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Fritz Saves 2 MPs, Upsets Zverev To Reach Indian Wells SFs

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

Taylor Fritz’s breakthrough run continued Friday at the BNP Paribas Open as he saved two match points to earn his second Top 5 win of his career and reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

The American rallied from a 2-5 down in the decider and saved two match points at 3-5, 30/40 and 4-5, 30/40 to upset World No. 4 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) after two hours and 22 minutes in Indian Wells.

The 31st seed, who recorded straight-set wins over Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner en route to his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final, played aggressive tennis against Zverev, firing 36 winners to advance.

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Fritz now trails Zverev 2-3 in their ATP Head2Head series and will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last four after the Georgian overcame second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final.

The Californian resident is making his fifth appearance in Indian Wells, with his previous best result a run to the fourth round in 2018. Fritz’s only other Top 5 win came against then-World No. 5 Dominic Thiem at the Laver Cup in 2019.

The 23-year-old has reached semi-finals in Doha, Cagliari and Los Cabos. Fritz will try to avenge his Doha defeat to Basilashvili when they meet on Saturday.

After breaks were exchanged at the start of the first set, with Zverev double-faulting to drop serve, the German began to take control with his consistent deep groundstrokes. The World No. 4 committed just six unforced errors in the set to move ahead.

Fritz altered his tactics in the second set and started to play aggressively as he blasted 13 winners from all areas of the court, overpowering Zverev to march 4-1 ahead. After Fritz sealed the set on his serve, Zverev regained momentum in the decider as he continued to soak up the 31st seed’s power. The American’s level slightly dipped in the third set and after Zverev broke early, he was able to put his foot down and roar into a 5-2 lead.

However, the German’s second serve abandoned him when he was trying to serve out the match, hitting two double faults as Fritz broke back. After moving to a tie-break, the American found his best tennis to prevail in a tight match.

Zverev was aiming to win his third ATP Masters 1000 title of the season in Indian Wells, having triumphed in Madrid and Cincinnati earlier this year. The German entered the match in strong form after winning 20 of his past 21 matches on hard courts.

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Basilashvili Soars Into First Masters 1000 SF In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

Nikoloz Basilashvili sprung a surprise on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open, earning the biggest win of his career with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 upset of World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

The Georgian was competing in his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final and produced an impressive performance as he caused Tsitsipas problems from the baseline with his powerful groundstrokes, raising his level in the third set to advance after two hours and nine minutes.

“I have played really great matches this tournament,” Basilashvili said. “I was not that happy with how I played today but I was happy with how I managed my stress levels. First time in the quarter-finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is a super tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally I would be a little bit tight and stressed.”


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With his victory, the World No. 36 has reduced the deficit to 1-2 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas. Before this year, Basilashvili had never won a main-draw match in Indian Wells in four previous appearances. The 29-year-old will now face third seed Alexander Zverev or America’s Taylor Fritz for a place in the final.

Basilashvili, who rallied from a set-and-a-break down in his third-round victory against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, has won tour-level titles in Doha and Munich this year. The 29th seed’s last Top 5 victory came against then-World No. 5 Alexander Zverev in Hamburg in 2019.

“I have spent a lot of time working hard,” Basilashvili added. “I have been playing really well. For me to overcome stressful moments I am really happy. I also found it here that the conditions don’t suit my game because the balls fly a lot, but this year I am playing well.”

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In a lively first set, Basilashvili made a fast start as he broke in the opening game, causing Tsitsipas problems with his powerful groundstrokes. The Georgian controlled the tempo of the match, notching 14 winners in the first set as Tsitsipas struggled to find his rhythm from the baseline.

However, the Greek began to gain momentum in the second set as he dominated the longer rallies as he soaked up Basilashvili’s power. The 23-year-old did not face a break point on his serve as he levelled.

After breaks were exchanged in the third set, Basilashvili produced a strong return game and was gifted the lead when Tsitsipas double faulted on break to move 4-3 ahead. From there, the Georgian kept his composure, fending off pressure from Tsitsipas to hold serve twice to advance.

Tsitsipas was aiming to reach his third consecutive Masters 1000 semi-final in North America, having enjoyed a run to the last four in Toronto and Cincinnati. The Monte-Carlo champion has earned a tour-leading 54 victories this season.

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Nadal Becomes ‘Adopted Son’ Of Flood-Ravaged Spanish Town

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

Spaniard Rafael Nadal has been honoured at a ceremony in Mallorca for the help he provided Sant Llorenc des Cardassar in October 2018 after torrential rain and flashing flooding devastated the town.

The storms resulted in the death of 13 people and led to more than 200 people fleeing, with hundreds of homes and businesses swamped with dirty water that reached levels of two meters.

Nadal spent hours helping volunteers to clean up the area and opened up rooms at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar for those who needed refuge. The 35-year-old also provided a donation of one million euros through his foundation.

Now, the 20-time major champion has been given the title ‘adopted son’ by the city council of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar in recognition of his support.

Nadal has not competed since he reached the third round in Washington in August, with his season curtailed due to a foot injury. The World No. 6 underwent treatment on the injury in September.

When speaking at the ceremony, Nadal stated he was unsure of when he will return to match action but is working hard and following a specific daily plan with clear goals.

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Tennis' Global Citizen, Norrie, Soaring Higher Than Ever

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

Cameron Norrie is tennis’ global citizen. The Briton was born in South Africa, lived in New Zealand until age 16, then moved to London. The lefty attended college at Texas Christian University in the United States and now, the 26-year-old has his sights set on a new destination: Turin, where the Nitto ATP Finals will be played from 14-21 November.

“I think even this late in the year, there are only three or four tournaments to go after this, and to even be in the conversation for Turin is massive for me,” Norrie told “If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that this late in the year that I’d be in the conversation, I would have taken that.”

Norrie has at least given himself an opportunity to enter the conversation by the end of the BNP Paribas Open, where on Thursday he reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. The World No. 26 had never advanced to a quarter-final at this level before arriving in Indian Wells.

By making the last four in the California desert, Norrie has 2,190 points in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, putting him in 12th place, 765 points behind Hubert Hurkacz, who currently holds the last qualifying spot. But if Norrie completes his dream run and triumphs in Indian Wells, he will only be 125 points behind Hurkacz in the Race.

“It’s incredible,” Norrie said. “Hopefully I keep pushing and hopefully I still have a chance.”

Norrie has already reached a milestone in Indian Wells. With his quarter-final victory, he is guaranteed to become the No. 1 Briton when the next FedEx ATP Rankings are released Monday, passing Daniel Evans.

“It was never really a goal of mine, but it’s definitely a great bonus to be British No. 1,” Norrie said during his press conference on Thursday. “I want to keep pushing. I think I’ve got a lot of things to improve on, but I think it’s one of those things you’ve got to enjoy.”

Cameron Norrie
Norrie won his first ATP Tour title this year in Los Cabos. Photo Credit: Abierto Los Cabos
Perhaps what was most impressive was how Norrie handled what he called “definitely [the] biggest match of my career” in the quarter-finals against Diego Schwartzman. The 21st seed not only won, but did so emphatically, 6-0, 6-2, against the gritty 11th seed.

“Once the match began, I was feeling very relaxed, and I was very in the present. I wasn’t really thinking too much and just [went] out and [played] like another match,” Norrie told the media. “Definitely more relaxed than all my other matches I have played this week, so I was very happy with how I handled everything.”

It was a workmanlike performance from Norrie, who gave his opponent no openings to turn around the match. The Briton simply maintained his physical game and forced Schwartzman to come up with something special.

It was the 45th win of Norrie’s season, and many of those victories have come from outworking his opponent. The lefty does not have Rafael Nadal’s forehand, Novak Djokovic’s backhand or John Isner’s serve. But he has other weapons: his physicality and toughness, according to former British No. 1 Mark Petchey.

“We’re seduced by visuals and we’re less romantic about things that we can’t see, and I think that’s the thing with Cam. There are a lot of good things that he does and a lot of things that as a tennis player on the other end of the court you find very difficult to get rhythm against,” Petchey said. “But ultimately, his point-in, point-out is probably as good as Rafa’s. His lung capacity is certainly as good as Rafa’s. All of that adds up to being an incredibly efficient and effective player and I think that not everybody could match his work rate.

“When you go out there, if you are not willing to go there you probably feel like you’re going to come off second best.”

Argentine Facundo Lugones, Norrie’s coach and former college teammate, said that his charge gained his endurance from going on long runs with his mom at a young age. Now, they focus on his strength and movement patterns.

“We never really work on endurance or outlasting someone, because he has that. I think it’s a good plus when you don’t need to worry about that,” Lugones told in August. “You just have to worry about the quality and explosiveness on the physical side.”

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Norrie entered the season at No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, and he had reached just one ATP Tour final. In 2021, the lefty has made five tour-level championship matches. According to Petchey, there has not been a drastic change in the Briton’s game, but little things such as more aggressive court positioning, taking the ball earlier and an improved ball toss.

“I think there have been a couple of things that are not insignificant, [but] they weren’t probably huge in people’s minds,” Petchey said. “They have turned out to be very significant [for Cam].”

Now Norrie has positioned himself as one of the best players in the world this year. And although he still has plenty of work to do in Indian Wells — starting with a semi-final clash against Grigor Dimitrov — to really insert himself into Turin contention, putting in the work has proven his specialty.

“It’s awesome for Cam. He’s one of the most authentic players out there in terms of his work rate. Everybody knows that, and he’s just kept working to get better and better,” Petchey said. “Obviously this year has been a big catalyst of all that work converging to give himself a shot to go to Turin. I hope he makes it. I’ve hoped since the US Open that he can get there.

“Obviously there are going to be a lot of players who are going to try to stop him, but I think he deserves it.”

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Rublev/Karatsev Reach Second SF Of Season

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev are on a roll in the desert, through to their maiden ATP Masters 1000 doubles semi-final after taking down Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Thursday night.

The Russians, in only their third tournament together, proved too strong for the Indian-Canadian duo 6-4, 6-4. Champions already this year in Doha, they are now 7-1 as a partnership and will face the unseeded Tim Puetz and Michael Venus for a place in their second tour-level final this season.


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Both pairs had been rock solid on serve to 4-all in the opening set before the first cracks appeared as Shapovalov was broken on a third break point. Karatsev duly capitalised and served it out at the 30-minute mark as the Russians finished the first set with a perfect 18/18 on first-serve points.

Consolidation proved a struggle in the second set as the pairs traded five breaks in seven games before Karatsev raised his level to hold for 5-3. While they missed four match points on Shapovalov’s serve, the Russians advanced a game later at the 67-minute mark.

In their first event together since 2016, eighth seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo narrowly advanced against unseeded Italians Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Sonego 3-6, 6-4, 10-8. The Croatian-Brazilian duo won Roland Garros together in 2015 and Melo relished the chance to reunite in Indian Wells.

“Today was as high level as possible in doubles. I think the people enjoyed a lot, even though I got hit twice,” Melo said. “For me it was special because Ivan and I used to play together a long time and now we started to play again. I’m just very happy to play the level I was playing today.”

They won 78 per cent of first-serve points and 67 on second serves to book a semi-final clash against seventh seeds John Peers and Filip Polasek. It is their first semi-final together since they won in Cincinnati in 2016.

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Friday Preview: Tsitsipas, Zverev Eye Semi-Final Showdown

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

After overcoming fourth-round foes in contrasting fashion, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev contest maiden BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals on Friday.

Like their respective challengers, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Taylor Fritz, they have not advanced this far at Indian Wells before. For second seed Tsitsipas it was a rough road just to reach this stage.

The Greek dug deep from a set down in his past two matches – against 25th seed Fabio Fognini in the third round, before he finished strongly against 22nd seed Alex de Minaur 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-2 in a two-hour, 46-minute fourth-round battle.

Tsitsipas will carry a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record into his clash with 29th seed Basilashvili, a straight-sets winner over Russian Karen Khachanov. The Georgian – through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final – took a set off Tsitsipas in both prior encounters on hard courts in 2019, in Beijing and at the Australian Open.


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“I know there are a lot of seeds, which play great tennis. My biggest priority is to play my best against any player regardless of the ranking or status,” Tsitsipas said. “This week has been a difficult journey with lots of battles, two three-setters so far, so this is something I’m going to take as a learning experience and use it for something better in the tournament.”

Unlike Tsitsipas, third seed Zverev’s toughest tests came earlier on in the tournament. He dropped a set to #NextGenATP American Jenson Brooksby before he powered home in three, then denied former finalist Andy Murray in two close sets.

Following victory over Murray, the German flipped the script on another 0-3 ATP Head2Head when he easily landed his first win against 14th seed Gael Monfils. He has now won 20 of his past 21 matches on hard courts, including the Tokyo Olympics gold medal and the title in Cincinnati.

“I always love [Indian Wells] but I’ve just never played well here,” Zverev said. “But I did well in Cincinnati as well where I’d never won a match before this year and then I won the tournament, so hopefully this can be a similar week for me. I’m looking forward to it. I’m feeling well, I’m playing pretty okay tennis and hopefully it can continue this week.”

Zverev holds a 3-1 ATP Head2Head record against 31st seed Fritz. But the pair stood toe-to-toe in their three most recent battles, including twice on grass at Wimbledon.

The German recovered from two sets to one down in the second round at the All England Club three years ago before Fritz gained revenge in Basel in 2019. Zverev again prevailed in a tight contest at Wimbledon, in four sets, in the third round this year.

Fritz has not dropped a set this week in Indian Wells, including victories over Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls, fifth seed Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner. Like Basilashvili, he is through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.

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Dimitrov Lends Helping Hand To Ballgirl

  • Posted: Oct 15, 2021

Have no fear, Grigor is here!

Grigor Dimitrov earned his biggest win of 2021 on Thursday when he beat Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) to reach the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open. But that was not the Bulgarian’s only victory of the day on court.

At 5-4 in the second set, Hurkacz hit a serve that stuck underneath the court’s back panel, and 15-year-old ballgirl Hannah Maarhuis was unable to retrieve it. But Dimitrov paused play to help the teen, who was working one of his matches for the first time. The Stadium 1 crowd roared in approval of the 30-year-old’s good deed as he pulled out the ball from underneath the panel.

“It was cool! I was embarrassed,” Maarhuis said, cracking a laugh. “It was stuck under the thing. He just said, ‘I can get it’!”

Dimitrov went on to win the second set and later the match, which marked his 100th ATP Masters 1000 win. He is into his first semi-final at this level since the 2019 Rolex Paris Masters.

The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion will next play in-form Briton Cameron Norrie for a spot in the championship match in Indian Wells. One thing is certain: the ballkids for that match will know Grigor will be there to lend a helping hand if necessary!

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