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A Win & A Donation For The Tsitsipas Brothers

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Petros Tsitsipas earned a win in more ways than one on Wednesday in Rotterdam.

The Greek brothers defeated last week’s Singapore Tennis Open champions, Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. The victory doesn’t just send them to the second round, though. It benefits children.

After winning his singles match against Egor Gerasimov on Tuesday, Stefanos said that for each tour-level doubles match he wins with his brother, he will donate 3,000 euros to Mazi gia to Paidi (Together For Children), whose mission is, “to provide immediate and effective support to children, families, and individuals with disabilities who are in need”.


“That’s for a great cause and also winning, it’s a great thing. The more we win, I really don’t have a problem donating,” Stefanos said on Tuesday. “I donate anyway, but I think that’s an extra reason to push ourselves to want to do better.”

This was the brothers’ first tour-level win together. Entering the match, Stefanos had lost 16 of his past 17 doubles matches, with his one victory coming at the ATP Cup, when Greece’s Spanish opponents retired after one game.

There were two upsets elsewhere in the draw. The Tsitsipas brothers’ next opponents, Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, a first-year duo, defeated top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 4-6, 6-3, 11-9. The Finnish-French team saved two match points to oust the Colombians.

In a quarter-final clash, Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin eliminated third seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot 6-4, 6-3. Chardy and Martin saved the three break points they faced.

Top Seeds Survive In Buenos Aires
Top seeds Austin Krajicek and Franko Skugor nearly fell victim to the upset bug on Wednesday at the Argentina Open, but they rallied past Pablo Andujar and Jaume Munar 2-6, 6-3, 10-8. The American-Croatian duo will next play Argentine wild cards Francisco Cerundolo and Federico Coria, who eliminated Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak 3-6, 7-6(3), 10-7.

Romain Arneodo and Benoit Paire, who reached the final last week in Cordoba, were defeated early in Buenos Aires. Oliver Marach and Luis David Martinez saved two match points before defeating Arneodo and Paire 6-4, 3-6, 11-9.

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Ronaldo's Backhand: Does This Look Familiar?

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Football legend Ronaldo doesn’t need to convince anyone of his skills on the pitch. But on Wednesday, the Brazilian showed he has talent in another sport, too: tennis.

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner posted a photo on Instagram of his one-handed backhand, to which Brazilian doubles star Marcelo Melo commented, “Wawrinka copied the backhand for sure!” Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka has one of the best backhands in the world.


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Stan Wawrinka
Stan Wawrinka hits a one-handed backhand at Roland Garros in 2020. Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Ronaldo has long attended tennis events, including the Mutua Madrid Open, the Rio Open presented by Claro and Roland Garros. According to Melo, “He loves tennis, always come to Madrid. He plays okay, actually.”

Ronaldo, Federer
Ronaldo meets with Roger Federer in Madrid in 2006. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
There were plenty of people impressed with Ronaldo’s form. Iker Casillas, a Spanish goalkeeper, wrote, “Pensaba que eras @Rafael Nadal”, which means: “I thought you were Rafael Nadal.”

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach, who also advises Stefanos Tsitsipas among others, commented, “Love that! One-handed backhand is the ultimate tennis shot!”

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Rublev Downs Murray, Reaches Third Rotterdam QF

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Andrey Rublev overcame an early test to beat Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday and reach his third quarter-final at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

The Russian fired 24 winners and committed just 12 unforced errors to win regular baseline battles with the former World No. 1. Rublev’s victory extends his consistent record at this event in recent years. The World No. 8 also reached the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 in 2018 and 2020.

“It was a really tough match,” said Rublev. “We had a lot of rallies. With Andy I cannot rush, I cannot play my usual style of game where I am hitting every ball. I need to slow down, I need to mix [my shots and] wait for the right ball because Andy is really great at defence. He makes you play tough balls that are not easy to attack.”

Rublev has won 17 straight matches at ATP 500 events. The 23-year-old is attempting to capture his fourth straight title at ATP 500-level. Rublev claimed the trophy in each of his final three ATP 500 appearances of 2020 (Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna).

The Russian, who owns a 10-1 record this year, will face David Goffin or Jeremy Chardy for a place in the semi-finals. Rublev’s only loss so far this season came against countryman Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

In a tight opening set, Rublev made the crucial move at 5-5. The fourth seed rushed Murray with deep forehand returns and moved up the court well to pressure his opponent. Murray committed two double faults to hand Rublev the first break of the match. Rublev saved two break points as he served for the set and he dictated rallies with his forehand to clinch the opener in just over an hour.

Rublev continued to push Murray into defensive positions and used his forehand to end rallies. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist closed the match with his 14th forehand winner of the match.

“The first set was really good. The level was really great,” said Rublev. “He had a couple of chances, a couple of break points. This is tennis. I was a bit lucky in the first set and, as soon as I won the first set, I started to feel more confident. I started to feel better. Andy went down a bit mentally, I started to play even better and he slowed down a bit.”

Karen Khachanov saved all three break points he faced to end Wednesday play with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Cameron Norrie. The World No. 21, who reached the Great Ocean Road Open semi-finals last month, needed just 75 minutes to improve to 7-2 this year. Khachanov will face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the semi-finals.

Earlier in the day, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina upset countryman Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 7-6(3). The 21-year-old converted four of his eight break points to eliminate the fifth seed in 84 minutes and book a second-round clash against Marton Fucsovics.

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Lajovic Ends Medvedev's Shot At No. 2 In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic barely put a foot wrong on Wednesday in a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over top-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev in one hour and 35 minutes at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Lajovic, who hit 15 winners to set up a second-round clash against Borna Coric, improves to a 2-1 record in his ATP Head2Head series against Medvedev, who could have risen to a career-high No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with a run to the Rotterdam final.

“I think I was very focused the whole match and not influenced by his good serves and shots,” said Lajovic, who is now 2-7 lifetime against top seeds at ATP Tour events. “I knew if I stayed in the match, I’d get my opportunities and change the rhythm.”


Medvedev led by a break in the first set, but Lajovic broke back for 3-3 and stepped up in the tie-break, which ended with a double fault from the World No. 3. Lajovic recovered from 15/40 at 1-2 in the second set and secured a 5-4 advantage after another double fault from Medvedev.

Medvedev drops to a 10-2 record on the 2021 season, which includes helping Russia capture the ATP Cup (d. Italy) and a run to the Australian Open final (l. to Djokovic). The 25-year-old has now won 20 of his past 22 matches stretching back to November 2020.

Lajovic is 5-20 against Top 10 opponents. His last Top 10 victory came over then No. 5-ranked Dominic Thiem en route to the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final.

Elsewhere, sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin recorded his fourth straight win over Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-0 in 62 minutes. He will now play France’s Jeremy Chardy in the second round.

“It was a good match with an early break,” said Goffin. “I returned really well and I was aggressive after returning serve. I started with a lot of confidence in the second set as I am playing and moving well.”

Goffin, who lifted the fifth ATP Tour trophy of his career on Sunday at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier (d. Bautista Agut), has now won six matches in a row.

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Bublik Upsets Zverev In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Alexander Bublik recorded the biggest win of his career on Wednesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. The Kazakhstani played with great discipline to beat World No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany 7-5, 6-3 in 77 minutes for a place in the second round at the Rotterdam Ahoy.

“Beating Sascha is great,” said Bublik, who has won his past three matches against Top 10 opponents. “There were ups and downs for both of us throughout the match, I got a bit lucky and I was perhaps a little more consistent. I’m just enjoying playing matches right now.”

Three days ago, World No. 43 Bublik finished runner-up to Alexei Popyrin at the Singapore Tennis Open. He also reached the Antalya Open final (l. to De Minaur) in January. Bublik will next meet American Tommy Paul, who knocked out Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 6-4, 7-6(7) in two hours. Sonego held one set point at 7/6 in the second set tie-break.


Zverev broke serve in the opening game of the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, but Bublik recovered to 4-4 and then played aggressively. The 23-year-old capitalised on Zverev attacking the net in the 11th game, striking two powerful forehands and an easy put-away to break serve.

Zverev regrouped by taking a 3-1 lead in the second set, but the third seed let Bublik back in. Bublik saved two break points when he served for the match, which ended with Zverev striking a backhand wide.

The 23-year-old Zverev compiled a 12-match winning streak at indoor tournaments in 2020, including back-to-back ATP Tour titles in Cologne at the bett1HULKS Indoors (d. Auger-Aliassime) and the bett1HULKS Championship (d. Schwartzman). He also reached the Rolex Paris Masters final (l. to Medvedev).

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ATP Announces Player & Tournament COVID-19 Support Package

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

The ATP has announced a package of measures to support players and tournaments under continued COVID-19 conditions.

The package covers a range of areas including prize money at ATP 250 and ATP 500 events, and an update to the FedEx ATP Rankings system. It also introduces a new COVID-19 Protected Ranking provision to give players further security in the current environment, and an update to the number of player support team allowances on-site at events.

Between the Australian Open and Wimbledon, minimum prize money levels for ATP 250 and ATP 500 tournaments will be raised to 80% and 60% respectively, from 50%.

Increases, which equate to a maximum expenditure of $5.2m, will be primarily funded through a redistribution of part of the ATP Bonus Pool, ordinarily distributed to the Top 12 eligible players at the end of the season. Redistribution of the funds has come with the support of the ATP Player Council, including Top 10 representatives Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “Our tournaments’ revenues continue to be severely impacted by restrictions on ticket sales, and a substantial improvement on this front looks unlikely before mid-year. Our focus is to ensure the Tour continues supporting as many players as possible and I would like to thank the top-ranked players and the Player Council for supporting this measure, which will help improve conditions for the larger player group over the coming months.”

The ATP has extended the ‘Best Of’ logic for the FedEx ATP Rankings through the week of 9 August 2021 (inclusive of Toronto). Results from all events between 4 March – 5 August 2019, which were not played in 2020, will be extended a further 52 weeks and weighted at 50%. This reduction will occur at the originally designated drop date for each event and the ‘Best Of’ logic will only count the better of a player’s two scores from the same tour-level event.

For example, a player will be able to count either 50% of his 2019 Madrid result, or 100% of his 2021 Madrid result, whichever is greater, for the next 52 weeks.

Results from rescheduled 2020 events (Kitzbühel, Hamburg, Rome & Roland Garros) will also be included for an additional 52 weeks at 50% from their originally scheduled drop date and be compared against the 2021 event in a ‘Best Of’ logic. The 2019 edition of these four events will drop from the rankings as per their currently scheduled drop date.

In 2021, all results prior to Wimbledon will be counted as ‘Best of Other’ in a player’s rankings breakdown, with a review of subsequent events to follow. Automatic entry and commitment rules for the ATP Masters 1000s continue to apply with respect to eligibility for the ATP Bonus Pool.

At this time, it is anticipated that the rankings will resume with points dropping off on 52-week basis beginning 16 August 2021 (Cincinnati). Providing no further changes are made, this means that a traditional ranking, incorporating only results from the previous 52 weeks, will apply again on 15 August 2022.

The decision to retain 50% of points earned in 2019 during the period corresponding to the 2020 suspension, aims to provide players a measure of security in months ahead while travel restrictions and stringent health & safety measures continue to apply.

Players who are out of competition for four consecutive weeks will be eligible for a COVID-19 Protected Ranking. This measure is designed to allow players greater flexibility in their scheduling without having a negative impact on their ability to enter future tournaments.

Eligible players will be granted four entry opportunities, excluding Grand Slams and/or the Olympic Games, using their ‘frozen’ ranking. Players will only be able to use their COVID-19 Protected Ranking for entry into as many ATP Masters 1000 events as they missed during their time away from competition.

As part of an ongoing review of on-site health and safety protocols, the ATP has worked with tournaments to provide increased Player Support Team (PST) allocations, offered to players on a first-come, first-served basis.

Players have been restricted to +2 support team members at ATP tournaments as part of health & safety protocols implemented since the resumption of the Tour in August 2020. Additional PST members may now be permitted within specific on-site locations and the official hotel, subject to availability and full COVID-19 protocols. 

The ATP continues to explore additional measures to provide increased flexibility for players, while continuing to prioritise health and safety.

The ATP has allocated up to $10,000 for each ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour event in 2021 to cover hotel costs that may arise from additional isolation or quarantine periods, required in the event of positive COVID-19 test results or close contact situations. As such, tournaments and players will be protected against incurring unanticipated costs related to health & safety.

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Tiafoe Tremendous In Buenos Aires Opener

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Frances Tiafoe is not known for his clay-court prowess. But the American looked plenty comfortable on the surface Tuesday in Buenos Aires.

The eighth seed defeated Argentine Facundo Bagnis 6-1, 6-3 with an aggressive, focussed performance to reach the second round of the Argentina Open.

“The focus from start to finish is what I’m really happy about. That’s something that I’m trying to really incorporate. Obviously I have over the years, but really focussing on it this year,” Tiafoe said. “I didn’t really give him a chance to breathe. Every game he earned it.”

This was Tiafoe’s first tour-level win on clay since the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, where he made the third round. The 23-year-old faced a tough opponent in Bagnis, who advanced to the semi-finals at last week’s Cordoba Open. But Tiafoe overpowered the lefty to triumph after 69 minutes.


The World No. 62 will next play Spaniard Jaume Munar, who ousted wild card Facundo Diaz Acosta 7-6(5), 6-3. Munar leads Tiafoe 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, with one of those meetings coming at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals.

“I’ve lost to him twice. He beat me on clay in Barcelona a couple of years ago. He beat me in Milan,” Tiafoe said. “It’s going to be good. I want to beat him.”

Fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who made the Cordoba final, overcame a difficult challenge against current junior World No. 1 Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune. The Spaniard defeated the 17-year-old wild card 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 after one hour and 57 minutes.

Qualifier Francisco Cerundolo, the older brother of Cordoba champion Juan Manuel Cerundolo, eliminated countryman Guillermo Coria 6-4, 7-5. Cerundolo will next play third seed Benoit Paire.

Did You Know?
Tiafoe won an ATP Challenger Tour event on clay in Parma, Italy last October.

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