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Humbert/Tsonga Claim Maiden Win In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2021

Ugo Humbert and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga claimed their first team victory on Tuesday when they moved past Andrey Golubev and Hugo Nys 6-3, 6-4 at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

In just their second appearance as a team, the unseeded pair saved five of six break points on Court Patrice Dominguez to advance in 69 minutes. Humbert and Tsonga fell in the first round on their team debut at the 2018 Moselle Open in Metz.

Just 24 hours after Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour in a 6-4, 6-2 loss to #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda, the 2019 singles champion now has his sights set on joining an exclusive club in Montpellier. If Tsonga can lift the doubles trophy, he will become only the second player to win both the singles and doubles titles at the ATP 250.


Alexander Zverev is the only player to feature on both the singles and doubles honour rolls in Montpellier, following his sweep of both events in 2017. Tsonga is competing in his first tournament since the 2020 Australian Open this week due to a back injury. Humbert and Tsonga will face top seeds Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Hubert Hurkacz and Szymon Walkow in the quarter-finals.

Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop began their title bid with a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain. The second seeds broke serve on four occasions to reach their third quarter-final in as many events this year.

Sander Arends and Andrea Vavassori also advanced on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Dusan Lajovic and Marc Lopez. The Dutch-Italian partnership won 86 per cent of its first-serve points (31/36) to claim victory in 68 minutes.

Top Seeds Win Singapore Opener
Top seeds Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen advanced to the second round of the Singapore Tennis Open on Tuesday with a 7-6(3), 6-3 triumph against Americans Evan King and Hunter Reese. The second seeds were ousted, however, as Luis David Martinez and David Vega Hernandez upset Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan 6-4, 6-2.

In other doubles action in Singapore, wild cards Jamie Cerretani and Adil Shamasdin ousted Alexander Bublik and Marc Polmans 6-1, 7-5, and Americans Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson eliminated Taro Daniel and Jason Jung 7-5, 6-3.

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Gerasimov Halts Murray Comeback In Montpellier Opener

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2021

World No. 83 Egor Gerasimov defeated the resurgent Andy Murray 7-6(8), 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Open Sud de France.

The big-serving Belarusian was the fitter player across both sets, outlasting Murray in a gruelling 71-minute opening set before cruising in the second en route to a one-hour, 44-minute victory. 

“I just tried to be focussed on the match and not think about mistakes,” Gerasimov said in his on-court interview. “I just wanted to try my best today because I was playing with a great champion. It was a big experience and I’m happy.”

Murray was contesting his first ATP Tour match since October of last year. The No. 121 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings, the Brit came to Montpellier looking to continue his return to form after undergoing right hip surgery following the 2019 Australian Open. Later that year, Murray won an ATP Tour title at the European Open in Antwerp, which like the Open Sud de France is an indoor hard-court event.


Making his Montpellier debut with a wild card, Murray ran up against an in-form Gerasimov in the first round. Neither player was able to create distance between them during the tough opening set. Gerasimov was the player with more chances, taking the first lead in the set at 4-3 and then again in the tie-break. But Murray showed flashes of his vintage form as he brought them back level each time, fighting through lengthy exchanges to extend his stay in the match.

Murray held off two set points in the tie-break and earned one of his own with a powerful delivery at 6/6.  But he couldn’t maintain that level as Gerasimov later claimed the set on his fourth opportunity. 

“I just tried to make good shots, that’s it,” Gerasimov said. “I wasn’t thinking about winning the tie-break or losing the tie-break. I was thinking about the court, about the game.”

As Murray’s familiar grumbles grew in volume, Gerasimov kept his cool and raced through the second set. The Brit seemed to run out of energy as Gerasimov kept him on the run, winning the first five games in a row. Murray saved two match points, but Gerasimov sealed his third with his 12th ace.

Gerasimov advanced to the second round, and will face the winner between fifth seed Jannik Sinner and Aljaz Bedene.

Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk pulled off an upset in his first tour-level meeting with eighth-seeded Jan-Lennard Struff, No. 37 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Gojowczyk, ranked No. 144, broke his countryman’s serve four times across two sets to close out a 6-3, 6-4 victory in an hour and 15 minutes.

Hopes for another home champion in Montpellier took a hit as two French players bowed out on Tuesday. Austria’s Dennis Novak weathered a mid-match dip to see off Gilles Simon 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-3 after a marathon two-and-a-half hours. He earned a second-round clash with No. 3 seed Dusan Lajovic in his next match.

French wild card Benjamin Bonzi carried positive momentum after strong ATP Challenger Tour results into his clash with former champion and countryman Lucas Pouille. Pouille was contesting his first tour-level match since the 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters after battling an elbow injury, and couldn’t bounce back after dropping a tight opening set against the in-form Bonzi, who prevailed 7-6(6), 6-2. Bonzi will face Jiri Vesely next after the Czech player cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory against Mikael Ymer in just 50 minutes.

Dutch player Tallon Griekspoor is also through after defeating American Marcos Giron in three sets, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3. The Haarlem native served up 10 aces to seal his victory after two hours and eight minutes, setting up a second-round clash with sixth seed Ugo Humbert.

Did You Know?
Murray played his first tournament of the year at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Biella, Italy, earlier this month. The former World No. 1 reached the final.

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Aussie Victories In Melbourne Summer ‘Make Some Noise’ For Food Bank Australia

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2021

Last year, Old El Paso and Nick Kyrgios with his Foundation teamed up to create a viral tortilla trick shot #MessFreeChallenge that swept the tennis world around Roland Garros. The initiative resulted in more than 100,000 Mexican meal-kit donations for food banks around the globe thanks to the participation of ATP and WTA stars. But they weren’t done yet in their mission to help fight hunger and continue being a force for good.

Old El Paso and Kyrgios collaborated once again at the start of the season to keep on giving in Melbourne, supporting and uniting Australian players with a new initiative #MakeSomeNoiseForAustralia. Every time any Aussie player hit the court during the unprecedented three-week summer of tennis in Melbourne Park across ATP and WTA events and culminating with the Australian Open, Old El Paso and the NK Foundation jointly donated 100 meal kits to help feed vulnerable families through Foodbank Australia, the largest food relief charity in the country. And every time an Aussie won a match, meal kit donations tripled to 300.

“With my friends at Old El Paso and my NK Foundation, we’re uniting to get behind all the Aussie players to make some noise this summer,” Kyrgios posted on social media in a video featuring countrymen Alex de Minaur, Lleyton Hewitt and Matthew Ebden, as well as Aussie WTA players Sam Stosur and Daria Gavrilova with doubles player John Peers also supporting the cause ahead of his opening match. Each share of the #MakeSomeNoiseForAustralia video on Instagram by fans also garnered one additional meal kit donation thus ‘extending the noise’ on social media outside Melbourne Park.

With the summer events now wrapped in Melbourne, Old El Paso announced on Tuesday that #MakeSomeNoiseForAustralia hit a major milestone, with 25,000 meal kits donations being raised to date.


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The Aussie players have made a strong showing across all the tournaments in Melbourne Park, especially at the Australian Open. Ebden led the pack, teaming up with Stosur to make his second Grand Slam final appearance in the mixed doubles competition, and partnering another fellow Aussie, John-Patrick Smith, to reach the quarter-finals in men’s doubles (and semi-finals at the Murray River Open the week prior). Kyrgios and De Minaur also reached the third round in singles and Peers the third round in doubles with a strong contribution on the women’s side by Ashleigh Barty, who won the Yarra Valley Classic and made a run to the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Said a thrilled Kyrgios of the initiative, “As tennis players playing at home, we draw off the energy of our crowds and it was a slightly different experience this year for most of us. It’s been a solid effort by all our Aussies in Melbourne and I am so glad we came together again with Old El Paso and my Foundation to give back and support families in need across Australia. I was amazed with how our Mess Free Challenge took off within the tennis community last year and the support it got. So we wanted to continue having a positive impact on the world with Old El Paso and we saw the #MakeSomeNoiseforAustralia idea as a great way to do this.”

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Clutch Albot Advances In Singapore

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2021

Radu Albot produced his best tennis in crucial moments on Tuesday to defeat John-Patrick Smith 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 at the Singapore Tennis Open.

The Moldovan saved nine of the 11 break points he faced and converted five of his six break opportunities to overcome the Aussie qualifier in 89 minutes. Albot has won three of his past four matches, following his run to the Australian Open third round earlier this month.

The sixth seed will continue his bid for a second ATP Tour trophy against Yannick Hanfmann in the second round. The German saved all three break points he faced to beat James Duckworth 6-2, 6-4.


In the opening match of the day on Centre Court, Yasutaka Uchiyama fired nine aces en route to a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win against Marc Polmans. The 28-year-old Japanese will battle eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon or American qualifier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski for a place in the quarter-finals.

“I am happy to win the match as this is my first win of the season,” said Uchiyama. “I think I need to recover well for the next round… I have to be ready 100 per cent for the next match.”

Altug Celikbilek also advanced on Tuesday, following his 6-0, 6-4 victory against junior World No. 2 Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan. The Turkish qualifier will meet fourth seed Alexander Bublik in the second round.

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Kovalik Outlasts Galan To Kick Off Cordoba Campaign

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2021

Jozef Kovalik had to dig deep against Daniel Elahi Galan to make a winning start to his Cordoba Open campaign, recording a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory as main draw action kicked off on Monday.

Kovalik came to Cordoba with plenty of momentum after reaching a semi-final in Istanbul on the ATP Challenger Tour to start the season. He also arrived with plenty of match play on clay, including a quarter-final run in Antalya.

The Slovakian, No. 128 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, cruised through the opening set against Galan before the Colombian began to make his way back. Galan, who was making his tournament debut in Cordoba, grabbed the second set and took a break to lead the third. Kovalik reeled off the last four games of the match to claim victory after an hour and 45 minutes.

Kovalik will face qualifier Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera in his next match. The Chilean received a first-round bye after replacing Guido Pella in the draw after the Argentine withdrew from the tournament due to illness.


Joining him in the Cordoba Open second round is wild card Nicolas Jarry, who fought through in a grueling three-setter against Spain’s Jaume Munar. The Chilean came back from a set down to prevail 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 after two hours and 43 minutes.

Contesting his first ATP Tour event in more than a year, Jarry will face No. 2 seed Benoit Paire in his next match.

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Kecmanovic Adds A New Team Member: David Nalbandian

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2021

Miomir Kecmanovic is a man who knows what he wants. Despite his young age of 21, the Serbian has felt for a few months that his career has a lot more to offer.

The No. 41 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings decided he wanted to add someone to his team, but he wasn’t about to pick a name from a hat. Kecmanovic thought of former World No. 3 David Nalbandian, one of his favourites whom the Serbian has followed since he started playing tennis.

What happened next? Kecmanovic decided to write to him personally, tell him about his idea and to see how they could start working together. Having spoken several times over the phone, they finally met this week at the Cordoba Open to start a trial period together during the Latin American clay-court swing. 

“It means a lot to me to have David with me now. He was one of the best of his generation and his experience could really help me a lot,” Kecmanovic told after their first training session together.  “I watched him play for many months on television. I remember a lot of his matches, seeing them on YouTube, when he beat the Big Three. That was incredible.

“I hope to be able to work with him a lot. He’s already mentioned some ideas to me. I hope to go far this week, but it’s important to learn, to be able to progress and we’ll gradually change and the results will take care of themselves.”


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The Serbian will continue to work with longtime coach Miro Hrvatin. Is there anything in particular he’d like to copy from the Argentine?

“We’re hoping my backhand might be similar to his,” Kecmanovic said, cracking a laugh.

These are new experiences for Nalbandian, too. This is the first time he is back at a tournament as a coach.

“I’m happy to be involved in tennis again in some way, being with Miomir and trying to contribute and help with what they need and for him to grow as a player,” Nalbandian explained, adding that he had to search every nook and cranny of his house for his racquets because he couldn’t remember where he had put them. “They were in the garage,” he joked.

The former World No. 3 followed Kecmanovic’s recent matches on television and at their first meetings he chose to start building some chemistry.

“These days before the tournament we have to try and find some good feelings [so that you] feel comfortable and enjoy yourself. We’ll take it bit by bit, gradually adding more, better things,” the Cordoba native told his pupil. 

“He’s a young boy with good potential and I’ll try to improve him as a player,” Nalbandian said. “It’s a way of trying a few weeks out, in Cordoba, Buenos Aires and Santiago and then we’ll look at the schedule.”

Since winning his first ATP Tour crown at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel last September, something changed for Kecmanovic. “I didn’t change anything specific, but it made me start to believe in myself more and to know that I belong to another level,” Kecmanovic said. “Now I’m very happy to have David and for him to join the team, I think he can help me a lot with my game and to keep improving. Hopefully together we can take the next step.

“It’s always nice to visit a new country and play a tournament for the first time… the idea of coming here was to start working with David, meet each other and to start working on things together”.

For the moment, Kecmanovic said he would like to become one of the Top 30 players in the world, but he is in no rush to get there. “My biggest dream is to be a Top 10 player, and to win a Grand Slam someday,” he admitted.

Meanwhile, off the courts, he has already received some words of wisdom from Nalbandian on the best beef in the world: “The beef is incredible here. It’s phenomenal and David took us to some places and he knows what’s good.”

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