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Shapovalov Shines In Geneva Double Duty

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

Denis Shapovalov successfully completed double duty on Thursday at the Gonet Geneva Open, winning two matches to advance to the semi-finals.

The left-handed Canadian clawed through a tight three-setter against Marco Cecchinato at the beginning of the day, and then he returned to the court to beat Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-4 in the last match of the day.

“I definitely think I played amazing today,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously a very tough day playing two matches, but super happy to get the win and super excited to be in the semi-finals.”

Shapovalov, who is pursuing his second ATP Tour title this week, is into his first semi-final since Dubai in March. The 22-year-old lost a three-set epic against Rafael Nadal in Rome last week.


The second seed will next play Uruguayan shotmaker Pablo Cuevas, who also earned two wins on the day. The 35-year-old qualifier backed up a triumph against 18-year-old Frenchman Arthur Cazaux with a 7-6(3), 6-3 upset of fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov. Cuevas defeated Shapovalov 7-6(4), 6-3 in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting three years ago in Indian Wells.

“We’ve only played once before on hard courts and he beat me there,” Shapovalov said. “He’s an amazing clay-court player, so it will definitely be a tough battle ahead of me.”

Casper Ruud
Photo Credit: Alexandre Hergott/Open Parc
Third seed Casper Ruud only needed one victory to make the last four on Thursday. The Norwegian defeated German lefty Dominik Koepfer 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 after one hour and 58 minutes.

“It was a tough match. Dominik played very well in the first set, I think. He answered me with great backhands when I tried to play heavy down to his backhand corner,” Ruud said. “I think I was able to find a way today and I was happy with the way I was playing in the second and third sets.”

The 22-year-old is into his fourth consecutive semi-final and his 12th overall at tour-level, with all of those coming on clay. Notably, Ruud has made ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and Madrid this year (he did not compete in Rome). Next up will be Spaniard Pablo Andujar, who upset Roger Federer in the second round.

Andujar rallied past another home favourite, Dominic Stephan Stricker, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 after two hours and 12 minutes. Ruud defeated the veteran 6-2, 6-3 in Buenos Aires last year.

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Thiem On Lyon Loss: 'It's Just A Huge Step Back'

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

At his best, Dominic Thiem has proven a tremendous force on clay. But after winning just five games on Thursday at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, the Austrian struggled to find a reason for his form.

“It was a huge disappointment just now. Just also a big, I would stay, step backwards after promising tournaments in Madrid and Rome. I don’t really know why,” Thiem admitted. “I was preparing well here, practising well and just didn’t find any rhythm, any strokes. Don’t really know what happened.

“But as I said, it’s just a huge step back. I was hoping to take the little positive signs from Madrid and Rome here, but it didn’t work out. I have to analyse [it] now and look [towards] Roland Garros.”

The World No. 4 took nearly two months off after losing in Dubai in March. Thiem competed well to make the Madrid semi-finals and dropped a physical slugfest against eventual semi-finalist Lorenzo Sonego in Rome, so he was expecting to improve even more in Lyon.

“It’s not good for the confidence. To be honest, the way I played today, I was expecting that more to come in Madrid because I hadn’t played for so long,” Thiem said. “But now I was back in the match rhythm and actually hoping for good tennis. I don’t know what to say or what to think. That’s why I need to analyse it and just need to work hard for Roland Garros and [I am] hoping for the best there.”

The two-time Roland Garros finalist said he might watch matches he played on clay two years ago to try to pick things up from when he was at top form.

“I was practising quite well the days I’ve been at home and the days before the match here, so it’s more the matches [I need to figure out],” Thiem said. “I need to find a way back somehow. The next match is already the first round at Roland Garros and until that day I need to hopefully sort it out.”

Thiem has quickly found his form before. At last year’s Western & Southern Open, which was held at Flushing Meadows, he only won three games in an opening-round loss against Filip Krajinovic. At the same site, the Austrian then won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

“I’m still [trying] to find the way I’m playing. I felt that I was on the right way in Madrid and Rome and the match against Sonego wasn’t bad at all. There were many long rallies,” Thiem said. “Today again I felt a little bit uncomfortable to play in these long rallies and rushing a bit [a few] of them. That’s how it is.”

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Former Champion Wawrinka, Murray Withdraw From Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

Stan Wawrinka has withdrawn from Roland Garros as he continues to recover from a left foot injury that required a procedure in March, and former World No. 1 Andy Murray has pulled out of qualifying.

Wawrinka, the former World No. 3, won the Roland Garros title in 2015, and he finished runner-up on the Parisian terre battue in 2017. Wawrinka owns a 44-15 record at the clay-court Grand Slam.

The Swiss star had a streak of 16 consecutive appearances at Roland Garros dating back to his major debut at the tournament in 2005. Last year, he lost a five-setter in the third round against home favourite Hugo Gaston.

Wawrinka last competed in Doha in March. The 36-year-old is currently the No. 24 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Murray, the 2016 Roland Garros finalist, will now focus on the grass-court season. The Scot played doubles with Liam Broady at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he also trained with the likes of Novak Djokovic. That was his only clay-court action this year.

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ATP Announces 2021 Q4 Calendar Updates

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

The ATP has today announced updates to the 2021 ATP Tour Q4 provisional calendar, including the staging of the BNP Paribas Open, the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells, California.

This year’s edition of the BNP Paribas Open, postponed from its customary dates in March due to COVID-19, is now intended to take place in October, for 2021 only.

Elsewhere, the Stockholm Open, originally scheduled to run in Week 42 alongside the VTB Kremlin Cup (Moscow) and European Open (Antwerp), will now take place from 7-13 November in the same week as the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

The ATP continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in assessing the provisional Q4 calendar, including the three-week sequence of events in Asia, in order to ensure optimised player flow. Further updates, including confirmation of tournament dates and draw size for the BNP Paribas Open, will be communicated in due course.

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “Since the resumption of the Tour in August 2020, we have had to take an agile approach to the calendar with the aim of staging as many of our events as possible. Everyone in our sport has missed the BNP Paribas Open over the past two years and its return this October is great for tennis. The calendar is extremely complex and I would like to thank all events in that section of the season, as we look to accommodate these changes for the benefit of the overall sport.”

In other tournament news, the ATP 250 New York Open has this week announced its relocation to Dallas, Texas, from 2022.

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Norrie Topples Thiem In Lyon For First Top 5 Win

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

Cameron Norrie has been playing the best tennis of his career during the clay-court season, and he scored his biggest win with a 6-3, 6-2 stunner over World No. 4 Dominic Thiem on Thursday at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon.

The British lefty had only won seven tour-level matches on clay before 2021, but has already amassed 10 victories on the surface this season after reaching the final in Estoril (l. Ramos-Vinolas) and quarter-finals in Barcelona (l. Nadal).

Norrie’s opponent Thiem arrived in Lyon as the top seed with a wild card, searching for his best form after a semi-final run in Madrid (l. Zverev) and third-round appearance in Rome (l. Sonego). The 2020 US Open champion struggled against Norrie’s deep returns, and the Brit broke serve three times en route to his first Top 5 victory.

“I’m so pleased to win today, it’s the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win,” Norrie said in an on-court interview. “It’s such a beautiful day in Lyon… I couldn’t be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros.”

Thiem couldn’t find any inroads against the Norrie serve, and was unable to create any break opportunities across both sets. The Brit won 91 per cent of points behind his first serve, and he struck 73 per cent of first serves to stay in control of the match.

Norrie, who is into his fifth quarter-final of the season, will next face French lucky loser Arthur Rinderknech. The Brit will be seeking his 22nd win of 2021, which would set a new personal best (21-25 in 2019).

“I’m moving well and I’ve played a lot of matches [on clay],” Norrie said. “I’m feeling good on my feet and hitting my forehand well and serving well. I’m looking forward to the next match, it’s going to be a tricky one as both those guys are great players.”


Norrie and Rinderknech will reignite an old college rivalry in their Lyon quarter-final clash after the Frenchman stunned sixth seed Jannik Sinner with a dramatic 6-7(7), 6-2, 7-5 comeback. It will be the pair’s first tour-level meeting, but there will be history between Norrie, a former Texas Christian University player and Rinderknech, who graduated from Texas A&M University.

“I had no idea I was playing against [Norrie], I didn’t check the draw,” Rinderknech said after the victory, before breaking into a grin. “It will be an old college match, he knows what I’m talking about. It will be cool.”

To get there, Rinderknech had to survive two hours and 36 minutes against #NextGenATP Italian Sinner. The lucky loser bounced back emphatically after dropping the opening set having held two set points at 5-4 on Sinner’s serve in the first set. He lost only one first-serve point (14/15) on his way to dominating the second set, and edged through the third after earning the decisive fifth break of the set at 6-5.

For No.125-ranked Rinderknech, who had only faced seven Top 100 players in tour-level main draws before taking on Sinner, his victory over the World No. 17 is his biggest by ranking.

“Lots of feelings coming to my head right now, it’s difficult to describe,” Rinderknech said. “It’s actually my first match with some crowd since the beginning of COVID-19, so it was even better. Of course it helped me a little bit. Playing with this atmosphere was great. I’m so happy to finish this match because it was so tough to finish it.”

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Tsitsipas Races Past Paul Into Lyon Quarter-Finals

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas wasted no time in getting back to his winning ways in his Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon debut, racing past Tommy Paul 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals. 

The Greek has been one of the players to beat during the clay-court season since claiming his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Rublev). Tsitsipas has now reached the quarter-finals or better at four of his past five events on this surface, and today’s victory gave him a Tour-leading 30 wins on the season.

“I [took] control of the match from early on, and after that I didn’t let go,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match press conference. “I had a few opportunities in the second set to go up a double break and I missed a shot that I felt like I shouldn’t have missed. But [overall] I was playing good tennis today. I was able to move him around the court and find angles, press with my forehand. It wasn’t my best day on serve, but I found solutions when things proved difficult.”

Tsitsipas did not face a break point across two sets against the unseeded American. Paul, a former Roland Garros champion in the juniors, struggled to connect on his first serve – giving Tsitsipas plenty of opportunities to pounce on his opponent’s attackable second delivery. 

The second seed regularly ran around his backhand and fired deep forehand returns, keeping the pressure on Paul by taking control of the rallies. Tsitsipas reeled off the last five games on the trot with a double break to claim the opening set, and started the second with a 2-1 lead.

Paul raised his level on serve in the second set, improving his first serve percentage from 38 to 71 per cent, but he was unable to make inroads on Tsitsipas’ serve. The Greek player served out the match to love, sealing the victory after an hour and 15 minutes.


In his ninth quarter-final of 2021, Tsitsipas will face Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka next. Nishioka toppled fifth seed and home favourite Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2) earlier in the day.

“He is a player who is very fast, and I think that helps on clay,” Tsitsipas said. “He has clay-court tennis, so for sure I am going to take that match as an important one.

“I feel like I’m playing good tennis and I can play against anyone. For me, these matches are important, every single one of them. It’s going to be a battle against Yoshihito who is a lefty, on red clay which is my favourite surface.”

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Before Corey Kluber's No-Hitter, John Isner Threw The First Pitch

  • Posted: May 20, 2021

New York Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday evening, but he was not the first to throw a pitch inside Globe Life Field on the evening. American John Isner threw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch in Arlington to help promote the launch of the Dallas Open.

“It was good. The ball was a little high, just what I was afraid of. My release point is a little too early. But I didn’t want to ground ball it,” Isner said, cracking a laugh. “I love baseball. The problem is I don’t really have a team, there are no teams in North Carolina [where I’m from]. But it’s great to do promotion for the tournament. The tournament’s going to be great.”

John Isner
Photo Credit: Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers
Earlier in the day, it was announced that Dallas will host an ATP 250 from 2022, with next year’s event set for 6-13 February. Isner lives in Dallas, which makes it even more exciting. The tournament will be played at the Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex at Southern Methodist University, where Isner practises while at home.

“It’s incredibly nice. It’s very lucky for me to have this tournament coming here so close to home. I practise there all the time,” Isner said. “I’m lucky in the sense that I kind of have a couple of hometown events. Atlanta is one, and here in Dallas. It’s good.”

Also in attendance at the Dallas Open’s launch earlier in the day was NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki, who played for the Dallas Mavericks and is a big tennis fan.

“That was cool. The fact that he loves tennis helps a lot and he really does love this sport, so it’s great,” Isner said.

It was also announced Wednesday that the Isner Family Foundation will serve as a non-profit partner for the event. The Isner Family Foundation provides financial support for qualified families to obtain necessities, such as meals, clothing, transportation, convenient lodging, car seats and medical supplies, while their children are under the care of Children’s Health, one of the largest and most prestigious pediatric health care providers in the country and the leading pediatric health care system in North Texas.

“It’s amazing. That’s going to be something that will be done for many years to come, long after I’m done playing as well,” Isner said. “I consider myself very lucky to have the foundation be a part of that.”

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