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Ruud Edges Bautista Agut To Reach Montreal QFs

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2022

Ruud Edges Bautista Agut To Reach Montreal QFs

Fourth seed next plays Canadian Felix

Casper Ruud continued his quest for a first ATP Masters 1000 title Thursday, rallying past Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals in rainy Montreal.

The Norwegian recovered from a slow start as he upped his intensity in the second set to level. Following a 69-minute rain-delay, the fourth seed opened his shoulders in the decider to finish the job after three hours and 17 minutes at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

In front of a lively crowd, Ruud found greater depth, consistency and topspin on his backhand in the third set, which allowed him to force Bautista Agut back and close points with his powerful forehand.

“It was a tough battle. The first two sets were two hours and 20 minutes. Good intensity and I was feeling it a bit in the legs,” Ruud said in his on-court interview. “Luckily there was some rain, which gave me some time to breath out and regain some energy and I can thank the weather gods today, giving me some extra time and energy.”

The 23-year-old, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Toronto last season, has improved his ATP Head2Head series record against the Spaniard to 1-2 and will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“This win was a bit extra special. It was against a player I had never beaten before,” Ruud added. “Such good quality two first sets. I didn’t feel I was able to find any holes in his game, which was frustrating. He is a very tough player, one of the best over the past six, seven, eight years. Someone I think all young players should look up to. How professional he is and how great a fighter, runner and competitor he is.”

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The World No. 7 is the highest seed left in the draw, after Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas all lost on Wednesday.

Ruud has won three tour-level titles this year, while he advanced to his maiden Masters 1000 final in Miami in April, losing to 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. Ruud is now 37-13 on the season, while he holds a 10-3 record on hard courts.

Bautista Agut was aiming to reach the quarter-finals at the Canadian Masters 1000 event for the fourth consecutive year. The 34-year-old had won his past six matches, having lifted the trophy in Kitzbühel last month.

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Zhang Sets Sights On Top 100 After Challenger Tour Title

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2022

Zhang Sets Sights On Top 100 After Challenger Tour Title

China now has three men in the Top 250

Chinese men have been lighting up the ATP Challenger Tour recently, none more so than Zhang Zhizhen, who recently won his third Challenger title. After back-to-back runner-up finishes in Luedenscheid, Germany and Trieste, Italy it was a trip to Cordenons, Italy where Zhang collected his first Challenger title of the season.

“My emotions after winning were quite happy, because it was the third time for me this year to reach a final and the last two I lost. In Luedenscheid, it was hard to win the match, but in Trieste it was quite close in three sets. There was a chance, but I didn’t catch it.

“This time (Cordenons), after losing the first set, I was thinking ‘Oh shoot, again, one more time (I’m going to lose), I don’t want it to be like that.’ So, when I won the last point I was really excited,” he said.

This past week, Zhang and Shang Juncheng became the first Chinese duo to win Challenger titles in the same week (Shang won in Lexington, Kentucky).

Three weeks ago, Zhang narrowly missed making history with countryman Wu Yibing, who was victorious in Indianapolis in the same week the 25-year-old fell in the Trieste final. Zhang made sure the historic moment didn’t slip from his hands a second time.

“It is history for us, but I missed the chance earlier, the same week Wu Yibing won in Indianapolis,” Zhang said. “This time I was like, ‘I don’t want to miss the chance!’”

China is yet to have a player reach the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but Zhang believes he could be the one to change that. In 2020, the Shanghai native climbed to No. 136, which remains the highest ranking achieved by a male Chinese player. Now striving for a Top 100 breakthrough, the World No. 161 is hopeful that he will be the man to make Chinese tennis history.

But he’s not the only Chinese player with his eye on the Top 100. Zhang is in a race with Wu, whom he frequently messages on WeChat, to reach the milestone. Wu, 22, has three Challenger titles this season and, at World No. 173, is currently only 12 spots behind Zhang.

“I believe it is me and not Wu Yibing (who will do it first),” he joked. “I hope he also can reach that (Top 100). We want to be fast to break this goal and it seems like we are in a very good position. We talk about everything… but we don’t need to talk about (the ranking) because we both know it is our goal.”

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Wu Yibing Ready To Get Back In The Fast Lane

Zhang believes we will only begin to see more Chinese men climb up the rankings, including recent Lexington Challenger champion, 17-year-old Shang. After Zhang and Shang were crowned champions this past week, ‘Jerry’ first reached out to the Shanghai native to congratulate him.

“Jerry sent a message to me first and said ‘Congrats!’ and then I also said ‘Congrats!’ and that he is doing very well,” Zhang said. “I was in the hotel and just sat down for some dinner. (Having) pizza and beer, I took a picture and sent it to him. Then he sent me back a picture of water at some restaurant with his family and coach.”

Coached by Luka Kutanjac, the World No. 161 will travel to Poland for the Kozerki Open before flying to the United States, where he is entered in the US Open qualifying. Should he advance, Zhang will become the first Chinese man to compete in the US Open main draw in the Open Era. Zhang has fond memories of reaching the Wimbledon main draw last season and becoming the first Chinese man to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open Era.

“It was quite special for me. Last season was my first time playing on grass and then I made it past the qualies into Wimbledon, I didn’t expect that. There’s a lot of memories there.”

And Zhang hopes there are many more to come.

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Play Resumes In Montreal Following Rain

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2022

Play Resumes In Montreal Following Rain

Ruud, Felix and Kyrgios in action on Thursday

Play has resumed at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers at 3:52 p.m. local time on Thursday, after the action was halted for 69 minutes due to rain.

Third seed Casper Ruud and Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut will resume their match in the third set, after the Norwegian clinched the second set to level the match at 6-7(4), 7-6(4) 0-1. Hubert Hurkacz and Albert Ramos-Vinolas are locked at 5-5 in the first set in Montreal.

Washington champion Nick Kyrgios, Indian Wells titlist Taylor Fritz and home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime will be in third-round action later on Thursday.

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Preview: Last Home Hope Felix Takes On Norrie

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2022

Preview: Last Home Hope Felix Takes On Norrie

Kyrgios, Americans Fritz and Paul also in third-round action on Thursday

There’s nothing quite like playing in your hometown, even with the added pressure that comes along with it.

The lone Canadian remaining in draw at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, Felix Auger-Aliassime will attest to that. Through to the third round for the second time at the ATP Masters 1000 event, the native Montrealer is relishing the opportunity to ply his craft in front of his most fervent fans.

“The crowd here adds something special,” said Auger-Aliassime, whose parents live just 10 minutes from the tournament site. “I don’t get that anywhere else. Packed stadium, everyone is on their feet trying to support me — it’s special.”

Auger-Aliassime, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Monday, finds himself matched up against a familiar foe in ninth seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain. They’ve already met three times in 2022, with Norrie claiming their most recent encounter last week in the Los Cabos semi-finals, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Auger-Aliassime leads the overall ATP Head2Head, 4-1.

Asked how he’ll approach the Norrie match on Day Four, Auger-Aliassime, poised at a career-high No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, got right down to it.

“With confidence, optimism always, with a positive mindset,” said Auger-Aliassime, now 33-18 on the season, highlighted by his first ATP Tour title in Rotterdam in February. “We have history. But that’s behind us. There’s no need to think about that too much. I just go in with a lot of belief. At the end of the day, I did lose last week, but I think it’s just good we played last week, period.

“Some good things worked. I’m going to try to do that as much as I can and try to repeat the things that worked well last week, and the outcome can be on my side tomorrow.”

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After upending top-ranked and defending champion Daniil Medvedev for the third time in four career ATP Head2Heads, Nick Kyrgios will face fellow Aussie Alex De Minaur in the third round. The Wimbledon finalist has now won 14 of his last 15 singles matches and is 29-7 on the season.

“I’m not going to leave anything in the tank these two weeks,” said Kyrgios, referring to the Masters 1000 events in both Montreal and Cincinnati. “My ranking still is not guaranteed to be seeded at all tournaments… These are two massive weeks.

“I’ve had success in Cincinnati before. I made the final there. I feel like I’m confident. But there’s nothing guaranteed. There’s never any guarantees in life. I could go into the US Open, feel fresh, play someone on the day that is just too good. Then I’m going to regret not letting it all out of the tank in Montreal and Cincinnati.”

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Kyrgios Takes Out Medvedev In Montreal

American Tommy Paul, who pulled off a three-set stunner against No. 2 seed Carlos Alcaraz in the second round, saving a match point in the process, will face 13th seed Marin Cilic. The resurgent 33-year-old Croat has twice reached the quarter-finals in Canada (2008, 2018).

The upset of Alcaraz marked Paul’s fifth win over a Top 10 opponent, and he now owns Top Five wins over Alcaraz, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.

“It’s hard not to wake up for the primetime matches like that,” said Paul, No. 34 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “When I play top-level people, Top Five, Top 10, I’m really excited. When I wake up in the morning, the alarm is not as bad as the normal 6:45 alarm.”

After roaring back from 1-4 down in the third set against Frances Tiafoe to notch his fourth consecutive win over his compatriot, American Taylor Fritz set up a Thursday third-round showdown against Brit Daniel Evans. The pair met last week in Washington, with Fritz retiring in the third set with an illness trailing 3-6, 7-6(6), 4-1.

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Draper Upsets Tsitsipas For First Top 10 Win

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2022

Draper Upsets Tsitsipas For First Top 10 Win

Auger-Aliassime downs Nishioka to open evening session

A wild Wednesday filled with upsets in Montreal ended with the biggest shock of them all, according to the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

On a day that also saw the first, second and fifth seeds planted, #NextGenATP Briton and World No. 82 Jack Draper closed the Canadian night session with a 7-5, 7-6(4) stunner against Stefanos Tsitsipas. By beating the third seed and World No. 5, Draper earned his first Top 10 win.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” the 20-year-old qualifier said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”

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The gap of 77 places between Draper and Tsitsipas is the largest of any of the day’s upsets by some margin, with the Greek joining Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev in making an early exit at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

Draper earned the victory by moving the Greek around the court from the baseline and being the steadier player over the course of the two-hour match, particularly at the crucial moments on centre court at the ATP Masters 1000.

“I didn’t really have much of a game plan,” Draper said. “I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.”


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Both players created plenty of looks on return, with Draper finishing three of nine on break chances and Tsitsipas two of seven. But late in both sets, the Briton frustrated his opponent from the back of the court. Draper instantly recovered an early break in the second set and immediately reclaimed a mini-break in the tie-break before Tsitsipas committed three errors from 4/4 to seal his fate.

It was a deserved victory for Draper, who dominated behind his lefty serve, winning 74 per cent (35/47) of points on his first delivery. While Tsitsipas began to dictate with his forehand in the second set and was the aggressor for much of the contest, he ended the match with 36 unforced errors compared to 35 winners. Draper was a plus-four by that measure, firing 21 winners to 17 errors.

The victory lifts him to No. 62 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, setting him up for a new career-high. He will next face Gael Monfils, who defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(6) earlier in the day.

In the first match of the Montreal evening session, home favourite and sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime overcame stubborn resistance from Yoshihito Nishioka to earn a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory and set up a Thursday meeting with Los Cabos finalist Cameron Norrie. 

Spurred on by the centre court crowd, Auger-Aliassime used aggressive hitting to dismiss Nishioka, who fell to Nick Kyrgios in the Washington final on Sunday. As demonstrated by INSIGHTS: In Attack statistics, the Canadian played 25 per cent of his shots from an attacking position, more than the ATP Tour average of 23 per cent.

Auger-Aliassime vs. Nishioka

But in the highlight point of the match — which crucually doubled as set point in the opener — Auger-Aliassime did his damage from defence. As Nishioka found the corners to gain an advantage in a marathon point, the Canadian turned the tables with a stunning pass that electrified the Montreal crowed and propelled him to victory.

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Mektic/Pavic Win Match Tie-Break In Montreal Doubles Opener

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2022

Mektic/Pavic Win Match Tie-Break In Montreal Doubles Opener

Glasspool/Heliovaara take out Dodig/Krajicek

Two of the three seeded doubles teams in Wednesday action were eliminated in Montreal, but Croatia’s Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic survived to stay alive at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

The fifth seeds saved six of seven break points against them, including three at 4-4 in the second set, to edge Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 3-6, 6-4, 10-7 at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

From 5/6 down in the decisive tie-break, the Croatians won five of the last six points to seal progress into the second round, where they will face Daniel Evans and John Peers. The Wimbledon finalists have claimed four titles together this season, most recently winning back-to-back British crowns at The Queen’s Club and Eastbourne. Their two-year tally stands at 13 following nine titles in 2021, including three at the Masters 1000 level.

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Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara took out seventh seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 6-4, 6-2, while Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni downed eighth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-5, 6-1. The British-Finnish pair of Glasspool and Heliovaara is seeking its sixth final of 2022 and its second title of the year (Hamburg).

The Round of 16 will be set after the conclusion of Wednesday’s play, with top seeds Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram set to open their campaign on Thursday against Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar. Behar/Escobar advanced past Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcelo Melo 6-2, 7-6(4) on Wednesday.

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