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Federer To Make ATP Tour Return In Doha

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2021

Roger Federer will make his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour in March when he is set to compete at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.

The Swiss superstar, who has undergone two right knee operations in the past 12 months, last played on 30 January 2020 when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals.

Speaking to Swiss broadcaster SRF, Federer said, “I thought for a long time when and where I should come back. Australia was still a bit too early because of my knee… I want to celebrate big victories once again. And for that I am ready to go the long, hard way.”

The Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where Federer has won three titles in 2005-06 and 2011, begins on 8 March. The ATP 250 tournament is traditionally held in January each year.

The 39-year-old Federer has won 1,242 matches and 103 tour-level titles during his legendary career. Only Jimmy Connors (1,274 match wins and 109 titles) has won more matches and titles in the Open Era (since April 1968).

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Monroe/Tiafoe Down Kyrgios/Reid At Murray River Open

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2021

Nicholas Monroe and Frances Tiafoe made a strong start to their Murray River Open campaign on Tuesday, as they overcame home favourites Nick Kyrgios and Matt Reid 7-5, 6-4.

The American pair, which reached the Delray Beach Open by quarter-finals last month, saved all three break points it faced to advance in 63 minutes. Monroe and Tiafoe will face fourth seeds Marcelo Melo and Horia Tecau in the second round. Melo and Tecau, who first faced each other on the ATP Challenger Tour in April 2007, will be making their team debut this week.

Mackenzie McDonald and Tommy Paul translated singles success onto the doubles court at the with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Andres Molteni and Hugo Nys. The Americans both won their first-round singles matches on Monday, and they showed confidence in their doubles victory, saving eight of the nine break points they faced.

Tomislav Brkic and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat Marco Cecchinato and Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-2. The unseeded duo will face top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic for a place in the quarter-finals.

In other doubles action, Australia’s James Duckworth and Marc Polmans broke serve on three occasions to defeat Rohan Bopanna and Frederik Nielsen 6-4, 6-3. Divij Sharan and Igor Zelenay also advanced, ousting Guillermo Duran and Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Khachanov/Kecmanovic Claim Win At Great Ocean Road Open
Karen Khachanov and Miomir Kecmanovic played a tour-level doubles event together for the first time on Tuesday, and they clicked into high gear at the Great Ocean Road Open.

The singles stars battled past Romain Arneodo and Salvatore Caruso 2-6, 6-4, 10-3 after one hour and 18 minutes. They dominated on serve in the Match Tie-break, winning all six of their service points to triumph.

Roberto Carballes Baena and Pablo Cuevas were also victorious, defeating Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song 3-6, 6-3, 10-4. Carballes Baena’s countrymen, Pablo Andujar and Pedro Martinez, also booked their place in the second round. The Spaniards broke Laslo Djere and Stefano Travaglia on five occasions to record a 7-5, 6-3 win in 72 minutes.

There were also wins for two all-Australian partnerships. Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith beat countrymen Christopher O’Connell and Aleksandar Vukic 7-6(5), 6-4. Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson were leading Nikoloz Basilashvili and Andre Begemann 6-4, 5-4 when their opponents retired from the match.

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Five Things That Matter On ATP Cup Day 2

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2021

After the first day of the ATP Cup produced thrilling battles, upset wins and decisive doubles clashes, many tennis fans will be wondering what Day 2 of the ATP Cup has in store? While predictions should be left to the ATP Cup Bracket Challenge, we do know that fans can look forward to a showdown between two of the sport’s brightest young talents — Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov — the latest chapter in the ATP Head2Head rivalry of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur and the 2021 debuts of Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils.

Here are the five things that matter most ahead of Day 2 at the ATP Cup.

Fresh or Tested?
Four of the eight teams in action — Russia, Italy, Australia, and Canada — played on Day 1. The remaining four nations — Japan, France, Greece, and Germany — will be making their 2021 debuts. Will the fresh teams have an edge or will they still be shaking off that off-season rust? An argument can be made either way. The teams playing their second ties will have a better feel for the court speed and conditions, but how will they adjust to playing matches in back-to-back days so early in the season?


Fanatical Support
The Australia versus Greece tie could inspire the most spirited crowds we’ve heard since the 2020 Australian Open. The Aussie Fanatics support their local boys more vocally than perhaps any other fans in the world. But Melbourne has a huge Greek population as well. Over the years, Greek and Greek Cypriot players, like Marcos Baghdatis, have attracted massive support at tournaments Down Under. The fans have had many months to rest their vocal chords, so it’ll be interesting to see and hear which team receives more support.

Nishikori Comeback
Kei Nishikori faces a tough task in his return to the ATP Tour. The 31-year-old will face reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion and World No. 4 Daniil Medvedev in the Japan versus Russia tie. Nishikori, who reached a career-high No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2015, played just four events in 2020 after returning from elbow surgery. The Japanese star owns a 2-2 ATP Head2Head record against the Russian star, which includes a final victory in Brisbane in 2019. Nishikori will need to find his best level quickly, following Medvedev’s 7-5, 6-3 win against World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman on Tuesday.

More 2021 Debuts
French and German players will also make their 2021 debuts as France plays Italy and Germany faces Canada. Gael Monfils will meet Matteo Berrettini in a repeat of their epic 2019 US Open quarter-final. The Frenchman, who lost that meeting in a final-set tie-break, will aim to gain his revenge with another strong start to an ATP Tour season. Last year, the French No. 1 won 16 of his opening 19 matches and two ATP Tour crowns. Berrettini has already shown he is in fine form in Australia. The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier defeated World No. 3 Dominic Thiem in straight sets and earned a decisive doubles victory for Italy (w/Fognini) on Tuesday.

And what will the new year bring for Alexander Zverev? His first test against World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov will be a tough one. The 13-time ATP Tour titlist owns a 3-2 ATP Head2Head record against the 21-year-old, but one of those two losses came at this event last year. The German ended 2020 in fine form and he will be eager to carry that momentum into 2021 with a first ATP Cup win (0-3).

Doubles Vision
At the ATP Cup, doubles takes centre stage. On Day 1, two of the four ties were decided by doubles results. In decisive doubles encounters, team captains often have difficult decisions to make. Do they stick with their established doubles team or bring their singles stars into the mix? At last year’s event, Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt’s decision to field singles stars Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals against Great Britain paid off, when the duo saved four match points to beat doubles stars Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury and reach the semi-finals.

Two-time Roland Garros champions Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz will represent Germany and France’s roster features doubles veterans Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. But not every team can rely on established doubles partnerships. At that point, team captains will have some crucial decisions to make.

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Kyrgios Wins On ATP Tour Return At Murray River Open

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2021

Nick Kyrios worked hard on his ATP Tour return Tuesday at the Murray River Open. The Australian breathed a huge sigh of relief after overcoming the incredible fight of France’s Alexander Muller in a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over one hour and 52 minutes in Melbourne.

Kyrgios, who hadn’t played a tournament since the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in February last year, struck 22 aces among 34 winners.

“When I lost the first set I never really panicked,” said Kyrgios, who will next challenge fellow Australian Harry Bourchier in the second round. “I was actually just still finding my feet honestly. I actually thought I was serving reasonably well. I wasn’t serving anywhere near my best. I wasn’t playing anywhere near my best. But I thought my attitude was okay. I kept that pretty calm.

“I’m actually happy the way I dealt with it and I just drew from experience. I was nice to myself. I was like, ‘Look, you lost a set, your first set back and you’re playing a guy who has nothing to lose really’. He came out swinging. I actually think that he would have beaten a fair few guys in the draw today. All around, [I] just believed, really.”


Muller capitalised on Kyrgios hitting a double fault at 3-4 in the 23-minute opener. But Kyrgios raised his game in the second set, rushing Muller into errors. While Kygrios called for on-court treatment of a left knee injury, the 25-year-old held firm in the deciding set tie-break, when he saw Muller recover from a 1/4 deficit. The match ended when Muller hit a backhand into the net.

Two others Australians, James Duckworth and Alexei Popyrin, also reached the second round of the ATP 250 tournament in Melbourne. Duckworth won 26 of 30 first-service points in a 6-3, 6-4 win over Czech Tomas Machac and now faces seventh-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

Popyrin saved six match points in his 6-7(8), 7-6(2), 7-6(7) victory over Borna Gojo of Croatia. Popyrin failed to convert one set point at 6/7 in the first set tie-break, saved four match points on serve at 4-5 in the second set and another two at 5/6 and 6/7 in the deciding set tie-break. The 21-year-old now faces American No. 15 seed Tommy Paul.

“I think when the first three came along, it was three in a row… on my serve,” said Popyrin. “I was just taking it one point at a time, trying to get my first serve in, trying to hit a big first serve and get a good opportunity to finish the point as quick as possible, because I knew when I would get in a rally I didn’t feel quite as comfortable today. I think the conditions were also quite hard. It was quite windy so rally, so it was important to get those first serves in and all the match points, and that’s what I did.”

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Nadal Will Not Compete Against Australia Tuesday

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2021

Rafael Nadal announced on Twitter that he will not compete on Tuesday evening in Team Spain’s opening tie against Team Australia at the ATP Cup due to a stiff lower back.

“Hi all, we have decided with Team Spain and my team to not play today [in] the first match of the ATP Cup here in Melbourne since I have a stiff lower back,” Nadal wrote. “Hopefully I’ll be better for Thursday. We have a strong team.”

Roberto Bautista Agut, who went 6-0 at last year’s ATP Cup without losing a set, will play Alex de Minaur in the No. 1 singles match, and World No. 16 Pablo Carreno Busta will step in to compete at No. 2 singles against John Millman.

Spain advanced to the championship match at last year’s inaugural ATP Cup, falling 2-1 against Serbia.

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Sandgren, 17 Y.O. Alcaraz Advance At Great Ocean Road Open

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2021

Tennys Sandgren and John-Patrick Smith were college teammates at the University of Tennessee a decade ago, and on Tuesday they were across the net from one another in the first round of the Great Ocean Road Open.

It was a tough battle at Melbourne Park for the former Tennessee Volunteers, but it was ninth seed Sandgren who prevailed 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 after two hours and 15 minutes. This was the first ATP Head2Head meeting for the pair, who had previously split four professional meetings. 

Sandgren, a two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist, saved 11 of the 15 break points he faced and won 71 per cent of his second-serve return points to advance. The American will next play Italian Salvatore Caruso.

#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz also advanced Tuesday. The 17-year-old was tied at 2-2 against Attila Balazs when the Hungarian retired due to left heel pain. Alcaraz will next play top seed David Goffin.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz will next play David Goffin. Photo Credit: Tennis Australia
Uruguayan shotmaker Pablo Cuevas moved into the second round with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against 14th seed Pablo Andujar. This was the pair’s first meeting since the 2011 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Cuevas broke serve four times and won 50 per cent of his return points to triumph after one hour and 26 minutes. The World No. 70 is pursuing his seventh ATP Tour singles title.

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