being more aggressive, to play your game and be more confident. This is the biggest thing I learned from him.

Photo: Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events

Carlos Alcaraz also trains there. How has Carlos’s success inspired you?
Carlos is like a brother to me. We train all the time in the academy together. I don’t need to speak about his game, because we all know that he plays incredible. We are very good friends.

Who was your idol growing up? Why?
My idol was David Ferrer. I watched him play from when I was a kid. His fighting spirit and his game was something I admired. How he is as a person is also something I looked up to.

For those of us that don’t know you, how did you start playing tennis?
I started in my home in Valencia, with my dad. I was seven or eight years old. I went to the local academy to play for two hours a week. This is how I started and I never stopped playing from there.

Tell us something about you. What do you enjoy doing off the court?
I enjoy playing PlayStation and spending time with my friends. I don’t have so much time at home, but when I am there I like to be with friends and family. Doing normal things like go to the movies.

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#NextGenATP Machac Claims Second Challenger Crown In Nur-Sultan

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2021

Tomas Machac is already capturing the headlines in his native Czech Republic and it won’t be long before the 20-year-old grabs global attention. The surging #NextGenATP star won his second ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday, lifting the trophy in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Machac rallied from a set down to defeat Sebastian Ofner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Forte Challenger 125 final. He needed two hours and 22 minutes for the victory, saving 11 of 13 break points to overcome the Austrian. The Czech vaulted to a career-high No. 137 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and took another step towards a debut appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals, moving up to fifth in the ATP Race To Milan.

“I fought for every ball and played my best tennis,” said Machac. “I want to thank everybody who helped me to get here, my coaches and my team. Without them, I would not be winning two Challengers. Ofner played well and was aggressive with his serve and forehand. I won fighting today.

“The first set is always tough in the final. It’s not about the tennis, it’s about the mentality. He was serving too good in the beginning. I just fought and kept fighting until the end. This tournament is great and I will always be happy to come back.”

It was an impressive week for Machac, upsetting Nur-Sultan I champion Mackenzie McDonald and top seed Soonwoo Kwon in the second round and quarter-finals, respectively. He conceded a mere eight games in those two matches combined. A pair of three-set victories over Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ofner would follow for the Czech, who claimed his second Challenger crown (Koblenz 2020) and first of the year.

Machac, who was sitting outside the Top 250 of the FedEx ATP Rankings one year ago, is closing in on a Top 100 debut thanks to a strong start to 2021. In January, the 20-year-old qualified for his first Australian Open without dropping serve, facing just two break points in three matches. And he would win his first Grand Slam match in the main draw, defeating Mario Vilella Martinez in four sets.

That came after spraining his ankle on the first day of hard quarantine in Melbourne. It did not completely heal during the two-week period and he was not able to train properly, even after emerging from the hotel. Despite that, he would reach the second round at Melbourne Park and pushed World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini to four sets.


Now, Machac is up to a career-high No. 137 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with his victory in Nur-Sultan. Coached by two-time Roland Garros doubles champion Daniel Vacek, the 20-year-old is one of six #NextGenATP winners already in 2021.

“During the quarantine in 2020 I didn’t play a lot because I was injured, but after the COVID break I kept improving every week. Last March, when I won my first title, I was ranked something like 350. One year later, I’m around 130. I know the ranking is just a number, but the most important thing is to improve with my tennis and the results will come.”

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Scouting Report: Federer's Return Is Doha's Delight!

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2021

The return of former World No.1 Roger Federer dominates the headlines as ATP 250 action continues across three different continents. But that’s not the only must-watch storyline on tap at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, the Open 13 Provence in Marseille and the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago.

In Doha, Federer will look to make a splash in his first tournament since the Australian Open in 2020, while World No. 4 Dominic Thiem and defending champion Andrey Rublev are also in action. World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev hunts for his 10th ATP Tour title at the indoor hard-court Marseille event, and Cristian Garin’s quest for a title on home soil continues on the red dirt of Santiago.

Draws: Doha, Marseille, Santiago

1) Dominic In Doha:
World No. 4 Thiem is the top seed, and he’s in the hunt for his 18th ATP Tour title – and the first of the year – in Doha. The US Open champion will meet Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev or local wild card Mubarak Shannan Zayid in his first match.

2) Roger’s Return: All eyes are on the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex as second seed Federer is set to make his first appearance in Doha since 2012. The Swiss has won more titles here (2005, 2006 and 2011) than anyone else in the field, but he arrives in search of matches as he contests his first tournament since January 2020.

3) Defending Champion: Rublev touches down in Doha after adding the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament trophy to his impressive ATP 500 haul. Now, the Russian returns to the same ATP 250 event that he won to kick off his breakthrough 2020 season.

4) Quality Names In Qatar: The 2021 edition boasts a stacked field for any ATP 250 event, including Top 20 players like Denis Shapovalov, 2019 champion Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin and former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. 

5) Cabal/Farah Lead Doha Doubles: Top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah lead the way in the doubles tournament. The Colombians started the season with an appearance at the Great Ocean Road Open final, but have yet to win back-to-back matches since. Rotterdam champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are the second seeds.


1) Tsitsipas Tries For Triple:
For the past two years, Stefanos Tsitsipas has dominated the courts in Marseille and he returns with his sights set on a hat-trick of trophies. The Greek claimed eight straight wins — and 16 consecutive sets — to clinch the 2019 and 2020 crowns. 

2) Medvedev Making Moves: World No. 3 Medvedev will aim to bounce back from a first-round loss at Rotterdam as he chases his 10th ATP Tour crown in Marseille. Half of the Russian’s tour-level titles have come on indoor hard courts.

3) Past Champions: Third seed Karen Khachanov landed in Medvedev’s half of the draw. The 2018 champion will meet Stefano Travaglia or Mackenzie McDonald in the second round, while three-time winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2009, ’13, ’17) is also in the mix.

4) Super Kei: Former World No. 3 Kei Nishikori made a strong showing in Rotterdam when he toppled Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur on his way to the third round. Armed with a new service motion, the resurgent Japanese player landed in Tsitsipas’ quarter.

5) Brits In Charge: The top two doubles teams in Marseille are all-British teams. Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski are the No. 1 seeds, while Luke Bambridge and Dominic Inglot are in the No. 2 spot. 

1) Garin At Home:
Top seed and Chilean No. 1 Cristian Garin arrives at his local ATP Tour event seeking his fifth ATP Tour trophy – and his first on home soil. The World No. 22 has reached all five of his previous finals on clay (4-1).

2) Remember The Name: Cordoba Open champion Juan Manuel Cerundolo will be back in action. Into Santiago with a wild card, the 19-year-old will be making his third ATP Tour main draw appearance as he begins against fellow wild card Gonzalo Lima.

3) Second Seed: Benoit Paire headlines the bottom half of the Santiago draw, and he could face Juan Manuel’s older brother Francisco Cerundolo, who reached the Buenos Aires final. Also in Paire’s section are fifth seed Frances Tiafoe and fourth seed Laslo Djere.

4) Back In Chile: This is the second edition of the Santiago tournament, after the ATP Tour returned to the ‘country of poets’ in 2020. It marked the first time Chile held an ATP event since 2014 in Vina Del Mar, which ran for 10 non-consecutive years (2001-’09, 2012-’14). 

5) Double Duty: After playing doubles with Kei Nishikori in Rotterdam last week, Ben McLachlan will travel to Santiago as the top seed alongside South Africa’s Raven Klaasen. Austin Krajicek and Franko Skugor occupy the No. 2 seed position. 

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Brkic/Cacic Clinch First ATP Title In Buenos Aires

  • Posted: Mar 07, 2021

Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic claimed their first ATP Tour title as a team on Sunday after toppling fourth seeds Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar in the Argentina Open final. 

The unseeded Bosnian-Serbian duo dropped only one set en route to the trophy, and needed one hour and 16 minutes to defeat the Delray Beach champions 6-3, 7-5. 

“It was a great week for us. Coming from Cordoba, where we lost in the first round, we came here and prepared well and practised,” Cacic told after the match. “We played very good, and I think we deserved to win today. That was our best match of the tournament.”

Brkic and Cacic only dropped serve once throughout the contest. They had to deal with a late comeback effort as Behar and Escobar a saved match point at 5-4 and tried to force a second-set tie-break. But Brkic and Cacic held firm, and converted their second match point to seal the victory in straight sets.

“[It’s the] first ATP title for us. This is our second tournament on the ATP Tour, and already we won a tournament. It’s a great feeling,” said Cacic. The pair have previously won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Forli last year.

The Buenos Aires triumph marks Brkic’s first ATP Tour doubles title and Cacic’s third. Brkic also became the first player representing Bosnia and Herzegovina to win a tour-level doubles title with his victory on Sunday.

“It’s a great experience for me, I’ve played already three semi-finals,” Brkic said. “It’s good for the self-confidence [to know that] I can play with the guys who are the best in the Tour in doubles.

“We just started to play together, so it’s good for us that we had such a good result here and I hope that it continues in Santiago next week.” 

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