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Norrie Routs Shapo To Reach San Diego SFs

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Briton’s Cameron Norrie won the battle of the lefties against Denis Shapovalov Friday to advance to the semi-finals of the San Diego Open. The 26-year-old, who also defeated the Canadian in the Queen’s semi-finals during the grass swing, powered to his 40th match win of the year with a decisive 6-3, 6-1 victory.

Norrie’s breakout season had turned into a bust of late. Since winning his maiden ATP Tour title at Los Cabos, Mexico, in July, he had won just two of seven matches, arriving at the Barnes Tennis Centre on a four-match losing streak.

But after taking out former World No. 5 Kevin Anderson in the first round and countryman and World No. 22 Daniel Evans in the second round, Norrie appears to have recaptured the form that has underpinned his banner year. He came into 2021 with just 51 wins throughout his career.


After saving a break point to level at 3-all in the first set, Norrie immediately broke the 22-year-old as he stormed home to win 10 of the last 11 games of the match.

“Denis came out serving really well and it was tricky for me to get into the rallies and get some rhythm, but I held onto my serve early in the first and then managed to find my return and my lefty serves when I needed them. I’m really enjoying playing here in San Diego.”

Norrie next faces the winner of top-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev and sixth-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

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Sinner Defeats Duckworth, Reaches Sofia SFs

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Defending champion Jannik Sinner battled past in-form James Duckworth on Friday at the Sofia Open, winning 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the semi-finals. The Italian, who is 11th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin continues his campaign to reach the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held on home soil 14-21 November.

Sinner, the top seed in Sofia, recovered from both a 2-5 deficit in the first set and 2-4 down in the second to advance in straight sets. The 20-year-old improves his ATP Head2Head against the Australian to 2-1, avenging a 6-3, 6-4 defeat against Duckworth earlier this year in Toronto.

“It feels very good to be honest,” Sinner said. “You know, today was a very tough match. I lost the last one against him in Toronto and he was in a very positive situation, winning a Challenger, making the final last week. It was not easy for me and it was a very close match, especially the first set.

Duckworth, a finalist in Nur-Sultan last week, had won 11 of his past 12 matches at all levels prior to the match. The 29-year-old Australian currently stands at a career-high No. 56 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Next up for Sinner, who will aim to advance to his fifth-career ATP Tour final, is fifth seed Filip Krajinovic or lucky loser Kamil Majchrzak.

“Playing here once again in Sofia is very special for me,” Sinner said. “I am very proud of myself, knowing that tomorrow is a very tough challenge in front of me. So I will try to be ready for tomorrow.”

Sinner is a three-time ATP Tour champion, adding two more titles to his collection earlier this year in Melbourne and Washington.

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Monfils Moves Into Sofia SFs

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Second seed Gael Monfils cruised past Italy’s Gianluca Mager 6-2, 6-2 on Friday at the Sofia Open to reach his second ATP Tour semi-final in as many weeks.

The Frenchman, who enjoyed a run to the last four in Metz last week, was competing in his maiden match in Sofia this year after receiving a first-round bye and then a walkover from Winston-Salem champion Ilya Ivashka.

“I like to be here,” Monfils said in his on-court interview. “The city is great. The people organising the tournament are always amazing. I have had a very good time with good preparation and that is why I think I played very well today.”


The 35-year-old fired 13 aces and mixed his aggressive baseline tennis with great variety against Mager to advance after 50 minutes. Monfils will next face Marcos Giron after the American defeated eighth seed John Millman 6-4, 6-2 to reach his first tour-level semi-final.

“Nothing is easy,” Monfils added. “We have been putting in work for nearly four days here. Working on my serve and my forehand and it worked perfectly today. I will be ready for Marcos. He has been playing very well, so I think it will be a tough semi-final.”

Monfils has fond memories in Bulgaria, having reached the semi-finals in Sofia in 2019. Earlier this season, the World No. 20 advanced to the last eight in Toronto, before reaching the third round at the US Open.

Mager, currently No. 78 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, was aiming to reach his second tour-level semi-final and first since 2020, when he defeated Attila Balazs before losing to Cristian Garin in the championship match in Rio de Janeiro.

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Giron Marches Past Millman In Sofia

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

American Marcos Giron’s impressive week continued Friday at the Sofia Open as he moved past eighth seed John Millman 6-4, 6-2 to reach his first tour-level semi-final.

The World No. 67, who upset third seed Alex de Minaur in the second round, saved all three break points he faced and won 80 per cent (28/35) of his first-serve points to advance after 70 minutes in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

“It feels awesome,” Giron said in his on-court interview. “First of all, tough match to John. He is a force on the ATP Tour, so I am really happy to get the win. It feels great to be in the semi-finals, but I don’t want to stop there. I want to keep going.”


Giron has enjoyed strong results recently, reaching quarter-finals on hard in Winston-Salem and Metz in the past month. The 28-year-old also enjoyed a run to the last eight in Halle in June. The American, who is set to rise to a career-high in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday, will next face second seed Gael Monfils after the Frenchman defeated Italian Gianluca Mager 6-2, 6-2.

“I think they both [resilience and confidence] go hand in hand,” Giron said. “If you are resilient and come back from tough situations it gives you confidence and next time you are under pressure you feed off that past success.

“I am building on the past month. I have been playing good tennis. In the second set he had break points to get back on serve, so I am really happy with how I played there.”

Millman was aiming to reach his first tour-level semi-final since Nur-Sultan in 2020, where he went on to lift his maiden ATP Tour trophy.

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Ruud Ousts 'Legend' Murray In San Diego

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Andy Murray was trying to earn his first Top 10 win in more than a year on Thursday evening. But World No. 10 Casper Ruud would not let that happen.

The Norwegian star eliminated the former World No. 1 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the San Diego Open. Ruud will next play ninth seed Lorenzo Sonego.

“On the opposite side of the net from me was a legend of the game [from] the past decade or so. Even what he’s done now the past [few] years, fighting his way back from a very serious injury, it’s been an inspiration for me,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “Also for the [past] 10, 15 years, he’s been an inspiration to watch on TV the way he fights and always finds a way to never give up.”

“It’s been an unfortunate couple of years for him, but it’s great to see him back and I think he was playing at a high level today.”

Murray came into the clash match tough after making the Metz semi-finals last week and beating American Denis Kudla in the first round in San Diego. But the three-time major champion managed to win just 51 per cent of his service points and lost serve five times in his defeat.

Ruud returned from near the back wall for both first and second serves, giving himself time to unleash heavy forehands and take control of the points. Murray at points took the initiative and played aggressively but Ruud, who has won four clay-court titles this year, showed his speed and defensive skills to get out of trouble.

The Norwegian let slip an opportunity to serve for the match at 5-3 in the second set. But he quickly rebounded to break Murray for the fifth time and seal his victory.

“It’s nice to be here in San Diego. It’s my first time. It’s a great city,” Ruud told the fans. “Tennis players, we usually never get to see much of the west coast… to have an event here in San Diego, I hope they can repeat it for more years in the future.”

Ruud’s next opponent, Sonego, defeated #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 27 minutes. The Italian has now beaten Korda twice on hard courts this year.

Ruud won his only previous ATP Head2Head meeting against Sonego last year on clay in Rome.

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Marach/Oswald Battle Into Sofia Semi-finals

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Austrians Oliver Marach and Philipp Oswald are now just two wins from claiming their second ATP Tour title as a team.

The third seeds beat Brazilians Marcelo Demoliner and Rafael Matos 7-6(6), 7-6(3) on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Sofia Open. Marach and Oswald lifted a trophy together in Gstaad in 2017.

On the other half of the draw, Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic and Dutchman Matwe Middelkoop beat Israeli Jonathan Erlich and Briton Dominic Inglot 6-2, 7-5 to reach the last four. In first-round matches, Santiago Gonzalez/Andres Molteni and Jonny O’Mara/Ken Skupski won their matches to reach the quarter-finals.

Top Seeds Salisbury/Skupksi Advance In San Diego
Britons Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski do not typically play together, but they are combining well nonetheless this week in California. Salisbury and Skupski beat wild cards Brandon Nakashima and Sem Verbeek 6-1, 7-5 to make the San Diego Open semi-final.

Salisbury and Rajeev Ram recently won the US Open and have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.

The top seeds will next play fourth seeds Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez or Australian-American duo Jordan Thompson and Jackson Withrow.

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Karatsev Ousts Hurkacz In Battle Of Turin Contenders

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Aslan Karatsev and Hubert Hurkacz are both battling for a maiden berth into the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November. But on Thursday it was Karatsev who advanced to the San Diego Open quarter-finals with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

The Russian, who broke through to the Australian Open semi-finals as a qualifier at the beginning of the year, is 12th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. Hurkacz is in eighth, just ahead of ninth-placed Casper Ruud, who is the second seed in San Diego.

“I try not to think about it,” Karatsev said. “I just try to compete every tournament, every match, practise every day. In the end, we will see who is going to be in Turin.”

This was the first ATP Head2Head clash between Karatsev and Hurkacz. Karatsev struggled landing his first serve in the first set, giving his Polish opponent an opportunity to dig into rallies.

But as the match wore on, Karatsev’s firepower helped him turn the tide. The 28-year-old did not lose serve in the final two sets to triumph after two hours and 28 minutes against last week’s Metz champion, who also earned crowns in Delray Beach and Miami earlier in the year.

“It was a good match, a tough opponent… [Hurkacz] just came from a big win in France,” Karatsev said. “The first set I had an opportunity, had some easy mistakes in the important moments to close the set. I didn’t get those chances.

“I found a way in the second set to break him at 3-3 and was playing better and better… I continued to play [well] in the third set. I broke him immediately in the third set. I think I played aggressive, too. It’s really important against this kind of player to dictate the point, because he’s really good on defence.”

Karatsev will next play 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov or lucky loser August Holmgren, who plays for the University of San Diego.

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Shapovalov Saves Six Set Points, Beats Fritz In San Diego

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Fourth seed Denis Shapovalov faced plenty of adversity on Thursday at the San Diego Open, but the Canadian found a way to win.

The dynamic lefty saved six set points in the first set before beating home favourite Taylor Fritz 7-6(7), 6-2 for a spot in the quarter-finals.

“I’m really happy to get the win, obviously. The first set was super, super tough for me and to come back like that was amazing,” Shapovalov said in his on-court interview. “Definitely happy to be in San Diego, [it is] my first time. It’s such an amazing city.”

Fritz is left to rue his missed opportunities, especially at 6/3 in the first-set tie-break. The American sprinted forward and had plenty of time to put away a poor drop volley from Shapovalov, but he hit his backhand into the net.

The 23-year-old had three more set points in the tie-break, but that was his best opportunity. Shapovalov took his first chance with a short forehand passing shot around Fritz.

“When you have a tough set, it obviously helps a lot to win that set. Then you try to keep that momentum going. Obviously when you lose a tough one like that, your momentum drops. It’s very important to keep the gas pedal on,” said Shapovalov, who now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head 4-1. “I definitely started the second set super well and just carried it.”

The Wimbledon semi-finalist will next play Cameron Norrie, who defeated fellow Briton Daniel Evans 7-6(3), 6-3. Norrie beat Shapovalov 7-5, 6-3 in their only previous clash earlier this year in the Queen’s Club semi-finals.

Also a lefty, Norrie is enjoying the best season of his career and is at a career-high World No. 28. The 26-year-old lifted his first ATP Tour trophy earlier this year in Los Cabos.

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Murray Headlines Indian Wells Wild Cards

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2021

Andy Murray will compete in the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2017 after accepting a wild card into the ATP Master 1000 event, the tournament announced Thursday. The other wild cards are #NextGenATP Americans Jenson Brooksby and Zachary Svajda, 2017 semi-finalist Jack Sock and #NextGenATP Dane Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune.

Murray has compiled a 25-12 record in the desert since his debut in 2006, but has not competed there since 2017. On his last appearance at the tournament, in 2017 when he was World No. 1, Murray lost his opening match against Vasek Pospisil. His best finish at Indian Wells was a runner-up showing to Rafael Nadal in 2009, the year he beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

Murray reached his first tour-level quarter-final in nearly two years last week in Metz last week and is competing this week in San Diego.

Brooksby has enjoyed a stellar run on home soil in recent months, most recently advancing to the fourth round at the US Open, where he won a set against Novak Djokovic. The 20-year-old also reached his first ATP Tour final in Newport and the semi-finals in Washington. His 18-year-old countrynman, Svajda, earned his first Grand Slam win against Marco Cecchinato in New York last month.

Former World No. 8 Sock reached his first tour-level quarter-final since 2018 in Newport last month before falling to eventual champion Kevin Anderson. The four-time ATP Tour single champion also pushed Nadal to a final-set tie-break in Washington.

Rune has climbed from No. 473 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to start the season to the brink of the Top 100 behind his first three ATP Challenger Tour titles. He came through qualifying at the US Open before falling to Djokovic in the first round.

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