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Khachanov/Rublev Oust Third Seeds in Moscow

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

Russian Andrey Rublev reached the BNP Paribas Open doubles final last week alongside countryman Aslan Karatsev. Rublev had no problem with a different partner on Tuesday in Moscow.

The singles World No. 6 and another Russian, Karen Khachanov, eliminated third-seeded Australians Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith 6-2, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals of the VTB Kremlin Cup.

“I’ve played with Karen so many times and we’ve gotten used to each other. Plus we’ve known each other since we were kids, so we know each other perfectly,” Rublev told ATPTour.com. “With Aslan, it’s different. In my opinion, I think Aslan plays doubles the best of all of us, the way he thinks, the way he returns, plays with the volleys.

“He knows more how to play more like a doubles player compared to all of us [Russians], and I think he’s a great player who can play really, really good in doubles.”

“I think Andrey is not a bad doubles player because everybody from us [Russians] wins matches with him,” Khachanov interjected, cracking a laugh.

Khachanov and Rublev have made two ATP Masters 1000 finals together, and will try to claim their first ATP Tour trophy as a team this week.

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Second Seeds Advance In Antwerp
Second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Martin moved into the quarter-finals of the European Open on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph against home favourites Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans.

Frenchmen Mahut and Martin are competing together for the second time this season after making the quarter-finals in Winston-Salem two months ago.

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Murray Saves 2 MPs, Battles Past Tiafoe In 3-Hour, 45-Minute Classic

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

Andy Murray may have a metal hip, but it was tough to tell based on his effort Tuesday at the European Open.

Murray battled past Frances Tiafoe 7-6(2), 6-7(7), 7-6(8) in a three-hour, 45-minute marathon to reach the second round in Antwerp. It was the longest best-of-three-set match of 2021, breaking the mark set by Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Barcelona final (3:38).

“I think that’s the first time in my career I’ve played a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 [match]. I don’t think I’ve ever played a match like that,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “I think it’s the longest three-set match I’ve played by quite a distance. I’m tired right now, obviously it was an unbelievable battle.”

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The former World No. 1 clinched the victory on his second match point. He hit a backhand drop shot that Tiafoe was unable to retrieve. The 23-year-old’s sprint took him to the Scot’s side of the net, where the pair shared a warm embrace.

“Nowadays obviously my body is old now. I’ve played a lot of matches on the Tour. I don’t mind playing long matches, but that was taking it to another level,” Murray said. “Brilliant match, amazing atmosphere, thanks to everyone who came and supported. It’s just so nice to be back and playing in front of crowds again.”

Murray has now won his opening match in five consecutive tournaments at all levels. He had to scratch and claw throughout against Tiafoe, who was the better player for a good portion of the match.

The American served for the opening set twice, needed six set points to win the second set, led by a break in the decider and held two match points in the final-set tie-break. But Tiafoe failed to put a return in play on those two match points, and Murray took full advantage.

“He kept coming up with brilliant serves and great shots when I was getting chances,” Murray said.

Tiafoe was the more aggressive player and he frequented the net to finish points against the 46-time tour-level titlist, who raised his level in the important moments. Murray over the years has proven himself one of the best players on the ATP Tour in cat-and-mouse points, but the American showed no fear of entering those patterns, either.

But Murray struck 21 aces to stay in contact with his opponent and saved seven of the 10 break points he faces to set a second-round clash against second seed Diego Schwartzman for a place in the Antwerp quarter-finals.

Murray memorably won the European Open in 2019 following his most recent hip surgery. In that edition, he defeated former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the final.

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In the final match of the evening in Antwerp, seventh seed Lloyd Harris beat home favourite Zizou Bergs, a wild card, 7-6(4), 6-3.

The South African will face big-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff for a place in the quarter-finals. The German beat Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

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Dodig/Polasek Qualify For Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek are the fifth doubles team to qualify for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held from 14-21 November at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.

Roland Garros champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut have now earned their spot in Turin on points, so Australian Open titlists Dodig and Polasek have gained entry into the season finale per the Grand Slam winner rule.

Read the full story at NittoATPFinals.com

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Brooksby & Nakashima Continue Milan Chase With Antwerp Upsets

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

#NextGenATP Americans Jenson Brooksby and Brandon Nakashima had to battle through qualifying at the European Open, and they went one step further on Tuesday in Antwerp with impressive upsets as they continue to pursue a spot at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Brooksby continued his good form with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against fifth seed Reilly Opelka in one hour and 12 minutes.

“It’s been a great year. I’m happy. I feel like I’ve been focussed this week, playing well,” Brooksby said in his on-court interview. “I’ll hopefully finish this year strong.”

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The big-serving American Opelka was left so baffled by Brooksby’s consistent play that at one point in the second set he was heard saying that his countryman was the “best player I’ve played in my whole life”.

“He’s definitely got one of the best serves on Tour,” Brooksby said. “I thought we had a good game plan. I’ve been hitting them well and executed pretty well here, so I’m happy with that.”

Brooksby, who won a set against Novak Djokovic in the fourth round of the US Open, will next play Flushing Meadows quarter-finalist Botic van de Zandschulp.

Brandon Nakashima
Photo Credit: European Open
Nakashima also impressed in a 6-4, 6-0 win against sixth seed Alex de Minaur. The San Diego-native converted five of his 10 break points to advance after one hour and 25 minutes.

Nakashima made his first two ATP Tour finals earlier this year in Los Cabos and Atlanta, and is trying to lift his first tour-level trophy this week.

Both Brooksby and Nakashima are pushing to earn a place in Milan. Brooksby began the week in fifth in the ATP Race To Milan, and Nakashima was in eighth, two points behind Argentine Juan Manuel Cerundolo.

Another #NextGenATP star, Italian Lorenzo Musetti, also won his opener with a 7-6(2), 7-6(3) triumph against countryman Gianluca Mager. The 19-year-old began the week in sixth in the ATP Race To Milan.

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After Dash To Dallas, Isner Welcomes Third Child

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

A dash home from the desert to Dallas was well worth it for American John Isner.

After withdrawing from singles and doubles at the BNP Paribas Open, Isner and his wife, Madison, welcomed their third child, James ‘Mack’ McKinley Isner on 12 October. The Isners’ oldest child, Hunter Grace, was born in 2018, and John Hobbs was born in 2019.

“2.5 weeks early, this little dude just couldn’t wait to meet his family,” Isner wrote on Instagram. “Welcome James ‘Mack’ McKinley Isner. @madkool13 I dunno how you do it but it’s simply incredible. Our kids have the best momma ever!”

 

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Isner got several supportive comments from his ATP Tour colleagues on Instagram, including one from countryman Reilly Opelka, who wrote “Two future 🤖’s ❤️❤️❤️” in reference to their popular “servebot” nickname.

“Going to terrorise the @atptour in 20 years. 🤖 🤖,” Isner replied.

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Paul Maintains Momentum In Moscow

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

Tommy Paul reached the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time in Indian Wells, and the American has maintained his momentum in Moscow.

The World No. 54 advanced to the second round of the VTB Kremlin Cup on Tuesday with a 7-6(7), 7-5 win against Swede Mikael Ymer.

Paul broke the Next Gen ATP Finals alumnus’ serve four times and won 44 per cent of his return points to move on after one hour and 57 minutes. The 24-year-old, who upset Andrey Rublev in the California desert, will next play two-time Moscow champion Marin Cilic, who beat Damir Dzumhur in three sets on Monday.

Watch Tuesday Moscow Highlights:

There was an upset in the Russian capital when qualifier Illya Marchenko ousted fifth seed Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-3. The Ukrainian saved the two break points he faced to set a clash against Australian John Millman.

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Top-seeded Rublev learned his first opponent when Frenchman Adrian Mannarino rallied past wild card Roman Safiullin 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 after two hours and 32 minutes. The tricky lefty lost his only previous ATP Head2Head meeting against Rublev two years ago in the Moscow final.

In other action, Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov clawed past Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 and Spaniard Pedro Martinez led Guido Pella 6-2 when the Argentine retired.

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Murray Says Clijsters 'Still Hits The Ball Fantastic'

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2021

Belgian star Kim Clijsters has recently told the media she has been inspired by Andy Murray’s comeback from hip surgery. The Scot returned the praise on Monday ahead of the European Open in Antwerp.

According to the 34-year-old, Clijsters hit on a practice court after him during the BNP Paribas Open, and he was impressed with what he saw.

“She still hits the ball fantastic. I think the decision-making and things like that will come with more matches,” Murray said. “I think physically she can get stronger. I think that was probably one of her biggest strengths when she was at the top of the game and as successful as she was.

“With more time, more matches, more time on the practice court, physically she’ll keep getting better. It’s not easy after such a long time out of the game, but I’m sure she can still win matches at the highest level, judging on how she’s handled herself so well.”

Murray also lavished praise on Cameron Norrie, who on Sunday became the first Briton to win the title in Indian Wells and cracked the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“I’d be lying if I said that I called that to be honest. However, I have spent a decent amount of time around him and practised with him quite a lot and he works extremely hard. And I think he’s a great example not just for British players, but all tennis players to look at,” Murray said. “If you put the effort in day-in and day-out and properly dedicate yourself to the sport and have an attitude like he does, it can take you a long, long way. It was obviously a phenomenal achievement last night, but I think the season that he’s having is maybe more impressive than that one week.”

Norrie is up to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin as he tries to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, the season-ending event. The lefty has won 47 tour-level matches this year.

“Every week he’s winning matches. I think he’s played six finals. I think it’s looking like he’s going to win more matches on the Tour this year than he had in every season that he’d had beforehand combined,” Murray said. “That shows you how much of an improvement he’s made. I knew he was good, I’d played against him and practised with him, but to be Top 20 in the world and pushing for a spot in the Tour Finals is an incredible effort.”

Andy Murray
Murray won the Antwerp title in 2019. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Murray will try to make his own mark this week in Antwerp, where two years ago he enjoyed a dream run to the trophy for his first title following hip surgery. In an emotional final, he defeated Stan Wawrinka to earn the crown.

“It was obviously a bit unexpected at the time. I spoke a bit about it at the time, but I’d won maybe what would be considered bigger tournaments, but this was one of the hardest that I had to win in terms of everything that I’d went through and I put my body through to get to that point,” Murray said. “It was tough. Obviously winning Wimbledon, it was the pressure and everything and it was obviously unbelievably difficult.

“But to win a tournament at this level with a metal hip and everything that had gone into that in the previous years, it was a long road, so I have good memories from here.”

The Scot will play American Frances Tiafoe in the first round, with second seed Diego Schwartzman looming in the second round.

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