Tennis News

From around the world

Carlos Conquers Oeiras: Alcaraz Claims Historic Fourth Challenger Crown

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

For Carlos Alcaraz, a memorable month of May has become unforgettable. The 18-year-old Spaniard dominated at the ATP Challenger Tour stop in Oeiras, Portugal, claiming the biggest title of his young career.

Alcaraz lifted the Oeiras Open 125 trophy on Sunday, defeating Facundo Bagnis 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 38 minutes. Just two weeks after battling idol Rafael Nadal at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid, he would return to the Challenger level full of confidence.

Alcaraz joined elite company with his victory in Oeiras, becoming one of just seven players to win four Challenger titles at the age of 18 & under. That list includes Richard Gasquet (7), Tomas Berdych (5), Felix Auger-Aliassime (4), Hyeon Chung (4), Mario Ancic (4) and Guillermo Coria (4).

“I’m incredibly happy to win here,” said Alcaraz, who is projected to break into the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday. “To be able to get this title is something special. It’s the biggest moment of my career. I played at a high level all week, at a great tournament and against very good players. I think it’s a great preparation for Roland Garros [qualifying]. I’m just really happy.”


Since he first crashed onto the scene one year ago, Alcaraz has made his mark as a mental giant. With poise and composure far beyond his years, the 18-year-old would exhibit exceptional fortitude en route to the title in Oeiras.

On Wednesday, the Murcia native was forced to battle back from a set and a break down to defeat fellow #NextGenATP star Brandon Nakashima. Then, in Thursday’s quarter-finals, he outlasted home hope Gastao Elias after trailing 1-4 in the opening set. On Friday, Alcaraz withstood a stern test from former World No. 64 Taro Daniel, bouncing back after conceding two straight breaks when serving for the match in the second set. And on Saturday, he sprinted to the finish line with an efficient straight-set win over Bagnis.

“I felt very comfortable on the court. Facundo is a great player. I had the break in the second set and felt a little nervous with my serve. He broke back but I got it done in the end. It was the small details, these opportunities, that I took advantage of.”

Alcaraz is not only projected to crack the Top 100 on Monday, but will also move up two spots to sixth place in the ATP Race To Milan. The surging teen is seeking to make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November.

The Spaniard picked up where he left off on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2020, when he set the circuit ablaze behind a trio of titles and a tour-leading 83.3 win percentage. The Spaniard, who won 20 of 24 Challenger matches last year, has already proceeded to launch a seamless transition to the ATP Tour in 2021. A first Tour-level semi-final on home soil in Marbella came just one month ago and was soon followed by a successful ATP Masters 1000 debut in Madrid (d. Mannarino).

Photo: Sara Falcao | @sarahawkkk on Instagram

Now, as Alcaraz sets his sights on full-time ATP Tour status going forward, one of the greatest performers in ATP Challenger history had one last statement to make on the circuit.

“I will forever remember this week, this tournament, this club, this city, this moment,” said Alcaraz. “Winning a title is always special and to reach the Top 100 here in Portugal is very nice. I will next go to Roland Garros and try to qualify for my first Grand Slam. I need to keep improving with every match and now I want to gain more experience playing five sets. This will be important starting in Roland Garros.”


Source link

With Revamped Serve, Ruud Sends A Message After Geneva Victory

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

Maybe Roger Federer should put on an ATP Tour serve clinic? 

After Swiss teen Dominic Stephan Stricker cited the former World No. 1’s advice as the reason behind a tweak in his serve earlier in the week, Gonet Geneva Open champion Casper Ruud revealed that he too looked to the Federer service motion for some inspiration of his own.

Ruud served up some head-turning numbers on serve in his 7-6(6), 6-4 victory against Denis Shapovalov in Saturday’s final. He controlled the match by winning 79 per cent of points behind his first serve (26/33) and 81 per cent of second serve points (22/27). 

It was a marked improvement for the Norwegian player, who explained that the difference was only a matter of inches – moving the toss forward by a few centimetres, turning his head a certain way at the point of contact – and a matter of following Federer’s example.

“It’s a little bit like the movement that Roger [Federer] does when he rotates with his head and it almost looks like he can see the ball at impact,” Ruud explained in his post-match press conference. “That gave me some inspiration looking at the way he’s serving. He’s not the tallest guy, but he always had a big serve.”

“I think it’s been [a] positive [change] that is helping the arm and body feel better, and also I’m serving better,” he added. “I’m placing the ball better and I have better pace on the ball. I think it was a great change and a great improvement. And it was an easy change. Sometimes changes can be tougher, but this time it was only to move the toss further in front and try to look at the ball at impact.”

Ruud’s revamped serve has been firing throughout the clay-court season, where he previously reached three semi-finals, including two at the ATP Masters 1000 level: Monte-Carlo (l. Rublev), Munich (l.Basilashvili) and Madrid (l. Berrettini). He only dropped one set en route to the trophy in Geneva, his second ATP Tour title, and did not face a break point during the championship match. 

With the victory in Geneva, Ruud is set for a return to the Top 20 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. He also guarantees himself a major boon heading into Paris in two weeks: a Top 16 seeding at Roland Garros, his highest Grand Slam seeding yet. 

“I feel great that I’ve been playing well lately. In the past few tournaments I’ve been reaching the later stages,” Ruud said. “It’s a good confidence-booster for Roland Garros, but it’s a new tournament and new conditions and best-of-five sets. 

“I hope I can do well, and hopefully the form I’ve been showing recently can affect the other players and they will think that it will be a tough challenge if they play me. That’s also the goal. The way when people play Rafa [Nadal] on clay, they will already think before the match that it will be very tough. I’m very far from this level, but at least maybe some players can think a little bit like this.”

Ruud will hope to keep sending a message with his clay-court prowess as he heads to Roland Garros. The Norwegian is already trying to put his result in Geneva out of his mind in an attempt to stay focussed – but will allow himself just one day of rest before getting back to work. 

“I think it will be important to keep the intensity and focus up,” he said. “In one way, [I will] try to pretend this never happened, in the sense that you work hard every day in the coming days to Paris, like I would do if I didn’t play here.

“Every match in a Grand Slam is tough so you have to be ready for anyone, but at least the seeding is good for me this year and I hope I can do some damage. I hope I can be in the second week of Roland Garros. That’s my goal.”

Source link

Tsitsipas On #NextGenATP Musetti: 'I See Him At The Top'

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

After beating him in the semi-finals of the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon on Saturday, Stefanos Tsitsipas had only great things to say about his opponent, #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

“He has a lot of potential and he has proved himself multiple times before,” Tsitsipas said in post-match press. “He’s definitely a competitor that I will take seriously and a player that will be challenging me in the next couple of years.”

Tsitsipas needed to step up his game to get the 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win and book his place in the final where Cameron Norrie awaits. For the first part of the match, Musetti threw the World No. 5 off his rhythm with a balance of aggression and drop shots but ran out of steam.

“I see him at the top,” Tsitsipas said. “I see no reason he won’t be there, but that also will have to do a lot with his mentality and the way he approaches his tennis and how much he works hard to get to the top of the game. I see no reason that he won’t be a good player. He has everything.”

Musetti started the 2020 season ranked No. 357 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and made his tour-level debut in Dubai. The 19-year-old has since reached two ATP 250 semi-finals and appeared in the fourth round of the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome, while climbing up to No. 88 in the world.

Tsitsipas did well to reset after the first set, staying calm and raising his level to shut Musetti’s efforts down.

“I take every single point very seriously and, for me, it doesn’t have to do with the level of the tournament that I’m playing, it more has to do with the opponent I’m facing,” he said. “It’s like a boxing match: It doesn’t matter where you’re performing, it’s all about your target and your target is your opponent.”

The World No 5 has played a lot of tennis this clay-court season with a first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo, a final run in Barcelona and a quarter-final appearance in Rome. He’ll be playing his fourth final of the season as he seeks his seventh trophy. 

“My body is an important thing,” he said. “If my body is fresh, I’m able to play well and I’m able to concentrate and [use] all of my inner strength to get the best out of every single match.”

Source link

Don't Try This At Home! Monfils, Svitolina & Federer's Firing Line

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

There were tears of joy in Rome when Gael Monfils and his fiancée, WTA pro Elina Svitolina, filmed together. But one week on, it was a very different story for the French star.

Monfils will definitely remember to never stand in the firing line of Roger Federer again after Svitolina posted a funny video on Saturday in Switzerland. In a bid to recreate a popular video that Monfils and Svitolina created last year on their Instagram feed, they recruited the help of Federer. But it didn’t quite turn out as they had planned…

Svitolina started the short clip by saying: “I know it’s a big challenge for you, but try to relax your arm and you can do it…”

The camera then panned to Federer, who proceeded to quickly hit three tennis balls in the direction of Monfils, who was standing at the back of a court staring at his phone.

The third ball literally hit the spot, much to the amusement of Federer and Svitolina.

Federer broke down in laughter, offering a “sorry” by way of apology. Svitolina turned to the camera, saying, “Don’t try this at home!”

Federer added, “This is a behind the scenes. This one doesn’t count.”

Source link

Ruthless Ruud Serves Up Second Title In Geneva

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

Third seed Casper Ruud was rock-solid in the Gonet Geneva Open final as he took down Denis Shapovalov 7-6(6), 6-4 for his second ATP Tour title.

The Norwegian has been in impressive form throughout the clay-court swing, arriving in Geneva on the back of three consecutive semi-finals at Monte-Carlo (l. Rublev), Munich (l.Basilashvili) and Madrid (l. Berrettini). 

“It feels great that I’ve been playing well lately and reaching the later stages in my past tournaments,” Ruud said in his post-match press conference. “It is a big confidence-booster ahead of Roland Garros… It was a close match today and it could have gone either way.”

In Geneva, Ruud dropped only one set en route the the championship match against fellow 22-year-old #NextGenATP alumnus Shapovalov, who was also seeking his second tour-level title. 

Ruud edged through a tightly contested opening set that was defined by strong serving and no break points on offer. Shapovalov dropped only one point (15/16) behind his first serve and won 94 per cent of those points, while Ruud dominated the second serve, winning 91 per cent (10/11) before they went into the tie-break. 

When the opening finally came for Ruud, he capitalised right away. Taking advantage of only his second look at a Shapovalov second serve in the set, Ruud unloaded on the return and jammed Shapovalov at the net to earn an error for a 4/2 lead. 

From 2/6 down, the Canadian fought back to save four set points and bring them level in the decider. But Ruud got himself out of trouble with an ace – one of four he struck in the match – before Shapovalov dumped a volley into the net to seal the set. 

“It was a tough first set, it was very close,” Ruud said. “We were both serving great so there weren’t that many rallies after the serve on both sides because of the high level. But in the tie-break there were some rallies here and there… Happily for me I won the first set, and I think that gave me a little bit of confidence to calm down a little bit – not to relax, but to play more freely.”

After such a high-quality opening set, a second-set letdown was inevitable – but Ruud kept his level high as the Canadian’s first-serve percentage eventually dropped off, giving his opponent the opening he needed. 


Ruud was right there to keep Shapovalov under pressure, and earned the first break opportunities of the match in the decisive 2-2 game. Shapovalov held firm during the marathon game, saving four break points, but couldn’t hold back the Norwegian as he converted his fifth. Ruud served out the victory after an hour and 43 minutes.

“It feels as good to win today as it did in Buenos Aires [in 2020],” Ruud said. “I was more mature this week, knowing that I won a title before. It’s something else to do it the second time, but it’s the same great winning taste and winning feeling.”

Ruud improved to an ATP Tour-leading 32 clay-court wins in 2020-21, ahead of Stefanos Tsitsipas (26) and Cristian Garin (25). 

Shapovalov was seeking his second ATP Tour title in his third final appearance, after improving to 2-10 in semi-final matches with a victory over Pablo Cuevas.

Did You Know?
The Geneva final is the first of 2021 to feature two 22-and-under players. There were six such finals during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season – the most on the ATP Tour since nine in 2009. The most recent took place at the European Open in Antwerp last October (Ugo Humbert d. Alex de Minaur).

Source link

Norrie Books Place In Lyon Final Against Tsitsipas

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

Cameron Norrie found the zone on Saturday and ended the day with two wins to earn his place in the final of the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon. He started by finishing out the third set of a rain-delayed 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 quarter-final win over Arthur Rinderknech before taking out Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-1 in the semi-finals.

“Everything was working well: serving well, returning well, anticipating the ball well,” Norrie said. “I came forward when I needed to and was aggressive with good depth. It was nice to come through like that.”

He will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final as he seeks his first ATP Tour title. It will mark Norrie’s third final and second of 2021 after losing the Estoril Open title in a third-set tie-break to Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The World No. 49 improved to 22-10 on the year and is 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series with Khachanov with all three meetings taking place this year.

“I had a tough loss in my last final so it’s nice I can get another opportunity so soon,” Norrie said. “It’s going to be tough against Stefanos. He’s in the zone as well, so it’s going to be an interesting final.”


Earlier in the week, Norrie upset top seed and World No. 4 Dominic Thiem for his biggest win ever, and he did so in dominant fashion 6-3, 6-2. His performance level has only gotten stronger. On Saturday, Norrie benefitted from his time on court earlier in the day against Rinderknech.

“You just come out and you’re feeling the ball good and you’re playing well, I think I used that to my advantage,” Norrie said. “I played pretty flawless and pretty clean tennis against Karen. I returned exceptionally well, especially after facing Arthur’s serve.” 

From the start of the semi-final match, Norrie took pace away from the big-hitting Khachanov, mixing things up with his lefty slice and dictating play. He had to save just one break point and converted on 71 per cent of his break-point chances (5/7), including to break the Russian on match point.

“I played pretty lights out in the match against Karen,” Norrie said. “It was perfect conditions. I think my game frustrated him a lot. Definitely a good day for me, I’ll take it.”

Khachanov, who owns four ATP Tour titles, was seeking his first final appearance since the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters.

Source link

Musetti Sets Sights On Strong Week In Parma

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

Lorenzo Musetti is looking forward to continuing his recent run of fine form next week at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma.

“My goal is to continue to win matches and to try and go as far as I can in Parma and at Roland Garros,” said Musetti, after he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday in the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon semi-finals.

“During the clay season, I want to win as many matches as I can, and have good feelings each week. I played well in Rome [at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia]. I did well this week and I want to continue that confidence in Parma and then at Roland Garros. I think I will do well.”

The 19-year-old #NextGenATP Italian is set to break into the Top 80 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday after a run to his third ATP Tour semi-final (also 2020 Sardinia and 2021 Acapulco].

Musetti, who lost to Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-3 in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado HSBC semi-finals in March, admitted he was happy with Saturday’s clash in France.

“It was a really good match,” said Musetti. “I think I played my best tennis in the first set and the first game of the second set, then Stefanos increased the intensity and I was unable to maintain my level. I am still proud of what I did and I am happy.

“I was leading in the first set and it was a battle of crosscourt backhands, then the first one who got a forehand would win the point. For the first set-and-a-half I was doing well, then in the second half of the match he was better than me physically and he deserved the win today.”

Musetti, who is now 12-7 in tour-level matches this year, also finished as runner-up in two ATP Tour Challenger Tour finals at Antalya (l. to Munar) and Biella (l. to Kwon).

Source link

Tsitsipas Rolls Into Lyon Final Over Musetti

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

In the battle for the final and for best head of hair, Stefanos Tsitsipas prevailed over Lorenzo Musetti 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon on Saturday. The Greek awaits the winner of Cameron Norrie and Karen Khachanov.

Tsitsipas improves to 2-0 in the ATP Head2Head Series against Musetti and now leads the tour with 32 wins. Sitting at a career-high ranking of No. 5, he picked up his sixth title, and first ATP Masters 1000, in Monte-Carlo before reaching the final in Barcelona.


Despite the grandness of the occasion, Musetti showed no signs of nerves in the first set, breaking at 2-2 and showing off his wide array of shots. With Tsitsipas hanging back far behind the baseline, Musetti was effective in hitting drop shot after drop shot.

Tsitsipas stayed calm and took control in the second set, while Musetti couldn’t maintain his level. After Tsitsipas broke at love for 5-3, he didn’t lose another game, racing to the finish line and into his 16th final.

Musetti is one of the newest and youngest faces inside of the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. After a run to the Acapulco semi-finals, which ended at the hands of Tsitsipas, the 19-year-old Italian jumped from No. 120 to No. 94.

Musetti’s week in Lyon began as an alternate and he took out seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round and backed it up with wins over Sebastian Korda and Aljaz Bedene.

Source link

Peers/Venus Capture Fourth Team Crown In Geneva

  • Posted: May 22, 2021

John Peers and Michael Venus improved their perfect ATP Tour finals record to 4-0 on Saturday when they captured the Gonet Geneva Open doubles title.

The second seeds swept past Italian Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez 6-2, 7-5 in 76 minutes at the Tennis Club de Geneve Eaux-Vives. They are now 9-3 on the season, which includes a run to last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals (l. to Mektic/Pavic).

“It was definitely a tough week,” Peers told “We tried three times to get on court for our first match [against Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop] and the ground staff did an incredible job to get the courts ready. It was a nice, sunny day for the final and it was good fun.”

Venus told, “I didn’t know we had a 4-0 record in finals! It shows that when we’re confident and playing well good things happen. Hopefully we can use this confidence going forwards.”

Peers and Venus captured three trophies in 2020 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Klaasen/Marach), the Hamburg European Open (d. Dodig/Pavic) and the European Open in Antwerp (d. Bopanna/Middlekoop).

The 32-year-old Peers has now won a tour-level crown for nine straight seasons and is 24-12 overall in championship matches. Venus, 33, is now 14-14 in doubles finals.

Bolelli and Gonzalez won the Chile Dove Men+Care Open title in Santiago (d. Delbonis/Munar) on 14 March.


Herbert/Mahut Advance To Lyon Final
Top-seeded Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut advanced to the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon final on Saturday with a 7-5, 7-6(4) victory over Marcelo Demoliner and Santiago Gonzalez.

Herbert and Mahut will bid to capture their 18th team crown (17-6 in finals) on Sunday against fourth seeds Hugo Nys of Monaco and German Tim Puetz.

Source link