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Brown, Stakhovsky & Troicki On Brink Of Australian Open Qualification

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2021

Three ATP Tour veterans — Dustin Brown, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Viktor Troicki — all stand one victory away from qualifying for the Australian Open. The qualifying competition is being held in Doha due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brown, 36, who is bidding to compete in the main draw for the first time in three years, struck eight aces and won 80 per cent of his first-service points to beat No. 22 seed Carlos Taberner 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday. He will next play Maxime Cressy, who fired 21 aces to overcome Yannick Maden 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Stakhovsky, 36, who last played in the main draw in 2016, recovered from 1-5 down in the first set to beat Jason Kubler 7-6(4), 6-4 and now plays another Australian, Dane Sweeny, in the final qualifying round on Wednesday.

Troicki, a month shy of his 35th birthday, knocked out Ulises Blanch 7-5, 6-3. The Serbian, who reached the third round of the Australian Open in 2011 and 2015-17, will next face No. 11 seed Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who defeated Rinky Hijikata 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, former World No. 17 Bernard Tomic saved one match point at 4-5, 30/40 in the deciding set to edge past Tristan Schoolkate in a final 10-point tie-break, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(3). He will next challenge his fellow Australian, John-Patrick Smith, who beat Tallon Griekspoor 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Former World No. 23 Damir Dzumhur, who competed in the main draw third round in 2014 and 2018, defeated Julian Lenz 6-2, 6-2 and the seventh seed now meets Kimmer Coppejans.

Fifth seed Taro Daniel was a 6-3, 6-4 victor over Maximilian Marterer and now plays Elias Ymer, who defeated No. 27 seed Marc-Andrea Huesler 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. Robin Haase also overcame Gian Marco Moroni 6-4, 7-5 and now plays Quentin Halys in the final qualifying round.

Carlos Alcaraz bounced back from a slow start in both sets to beat Evgeny Karlovskiy 7-6(1), 7-6(4). He will next face second seed Hugo Dellien, who beat Andrew Harris 6-4, 7-6(6). Michael Mmoh saved two match points at 4-5 in the third set to scrape past Zhe Li 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) and he now prepares to face Arthur Rinderknech.

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Mektic/Pavic Complete Debut Week With Antalya Trophy

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2021

One week into the 2021 ATP Tour season and new team Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic have captured their first team trophy.

The top-seeded Croatian team completed a dream week at the Antalya Open on Tuesday by beating second seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-2, 6-4 in the doubles final, which lasted 67 minutes.

“It’s a great start and couldn’t be any better, especially because it’s our first tournament together,” Mektic told

Pavic told, “It’s always great to start the year like this as we’ve never played together before. It’s good to get a lot of matches and the goal, for me, is always to reach the [Nitto] ATP Finals, which was in London and now in Torino. It’s a good way to start.”

Mektic and Pavic threatened throughout the first set, breaking serve in the third and seventh games. The new team were unable to convert a deciding Deuce point at 1-1 in the second set, but decisively broke for a 3-2 advantage and didn’t look back.

Mektic, who partnered Wesley Koolhof to the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals crown, is now 9-8 in tour-level finals, while 27-year-old Pavic picks up his 18th trophy (18-22 record in finals).

Croatian Dodig and Slovakian Polasek are now 2-3 as a team in ATP Tour finals, having captured two crowns in 2019 at the Western & Southern Open and the China Open. Dodig and Pavic finished runner-up in September last year at the Hamburg European Open (l. to Peers/Venus).

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Bublik Bounces Back In Antalya, Now Plays De Minaur For Title

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2021

Alexander Bublik dominated on serve early on, but was ultimately forced to work hard on Tuesday for a place in the Antalya Open final.

The eighth-seeded Kazakhstani eventually beat Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 in two hours and five minutes for a place in his third ATP Tour title match (also 2019 Newport and Chengdu).

After the match, Bublik admitted: “I got injured in the middle of the match and considered pulling out, but I said myself, ‘Okay, I will give it a try.’ I then served unbelievably, the best since Chengdu 2019. I served almost every serve full power and I was lucky to win the match.”

Bublik will next face fourth-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur for the first time. De Minaur overcame second seed David Goffin of Belgium earlier in the day.

Bublik led by a set and 4-2 before Chardy fought back to lead 5-4 in the second set. Chardy then held on to save two break points at 5-5 then produced a strong performance in the tie-break, which ended when Bublik struck his seventh double fault.

In the deciding set, 23-year-old Bublik saved six break points — two in the first game and four at 3-3 — before he broke Chardy for a 5-3 advantage.

Bublik recorded the second biggest win of his career on Monday by beating World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini in the Antalya quarter-finals. Chardy, 33, had been bidding to reach the fourth ATP Tour final of his career (2009 Johannesburg, 2009 Stuttgart and 2018 ‘s-Hertogenbosch).

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De Minaur Beats Goffin To Reach Antalya Final

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2021

Alex de Minaur fought hard to reach his eighth ATP Tour final on Tuesday at the Antalya Open. The fourth-seeded Australian recorded his second straight win over second seed David Goffin of Belgium 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in one hour and 52 minutes.

The 21-year-old De Minaur, who lifted three trophies in 2019 at Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai, awaits the winner of eighth-seeded Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik and Jeremy Chardy of France.

World No. 23 De Minaur broke serve immediately and ran through the 43-minute first set, losing just three of his service points. But No. 16-ranked Goffin turned the tables by winning the first three games of the second set. De Minaur broke for a 3-1 advantage in the decider, but Goffin responded only to lose the momentum.

Goffin, who is working with new coach Germain Gigounon, had been bidding to advance to his first ATP Tour final since August 2019 at the Western & Southern Open. He saved five match points to beat his doubles partner, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, in the Antalya Open first round on Thursday last week.


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Isner Will Not Play Australian Open: 'It Wasn't An Easy Decision'

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2021

John Isner, who lost in the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open by Monday evening, announced after the match that he will not compete in the Australian Open this year. The American made his decision Sunday evening.

“It wasn’t an easy decision at all,” Isner said. “I thought long and hard about it, but I feel comfortable with my decision right now and [I am] looking forward to getting home.”

Isner and his wife, Madison McKinley Isner, have two children — two-year-old Hunter Grace and one-year-old John Hobbs — whom he does not want to be away from for an extended period.

“At this stage of my career and in my life, I always had visions of being able to travel with my family. Of course, that wouldn’t be the case for Australia this year. Understandably so, I get it,” Isner said. “It really was just a situation where I didn’t want to be away from my family for that long. I decided to stay home.”

At 35, Isner wants to make his family a big part of his traveling life on the ATP Tour, but that is not possible for this trip due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon arriving in Australia, players will be mandated to serve a 14-day quarantine, before playing a lead-in event to the Australian Open, which begins 8 February.

“I told myself prior to the pandemic that we were going to travel with them as much possible and we were going to make it as much fun as possible on the road,” Isner said. “When I travel in Europe, I was going to stay at the nicest hotels and just make a really nice trip out of all of it because I won’t be playing tennis forever, there’s no doubt about it. Certainly, right now, tennis is not the most important thing in my life. It’s my family.”

The American No. 1 is the No. 25 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Although Isner will not travel to Australia, he still is working hard to add to his collection of 15 ATP Tour titles and compete on the sport’s biggest stages against the best players in the world.

“Me not going to Australia doesn’t mean that I’m not committed, because I still am,” Isner said. “I’m healthy, I feel really good and I’ll continue to take care of my body. Once the Tour gets back from Australia, I look forward to playing as full of a season as I possibly can.”

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Korda Clutch Against Isner, Reaches Delray Beach Semi-finals

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2021

Sebastian Korda has wasted no time making his mark on the ATP Tour in 2021.

The #NextGenATP American upset countryman John Isner, the second seed, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 at the Delray Beach Open by on Monday evening to reach his first ATP Tour semi-final.

For a moment, it appeared Korda’s big moment might come undone. As the World No. 119 served for the match, Isner jumped to a 0/40 advantage. The American No. 1 broke serve once in the second set, but the three points he played to gain that advantage were some of his best of the match.

Korda did not panic, instead playing some of his best tennis to battle through Isner’s surge and triumph after one hour and 51 minutes. The former junior World No. 1 let out a massive roar on match point.

“I was super happy with how I played that whole game. I mean, he played an incredible first three points. The way he played those, I was like, ‘Too good.’ I couldn’t really do anything. He came to the net, he played big balls, he played a super good three points,” Korda said. “I just stuck with it, I got a little bit more aggressive. At the end, there was a lot of stress in that last game, so I kind of let it go [with the roar].”


Korda began the week with three tour-level wins, all of which came at Roland Garros last year. The 20-year-old in Florida has doubled that count, and now he will play 2018 champion Frances Tiafoe or Cameron Norrie for a spot in the final. Korda’s father, former World No. 2 Petr Korda, played in Delray Beach twice, but never made a quarter-final, let alone a semi-final. That’s not something “Sebi” will remind his father of any time soon.

“No, because he’s then just going to counter that and say, ‘I’ve got a Grand Slam,'” Sebi joked. “My dad is not anything like that. He’s all for me. As long as I’m happy, he’s happy.”

Isner crushed 13 aces and he battled until the end. But too often once rallies began, it was Korda controlling play and coming up with either an impressive passing shot or a key winner when he needed one.

“He’s a good player. I think tonight in particular he was just a little bit better than I was. It was sort of an uphill battle for me out there,” Isner said. “I wasn’t maybe feeling that great out there, but I competed hard and I fought hard, but he came up with the goods.”

Perhaps most impressive about Korda was his demeanour on court. Playing a grizzly veteran like Isner, against whom just a few minutes’ lapse of concentration is costly, Korda remained calm throughout to earn one of the biggest wins of his young career.

“Whenever i’m on court my head is pretty clear and I’m a super positive guy on court, so I’m always in the moment and always super positive. There are very few times you’ll see any emotion come out of me that’s negative,” Korda said. “I worked a lot on that during this break and it’s paying off right now.” 

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