Tennis News

From around the world

Coaches' Corner: How Champion Cilic Is Continuing His Charge

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2022

Coaches’ Corner: How Champion Cilic Is Continuing His Charge

Cilic faces Marterer in his opening match at the US Open

Marin Cilic arrives at the US Open holding fond memories, having soared to his maiden Grand Slam title in New York in 2014.

The Croatian, who defeated Roger Federer en route to the trophy eight years ago, will be aiming to build on recent third-round results in Montreal and Cincinnati as he aims to replicate his dream 2014 run this year at the hard-court major.

Ahead of his opening match against Maximilian Marterer, caught up with Cilic’s coach Ivan Cinkus to learn more about their relationship, the 33-year-old’s season, his upcoming aims and much more.

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

Marin is having another great season, how happy have you been with his performances?
Marin is doing great. Reached the fourth round in Australia and semi-finals in his first two tournaments. He is improving his game. He played really well on the clay. Ok, he lost to Sascha Zverev in Madrid, but he played well and it built up his confidence and it helped him at Roland Garros. He played really well in Paris and reached the semis. It is really good.

Roland Garros he was on top form. Everything we had done before meant he was rising in form and then in Paris, he put everything together. We as a team and myself as a coach are happy about it, with his improvement and mentality.

Marin has won titles consistently each year since 2008, How has Marin been able to stay at the top so consistently for so long?
He is always focused. Whether it is practise or matches. He is a really great worker on the court. A hard worker. He wants to improve his game. Marin is always wanting to improve his game. The top players have been doing this. You need to be focused all the time and that is the difference between players who have played on the Tour for 15 years and those who are in their first year or two.

<a href=''>Ivan Cinkus</a>
Ivan Cinkus [above]. Photo Credit: Sam Jacot/ATP Tour
What is the biggest thing you have learned since you first started working with Marin seven years ago?
The thing I have learned is you need to be prepared. For example, in Australia in the 2018 Australian Open final, we were only told 20 minutes before the final that the roof was going to be closed. We asked every hour waiting to be told. Then we went to warm up on an indoor court. This is what you need to learn, to be prepared.

I also like seeing what other coaches and players are doing to be prepared to better myself. If you are a coach, you work with different players. So you need to adapt. For Marin one style works, for another it is something else, so you need to find a way to help them. That is the difference between the good coaches and the best.

How has your journey been so far and what is your relationship like off-court?
We were together for four and a half years and then we split for two years so he could have something fresh. Then in December 2021, we joined again, doing preseason together. We like to walk and visit sites. If we are in big cities, we like to go to the theatre and shows. We like to drink coffee and watch TV shows. We like to relax. Every time we go to a city, we want to see something new.

How would you describe Marin as a person?
Marin is a great person. A really warm person. He wants to help. Now he has two kids and he is enjoying time with them. He is more relaxed now with the kids. It has improved his life, his family and his kids. He really wants to talk and explain what he is doing. It is a good quality of his.

You May Also Like:

Food Court: ‘Simple Guy’ Cilic Dishes On His Diet, Food He Hasn’t Eaten In 10 Years

In 2019/2020 he a slight dip in level, not winning a title. Did he ever think about stopping?
No. With Covid, the atmosphere was a little bit down, but he never thought about stopping. He was ok and has proved it last season and this year so far.

What are your aims for the rest of the grass-court season and then the year overall?
We want to improve his net play, coming to the net. Improving his power on his groundstrokes and coming into the net. Also, to keep going on the serve. Reaching the Top 15 [in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings] is an aim. He is already close. We said at the beginning of the season it was Top 15. He was Top 30 last two seasons. You can’t say Top 10 as everyone wants to be Top 10. But I said Top 15 would be perfect and anything else would be amazing.

Source link

US Open Preview: 5 Things To Watch On Day 1

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2022

US Open Preview: 5 Things To Watch On Day 1

Kyrgios & Kokkinakis clash, Medvedev begins title defence

The US Open action kicks off Monday with a host of big names seeking a strong start at the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year. They include defending champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev, while regular doubles partners Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis meet in a blockbuster opening-round clash. looks at five things to watch on opening day at Flushing Meadows.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

1) ‘Special Ks’ Clash: Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis’ close on- and off-court relationship has been a defining feature of their success as a doubles team in 2022, but how will the Australian duo react to being on opposite sides of the net?

The pair’s first tour-level singles meeting rounds off the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where 23rd seed Kyrgios will hope to maintain his strong form at the majors after reaching his maiden Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in July. Both players have already enjoyed hard-court success in 2022 — Kokkinakis claimed his first ATP Tour title in Adelaide in January, while Kyrgios lifted his seventh tour-level trophy in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.

2) Medvedev Meets Home Favourite: Medvedev competes on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time since clinching his maiden Grand Slam crown there a year ago. The top seed takes on Stefan Kozlov, the World No. 111 who will be looking to channel the support of his home crown on his US Open main draw debut.

Medvedev has a story of his own with the New York fans, however, appearing to have won them over with a combination of blistering on-court performances and dry wit in interviews after a rocky start. “I feel like in New York I have a special relationship with the crowd,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference. “I have no idea how it’s going to go this year, but I’m happy to be here and happy to experience whatever’s going to happen.”

You May Also Like:

What Makes A Medvedev Fan? Ask The Expert!

3) Scene Set For Tsitsipas?: Has the time come for a deep Stefanos Tsitsipas run at the US Open? The fourth seed is yet to make it past the third round in four main draw appearances in New York, but he has already found his winning groove on the hard courts of North American this summer with a run to the championship match at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati two weeks ago.

Tsitsipas opens against another player high on confidence, however, in Daniel Elahi Galan. The Colombian did not drop a set in his three qualifying matches to reach the main draw in New York for the first time.

Ukraine crisis relief

4) Former Champs In Action: Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem all know what it takes to go all the way in New York. The 2012, 2016, and 2020 champions, respectively, they nonetheless face tricky opening duels as they bid to kick-start another successful fortnight at Flushing Meadows.

Murray takes on the fast-rising 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo, Wawrinka meets the dangerous Frenchman Corentin Moutet, and Thiem faces Montreal champion Pablo Carreno Busta.

5) Wu & Zhang Fly Flag For China: Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen made history with their successful qualification campaigns last week in New York, where the duo are set to become the first Chinese men in the Open Era to compete in the US Open main draw.

Both players are in action on Day 1 in the Big Apple, where 2017 boys’ singles champion Wu is hoping to upset 31st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on Court 13. Zhang, who made his Grand Slam main draw debut at Wimbledon in June, meets the powerful Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven.

Source link

Better Together: Wu, Zhang Share US Open Honours

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2022

Better Together: Wu, Zhang Share US Open Honours

Friends set to become first Chinese men in Open Era to compete in the US Open

Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen were sitting in the US Open players’ dining room during a rain delay on Friday, one of the biggest days of both their careers. Wu, the 2017 US Open boys’ singles champion, had just qualified for the main draw for the season’s final major on his first attempt. Zhang was waiting to return to the court to attempt to do the same.

Yet instead of stressing the magnitude of the moment, the close friends had a phone on the table to stream an ATP Challenger Tour match between Shang Juncheng, a 17-year-old Chinese phenom, and Australian veteran Jordan Thompson. Shang would win the match and later advanced to the final of the tournament.

Wu, Zhang and Shang make up the future of men’s tennis in China. That future is looking bright.

When the rain delay ended, Zhang walked out to Court 7, confidently completed his victory to earn his place in the field and held his arms out in celebration. In the stands was Wu, who replicated the celebration.

“I am very happy that we both qualified because it’s quite tough,” Zhang said. “I know he had some injuries.”

Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen celebrate their qualification for the <a href=''>US Open</a>.

Wu, who was the world’s No. 1 junior, was invited to Monaco during the 2017 offseason to train with some of the world’s best players. But he did not immediately make his mark on the ATP Tour. The Chinese star reached what was then a career-high of No. 298 in April 2019.

However, he did not compete from March 2019 until January 2022 due to several injuries, including issues with his elbow, lower back, shoulder and wrist, with elbow surgery being the most serious of the bunch. Wu refused to use the injuries as an excuse, though.

“I don’t really like to talk about those injuries in too [much] detail because every player has injuries. I’m sure a lot of players play tournaments with some parts of the body hurting. I’m not the only one,” Wu said. “Also the mental strength that you have to go through the pain is part of the game.”

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

This year, however, Wu and Zhang have both showed what they are capable of. Wu has climbed from World No. 1,869 in March to No. 174, his career-high. Zhang, who became the top-ranked Chinese player in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history (World No. 136) in February 2020, is just one spot off that mark.

“I think we have a good competition between me and him and also we are very good friends. For me, I will cheer for him. We are both pushing Chinese men’s tennis levels and we’re still young. We have a lot of time to do it. I think we’re going to get to the Top 100,” Wu said. “[It will] not [be] easy, but I think it should be done, even a long time ago.

“I love how [Zhang] plays. He’s a big server and he’s aggressive on the court. He loves to put pressure on opponents. I love how he plays. We’re good friends, we cheer for each other. I think we can make some history right here.”

You May Also Like:

Wu & Zhang Make Chinese History, Qualify For US Open

The pair already has. On Monday, they will become the first Chinese men in the Open Era to compete in the main draw of the US Open.

“For him it’s easy because he won the juniors here. [For] five years he didn’t lose a match at the US Open!” Zhang said, cracking a laugh. “For me, I was surprised I passed the qualies because it’s my first time here of course. I was playing quite good on clay courts after grass. I didn’t expect that I can pass here.”

Wu knows what it takes to make a deep run at Flushing Meadows. But he is not looking too far ahead. Instead, he is focussed on taking in the moment. After missing nearly three years, he knows to appreciate the opportunity.

“I just want to enjoy the event, enjoy playing tennis,” Wu said. “I think that’s my biggest change between me now and a few years ago. I enjoy tennis more and I really love to play in front of people. Just to be happy.”

Source link

Inside Shelton's Transformation From Football Nut To Tennis Star

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2022

Inside Shelton’s Transformation From Football Nut To Tennis Star

Learn more about the #NextGenATP American

Ben Shelton remembers riding around the Georgia Tech University tennis facility on a bike as a kid as his father, former ATP pro Bryan Shelton, coached the women’s team. Sometimes, young Ben would ride a scooter. At the time, tennis was far from his top priority.

The young American loved football first and foremost. A lefty quarterback, nothing was more thrilling than slinging a football around. Some of the school’s football stars would even stop by tennis matches and knowing the coach’s son enjoyed football, they would play catch with him.

“I kind of accepted at an early age that tennis probably wasn’t going to be his thing. I thought of team sports. He’s way more social than I was at that stage. I was more of an introvert and he’s a total extrovert. He’s loud and outgoing and has just so much energy,” Bryan said. “My parents wouldn’t let me play football and I always said if I had a son, and he wants to play, I’ll let him play.

“He just gravitated towards that. The whole time he was back there messing around I thought, ‘This guy’s going to be a pretty good football player one day.’”

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

At Georgia Tech, student-athletes and coaches dined at the same location, so all members of the school’s athletics department often mingled. One of the school’s stars at the time was football player Calvin Johnson, who would go on to become one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history.

“He actually came to one of my birthday parties when I was maybe nine and gave me a signed ball. Megatron fan for life,” Ben said with a wide smile. “I liked his athleticism. He was bigger than most other wide receivers, but he was just as athletic and just as fast as anyone else out there. I enjoyed that about him and he is a class act as well, so I like that.”

His father climbed to No. 55 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and lifted two ATP Tour singles trophies. Shelton also grew up around tennis with his father as a college coach. But football was ‘his sport’.

“That’s what he wanted to do. He knew all the college players, not just at Georgia Tech but across the country. He knew all the pros. He knew different formations. He just knew so much about the game and was just such a fan of it,” Bryan said. “He loved playing it and he always had a football in his hand. He thought, ‘I’m going to be a professional football player one day.’”

<a href=''>Ben Shelton</a> and his father, <a href=''>Bryan Shelton</a>

That love for the sport never waned. But Ben did not enjoy a growth spurt until his teens. And in 2012, Bryan accepted the job of men’s tennis coach at the University of Florida. Ben was nine at the time.

When the Shelton Family arrived in Gainesville, Ben slowly began to pay more attention to what was happening on the court rather than riding his scooter and throwing a football.

“It definitely swayed me to want to become a collegiate tennis player and a pro tennis player,” he said. “I think that change from being able to see people that I can relate to doing great things in tennis was definitely a big motivation for me.”

Around age 12, Shelton knew that as much as he loved football, he had to focus on one sport: tennis.

“I thought I could have more of a future in tennis,” Shelton said. “Obviously football is pretty hard on your body. I don’t know how much longer my mom wanted me to keep taking hits and obviously with my dad playing pro and being a collegiate coach, there was definitely a lot of upside to choosing a sport that he’s an expert in.”

You May Also Like:

Shelton Turns Pro Ahead Of US Open

Shelton went on to compete for his father at the University of Florida, where as a freshman playing No. 5 singles, he clinched his team’s national championship victory. This year, he won the NCAA Singles title as a sophomore to earn a main draw wild card into the US Open.

Not bad for someone who was a football player first. All that time spent on a different sport was not wasted, though. All those repetitions throwing the ball helped Shelton develop his biggest weapon: a wicked lefty serve.

“Oh my gosh, there’s no doubt. There’s no doubt [it helped]. That’s probably the biggest reason,” his father said. “Hopefully there’s something that we passed on as parents. But how you develop what gifts you have is really the key. Getting his elbow up and doing certain things with the football, and really trying to perfect that kind of allowed him to come into tennis and really develop that as a weapon, I think.

“I think that’s a big part of why he loves everything above his head, whether it’s an overhead or a serve. He’s pretty dynamic with that.”

<a href=''>Ben Shelton</a>

The serve has been the key to his surge this American summer. After winning the NCAA singles title, Shelton reached two ATP Challenger Tour finals, pushed John Isner to a final-set tie-break in Atlanta and advanced to the third round in Cincinnati on his ATP Masters 1000 debut. In his second match there, he stunned Top 10 star Casper Ruud.

“If he plays like he did today every match for the rest of his career, I think he will reach very far,” Ruud told “I think it surprised me a little bit how well he played. I knew he was a young, up and coming, great player. But today he was painting lines as we call it and hitting all the spots he needed to. It was really impressive to see.

“He was young, fearless and of course he is playing without pressure, so that is something I think young players could really take advantage of sometimes. He will be around for many years and he will be a problem for many years for me and any other players.”

After losing to Briton Cameron Norrie in Cincinnati, Shelton had a big decision to make. At 19, he still had two years of eligibility at Florida. After careful consideration, the teen announced earlier this week he would turn pro.

Before coming to that decision, Ben deliberated with his family. When asked what his message for his son was as a father rather than a tennis coach, Bryan spoke from the heart.

“Hey Ben, there are going to be a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things, so you’ve got to make sure you understand what you value, things that are most important, how you want to conduct yourself. You have been gifted a lot and with that is going to come some responsibility and you need to make sure you do the right things and make good decisions along the way,” Bryan recalled. “There are going to be obstacles and there are going to be tough times. Right now you’ve been in a patch where you’ve been gaining momentum weekly, but there are going to be times when things aren’t going to go as smoothly, and you’ve got to understand that you’ve got family and you’ve got friends that are always going to be with you and understand who those people are and which voices you really need to listen to.”

Shelton is widely considered one of the players to watch at this US Open, where he could play top seed Daniil Medvedev in the third round. But no one in the family is stressed about winning and losing now. Bryan does not want his son to put too many expectations on himself at the moment.

“There are going to be ups and downs along the way, but treat both of them the same. You learn from both and if you do that, then there are no negatives, there are only positives,” Bryan said. “You win a match, what did you learn? You lose a match, what did you learn? Just keep pushing forward and take it slow. We’re not in any hurry.”

Ben has bought into his family’s process-oriented strategy and is simply enjoying the moment. He is still a teen who loves things like cars, watching movies with friends, playing pickup basketball and cheering on his girlfriend Anna Hall, an athletics star who also just turned pro.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a good change of pace from college tennis, so I’ve enjoyed being able to play in some different cities, travel to different places and play a lot of great players,” Ben said. “I’ve enjoyed the time that I’ve had this summer.”

The early evidence shows that Shelton is just getting started.

Source link