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Murray's Ukrainian Relief Efforts Get Boost At Citi Open

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Murray’s Ukrainian Relief Efforts Get Boost At Citi Open

Andy Murray’s campaign to help the children of war-ravaged Ukraine was boosted Saturday when Citi Open Chairman Mark Ein pledged to match the Scot’s prize money donation from next week’s ATP 500 tournament in Washington, D.C. A winner of 46 tour-level titles, Murray also took the opportunity to speak about Ukraine with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center.

Murray, a father of four and ambassador for Unicef U.K., has been donating 100 per cent of his prize money since the beginning of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. That amounts to more than US$300,000 in donations and he has pledged to keep doing so throughout the end of the season.

“That really inspired us and we’re announcing today that whatever Andy makes here and donates to UNICEF, we’re going to match it,” Ein said. “We’re also going to create a fan portal called Match Ukraine, where fans can get involved. They can give by the match. They can be part of Andy’s journey. In fact, we’ll extend it through the year. People can be part of Andy’s mission here to make a real difference in something in the world that’s horrible and really deserves all of our support.”

Murray could earn another $342,800 should he win next week’s tournament, which would then be matched by the Mark and Sally Ein Foundation and the Citi Open.

Murray, a 14-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, told reporters Saturday that as the war dragged on, it was important to keep driving awareness and fundraising efforts, and thanked Ein and the Citi Open for the matching donation for his efforts next week.

“It’s brilliant. Thanks a lot to Mark and all the team here for supporting that. It shows that when the players and the tournaments work together, that really good things can happen. Hopefully I can have a good run and lots of the fans can get involved, too, raise a lot of money this week.

“You can’t just forget about this. It’s still going on. People are still getting killed, children are still having to flee their homes, and are in really, really tragic situations. It’s important that the media continues to shine a light on it, keep talking about it.”

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Murray is making his fourth appearance at the Citi Open. He reached the final on debut in 2006 (l. Clement) and in his most recent outing in 2018 he reached the quarter-finals after an epic third-set tie-break win over Marius Copil than concluded after 3 a.m.

The World No. 50 opens his 2022 campaign against Swede Mikael Ymer.

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Sinner Sets Dream Final Against Alcaraz In Umag

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Sinner Sets Dream Final Against Alcaraz In Umag

Italian cruises past countryman Agamenone

Four weeks after their four-set Wimbledon showdown, #NextGenATP stars Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz will meet again in Sunday’s final at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag. Sinner set up the showdown with a 6-1, 6-3 win against qualifier Franco Agamenone on Saturday evening, after Alcaraz won a three-setter against Giulio Zeppieri.

The championship match will be the third ATP Head2Head meeting between Umag’s top seeds, with the Spaniard winning their first encounter last November at the Rolex Paris Masters. The pair also met on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2019, when Alcaraz claimed a three-set win on the clay of Alicante.

“The final is very tough. Everyone was expecting that [matchup].” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “Today I played quite well. Also Carlos is playing well. I’ll try to play some good tennis. I have to raise my level if I want to win, so I will try to prepare in the best possible way.”

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Sinner’s 6-1, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-3 win against Alcaraz at Wimbledon was a thrilling encounter between two of the hottest prospects on the ATP Tour. The two youngsters’ transitions from talented juniors to Top 10 stars have been remarkably similar, with both triumphing at the season-ending Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals (Sinner in 2019, Alcaraz in 2021) and both having clinched five ATP Tour titles at a tender age.

Sinner claimed four of his tour-level crowns in a standout 2021 and Alcaraz has matched that tally this year with wins in Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid. Those successes have lifted No. 5 Alcaraz above No. 10 Sinner in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but despite being yet to pick up a trophy in 2022 Sinner’s form has remained consistent — the Italian holds a 34-9 match record this season and had reached six tour-level quarter-finals prior to this week in Umag.

“I played against him a couple of times,” said Alcaraz of Sinner on Saturday. “Tough matches against him. I know that I have to play my best to beat him and I will try to go for the final and show my best tomorrow.”


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In Saturday’s semi-final against Agamenone, Sinner raced to a 5-0 lead in the opening set, saving an early break point as he used his baseline superiority to build the advantage against his countryman. He used a four-game run from 1-2 in the second set to move to the brink of victory before Agamenone claimed his first break of the match to extend the contest. Undeterred, Sinner closed out the victory with his fifth break.  

“I tried to play well in the important moments and the beginning of the sets,” Sinner said. “I’m very happy to be in the final. Umag is a special place for me. It’s [where I had] one of my first ATP [match] wins. So I really enjoy to play here.”

Sinner is through to his eighth ATP Tour final and enters with a stellar 6-1 record in his previous title matches. Alcaraz was a perfect 5-0 in finals before his defeat to Lorenzo Musetti last week in Hamburg. The defending Umag champion is 8-0 at the Croatian ATP 250 event.

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Alcaraz Survives Zeppieri Charge To Reach Umag Final

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Alcaraz Survives Zeppieri Charge To Reach Umag Final

Win lifts Spaniard to No. 4 in Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings

After opening his Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag campaign with a pair of comfortable straight-sets wins, Carlos Alcaraz’s title defence was given a stern semi-final test on Saturday evening at the ATP 250 event in Croatia.

The top seed prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in an absorbing #NextGenATP battle against Giulio Zeppieri to reach a Tour-leading sixth final of 2022. Alcaraz overcame a nasty roll of his right ankle in the second set before triumphing in a dramatic decider as Zeppieri struggled with cramp soon after reeling off three games in a row to level at 3-3.

“It’s amazing to be in a final here again,” said Alcaraz in his on-court interview. “I enjoy playing here in Umag and I’m really happy with the win today.”

With the win, Alcaraz rose above Stefanos Tsitsipas to No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — setting him up to reach a new career-high on Monday — and improved his record in Umag to 8-0. He will face another Italian, second seed Jannik Sinner or qualifier Franco Agamenone, in Sunday’s championship match. It will also be Alcaraz’s 100th tour-level match, and the 19-year-old was confident his ankle would be in good shape to compete.

“At the moment it is good,” said Alcaraz. “I don’t feel too much right now. Let’s see tonight or tomorrow morning, but I am going to say I will be ready for the final.

“It would be amazing in my 100th match to get the win, and of course it is amazing to be No. 4 on Monday. It’s something great for me, but right now I am just focussed on the final.”

A close encounter in the Croatian heat saw some spectacular exchanges between Alcaraz and Zeppieri, with both crushing heavy balls from the baseline and enjoying plenty of success in return games. Alcaraz converted six from 15 break points and Zeppieri four from 13, as both players stayed aggressive throughout.

After Zeppieri rallied to level in the deciding set, however, the Italian’s physical exertions in Umag, where he was playing his fifth three-set match across qualifying and main draw competition, appeared to catch up with him. Alcaraz was clinical in reeling off the three games he needed for a two-hour, 56-minute win.

Until that point Zeppieri, roared on by a large contingent of Italian fans, went toe-to-toe with Alcaraz in a performance that belied the fact he had not won an ATP Tour match prior to this week. Despite just falling short in Saturday’s semi-final, the 20-year old’s run in Umag lifts the Italian 33 spots to No. 135 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

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Wu Yibing Ready To Get Back In The Fast Lane

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Wu Yibing Ready To Get Back In The Fast Lane

Rising star has lit up the ATP Challenger Tour this season

Former junior World No. 1 Wu Yibing reached a career-high of No. 174 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings this week behind his second straight ATP Challenger Tour title. But the 22-year-old from China has his sights set on the Top 100, with one eye on a particular number.

“The highest-ranked Chinese player ever is No. 136,” he said in an exclusive interview with, alluding to Zhang Zhizhen. “I think I have a pretty good chance to break it this year. I’m going to trust myself and have a high standard.”

It’s an ambitious goal for the six-footer, who played exclusively on a domestic circuit in China in 2020-21 after recovering from elbow surgery. But Wu is already the Chinese No. 1, having passed Zhang earlier this month. In 2020, Wu had a piece of bone removed from his elbow. (“It sounds terrifying, but I made it,” he says.)

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Wu and the 25-year-old Zhang are both in the Top 200, with the 17-year-old Shang Juncheng and 20-year-old Yunchaokete Bu representing China inside the Top 400. 

But Wu’s recent form on the Challenger Tour has tilted the spotlight his way. 

He returned at the ITF level in January but twisted his ankle badly in his first tournament back in Cancun, an injury he likened to Alexander Zverev’s gruesome incident at Roland Garros. Wu won his next event, an April ITF event in Florida, and has since won three Challenger titles in the United States, including back-to-back trophy runs this month in Rome, Georgia and Indianapolis.

His four career Challenger titles make him the most decorated Chinese player in the circuit’s history.

In his Indianapolis triumph, he saved six match points to defeat American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-7(10), 7-6(13) 6-3 in an epic final. He’s also earned a pair of Top-100 victories this season, beating Aussie Jordan Thompson and Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk.

“Those matches gave me a lot of confidence, especially the match against Jordan Thompson,” Wu said of his 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 victory in Zagreb. “Especially being down a set and struggling in the second set and fighting through it. It gave me confidence that I could compete with Top 100 players.”

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After testing himself against international opposition, Wu feels like a more mature player than he was before his elbow injury. He is still as aggressive as ever, but no longer finds himself rushing in his attempts to generate power.

While he is happy with his overall game, particularly his enhanced return, Wu is keying on his first-serve percentage and net skills as areas for improvement.

“In general, the Chinese players, we’re working a lot on the baseline,” he explained. “We’re missing some shots like slicing, like volleys. So this is something I’m missing from my junior time of practising, which I’m looking forward to improving.”

Wu is also eager to improve his fitness in order to compete on the ATP Tour.

“I think mentally I am ready to overcome all the injuries I might come across in the near future,” he said. “My body is not strong enough like other players, so I am ready to put more effort in the gym and stretching room. One of the important lessons I have to learn is how to prevent injury. I have talked to my physio quite a lot lately about this subject.”

Fortunately, he has a team to help guide him — a rarity for players at the Challenger level.

“I’m lucky being Chinese. I get a lot of support from my federation and also my agency,” he explained. “They’re helping me to find these great coaches and physios and fitness coaches. They’re doing a great job so far this year.

“I’m not going to take all the credit myself. Tennis is a lonely sport. I don’t have many friends on the Tour — I missed a few years of these tournaments. My coaches and my physio, they have to keep me up, keep me hungry about playing matches and keep me fit. All these little things make a team.”

Wu Yibing
Wu at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: Larry Lawrence

Wu’s status as one of China’s top tennis prospects has also given him the opportunity to meet international sporting superstars like golf great Tiger Woods and basketball legend Yao Ming, who he called “The Great Wall of China”. He also met Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons when the Philadelphia 76ers visited Shanghai in 2018.

A big NBA fan, Wu enjoyed a nice side-benefit from his time in the United States earlier this season during the playoffs. Due to the time difference, the games are on TV in the morning in China, which conflicted with Wu’s practice schedule. In the U.S., he was able to watch the playoffs in prime time.

“Here, I can chill after a long day of practice,” said Wu, who calls Kevin Durant his favourite player. “I can just chill on my bed and watch some great games.”

Music is Wu’s other passion off the court, and he credited Taiwanese artist Jay Chou’s newly released songs for spurring him on to his recent success.

“I’m going to give him a little credit for winning these tournaments, listening to his music,” Wu said with a laugh.

A celebrity in his own right, Wu also enjoys live streaming on Chinese social media and speaking directly with his fans.

“I do it because I have some free time and I want to talk to someone,” he shared. “Instead of playing video games, I choose to do the live streaming and interact with all the Chinese fans. Maybe some junior players will get inspired by it.

“Interacting with fans brings some light to my life on Tour. I guess gaining some supporters is never a bad thing.”

As he sets his sights on the ATP Tour, Wu can also draw from the experience of meeting and competing with many of the game’s top players. He was a hitting partner at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, and took a set off Kei Nishikori as a wild card at the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters.

Thanks to his rapid rise up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Wu has booked himself a return to the big stage in August, when he will make his senior Grand Slam qualifying debut at the US Open — the site of his junior singles triumph in 2017.

“I actually pictured it quite a lot in my head,” Wu said of his return to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “Taking some pictures there, and to check out if they put my name on the wall… all the things that a normal person would think of.

“But I don’t want to overthink too much about the emotional stuff, because I’m going to New York to play tennis, not to be nostalgic about the good old times. I hope I can turn this emotion into some positive energy to be helpful for my matches.

“It will be a very special feeling to be back. I finished my junior career at the US Open and now my professional career might start a new chapter there. It does feel like destiny in some way. But I know I still need to focus and bring out the best tennis on court.”

– with reporting assistance from Michael Chen

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Bautista Agut Ends Misolic Dream, Clinches Kitzbühel Title

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Bautista Agut Ends Misolic Dream, Clinches Kitzbühel Title

Spaniard defeats #NextGenATP Austrian to seal 11th ATP Tour crown

Despite facing a home favourite riding a wave of momentum, Roberto Bautista Agut showed all his class at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel on Saturday.

The third seed ended #NextGenATP Filip Misolic’s dream run at the clay-court ATP 250 event in Austria with a 6-2, 6-2 championship match victory to lift his 11th ATP Tour title.

“I enjoyed the final, I think I managed the pressure very well,” said Bautista Agut after the match. “I knew I was a little bit the favourite today, but he had so many good wins this tournament and I knew it was going to be difficult. I played a very good match.”

The 20-year-old Misolic had earlier kept his cool to reach the final in his first tour-level event by edging Yannick Hanfmann after the pair’s rain-delayed semi-final clash resumed with the Austrian leading 1/0 in the third-set tie-break. Upon returning to court for the championship match, however, Misolic had no answer to Bautista Agut’s consistent ballstriking as the Spaniard triumphed in one hour and 33 minutes.

“I want to congratulate Roberto,” said Misolic, whose exploits this week in his homeland have lifted him 70 spots to No. 135 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. “I have watched you on television [before] and to play here against you in the final is an honour for me.”

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Bautista Agut broke Misolic’s serve twice in each set as he dictated play throughout the final, firing a series of searing winners from deep and staying solid behind his own delivery to win his second Tour crown of the season following his victory in Doha in February.

It was the Spaniard’s second tour-level title on clay, and he was pleased to reach the winner’s circle on the surface for the first time since his triumph in Stuttgart in 2014.

“It was a very long time since I won a title on clay,” said Bautista Agut. “It’s very special for me, because I’ve done a lot of good work on this surface.”

Bautista Agut also defeated Jurij Rodionov, Jiri Lehecka and Albert Ramos-Vinolas on his second appearance in Kitzbühel this week. The triumph has lifted the Spaniard two spots to No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

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Martinez/Sonego Upset Puetz/Venus To Clinch Kitzbühel Crown

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Martinez/Sonego Upset Puetz/Venus To Clinch Kitzbühel Crown

Spanish-Italian pair lifts trophy in just third tour-level event together

Pedro Martinez and Lorenzo Sonego may have done things the hard way this week at the Generali Open, but the unseeded duo’s nerves held to the very end as they lifted a first ATP Tour title together in Kitzbühel.

Martinez and Sonego defeated top seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 in a dramatic championship match in Austria, their second Match Tie-break victory of the week. Martinez and Sonego’s other two victories at the clay-court ATP 250 event each required two tie-break sets.

“I’m really happy because I played with a friend and that is really nice,” said Sonego. “I expected nothing from my doubles, but I really enjoyed every moment on court with Pedro. He played so well, and we could do something good in the future.”

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Sonego and Martinez led 4-1 early in the Austrian Alps, but Puetz and Venus showed their experience to roar back to claim the first set and place their unseeded opponents under pressure. Yet Martinez and Sonego held firm for a one-hour, 58-minute victory having saved six from eight break points they faced.

“We are both good fighters,” said Martinez. “After having a lot of chances in the first set, we had two opportunities to get a double break and we couldn’t do it. We had to keep believing we could win the match. In doubles, anything can happen.

“I’m happy to play with Lorenzo, we enjoy it a lot on the court and we are happy to get the win.”

Martinez and Sonego first teamed at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March, and the duo now holds a 6-2 match record for 2022. The victory in Kitzbühel is Martinez’s first ATP Tour doubles title and Sonego’s second, after the Italian triumphed in Cagliari in 2021 alongside Andrea Vavassori.

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Top Seeds Bolelli/Fognini Advance To Umag Final

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Top Seeds Bolelli/Fognini Advance To Umag Final

Puetz/Venus to face Martinez/Sonego in Kitzbühel final

Spurred on by strong Italian support on Friday at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, top seeds Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini advanced to the final at the ATP 250 event.

The Italians earned a 6-0, 7-6(5) win against Francisco Cabral and Tomislav Brkic to reach their fourth tour-level final of the season. Seeking their seventh title as a team, Bolelli/Fognini saved all six break points against them while converting on three of seven break chances.

The 2022 Sydney and Bastad champions will face Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara in the final after the British/Finnish pair knocked off second seeds Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez 6-1, 5-7, 10-8. The second seeds are bidding for their third title as a team and second this season (Hamburg).

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Kitzbühel Final Set
Both semi-finals at the Generali Open required two tie-break sets. Top seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus earned a 7-6(6), 7-6(0) win against third seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, while Pedro Martinez and Lorenzo Sonego were 7-6(9), 7-6(2) winners against Robin Haase and Philipp Oswald.

Puetz/Venus have not dropped a set en route to Saturday’s final. By contrast, Martinez/Sonego have been living on the edge all week. Just as in the semi-final, they won their opening match in a pair of tie-break sets before surviving a Match Tie-break in the quarter-finals.

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