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Murray On Rublev: 'He’ll Be At The Top Of The Game For A Long Time'

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

When Andrey Rublev did his on-court interview following his straight-sets win on Tuesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, the Russian got a surprise. The fourth seed, who does not look at draws, was told his next opponent will be former World No. 1 Andy Murray.

“Oof! I didn’t know, actually,” Rublev said, cracking a smile under his mask. “We’ll see, it’s going to be interesting. It’s Andy. He’s a legend.”

The respect is mutual. Murray and Rublev have only clashed once before, and the Scot believes the 23-year-old is a player to watch.

“He’ll be around at the top of the game for a long time because he’s got a great work ethic,” Murray said. “And he’s a very good player.”

Their previous ATP Head2Head meeting came in the second round of the 2017 Australian Open. Murray was the top seed, and Rublev was a 19-year-old qualifier competing in his first main draw at Melbourne Park. At the time, the Russian was No. 152 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“I played him when he was very young at the Australian Open… he went for it. He hit the ball big back then,” Murray said. “He physically was not that strong then, but I think he’s worked really hard on that side of things.”

Rublev’s memory of the match is that Murray, “almost beat me 6-0, 6-0, 6-0”. The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals competitor actually won five games that day. But while Rublev is now the favourite, ranked World No. 8, he still holds the Scot in the highest regard.

“Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him,” Rublev said. “I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past. I’m sure we’ll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight.”

Murray hasn’t played Rublev in a match in more than four years. But the World No. 123, who remains on the comeback trail from 2019 hip surgery, has seen the Russian’s progress up close.

“He’s always practising. I’ve practised with him a few times and from the first ball, he doesn’t sort of warm into it,” Murray said. “He just goes full power from the beginning of the practice and that’s how he plays matches and that’s what’s gotten him lots and lots of success.”

Rublev led the ATP Tour with five titles last season, and he maintained that momentum to start 2021. The red-hot Russian helped lead his country to the ATP Cup title and he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, where he fell short against countryman Daniil Medvedev, who is the top seed in Medvedev.

What does Murray believe Rublev needs to do to continue his climb?

“I think that the next step for him to winning or going deeper in majors is probably just learning to tone it down at times maybe in matches,” Murray said. “But it’s difficult when you’ve played a certain way, which has gotten you to the top of the game and into the Top 10 of the world at a young age.”

While both men are in very different spots compared to where they were at the 2017 Australian Open, they are both looking forward to a difficult battle at the Rotterdam Ahoy.

“It’s going to be fun,” Rublev said. “It’s going to be an interesting match.”

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Tsitsipas Continues Strong Start To 2021, Ousts Gerasimov In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his impressive start to 2021 on Tuesday with a 7-6(4), 7-5 victory against Egor Gerasimov in the first round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

The second seed remained calm throughout the one-hour, 54-minute match, battling through the Belarusian’s hot patches to make the second round in Rotterdam for the second consecutive year.

“I had to play more consistently and also what I increased in the [key] moments was the speed of my ball, which felt kind of floppy before. He had a solid game, he was serving well at times. He wasn’t missing a lot, so it was difficult,” Tsitsipas said. “I think once I put in my head that I needed to fight and I [couldn’t] take [any] single moment for granted, things changed and I felt the confidence.”


Tsitsipas, who hit 31 winners, is now 7-1 on the young season. This is the Greek star’s first tournament since reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open, where he rallied from two sets down in the quarter-finals to stun World No. 2 Rafael Nadal. 

Playing the aggressive Gerasimov indoors was a tough test for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion. Just last week, the 28-year-old beat former World No. 1 Andy Murray at the Open Sud de France.

But Tsitsipas rode the momentum waves in the match and was more opportunistic. The Greek faced more break points, saving six of his opponent’s eight opportunities. And in the key moments, he used his experience to prevail against the World No. 76.

Gerasimov frequented the net and tried to take the action to Tsitsipas at every opportunity. In many cases, that paid off. But on Tsitsipas’ first match point, he scrambled to retrieve an overhead and eventually forced a backhand volley error from the Belarusian.

Tsitsipas will next play Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-6(6) earlier in the day. The second seed leads the Polish No. 1 5-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, in which their past four meetings have gone to a deciding set.

“We’ve played a lot in the past. He’s a great opponent, he’s been giving me a hard time. It’s a challenge going into that match,” Tsitsipas said. “He can serve well, he has a great backhand that he can play both cross and down the line, so I think that’s one of his biggest weapons. His forehand, I would say he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes from that side. But overall he’s a very solid, very consistent player.”

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Lights, Camera, Action! Rotterdam Retools For TV Audience

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the appearance of empty seats at sporting venues across the world has become familiar over the past 12 months. But fans tuning into next week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament will notice a distinct change in Rotterdam.

The ATP 500 event has undergone a makeover ahead of its 2021 event, which will take place at the Rotterdam Ahoy from 1-7 March. The impressive indoor arena, which will also host this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, has been adapted to remove the sight of more than 16,000 seats and improve the experience for fans watching on TV.

The arena’s show lighting will create an intimate court atmosphere for both players and fans at home. Tournament Director Richard Krajicek took inspiration from the Nitto ATP Finals and the Next Gen ATP Finals for the new look.

“We have a TV product only,” said Krajicek. “We want to make it as nice as possible for TV.… We got the backdrop idea from the Next Gen ATP Finals. Five, six or seven years ago, there was a huge investment into our Centre Court. Everything was changed. The roof was changed, but also the lighting.

“We now have show lighting, which we can do everything with. Like at The O2, we can put a lot of lights on the court and the rest we can keep fairly dark. You can create a certain atmosphere. For the players, it is nice. They don’t see completely empty stands. The motivation was to make it as nice as possible to watch.”

Andy Murray makes his entrance onto centre court. Photo: 

This year’s event will also feature new, innovative player entrances. Through social media, fans will be able to send messages of support to their favourite players before each match.

”Next to the walk-on area, we have nine TV screens. Via social media, people can send messages to the players so when the players walk past there will be a message from their fans. It gives the players a feeling that the fans are still close,” said Krajicek. “We always get inspired by other events like the Nitto ATP Finals, with how they do their walk on and lighting. We just try to make it as interesting as possible for the people watching on TV.”

Fans familiar with the tournament will note that the ATP 500 has a tradition of celebrating its past champions on court. The event usually displays its honour roll around the centre court stands but, this year, the ring of champions has been moved courtside for greater exposure.

The location change will make it easier for fans to spot the past champions of the event, which include former World No. 1s Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. The honour roll also includes Krajicek himself. The Dutchman claimed the trophy in 1995 and 1997.

“We find it very important [to celebrate our past champions],” said Krajicek. “It is a nice feeling that when you win, straight away you see your name there… So many great players won the event. It is nice to be a part of it. I also won it twice. The only sad thing is that this year, I am on the left side of the board which covers 1974 to 1998. That is the side I am on now. I am not making the cut anymore. I am really getting old now.”

Andy Murray

Andy Murray makes his entrance onto centre court. Photo: Pim Waslander/ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament

Murray, who triumphed at the tournament in 2009, was immediately impressed with the venue adjustments.

“I like it a lot here. They’ve changed the whole setup. It’s a shame that the fans aren’t here, but I think they’ve done a great job with the centre court. They’ve made a real effort to try and create an atmosphere, which is difficult just now without the fans,” said Murray. “I think considering the circumstances they’ve done a really nice job for the players and big thanks to everyone involved.”

With a new-look event ready to stage its 48th edition, Krajicek is excited for the week ahead. The tournament will welcome eight of the Top 20 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings, including Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev.

“I am looking forward to great matches, exciting matches,” said Krajicek. “I hope we really have some memorable matches for people to watch on TV… Hopefully we have a great winner to put on the ring [of champions]. The most important thing is that we have very close matches and some big battles. That would be great.”

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Khachanov Wins Battle Of Big Hitters In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

Karen Khachanov came through a battle of power hitters on Tuesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, beating eighth seed and 2015 titlist Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 32 minutes.

Khachanov backed up his powerful groundstrokes by rushing the net (winning 10 of 11 points) to take time away from Wawrinka, who committed 30 unforced errors in their fourth ATP Head2Head meeting (now tied at 2-2).

“To play against Stan, especially in the first round, is always tough,” said Khachanov. “I am really happy with the win, but there are always things you can improve upon. Mentally, I feel ready and I’m in good shape, so I hope to get some match wins.”


In an tricky first-round encounter, Khachanov, who sits just one place behind Wawrinka at No. 21 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, broke serve in the third game of the 42-minute first set. Wawrinka hit a forehand wide at 5-5 in the second set, and Khachanov closed out with a deep forehand.

Khachanov, 24, now plays Briton Cameron Norrie for the first time in the Rotterdam second round. Last month, the Russian reached the Murray River Open semi-finals (l. to Sinner).

Later on day two, Jeremy Chardy saved two match points in a 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) win over fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert over two hours and 47 minutes. Chardy recovered from 1-4 down in the deciding set and saved match points on serve at 4-5, 15/40. He will next play sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin or Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

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Rublev Extends Streak At ATP 500s, Now Plays Murray In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

World No. 8 Andrey Rublev extended his winning streak at ATP 500 events to 16 matches on Tuesday by beating American qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6(1), 6-3 in 78 minutes at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Fourth seed Rublev broke clear in the tie-break and won the first three games of the second set en route to his ninth win in 10 matches this year. Rublev, who completed victory with his third ace, helped Russia capture the ATP Cup title last month and he also reached the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Medvedev).

“It was a very tough match against Marcos, a qualifier who’d already played a couple of matches before,” said Rublev. “It was my first match indoors and I felt a bit tight in the first set.”

The 23-year-old Rublev won the final three ATP 500 events of the 2020 ATP Tour season with five wins each at the Hamburg European Open (d. Tsitsipas), St. Petersburg Open (d. Coric) and the Erste Bank Open in Vienna (d. Sonego). He now plays former World No. 1 and 2009 Rotterdam champion Andy Murray in the second round.

“Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him,” said Rublev. “I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past [6-3, 6-0, 6-2 in the 2017 Australian Open second round]. I’m sure we’ll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight.”


In the first singles match of the day, Alex de Minaur got his Rotterdam debut off to a fine start with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over fellow Australian John Millman in 69 minutes. De Minaur, who lifted his fourth ATP Tour trophy in January at the Antalya Open (d. Bublik), won 23 of his 27 first-service points and now plays Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Elsewhere, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz struck 17 aces to knock out Adrian Mannarino of France 6-3, 7-6(6) in one hour and 47 minutes. Mannarino led 4-1 in the second set and held two set points at 5-4.

Hurkacz, who breaks a three-match losing streak, captured his second ATP Tour title in January at the Delray Beach Open by (d. Korda). He awaits the winner of second-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Egor Gerasimov of Belarus, who meet during Tuesday’s night session.

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Koolhof/Kubot Advance In Rotterdam Doubles; Mektic/Pavic Keep Winning

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

Third seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot recovered from a slow start to overcome all-Japanese team Ben McLachlan and Kei Nishikori 7-5, 3-6, 10-6 on Tuesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Koolhof and Kubot, who recovered from a 0-3 deficit in the first set, improved to a 4-2 record on the 2021 season and now play Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin in the Rotterdam second round.

Later on day two, second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic recorded their 13th win in 14 matches this year by beating Dutch wild cards Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop 6-2, 7-6(3). Mektic and Pavic’s 12-match winning streak, including back-to-back ATP Tour titles at the Antalya Open (d. Dodig/Polasek) and the Murray River Open (d. Chardy/Martin), came to an end last month in the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Dodig/Polasek).

They will next challenge Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jan-Lennard Struff, who scraped past Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz 6-7(5) 6-3, 10-8.

Second Seeds Upset In Buenos Aires
The second seeds were eliminated at the Argentina Open on Tuesday when Andre Goransson and Thiago Monteiro beat Marcelo Demoliner and Santiago Gonzalez. The third seeds had better fortune in Buenos Aires, as Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez ousted wild cards Facundo Diaz Acosta and Thiago Agustin Tirante 7-6(5), 6-1.

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Remember The Name: Inside The Cerundolo Clan's ATP Tour Breakthrough

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

Until last week, there were probably few tennis fans who had heard the surname Cerundolo, or knew that it belonged to two players on the ATP Tour: brothers Juan Manuel Cerundolo, 19, and Francisco Cerundolo, 22. But this week the Cordoba Open was the best possible stage for the sons of renowned Argentine coach, Alejandro, to introduce themselves to the world.

Neither player has reached the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, but the Cerundolo name is now etched in the tennis world’s collective memory. Francisco, thanks to a wild card and Juan Manuel, having come through qualifying, became the first Argentine brothers to appear together in the main draw of an ATP Tour tournament in the past 30 years (since Carlos and Alejandro Gattiker in Quito and Kitzbuhel, 1981).

Although this feat was praiseworthy in itself, it’s not the end of the story. The youngest member of the Cerundolo clan would not be content just reaching an ATP Tour main draw for the first time. Juan Manuel completed a dream week in which he picked up win after win until he had racked up eight in a row – enough to pick up the trophy. He became the fifth-lowest ranked champion since 1990, and the player with the lowest ranking to win a title since Pablo Andujar in Marrakech in 2018.

“I still can’t believe what I did. It’s really crazy!” said the Argentine #NextGenATP player. Throughout the week, the familiar chant of “Vamos, Juanma!” could be heard regularly from the stands in Cordoba. His father, Alejandro Cerundolo, cheered his son on with a significant dose of intensity and reason, while his mother Maria Luz kept the passion more to herself.

Before either of their sons picked up an ATP Tour trophy, they were already proud parents, brimming with joy just seeing Francisco and Juan Manuel compete together at an ATP 250 tournament. Watching their youngest son break so many records and clear so many hurdles during the week was an intense experience for them.

Patriarch Alejandro, known by everyone as ‘El Toto’, was a professional tennis player himself and came close to being among the Top 300 in the world early in the 1980s. A coach and an educator, his pride was evident in Cordoba. “Juan should be at least in the Top 50, if we’re being objective,” he told “The question I always had was how quickly he could do it. He was always precocious, a special kid. Every time it looks like he gets a little bit behind, he does crazy things like this that are a little confounding.”


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A post shared by Juan Manuel Cerúndolo (@juanmacerundolo)

However, Juan Manuel’s mother, a sports psychologist, is never surprised by her son’s cool personality on court. “He’s always been like that on court. He’s very calm, not very expressive. Sometimes his coaches would like him to be a little more extroverted, to shout a little, but just because he’s like that it doesn’t mean he’s not very strong mentally. Quite the opposite. Mental strength is not found in what you say outwardly. It’s on the inside, and he knows how to find it.”

The 19-year-old’s success has come very early for a player who just attained his highest ranking of No. 181 in the world. But it was Francisco, currently ranked higher at No. 137, was the first to bring the family name to light on the ATP Challenger Tour. In fact, he had arrived in Cordoba after reaching the final in Concepcion a week earlier, and had picked up the trophy in Campinas in his last tournament in November last year.

Apart from all their recent success, do the brothers share any on-court similarities? “Our styles are completely different,” said Juan Manuel laughing. “He’s aggressive, he hits the ball very hard, and I’m more of a counter-attacker, left-handed, defensive.”

One thing is for sure: From now on, nobody will confuse the Cerundolo brothers.

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Andujar, Djere Lead Seeds Into Buenos Aires Second Round

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2021

Sixth seed Pablo Andujar and seventh seed Laslo Djere punched their ticket into the second round at the Argentina Open as main draw action began on Monday.

Andujar cruised past Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 6-0 in his first match since the Australian Open. He trailed by an early break against the Argentine, who sits at No. 90 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But after recovering from the 0-2 deficit, the Spaniard took control of the contest.

The sixth seed stayed solid in the pressure-filled moments, saving nine of the 10 break points he faced on Court Guillermo Vilas to see off Londero after an hour and 33 minutes. He will face the winner of an all-Italian clash between Gianluca Mager and Salvatore Caruso. 

Seventh seed Djere had to rally after dropping the opening set in a hard-fought tie-break, and bounced back with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3 victory. Djere will face an Argentine in the second round as he awaits the winner of Federico Delbonis and 19-year-old Juan Manuel Cerundolo, who claimed the Cordoba Open title on Sunday. 


Elsewhere in Buenos Aires, Dominik Koepfer completed a turnaround against local wild card Thiago Agustin Tirante to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Thiago Monteiro took down Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2, 6-3. In qualifying, 22-year-old Francisco Cerundolo was also back in action as he defeated countryman Agustin Velotti 6-4, 7-5 to join younger brother Juan Manuel in the main draw. 

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