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Zverev Maintains Strong Montpellier Record

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2022

Alexander Zverev continued his strong record at the Open Sud de France on Friday, cruising past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-0 to reach the semi-finals in Montpellier.

The German is aiming to capture his second title in Montpellier, after triumphing in his last appearance at the ATP 250 event in 2017. Zverev, who is now 9-1 at the tournament, hit eight aces and saved all four break points he faced against Mannarino to advance after 51 minutes as he extended his perfect ATP Head2Head record over the 33-year-old to 7-0.

On his win, Zverev said: “Sometimes that is how matches go. At the end I felt a little sorry for Adrian because we have had so many tough matches together and he is in great form at the moment. He reached the fourth round at the Australian Open. I came here to find my form and I am looking forward to the next two days.”

The top seed earned victories over Cameron Norrie and Taylor Fritz at ATP Cup at the start of January, but suffered a disappointing fourth-round exit at the Australian Open (l. to Shapovalov). The 19-time tour-level titlist will look to continue the momentum he has regained in Montpellier against Swede Mikael Ymer in the last four.


Ymer held his nerve to defeat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1 to reach his second tour-level semi-final. The World No. 83 recovered from squandering one match point in the second set at 6-5 40/30 on Gasquet’s serve, raising his intensity in the third set to triumph after two hours and 35 minutes.

The 23-year-old is making his third appearance in Montpellier. Ymer, who had never advanced past the second round in Montpellier before his run this week, now leads Gasquet 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.

“I am very happy to be through,” Ymer said. “It was a tough match, so I am very happy to fight through and I am excited to be in another semi-final.”

Gasquet is a three-time champion at the ATP 250 event and was seeking his 29th match win at the ATP 250 event.

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Bublik Topples Bautista Agut In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2022

A pumped-up Alexander Bublik provided the entertainment Friday at the Open Sud de France, upsetting World No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(4) to advance into the semi-finals in Montpellier.

The sixth seed showcased an abundance of flair throughout his two-hour, four-minute win against the 2021 finalist as he combined big serving with precise drop shots to improve to 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.

“It is always tough to play against Roberto,” Bublik said in his on-court interview. “He is a great competitor, so I knew I had to stay focused and serve well. Thank you to the crowd for being here and helping me once again. I think I played a great match.”


Bublik fired 26 aces against Bautista Agut as he continued his pursuit of his maiden tour-level title in Montpellier. The World No. 35, who earned a personal-best 35 wins in 2021, is just one place below his career-high ATP Ranking. The 24-year-old will next play Serbian Filip Krajinovic in his eighth tour-level semi-final.

Krajinovic booked his spot in the last four in Montpellier for a second time, defeating Bosnian qualifier Damir Dzumhur 7-5, 6-2 in one hour and 39 minutes.

“I knew he is a very talented player,” Krajinovic said in his on-court interview. “We have known each other for a long time. We were both tight in the first set, but I somehow managed to find a way to win the set. In the second set, I stayed with my game and I am happy to be in the semi-finals again.”

The fifth seed, who enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event in 2020, rallied from a break down in the first set against Dzumhur before he established control in the second set with his aggressive ball striking to triumph in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

The 29-year-old is aiming to capture his first tour-level title in Montpellier, having advanced to four finals at this level.

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Herbert/Mahut Maintain Title Charge In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2022

Top seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut continued their title pursuit at the Open Sud de France Friday, defeating Luca Van Assche and Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg 6-3 6-3 to reach the semi-finals.

The Frenchmen have won 20 tour-level titles together, including five Grand Slam crowns and two Nitto ATP Finals trophies. However, they are teaming for the first time this season this week on home soil in Montpellier.

In a dominant display against their countrymen, Herbert and Mahut won 92 per cent (22/24) of their first-serve points to advance after 55 minutes as they showed little sign of rustiness.

They will next play Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara after the British-Finn tandem moved past Jonny O’Mara and Hunter Reese 6-3, 6-4 in 68 minutes. Glasspool and Heliovaara have tasted success in France together before, clinching the trophy in Marseille last season.

Saville/Smith Soar Into Pune Final
Elsewhere, at the Tata Open Maharashtra, top seeds Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith advanced to their first tour-level final as a team.

The Australians overcame Indians N.Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan 6-2, 6-4 in the semi-finals in Pune to end the home pairing’s run at the ATP 250 tournament. Saville and Smith did not face a break point en route to their 62-minute win.

They will face either second seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan or Frenchmen Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul in the final. Bopanna and Ramanathan will meet Doumbia and Reboul on Saturday.

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Sousa Returns To SFs In Pune

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2022

Portugal’s Joao Sousa reached his first tour-level semi-final since 2019 Friday, cruising past fifth-seeded German Daniel Altmaier 6-2, 6-3 at the Tata Open Maharashtra.

The 32-year-old, who is making his debut in Pune, backed up his hard-fought three-set win over third seed Gianluca Mager with an impressive performance against Altmaier to upset another seed at the ATP 250 event. Sousa saved the one break point he faced to triumph after 74 minutes.

“Today was a great match,” Sousa said in his on-court match. “I think I played a great match, I was very solid. I knew it was going to be a tough match, so I was prepared to run a lot. I am really happy with the way I played today and I am happy to be in the semi-finals.”

With his victory, it is the 20th time the World No. 137 has advanced to the semi-finals at a tour-level event, but the first since St. Petersburg three years ago. The two-time tour-level titlist will next face Swede Elias Ymer after the qualifier downed eighth seed Stefano Travaglia 6-4,7-6(4) to continue his dream run.

Ymer, who earned his first Top 20 victory against Aslan Karatsev in the second round, fired 10 aces en-route to his 89-minute win against Travaglia. It is the first time Ymer has reached the semi-finals at a tour-level event.


In other action, sixth seed Emil Ruusuvouri maintained his strong start to the season, defeating defending champion Jiri Vesely 6-3, 6-4 to reach his second semi-final of the year.

The Finn, who enjoyed a run to the last four at the Melbourne Summer Set in January, won 84 per cent (27/32) of his first-serve points against Vesely to advance in 78 minutes. The 22-year-old now leads the Czech 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.

Ruusuvuori is aiming to win his maiden tour-level trophy this week and will next play Pole Kamil Majchrzak. The World No. 95 clawed past #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 after two hours and 15 minutes to book his place in his first tour-level semi-final.

“I feel very good,” Majchrzak said. “I was waiting and working for this chance to make a mark on the ATP Tour. I am very happy about it, especially with today’s win against Lorenzo who is a talented player. I am pleased I managed my emotions at the end.”

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The Tour – A Day In The Life With Mektic & Pavic

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2022

Nine titles. A major championship at Wimbledon. Gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Year-end No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings.

Last season was full of accomplishments for Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who dominated the ATP Tour for most of 2021. So what’s their secret?

There is not one thing in particular that helped the Croatians become the best doubles team in the world. However, they do a lot of small things that make a difference in their matches and relationship on and off the court. It is not all about serves and returns or groundstrokes and volleys.

“I think it’s very important to have a decent relationship,” Pavic said. “We like to trash talk to each other a little bit. I think it’s important to have a good laugh during the day. Even before we started playing together, we’ve known each other for years now. We’ve been good friends off court for a while now, so I think it helps. It helps a lot.”

Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
If you follow the pair around for the day, you will notice that they do not take themselves too seriously. Last year in Toronto, the Croatians allowed an ATP camera crew to trail them for a day to gain a look into their lives on the circuit. And one thing that became clear was that they enjoy plenty of banter.

Take for example when they were stretching on the field. Mektic began by hanging out and relaxing before doing more intense stretching later on, and Pavic made sure the cameras caught that moment, joking that his partner was slacking off.

When it came time for their practice later, Mektic was chatting at a table with former partner Alexander Peya instead of heading to the court. Again, Mektic was — in a funny way — on his case. When Pavic went inside to the gym to use the weight machines, Mektic remained outside to stretch.

“Obviously we don’t do the same things. He has his own coach, I have my own coach. We do that part separately,” Mektic said, before cracking a laugh. “There is already too much of seeing him in a day. I’m kidding!”

The pair and their coaches enjoy playing UNO, but they had to add trash talk and a bit of competitive flair to it. The losers had to stand at the shuttle and transportation signs standing still in front of their peers for three and five minutes, respectively. On that day, Mektic finished last (five minutes) and Pavic (three minutes) also was punished.

They both took it in stride, and enjoyed speaking to the camera crew to pass the time. A producer asked Mektic if it was more painful to lose a match on court or in UNO?

“This is much worse!” Mektic said, cracking a laugh.

Nikola Pavic and Mate Pavic at Nitto ATP Finals media day in Turin.
Photo Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
“I think we’ve got a good thing going, all of us. Not just the players, but the whole team, spending a lot of time together,” Pavic said. “So we’re a good crew and I think that helps a lot, also sometimes that you just do a little your own thing so you’re not obviously together all the time.”

Pavic mentioned that some days, they might not even see each other at all. Of course that is rare, but the time away keeps their relationship on and off court fresh, preventing them from burning out as a pair.

“I think we communicate a lot on the court, even more during a match than before the match,” Mektic said. “On the court we talk a lot and we understand each other and we try to find the best solution regarding the situation on the court.”

On court, the righty Mektic is more of a control-oriented player, while Pavic, a lefty, is more dynamic with plenty of power and shotmaking ability.

“We’re both good players. We have different game styles, so that’s something that maybe is helping us out. There are a lot of guys who have similar game type,” Pavic said. “I think we are both very different game-wise, so maybe that’s the thing that separates us a little bit.”

According to Vlad Kaplarevic, Pavic’s coach, it is not just their skills that help them.

“What makes this team work I would say good energy, support and obviously confidence,” Kaplarevic said. “If you are winning a lot of matches, confidence helps a lot… [it has been] a big surprise for everybody, to be honest.”

Both men enjoyed strong partnerships before 2021, with Pavic finishing year-end No. 1 with Bruno Soares and Mektic winning the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals alongside Wesley Koolhof. But they took a risk to join forces and that paid dividends.

“Did I believe that we were going to win all of that? No,” Pavic said. “But I did expect we were going to play well and we were going to be one of the best teams.”

They will hope that remains the case in 2022.

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Baez Brilliant To Upset Garin In Cordoba

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2022

Could this be the week Sebastian Baez breaks through for his first ATP Tour title?

The Argentine certainly showed his determination on home soil Thursday evening when he rallied past third seed Cristian Garin 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the Cordoba Open.

“I think in the first set I had a lot of chances and I was maybe a little bit more nervous than Garin,” Baez said. “After that I tried to be [calm], tried to do better. I thought I could do it. For that reason, the result was for me today.”

Baez showed the world his competitive spirit at last year’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, where he made the semi-finals. The Argentine put that on full display again on Cancha Central, where he broke the Chilean’s serve eight times to advance.

“I tried to be concentrated,” Baez said. “[I tried] to be focussed on every point.”

In the next round the home favourite will face Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo, who eliminated Spaniard Carlos Taberner 6-2, 6-4.


Fourth seed Lorenzo Sonego also advanced to the last eight with a 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-2 victory against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena. The Italian won 83 per cent of his first-serve points.

“I needed to change something in my play, because I was confident in the second set and I tried to be more aggressive than the first set,” Song said. “All good. I won the match and I’m happy for that.”

Next up for the World No. 23 will be another Spaniard, Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The sixth seed moved past Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas when the qualifier retired during the second set due to an ankle injury. Ramos-Vinolas led 6-4, 2-3.

“I played him in Rio and lost to him,” Sonego said of Ramos-Vinolas. “He’s a great player with big experience and it will be a really tough match for sure. We will see tomorrow.”

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