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Tiafoe Takes Down Young In Delray

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

Eighth-seeded Frances Tiafoe wrapped up first-round action at the Delray Beach Open by with a confident win on Friday over Donald Young, 6-3, 6-4.

During the off-season, 2018 champion Tiafoe picked up the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in the 2020 ATP Awards. He continued to shine on the courts with his first victory of the new year over qualifier Young, a fellow American ranked No. 327 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“It’s never easy playing someone you like a lot or have known for so long,” Tiafoe said in his on-court interview. “But I competed great tonight, I thought, [even though] I wasn’t feeling the ball as well as I would like… It’s a work in progress.”

Tiafoe broke Young four times en route to victory, keeping the 31-year-old’s serve under constant pressure. Young faced break points in all but one of his five service games in the opening set as Tiafoe surged ahead to take it 6-3.

Young raised his level going into the second set to hang with Tiafoe, and the pair locked into thrilling baseline rallies. They stayed on serve after trading a pair of early breaks, but Tiafoe applied some scoreboard pressure as Young served to stay in the match at 5-4.  An untimely double fault – one of Young’s six in the match – sealed the seventh seed’s spot in the second round.

“This court is definitely one of my favourite courts in the world,” Tiafoe said. “At 20 years old, winning a title here was really special back in 2018. Hopefully this year, or one of these years, I can do it again.”

Earlier in the day, Cameron Norrie dropped just three games against JC Aragone to make a strong start to the season in South Florida.

The 25-year-old British player settled quickly into the blustery conditions and was aggressive in taking his chances on the big points against Aragone, who was looking for his first ATP Tour win. Norrie saved all three of the break points he faced and won 84% of points behind his first serve en route to a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

“I knew that it would be tricky playing as the favourite and in these conditions,” Norrie said. “I served really well today, I really relied on that and I was pretty solid. I don’t think I missed too many balls. I didn’t really go for much, but I was able to relax a bit towards the end and play more aggressive. It’s playing pretty lively out here, so I’m just glad to get the win. It was not easy.”

The lefty was made to work from the start as Aragone pushed him in two lengthy games to open the match, but Norrie fought through to eventually break for a 3-1 lead. As Aragone felt the growing scoreboard pressure, Norrie eventually outlasted the American in a baseline battle. Aragone hit an error into the net to surrender the first set.

Norrie kept his foot firmly on the accelerator in the second set as he once again broke first, building up a 3-1 lead. He raised his level as the match wound to a close, claiming the next nine of 10 points to win after just 67 minutes on court. Up next, Norrie will take on third-seeded Adrian Mannarino in a battle between lefties.


Joining them is the oldest player to win a match on the ATP Tour since Jimmy Connors in 1995: Ivo Karlovic, the 2015 champion who took down seventh-seeded Pablo Andujar, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a two-hour and 18-minute battle.

“Almost every match that I win, now with my age, it [makes] history,” quipped 41-year-old Karlovic in his on-court interview. Known for his booming serve as well as his towering height, the Croatian also struck 27 aces tonight against Andujar – his personal best at the tournament. The tournament record for aces in a single match is 30 hit by John Isner against Peter Gojowczyk in 2018.

Elsewhere, American qualifier Christian Harrison moved on after securing a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, while countryman Bjorn Fratangelo also advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Kevin King.

Ecuadorian qualifier Roberto Quiroz is also through after a 7-6(1), 6-3 victory over wild card Noah Rubin, and Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan claimed his first victory of the season over Andrej Martin, 6-4, 6-4.

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Fabio 2.0: Why Fognini Is Focussing On Calm & Patience

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

Fabio Fognini is one of the most entertaining players on the ATP Tour. When the 33-year-old feels a certain way, positively or negatively, he makes sure everyone within shouting distance knows it. But since last May, when the World No. 17 underwent arthroscopic surgery on both his ankles, Fognini has adopted a new mindset highlighted by calm and patience.

Call this Fabio 2.0.

“I know that sounds really weird from me, those kinds of words,” Fognini joked to after winning his first-round match at the Antalya Open on Friday.

But the Italian is serious. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist is as hungry as ever for success, especially with the Nitto ATP Finals moving to Turin in his home country, Italy, this year. Fognini knows that coming back from those surgeries to find his best form will not be an easy task. But he is accepting things as they come, even if that has not always been his strong suit.

“When you get surgery, especially at 33, you never know what’s going to happen,” Fognini said, adding that this chapter of his career is like “a new beginning”.

Before Fognini had the surgeries, his left ankle had bothered him for more than three years, and his right ankle was an issue for two years. During that period, the Italian played the best tennis of his life. In June 2019, at 32, he became the oldest player to crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time since 1973, when the rankings were first established. Fognini climbed as high as World No. 9 in July 2019.

But throughout that time, even when he won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, his ankles were problematic. It was just difficult to tell because of his high level. After losing to Rafael Nadal from a set up in Montreal a few months later, the Spaniard even gave him advice since the lefty had dealt with a similar issue himself.

Fognini, not knowing what would happen if he underwent surgery, was apprehensive at first. Even after going through with it, he wasn’t sure how his body would react. Fognini went 1-4 after the ATP Tour’s return from the COVID-19 suspension last year. The Italian had no expectations, and he admitted that his left foot was only at about 75 per cent, and his right foot was at 50 per cent.

“I was thinking also, ‘What happens if I don’t feel great and it starts to feel bad like before?’ But everybody told me that I had to be really calm, patient,” Fognini said. “I knew that during this period of the clay-court season [I] was not 100 per cent, so I had to accept every result that was coming on my way back.”

For example, Fognini’s first-round win in Antalya against qualifier World No. 311 Michael Vrbensky, by a 6-4, 7-6(4) margin, was a difficult one. Normally, Fognini might have gotten down on himself for his level. But the Italian is being more understanding with himself.

“I know that I have to suffer a lot because it never comes easy. I need these kinds of matches, especially at the beginning of the year. Of course, I was not 100 per cent since my surgeries,” Fognini said. “I’m happy because every match for me now is important, especially if I won a tight match, 6-4, 7-6, a match [against] a guy coming from qualies. He played two matches before today. I have to look at the result, but I also look at myself… I need this feeling again.”

Photo Credit: Antalya Open
Fognini is confident that the work he did during the pre-season will position him well this year. The Italian spent nearly seven weeks to prepare for the new season. During the first two weeks all he did was rehab his feet and generally take care of his body. Then slowly, Fognini added tennis into the equation.

“I know that my tennis, if I ask something of my tennis, it always gives me an answer,” Fognini said. “I know if physically during these kinds of matches like today’s, I start feeling great again, I feel for sure the results are coming.”

That is why Fognini was so excited by a victory that otherwise would have slipped under the radar.

“I need to run, I need to be free of pain. That’s the most beautiful thing of today. I felt a lot of the time great without any pain. Zero,” Fognini said. “I just need time and probably my game will come back again.”

Adding to the physical side of things, Fognini says he feels “mentally fresh”. Staying home during the pandemic has meant spending a lot of time with his family: former WTA star Flavia Pennetta and their two children, three-year-old Federico and one-year-old Farah.

“I was with them for the holidays. I was practising, I was sleeping at home, joking with my baby, so I think that’s the most important thing,” Fognini said. “[But] tennis of course is my job. I feel that I have something to do already because I need to still accomplish [things in tennis].”

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New Team Mektic/Pavic Make A Winning Start In Antalya

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are one of the new doubles teams to watch on the ATP Tour this year. The Croatians showed why on Friday.

Mektic and Pavic battled past Jiri Vesely and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn 6-4, 5-7, 10-6 for a place in the quarter-finals of the Antalya Open. The top seeds will next face Nikoloz Basilashvili and Andre Begemann, who were 6-2, 6-3 victors over Turkish wild cards Umut Akkoyun and Mert Naci Turker.

Mektic and Pavic both competed in last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, but with different partners. Mektic won the season finale alongside Wesley Koolhof, and Pavic and Bruno Soares finished as the year-end No. 1 doubles team.

Kazakhstanis Alexander Bublik and Andrey Golubev held their nerve in a tense finale at the end of the day against David Goffin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Bublik and Golubev recovered from 1/4 down in the Match Tie-break and saved one match point at 9/10 en route to a 6-3, 0-6, 12/10 victory.

On Thursday, Goffin saved five match points against Herbert in the first round of the singles draw.

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Fognini, De Minaur Advance In Antalya

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

Fabio Fognini joined fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini on Friday by beginning 2021 with a win at the Antalya Open.

Third seed Fognini came through a 6-4, 7-6(4) first-round victory over Czech qualifier Michael Vrbensky in one hour and 39 minutes. Fognini, who broke serve in the third game of each set, saw Vrbensky respond in a competitive second set. The Czech won the first three points of the tie-break.

The 33-year-old will now challenge France’s Jeremy Chardy, who defeated Radu Albot of Moldova 6-3, 6-4 in 80 minutes. Fognini is bidding to capture his first ATP Tour title this week since April 2019 when he clinched the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters crown (d. Lajovic).

Fourth seed Alex de Minaur required just 61 minutes to overcome Malek Jaziri of Tunisia mid-afternoon. The 21-year-old Australian, who compiled a 13-11 record last season, broke serve five times. De Minaur now faces Bulgarian qualifier Adrian Andreev, who recorded his first ATP Tour match win over Turkish wild card Marsel Ilhan 6-4, 6-3 in 76 minutes.

Read & Watch: De Minaur’s End-Range Shot Tips

Elsewhere, France’s Tristan Lamasine recovered from 3-5 down in the first set and saved one set point at 4-5 in a 7-6(6), 6-2 victory over Egor Gerasimov of Belarus. Lamasine now prepares to meet eighth-seeded Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik in the second round.

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Berrettini Blasts Into Antalya Second Round

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini blasted his way into the Antalya Open second round on Friday by beating Turkish wild card Ergi Kirkin 6-0, 6-4 in just 56 minutes. The top-seeded Italian struck eight aces and won 24 of 26 first-service points.

“I thought it was important to play in the first week of the season, ahead of the Australian swing,” Berrettini told “I have been working hard and for the first time in two years haven’t been affected by an injury [coming into a new season]. I thought I played well today and I’m looking to build my confidence in Antalya, where I have played four times before when I was starting my career.”

The 24-year-old Berrettini, who is hoping to win his fourth ATP Tour title this week, now faces Bulgarian qualifier Dimitar Kuzmanov, who led 6-1, 3-2 when Laslo Djere of Serbia retired due to an eye inflammation.

Fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff, competing at a career-high No. 29 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, saved five of seven break points in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Russian qualifier Pavel Kotov in 87 minutes. The German now plays France’s Hugo Grenier, who recorded his first ATP Tour match win by beating qualifier Alex Molcan of the Slovak Republic 7-5, 6-4 in 90 minutes. Molcan led 3-1 in the first set.

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#NextGenATP Korda Contains Kwon In Delray Beach Debut

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda set up an all-American second-round clash against fifth-seeded Tommy Paul at the Delray Beach Open by after fighting past Soonwoo Kwon 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday.

Korda, who is currently No. 119 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, made a winning start to the season after closing 2020 on a milestone, lifting his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Eckental at the end of the year.

“Not only my dad [Petr Korda] but my whole team, we put in a lot of work during the break and I’m super happy with how everything is going right now,” Korda said in his on-court interview.

“Whenever I get a chance to play a big tournament like here, it’s always a privilege and  I always have a smile on my face. I kind of enjoy it a little bit more because I know how tough it is to get here.”

The American started out on a tear against Kwon, keeping his opponent under pressure as he reeled off back-to-back breaks of serve to take a 4-0 lead. But once the South Korea player finally got on the scoreboard, he seemed to relax and swing more freely against Korda.

Kwon stormed back as he won the next three games and was a point away from levelling the score at 4-4. But Korda stayed cool to save break point and instead served out the set after taking a 5-3 lead.

Kwon kept up the punishing pace against Korda in a tightly contested second set, which saw the first eight games go to the server. But the South Korean player blinked first, and Korda pounced on his brief dip in form to claim a crucial break at 4-4. He needed three match points before grinding through in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.


“I think in the end I just stayed pretty positive, even though I was up a double break and he got it back to 4-3 and had a couple of break points,” Paul said. “But I played a great match and I’m super happy to be through.”

Korda’s victory set up an all-American clash against Delray Beach resident Paul, the fifth seed. Paul needed just over an hour to defeat Ji Sung Nam in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4 and make a winning start to the new season.

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Paul Leads Opening Day Winners In Delray Beach

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

Fifth-seeded Tommy Paul needed just over an hour to defeat Ji Sung Nam in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4 and make a winning start to the new season on Thursday at the Delray Beach Open by

Paul, a resident of Delray Beach, is one of 13 Americans in the draw and currently sits at a career-high No. 52 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. He’s looking to continue with the momentum that last year saw him reach the semi-finals in Adelaide as well as record his biggest win to date over No. 7 Alexander Zverev in Acapulco.

The American fired five aces and converted four of the six break points on offer to see off Nam, who was making his Delray Beach debut.

Paul awaits the winner in the match between countryman Sebastian Korda and Soonwoo Kwon for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Also in action in South Florida, Thiago Monteiro took down Thomaz Bellucci in an all-Brazilian clash to book a showdown with the second-seeded John Isner. Monteiro, ranked No. 84, only dropped serve once during their hour and 40-minute clash to win 6-3, 7-5.

Joining Paul and Monteiro in the second round is Gianluca Mager of Italy, who won his first match at Delray Beach after a tight three-set battle against wildcard Ryan Harrison. Mager won 77% of points behind his first serve, and fired nine aces en route to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

More to follow…


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