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Salisbury/Skupski Advance To San Diego Final

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

Top seeds Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski continued their exceptional record as a team Saturday at the San Diego Open as they defeated Jordan Thompson and Jackson Withrow 6-4, 7-6(3) to reach the final.

Salisbury and Skupski improve to 9-1 after the straight-sets victory, with the British tandem searching for a second title. The last time the two played alongside each other was in Vienna in 2018, when they lifted the trophy.

“That’s a pretty good statistic. I knew we had a good win together three years ago, we haven’t played together since then,” Salisbury said. “It’s great to be back on court together, we know each other well and play well together.

“We’re happy we’ve come through some tough matches this week and hopefully we go one more in the final.”

The pair was effective on serve, winning 80 per cent (33/41) of first-serve points and 64 per cent (14/22) of second-serve points in the 93-minute encounter at Barnes Stadium. They will meet either third seeds John Peers and Filip Polasek or Marcelo Arevalo and Federico Delbonis in Sunday’s final.

“We’re feeling fresh, feeling good. So we’re ready to get straight back at it tomorrow,” said Skupski. “The fans that came out to support doubles is an amazing thing for us, it makes us play better. It’s a great atmosphere and hopefully the crowds will come out tomorrow.”

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Sinner Sets Monfils Clash, Reaches Sofia Final

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

#NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner continued his bid to reach the Nitto ATP Finals on Saturday as he downed fifth seed Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 7-5 at the Sofia Open to reach his fourth tour-level final of the season.

Sinner, who is the defending champion in Bulgaria, was strong on serve, winning 86 per cent (24/28) of points behind his first delivery to advance after one hour and 43 minutes in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

”It was a very tough match against him,” Sinner said. “We practise at times together, so we know each other’s games a little bit. There was a chance to go to a tie-break, which I luckily avoided. I am happy to be in the final here again.”


The top seed has enjoyed a strong season, winning tour-level titles in Melbourne and Washington, while also advancing to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Miami. Sinner will rise to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Monday as he aims to qualify for the season finale, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.

”I just tried to stay positive with my mindset,” Sinner said. “I played a good first set and when he broke me I tried to stay there. The second set I was trying to stay positive as I felt the ball better than the other days and I think the level today was higher. It gives me a little bit of confidence ahead of the final.”

The 20-year-old has yet to drop a set this week and will face second seed Gael Monfils in the championship match after the Frenchman cruised past American Marcos Giron 7-5, 6-0. Sinner leads Monfils 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head Series, recently beating the World No. 20 in five sets at the US Open.

”We [Monfils and I] always have tough matches,” Sinner added. “It is the fourth time we will play. We had a tough one at the US Open in the fifth. He is a great player, everyone knows that. He is moving really well, which helps a lot. It is not going to be easy, but I can be happy to be in the final and I will enjoy it.”

In an entertaining match, both players played aggressively as they looked to control the tempo. After breaks were exchanged during the first set, Sinner moved ahead when Krajinovic hit a backhand into the net. The Serbian regained momentum in the second set, but could not convert from 5-2 ahead as Sinner won five games in a row to advance.

Krajinovic was aiming to capture his first tour-level title this week, having enjoyed a run to the championship match in Hamburg in July.

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Monfils Cruises Into Sofia Final

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

Second seed Gael Monfils is an ATP Tour finalist once again after he overcame American Marcos Giron 7-5, 6-0 on Saturday at the Sofia Open.

The Frenchman struck his groundstrokes with great power as he found his range as the match went on. The World No. 20 rallied from 2-4 down in the first set, winning 11 of the next 12 games to advance after 65 minutes.

“It was a great match,” Monfils said in his on-court interview. “At the beginning, Marcos was playing very solid. I could not find the exit door and at the end I found it. I am very happy as I was very solid. It was a very physical match with lots of long rallies. I am very happy to get through.”

With his victory, Monfils has now reached a tour-level final for 17 straight years. His last championship match came in Rotterdam in February 2020, when he defeated #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime for his 10th tour-level crown.


The 35-year-old, who enjoyed a run to the semi-finals on home soil in Metz last week, will face either #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner or fifth-seeded Serbian Filip Krajinovic in the final.

In a lively first set, Giron started well as he hit with consistent depth which forced Monfils to drop the ball short. However, from 4-2 ahead, Monfils began to pin Giron behind the baseline as he used a greater variety of shots to dictate.

The World No. 20 reeled off five of the last six games in the opener to lead, before he continued to close the net in the second set as he raced clear against a disheartened Giron to secure his victory.

“I felt in his rhythm he was crushing the ball, so I wanted to change the speed a little and come to the net a little bit and step in,” Monfils added. “Just mix it up a little bit and I think that was key for me.”

Giron was competing in his first tour-level semi-final, having upset seeded Australian pair Alex de Minaur and John Millman en route to the last four.

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Marach/Oswald Save 2 MPs, Reach Sofia Final

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

Third seeds Oliver Marach and Philipp Oswald saved two match points on Saturday at the Sofia Open as they battled past Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 2-6, 7-5, 10-6 to reach their first tour-level final as a team this season.

The Austrians saved two match points at 4-5 30/40 and 40/40 in the second set as they broke serve, before they raised their level in the Match Tie-break to advance after one hour and 31 minutes.

Marach and Oswald are teaming for the sixth time this season, having reached the last four in Winston-Salem and the quarter-finals in Metz. They won their only ATP Tour trophy as a team in Gstaad in 2017.


They will face British tandem Jonny O’Mara and Ken Skupski in the final after the unseeded pair cruised past Matwe Middelkoop and Roman Jebavy 6-3, 6-1.

They won 96 per cent (25/26) of their first-serve points and did not face a break point as they advanced after 50 minutes. It is the first time O’Mara and Skupski have joined forces since they reached the quarter-finals in Sofia last year.

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Quietly, Casper Earning Hard-Court Respect

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

Casper Ruud continues to build his street cred on hard courts ahead of an increasingly likely debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, dismissing Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-4 Friday to reach his first semi-final on the surface at the San Diego Open.

Although his journey to become Norway’s first Top 10 singles player has been underpinned by four clay-court titles this year, Ruud is aware that he needs to up his game on hard courts if he is to qualify for – and make an impression at – the prestigious season finale, to be held for the first time this year in Turin, Italy, from 14-21 November.

“This is my first semi-final on hard court after reaching the quarters in Toronto and Cincinnati, so it’s another important step in my young career,” Ruud said. “It gives me confidence for tomorrow and the belief that I can beat good players on this surface.”

The Oslo native has made significant gains on hard courts in recent months, reaching ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals on the surface in Toronto and Cincinnati and taking out Reilly Opelka at last week’s Laver Cup.


Prior this season, Ruud was a modest 16-27 on hard courts but this year he is an impressive 16-5, which includes a run to the Australian Open fourth round. He began the week ninth in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, in strong contention to claim one of five remaining places at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“It was closer than it may have seemed, but the key moments and important points went my way today,” said Ruud, who is looking to add a tour-high fifth title of the season. “The three times I broke him they were close games and at 4-3 in the second I got into a little bit of trouble on my serve but I was able to serve out a close game.”

Ruud next faces Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who improved to 17-14 on the year after a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 win over Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev.

Dimitrov is chasing his first title since winning the Nitto ATP Finals in 2017, when he ended the year a career-high No. 3. Since then he has reached just one final (Rotterdam 2018). He had not reached a semi-final since Antwerp last October.

“Casper is a great player who has been having a great year,” Dimitrov said, looking ahead to Saturday’s semi-final. “He’ll be a very tough opponent but I’ll just be focusing on my side of the net. I’ll do everything possible to stop him.”

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Get To Know Thiago Tirante: 10 Questions For The First-Time Challenger Champion

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

No country has enjoyed more success on the ATP Challenger Tour this year than Argentina. On Sunday, the South American nation celebrated its 10th different champion of 2021, as Thiago Agustin Tirante joined the club. In fact, for the first time in 20 years, three Argentines aged 20 & under have lifted Challenger trophies in a single season.

Tirante added his name to a growing list of emerging stars, claiming his maiden title on the clay of Ambato, Ecuador. He joined #NextGenATP countrymen Sebastian Baez and Juan Manuel Cerundolo in the 2021 winners’ circle, marking a historic moment for Argentine tennis.

As a Juan Pablo Varillas backhand found the net, an emotional Tirante collapsed to the clay at the Club Tungurahua. Overcome with joy, tears flowed down the 20-year-old’s cheeks as he laid on his back and clutched his face. Nearly one year after appearing in his first final on the ATP Challenger Tour, he would go one step further in Ambato.

A 7-5, 7-5 victory over top seed Varillas capped a dramatic week for the former junior No. 1. The La Plata native opened the tournament with a pair of victories in deciding tie-breaks, before fighting past Facundo Mena in another third set in the semi-finals. And on Sunday, his victory over Varillas was one of the biggest wins of his young career.

After lifting himself off the clay, an elated Tirante leapt through the air, throwing his arms above his head in triumph. Raised by his parents and grandparents and introduced to the game by his aunts, he says the first thing he thought of was his family and their sacrifice. As he sat in his chair ahead of the trophy ceremony, the tears continued to flow. It marked the culmination of all the hard work and dedication to growing his craft, since he first decided to pursue a tennis career as a child in La Plata.

Tirante finds himself at a career-high No. 204 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with the victory.

He described the impact of the moment and reflected on his journey.

Thiago, congrats on winning your first title. How does it feel to be a Challenger champion?
I’m just so happy. It’s incredible. This is my first year playing Challengers and it was my first title in my third final. I was feeling happiness: happiness for me, for my team and for my family. It’s a very big title.

We saw you overcome with tears of joy after match point. Describe that feeling. Why was it such an emotional moment?
Yes, I cried. I was thinking about a lot of people. My grandparents passed away two years ago. I come from a normal family in La Plata. It’s not a big city and I’m the second player from there to win a Challenger this year. Tomas Martin Etcheverry is from my same city, so that is amazing that we can both win titles.

There were too many things in my head, so I started to cry a little after the final. I was also nervous. I was thinking about my mom and my dad and all the efforts they have done for my tennis. I was thinking about my family and my team and the hard work we do every day. After the final I did so many photos and video and autographs and then I called my parents. I told them, ‘I did it! We did it!’. It was an incredible week.

It was not an easy week. You won two deciding tie-breaks, then another deciding set in the semis and then beat the top seed in the final. How do you explain your success in Ambato?
That was crazy. Winning two third-set tie-breaks, almost losing the first and second round. And then in the final I played the top seed Varillas. He’s Top 120 in the [FedEx ATP Rankings]. It’s not easy to play in altitude and I served 52 aces all week – on clay – but I played better and better after the first match. In the final, I had my best match of the week.

I felt so good with my tennis, so good with my emotions and so good with my mentality. I have been working very hard every week, so I did expect this. In the two finals I played before (in Lima and Trieste), I lost. But in this match I entered the court thinking I had nothing to lose. I relaxed more.


This is your first full year on the Challenger Tour. What is the biggest thing you’ve learned stepping up to this level?
I’ve learned a lot about my mentality and my tennis, of course. The way the guys play and the way they are off the court, it is very important for me to experience that. Not too many guys have the chance to compete at this level, so I am grateful for that. I hope I can pass this level as fast as I can. Every week I learn something.

It is an incredible time for tennis in Argentina. You are the 10th different champion from your country this year and there are many young guys like you, Baez, the Cerundolo brothers, Etcheverry and Carabelli. How much do you motivate and push each other? And how important is it to travel with these friends on the tour, when you’re often competing far from home?
Of course we push each other. I am grateful for that. I know Juanma [Juan Manuel Cerundolo] and Seba [Sebastian Baez] since we were 10 years old. It’s great that we are all playing good tennis. There are 10 champions and it’s incredible that the three of us are part of it. I can’t believe it.

It has been tough to travel with the Covid, but to have friends in the tournaments, to have dinner and spend time together after matches and the practices, you always have someone to talk to. That makes the difference. It is really important for me. They are friends and you need to do things so you are not always thinking about tennis.

#NextGenATP Argentine Champions In 2021

Player Title(s)
Juan Manuel Cerundolo (19) Rome, Como & Banja Luka
Sebastian Baez (20) Concepcion, Santiago & Zagreb
Thiago Agustin Tirante (20) Ambato

Two years ago, you were a sparring partner at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, hitting with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev. What was that experience like for you, as an 18-year-old practising with those top guys?
It was the best week of my life. I can’t describe it,  hitting with Federer, Medvedev and Rafa. I shared one week with them and I still don’t believe it. It was really important for me. When I hit with Roger, during the changeover, they were asking me questions about my ranking and which tournaments I’ll play. He and his team really relaxed me. It was an incredible feeling to have the chance to talk with him.

It was funny. In our second practice, we played a match in the last 15 minutes. I broke him in the first game and led 3-1. At that point I said, ‘ok, I am beating Roger Federer, the practice can end now’. We were laughing. Then he broke back and won 4-3 and said, ‘ok, goodbye, good training’. It was amazing.

Then, two months after I went to the Nitto ATP Finals, I was in Bogota for an exhibition with Nicolas Mejia. We opened the ceremony, playing one match together. After our match, it was Federer and Zverev playing. There were so many people in the stadium. While I was leaving the court, Federer was coming down the stairs, and I was thinking that I can’t say hi because he had security and there were so many people. But he stopped and said, ‘Hey! How are you?’. I said, ‘Hi Roger! Nice to see you!.’ I couldn’t believe it. Roger Federer remembered me. It’s incredible.


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A post shared by Thiago Tirante (@thiagotirante)

Your aunt coached you for many years. How important is family for you? Is she still an important part of your career?
It’s really important to have the chance to work with someone who is close to you, especially in this chapter of your life. You have more security when you are travelling and training with someone from your family. It’s really important for me because we experienced all the tennis life together. We went to ll the tournaments together and I felt really comfortable and secure. She wasn’t just my coach, but my family, so she really cared about me, my life and my career.

I come from a very hard-working family. My father, Gonzalo, works in flooring and my mother Mariné does cleaning in hospitals and pharmacies. They gave me a lot of strength, a strong mentality and good values. It is very important to work hard in life.

I have one tattoo that says, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’. It is in English and it’s on my chest.


How did you get your start in tennis?
My grandfather bought a tennis club in La Plata when I was two years old. It had two clay courts. My two aunts are tennis coaches, so I played there with them all the time. But I also played football, basketball and did swimming. I did a lot of other sports, but always with tennis. All my family played tennis, from my two aunts and my grandfather, so I did it too. When I was nine years old, I had to make a choice and I chose tennis.

Who was your idol growing up?
Juan Martin del Potro, of course. I hit with him in 2018. To share a court with Juan Martin is incredible. The people love him and he’s one of the greatest. I want to be like that. I always saw him on TV and I’ve wanted to be like him, not just in tennis, but as a person. The way he played and he was with the people, I really enjoyed that.

What is your biggest passion outside of tennis?
I don’t have a really big passion, but I just enjoy being with my friends and family. That is my perfect day at home. I play football, but I like to stay with my friends and my family. I’m not someone who needs to do something for my happiness. When I come to Argentina from Europe, I’ll stay in the houses of my family and my friends and it’s a really good feeling.

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Rublev Outslugs Brave Schwartzman In San Diego

  • Posted: Oct 02, 2021

Top seed Andrey Rublev was at his punishing best Friday, overpowering Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 7-5 to advance to the semi-finals of the San Diego Open. Rublev loaded up on his penetrating forehand and feasted on the second serve of the Argentine, who fought back bravely late in the match before a shocking collapse in the final game.

After reclaiming a break of serve midway through the second set, Schwartzman looked destined to force a tie-break when serving at 5-6, 40/0. But the World No. 15 lost five consecutive points to fall to the Russian for the second time in two weeks.

“The match against him at the Laver cup helped me a lot because we hadn’t played for a really, really long time and I didn’t know what he was doing on court,” Rublev said. “The match at Laver Cup gave me confidence and also let me know how I needed to play today.”


Although Schwartzman went blow-for-blow with Rublev in the second set, it was the Russian’s dominance in second-serve battles that made the difference. The eight-time ATP Tour champion won the first 19 of 22 points played on Schwartzman’s second serve, ending the match winning 24 of 31 (67 per cent).

“The second set was very tough and enjoyable for the spectators to watch,” Rublev said. “Every game was really tough with amazing points and the set could have gone either way.”

Boasting a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 5 this week, Rublev is chasing his first trophy since winning the ATP 500 title in Rotterdam in February. He is also seeking points this week to strengthen his already solid claim to one of five remaining singles berths to the Nitto ATP Finals, to be played in Turin 14-21 November.

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