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Cerundolo First South American To Qualify For Milan

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

Following Felix Auger-Aliassime’s withdrawal from the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, Juan Manuel Cerundolo has qualified for the 21-and-under season finale. The Argentine is the first South American to earn a spot in the event in tournament history (since 2017).

Cerundolo has enjoyed a breakthrough 2021 season, including a run to his first tour-level title as a qualifier at the Cordoba Open (d. Ramos-Vinolas) in February. In winning eight straight matches at the ATP 250, the lefty became the first player to lift a trophy on his ATP Tour debut since 2004.

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Lucky Loser Koepfer Saves 7 MPs, Stuns Murray In Paris

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

Dominik Koepfer made the most of his second chance at the Rolex Paris Masters on Monday, when he saved seven match points in a gritty 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(9) win against Andy Murray.

Despite winning just three games in the final round of qualifying against Miomir Kecmanovic, lucky loser Koepfer eliminated the former World No. 1 in three hours and one minute to reach the second round of the main draw on his tournament debut.

Koepfer was in control of the match at 6-4, 5-3, but was broken at love when serving for the match and it was a rollercoaster from there. Murray had two match points on his opponent’s serve at 5-4 in the decider and five more in the tie-break, but was left walking off Court Central shaking his head in disappointment after failing to convert.

“It was unbelievable. I thought I had it in my hands in the second set serving for it at 5-4. He just made a lot of balls, I didn’t make a lot of balls. That was the difference, and it was just a great fight in the third set,” Koepfer said in his post-match interview. “I just tried to stay in the moment and tried to play every point.

“Obviously it’s tough to play against him. He makes so many balls and is an unbelievable competitor. I knew that going in, I was ready for it and [am] just happy I got through.”

Last week in Vienna, Koepfer fell short as a lucky loser in singles to Lorenzo Sonego and made the semi-finals in doubles as a lucky loser alongside Sander Gille. This time he took full advantage of his opportunity in the singles draw, standing on top of the baseline and battling through physical, entertaining rallies to overcome the 2016 champion.

“I was struggling the past few matches, actually lost five times within the past week. I got in as a double lucky loser last week, lost four times: two times in doubles, two times in singles. That was not great, you lose some confidence,” Koepfer said. “Coming through with such a great fight, good attitude — I competed hard and played pretty good tennis — I think it was pretty big for me.” 

Koepfer was placed in the draw after #NextGenATP American Jenson Brooksby withdrew earlier in the day with an abdominal injury. The lefty, who attended Tulane University in the United States, showed no fear of the moment.

“I heard about it at 4 o’clock. I was about to go back to the hotel and then one of the ATP tour managers texted me, ‘Dom, you in? You’re playing against Andy Murray’,” Koepfer said. “Honestly, I was a little nervous. I didn’t expect to play today, I was hoping that someone was going to pull out tomorrow. But a night match here in Paris, a lot of fans, they had an unbelievable crowd, the first time for me for a while. It’s been a great day. Unexpected, but it worked out and I’m happy.” 

Murray threw everything but the Eiffel Tower at Koepfer on his match points, from lobs and drop shots to crushed forehands. But the 27-year-old lefty played his best tennis under pressure and had an answer on each occasion.

This was not Koepfer’s first match against a former World No. 1 in Paris. Earlier this year, he pushed Roger Federer to four tough sets in the third round at Roland Garros.

Koepfer will next play ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Italian Gianluca Mager, who defeated him in the final round of qualifying last week in Vienna.

Lorenzo Musetti
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
The German was not the only lucky loser who advanced Monday, as #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti ousted Serbian Laslo Djere 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. 

Djere had led the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 3-0, with two of those victories coming this year. But Musetti, who enjoyed success in Paris earlier this year when he made the fourth round at Roland Garros, triumphed after two hours and 35 minutes.

Musetti will next play 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut or Australian James Duckworth.

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Djokovic's Return A Success In Paris

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

Novak Djokovic is chasing a record seventh year-end No. 1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings at the Rolex Paris Masters in singles this week. But his focus was firmly on doubles on Monday when he teamed with countryman Filip Krajinovic to reach the second round.

The Serbian pair rallied from a set down and saved seven of the eight break points they faced to edge Australians Alex de Minaur and Luke Saville 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 in one hour and 36 minutes in an entertaining match.

It is just the third time Djokovic – who faces Marton Fucsovics in his first singles match – has played doubles this year, having also competed at the ATP Cup (w/Krajinovic) and the Mallorca Championships (w/Gomez-Herrera). The wild cards will next take on sixth seeds John Peers and Filip Polasek.

Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar also moved through, battling back from a set-and-a-break down to overcome Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan 6-7(1), 7-6(3), 10-6 in two hours and one minute.

The Uruguayan-Ecuadorian tandem won 79 per cent (37/47) of their first-serve points and will meet third seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the second round. Behar and Escobar have captured tour-level titles together in Delray Beach and Marbella this season.

Fabrice Martin and Andreas Mies cruised past Jean-Julien Rojer and Wesley Koolhof 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 30 minutes. The unseeded pair hit four aces and broke three times to set up a clash with seventh seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau.

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Norrie Records 100th Match Win, Stays In Turin Mix

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

Cameron Norrie recorded the 100th tour-level match win of his career on Monday at the Rolex Paris Masters to keep alive his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

The 10th-seeded Briton won nine straight games from 2-2 in the first set to overcome Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-2, 6-1 in 73 minutes. “It’s been a phenomenal year and I’ve been really enjoying my tennis,” said Norrie. “I’ve been moving and playing well, and I’m enjoying being in Paris.”

Norrie is currently in 11th position in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin and started the week 140 points behind eighth-placed Jannik Sinner (3,015), in the final automatic qualification spot. Norrie is now one match win shy of 50 victories (49-21) in a career-best season.

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Having won 30 of his 36 first-service points against Delbonis, Norrie will next prepare to challenge Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic or American Reilly Opelka, the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers finalist in August.

The 26-year-old Norrie surged into contention for a spot at the season finale after he captured his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Basilashvili) and he will have to do the same in Paris if he wants to complete at the 14-21 November event at the Pala Alpitour in Turin. He won his first ATP Tour title in July at the Mifel Open in Los Cabos (d. Nakashima) and has reached the final of three other events in 2021.

Later today, former World No. 1 Andy Murray, the 2016 champion in Paris, plays German lucky loser Dominik Koepfer during Monday’s night session. Koepfer replaced American Jenson Brooksby, who withdrew on Monday afternoon due to an abdominal injury.

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Shining Sinner Storms Into Top 10

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

Jannik Sinner makes history on Monday when he becomes the youngest Italian to crack the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 20-year-old climbed to World No. 9 following his run to the Erste Bank Open semi-finals.

The five-time ATP Tour titlist is the fifth player from his country to break into the elite group, joining Adriano Panatta, Corrado Barazzutti, Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini. Overall, Sinner is the youngest man in the Top 10 by more than two years, with Casper Ruud nearing his 23rd birthday.

It is not only impressive that Sinner is in the Top 10 — it is how quickly he got there. The San Candido native skied competitively as a junior and did not turn his focus to tennis until his early teens. Four years ago, he did not have a FedEx ATP Ranking. Now, he is near the very top of the sport.

Sinner’s Ranking This Week Since 2017

 2017  Unranked
 2018  No. 785
 2019  No. 93
 2020  No. 44
 2021  No. 9

Sinner is not blinded by his accolades, though. Far from it. The 20-year-old often speaks about the “long road” that represents his career. He is focussed on the practice or match in front of him, not his impressive rise.

“For sure I don’t want to rush so much,” Sinner said in Indian Wells. “I’m just trying… to play match after match in the best possible way, and we’ll see. [I’m] trying to improve.”

Although Sinner did not begin his ascent until just a few years ago, he quickly earned the respect of his peers and the fans. The 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion has consistently held his own against the best in the sport and in many cases challenged them. The Italian, who made his first ATP Masters 1000 final this year in Miami, played Alexander Bublik during that run. The Kazakhstani asked him afterwards if he is human.

“He’s not [human]. That’s a fact,” Bublik said. “I asked him if he’s a human or not because for me, it’s very surprising that the guy at his age has this mental toughness that many, many other players don’t have. I called him a robot a couple of times during the match, but I do it in a very sincere way because he’s a really, really great player.”

Sinner played World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the first time just two weeks later in Monte Carlo. The Serbian won the match, but had high praise for the protégé of Riccardo Piatti, who once worked with Djokovic.

“[Jannik] has got a lot of talent and he has proven that he is the future of our sport. Actually, he is already the present of our sport [having] played a final [in an] ATP Masters 1000 [event] already,” Djokovic said. “He is making big strides in professional tennis.”

Players rave about Sinner’s power, mental toughness, maturity and professionalism. Those traits have propelled him into the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, and also into eighth in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, putting him in position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals with a strong finish to the season. But Sinner is not allowing that to distract him.

“Honestly, I love to play tennis, and this is the reason why I play,” Sinner said in Vienna. “Obviously you would like to go to Turin or you want to win this match or that point, but sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t happen. You have to accept that. Honestly, I just try to play tennis.”

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Korda Ends Karatsev’s Turin Bid In Paris

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda recovered from squandering two match points in the second-set tie-break on Monday at the Rolex Paris Masters, edging Aslan Karatsev 6-2, 6-7(9), 7-6(5) to reach the second round in Paris, ending the Russian’s Nitto ATP Finals hopes in the process.

In a high-quality match, both players produced an array of winners as they looked to dictate with their groundstrokes from the baseline. However, it was Korda who found his best tennis in the third-set tie-break, overpowering the 28-year-old to advance on his fourth match point.

“I knew what to expect and it all came down to the clutch moments,” Korda said in his on-court interview. “It was so much fun to play in front of the Paris crowd, they get so fired up and it is so awesome.”

Karatsev captured his second tour-level title of the season in Moscow last month to keep alive his slim chance of qualifying for the season finale, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November 2021.

But, after falling in his opening match on home soil in St. Petersburg last week, the 28-year-old needed a deep run in Paris to remain in contention. With his defeat to Korda, Karatsev, who is 13th (2,290 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, will no longer be able to catch eighth-placed Jannik Sinner (3,015), who occupies the final qualification spot.

In a tight battle, Korda, who is making his debut in Paris, played aggressively against the Russian, breaking four times as he hit with great depth to force the 28-year-old into errors. After failing to convert two match points at 7/6 and 8/7 in the second set tie-break, the American kept his focus in the decider to advance after two hours and 52 minutes.

“I had a lot of chances in the second set and I didn’t take them,” Korda added. “Then he broke me and I broke back and it was a dog fight in the end. I had match points in the second set and learnt a few things in the tie-break. It was just getting myself back into those break point opportunities and finding a way.”

The 21-year-old now leads Karatsev 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series and will next face St. Petersburg champion Marin Cilic or Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Korda has enjoyed a breakthrough season, capturing his maiden tour-level title in Parma, before reaching the fourth round at a major for the first time at Wimbledon. The American is set to compete at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, to be held 9-13 November.

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Marton Fucsovics kept his composure on Monday to set up a second-round clash against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Rolex Paris Masters.

Having squandered a match point in the second set, the Hungarian was broken at 4-4 in the decider but recovered immediately en route to beating Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-1, 6-7(6), 7-6(5) over two hours and 44 minutes.

Fucsovics, who won the first five games of the match, was unable to control a lob on match point at 6/5 in the second-set tie-break and an aggressive Fognini carried the momentum to lead 2-0 in the deciding set. Fucsovics recovered to win 13 of the next 14 points and broke back at 4-5 prior to a tense finale.

Elsewhere, Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka struck 15 aces past Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in a 6-3, 7-6(2) win for a meeting against second-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, the defending champion. Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic will take on last year’s finalist, fourth seed Alexander Zverev, after he defeated Mackenzie McDonald of the United States 6-3, 6-4.

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What's At Stake In Paris: Ruud, Sinner On Nitto ATP Finals Bubble

  • Posted: Nov 01, 2021

Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner are both in strong positions to clinch the final two Nitto ATP Finals singles berths in Turin, ahead of the start of the Rolex Paris Masters, but three other players — Hubert Hurkacz, Cameron Norrie and Felix Auger-Aliassime — also remain in contention for the 14-21 November season finale at the Pala Alpitour.

Ruud, a winner of five ATP Tour titles this season, has 3,105 points in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin and is just 90 points ahead of eighth-placed Sinner (3,015), who sits in the final automatic qualification spot and beat the Norwegian en route to last week’s Erste Bank Open semi-finals. They will be hoping to keep matters in their owns hands at the final ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year.

Put simply, Ruud will qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time if he reaches the Paris final, while Sinner can join fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini in Turin should he lift his fifth trophy of 2021 in the French capital.

Poland’s Hurkacz (currently 2,955 points), a three-time titlist in 2021, and recent BNP Paribas Open champion Norrie (2,875 points), who have both compiled career-best seasons, may also become first-time qualifiers with a title run. The FedEx ATP Race To Turin is set to end at the Stockholm Open, with the conclusion of the regular ATP Tour season on 13 November.

Current FedEx ATP Race To Turin As Of 31 October 2021

 Player  Points
 7th) Casper Ruud  3,105
 8th) Jannik Sinner  3,015
 9th) Rafael Nadal*  2,985
 10th) Hubert Hurkacz  2,955
 11th) Cameron Norrie  2,875
 12th) Felix Auger-Aliassime  2,420

*Out for rest of 2021 due to foot injury

Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Berrettini have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. 

Additionally, four teams — Kevin Krawietz/Horia Tecau, Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares, Simone Bolelli/Santiago Gonzalez and Filip Polasek/John Peers — are vying to secure the last two doubles spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Krawietz and Tecau, who are currently seventh in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings on 3,110 points, will clinch their spot by advancing to the Paris doubles final, while last week’s Erste Bank Open champion Murray and Soares (eighth position on 2,915 points) could stamp their Turin ticket with the Paris title.

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