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Bopanna/Shapovalov Reach Doha Doubles SFs

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2022

Bopanna/Shapovalov Reach Doha Doubles SFs

Top seeds fall in Doha and Marseille

Longtime doubles partners Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov reached their second ATP Tour semi-final in the past five months with a victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Wednesday.

Frequent partners since 2019, the unseeded duo also reached the semi-finals in St. Petersburg in October. In Doha, they got back to that stage with an efficient 7-6(7), 6-4 win over Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen. Finalists in Stuttgart in 2019, the Indian/Canadian duo is seeking a first tour-level title.

Bopanna/Shapovalov converted their only two break points of the match — one in each set — and recovered after failing to serve out the opening stanza. They took a tight tie-break on their third set point, then saw home an early advantage in the second.

Across the net in the semi-finals will be Mackenzie McDonald and Botic van de Zandschulp, who took out top seeds (and the Top 2 doubles players in the world) Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.

Fourth seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof are the only seeded pair in the semis; they advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Their semi-final opponents will be Andrey Golubev and Fabrice Martin, 3-6, 6-4, 10-7 winners over Alexander Bublik and Marton Fucsovics.

Gaston/Rune upset Herbert/Mahut in Marseille
There will be no home trophy for the top-seeded pair at the Open 13 Provence, after France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut were turned back in the opening round by Hugo Gaston and Holger Rune, 6-4, 6-4. The 2021 Nitto ATP Finals doubles champions recovered an early break in the second set, but were immediately broken back as their French/Danish opponents advanced to the quarter-finals.

The other two seeded teams in Wednesday’s Marseille action did advance. Second seeds Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan got their week off to a strong start, as did third seeds Matwe Middelkoop and Andreas Mies, who went the distance in a win over 6-1, 6-7(1), 10-8 win over Hunter Reese and Sem Verbeek.

Top seeds Arevalo/Rojer start strong in Delray

Fresh off their Dallas Open title, Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer kept rolling at the Delray Beach Open by The Salvadoran/Dutch duo did not drop a set in four Dallas wins, and they extended the streak to 10 straight sets won with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and Max Schnur in their Delray opener.

The Delray second seeds also advanced in straights, as Austin Krajicek and Hugo Nys beat Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara, 7-6(11), 7-5. After saving five set points in the marathon tie-break, the American/Monegasque duo won it on their fourth set point, including one on the return at 5-6.

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Breaking Boundaries: Celebrating Black Tennis History

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2022

Breaking Boundaries: Celebrating Black Tennis History

International Tennis Hall Of Fame leads tennis’ celebration of black history month

The International Tennis Hall of Fame has launched its newest digital exhibit, Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis, which highlights the breakthroughs, evolution, and impact of Black tennis players and influential contributors to the sport globally.

The initial launch of Breaking Boundaries features 70 individuals representing 19 nations, and will continue to expand with many more inspiring stories to be added on an ongoing basis. Fans are also encouraged to submit their own suggestions of athletes and contributors for inclusion through a form included in the exhibit.

Visitors to the exhibit can browse athletes’ and contributors’ profiles by navigating an interactive map grouped by region. Breaking Boundaries features biographical information and interactive profiles that highlight the on-court achievements and the lasting impact of players’ successes on the sport of tennis.

“Because of what so many of these inspiring people accomplished on and off the court, I have had the opportunity to walk in their footsteps and accomplish all that I have because of their courage,” stated Katrina Adams, chair of the ITHF’s Black Tennis History Committee and Past Chairman & President of the USTA. “I am truly grateful for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s commitment to preserving this history, celebrating their success and inspiring the next generation of Black players.”

Breaking Boundaries is the latest step in the ITHF’s ongoing initiative to educate and shine a spotlight on Black tennis history. In 2021, the ITHF introduced the digital exhibit Breaking the Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers to showcase the history of Black tennis in the United States. The new exhibit serves as a global extension on that concept, highlighting several of the pioneers included in Breaking the Barriers and drawing direct lines to the accomplishments of future generations.

The exhibit was piloted by the extensive research and contributions of the ITHF’s Black History Committee, which includes scholars, former players and global tennis experts: Roxanne Aaron, Katrina Adams, Leslie Allen, Lakshman Charanjiva, Bob Davis, Matt Leipzig, Ismail El Shafei, Sara Fornaciari, Nicolas Pereira, Andrea Rice, Chanda Rubin, Ken Shropshire, Damion Thomas, Jon Vegosen, and MaliVai Washington.

“It has been a pure labour of love, bringing light to the importance of Black Tennis History on a global front,” said Adams. “I am grateful for the committee’s passion and vision in bringing this to life.”

In addition to Hall of Fame legends like Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, and Dr. Robert Johnson, trailblazers who smashed barriers to Black participation in tennis are also showcased in Breaking Boundaries, such as African greats Tony Mmoh and Nduka Odizor of Nigeria, ATP Tour player Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France, who has been ranked in the world top-5, current WTA top 100 player Heather Watson of the United Kingdom, and the first South American to officiate a Grand Slam, Carlos Bernardes of Brazil.

These trailblazers’ profiles sit in the exhibit alongside the present-day stars that followed directly in their footsteps, including today’s superstars: Venus and Serena Williams of the United States, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, Gael Monfils of France, and Naomi Osaka of Japan. Also featured are the inspiring stories of world No. 1 Ash Barty and Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong, who hail from a background of Indigenous Australian heritage.

Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis is available now to view online at

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Karatsev Claims Fighting Win Over Rune In Marseille

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2022

Karatsev Claims Fighting Win Over Rune In Marseille

Dane converts just one of 10 break chances

Aslan Karatsev survived a lung-busting 15-minute game and four set points deep in his opening-round clash with Holger Rune before advancing to the quarter-finals of the Open 13 Provence in Marseille Wednesday.

The Russian World No. 15 fended off the set points during a 10-deuce game at 5-6 in the second set to force a tie-break against the 18-year-old Dane, who paid the price for converting just one of 10 break opportunities during the match.

Karatsev improved to 7-3 on the season with his 6-3, 7-6(1) victory.

“I started pretty well at the opening of the match but in the second set I got a bit tight at 5-4,” said Karatsev, referencing his inability to serve out the match in the 10th game of set two. “I was nervous but I’m really happy to finish the match in two sets.”

The fourth seed advanced to his second quarter-final of the season and will continue his pursuit of a second title of the season after claiming the Sydney crown in the second week of the season.

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Sharp Shapovalov Surges Into Doha QFs

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2022

Sharp Shapovalov Surges Into Doha QFs

Canadian drops just eight points on serve

Top seed Denis Shapovalov rode a strong day on serve to a comprehensive opening win over Alex Molcan at the Qatar ExonnMobil Open Wednesday.

The Canadian dropped just eight points on serve in eight service games en route to a 6-4, 6-0 win over the World No. 73 Slovak in just 52 minutes. The lefty was a perfect six-for-six on net approaches.

It was a strong response from the 22-year-old, who last week suffered an upset straight-sets defeat to fast-rising Czech Jiri Lehecka in Rotterdam.

Shapovalov improved to 8-3 on the season, having started the year by leading Canada to victory at ATP Cup and by reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals, where he pushed eventual champion Rafael Nadal to five sets.

In the quarter-finals, Shapovalov, who had a first-round bye, will meet Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, who enjoyed a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 win over seventh-seeded Kazah Alexander Bublik, who has now suffered two first-round defeats following his first tour-level title in Montpellier.

Rinderknech kept Bublik under pressure on serve throughout the match, earning 18 break point chances and converting six times, while dropping serve three times himself.

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Remembering Ronnie Leitgeb, Muster's Mentor

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2022

Remembering Ronnie Leitgeb, Muster’s Mentor

Austrian was an influential figure for ATP Chairman Gaudenzi

Ronnie Leitgeb, who worked with former World No. 1 Thomas Muster and was a long-time tournament organiser, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday in Kitzbühel at the age of 62.

Leitgeb was an influential figure in Austrian tennis, enjoying a successful 16-year partnership with Muster, who rose to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings and clinched the 1995 Roland Garros title.

“My friend and mentor closed his eyes forever today,” said Muster. “My condolences go to the family and loved ones. The shock is too deep to put into words. Dear Ronnie, it is with respect and humility that I thank you for being a part of your life and for sharing all these great moments with you. We will miss you very much. Rest in peace.”

He also worked with Andrea Gaudenzi from 1990 to 2001, and later managed former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko, former No. 8-ranked Jurgen Melzer, Tamira Paszek and swimmer Markus Rogan, a two-time silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Gaudenzi, who is now the ATP Chairman, paid tribute, saying, “‘Ronnie has been an ever-present figure on the Tour for so many decades and it’s a terrible shock to hear news of his passing. On a personal level, I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He played a pivotal part in my career both as a coach and agent, together with Thomas Muster.

“I would have never reached the levels that I did without Ronnie’s invaluable guidance. His contributions across the sport will be sorely missed. On behalf of everyone at the ATP, we send our sincerest condolences to Ronnie’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Melzer, Leitgeb
Photo courtesy of Brigitte Urban

Leitgeb was Davis Cup captain from 1994 to 1997 and President of the Austrian Tennis Association from 2012 to 2015. He organised ATP Tour events in Lyon (current ATP license owner), Nice, St Pölten (1994-2005), Pörtschach (2006-2008) and Kitzbühel (2009), and was most recently Tournament Director in Marbella. His son, Florian, is Tournament Director of a new ATP Challenger Tour event in Tulln.

Leitgeb was a talented figure skater growing up and later became a radio reporter. After Muster retired in 1999, Leitgeb trained as a mental coach and was awarded a silver medal for services to the republic of Austria in 2000. He enjoyed playing golf and held a professional pilot’s license.

He had been skiing on Monday and was not suffering from any illnesses, but passed away at his Kitzbühel home. He is survived by his second wife, Bettina, and his son from his first marriage.

Ronald Leitgeb, tennis coach and official, born 13 May 1959, died 16 February 2022.

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Korda Cools Kokkinakis in Delray Opener

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2022

Korda Cools Kokkinakis in Delray Opener

Mannarino, Giron also advance in straights

Back in action for the first time since his third-round Australian Open run, World No. 43 Sebastian Korda got back to winning ways on Tuesday at the Delray Beach Open by In his native Florida, the 21-year-old eased past Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-4, 6-1.

It was also Kokkinakis’ first match since the Australian swing, during which he won his maiden ATP Tour singles title (Adelaide 2) and his first Grand Slam title alongside Nick Kyrgios in the Australian Open doubles event.

On a windy night, the fifth-seeded American was crisp in his return as he showcased his versatile game. In addition to a largely attacking game plan, he frustrated his opponent with some pesky retrieving as the breeze made winners hard to come by.

“I’m a Florida boy, so I’m used to this wind,” the Bradenton-born Korda said, before thanking the crowd.

Korda won exactly half of his return points in the match (26/52) as Kokkinakis made just 52 per cent of his first serves. But even when the Aussie made his first delivery, he won only 59 per cent of those points, compared to a healthy season average of 79 per cent.

The American was comfortable throughout, starting with an early 3-0 lead and responding well after Kokkinakis levelled the opener at 4-all. Korda again secured an early break to lead 3-0 in the second, and never let his opponent back in the match. He dropped just three points on four service games in the second set.

He next faces Italy’s Andreas Seppi, a 7-5, 6-4 winner of Peter Gojowczyk on Monday.

“We’ve played a lot in the last couple of years. I have a pretty good record against him,” said Korda, who beat Seppi at Roland Garros in 2020 and in Parma in 2021. Their second-round meeting will be their first on a hard court.

“Hopefully I can play some good tennis, and a little less wind,” Korda said.

Adrian Mannarino was the only other seeded player in action Tuesday, and he lived up to that billing with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Liam Broady. The seventh seed will next face American Brandon Nakashima, who got past Denis Kudla, 6-1, 6-1, on Monday.

Three other Americans joined Korda in the winners ciricle, with Jack Sock still to face Daniel Altmaier in Tuesday’s nightcap. Stefan Kozlov won the only three-setter of the day, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, over lucky loser Emilio Gomez. Kozlov was set to face sixth seed Jenson Brooksby, but the Dallas Open finalist was replaced by Gomez after a late withdrawal.

Dallas semi-finalist Marcos Giron defeated compatriot Tennys Sandgren, 7-5, 6-3, while Mitchell Krueger was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Jordan Thompson. Sam Querrey could not join his compatriots in the second round after a 6-1, 7-6(5) defeat to Denis Istomin.

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