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Tallon The Titan: Griekspoor Claims Record Seventh Challenger Title Of 2021

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

For many players competing on the ATP Challenger Tour, winning one title in a season is an accomplishment.

How about seven?

On Sunday, Tallon Griekspoor did just that. The 25-year-old Dutchman triumphed on the hard courts of Tenerife, Spain, securing his place in the history books with a dominant display. A 6-4, 6-4 victory over Feliciano Lopez gave the Dutchman a single-season record seventh Challenger crown of 2021.

“It’s been an amazing season, winning a record seventh title, and an amazing win streak,” said Griekspoor after the final. “I’m just really happy with this season and looking forward to next year playing on the ATP Tour.”


Photo: Marta Magni Images / MEF Tennis Events

Not only did Griekspoor become the first player in Challenger history to win seven titles in one year, but he did so in stunning fashion. A 20-match win streak carried him to the winners’ circle once again, featuring back-to-back-to-back titles on the clay of Murcia, Napoli-1 and Napoli-2 last month, and a first career hard-court crown on Sunday in Tenerife.

Located just steps from the beach on the picturesque Canary Islands, it was a tennis paradise at the inaugural Tenerife Challenger. The top seed and the player to beat, Griekspoor embraced the pressure all week at the Abama Tennis Academy. It all culminated with consecutive wins over an in-form Altug Celikbilek and former Top 20 Spanish stars Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.


Griekspoor, who is projected to rise to a career-high No. 72 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday, is ready to test his talents at the tour-level in 2022. The Haarlem native is no stranger to the bright lights and the big stages, having defeated former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka at the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam in 2018. And two months ago, he won his first Grand Slam match at the US Open, outlasting Jan-Lennard Struff in five sets, before battling top seed Novak Djokovic on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s nice to get the record but all I am trying to do is to improve my game and move up the rankings,” Griekspoor told Tennis TourTalk. “I hope it stays for a while. My goal for this year was to end the year in the Top 100. I did well on that. Top 50 is probably the next goal and let’s see how far I can get. I really don’t want to put a number on it. Let’s see what’s possible and I am confident in myself. I have had a good time on the Challenger Tour but I think it’s time for the next step, playing ATP Tour events. I am really looking forward to that and can’t wait to start.”

Griekspoor hopes to end his ATP Challenger Tour career with an eighth title of 2021, as he concludes his remarkable campaign next week in Bratislava.

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Brain Game: Djokovic's Antidote to Medvedev's Deep Returning Is…

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

You can’t regularly serve and volley in today’s game.

The statement above is worth reading again because it needs to be the last time you ever see it in print. It’s a myth. The death of serve and volley in our sport is pure misconception, and Novak Djokovic may as well have put the final nail in the coffin of this delusional fallacy once and for all in the Rolex Paris Masters final on Sunday.

World No. 1, Djokovic, defeated No. 2, Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 15 minutes minutes on the back of winning 19 of 22 serve and volley points. Djokovic won a stunning 86 per cent of his serve and volley points to completely throw a monkey wrench into the Russian’s monotonous baseline strategy of sticking the Serb in the backhand cage deep in the Ad court.

For the record, Djokovic served and volleyed 22 times – including once a second serve which he won – and also attempted another 17 serve and volley points that were a fault.

He wanted to serve and volley 39 times in a Masters 1000 final against the second-best player in the world. Nothing dead about that strategy.

Djokovic initially served and volleyed on the third point of the match, trailing 0/30 in the opening game. He lost that point and was broken soon after. He did win five of seven serve and volley points in the opening set but lost the set 6-4. The game plan was forming. The execution was improving. The mindset was patient.

Instead of abandoning the aggressive serve-and-volley play to focus on trying to dismantle Medvedev in baseline exchanges, Djokovic doubled down on serve and volley in set two, winning all 12 serve and volley points played. It’s worth noting that he also hit five faults that he wanted to serve and volley on in set two as well. Djokovic won two of three serve and volley points in set three as Medvedev unravelled early in the point. The constant forward pressure had finally paid off.

The net was Djokovic’s safe haven in the Paris final.

Net Points Played

  • Djokovic = won 75% (27/36)
  • Medvedev = won 69% (9/13)

Djokovic came to the net almost three times as often as Medvedev as he rocked the Russian in the critical 0-4 shot rally length.

Rally Length Won

  • 0-4 Shots = Djokovic +19 (Djokovic 54 / Medvedev 35)
  • 5-8 Shots = Djokovic +1 (Djokovic 23 / Medvedev 22)
  • 9+ Shots = Djokovic -4 (Djokovic 17 / Medvedev 21)

Djokovic ended up +19 (54 won / 35 lost) in the short rallies up to four shots. This is where serve and volley reigned supreme. A key component of the Serb’s instant forays to the net was to avoid hitting his first volley deep, where Medvedev would enjoy another crack at a passing shot. Instead, Djokovic’s first volley was cleverly hit short in the court with angle, which was ideal considering Medvedev stands very deep in the court to return serve.

Our sport has recently entered into an era where players such as Medvedev are taking up extremely deep return positions. Their goal is to let the serve slow down to commit fewer return errors, while also allowing them to swing as hard as possible, making the return behave much more like a regular groundstroke than a blocking, abbreviated stroke. Djokovic showed time and time again in the final that serve and volley is the perfect antidote for that tactic.

Once rallies began in the Paris final, Medvedev attempted a copy/paste of the recent US Open final, which he won against Djokovic by overdosing on backhand-to-backhand exchanges. Djokovic hit 188 backhand groundstrokes in the Paris final and only 155 groundstroke forehands.

Medvedev was on course for a rinse and repeat of New York. Serve and volley came to the rescue for Djokovic.

Djokovic committed 12 backhand groundstroke errors and only hit one backhand groundstroke winner for the match. If he didn’t have serve and volley to constantly stay on the front foot and keep the points short, he would have had no way to short-circuit Medvedev’s incessant Ad court exchanges.

The Serb’s goose would surely be cooked in the absence of serve and volley.

Serve and volley gets little respect in today’s game. We gave up on it long ago, but it never gave up on us, constantly delivering strong win percentages. The No. 1 player in the world took it off life support in the Paris final and gave this “old school” pattern of play the love it thoroughly deserves. If anyone tells you that serve and volley doesn’t work, send them a link to Sunday’s final.

Welcome back, old friend.

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Fucsovics, Paul Win Stockholm Openers

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

Seventh-seeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics swept past Adrian Mannarino of France on Sunday at the Stockholm Open. Fucsovics won eight straight games from 4-4 in the first set to win 6-4, 6-0 in 72 minutes. The World No. 40 will play Australia’s Jordan Thompson or Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands in the second round.

Elsewhere, American Tommy Paul knocked out Swedish wild card and ATP Tour main draw debutant Leo Borg, the son of 1980 titlist Bjorn Borg, 6-4, 6-2 in 67 minutes. Paul will next face fifth-seeded compatriot Taylor Fritz or lucky loser Egor Gerasimov of Belarus.


Denis Istomin, Pavel Kotov, Viktor Durasovic and Andrea Vavassori all came through qualifying for a place in the main draw. Durasovic will play former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the first round.

Jannik Sinner, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will also compete at the ATP 250 indoor tournament.

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Djokovic Extends 'Big Titles' Lead With Record-Breaking Paris Win

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

Novak Djokovic won a record-breaking 37th ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Rolex Paris Masters, extending his lead in the ‘Big Titles’ race over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The World No. 1 now has 62 ‘Big Titles’, pushing him further ahead of Nadal (57) and Federer (54). A ‘Big Title’ is a trophy at a Grand Slam championship, the Nitto ATP Finals, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament or an Olympic singles gold medal. Djokovic surged ahead of Nadal, who has 36 Masters 1000 trophies.

The 34-year-old suffered a crushing defeat in the US Open final against Daniil Medvedev, who ended his pursuit of the Grand Slam at the final hurdle. But Djokovic got his revenge on Sunday 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in front of a raucous crowd in Paris-Bercy.

Djokovic will now turn his attention to the Nitto ATP Finals, to be played from 14-21 November at the Pala Alpitour in Turin. The Serbian will have a chance to increase his ‘Big Titles’ lead even further there, where Nadal and Federer will not be competing. Djokovic could tie Federer’s record for most victories at the season finale (6).

The World No. 1 has the best ‘Big Titles’ win-rate at one title won per 3.3 events played (62/202), while Nadal has claimed a ‘Big Title’ for every 3.5 tournaments played at this level (57/197). Only two other players have converted more than once per five events: Roger Federer (4.4, 54/240) and Pete Sampras (4.9, 30/147).

Current and Former Champions’ Big Titles Won (Records Since 1990)

Player Grand Slams Nitto ATP Finals 1000s Total^ (Avg)
Novak Djokovic 20/65 5/13 36/119 62/202 (3.3)
Rafael Nadal 20/62 0/10 36/123 57/197 (3.5)
Roger Federer 20/80 6/17 28/138 54/240 (4.4)
Pete Sampras 14/52 5/11 11/83 30/147 (4.9)
Andre Agassi 8/61 1/13 17/90 27/164 (6.1)
Andy Murray 3/52 1/8 14/103 20/166 (8.3)
Boris Becker* 2/26 2/6 5/51 9/84 (9.3)
Thomas Muster 1/29 0/4 8/53 9/87 (9.7)
Stefan Edberg** 3/28 0/4 4/45 7/79 (11.3)
Gustavo Kuerten 3/33 1/3 5/67 9/105 (11.6)
Jim Courier 4/38 0/4 5/71 9/114 (12.6)
Marcelo Rios 0/26 0/1 5/56 5/84 (16.8)
Marat Safin 2/41 0/3 5/87 7/133 (19)
Michael Chang*** 0/50 0/6 7/86 7/144 (20.6)
Andy Roddick 1/46 0/6 5/75 6/129 (22.5)

^ Includes Olympic Games gold medals and tournament participations
* Becker’s four other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
** Edberg’s three other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
*** Chang’s one Grand Slam title came before 1990

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Wiki That! Medvedev Says Djokovic Is 'Amazing'

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

Daniil Medvedev was full of praise for Novak Djokovic on Sunday, believing that the Serbian superstar is gaining more respect for his record-breaking career.

“I have the feeling that people [are] starting more and more to… respect what he has done in tennis more and more, because he continues to beat the records,” said Medvedev, after he lost to Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Rolex Paris Masters final.

“Only this year he beat the records for being No. 1 for most weeks, 310 it was, and now it’s much more [345]. He got to 20 [Grand] Slams [and] almost [completed] a calendar Slam.

“There are going to be new people coming to tennis [in the future] who are just going to read in Wikipedia, or whatever, what were the results, who was the World No. 1 for most weeks, for most times in the end, and they are going to see Novak everywhere. That’s when people are going to start to understand, ‘Okay, that’s amazing what he has done.’”

Medvedev has also enjoyed a strong season, which includes the US Open (d. Djokovic) title, and having seen Djokovic embrace his children after the final in south-west Paris, the Russian star also praised his wife, Daria, who watched courtside.

“She helps me a lot,” said Medvedev. “She knows I support her in many ways. So we enjoy being with each other, we enjoy living with each other, we love each other, and that helps me on the tennis court. It’s as easy as that. She will not teach me to play forehand or backhand, but she’s going to give me some mental strength and mental stability to be a better tennis player.”

When asked what it would have meant if he’d beaten Djokovic for a second time in a row, Medvedev was quick to admit, “It’s impossible to have any upper hand psychologically speaking on him.

“But this could be the case for me as well. If we take for instance the last weeks, I lost against Grigor [Dimitrov], [Andrey] Rublev and Novak. So the next time that I will play these three opponents this question shouldn’t be raised. ‘Will Daniil be affected psychologically?’ No. 

“When I played Novak, I knew that he would try to take his revenge. What was at stake was not the same. Of course, I’m not talking about the prize money here. I could feel he really wanted to win no matter what, and this is what competition is all about.”

The 25-year-old, who had trained with Djokovic at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Nice prior to the Rolex Paris Masters, will next compete in Turin at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he is the defending champion. The prestigious season finale, which features Djokovic, Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz, takes place at the Pala Alpitour from 14-21 November.

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Djokovic, Medvedev Into Paris Final Decider

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

Five-time former champion Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are in a deciding set on Sunday in the Rolex Paris Masters final. World No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2-ranked Medvedev are level at 4-6, 6-3 in their third ATP Head2Head meeting of the year.

Djokovic is attempting to capture a record-breaking 37th ATP Masters 1000 title, while Medvedev is hoping to retain the indoor tournament crown ahead of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin from 14-21 November.

It’s the first Paris final to feature the top two players in the FedEx ATP Rankings since Stefan Edberg played Boris Becker in the 1990 final.

In a hard-hitting and physical encounter, Djokovic struggled initially committing six unforced errors in the first two games, but settled and won the next three games. Medvedev’s consistently, which had made him a contender for year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings this season, was in evidence with his athleticism around the court. The Russian chased down a drop shot to break for a 4-3 advantage and later closed out the first set, before Djokovic gained the momentum.

In striking his backhand down the line, the World No. 1 avoided the backhand-to-backhand exchanges of the US Open final, which Medvedev won 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. After a series of brutal rallies in the fourth game of the second set, the Serbian grew in confidence and continued to mix up his game. At 5-3, Djokovic saved three break points with forays to the net and completed a 16-point game with an ace to take their 10th ATP Head2Head meeting match to a decider.

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Puetz/Venus Clinch Paris Doubles Crown

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

Tim Puetz and Michael Venus captured the Rolex Paris Masters doubles title on Sunday. The German-Kiwi team completed a high-quality 6-3, 6-7(4), 11-9 victory over third-seeded Frenchmen and 2019 champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in one hour and 52 minutes.

Puetz and Venus first joined forces in June and captured their first ATP Tour crown at the Hamburg European Open (d. Krawietz-Tecau) in June. In the French capital this week, the duo also beat Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, and Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.

“We knew we would need to play our best tennis,” said Venus. “It was an unbelievable atmosphere today and it made the final very special.”

Great returning and high energy helped Puetz and Venus to a 3-0 advantage in only eight minutes. Herbert got out of trouble after striking two double faults at 1-4 and Puetz later closed out the first set, which lasted 30 minutes, with three consecutive smashes.

Herbert and Mahut both came through deciding point service holds early in the second set, before the Frenchmen started to apply pressure and ignited the crowd’s support. Puetz and Venus held firm to save deciding points at 2-3 and 3-4, but Herbert and Mahut stepped up with the set within their sights. Yet at 5-6, Puetz recovered four set points with excellent serving to reach a tie-break.

Herbert flicked a backhand return winner down the line for 6/4 in the tie-break and a low Mahut return proved too good for Venus to get back cleanly. In the Match tie-break, Herbert and Mahut rushed Puetz and Venus into errors for a 5-2 advantage, but the German-Kiwi pair hit their spots and managed to close out a tense and memorable encounter for their 15th match win of 2021.

Herbert and Mahut, who are 30-11 on the season, will now turn their attention to a sixth participation at the Nitto ATP Finals. This year, the Pala Alpitour in Turin will host the season final for the first time from 14-21 November, after an 11-year stint in London.

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Korda, Nakashima Among #NextGenATP Stars Hard At Work In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2021

The time is almost here. The stars of the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals have started to arrive in Milan, where they are working hard at the Allianz Cloud in preparation for the 21-and-under season finale.

Americans Brandon Nakashima and Sebastian Korda as well as Argentines Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Sebastian Baez were on site Saturday practising before the start of the event, which will be played from 9-13 November. All four players are making their tournament debut.

Nakashima has enjoyed a breakthrough 2021 season by rising from No. 170 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to his current career-high No. 65. The 20-year-old became the youngest American since Andy Roddick in 2001-02 to reach multiple tour-level finals when he enjoyed runs to the championship match in Los Cabos and Atlanta.

Korda arrives in Milan in form, having defeated Aslan Karatsev and Marin Cilic en route to the third round at the Rolex Paris Masters. The 21-year-old has enjoyed success in Italy, where he captured his maiden tour-level title in Parma in May.

Argentine pair Baez and Cerundolo are the first South Americans to qualify in the tournament’s history. Umag champion Carlos Alcaraz, Italian Lorenzo Musetti, Denmark’s Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune and Frenchman Hugo Gaston round out the field.

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