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Matos/Meligeni Rodrigues Alves Claim Cordoba Crown

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

Brazilian duo Rafael Matos and Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves completed a dream week at the Cordoba Open with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Romain Arneodo and Benoit Paire on Sunday to win their first ATP Tour title.

Matos and Meligeni Rodrigues Alves were making their team debut this week, and they had to overcome major challenges to even reach the Cordoba main draw.

“It was a special week,” Meligeni Rodrigues Alves told . “We were one out [from the main draw], an alternate, and we got in at the last [minute]. It was a really good experience for us just playing in our first ATP [Tour event] together.

“It means a lot for us. Our first time playing ATP and we won, it’s a really good feeling… I hope we can win more titles together, and even in singles as well.”

They passed their biggest test in the quarter-finals when they edged past top seeds Austin Krajicek and Franko Skugor in a rollercoaster 7-6(6), 5-7, 10-2 battle. The Brazilians marched into their first ATP Tour final, with 25-year-old Matos contesting his third ATP Tour main draw while Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, 23, was in his second.

“I think with every match we were improving,” Meligeni Rodrigues Alves said. “The quarters and the semis were very tough against great players. We were able to play our best tennis in the tough moments, so in the final we knew what to do even though we were a little bit nervous at the beginning.”

They were the more solid team across two sets against Arneodo and Paire, who were reprising their partnership after falling in the opening round of the Australian Open. Meligeni Rodrigues Alves and Matos combined for seven break point chances in the first set and five in the second, successfully keeping Arneodo and Paire under pressure throughout the contest. They served strongly as well, winning 82% of points behind their first delivery, and as a result they didn’t face break point en route to victory in 65 minutes.

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Dimitrov Hits With Serena: ‘My Practice Partner Is Better Than Yours’

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

Grigor Dimitrov made a strong start to the season when he reached his sixth Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, and now he’s enlisted an all-star practice partner to make sure he maintains his momentum.

Dimitrov and former WTA World No. 1 Serena Williams hit the practice court together on Sunday and posted videos of their ‘casual hit’ on social media.

“My practice partner is better than yours,” Dimitrov boasted on Instagram. He added a ‘goat’ emoji to the caption as a reference to the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ across the net.


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A post shared by Grigor Dimitrov (@grigordimitrov)

Dimitrov’s choice of hitting partner would make any player jealous – tennis legends included. There was even a hint of sibling envy from WTA Tour great Venus Williams, who took to social media to inquire why she was left out of the fun.

“Omg are you guys hitting now? Where is my invite??” Venus asked Dimitrov on Instagram. 

It’s not the first time that former World No. 3 Dimitrov has hit the practice court with Serena. Back in 2019, Dimitrov revealed they are regular hitting partners after a practice session at the Australian Open.

“It’s good to have those kinds of hits to be honest. You can always learn a little something from whoever is on the other side of the net,” Dimitrov told press at the time. “We often hit actually, it just happened for everybody to be there that day.”

The Bulgarian will have no shortage of practice partners as he gears up for his next ATP Tour event at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. Currently No. 17 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Dimitrov has previously tasted success in Acapulco with a run to the 2014 title and reached the semi-finals last year. 

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First-Time Winner Spotlight: Alexei Popyrin

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

At the start of the Singapore Tennis Open, Alexei Popyrin had never made it past the quarter-finals of an ATP Tour event. The Aussie had only made the last eight at tour-level once, in Atlanta in 2019. 

But the 21-year-old had a dream week at this ATP 250, where he rallied past fourth seed Alexander Bublik 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 on Sunday for his first ATP Tour title. caught up with the World No. 114 after his victory to talk about his week in Singapore and the path he has taken to reach this milestone.

What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It means the world to me. So many people in my life have sacrificed a lot. My family especially has sacrificed so, so much for me to get where I am right now. To have won this tournament, it’s for them and for all the hard work that I’ve done during my whole life, honestly, and especially during this pre-season with my team. We grinded during this pre-season and it’s paying off.

Prior to your run here, you had never made it past the quarter-finals at an ATP Tour event. What do you think was the key to your breakthrough this week?
I think I just took it one match at a time. I didn’t think of getting past the quarter-finals or that it was a big deal of playing the semi-finals. I was focussed on every single match that I had to play. I really didn’t try getting ahead of myself, thinking that I was in the semis, in the finals. Now that I won, I can get a little ahead of myself. But in a couple of days, it’s back to work and playing tournaments again.

You now own an 8-2 record in 2021. How happy are you with your start to the season and what do you think has been the key to your success?
That’s definitely a good record for me, especially with how I ended last year and played last year. To have a start like I’m having this year is definitely showing how much work I put in the pre-season. I keep saying it and I’m going to keep saying it throughout the whole year: I think the work I put in during the pre-season this year was unbelievable. As a team we all worked so, so hard and I’m really happy with the way the season has started.

En route to the final, you won all five tie-breaks you played. What was the key to you finding your best tennis in the most crucial moments throughout this week?
I think the level-headedness that I had, I was always trying to stay positive, stay calm as much as I could because I knew that I would have opportunities and to take those opportunities, you have to be calm. Especially in a tie-break, there are very few opportunities that you get, so when you get that one opportunity, you have to take it, especially when you’re a mini-break down. Even if you’re winning, you have to take those opportunities that you have. I think my level-headedness definitely during those tie-breaks was the best.

Could you take a moment to acknowledge some of the key figures in your life and career who have helped you to reach this milestone?
The key figures in my life definitely have to be my parents. My whole family, honestly. They’ve sacrificed so, so, so much for me. They’ve travelled the world with me. I remember when I was 12 years old with my family, my brother, we were playing Tennis Europe Under 12s, Under 14s. The whole family, we rented a seven-seater and we would go for three, four months just playing tournament after tournament.

My grandma, my little sister, my mom, my dad, my brother, me, we would all be in that car and we would just travel from Italy to Slovakia to Slovenia to Spain to France to all these places, all together in that one car. That’s the sacrifice that everybody has made for me. My parents and my whole family have been the most influential people in my life.

Tell us a little about your passions for basketball and football. When did you start following both sports and how did you end up becoming a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and Everton?
I’ve been a football fan since I was very, very young, since I was four or five. Tennis and football were the two sports that I played growing up. I remember watching Australia in the 2006 World Cup when Tim Cahill scored all those goals and we got to the Round of 16 and unfortunately against Italy we had a little dive in the penalty box. I still remember that and I’ve been following football my whole life.

I’m an Everton fan because Tim Cahill was playing for Everton at the time. I wanted to find a team to support and he was my favourite player. I told him that myself and it’s great that we’re in touch because he was one of my idols growing up.

Basketball, I got into it when I was around 13. I was watching NBA 2K on YouTube and I liked it and I wanted to play the game, so I started understanding the game a little bit. It’s grown into my third favourite sport to watch. The Portland TrailBlazers, I’m not one of those glory-seekers to find a team that has been winning trophies so easily and have had the best team in the league. I was just trying to find my team and Damian Lillard popped up. He’s become my favourite player and they’ve become my favourite team. I think even if he leaves I’ll still support Portland.

Do you play either sport and, if so, have you played with any players on the ATP Tour?
I do play both sports. I love to play both, but I haven’t played with anybody on the ATP in any of the sports. But I must say, I’ve seen Nick Kyrgios, Gael Monfils and Thanasi Kokkinakis play basketball and they’re probably the best on Tour.

This is a milestone moment in your career. How will you celebrate this victory?
I’ll celebrate by hopping on a flight in three hours and flying back home to see my family. Maybe I’ll upgrade my ticket to business class, but that’s it.

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Goffin Completes Montpellier Comeback, Collects Fifth Title

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

David Goffin captured his first ATP Tour title in more than three years on Sunday, when rallied from a set down to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

The second seed landed 13 aces and broke serve on four occasions to clinch the title after two hours and five minutes. This is Goffin’s first ATP Tour crown since his title run at the 2017 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

“It’s never easy to win tournaments. This is my fifth and every tournament that I’ve won was very special,” said Goffin, in an on-court interview. “I had some opportunities, I’ve had matches [where] I had zero chance to win in the final. Sometimes you take it, sometimes not. I’ve played some finals, but you need to continue, you need to improve your game, you need to fight and I’m happy that it paid off at the end.”

With his fourth straight win against Bautista Agut, Goffin extended his ATP Head2Head series advantage against the Spaniard to 4-2. Goffin entered the ATP 250 on a three-match losing streak, but he rediscovered his best level on the southern French coast and survived three deciding sets en route to the trophy.

Goffin is only the third non-French player to lift the singles trophy in Montpellier. The five-time ATP Tour titlist joins 2012 champion Tomas Berdych and 2017 titlist Alexander Zverev in the exclusive club. Eight of the previous 10 editions of the ATP 250 singles event were won by French players.

Bautista Agut dictated rallies with his forehand and rushed Goffin into errors to take the first set in 49 minutes, but the Belgian responded immediately and turned the match in his favour. Goffin moved up the court well and fired consecutive backhand winners up the line to earn a love service break at the start of the second set. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up maintained his advantage with strong serving and forced a decider with a love service hold.

“The first part of the match today was [played] at a better level from my side. I player better and I was more aggressive,” said Bautista Agut. “I think the key was the return. He was putting a lot of pressure on my serve with his return.”

Goffin carried the momentum into the third set and he capitalised on forehand errors from his opponent to break serve. The 30-year-old continued to drive his backhand up the line and closed the net well to double his advantage. Goffin converted his first championship point when Bautista Agut failed to control a powerful backhand down the line.

“A final is always different. You have to just go for it,” said Goffin. “You’ve already [had] a good week and you’re playing the final. It’s the last match of the week, so you have to give everything to try to win the trophy. Otherwise, it’s tough to win a tournament. I did it, I raised my level and I’m really happy at the end because it was a tough moment. [I had] tough weeks last season and I’m happy that I’m back with a level like this.”

Bautista Agut was attempting to capture his 10th tour-level trophy. The 32-year-old, who owns a 9-8 record in ATP Tour championship matches, did not drop a set en route to the final.

“He played really well the whole week and I always know against Roberto that he’s a very tough opponent,” said Goffin. “[He’s] one of the biggest fighters and one of the best players in the world, so it’s always tough. Especially in the final, I had to play my best tennis and I think it was the case… I started to play well from the start of the second [set] and I had to give everything. That was my only chance today.”

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Kontinen/Roger-Vasselin Triumph In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin lifted their second tour-level title as a team on Sunday, following a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Jonathan Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski in the Open Sud de France final.

The top seeds saved all seven break points they faced to beat Erlich and Vasilevski in 66 minutes. Kontinen and Roger-Vasselin doubled their ATP Tour team title count, following their success at the 2019 Stockholm Open.

“We are very happy to win this tournament this week,” said Roger-Vasselin. “We were better and better in each match. That is a good point. Now we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Kontinen and Roger-Vasselin dropped just one set en route to the ATP 250 title. In the first round, the Finnish-French duo rallied from a set down to overcome Hubert Hurkacz and Szymon Walkow 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-8.

Roger-Vasselin is the first player to win three doubles titles at this event. The 37-year-old previously triumphed in Montpellier alongside Nicolas Mahut in 2012 and Ivan Dodig in 2019.

Erlich and Vasilevski were attempting to clinch their first ATP Tour doubles trophy as a partnership in their second final. Last year’s Pune finalists beat fourth seeds Divij Sharan and Igor Zelenay en route to the championship match.

“We are pretty pleased with the week,” said Erlich. “We had three great victories with great energy. Making the final is a great achievement for us. Unfortunately, today we played against a top class team… It was exciting to be in a final again after a tough year. We keep going. [This week] gave me a lot of energy and enthusiasm to keep going for the rest of this year. Hopefully we will [play] a few more finals.”

Kontinen and Roger-Vasselin receive 250 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points and share $7,550 in prize money. Erlich and Vasilevski collect 150 points and split $5,530.

Did You Know?
Kontinen has an 80 per cent success rate in tour-level doubles finals. The 30-year-old holds a 24-6 record in tour-level championship matches.

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Popyrin Serves Up Maiden Title In Singapore

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

Alexei Popyrin completed a dream week at the Singapore Tennis Open on Sunday, as he rallied from a set down to defeat Alexander Bublik 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 and claim his maiden ATP Tour title.

The unseeded Aussie produced a dominant serving performance to overcome the fourth seed in 84 minutes. Popyrin dropped just six points behind his serve (46/52) and won seven consecutive service games to love from 3-5 in the first set.

“It feels unbelievable,” said Popyrin. “A lot of sacrifice, a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work went into this from myself, my team and my whole entire family. I have done it for everybody who was involved. I am just so proud that I could actually get it done.”

Alexei Popyrin breaks Alexander Bublik on five occasions to capture the Singapore Tennis Open trophy.

Prior to this week, Popyrin had never advanced beyond the quarter-finals at an ATP Tour event. When the latest FedEx ATP Rankings are released on Monday, the 21-year-old will rise to a new career-high.

“I knew that if I could get a quick start in the second set, I would probably win the second set with the way I have been serving this week,” said Popyrin. “That third set was a grind. It was really a grind. I started picking up where he was going to serve a lot. I started getting the balls back in play a lot.

“The most important thing was to read his serve and that is what I started to do… At the same time, I tried to play aggressive and that is what I did. It paid off.” 

Popyrin’s victory against Bublik was his second win against seeded opposition this week. In the semi-finals, the Aussie claimed a 7-6(5), 7-6(2) victory against third seed Marin Cilic. Throughout the week, Popyrin played well in pressure moments and won all five tie-break sets he contested.

Bublik was also attempting to lift his first ATP Tour trophy. The Kazakhstani was competing in his second final of the year after retiring from last month’s Antalya Open championship match with a right ankle injury. Bublik also reached finals in Newport and Chengdu in 2019.

“There are a lot of positives,” said Bublik. “My game definitely evolved since last year… I am happy with my performance during the week. Alexei played enormous tennis today. He hit all the lines, he hit all the serves and all the returns. He was the better player today.”

Popyrin received 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points and $24,770 in prize money. Bublik collected 150 points and $18,310.

Did You Know?
Popyrin is the second first-time ATP Tour titlist of 2021. Earlier this month, Daniel Evans claimed his maiden tour-level trophy at the Murray River Open.

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Gille/Vliegen Clinch Singapore Title

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen extended their unbeaten record in ATP Tour finals on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith at the Singapore Tennis Open.

The Belgians converted four of their five break points to improve to 5-0 in tour-level championship matches after 66 minutes. Gille and Vliegen entered the tournament with a 1-2 record this season, but they produced their best tennis in Singapore to win all four of their matches at the ATP 250 in straight sets.

“It is going really well in the finals,” said Gille. “We had been talking about [our record]… We have got our fifth title now and it is giving us a lot of confidence as well. It had been going well in the past and we were full of confidence this week. We just carried that through to today and we are very happy and satisfied with our level and the title.”

“We started the year in Australia and had a good feeling. It didn’t really work out for us… [It is] a really big motivation boost for us, winning the title here… We played really well all week and we are very happy to finish it off with a win,” said Vliegen.

Ebden and Smith were attempting to capture their first team title. The Aussie pair owns an 8-3 record this season, following runs to the Great Ocean Road Open semi-finals and the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Gille and Vliegen receive 250 FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking points and split $8,630 in prize money. Ebden and Smith gain 150 points and share $6,330.

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Cerundolo, 19, Reaches Cordoba Final In ATP Tour Debut

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2021

Argentine qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo had never played an ATP Tour main draw match before this week at the Cordoba Open. Now, the 19-year-old is one victory away from lifting his first trophy on home soil after defeating Federico Coria 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Cerundolo is now the first player to make the final in his Tour debut since Spain’s Santiago Ventura in 2004 Casablanca.

“Honestly, I still can’t believe what is happening,” Cerundolo said in an on-court interview. “It was a really tough match, I was playing very solid in the first set but he started to come back and then anything could happen. After the second set, I did well to recover mentally and withstand him.”

Cerundolo and Coria were both in uncharted waters on Saturday as they each contested their first ATP Tour semi-final. But their roads to get to that point couldn’t be more different: 28-year-old Coria was making a late-career breakthrough, while young Cerundolo was in the midst of the best week of his career after making his ATP Tour main draw debut. In fact, Cerundolo had only played 14 matches in the ATP Challenger Tour and owned a 7-7 record coming into Cordoba.

But the 19-year-old looked more like the veteran on Cancha Central, doing damage with his lefty forehand as he redirected Coria’s power back at his countryman. Cerundolo finished the match with 30 winners against Coria’s 19 as he sealed the victory after two hours and 10 minutes.


“I would describe myself… as a defensive counter puncher,” Cerundolo said. “I like to hit with the other guy’s power. When you face powerful opponents like Fede [Coria], you have to go after them a little bit or else things can get complicated.”

The victory made Cerundolo the youngest Argentine to reach an ATP Tour final since Jose Acasuso, 18, at 2001 Buenos Aires. At that tournament, Acasuso was coached by Alejandro Cerundolo, Juan Manuel’s father.

Cerundolo awaits the winner of fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and fellow Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis for a shot at the title. 

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Ebden/Smith To Face Top Seeds For Singapore Doubles Crown

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2021

Fourth seeds Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith charged into their first ATP Tour final as a team at the Singapore Tennis Open after defeating Luis David Martinez and David Vega Hernandez 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday.

The Aussie duo has been in form since joining forces at the start of the season. Ebden and Smith enjoyed a strong showing on home soil and reached back-to-back quarter-finals in their first two tournaments, the Great Ocean Road Open and Australian Open.

They’ve kept up the high level in Singapore, dropping only one set en route to the final. Ebden and Smith needed an hour and 15 minutes to end Martinez’s and Vega Hernandez’s run inside Centre Court. The Venezuelan-Spanish team toppled No. 2 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan in the opening match, but they couldn’t keep up with Ebden and Smith in the semi-final.

Ebden and Smith created six break opportunities across two sets, converting on three occasions. The Aussies needed just one break to claim the opening set, but found themselves having to fight back from 0-3 down in the second. Ebden and Smith responded by combining for four aces and winning the last five games of the match to seal their spot in the final.


The fourth seeds will face the Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen for the Singapore doubles crown. Gille and Vliegen, the top seeds, are closing in on their fifth ATP Tour title together and booked their spot in the final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 3 seeds Luke Bambridge and Dominic Inglot on Friday.

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Goffin Claims Maiden Montpellier Final Spot

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2021

David Goffin made a personal breakthrough at the Open Sud de France on Saturday, as he reached his first final at the ATP 250 with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory against Egor Gerasimov.

The Belgian won 86 per cent of first-serve points in the third set (12/14) to advance to his first final since the 2019 Western & Southern Open. Goffin was appearing in his third semi-final in Montpellier, after falling at the final-four stage in 2018 and 2020.


The World No. 15 has levelled his ATP Head2Head series against Gerasimov at 1-1. Goffin lost his only previous meeting against the Belarusian at last year’s Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

Gerasimov was attempting to reach his second ATP Tour championship match. Last year’s Pune runner-up defeated former World No. 1 Andy Murray en route to the semi-finals in Montpellier.

Goffin will face Roberto Bautista Agut or Peter Gojowczyk in Sunday’s final. The second seed owns a 3-2 lead in his ATP Head2Head rivalry against Bautista Agut and won his only previous tour-level match against Gojowczyk at the 2017 Swiss Indoors Basel.

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