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Cressy's Comeback Nets First ATP Title

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2022

Cressy’s Comeback Nets First ATP Title

American overcomes Bublik in thrilling final

The third time was the charm for Maxime Cressy. In his third ATP Tour final, the American lifted his first trophy on Sunday.

After losing nine of the first 11 games of the Infosys Hall of Fame Open championship clash, the American produced a stunning rally to defeat Alexander Bublik 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) for his maiden tour-level triumph.

Twelve months ago Cressy was outside the world’s Top 150 but with today’s win he will climb to a career-high No. 33 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday.

“It’s an incredible feeling to win my first title, I never thought I would win it this way,” he said. “I played my first ATP tournament here, and it’s always an incredible atmosphere. There were a lot of ups and downs today but I’m very proud of myself for fighting through it.”

<a href=''>Maxime Cressy</a>
Photo Credit: Ben Solomon/International Tennis Hall of Fame
It looked for the first hour of the match that Cressy would move to 0-3 in finals this season. But instead of panicking against the third seed, the former UCLA Bruin maintained his resolve and battled back to triumph after two hours and 23 minutes.

Cressy’s aggressive, free-flowing game faltered early. He entered the match having lost just one service game in the tournament, but dropped his first service game of the match by missing a high, awkward backhand volley. 

Bublik took full advantage, serving big and playing quickly to seize the momentum. With a 6-2, 3-0 lead, the Kazakhstani was on the verge of earning his second tour-level title after triumphing in Montpellier earlier this season.

But Cressy, who throughout his breakthrough season has touted the importance of his mental game, proved his strength in that area in front of the Newport crowd. His serve became more effective and his net game more solid. At the same time, two-time Newport finalist Bublik’s level slightly dropped and Cressy took full advantage.

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The American won six consecutive games to flip the momentum and storm into the final set. A finalist earlier this year at ATP 250 events in Melbourne and Eastbourne, Cressy earned a big opportunity on Bublik’s serve at 3-2, when he earned three break points. On one of those opportunities, the former college standout had an easy backhand volley with most of the court open, but missed into the net.

Bublik urged himself on and was able to stabilise his level. That did not deter the home favourite, though.

Cressy played from ahead for most of the tie-break, with one key backhand volley on the full stretch proving critical. The Rhode Island fans cheered “Let’s go Cressy! Let’s go Cressy!” as the players switched sides with the American leading 4/2.

The fourth seed finished the job and the crowd roared enthusiastically in support of the American.

Did You Know?
In a duel between the third (Cressy) and fourth-placed (Bublik) players on the 2022 aces list, Cressy hit 14 aces and Bublik struck 10 aces.

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Blumberg/Johnson Surge To Newport Title

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2022

Blumberg/Johnson Surge To Newport Title

American pair lifts ATP 250 title in first tournament together

William Blumberg and Steve Johnson capped a dream debut tournament as a team on Sunday at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open in Newport, where the home favourites upset Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo to lift the trophy at the ATP 250 event.

Blumberg and Johnson triumphed 6-4, 7-5 in the championship match against the top-seeded South African-Brazilian duo on the grass in Rhode Island.

“It’s a great event to win. It’s fun to win here at the Hall of Fame, and I’ve got one of each here,” said 2018 singles champion Johnson. “I’m pretty happy about it.

“I’ve wanted to play with Will [before], and it just hasn’t worked out in the past. This year it worked out. It’s a good run, 4-0, and we’ll try and keep it going.”

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A solitary break deep in each set was enough for the American pair to complete an 82-minute victory. Blumberg and Johnson were a constant threat in return games, carving out 17 break point opportunities overall while facing just four against their own delivery.

“I’ve said it all week, he’s an amazing guy, and out there he helps me a lot,” said Blumberg. “He calms me down. He knew in the last game I would be a little nervous, and he just slows me down. It’s given me the confidence in those big moments. He said ‘If it’s open just hit it.’ He’s an amazing player and I really could not have done it without him.”

After edging Jason Kubler and Jordan Thompson in a first-round Match Tie-break thriller on Tuesday, fourth seeds Blumberg and Johnson did not drop a set en route to the title in Newport.

It is a second ATP Tour doubles title for both players. Blumberg was defending his 2021 title, won alongside Jack Sock, this week in Newport. Johnson was appearing in his eighth tour-level doubles final on Sunday, but his 2016 win in Geneva alongside Sam Querrey was his only previous doubles crown.

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Scouting Report: Alcaraz Stars In Hamburg, Berrettini & Ruud In Gstaad

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2022

Scouting Report: Alcaraz Stars In Hamburg, Berrettini & Ruud In Gstaad

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

The clay-court action takes centre stage on the ATP Tour this week, with Carlos Alcaraz leading the field at the Hamburg European Open and Casper Ruud the top seed at the EFG Swiss Open Gstaad.

Former champions Andrey Rublev and Pablo Carreno Busta are also in action at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg, Germany. In Gstaad, Matteo Berrettini is competing on clay for just the second time this year at the ATP 250 tournament in Switzerland. looks at five things to watch at each event.

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1) Alcaraz Leads Field: #NextGenATP Spaniard Alcaraz will make his debut in Hamburg, leading the field as the top seed at the ATP 500 event. The 19-year-old has enjoyed a standout 2022 season, capturing a joint Tour-leading four titles, including ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid. The World No. 6, who holds a 19-2 record on clay in 2022, will face home wild card Nicola Kuhn in his opening match in Germany.

2) Can Rublev Continue Strong Year? Rublev has clinched three tour-level crowns in 2022 and arrives in Hamburg holding fond memories from the city. The 24-year-old triumphed there on his last appearance in 2020, edging Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. The World No. 8, who also reached the championship match at the tournament in 2019, will play Alexander Bublik first up as he looks to add to his trophy collection this week.

3) Reigning Champion Carreno Busta: Carreno Busta soared to his maiden ATP 500 trophy in Hamburg 12 months ago, not dropping a set en route to the title. The Spaniard will look to reign supreme in Germany once again and enters off the back of a run to the semi-finals in Bastad. The 31-year-old will take on #NextGenATP Italian Luca Nardi in the first round.

4) Baez & Rune Looking For Further Clay Success: Argentine Sebastian Baez and #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune lifted their maiden tour-level trophies on clay this season, with Baez triumphing in Estoril in the same week that Rune won in Munich in April. The 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitors both sit inside the Top 35 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and will be aiming to climb further with deep runs in Hamburg. The 21-year-old Baez opens against Filip Krajinovic, while Rune plays Tallon Griekspoor.

5) Puetz/Venus Defending Champs: New Zealander Michael Venus is chasing a third consecutive crown in Hamburg, and a second in a row playing alongside home favourite Tim Puetz. The pair is seeded third in a strong field in Germany, where top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos are chasing their fifth title together on clay.

Seeded second in Hamburg are Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, the current leaders in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Team Rankings.

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1) Can Ruud Bounce Back? Ruud is back in action in Gstaad this week following a disappointing second-round exit against eventual champion Francisco Cerundolo in Bastad. Thankfully for the top seed, he has positive memories in Gstaad, having lifted the trophy at the clay-court event on tournament debut in 2021. The Norwegian will begin his title defence against Jiri Lehecka or Tomas Martin Etcheverry as he aims to win his third tour-level title of the season.

2) Berrettini Returns: After undergoing right hand surgery in March, Berrettini quickly clicked into gear on his return to the Tour in June, lifting back-to-back grass-court titles in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon due to Covid-19, meaning the 26-year-old will be taking to court for the first time in a month when he makes his Gstaad debut this week. Berrettini begins against Richard Gasquet or Roberto Carballes Baena.

3) Thiem Gathering Momentum: Dominic Thiem found some form last week in Bastad, where he earned his first tour-level wins since May 2021 against Emil Ruusuvuori and Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the quarter-finals. The Austrian, who was 0-6 on the season before last week, is a former champion in Gstaad, having triumphed on his last appearance in 2015. The 28-year-old will face seventh seed Hugo Gaston in the first round as he looks to build on the momentum gained in Sweden.

4) #NextGenATP Stars In Action: Jiri Lehecka and Dominic Stricker will both look to boost their Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals with strong runs in Gstaad. The 20-year-old Czech Lehecka currently sits sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, with his best result this season a run to the semi-finals in Rotterdam.

The 19-year-old Swiss Dominic Stricker, who is 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, will make his second appearance on home soil at the ATP 250 event after accepting a wild card. Lehecka opens against Etcheverry, while Stricker plays countryman Marc-Andrea Huesler.

5) Matos/Vega Hernandez To Continue Success?: Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez made it three ATP Tour titles in just four months playing together with victory in Bastad on Sunday. They are the top seeds this week in Gstaad, where Ariel Behar and Andrey Golubev and Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen are seeded second and third, respectively.

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Cerundolo Overcomes Baez For Maiden Tour Title In Bastad

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2022

Cerundolo Overcomes Baez For Maiden Tour Title In Bastad

Argentine will rise to career-high No. 30 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday

Francisco Cerundolo capped an impressive week at the Nordea Open in Bastad with a high-quality straight-sets victory against countryman Sebastian Baez on Sunday to lift his maiden ATP Tour title.

Both players had showcased plenty of clean baseline hitting en route to the final this week in Sweden, but it was Cerundolo who raised his level at key moments to secure a 7-6(4), 6-2 championship match triumph at the ATP 250 event.

Cerundolo’s meeting with Baez was his second ATP Tour final, after he won just three games against another Argentine, Diego Schwartzman, in his hometown of Buenos Aires in 2021. Cerundolo banished those memories in style on Sunday in Sweden, as he recovered from dropping serve in the opening game of the match to seal his fourth straight-sets victory in five matches this week.

“It feels amazing,” said Cerundolo at the trophy ceremony. “First of all, I want to congratulate Sebastian, not just for this week. You’ve been playing amazing since last year.

“[Winning the title] means a lot. Since you are a child you imagine yourself playing in these events and finals. When I lost in Buenos Aires I was sad, because I was at home and I lost badly, but I learned a lot from that. I used it today, and I think I played a great match, a great week.”

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The victory represents another milestone in a breakthrough season for Cerundolo. The 23-year-old cracked the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in February after runs to the quarter-finals in Buenos Aires and the semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro, before reaching a maiden ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami in March.

His victory against Baez is set to lift Cerundolo into the Top 30 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday. The Argentine upset Casper Ruud in three sets for his first Top 10 win in the second round in Bastad, while he also defeated Pedro Sousa, Aslan Karatsev, and Pablo Carreno Busta to set a final showdown with Baez.

After an early exchange of breaks in the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, a marathon 11th game proved decisive to the outcome of the opening set in Bastad. The 21-year-old Baez’s aggressive approach earned him six break points but Cerundolo held firm to hold. He then opened up a 4/0 lead in the first-set tie-break, going on to clinch an intriguing 74-minute set after a Baez double fault.

The momentum was with Cerundolo and he continued to dictate play with his huge forehand as Baez struggled to regain a foothold in the match. Cerundolo broke twice in the second set, staying solid behind serve before falling to the ground in ecstasy after wrapping up victory in one hour, 49 minutes.

Cerundolo’s ability to keep cool under pressure on serve proved vital to his win. The 23-year-old saved nine of 10 break points he faced, while converting three from 11 break point opportunities of his own.

“I think Francisco was better than me today, so congrats to him and his team too,” said Baez, who lifted his own maiden tour-level trophy in Estoril in May. “Tennis is one part of life, and I think we have to enjoy it when we lose and when we win. The little things, we have to enjoy every time, so I enjoyed this week and I hope that next week will be better.”

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Matos/Vega Hernandez Save MP, Clinch Bastad Crown

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2022

Matos/Vega Hernandez Save MP, Clinch Bastad Crown

Brazilian-Spanish pairing claims third tour-level title of season in Sweden

Despite only teaming for the first time in March, Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez’s fledgling partnership continues to impress.

The Brazilian-Spanish duo picked up its third ATP Tour title in the space of just four months with a dramatic 6-4, 3-6, 13-11 championship match victory against Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini at the Nordea Open in Bastad on Sunday.

“[We are] super happy, because we started so well this week,” said Vega Hernandez after the match. “Then we won the quarter-final, the semi-final and the final in Match Tie-breaks. I’m very, very happy to finish with the title.”

“We have played the last four months together, but we had never played before,” said Matos. “I think it’s working. We are really good friends, on the court and off the court, so I think that helps. [It makes] a difference for our team. I am just happy, and we [hope] to keep going like this because we want more. We are going to try to play [at the Nitto ATP Finals] in Turin.”

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Matos and Vega Hernandez won the title in their first tour-level tournament together in Marrakech in April, while the pair also lifted a trophy on the grass in Mallorca in June. Having also reached the final in Munich and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, the duo’s tour-level record this season now stands at 18-4. The triumph in Bastad could lift the pair as high as No. 15 in Monday’s update of the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Team Rankings.

Yet things were not straightforward on Sunday in Sweden. Matos and Vega Hernandez had already let slip two championship points of their own in the Match Tie-break when Bolelli and Fognini had the opportunity to clinch a fifth tour-level crown together at 10/9. Fourth seeds Matos and Vega Hernandez held their nerve under pressure to see off the danger, however, going onto convert their fourth championship point to seal a one-hour, 35-minute triumph.

“We started better in the first set, and then in the second we [were broken] in a game that was not our best in the match,” said Matos. “The Match Tie-break was very exciting, 13/11, match point for both sides. We just played good in the right moments, and it worked.”

As a result of their strong 2022 season, both No. 38 Matos and No. 39 Vega Hernandez had arrived in Bastad occupying career-high spots in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings.

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'The Hall Of Fame Seemed So Far Away': Emotional Hewitt Inducted In Newport

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2022

‘The Hall Of Fame Seemed So Far Away’: Emotional Hewitt Inducted In Newport

Australian thanks family and friends who helped him along his journey

It has been an emotional weekend for Lleyton Hewitt. Surrounded by family and friends in Newport, the Australian has relived his growth from a boy with a dream in Adelaide to one of tennis’ greatest champions in recent memory. On Saturday evening, that culminated in his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

“The Hall of Fame seemed like something that was so far away from me ever being part of,” Hewitt said during the induction ceremony. “It was never something I ever thought about as a player, and it was always, I thought, for the people that were my idols growing up and the absolute legends of the sport.”

In a stirring induction speech, the 41-year-old took fans from around the world through his journey to the podium in Rhode Island. When Hewitt was a boy, his favourite sport was AFL football, which was played by members of his family, including his father, Glynn Hewitt.

But following a period of research, Hewitt’s parents found a tennis coach for their son in Peter Smith, who had a weekly slot available at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. “Rusty” never looked back.

One of the most important meetings of his life came as a teen, when he was introduced to Australian legend John Newcombe at his camp in Texas. Hewitt asked to interview Newcombe for a school project.

“The biggest thing he told me was about the famous Kipling poem ‘If’, and especially about the famous two lines that are written above the walkway out on Centre Court at Wimbledon,” Hewitt said. “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.”

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‘The Hall Of Fame Seemed So Far Away’: Emotional Hewitt Inducted In Newport

No matter the hurdle Hewitt faced or the high he celebrated, the Australian gave his all. Regardless of the challenge, he tried his best to meet and exceed it.

Hewitt became the youngest No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history at age 20 in 2001. The gritty right-hander captured two major singles titles, two year-end No. 1 finishes, two Nitto ATP Finals trophies and led Australia to two Davis Cup titles.

Before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic ascended to the top of the sport, Hewitt held top spot for 80 weeks, good for 10th-most in history. Even when those stars made their mark, “Rusty” scratched and clawed, proving he would never back down.

“I feel fortunate that I was able to play across different generations,” Hewitt said. “I was able to be on the same court as my heroes that I looked up to, like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, and then go on and compete against three of the greatest tennis players our sport has ever seen in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.”

Hewitt was introduced by Australian legends Newcombe and Tony Roche, the latter of whom flew across the world to join his mentee for a special weekend.

“The first meeting I had with Lleyton was at a charity event in Adelaide,” Roche said. “He must have been 12 or 13. I was even impressed with his game at that early age. I was more impressed with his mullet haircut really. All the Adelaide kids seemed to have these great mullet haircuts. But Lleyton, you could tell, was going to be something special.”

<a href=''>Lleyton Hewitt</a> poses with one of his mentors, <a href=''>Tony Roche</a>
Hewitt poses with Roche after the induction ceremony. Photo Credit: Andrew Eichenholz/ATP Tour
The 41-year-old was most emotional when he spoke to his family and friends who were in the crowd, especially his wife, Bec, and three children Mia, Cruz and Ava.

“It was such a special time,” Hewitt said. “I loved travelling as a little family around the world and being on that adventure together.”

Hewitt is a member of the Class of 2021, but his induction was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He still remembers when Stan Smith called to tell him of his nomination, 

“It was a funny moment because, as Stan said, I was actually at an under 12s junior tennis tournament in the middle of nowhere in Pakenham near Melbourne watching my son playing a junior tournament,” Hewitt said. “I had to ask Stan if he could hold on a minute so I could walk away from the court to have a chat so no one could hear what we were talking about. After that phone call, that’s when it really started to sink in that this is a pretty special thing.”

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In a way, this moment has been nearly a decade in the works. Hewitt claimed his final ATP Tour singles title at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014 and also lifted the doubles trophy with close friend Sam Groth. Eight years later and just a minute’s walk away, Hewitt delivered his remarks to an eager crowd on the Newport lawns.

“I just want to thank all the past Hall of Famers for being here this weekend. It wouldn’t be the same if you guys weren’t here and I didn’t have people to look up to that had done it before me, as well,” Hewitt said. “It’s been an unbelievable experience for me, the whole buildup the last couple of years, but especially this weekend. I think it’s so fitting for me to be inducted here in Newport at such a special place.”

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