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Krawietz/Tecau Into Rotterdam SFs: 'I Didn't Know What To Expect'

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Kevin Krawietz has spent the past three years alongside Andreas Mies, with whom he won Roland Garros in 2019 and 2020. But Mies had knee surgery last month, which has forced Krawietz to play with others until he returns.

At the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, it has worked out so far for the German. Krawietz and Horia Tecau beat Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals in Rotterdam.

“It’s not so easy with a new partner and also a new side. I’m playing [the] deuce side now, so at the beginning of the tournament I didn’t know what to expect, how my return game would be. It was a little bit tricky,” Krawietz said. “I’m very, very happy to win both these matches.”


Krawietz and Tecau defeated fellow doubles veterans Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer 11-9 in a Match Tie-break in the first round. While Tecau and Mies have different games, they have gotten on well in Rotterdam.

“You have of course new routines with a new partner, but Horia is very easygoing, very uncomplicated,” Krawietz said. “We’ve practised good, we talk about the match plan, the game plan and the tactics. Actually it’s not so different. It makes things easy. I’m very happy, but of course with Andy it was three years now. We got into a routine and with a new partner, it’s always different.”

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Tsitsipas: 'There's A Different Feeling When You Give Your Soul On The Court'

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

At the end of Stefanos Tsitsipas’ three-set battle against Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, there were no fans urging on the players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t mean the cavernous setting was devoid of sound.

“Come on! Come on!” Tsitsipas screamed after earning his third match point.

“Yes! Come on!” the Greek star roared after clinching the match on the next point.

Those words echoed throughout the arena as Tsitsipas celebrated a hard-fought victory against the Polish No. 1 after more than two hours. While the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion has become known for his dynamic game and powerful strokes, the 22-year-old has another weapon: his fighting spirit.

“I take more pride in that than winning effortless matches,” Tsitsipas said. “Effortless matches are great for energy consumption, but there is a different feeling when you fight so hard and you give your soul out on the court, when you manage to win a match under these conditions.

“It might also add a little bit of confidence to your game.”

The way Tsitsipas describes it, getting into a zone creates a unique feeling as a tennis player. All he sees is a small “centre of attention”. The Greek is fully concentrated on the tennis ball.

“The rest is just blurry. You are in the moment,” Tsitsipas said. “That’s probably the best feeling in tennis, when you’re 100 per cent there and every point counts… you don’t get very often matches that you are so zoned in, and today [that] was the case.”

Players leaving that zone and losing their concentration, even for a few points, could prove costly in matches. That’s why Tsitsipas enjoys finding that mental space.

“Nothing else matters, it’s just that ball that comes to you that is the centre of attention. It almost feels like a drug and it develops itself,” Tsitsipas said. “The more you want it during a match, and also [having] the ability to concentrate for so long, creates something like this. I love moments like this when I can be fully present and feel like I want to thrive.”

Tsitsipas tries to bring that competitive edge to the practice court, too. The Greek enjoys the grind of trying to get better every day.

“It can get difficult at times. I’m expecting a lot from myself and I’m hard on myself during practice, during matches,” Tsitsipas said. “There are certain moments where it’s just not easy. There’s a lot of frustration. But I think hard work is the only way to do things and succeed in your occupation.”

Tsitsipas has read Andre Agassi’s book, Open, and met the former World No. 1 when he coached Novak Djokovic. The World No. 6 takes inspiration from something the American legend once said.


“In tennis and in any other sport generally, if you don’t work hard, as Andre Agassi said, ‘Those who don’t practise don’t deserve to win,’” Tsitsipas said. “I completely stand by that. I think practice makes perfect.

“I would like to add smart work and work that’s accurate, focussing on the things that matter is also very important, especially at these levels. We’ve worked a lot to get here, but there’s this smart work that makes a whole lot of difference among us.”

Tsitsipas will continue to pursue his first ATP Tour title of the season on Friday when he plays big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. It’s safe to say he will bring his competitive edge to the court.

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Tsitsipas Survives Hurkacz Battle In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas kept alive his hopes of a maiden ATP 500 title on Thursday, as he outlasted Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

The second seed, who faced just one break point, broke late in the first and third sets to advance after two hours and seven minutes. Tsitsipas improved to 8-1 this year with his win over Hurkacz.

“I played really well. Both of us, we played a high [level] of tennis and didn’t give [away] many break-point opportunities,” Tsitsipas said in an on-court interview. “[There were] pretty good serves from both sides and I am really glad that I fought so hard towards the very end. It was exhausting, but it paid off.”


Tsitsipas’ victory extended his impressive ATP Head2Head record against the Delray Beach champion to 6-1, but the Greek’s rivalry with Hurkacz has been far from one-sided. The pair’s five most recent matches have required a deciding set.

“Hubert is a very tough competitor. We have played loads in the past,” said Tsitsipas. “Every single time I go out on the court, I know what to expect. He is a fighter and he doesn’t like to give up, so it always makes him a very difficult opponent.”

In a first set dominated by serve, Tsitsipas lured Hurkacz to the net and extracted errors to earn three set points at 5-4. The Greek moved up the court and struck an overhead winner to convert his first opportunity after 39 minutes. The second set followed the same pattern, with just one break point deciding the outcome of the set. At 3-3, Hurkacz played with depth and claimed his only break of the match with a powerful cross-court backhand winner.

Serving first in the decider, Tsitsipas applied scoreboard pressure with confident service holds. The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion failed to convert his first two match points on return, but he ripped a backhand passing shot up the line to earn his third chance at 6-5, deuce. Tsitsipas moved to the net and pressured his opponent into a forehand error to claim victory.

Tsitsipas will face Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. The World No. 21 booked his spot in the last eight with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Cameron Norrie on Wednesday. Tsitsipas owns a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record against Khachanov, with wins against the Russian at the 2017 and 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters.

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Paul's Stunning Trick Shot & Closing On Top 50 Breakthrough

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Tommy Paul produced a terrific behind-the-back stunner at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Thursday as he booked his place in the quarter-finals.

With the American serving at 4-1 in the deciding set, a backhand from Alexander Bublik bounced off the net cord forcing a quick readjustment from Paul, who returned a behind-the-back shot with interest. Paul then moved forward quickly for a forehand winner en route to a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 victory at the Rotterdam Ahoy.

“I am playing confidently, played a good level today and did well yesterday [against Lorenzo Sonego],” said Paul. “It’s nice to play matches back-to-back. I did a good job taking care of my serves and that put pressure on [Bublik’s] service games.”

The 23-year-old is through to the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event for the second time (also 2020 Acapulco) and could break into the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.

“It’s definitely a good result for me,” said World No. 56 Paul. “The Top 50 was my goal last year, and I didn’t quite get it ending 2020 at No. 54. I am definitely happy to keep my ranking moving up.”

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Chardy, King Of Tie-breaks, Reaches Rotterdam Quarter-finals

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

French qualifier Jeremy Chardy booked his place in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-finals on Thursday by knocking out sixth seed and 2017 finalist David Goffin of Belgium 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in one hour and 44 minutes.

Chardy ended the five-match winning streak of Goffin, saving one set point in the first set against last week’s Open Sud de France champion. The 34-year-old Chardy, who has now won nine of the 10 tie-breaks he has contested this year, will now play fourth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev for the fourth time (Rublev leads 2-1).


Goffin broke serve for a 6-5 lead in the first set, but could not convert a set point at Advantage in the next game with Chardy returning aggressively and striking a forehand volley winner. Chardy came alive in the first-set tie-break at 3/3, with three consecutive winners — a forehand, forehand drive volley and a backhand slice. The World No. 64, who converted his second match point with a backhand return in the second set tie-break, struck 20 of 25 winners off his forehand wing.

“It was extremely difficult,” said Goffin. “No matter the score or the moment, Jeremy goes for it. He’s hit the ball really well since the start of the year. I had a set point, then a chance with a forehand volley, but I didn’t make it. He played really well in the first set tie-break, with three or four shots on the lines, and I think he deserved to win.”

Goffin, who lifted his fifth ATP Tour trophy on Sunday in Montpellier (d. Bautista Agut), is now 8-4 on the 2021 season.

Tommy Paul bounced back from losing a tight first set to overcome fellow 23-year-old Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1 in one hour and 38 minutes. Paul, who struck 29 winners, awaits the winner of Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

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Why This Superfan Gives Federer ‘The Jaanu Treatment’

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

As Roger Federer prepares to return to the ATP Tour in Doha next week after 13 months on the sidelines, we’ll bring you the stories of two superfans today and tomorrow who personify how much the tennis world has missed the Swiss legend. Today we begin with India’s Sunita Sugita.

When customers who walk into Sunita Sugita’s shop in Kolkata, India hear yelling and screaming coming from the back room, they know there must be a Roger Federer match going on. Ms. Sugita runs a textile business, The Masspoint, supplying fabrics to designers, and her regular clients know not to disturb her when she’s busy worshipping and exhorting Federer from afar in her office during his matches.

For Sunita, Federer matches are sacred and her relationship with Roger is a passionate one. She sometimes calls out “come on my jaanu”! which is akin to “come on my dear [or my darling]” in Hindi. [Ms. Sugita also has pet nicknames for Federer’s rivals, but let’s just say that they don’t get the jaanu treatment.]

Her face lights up at the mention of Roger, whom she says is her hero and role model. Ask her how many times she’s told Roger Federer she loves him in person and she laughs hysterically. “So many times,” she says, beaming. Query Sunita on how much money she has spent watching Roger play more than 100 matches around the world and she laughs even more.

“I cannot calculate it all,” she says. “But it’s always worth it.”
Her sisters once questioned how much money she spent following Federer to Dubai, London, Basel and other tournaments. “Roger is my passion, he’s my idol,” she told them. “I’m going to spend all my money on him.”

Ms. Sugita, single and in her 40s, was a badminton champion in university but didn’t take up tennis until four years ago. Of course, she learned how to hit a one-handed backhand in honour of Federer. Sunita has followed tennis for years — before she became obsessed with Roger around 2003, she was a fan of Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. But her devotion to those stars can’t compare to her love for the 28-time ATP Masters 1000 champion.

She didn’t spend her hard-earned money traveling to their matches, nor did she wake up in the middle of the night to watch them play as she does for Federer. And she never consulted a guru to find out what was wrong with their games during slumps, as she did for Roger years ago when he was struggling. [The guru suggested Roger wear emerald, so she presented him with a lucky emerald ganesha at a tournament in 2012.]

“There is something so special and charming about him,” she says. “His game is there of course, the grace with which he plays. When you meet him, there is something that pulls you to him. You just get attracted to him, the way he treats us, he makes you feel like you are a part of his extended family.”

Sunita Sugita has attended more than 100 Roger Federer matches around the world.

After camping out to see Federer for the first time at Wimbledon in 2008, she’s gone back nearly every year since. “I literally couldn’t stop shaking the first time I saw him on Centre Court,” she recalls.

Ms. Sugita has two Federer tattoos — one depicting the RF logo on her back, the other a rendition of Roger’s signature on her right arm. She picked up the latter after Federer won the Australian Open in 2017, which is one of her favourite Federer titles. In fact, she treasures that unexpected win so much that she’s been watching the final five games of the match nearly every night during the pandemic.

Federer inspired Ms. Sugita to start her own charity — SIIFF [Some Immensely Inspired Roger Federer Fans] — which provides assistance to impoverished ball kids at her tennis club. Through this charity, she met Indian doubles players Vishnu Vardhan and Sriram Balaji, who got her an all-access badge for a day at Wimbledon in 2018. By this point, she had already encountered Federer outside practice courts and arenas around the world, but always with scrums of other fans around. On this occasion, she got to see her jaanu and take a photo with him in an area restricted to fans.

“Roger was shocked to see me in a players’ area,” she recalls, laughing.

But her favourite Federer moment occurred in Basel in 2012 at the Roger Federer Fan Club day, when Roger stunned her by remembering her name after she presented him with a Swiss cowbell she made with messages of support dangling from it.

“I almost collapsed when he called me by my name,” she recalls. “I don’t remember what I said to him. I was speechless. He remembered my name!”

Ms Sugita says that it has been difficult to have no Federer matches to watch during such a challenging time for her country and the world. But she cares about Roger so deeply that she felt relieved when he announced that he wouldn’t be playing again in 2020. “I didn’t want him travelling at a time like this because I don’t want him to catch coronavirus,” she says. “It was a relief to know that I didn’t have to worry [about Roger getting sick] for the rest of the year.”

Sunita has had plenty of time during India’s lockdowns to put in perspective what Federer has meant to her. “I will live with all the moments and memories I’ve shared with him,” she says. “That’s what I realised in the lockdown. I’m so glad I’ve had a chance to follow my dream and my passion.”

She’s certain that Federer is going to come back to the Tour with a roar and is confident that he’ll eventually break Jimmy Connors’ record of 109 tour-level titles. Ms. Sugita says she’s learned to cope with Federer’s losses, but she still cries. And she lives with the cold reality that someday her Swiss superhero will retire. But she says she’s made peace with it all because Federer has already given her and other fans so much joy.

“He has given us everything he has,” she says of her jaanu. “It’s not just about numbers, there is so much more to Roger than the number 20 [majors]. I don’t want to cry when he retires, I want to celebrate him.”

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Why Nishikori Changed His Service Motion

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Kei Nishikori has climbed as high as No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, competed in the Nitto ATP Finals four times and lifted 12 ATP Tour titles. But at 31, the Japanese star is still willing to change his technique.

After beating Alex de Minaur on Wednesday to reach the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-finals, Nishikori admitted that he has been tinkering with his service motion.

“I did it after elbow surgery [in October 2019] and last December. I was working with Max [Mirnyi], Michael [Chang] and a Japanese coach as well,” Nishikori said. “I tried to look again with my serve and I needed more power, but less use of my shoulder. I was hurting my shoulder too, last year.

“I don’t feel 100 per cent yet, but I think it’s on the way. I was hitting good serves the past two matches, today and [in] the first round, so I’m happy with my serve now.”

In the first round, Nishikori’s serve was especially impressive against seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. Nishikori did not get broken against the Canadian, who struggled physically in the second set. The Japanese star won 85 per cent of his first-serve points against Felix.

Nishikori’s refined motion is meant to reduce the pressure on his shoulder. In the past, before exploding up to the ball, he would drop his racquet backwards with his forearm so that the strings were nearly parallel to the court. The Japanese player “wasn’t 100 per cent sure” about addressing that, but he spoke to his coaches and moved forward with changing his form.

“Because of my history of injury, I feel like I still need to change something if I have time and if I have the chance. I’m really open to anything,” Nishikori said. “Of course it’s not easy, it’s going to take some time. I still feel like it’s not there yet. But for my body, I will do anything that makes it better.”


The World No. 45 will play Dusan Lajovic or Borna Coric for a spot in the semi-finals. There are no seeded players remaining in the top half of the draw, which could provide Nishikori an opportunity to reach his first ATP Tour final since winning the Brisbane title in 2019.

“Usually I don’t see the draw, so I don’t usually know who I’m going to play next,” Nishikori said. “Daniil was the hottest player for sure in this tournament and I would say Stefanos, too. I think those two are a little bit different and Andrey Rublev, too. But still, [in the] Top 100, everybody can beat a Top 10 player, I would say. There is going to be some gap between [the] Top 50 and Top 10, but still I think anybody can beat anyone right now. It’s going to still be tough.” 

For now, the Japanese star is happy to be playing well. The former World No. 4 has looked impressive against two of the sport’s top young talents in Auger-Aliassime and De Minaur.

“I’ve been having a really tough time with injury and [I’m] happy to be in the quarter-finals [in] this tough tournament,” Nishikori said. “I just need to keep going and be ready for the next match.”

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Kecmanovic Rallies In Buenos Aires For First Win Alongside Nalbandian

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Miomir Kecmanovic rallied from a break down in the third set on Wednesday to beat Thiago Monteiro 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the Argentina Open.

“It was a tough match,” Kecmanovic said. “I’m happy that I played well and that I was able to come from behind and win in the end, so that’s a good thing.”

One week ago, the Serbian lost his first clay-court match of the season at the Cordoba Open against Juan Manuel Cerundolo. The Argentine, who triumphed against Kecmanovic in three sets, went on to win the tournament.

“I don’t think I had that bad of a week last week,” Kecmanovic said. “The guy won in the end, so I guess that makes it a little bit better.”


Wednesday’s victory was Kecmanovic’s first with former World No. 3 David Nalbandian on his team. The fourth seed is happy with the progress they have been making.

“I think we’ve been working good and I’m happy that it’s showing results,” Kecmanovic said. “I’m really happy to have someone as experienced as David to help me out. I think nothing can happen overnight, so we just need some time to work on stuff.”

Albert Ramos-Vinolas continued his impressive run of form by defeating fellow lefty Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-4. The Spaniard reached the final last week in Cordoba.

Also advancing to the quarter-finals was seventh seed Laslo Djere. The Serbian eliminated home favourite Federico Delbonis 7-6(1), 6-3 in just more than two hours.

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Murray: ‘I Learn A Lot From A Match Like Tonight’

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

After his 7-5, 6-2 loss to Andrey Rublev at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Andy Murray discussed the lessons he can learn from playing one of the best players on the ATP Tour as he continues his recovery from hip and pelvic injuries.

The 2009 champion, who claimed his first tour-level victory of the year in the first round against Robin Haase, went toe-to-toe with the World No. 8 before the Russian claimed a crucial break at 5-5 and charged to victory. The former World No. 1 expressed his belief that playing matches like these — against the elite players on the ATP Tour — will help him in his bid to improve his level and achieve great success at future tournaments.

“I want to be playing at this level because I learn a lot from a match like tonight,” said Murray. “The issues and the mistakes that you make get amplified more at this level… It is getting that balance right between getting enough matches and then also playing at a level where I am able to learn and pick things up as quickly as possible. I do feel tonight there were some good, positive signs there. Just when it mattered, I wasn’t good enough. I will need to improve.”

The key moment of the match came at 5-5, when Murray dropped his serve from 30/0. Rublev pushed the three-time Grand Slam champion behind the baseline with aggressive forehands and capitalised on two double faults to claim the first break of the match.

Murray was unable to convert two break points in the following game and Rublev raised his level in the second set. The 46-time tour-level titlist admitted that the frustration he felt from his missed opportunities late in the first set may have carried into the second set.

“I lost my serve from 30/0. I hit two double faults and a bad forehand. To me, that is just not good enough,” said Murray. “When you are playing one of the best players in the world in those moments, if they come up with something great to win those points you come off [the court] and say it is understandable. I felt in that moment at the end of the first set that I blew it a bit. I had 15/40 in the next game to break back and I think I messed up a little bit there as well.

“In the second [set], he was much better than me. No question about that. I think at the end of the first set, I messed up… I am not used to making those errors in those moments and I am finding that quite frustrating and I am finding myself mentally looking back on those moments a little bit too much, which maybe affected me a bit in the second set. There were some good things in there and I am disappointed because I messed the end of the first set up. I probably should have won the first set.”

Despite his disappointment, Murray took time to find positives in his performance. For almost an hour, the 33-year-old held his own from the baseline against a player who has won 17 consecutive matches at ATP 500 events.

“I thought I moved well for the first hour or so,” said Murray. “He is one of the bigger hitters on the Tour and, in the first set, I didn’t feel like he was getting too many free points from the back of the court. He was having to work hard to get the ball through me. I thought that was positive.”

Murray is not the only high-profile star attempting to rediscover his form after surgery. The Brit shared his thoughts on long-time rival Roger Federer’s upcoming return to the ATP Tour at next week’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Federer will be making his first appearance since the 2020 Australian Open. Since that event, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has undergone two surgeries on his right knee.

“I just want to get out and compete and just enjoy doing what I am doing. I imagine Roger would be the same,” said Murray. “I am sure he has been training hard and is excited to get back out there and compete. I am sure in time, providing that his body is good, that he will play top-level tennis again because he is that good. Even if there is a slight drop-off physically for him, I would back his skill against most players. I am sure he will be fine.”

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