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Ruud Shakes Off Schwartzman For Buenos Aires Crown

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Ruud Shakes Off Schwartzman For Buenos Aires Crown

Norwegian moves to 9-0 career record at Argentina Open

Casper Ruud is making quite the habit out of picking up trophies.

The World No. 8 followed up his five ATP Tour titles from 2021 with a first of the new season on Sunday as he overcame local favourite Diego Schwartzman to win the Argentina Open for the second time.

The 2020 champion recovered from a first-set lapse to quieten an energised home crowd and seal a 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win in two hours, 35 minutes in Buenos Aires.

The Norwegian was delighted to seal the title after going behind. “[There were] a lot of ups and downs,” he said after the match. “I think it was a good match overall. Diego played very good in the first set and I was struggling to get the important points.

“I think we were both a bit nervous. I just tried to fight and stay in there the whole match because I know how things can change in a tennis match and luckily, they did my way today.”


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Top-seeded Ruud had not dropped a set this week on his way to the championship match, but he found himself in trouble before regaining his composure to see off the dogged Argentine.

A high-quality start saw both players spurn chances to break, most notably when Ruud sent a forehand long after a 42-shot marathon rally on set point that allowed Schwartzman to escape and go on to hold for 5-5.

The miss seemed to linger in the Norwegian’s mind and the Argentine took full advantage in the next game to secure the first break of the final. The World No. 15 went on to serve out for the first set as uncharacteristic errors crept into Ruud’s groundstrokes.

Despite the setback the powerful Norwegian still appeared to have the upper hand in most rallies and was a constant threat on Schwartzman’s serve. The Argentine saved four break points to hold in his opening service game of the second set, but the pressure began to tell as Ruud reeled off four games in a row from 2-2 to level the match.

Despite Schwartzman rallying to reclaim an early break in the decider, his spirit was ultimately not enough to stop Ruud as he finished with aplomb, crushing a forehand winner on match point to reduce the Argentine’s lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series to 5-3.

Schwartzman had ended a 13-year wait for an Argentine champion in Buenos Aires with his 2021 title and he fought valiantly to repeat last year’s heroics. The greater power of his opponent’s ball-striking proved too much, however. Ruud created 17 break point opportunities in the match and converted 4 of them.

Ruud was hopeful that the victory would pave the way for more success in 2022. “It means a lot,” he said, “I think this is the perfect start and it will give me confidence for the rest of the season and also for the next weeks when I am here in South America.”

Ruud is now unbeaten after two appearances in Buenos Aires, and Sunday’s win extended the Norwegian’s winning streak in ATP 250 events on clay to 18.

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Opelka Stands Tall, Sinks Brooksby For Dallas Title

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Opelka Stands Tall, Sinks Brooksby For Dallas Title

American produces serving clinic to capture third ATP Tour title

Reilly Opelka put on a serving clinic — even by his own lofty standards — to claim his third ATP Tour title at the Dallas Open.

The second-seeded American did not face a break point en route to the final, and saved the only one he faced Sunday against rapidly rising countryman Jenson Brooksby in a 7-6(5), 7-6(3) victory to lift the trophy.

“I thought I played very well under pressure, especially against a great player like Jenson. He makes you very uncomfortable and he took me out of my comfort zone a lot of the match today,” Opelka said during the trophy ceremony. “I really had to play my best tennis to get by and I barely did.”

This is the second time Opelka has won this tournament. He also lifted the trophy in 2019 when the ATP 250 was held on Long Island and known as the New York Open. His other victory came two years ago in Delray Beach. 

It appeared Opelka’s service dominance at the Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex on the campus of Southern Methodist University might come to an end against the baseline battler Brooksby. The fourth seed earned a break point at 1-1 in the first set and hit a perfect return deep in the court to put pressure on his 6’11” opponent.

But Opelka played tremendous defence before crushing a backhand down the line for a winner. That set the tone of the match for the 24-year-old, who did not face a break point the rest of the way in his one-hour, 52-minute triumph.

“I’m a big fan of his game, a big believer in him. He’s super young and he’s got a lot of tennis ahead of him still,” Opelka said of Brooksby. “The scary thing is he has a lot to even improve on and I think that’s why he’s a future Top 10 player and he’s going to be winning many titles for many years to come.”

Opelka played aggressively from the baseline when he needed to, frustrating Brooksby with his timely shotmaking and incredible movement for a player of his size. And like he did in the semi-finals against John Isner to end the longest tour-level singles tie-break in ATP Tour history (46 points, since 1990), Opelka completed his victory with a backhand passing shot from inside the court.

The champion won all 46 of his service games this week.

“It’s one thing to serve well and have a nice motion, hit your spots and be accurate. But guys guess, so you have to be a pitcher. You have to be thinking a lot,” Opelka said. “If they guess right, you’re in trouble, so you have to think, ‘Where might he be leaning? What patterns have i been giving him? How do I go against the grain here?’ There’s more to it than just having a good serve.”

World No. 54 Brooksby, who this week one year ago was still outside the Top 300 in the ATP Rankings, was trying to clinch his first ATP Tour title. The 21-year-old, who clawed past countryman Marcos Giron in a two-hour, 54-minute slugfest in the semi-finals, fell just short of lifting the trophy. He also reached the championship match in Newport last year.

“I thought I competed better and it’s definitely a really good week to build off of going into the future,” Brooksby said.

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First-Time Winner Spotlight: Felix Auger-Aliassime

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Felix Auger-Aliassime

Canadian is third first-time titlist of 2022

At the ninth time of asking, Felix Auger-Aliassime captured his maiden tour-level title at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

The Canadian held an 0-8 record in tour-level finals before Sunday, but he produced a dominant performance in Rotterdam to overcome World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets for his first trophy. sat down with the 21-year-old right after he triumphed at the ATP 500 tournament to find out more about the significance of his milestone achievement.

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Felix Fires Past Tsitsipas In Rotterdam For First ATP Tour Title

What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It is definitely a dream come true. It is something I have been working for and suffering for at times because we all know my story, having lost finals before, so this one is even more special for me.

How did you start playing tennis and what are some of your early memories playing the sport?
I started with my dad. He is a tennis coach and we started as early as I could remember, when I was about four years old. Tennis was always the main passion for me. [I had] the dream of becoming a professional and the dream of having moments like I did today… The memories I share with my family and current coaches go a long way back.

Can you describe your relationship with coaches Frederic Fontang and Toni Nadal?
Both are really important for me. Frederic has been the rock for the team. He is the leader and was able to build a great team around me and he is a real professional. I think he deserves more credit than he gets. He took me when I was 17 years old and has taken me to where I am today and we are not done. It is a really special relationship we have.

I think we took Toni to have that experience from the top of the sport and he built a lot of confidence [for] the team and normality to winning tournaments like this and reaching late stages at Grand Slams.

You are a focussed and dynamic player to watch on court. How would you describe yourself off court? Are you a similar character?
I would say I am. What you see on the court is similar to what you get off the court. I am quite simple with how I go about things. I know what I like to do and I am a very loyal person with my family and my team and people that are close around me. I like to keep it easy and have a good time. I know when to be serious and disciplined and know when to have a good time.

What do you consider to be your biggest passions outside of tennis and can you tell us a little bit about those interests? I know you are an accomplished piano player.
I love music. Not only playing, I haven’t played the piano in months. But music, in general, brings me a lot of inspiration because we travel a lot, so I listen to a lot of music. Not that I would be a musician myself in terms of creating music, but it is definitely an important part of my life. Also, any sport in general. I am a very active person. I like to watch and enjoy many different sports.

Canadian tennis is in a strong place at the moment, with Canada lifting the ATP Cup title. How important for you is it that you and Denis Shapovalov inspire the younger generation in your country?
We have been doing well. This journey started in 2015 when we won junior doubles titles together and from there it has gotten better and better, year after year. He has been able to do amazing things also in this sport.

I have been motivated to do the same and in the future we could have two Canadians regularly in the Top 10, which would be an amazing achievement for each other and for the country. To win the ATP Cup title was a dream. I know it inspired a lot of people back home.

This is a milestone moment in your career. How will you celebrate this victory?
I like to keep it simple. I don’t do anything crazy. I like to keep it with the people who have been on the journey with me, so we can really enjoy this moment together and look back at some good memories and have great discussions. We will go to a nice restaurant and enjoy some good food and then rest. The emotion I lived on the court will keep a special place in my heart for years to come.

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Felix: 'It Is The Most Special Day Of My Career'

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Felix: ‘It Is The Most Special Day Of My Career’

Canadian defeated Tsitsipas for maiden tour-level title

Felix Auger-Aliassime was feeling delighted on Sunday after he captured his first tour-level title at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

The Canadian entered the showdown in Rotterdam against Stefanos Tsitsipas holding an 0-8 record in ATP Tour finals, but he finally ended the wait for his first title with an impressive performance, leaving Auger-Aliassime ecstatic. 

“It is a dream come true,” Auger-Aliassime said in his post-match press conference. “To be able to serve that well and dominate, it was a special match and one I will remember for a long time. It is a special day for me. It is something I have been thinking about and finally the day comes. It is the most special day of my career.”

His victory over the Greek has capped off a strong start to the season for the 21-year-old, who helped guide Canada to the ATP Cup title in January, before he reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

“This year I feel more mature. I feel I am a better player than in the years before when I was playing those finals,” Auger-Aliassime added. “I think I showed it today and proved it to myself and everybody and I think it is a good sign of what is to come. I am not going to stop here, with the possibility to keep proving myself and my worth.”

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Felix Fires Past Tsitsipas In Rotterdam For First ATP Tour Title

The World No. 9 competed in his maiden ATP Tour final in Rio de Janeiro in 2019 aged 18. Having lost to Laslo Djere that day, the Canadian then fell agonisingly short on a further seven occasions.

However, the third seed believes that now he has lifted his first trophy, it will make him a more relaxed and therefore more dangerous opponent moving forward at the business end of tournaments.

“It is a big relief. I had doubts, fears at times and I stressed,” Auger-Aliassime admitted. “But it is now a big relief about not having to hear about these finals anymore. Now I can play even more freely when it comes to the last matches in the tournament.”

Auger-Aliassime was supported by his mother throughout the final in Rotterdam. To win and be able to share his maiden trophy with his family is something the Canadian relished.

“It was great. For my mum to be here, this was her first tournament, so to have won in front of a family member is very special,” Auger-Aliassime added. “We called my dad right after the match and it was a pretty emotional moment for my family and I.”

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Scouting Report: Berrettini Headlines Rio; Action In Delray Beach, Doha & Marseille

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Scouting Report: Berrettini Headlines Rio; Action In Delray Beach, Doha & Marseille

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week

In an action-packed week on the ATP Tour, you will have to stay alert with four tournaments taking place across four different continents.

Matteo Berrettini will make his debut at the Rio Open presented by Claro, an ATP 500 event, while Cameron Norrie will lead the field at the Delray Beach Open by, an ATP 250 hard-court tournament.

Canadian Denis Shapovalov is the top seed at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, an ATP 250 held in Doha and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be aiming to improve his good record at the Open 13 Provence, an ATP 250 in Marseille. looks ahead at five things to watch at each event.

View Draws: Rio de Janeiro | Delray Beach | Doha | Marseille

1) Berrettini Makes Debut: Italian Berrettini has won three of his five tour-level titles on clay, but will grace the surface in Rio de Janeiro for the first time this week. The 25-year-old is the top seed at the event and will be competing for the first time since he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January. The World No. 6 will start his title bid against Brazilian wild card Thiago Monteiro or a qualifier.

2) Clay-Court Stars Garin & Ruud In Action: When it comes to clay, Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud are at home. The ATP stars have 10 tour-level clay-court trophies between them on the surface, with Garin triumphing in Rio de Janeiro in 2020. Ruud, whose best result in Rio de Janeiro was a run to the semi-finals in 2017, will play Francisco Cerundolo or Benoit Paire. Garin is the fifth seed and opens against Federico Coria.

3) Schwartzman Bidding For Second Rio Title: Diego Schwartzman has fond memories in Rio de Janeiro, having captured his second tour-level crown at the ATP 500 event in 2018. The four-time ATP Tour champion will be competing in his third clay-court tournament of the season, after playing on home soil in Cordoba and Buenos Aires earlier this month.

4) Alcaraz Danger: #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz enjoyed a standout 2021 season, soaring from outside the Top 100 to No. 32 as he captured his maiden tour-level title in Umag. The 18-year-old further showcased his potential at the Australian Open in January, when he pushed Berrettini to a fifth-set tie-break. Rio de Janeiro holds special memories for Alcaraz as it was the city where he earned his maiden tour-level win against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 2020. Alcaraz is the seventh seed and opens against Jaume Munar. 

5) Star-Studded Doubles Field: The top three seeded pairs in the doubles field — top seeds Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos, second seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah and third seeds Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares — all competed in last year’s Nitto ATP Final. Granollers and Zeballos were victorious in Rio de Janeiro in 2020 and Cabal and Farah lifted the trophy in 2014 and 2016.


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1) Norrie Top Seed: Cameron Norrie arrives in Delray Beach off the back of a run to the quarter-finals in Rotterdam, where he earned confidence-boosting victories against Ugo Humbert and Karen Khachanov. The 26-year-old, who reached the semi-finals in Delray Beach last season, opens against Oscar Otte or Yoshihito Nishioka.

2) Former Champions Return: Big servers Kevin Anderson and Reilly Opelka have fond memories at the ATP 250, having lifted the trophy at the tournament in 2012 and 2020, respectively. Anderson will make his ninth appearance and begins against Steve Johnson, while second-seeded American Opelka faces either wild card Jack Sock or Germany’s Daniel Altmaier in his first match.

3) Strong American Field: Home fans will have plenty of players to cheer for this week at the ATP 250 in Delray Beach, with nine Americans (not including qualifiers) in the main draw.

The 21-year-old Sebastian Korda reached the final at the hard-court tournament last season, while World No. 54 Jenson Brooksby enjoyed a standout 2021 season and will look to build on this on his debut at the ATP 250. #NextGenATP star Brandon Nakashima, a 2020 Delray Beach quarter-finalist, is another exciting talent to watch.

Maxime Cressy, Marcos Giron, Johnson, Denis Kudla, Tennys Sandgren and Sock are also in the draw, alongside Opelka.

4) Can Kokkinakis Build On Impressive Start To 2022? Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis flourished in January, clinching his first tour-level title on home soil at the Adelaide International 2, before he teamed with countryman Nick Kyrgios to capture the Australian Open men’s doubles crown in Melbourne.

The 25-year-old, who is 8-2 on the season in singles action, will hope he can maintain his strong form in Florida. But he faces a tricky opening test against fifth seed Korda.

5) Dimitrov Receives Wild Card: Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov enjoyed a strong end to last season, reaching tour-level semi-finals on American soil in San Diego and Indian Wells. However, the former World No. 3’s year has yet to set fire yet, with the 30-year-old holding a 3-2 record in 2022.

After receiving a wild card into the event though, Dimitrov will hope a return to America will bring out his best form once again. The third seed faces Jordan Thompson or a qualifier in his first match.

1) Shapovalov Leads The Field: Denis Shapovalov comes to Doha as the top seed in only his second appearance at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

After an excellent start to 2022 that saw the 22-year-old helped guide Canada to the ATP Cup title, Shapovalov suffered a shock first-round defeat to Jiri Lehecka in Rotterdam last week. But the World No. 12 will hope that was merely a blip as he tries to improve on his quarter-final run in Doha in 2021. Shapovalov will start his campaign against Alex Molcan or qualifier Christopher O’Connell.

2) Can Bublik Add To Trophy Collection? After defeats in his first four ATP Tour finals, Alexander Bublik claimed his maiden title in Montpellier two weeks ago, securing the trophy with the best win of his career against World No. 3 Alexander Zverev. The 24-year-old’s hunt for more now takes him to Doha for a third consecutive year, where he will be hoping to make it past the second round for the first time. His first-round assignment is a clash against qualifier Jozef Kovalik.

3) Bautista Agut & Evans Looking To Go Deep: Roberto Bautista Agut seems to enjoy the desert conditions. The second seed won the title in 2018 and reached the final on his next trip to Qatar in 2021. With a 9-2 record at the tournament, the Spaniard will go in confident against either wild card Andy Murray or Japan’s Taro Daniel.

In contrast, fourth seed Daniel Evans has only one previous main-draw victory under his belt in Doha, but the 31-year-old Briton comes in off the back of a positive start to 2022 that includes three ATP Cup singles wins and a semi-final run in Sydney. Evans will take on Egor Gerasimov in the first round.

4) Reigning Champion Basilashvili: Nikoloz Basilashvili holds an 0-5 record so far in 2022, so the Georgian will be glad to return to a tournament where he holds fond memories.

The 29-year-old defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in last year’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open final for the fourth ATP title of his career, before going on to make it five in Munich later in the season. The third seed will try to kick-start his season against #NextGenATP Lorenzo Musetti or a qualifier.

5) Mektic/Pavic Top Seeds In Doubles: Top-ranked pairing Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are the top seeds in the doubles field and will be aiming to win their first tour-level trophy of the season, having triumphed nine times last season together. The Croatians are joined by second seeds Ivan Dodig and Michael Venus. Melbourne Summer Set and Adelaide International 2 champions Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski are the third seeds.

1) Tsitsipas Aiming For Third Title: Stefanos Tsitsipas has played his best tennis in Marseille over the past years, capturing the title in 2019 and 2020 at the ATP 250 event. The World No. 4, who arrives in form, after reaching the final in Rotterdam last week, starts against Hugo Gaston or Corentin Moutet.

2) Russian Threat: With three Russians inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings, it has become customary for players from the nation to go deep at tour-level tournaments. This week in Marseille, Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev will lead the charge. The 24-year-old Rublev advanced to the last eight in the south of France in 2019, while Karatsev will make his debut.

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Second seed Rublev faces Swede Mikael Ymer or 35-year-old Richard Gasquet in his first match. Karatsev will be aiming to snap his three-match losing streak against #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune or a qualifier.

3) Home Favourites: There are eight Frenchmen in the draw (not including qualifies), with ATP Challenger Tour king Benjamin Bonzi the highest-ranked at No. 68. Bonzi, who won six ATP Challenger Tour trophies in 2021, features alongside former Top 10 stars Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, who have both received wild cards.

Tsonga is a three-time champion in Marseille (2009, 2013, 2017), while Simon lifted the trophy in 2007 and 2015.

4) Felix On Fire: The Canadian arrives in Marseille off the back of the best week of his career, after he captured his first tour-level title in Rotterdam. The 21-year-old held a 0-8 record going into the championship match against Tsitsipas, but he rose to the occasion, downing the Greek in straight sets to triumph. Auger-Aliassime has a strong pedigree in Marseille, having advanced to the final at the ATP 250 in 2020. The third seed faces Tsonga or Simon in his opening match.

5) Herbert/Mahut In Doubles Action: Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are the top seeds at the ATP 250 event and will be aiming to win their second tour-level title of the season as a team, after triumphing in Montpellier earlier this month. They will face competition from second seeds Ben McLachlan and Raven Klaasen, third seeds Matwe Middelkoop and Andreas Mies and fourth seeds Jonny O’Mara and David Vega Hernandez. ATP singles star Andrey Rublev is also in action in the doubles, teaming with Denys Molchanov.

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Rio Rematch for Alcaraz & Berrettini? Murray Aiming For Daniel Revenge In Doha

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Rio Rematch for Alcaraz & Berrettini? Murray Aiming For Daniel Revenge In Doha

Kokkinakis faces Korda in popcorn match in Delray Beach

Matteo Berrettini and Carlos Alcaraz produced an all-time classic at the Australian Open in January, the Italian holding off a barnstorming comeback from the young Spaniard to win in five sets in the third round in Melbourne.

The pair will have the chance to go at each other again at the Rio Open presented by Claro, if both men can reach the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 event. However, they will face tricky tests before then, with Berrettini starting against Brazilian wild card Thiago Monteiro or qualifier, while Alcaraz faces Jaume Munar.

The second seed in Brazil is Casper Ruud, and the Norwegian will open up against either Benoit Paire or Buenos Aires semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo. A repeat of Sunday’s Buenos Aires final is a possibility in the semi-finals, should both Ruud and third seed Diego Schwartzman make it that far. Schwartzman opens his title bid against Chinese qualifer Juncheng Shang or Spaniard Pedro Martinez. 

Sixth seed Lorenzo Sonego will be looking to channel past experiences in his opening match in Brazil with World No. 56 Laslo Djere. The Italian beat the Serb in a tight three-set match to claim his second ATP Tour title at the Sardegna Open in 2021.

View Draws: Rio de Janeiro | Delray Beach | Doha | Marseille

Murray seeks Daniel revenge in Doha
Andy Murray will have the chance to banish some demons at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, as he takes on his Australian Open conqueror Taro Daniel in the first round. The Japanese player defeated the former World No. 1 in straight-sets in the second round in Melbourne, but the Brit is a four-time finalist and two-time champion in Doha.

The winner of the Murray-Daniel clash will face second seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round. The Spaniard has a strong record in Qatar, winning the Doha trophy in 2018 and reaching the final last year.

The man that beat him in that final, Nikoloz Basilashvili, also faces a tough opener against one of two young players in fine form, #NextGenATP Lorenzo Musetti or Elias Ymer. There is also the intriguing possibility of a quarter-final meeting between top seed Denis Shapovalov and Montpellier champion Alexander Bublik in Doha.


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Kokkinakis Faces Korda Exam

Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis broke new ground earlier this season when he won his first tour-level title on home soil in Adelaide. The 25-year-old, who also lifted the Australian Open men’s doubles title with countryman Nick Kyrgios, will look to extend his winning form in at the Delray Beach Open by, but faces a tough start against American Sebastian Korda. 

Cameron Norrie, who is the top seed in Delray Beach, described his first-round defeat to Korda at the Australian Open as his ‘worst match in eight months’. The Brit could face a rematch with the 21-year-old American in the quarter finals in Delray Beach. The 26-year-old Norrie will be hoping to build on his first two wins of 2022, claimed while reaching the quarter-finals in Rotterdam last week.

Reilly Opelka won his second ATP Tour title at Delray Beach in 2020 and the second seed will be hoping to start solidly in Florida against either Daniel Altmaier or fellow American Jack Sock. Wild card Sock won the title himself at the ATP 250 in 2017.

An American-dominated second quarter of the draw could also produce a quarter-final match up between fourth seed Tommy Paul and 21-year-old Jenson Brooksby. Paul starts against Sam Querrey or a qualifier, while Brooksby faces a qualifier. 

Tsitsipas, Rublev, Felix In Strong Marseille Field
World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas will face a home favourite in the second round of the Open 13 Provence in Marseille. The Greek awaits the winner of Frenchmen Hugo Gaston and Corentin Moutet as he bids to reclaim a title he won in 2019 and 2020.

Felix Auger-Aliassime will also come up against a partisan crowd as he is drawn to play either three-time Marseille champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Gilles Simon. The Canadian will be high on confidence following his title success in Rotterdam, where he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. 

Second seed Andrey Rublev faces either Richard Gasquet or Mikael Ymer in the second round. The Russian faces a potential semi-final with fourth seed Aslan Karatsev, should they both advance to that stage. Karatsev begins against #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune or a qualifier. 

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Felix Fires Past Tsitsipas In Rotterdam For First ATP Tour Title

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Felix Fires Past Tsitsipas In Rotterdam For First ATP Tour Title

Canadian was competing in his ninth tour-level final

Felix Auger-Aliassime finally cracked the winning code on Sunday as he captured his maiden ATP Tour title at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

Competing in his ninth tour-level final, the third seed stepped up and handled the pressure, overcoming Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2 in 78 minutes to triumph in Rotterdam.

Auger-Aliassime, who edged Andrey Rublev in three sets to reach the championship match at the ATP 500 event, was relentless from the start against the Greek in a dominant performance. The 21-year-old fired his aggressive groundstrokes through the court and targeted the World No. 4’s backhand from the baseline to great effect to earn the biggest win of his career.

“It has not been the smoothest road since my first final three years ago,” Auger-Aliassime said during the trophy ceremony. “It is an amazing day for me to get my first title and especially here. I played my first ATP main draw here a couple of years ago, so it is right I won my first title here.”


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Prior to his showdown against Tsitsipas, the Canadian held an 0-8 record in tour-level finals and had not won a set in any of those matches.

However, following title match defeats in Melbourne and Stuttgart last season, Auger-Aliassime had showed signs he was close to jumping this final hurdle. The World No. 9 helped guide Canada to the ATP Cup title in January, before he reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, where he pushed Daniil Medvedev to five sets.

Having now broken his trophy duck, Auger-Aliassime has reduced his ATP Head2Head deficit against Tsitsipas to 3-5. It is the first time the third seed has defeated the World No. 4 since 2019, when he downed the 23-year-old on grass at The Queen’s Club. With his victory, Auger-Aliassime has also gained revenge for his defeat to Tsitsipas in the final in Marseille in 2020. 

“I have a lot of good memories playing here in front of you, so thank you for making it a special week for me that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It is the happiest day of my career and hopefully it is the first of many to come.”

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Haase/Middelkoop Clinch Trophy In Rotterdam

In a strong start, Auger-Aliassime quickly found his range, pinning the Greek behind the baseline as he looked to get the first strike away in the rallies. The Canadian’s heavy-hitting resulted in him breaking Tsitsipas in the opening game and from there he did not look back, winning 100 per cent (16/16) of his first-serve points in the set to move ahead.

Fuelled with confidence, Auger-Aliassime then pressed his foot further on the accelerator as he continued to clean lines and pull the Greek from corner to corner, surging into a 5-1 lead. The 21-year-old, who did not face a break point in the match, then kept his nerve to seal his victory on serve.

Tsitsipas was aiming to clinch his eighth tour-level title on Sunday, but first since May, when he lifted the trophy in Lyon. The World No. 4 has still yet to win an ATP 500 crown though.

“He played a really good match, producing really good shorts and serving well the whole match,” Tsitsipas said. “I wasn’t able to serve well at all today. He played very well.”

Earlier this season, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion made a successful return from an elbow injury that plagued him at the end of last season by advancing to the semi-finals at the Australian Open.

Did You Know?
It was the second time Auger-Aliassime had competed in the championship match in Rotterdam, having fallen to Gael Monfils in 2020.

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Haase/Middelkoop Clinch Trophy In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Feb 13, 2022

Haase/Middelkoop Clinch Trophy In Rotterdam

Dutchmen win first title together since 2018

Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop captured their fourth tour-level title as a team on Sunday, edging Lloyd Harris and Tim Puetz 4-6, 7-6(5), 10-5 at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

Playing on home soil in Rotterdam, the Dutchmen raised their level in the crucial moments, hitting aggressive returns, accurate serves and precise volleys to triumph after one hour and 33 minutes.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Haase said during the post-match press conference. “I think we won three titles before this one and those were all 250s, now a 500 which is more special and at home which makes it even more special. [It is] just fantastic and I think I can speak for both of us that we are extremely happy.”

Stepping up under pressure has been a theme for Haase and Middelkoop this week. The wild cards had won Match Tie-breaks against Belgian pair Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen and third seeds Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Martin en route to the championship match at the ATP 500 event.

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With their victory, it is the first time Haase and Middelkoop have clinched a tour-level title as a team since 2018, when they captured trophies in Pune, Sofia and Umag. Individually, Haase, 34, has now earned seven tour-level doubles titles, while Middelkoop, 38, has clinched 12 tour-level crowns.

“The fact that we already had such a good run in 2018 and this year we did it again, plus the fact that we beat some top teams, it feels really amazing,” Middelkoop added. “And the fact that we are also did it in Rotterdam, which is a home tournament for us is super special. I was a ball boy here and now being a trophy holder, and being on the billboards is something very special. I will never forget this moment ever.”

in a hard-fought match against Harris and Puetz, the Dutchmen fired eight aces and twice recovered from squandering a break advantage in the second set to eventually seal their win.

Harris and Puetz dropped just one set en route to the final as they teamed for the first time this week. Harris was competing in his maiden ATP Tour doubles final, whereas Puetz is a six-time champion at this level.

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