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Sinner To Monfils: 'Tennis Needs You'

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2021

All eyes were on Jannik Sinner Sunday, when the Italian successfully defended his Sofia Open title and lifted his third trophy of the season. But during the trophy ceremony, the champion was quick to recognise his opponent, Gael Monfils.

“Gael, great week. Unlucky in some moments today, but we’ve had some great fights, some great matches. Obviously congrats to you and your team,” Sinner said. “Tennis needs you, it really needs you.”

The Frenchman has been one of the most entertaining players on the ATP Tour for more than 15 years thanks to his high-flying game. But he entered last week’s ATP 250 event in Metz with a 9-13 record on the season. Monfils did not win consecutive matches until Toronto in August and his FedEx ATP Ranking slipped from the Top 20 for the first time in a year-and-a-half.

“It’s not easy to be honest, to have no crowd,” Monfils said after the Sofia semi-finals. “It’s not something that I like to do.”

Watch Sofia Final Highlights:

The 10-time ATP Tour titlist has been open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic about it being tough for him to compete with limited fans or no fans at all. The Frenchman loves to thrill crowds with his stunning defence and jaw-dropping shotmaking, including leaping smashes like he hit against Sinner in Sunday’s final.

But over the past two weeks, Monfils has shown signs of his vintage form. The 35-year-old advanced to his first tour-level semi-final of the season in Metz and went one step further this week in Sofia by making the final.

“It’s always great to put yourself in that position,” Monfils said. “To have the chance to maybe lift another title.”

Monfils fell short, and is still pursuing his first tour-level crown since Rotterdam last February. But he has now advanced to at least one final in 17 consecutive seasons.

“It means that I’ve been playing for a long time. That’s first of all,” Monfils said, cracking a laugh. “It means that somehow every year, once in the year I could pull out one final or two.

“It’s strange, to be honest, to have that. But I’m proud of it and hopefully I can have many more years.”

Monfils, who was back up to World No. 20 this week and is projected to climb again on Monday, is still a dangerous opponent for anyone. He will try to show that at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he is a two-time quarter-finalist.

“I’m going to keep working. Obviously every tournament is different,” Monfils said. “Hopefully I will have a great feeling to start Indian Wells.”

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Sinner Beats Monfils, Retains Sofia Title

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2021

#NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner’s love affair with the Sofia Open continued on Sunday as he overcame second seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4 to defend his title in Bulgaria and boost his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The top seed hit with consistent depth and power against Monfils as he pinned the Frenchman behind the baseline to triumph after 79 minutes and improve to 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head Series.

“The level was high today,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “We had long, long rallies and it was physical as well. I am happy to be the winner here in Sofia again. I think it is a very nice tournament. It was the best match [I have played this week] because I had to.”

With his victory, Sinner will rise to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Monday as he bids to qualify for the season finale on home soil. The Nitto ATP Finals will be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.


The 20-year-old, who lifted his maiden tour-level trophy in Sofia last November, now holds a 9-0 record at the ATP 250 event and is the first player to become a two-time champion at the tournament.

“It is never easy playing against Gael, we’ve had many tough matches,” Sinner added. “I think in the crucial moments I was a bit luckier than him, which helped me a lot.”

It is the third tour-level title the Italian has won this year. Sinner lifted the trophy at the Great Ocean Road Open, before he captured the crown at the Citi Open to become the youngest player to win an ATP 500 event since the category was created in 2009.

Sinner made a fast start against Monfils as he found his range from the baseline, breaking the Frenchman’s serve to race 3-0 ahead. Despite Sinner making only 47 per cent of his first serves in the opening set, the Italian was ruthless when he found his first delivery, winning 93 per cent (13/14) of points behind it as he moved ahead.

The 20-year-old continued to dictate in the second set, causing Monfils problems with his flat backhand and heavy forehand. Sinner, who did not drop a set en route to the title, sealed his victory when Monfils fired a forehand long.

Monfils was competing in his first tour-level championship match since he triumphed in Rotterdam in February 2020. The World No. 20 has reached an ATP Tour final for 17 straight seasons.

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O’Mara/Skupski Capture Sofia Title

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2021

Jonny O’Mara and Ken Skupski captured their maiden tour-level doubles title as a team on Sunday, overcoming third seeds Oliver Marach and Philipp Oswald 6-3, 6-4 in the Sofia Open final.

The British tandem were teaming for the first time this week since they reached the quarter-finals in Sofia last year. They produced a strong performance against Marach and Oswald, breaking three times and hitting five aces to secure their victory after 77 minutes.


It is the second title O’Mara and Skupski have won at all levels, after triumphing at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Mouilleron Le Captif in 2018.

O’Mara, 26, has now won three tour-level doubles trophies, while Skupski has captured seven titles at this level. The 38-year-old clinched the Acapulco crown in March with brother Neal Skupski, who is competing in the San Diego Open final with Joe Salisbury on Sunday.

Austrians Marach and Oswald saved two match points in their semi-final victory and were aiming to win their second ATP Tour title as a team, after lifting the trophy in Gstaad in 2017.

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Casper Conquers Grigor In San Diego Thriller

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2021

Norway’s Casper Ruud is on the cusp of his first tour-level hard-court title after a rollercoaster three-set win over Grigor Dimitrov at the San Diego Open Saturday night.

In a classic shotmaking battle that will be remembered as one of the best ATP 250 matches of the season, Ruud needed three breaks of serve in the final set to pull out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win. In the tight third set Ruud’s punishing forehand and edge in confidence – well-deserved after four titles and now 46 match wins on the year – proved decisive.

In Sunday’s final the World No. 10 will face left-handed Briton Cameron Norrie, who also is enjoying his breakout year on Tour and, like Ruud, is in contention to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin 14-21 November.

“Playing Grigor you have to play well from all corners of the court and run well as he can hit winners from everywhere,” Ruud said. “He’s one of the toughest guys to play on Tour as he has all the shots in the bag. I tried to hang in there and I won the couple of important points that in the end gave me the win.

“It was high level from the first point to the last. I’m happy to be in my first hard-court final.”

2021 Match Wins Leaders

Player  Wins Losses
 Stefanos Tsitsipas  51  15
 Daniil Medvedev  48  10
 Casper Ruud  46  12
 Andrey Rublev  46  16
 Novak Djokovic  44  6
 Alexander Zverev  44  12

Neither player was entirely comfortable on serve throughout the match, which featured 11 breaks of serve, including four consecutive breaks at the start of the third set. Afte twice rallying from a break down, Dimitrov blinked in the 3-all game in the decider when, after leading 30/0, he dropped serve.

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Norrie Downs Rublev To Reach San Diego Final

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2021

Cameron Norrie continued his breakthrough 2021 campaign Saturday as he clinched his third career Top 10 win with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Andrey Rublev to reach the final of the San Diego Open.

“It’s nice to get some revenge. He beat me easily last time, so it’s good to see I’ve improved a little bit,” said Norrie, who scavenged just three games against Rublev in their only prior meeting in St. Petersburg last year.

Norrie will aim to lift his second tour-level title Sunday, with his first coming in Acapulco earlier this year. Norrie, who now holds a 41-19 record in 2021, had lost five of his past six matches prior to this week.

The 26-year-old began the week 15th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, and will keep alive his outside chance of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals should be push on to claim the title Sunday against the winner of second seed Casper Ruud and former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov.

After losing the opening set in 35 minutes it was Norrie who was the more solid, neutralising Rublev’s power and forcing errors, which led to frustration on the Russian’s side of the net.

“All credit to Andrey, he came out firing,” said Norrie in his on-court interview. “He played some big tennis at the beginning and I managed to weather the storm at the start of the second.

“It’s such a big win for me. It’s definitely a match that I’m going to remember for a long time.”

It was the Brit’s second win over a Top 5 opponent, following his victory over then-World No. 4 Dominic Thiem earlier this year in Lyon.


Norrie was again impressive behind his serve, winning 73 per cent of first-serve points and firing eight aces. The World No. 26 also saved eight of the nine break points he faced to reach his fifth tour-level final of the year.

“I’m just trying to enjoy today and then I’ll try to rest up and get ready for [the final against Ruud or Dimitrov],” Norrie said. “I’ve been watching both of them this week and they’ve been playing some of their top level. I’m looking forward to that one tomorrow.”

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