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Tremendous Tiafoe Stuns Tsitsipas In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Never count out Frances Tiafoe.

The American showed why on Thursday evening when he staged an impressive rally from 0-3 down in the deciding set to stun top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 for a place in the Erste Bank Open quarter-finals.

After a short lapse in the second set, Tsitsipas appeared to have regained his level as he sprinted through the first three games in the decider. But Tiafoe, who constantly engaged the Austrian crowd, battled back to triumph after one hour and 49 minutes.

“You’ve got fans going nuts early in the match. I want to play. I want to be out there, I want to give it my all. You’ve got little kids screaming ‘Big Foe’ and that’s what it’s about,” Tiafoe said. “It’s almost irrelevant who you’re playing. Obviously I want to beat Stefanos and these guys, it’s always good to have on the resumé. It’s been great.”

It was a thrilling match with entertaining points throughout. But in the crucial moments, Tiafoe was the more decisive player, and that made the difference.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Photo Credit: Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images
Tsitsipas double faulted to give Tiafoe the deciding break in the third set. Despite facing the pressure of serving out the match, the American played bold tennis to close things out, hitting a massive second serve at 30/15 and eliciting a return error on the next point to seal his victory.

Tiafoe now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 2-1, with all three of their meetings coming this year. He was victorious at Wimbledon, and Tsitsipas beat him at the Tokyo Olympics.

In his only previous appearance in Vienna three years ago, Tiafoe lost in the first round. But he made just 14 unforced errors to move into his second ATP 500 quarter-final of the year.

“I just love playing in a packed house. I feel at home. I feel like that’s what it’s about,” Tiafoe said. “The result is almost irrelevant sometimes. You have kids coming out, parents bring these kids out, pay their hard-earned money to come watch me play. I want people to have fun just like I’m having fun… I feel it’s my duty to ‘A’, bring it, give my all, but also to make sure everyone has fun. That kid at the top of the stadium, I want them going home remembering [they] watched Frances Tiafoe play and [they] had a great time.”

The 23-year-old will next play eighth seed Diego Schwartzman, who clawed past Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2 after two hours and 32 minutes.

That was another exciting encounter, in which both men showed incredible speed and athleticism. In one hilarious moment, Monfils let slip his racquet as he hit a volley and, as a joke, hit the next volley with his hands, giving Schwartzman the point. Both men laughed about it at the net.

The Argentine did not face a break point in the deciding set and showed some of the form that helped him to the Antwerp final last week. Schwartzman has now won 10 of his past 13 matches.

“For me it was an important match. The only bad part [is] I cannot see Paris Saint-Germain tomorrow [with] Messi in France. I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” Schwartzman said in his post-match interview. “I calmed down a little bit in the third [set].”

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Zverev Earns 300th Win: 'This Is Definitely A Massive Milestone'

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

German Alexander Zverev earned his 300th tour-level win on Thursday at the Erste Bank Open, where he defeated Australian Alex de Minaur 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.

“I started on the Tour when I was 16 years old and now being 24, I’m still quite young, so I’m quite happy to have this achievement at an early stage in my career,” Zverev told “Hopefully there are a lot more coming.”

Zverev claimed his first tour-level victory seven years ago in Hamburg against Robin Haase. Now the German is 300-138 and his 68.3 winning percentage ranks sixth among active players, trailing only Novak Djokovic (83.2%), Rafael Nadal (83.1%), Roger Federer (82%), Andy Murray (76.5%) and Juan Martin del Potro (71.7%).

“This is definitely a massive milestone for me,” Zverev said in his post-match interview.


A few victories stick out to Zverev, who is a five-time Nitto ATP Finals qualifier and the 2018 champion at the season finale.

“The most memorable one is the first one against Haase in Hamburg when I was 17. [I would also say my] first win against Roger in Halle, because it was in Germany as well… and I think the first tournament victory against Stan in St. Petersburg [in 2016],” Zverev added.

The Vienna second seed had to work hard to eliminate De Minaur. He powered through behind 17 aces and won 89 per cent of his first-serve points to reach the quarter-finals.

“I missed too many chances in the second set, I can’t do that. I was rushing maybe a little bit too much. I did too many unforced errors then and credit to Alex because he picked up his level,” Zverev said. “He saw his chance and he used it, so credit to him. But in the third set, I picked it up again and I’m happy [it went] my way.”

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Cilic Claws Past Khachanov In St. Petersburg

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Marin Cilic is Croatian, but he is making himself at home in Russia.

The former World No. 3 made the final in Moscow last week, and on Thursday he battled into the quarter-finals in St. Petersburg. Cilic rallied past home favourite Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-4 to advance to the last eight.

“It was an amazing match, great level from both sides,” Cilic said in his on-court interview. “Karen played really, really well and on a few occasions [was] just a little bit unlucky. In the third set I was break point up at 1-1, then 40/0 on my game. One or two points here and there [were the difference], but I have to say it was definitely a great match.”


Khachanov pushed hard to continue his run at home, where he earned a 4-1 lead in the deciding set with his aggressive play. But Cilic stormed back to claim the final five games and with it the match after two hours and 30 minutes.

Cilic won the St. Petersburg title in his most recent appearance at the event in 2011. But with the likes of top seed Andrey Rublev still in the draw, the Croatian is not getting ahead of himself.

“Everybody is playing good. The tournament is great. It’s the end of the season, so everybody wants to finish on a great level,” Cilic said. “For me it was great to play this kind of a match today.”

It will not get any easier in the quarter-finals against third seed Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spanish veteran eliminated American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 19 minutes.

“I love playing here in St. Petersburg. I like this court. I like the conditions. I like the city, also,” Bautista said in his on-court interview. “I’m happy that I won the first match in two sets and [I will] be ready for tomorrow.”

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Sinner-Ruud Blockbuster Set In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Jannik Sinner and Casper Ruud on Thursday set a blockbuster quarter-final at the Erste Bank Open with massive implications on the FedEx ATP Race To Turin.

If Sinner defeats Ruud, he will pass Hubert Hurkacz to hold the final qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals and pull within 90 points of Ruud for seventh place. If the Norwegian wins, he will further solidify his standing as he pursues a maiden trip to the season finale.


Sinner advanced to the last eight with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against wild card Dennis Novak. The Italian saved all six break points he won to triumph after one hour and 16 minutes.

The 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion has won 10 consecutive indoor matches — including titles in Sofia and Antwerp — and not lost a set in any of them. He has won both his matches in Vienna by identical 6-4, 6-2 margins.

Casper Ruud
Photo Credit: Bildagentur Zolles
His next opponent, Ruud, had to battle hard to move past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 42 minutes. The 22-year-old, once known for his clay-court play, has improved on hard courts, lifting his first trophy on the surface in San Diego.

In the Norwegian’s first appearance in Vienna last year, Ruud lost against Sinner. That was their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting.

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Happy Birthday, Taylor! Fritz Celebrates With Win In St. Petersburg

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Taylor Fritz gave himself the perfect 24th birthday present on Thursday: a win.

The fifth seed defeated close friend Tommy Paul 7-6(3), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the St. Petersburg Open.

“It makes it even tougher,” Fritz said in his on-court interview. “[Tommy is] not just another American, one of my closest friends. It’s never easy playing against a really close friend.”

Although Fritz and Paul have known each other since they were kids, this was their first ATP Head2Head clash. Fritz was better under pressure, saving three of the four break points he faced and converting his two opportunities to triumph after one hour and 34 minutes.

Fritz, who made his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final at Indian Wells, has been playing the best tennis of his career. He will try to maintain his form against Australian John Millman in the last eight.


Millman upset last week’s Moscow champion Aslan Karatsev, the fourth seed, 6-3, 6-2.

“Congratulations to Aslan for an incredible year and last week lifting a title in his home city, I think that’s pretty special,” Millman said in his on-court interview. “I’ve really enjoyed my time in Russia. I feel like I’m playing really good tennis and it’s nice at the end of the year to be playing at a high level.”

Although Karatsev was unable to advance, another 2021 breakthrough star did. Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp, who reached the US Open quarter-finals, eliminated eighth seed Sebastian Korda 6-2, 7-5.

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Felix Saves 3 MPs In Vienna, Beats Norrie In Critical Match For Race

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime made a spirited comeback that could prove critical in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Thursday in the second round of the Erste Bank Open.

Auger-Aliassime saved three match points en route to a 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 victory against Briton Cameron Norrie in a battle between two players pursuing a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals. The sixth seed rallied from 3/6 in the second-set tie-break to triumph after two hours and 36 minutes.

“I just really had in my mind that I couldn’t go away easily. I wanted to push him to really beat me and deserve it in the second set,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He did well. I was down three match points. In a way, I was lucky. He was so close to winning, I just hit a crazy passing shot on match point to save it, so sometimes the margins are small. That was the case today, so I’ll take it.”

Norrie, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells earlier this month, began the week in 11th place in the Race, just five points behind 10th-placed Jannik Sinner and 115 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who holds the final qualifying spot for Turin because eighth-placed Rafael Nadal is out for the season due to a foot injury. 

Hurkacz lost in the first round in Vienna, leaving the door open for a surge by the likes of Norrie and Sinner. But Auger-Aliassime, who began the week in 12th place, 625 points behind the Pole, had other plans. 

“That was an important win to stay in the Race. I think if I lost that match, the odds would have been very tough for me to qualify,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It keeps me alive in the Race, but the road is still very long.”


The 21-year-old saved three consecutive match points in the second-set tie-break with fearless play. His most stunning shot came at 4/6, when he hit a perfect backhand passing shot that was too good for the net-rushing Norrie.

The eight-time ATP Tour finalist, who had not won a match in two Vienna appearances before this week, then broke his opponent at love in the fifth game of the decider and never looked back. Auger-Aliassime will face second seed Alexander Zverev or Australian Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals.

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Murray: ‘I Will Break Through’ Again

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Andy Murray feels that it is only a matter of time before he breaks through again and makes a deep run at a tournament after falling to #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the second round of the Erste Bank Open on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz exacted revenge over the former World No. 1, 6-3, 6-4, after falling to him earlier this month in Indian Wells. But the Scot felt he showed more than enough in the two-hour, six-minute duel to suggest that he was well on the right path.

“I’m not going to keep losing in the second and third round of tournaments. I will get better and I will improve and I will break through in one week, or two weeks, or a few months,” Murray said. “It will happen. I obviously would like it to be happening quicker than what it is.

“But he did play extremely well and he’s a top young player and if you’re hitting single-digit unforced errors playing that way and with the power that he has it’s going to be tough… If I continue on that path and build up a little bit more consistency, be that little bit more clinical and a bit more ruthless I will start winning more and have some deep runs, but it’s tough.

“Draws have been hard, I’ve played in some tough tournaments. The draw was stacked here [in Vienna]. There were no easy matches here. It will happen sooner rather than later I think.”

The 46-time tour-level titlist opened his Vienna campaign with a victory over Nitto ATP Finals hopeful Hubert Hurkacz. It was sweet revenge after he had fallen twice already this year to the Pole.

It was his first Top 10 win since he beat Alexander Zverev in August last year at the Western & Southern Open. Other victories over the likes of Frances Tiafoe in a three-hour, 45-minute thriller in Antwerp last week have only added to Murray’s belief.

“I won two days ago against a guy who’s Top 10 in the world, made the semis at Wimbledon this year, won an ATP Masters 1000 this year,” Murray said of Hurkacz. “Alcaraz had a great run at the US Open and I had a good win against him.

“I had some good matches against some top players who’ve had great runs at these events, so I’m not really sure why I should think that I couldn’t do that again. I sort of look at those matches and think if Hurkacz can make semis at Wimbledon why is that not possible?”

Murray, a two-time champion in Vienna, has compiled a 13-11 record this season, including a quarter-final run in Metz. He also pushed third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the opening round of the US Open.

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Farewell, Melzer: 'Saying Goodbye At Home Is Special To Me'

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2021

Jurgen Melzer watched a Filip Polasek ace rush past his partner, Alexander Zverev, on Wednesday evening at the Erste Bank Open, signalling the end of the pair’s tournament. But the 40-year-old could not help but smile.

That ace marked the end of the Vienna-born lefty’s storied career. Although Polasek and John Peers defeated Melzer and Zverev 7-6(3), 7-5, it was a perfect ending for the home favourite.

“I viewed this as a bonus, to get to play one last match at home,” Melzer told “Saying goodbye at home is special to me. It’s where my career started, it’s where I had a lot of success.”

Melzer first competed in Vienna as an 18-year-old in 1999, and he won his two biggest singles titles at the event in 2009 and 2010. It was fitting that a local kid was able to finish his professional tennis journey alone in the centre of #Glaubandich Court with his peers and fans clapping to show their appreciation.

Jurgen Melzer
Photo Credit: Bildagentur Zolles
The 22-year ATP Tour veteran stayed to sign autographs and take pictures with fans old enough to remember his junior days — Melzer won the boys’ singles title at Wimbledon in 1999 — and others young enough that they were born after he reached the Top 10 in singles and doubles.

“I’ve always tried to be a good ambassador for the sport and make this sport as likeable as possible. What I liked today is the past two days, [for those] playing on this court in the city there were not a lot of spectators,” Melzer said. “But today they actually showed up and I could say goodbye and that meant a lot to me… I will remember this one for sure.”

The lefty only played five matches this year — three-set defeats at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open with different partners, an ATP Challenger Tour match alongside his brother, Gerald Melzer, and Thursday’s loss in Vienna — because he became the Sports Director for the Austrian Tennis Association in February. The 40-year-old has spent a lot of time on court with 15 and 16-year-olds, one of whom wrote a school essay about Melzer.

“When he showed it to me, I was [shocked] a little bit because I didn’t expect it at all and they had to write about a well-known person in Austria. He chose me,” Melzer said. “I’m with him on court every day, but it also shows the kind of respect that you’ve earned over the years that you actually have achieved something that a young person could write about.”

Philipp Petzschner, Jurgen Melzer
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images
The list of Melzer’s accomplishments is long, and it includes doubles triumphs at Wimbledon in 2010 and the US Open in 2011 alongside Philipp Petzschner. The Austrian also remains the only player who has rallied from two sets down against Novak Djokovic, which he did in the 2010 Roland Garros quarter-finals.

But perhaps most notably, he spent 17 weeks in the Top 10 of both the FedEx ATP Rankings and the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings in 2011. There have been just 40 players who have achieved the feat at different times in their career, let alone during the same weeks.

“I will always remember my Djokovic match, I will always remember winning twice in Vienna, rolling over the Centre Court at Wimbledon with Philipp after winning the doubles. These are the sports memories that you cherish,” Melzer said. “But I’m going to take much more of the ATP family with me after my career.”

Over the past year, Melzer has had time to reflect on his career. More often than not, he recalled moments with friends rather than wins.

“You think of all the stories, of all the things that make you smile. I didn’t think so much about victories. It’s just the time that you’ve spent on Tour, meeting all those people, being friends with some, getting closer with some,” Melzer said. “Those are actually the things I’m going to miss the most, not winning or losing.”

Melzer’s victory against Milos Raonic in Vienna in 2018 marked the end of his singles career. But after that, he turned to doubles. Last year, the Austrian advanced to the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Even on Thursday against the in-form team of Peers and Polasek, after a year with little matchplay, Melzer competed well on court.

“This was the thing that I wanted the most. When I played my last match, that nobody thought, ‘What the heck is he still doing here?’ Or that I’m just not at the same level anymore. Of course I’ve played better, but I’ve also played worse in my career than today,” Melzer said. “I’m still going out at a good level.”

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