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Korda Catapults Past Paul In San Diego

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

It is easy to forget that one year ago, Sebastian Korda was still outside the Top 200 in the FedEx ATP Ranking. Now the #NextGenATP American is at a career-high World No. 42, and based on his performance Tuesday at the San Diego Open, he is still on the way up.

Korda battled past countryman Tommy Paul 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 after two hours and 11 minutes to reach the second round as he pursues his second ATP Tour title.

“I’m just having fun. A year ago I was ranked 220 in the world. Now I’m 42 in the world,” Korda said in his on-court interview. “It’s been a big jump for me and [I am] just having fun.”

Paul used his athleticism to hit some sensational passing shots and jaw-dropping returns to turn around the second set. But Korda, who saved seven of the eight break points he faced, was the more consistent player, which allowed him to surge ahead in the third set after he broke with a missile-like backhand passing shot.

“It was tough. Tommy started playing a lot better. In the first set I was playing really well and dictating really well and then he was coming up clutch in some big moments,” Korda said. “I just played better in the third set.”

Korda, who joined fellow #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima in the second round, will next play ninth seed Lorenzo Sonego, who beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4.

Korda and Sonego have split their first two ATP Head2Head matches, both of which came earlier this year. The Italian triumphed in Montpellier on an indoor hard court before the American returned the favour by beating Sonego in Parma en route to his maiden tour-level trophy.

Did You Know?
Korda is one of four players who have booked their spot at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, which will be held from 9-13 November. The other players who have qualified are Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz.

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The Nomadic Life With… Aslan Karatsev

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

Aslan Karatsev has been one of the breakthrough stars of 2021, having made the Australian Open semi-finals as a qualifier and claimed his first ATP Tour title in Dubai.

Karatsev, who is competing this week at the San Diego Open, is making a push to earn a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. caught up with the 28-year-old to discuss his life on Tour, why he is not a fan of flying, his craziest travel story and more.

What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
I’ll go with a laptop and big headphones to listen to music.

Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
I don’t like flying, so it’s not like I enjoy flying. The takeoff and landing are not fun. Now it’s getting better and better with time. But from the beginning, when I was 20, 21, I had some issues with airplanes. I’d get a bit scared.

Did something happen on one of your early flights or you just never liked flying?
I don’t remember [when or where]. Something happened where we couldn’t land. There was a lot of circling around the airport. Also the turbulence. Some people are saying it doesn’t affect the airplane, but still when you’re jumping in the airplane [it bothers you].

How do you deal with that these days? Do you have a routine to calm yourself down a little bit?
I don’t think about it that much. I have to fly, so I just take a ticket and I fly. I try not to think about it and that’s it.

What is your favourite city you have been to for a tournament and why?
Melbourne. It’s really nice. In general it’s a really nice city. I like the people, I like the city, the restaurants. Everything is nice.

Where is your favourite vacation destination?
I had one vacation. It was so boring, I don’t know if I would go again. Normally I just go to my hometown [in Russia] and rest there. I like more activities, so I don’t like when you lay down on the beach. Snowboarding, skiing, these sorts of activities I like. I don’t do it a lot, but when I can, when I have the offseason, I snowboard. I started when I was 18.

What is your craziest travel story?
I was playing a junior tournament in Yucatan in Mexico. I was in Rostov, so I was flying two hours to Moscow, then waiting 12 hours in the airport. And then 12 hours to New York, waiting eight hours in the airport. Six hours to Mexico City, waiting 17 hours in the airport and then flying three more hours to Yucatan. This was the longest trip I’ve ever had.

Russia's Aslan Karatsev has surged into the Top 30 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimate to the local time zone?
When I go to Asia, it’s harder for me than when I go to the United States. Normally the flight to Melbourne you arrive in the morning, so you don’t have to go to the room and sleep. I did it once and it was a mistake. Now I just put the luggage and I just go on a walk for six, seven hours. I just don’t stay in the room, otherwise you fall asleep.

I just walk around every city. I like to walk around, with music sometimes. The next year in Melbourne I just walked six, seven hours sitting, drinking coffee, and then I walked more.

Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
One hour or 45 minutes before I arrive. I don’t want to sit there.

Have you ever missed a flight?
Yes. I messed it up with p.m and a.m. flying to Australia. Not this year, but many, many years ago.

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Giron Takes 10 Match Points To Defeat Munar In Sofia

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

Marcos Giron needed 10 match points in a dramatic final game to overcome Jaume Munar 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-4 in an almost three-hour opening-round victory at the Sofia Open on Tuesday.

All of the American’s match points came in the final game, which lasted 20 minutes, with Giron finally serving out the match on his 10th attempt to reach the second round and gain his seventh win in his past 10 matches.

“The first set was close. I feel like I had chances, but he played better than me in the tie-break,” Giron said. “I thought I did a great job resetting and adjusting in the second, and then in the third I was able to get the break early, but he kept holding on.

“I’m happy to get through that, it was a battle. That might be the most match points I’ve ever had.”

Giron also saved three break points in the same game to prevent the 24-year-old Spaniard from breaking back in the deciding set. Break point chances proved key in the encounter, as Giron saved all five break points that he faced in the match and converted three of his six opportunities on Munar’s serve.

The 28-year-old will face a familiar opponent when he takes on third-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur in the second round. Giron emerged victorious against de Minaur last week in Metz, winning 7-5, 7-6(5) to lead 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head Series.

Eighth seed John Millman also advanced to the second round on Tuesday, comfortably defeating Swede Mikael Ymer 6-2, 6-4 in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

“At this level every match is a bit of a battle, but I was really happy with how I played here in my first match,” Millman said. “Getting used to the conditions is so important and right from the start I thought I set a really good level.”

Millman will take on either Italian Andreas Seppi or Ukranian Illya Marchenko in his next match, with both players advancing through qualifying.

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Nick Kyrgios Ends 2021 Season

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

Nick Kyrgios announced on Instagram Stories Monday evening that he has been suffering from a left knee complaint and is flying home to Australia to receive treatment in the hopes of being 100 per cent for the Australian Open.

“Over the past couple months I haven’t been 100 per cent healthy. I’ve been dealing with left knee patella tendinopathy and continuing to play without treating it can lead to further pain and greater setbacks,” Kyrgios wrote. “I’ve chosen to fly back to Australia to reassess and am planning to get PRP treatment to settle down and rehab my knee.

“I’m disappointed it has kept me from playing my best tennis and hopefully with everything going smoothly I’ll be back to 100 per cent by the Australian Open. All love.” 

Kyrgios played this weekend at the Laver Cup for Team World, where he lost a singles match against Stefanos Tsitsipas and fell in doubles alongside John Isner.

The 26-year-old finishes his season with a 7-8 record. He did not compete between the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

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Fritz Dominates On Serve In San Diego First Round

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

Taylor Fritz has shaken off determined qualifier Salvatore Caruso in straight sets to reach the opening round of the San Diego Open on Monday night.

The 23-year-old American relished the chance to compete in his home state of California and clinched the first-time ATP Head2Head meeting against the Italian 6-4, 7-6(2). In impressive night on serve, Fritz dropped just one point from 35 on his first serve, which included 10 aces.

He also won 59 per cent on second serves and never faced a break point in the one-hour, 44-minute encounter. Victory set a second-round meeting with fourth seed Denis Shapovalov.

“I didn’t feel like I was in any danger of getting broken. I was serving well in the first set, it was just getting that break and second set… I played a really good tie-break,” Fritz said.

“I played tournaments every weekend growing up here so it’s awesome to be back home. After a couple of weeks off after the [US] Open, it feels really good to have a solid match, play well.”

The American secured the only break of the match to grab the first set. Both men were rock solid on serve throughout the second set, but in the ensuing tie-break there was no denying Fritz as he quickly surged to 5/0 before he advanced on his second match point to join compatriot Brandon Nakashima in the second round.

“I was hitting my spots really well,” Fritz said. “I have days where my service percentage is pretty good but I don’t necessarily hit my spots and my serve’s coming back, but I hit my spots really well today and backed it up really well when the serves came back.”

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Nakashima Thrills Home Crowd To Deny Fognini in San Diego

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

#NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima has prevailed before his hometown crowd for the first time at tour level, with a win over Fabio Fognini in the opening round of the San Diego Open.

In a maiden ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, the 20-year-old Californian rebounded for a 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5 victory over the former No. 9 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to set a clash with top seed Andrey Rublev. He won 80 per cent of first serve points, including eight aces, and 63 per cent on second serves, while Fognini committed 11 double faults.

“I thought to myself I didn’t really play a great first set and he played a little bit better when it got close there at the end [of the set],” Nakashima said in his on-court interview. “But I just told myself I’ve got to regroup as best as I can and just stay with the game plan, so I’m just happy I got it done.”

Nakashima arrived having won 11 of his past 15 matches – all on US hard courts – and in eighth spot in the FedEx ATP Race to Milan. The San Diego native – who reached back-to-back finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta, and defeated John Isner in the opening round of the US Open – paid tribute to the home-crowd support.

“Oh man it was huge. You guys definitely helped me there at the end to get over that finish line,” he said on court. “It’s a real honour and privilege to be playing out here in front of you all.

“I appreciate… not just today, but the past couple of years, ever since I turned pro I always love coming back to San Diego whenever I can, whenever I have a little break. It’s great to have an ATP tournament here in my home town.”

The pair could not be separated on serve throughout the opening set and it was the 34-year-old Italian whose sustained aggression paid dividends in the tiebreak. No sooner had Fognini clinched a 56-minute first set than his intensity dropped as he was broken to love. Nakashima was in the ascendancy when he secured the double break for 4-1 in the second set and broke again on his fourth set point to force the deciding set.

It served as an immediate call to action as the Italian secured his first break to open the third set. The World No. 31 was unable to ride the momentum for long as he relinquished the advantage three games later.

He fended off two match points on serve at 4-5, but was unable to force the tie–break as Nakashima broke two games later to seal the result at the two-hour, 17-minute mark.

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Top Seed Sinner Eyes Sofia Title Defence

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

Jannik Sinner enters new territory this week as he bids to defend a tour-level title for the first time at the Sofia Open.

It all began for the Italian in the Bulgarian capital a year ago, when he defeated the experienced Vasek Pospisil for his maiden silverware. He has since gone on to add a second ATP 250 trophy in Melbourne and collected ATP 500 honours in Washington, D.C. Top seed in 2021, he could meet the Canadian in the second round in Sofia.

“Hopefully there will be some crowds again, which helped me a lot last year. Obviously, when you win the first tournament it’s always a special place and for me it was here, so I’m very grateful to be back,” Sinner said.

“It’s great, a lot of emotions last year… This year is very different, obviously. It’d [be] very nice to see me with the trophy, but I’m here trying to defend what I did last year and for this it’s a long way to go.”

FedEx ATP Race To Turin Standings

The 20-year-old arrived in Sofia last year having reached his first Grand Slam fourth round at Roland Garros. Top seed this week, he returns at No. 11 in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin.

A fourth tour-level title would boost his chances of a maiden Nitto ATP Finals berth and the trophy would complement his first from Sofia last year, which takes pride of place back in his apartment.

“It’s at my home in Monaco. When I enter my apartment it’s the first thing I see on the left-hand side,” Sinner said. “It’s very, very nice when I go back at home to see some trophies and obviously the first trophy of my career.”

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