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Murray/Soares Swoop Into Paris SFs

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares continued their strong week at the Rolex Paris Masters Friday, overcoming fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-1, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals in one hour and 33 minutes.

The British-Brazilian tandem advanced to the last four at the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season in 2019 and will have the chance to go one better this week when they face Tim Puetz and Michael Venus.

The German-New Zealand pair edged Frenchmen Fabrice Martin and Andreas Mies 7-5, 7-5 after one hour and 42 minutes and are yet to drop a set this week. They are aiming to win their second tour-level title of the season as a team, after triumphing in Hamburg.

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Third seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut also booked their spot in the semi-finals with a 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over Benjamin Bonzi and Arthur Rinderknech. The Frenchmen won 82 per cent (27/33) of their first-serve points to advance in 89 minutes.

John Peers and Filip Polasek await in the last four after the sixth seeds advanced when Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen were forced to retire 5-7, 0-3 down.

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Medvedev Stops Gaston's Dream Run In Paris To Reach SFs

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

Hugo Gaston’s dream run at the Rolex Paris Masters came to an end Friday, but he did not go quietly.

In a lively match, World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev was forced to save three set points in the first set, before he raised his level in the second set, downing the French qualifier 7-6(7), 6-4 to reach the semi-finals in Paris.

The World No. 103 battled past Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Carlos Alcaraz in a fairytale journey as he reached his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final on home soil. But the 21-year-old was unable to write another chapter into the history books against a resilient Medvedev in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

Gaston squandered three set points in the first set on serve at 5-4, 40/0 and then came within two points of the opener three times in the first-set tie-break as the Russian combated the Frenchman’s drop shots and variety, eventually securing victory after one hour and 47 minutes.

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Medvedev is the reigning champion in Paris but has been made to work hard this week. The second seed was unable to convert three set points in the first set and a 5-1 lead in his opening match against Ilya Ivashka, before moving through in straight sets. He then rallied from a set down to overcome #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda.

The US Open titlist, who fired 13 aces against Gaston, is bidding to win his fifth tour-level trophy of the season, including a second Masters 1000 crown, after triumphing in Toronto in August.

With his victory, the 25-year-old maintained his slim chance of denying Novak Djokovic a record seventh year-end No. 1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings. However, the Serbian will earn World No. 1 honours if he defeats Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday before the Nitto ATP Finals.

The second seed, who also lifted trophies in Marseille and Mallorca this season, will next face Norway’s Casper Ruud or World No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the last four. All three will compete at the season finale, to be held this year at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.

In an entertaining first set, Gaston disrupted Medvedev’s rhythm as he mixed his low slice with his topspin forehand. However, from 5-4, 40/0, he was unable to close out the set on serve and then could not see off the Russian Russian in the tie-break, failing to convert a 5/4 lead as Medvedev zoned in to move ahead.

The Russian marched into a 4-0 lead in the second set and despite being pegged back to 4-3, he was able to see off the plucky lefty on serve to advance.

Gaston was the lowest-ranked quarter-finalist at the Masters 1000 tournament since then-World No. 121 Michael Llodra in 2012. The 21-year-old will compete at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held at the Allianz Cloud in Milan, from 9-13 November.

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Medvedev now holds an 18-1 indoor record since the start of his run to the Paris title in 2020, with his only defeat coming against Dusan Lajovic in Rotterdam.

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Sinner Faces Tricky Path In Stockholm; Murray, Felix, Shapovalov Also Play

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

#NextGenATP star Jannik Sinner had been handed a tricky draw in his quest for a fifth ATP Tour title of the year at the Stockholm Open, which begins on Sunday. Second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and defending champion Denis Shapovalov also feature at the final tournament of the regular ATP Tour season.

Sinner, who narrowly missed out on a place at the Nitto ATP Finals, will need to be at his best level if he meets practice partner Andy Murray, who plays a qualifier in his first match. In recent weeks, former World No. 1 Murray has highlighted his fighting qualities in three-set wins over Carlos Alcaraz, Frances Tiafoe and Hubert Hurkacz, while Sinner has won seven of his past nine matches and broke into the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time this week.

View Stockholm Singles & Doubles Draws

Top seed Sinner or Murray may then meet in-form Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals. Fritz has won 11 of his past 13 matches, including a run to the St. Petersburg Open final. Fourth seed Daniel Evans or eighth seed Frances Tiafoe, who beat Sinner at last week’s Erste Bank Open, may be a potential semi-final opponent.

Canadians Auger-Aliassime and third seed Shapovalov, who won the 2019 title when the ATP 250 tournament was last held, feature in the bottom half of the draw. Auger-Aliassime will meet Roberto Carballes Baena or Filip Krajinovic in the second round, while Shapovalov plays a qualifier with sixth seed Alexander Bublik a potential quarter-final opponent.

Leo Borg, son of former World No. 1 and 1980 Stockholm champion Bjorn Borg, will make his ATP Tour main draw debut when he plays against American Tommy Paul in the top half of the draw. The winner faces Fritz in the second round.

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Djokovic To Play Hurkacz In Paris Semi-finals

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a record 37th ATP Masters 1000 crown on Friday by reaching the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals. The World No. 1 and five-time former champion overcame early resistance of American Taylor Fritz for a 6-4, 6-3 victory in 74 minutes.

If Russian Daniil Medvedev loses to Hugo Gaston, a French qualifier, later today then Djokovic will become year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record seventh time. He would break a tie with Pete Sampras, who finished in the top spot in six straight seasons between 1993-1998.

Djokovic, who has won 46 of 52 matches in another standout season, will now prepare to meet seventh-seeded Pole Hubert Hurkacz, who clinched the last singles spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin later this month. The 34-year-old Djokovic is currently tied with Rafael Nadal on 36 Masters 1000 trophies.

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Djokovic’s athleticism helped him land a blow at 3-4 in the first set, and while Fritz’s shot-making helped him break back immediately, greater depth of stroke from his Serbian opponent clinched the 38-minute opener.

The pair exchanged service breaks at the start of the second set, and once Djokovic recovered from 15/40 at 1-1, his forehand started to do the damage. From 2-2, he kept his foot down to win 12 of 14 points and finished his fifth straight win over Fritz with a backhand volley winner.

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Dybala Tells Berrettini Federer Was His Idol, Too

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

As professional athletes, Matteo Berrettini and Argentine footballer Paulo Dybala can relate to the pressure of major finals, crippling pre-match nerves and the elation of competing on the biggest stages.

Dybala is a forward with Serie A club Juventus in World No. 7 Berrettini’s native Italy. And while Italy’s top-ranked tennis player admitted in the past he was an avid fan of rival club Fiorentina, the two discovered in an interview in Italian with that they shared a common idol: Roger Federer.

“Personally, I never hid that I grew up idolising Roger [Federer]. I liked the way he made everything look easy, almost like Ronaldinho,” Berrettini told Dybala. “The way he was on the court, his elegance, the way he speaks, the vibe he gives.”

The admiration was mutual as the 27-year-old Dybala admitted Federer – alongside his football idol, Ronaldinho – was an athlete he had long looked up to. “Me too,” Dybala said.

“I have skipped a football match a few times to watch his matches instead. Unfortunately I’ve never seen him in person, but I hope I will be able to do it.”

Berrettini, who has booked his second Nitto ATP Finals appearance, has notched a 40-10 record this season, including his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon where he lost to Novak Djokovic in four sets. It was his appearance in the championship match on Centre Court, which Dybala was most keen to hear about.

“I had knots in my stomach. I tried to force myself to eat but it was hard to deal with… It wasn’t exactly easy against Djokovic,” Berrettini said. “So I was in the locker room. It was just me and Novak.

“He had already played more than 30 Grand Slam finals so he was definitely more used to it than me, surely he felt tension. He was there relaxing with music in his headphones and I was there like, ‘I can’t even eat some rice. How am I supposed to play?’… I remember my hands were sweating, I couldn’t eat and when I was talking to my team, my head started spinning.

“But then something snaps inside you, 20, 30 minutes before the match, when you start warming up. You feel that adrenaline rush, the desire to win, and you feel like you could beat anyone. You say ‘I’m here because I deserve it’… Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

One point of difference became apparent as the pair’s discussion turned to coaches. Berrettini – who has been under the guidance of Vincenzo Santopadre since he was 14 – was at liberty to prank his coach.

“I almost have a father-son relationship with my coach. We joke, I prank him, I record him while he’s asleep, I wake him up,” he said. “Your problem is that you don’t pay your coach. I pay him, so I can get away with it, you see?”

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Hurkacz Completes 2021 Nitto ATP Finals Field

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz has clinched the eighth and final berth to the Nitto ATP Finals, completing the field for the prestigious season finale to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.

Hurkacz sealed his place after defeating James Duckworth Friday to reach the Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finals.

The 24-year-old is the second Polish player to earn a spot at the event in tournament history (after 1976 runner-up Wojtek Fibak) and will make his debut following a standout season in which he reached a career-high No. 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and captured three ATP Tour trophies.

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Hurkacz Battles Into Paris Semi-finals For Nitto ATP Finals Berth

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

Hubert Hurkacz booked a place in the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals on Friday and also became the final singles qualifier for the Nitto ATP Finals later this month.

The seventh-seeded Pole’s greater experience and a strong service performance in the decider helped him to beat first-time ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finalist James Duckworth 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-5 victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

Hurkacz, a winner of the Miami Open presented by Itau title and two other ATP Tour crowns this year, will now prepare to face World No. 1 and five-time former champion Novak Djokovic in south-west Paris on Saturday.

Later next week, the 24-year-old will join Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Casper Ruud at the season finale, which will take place at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.

“It’s obviously a dream come true to be at the Finals,” Hurkacz told the Tennis Channel. “I played at the Next Gen Finals so I thought to myself maybe one day I would get to the main one. I’m just super happy.

“I’m getting so much support, especially from other athletes… I’m privileged to be in this position and I hope I am making Poland a little proud. Interest [in tennis] is growing in Poland also with Iga [Swiatek], who is in the WTA Finals, so it’s amazing to have both players at the high level. Hopefully we will have a lot more guys and girls join the top soon.”

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Hurkacz applied pressure right from the start, but it wasn’t until Duckworth made a backhand slice error to be broken at 2-2 that the Pole really settled. Duckworth paid the price for just two first serves into court at 2-4 and Hurkacz coolly closed out the 31-minute opener in the next game.

Out of nowhere, World No. 55 Duckworth took a 4-2 advantage in the second set when his opponent pushed a forehand wide, but his lead was short-lived. Hurkacz broke back immediately, and was left to watch Duckworth’s great hands and aggressive tennis in the tie-break. Duckworth took a 4/0 lead, but Hurkacz responded with three straight points. The Australian didn’t waver and although he lost a 37-stroke rally at 6/3, he closed out the second set with a backhand winner.

Hurkacz didn’t blink and won 23 of his first 24 service points in the decider, before Duckworth returned to his aggressive best at 5-5. Duckworth held firm from the baseline after saving one break point at 0-1 and later saved two match points at 5-5, 15/40, but Hurkacz completed victory with a lob winner. He follows in the footsteps of 1976 runner-up Wojtek Fibak as a Nitto ATP Finals qualifier from Poland.

“James was playing some really good tennis,” said Hurkacz. “He was very solid throughout the whole match, especially [in the] second and third sets. He was serving well and it was not easy to play against him. Obviously, in the back of my mind, I [knew] that basically I had to win today. So that was putting a little bit more pressure [to] push me to compete as hard as I could.”

Duckworth, who was seeking his first Top 10 win (0-10 lifetime), is now 22-19 on the season, which includes a run to the Astana Open final in Nur-Sultan (l. to Kwon).

“I’ll definitely take a lot of positives from this week,” said Duckworth. “Since playing [in] Miami, I feel like I have been playing some good tennis and improving. There’s still a few areas I need to get better at to get higher up the [FedEx ATP] Rankings.”

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Friday Preview: Djokovic Plays Fritz; Medvedev, Zverev In Paris QF Action

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

The Rolex Paris Masters hits the business end on Friday with five-time former champion Novak Djokovic, 2020 titlist Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev in quarter-final action. Casper Ruud plays in the safe knowledge that he has already qualified for the the Nitto ATP Finals, while Hubert Hurkacz will be aiming to join the Norwegian in Turin later this month as a fellow first-time qualifier.

Back at the start of Djokovic’s standout season, Taylor Fritz had the World No. 1 on the ropes having won the third and fourth sets of their Australian Open third-round clash. Of course, Djokovic came within one victory of completing the first Grand Slam since 1969, going 27-1 in major play. Today, second on Court Central, the pair meet for the third time this year (also Internazionali BNL d’Italia), with Fritz in good form on the back of three Top 10 wins — Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells and Andrey Rublev in Paris — in recent weeks. The American has won 11 of his past 13 matches, while five-time titlist Djokovic seeks his seventh semi-final on the indoor courts of south-west Paris.

Medvedev will attempt to overcome home favourite and qualifier Hugo Gaston, who will compete next week at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The second-seeded Russian has compiled a 17-1 indoor record over the past 12 months, but should he lose on Friday then Djokovic will become 2021 year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record seventh time. In five matches this week, including qualifying, World No. 103 Gaston has beaten Kevin Anderson, Lorenzo Musetti, Arthur Rinderknech, Pablo Carreno Busta and Carlos Alcaraz to become the youngest quarter-finalist in Paris since No. 121-ranked Michael Llodra in 2012.

In the final singles match of day five, sixth seed Ruud, who secured his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday, challenges fourth-seeded German Zverev, who has won seven of his past 10 matches against Top 10 opponents. Zverev got the better of Ruud 6-1, 6-3 at the Western & Southern Open in August. Seventh-seeded Pole Hurkacz begins proceedings, knowing that if he beats first-time ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finalist James Duckworth of Australia, he’ll clinch the final berth at the season finale, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.

Watch Thursday Highlights From Paris


COURT CENTRAL start 2:00 pm
J. Duckworth (AUS) vs [7] H. Hurkacz (POL)
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs T. Fritz (USA)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[Q] H. Gaston (FRA) vs [2] D. Medvedev (RUS)
[6] C. Ruud (NOR) vs [4] A. Zverev (GER)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
[PR] F. Martin (FRA) / A. Mies (GER) vs T. Puetz (GER) / M. Venus (NZL)
[5] J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
S. Gille (BEL) / J. Vliegen (BEL) vs [6] J. Peers (AUS) / F. Polasek (SVK)

Not Before 5:00 pm
[3] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs [WC] B. Bonzi (FRA) / A. Rinderknech (FRA)

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Gaston Rounds Out Milan Field

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2021

Hugo Gaston rounds out the field at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held at the Allianz Cloud in Milan from 9-13 November.

The 19-year-old lefty broke onto the scene by reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2020, and he maintained his momentum this year. The French lefty is soaring higher than ever, having reached a career-high No. 103 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 1 November 2021.

This week, Gaston has become the lowest-ranked quarter-finalist at the Rolex Paris Masters since No. 121-ranked Michael Llodra in 2012. 

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