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Musetti & Rune Qualify For Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Musetti & Rune Qualify For Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals

Pair will compete in Milan for the second consecutive year

Lorenzo Musetti and Holger Rune have qualified for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Milan from 8-12 November. They both will compete at the 21-and-under season finale for the second consecutive year.

Twenty-year-old Musetti and 19-year-old Rune guaranteed their spots Friday by advancing to the semi-finals of the Sofia Open. They will become the fourth and fifth players to play in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in consecutive years, joining Andrey Rublev, Alex de Minaur and Frances Tiafoe.

Musetti claimed his first ATP Tour title this July at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg. The Italian saved two match points against Dusan Lajovic in the first round before stunning then-World No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling three-set final.

Musetti also defeated then-World No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime in Monte Carlo and 2021 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz in Rotterdam. The 6’1” righty reached a career-high No. 30 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on 1 July.

“It was my goal this year to play in front of a home crowd again and to be a better player compared to last year and to try and lift the trophy,” Musetti said. “I am happy I qualified for this really important event and I am happy to be there. It is always special to play in your country, so I hope the crowd will give me extra for my winning chances.”

<a href=''>Holger Rune</a>

Rune began his season outside the Top 100, but has climbed as high as World No. 26, making him the highest-ranked Danish player in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history (since 1973). Rune lifted his first ATP Tour trophy in Munich, where he ousted then-World No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the second round.

The teen also made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, where he upset then-World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round to become the first Danish man to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in the Open Era (since 1968).

“I feel good. It is a great step,” Rune said. “Every time you achieve this it shows that you have had a great year. I am super happy for that and really excited to go there again. It is such a great event. It is probably one of the most fun ones of the year, so I am super excited.”

The past two Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champions, Carlos Alcaraz (2021) and Jannik Sinner (2019) — who are in first and second place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan — will not be competing in this year’s event. Alcaraz has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals and Sinner continues his quest to compete in Turin for the second consecutive year after playing two matches as an alternate last year.

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Kovacevic's Rise: Cold Showers, Skydiving And A Little Help From Novak

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Kovacevic’s Rise: Cold Showers, Skydiving And A Little Help From Novak

Challenger Tour standout now making his mark on the ATP Tour

American Aleksandar Kovacevic started playing tennis in a unique way.

The 24-year-old, who was born in New York City, grew up learning to play tennis at the iconic Central Park.

“I was born and raised on the Upper West Side in New York and trained at John McEnroe’s Academy for a while,” Kovacevic said. “We lived at 97th and Central Park West, right on the park. My parents would go on the weekend to hit at the courts and I went with them. It was a five minute walk from our apartment. It’s a cool way to start for sure. I never really appreciated that until I got older.”

Thanks to his parents, Milan and Milanka, who were both table tennis professionals, Kovacevic began his journey towards making a career in his own right as a pro athlete.

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In July, Kovacevic reached his maiden ATP Challenger Tour final in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he relinquished six championship points to China’s Wu Yibing, who prevailed 6-7(10), 7-6(13), 6-3. In the semi-finals, Kovacevic beat #NextGenATP star Ben Shelton, who had reached the final at the Rome (Georgia) Challenger the previous week.

Kovacevic, who was ranked outside the Top 350 at the beginning of this season, also reached the semi-finals at the Little Rock and Lexington Challengers this summer.

Now in the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event in Seoul, where Kovacevic has upset three Top-100 players (Kecmanovic, Tseng, McDonald), the youngster is at a career-high mark 166 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Before Kovacevic turned professional in 2021, he had a standout collegiate career at the University of Illinois, where he was a two-time ITA All American and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in finance.

“In March 2021, I played the Cleveland Challenger and went from qualies to the semi-finals,” Kovacevic said. “I knew it was my time to turn pro. My dad had to convince me, because I was ranked 700 at that time, but I’m happy I did.”

When Kovacevic made his Grand Slam qualifying debut at the 2021 US Open, he advanced to the final round before falling short to Argentine Marco Trungelliti. The following day, the American was set to do some stretching at the gym when a familiar face invited him to tag along for a fitness session: Novak Djokovic.

Kovacevic’s father, Milan, is Serbian and his mother hails from Bosnia. When ‘Aleks’ was younger, the family would take an annual trip to Serbia. When Kovacevic met Djokovic at Flushing Meadows, he brushed off the rust of his Serbian-speaking abilities to talk with the 21-time major champion.

“My final round qualifying match against Trungelliti, I had seven or eight match points. It was one of the most heartbreaking losses I’ve ever had. The next day, when I was in the gym, Novak told me he heard about my match and asked if I wanted to join his fitness session.

“I was shocked. He was chasing history that week and didn’t have to give me his time. It was an incredible experience. At the end, Novak told me that I’ve got a bright future and I should train with him in Serbia.”

At heart, Kovacevic is an adrenaline junkie. Whether it’s snowboarding, jet skiing, or skydiving, he is ready for a thrill. He credits his attitude of getting outside of his comfort zone as part of why he’s found success on the court.

“I live by the philosophy that if I do one thing every day that makes me uncomfortable, it will make me a tougher person in life,” Kovacevic said. “I take cold showers in the morning. Those things sharpen you as a person. It makes you stronger on the court when you face adversity out there.

“In college, we played the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma and after we won, our coach [Brad Dancer] pulled the van around and told us to get in. He told us that we were going to get our gift from a booster, which we received every year. He told us not to post anything on social media or call our parents until after we get the gift.

“We got to a small airport with a skydiving sign. I said, ‘No way!’. I wasn’t going. A few of us stayed on the ground, but after three hours, we finally decided to go. It was honestly one of the best moments of my life. Usually it’s 10,000 feet but this place had clearance to do 15,000 feet. It was a minute straight freefall. It got us loose for the matches the next day for sure.”

Kovacevic, who now lives and trains in Boca Raton, Florida, will next play Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the semi-finals of the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships.

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Sinner Continues Turin Quest, Reaches Sofia SFs

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Sinner Continues Turin Quest, Reaches Sofia SFs

Musetti downs Struff

Jannik Sinner continued his attempted quest to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals on Friday, when he defeated Aleksandar Vukic at the Sofia Open.

In a dominant display, the Italian crushed 21 winners and demonstrated good touch around the net to overcome the Australian 6-2, 6-3 and seal his 45th tour-level win of the season. The top seed is up one place to 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin following his quarter-final win and will rise to 10th if he wins his third straight Sofia title.

Sinner competed on home soil in Turin as an alternate last season and is looking to finish the season strongly as he aims to qualify for the prestigious end-of-year event, held from 13-20 November.

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The 21-year-old now holds a standout 11-0 record in Sofia. He captured the crown on debut at the ATP 250 event in 2020, before he successfully retained his title last year. Sinner is just two wins away from triumphing again after he overpowered the Australian Vukic to book his spot in the semi-finals after 81 minutes. The 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion will next face fifth-seeded Dane Holger Rune or Ilya Ivashka.

In other action, #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti moved past German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(3), 6-1 to reach his second tour-level semi-final of the season.

The 20-year-old showcased a combination of quality and grit, rallying from a break down in the first set before firing an array of winners in the second set to seal his victory after 77 minutes.

Musetti, who lifted his maiden tour-level trophy in Hamburg in July, will next meet Marc-Andrea Huesler after the Swiss edged Kamil Majchrzak 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 6-3. Huesler saved two match points in the second-set tie-break before he won 93 per cent (13/14) of his first-serve points in the third set to advance.

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History Made: Female Officiating Team Takes Charge In Sofia

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

History Made: Female Officiating Team Takes Charge In Sofia

For the first time in history, an all-female chair umpire team was assigned to an ATP Tour event

History has been made this week at the Sofia Open.

For the first time, an all-female chair umpire team was assigned to an ATP Tour event. In addition, the ATP supervisor, tournament director, referee and chief of umpires in Sofia are also female. Tournament Director Kay Godkhindi explained why it is an exciting aspect of the event.

“To be honest we didn’t realise as it all happened organically for us. The tournament team was built with people who just love what they do,” Godkhindi said. “I’ve been involved with organising both men’s and women’s events and while they both have their special requirements, at the end of the day it’s the same thing — making sure to keep all the balls in the air, ensuring everyone is happy and that we continue to strive and deliver the best tournament.

“We are a small part of a greater movement that your gender doesn’t define your capabilities, but it’s great to have equal opportunity in both the ATP and the WTA and empowering women whenever possible is always a step in the right direction. It’s fantastic that the ATP are championing this by hiring ATP supervisors and chair umpires.”

Members of the <a href=''>Sofia Open</a> tournament team and the officiating crew.
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As many male-dominated sports begin to add female officials to their rosters, tennis already has several prominent female officials — including those overseeing men’s matches — dating back several decades.

One of those officials is Anne Lasserre, who is the ATP Supervisor for the ATP 250 in Sofia. Lasserre is the first female to serve in the particular role.

“I think it’s an honour as well to be the first female. I worked as a chair umpire for the ATP a long time ago,” Lasserre said. “I think things and the situation are evolving, which I think is a good thing. It’s an honour, I’m proud of it…

“It’s good to think about the future and being able to break this glass ceiling and give this opportunity to other females to do the same job like we do in every sport.”

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One of the chair umpires in Sofia, Aurelie Tourte, added that it is “a great feeling” to have a tournament led by female officials.

“I think it’s a great idea from the ATP. It just shows that gender doesn’t matter at the end of the day,” Tourte said. “If you are a female or a male, what matters is you are a good official, a chair umpire, and that is what we are trying to show this week. On another hand, I would say that it feels even better when this will be unnoticed, that at some point it will be common to have females in the ATP tournaments.”

Tourte became the first full-time chair umpire employed by the ATP in 2019. She feels an event with a female officiating team is important not just for the officials involved, but future generations.

“I think it’s good for the young officials to find motivation, to see that it’s possible,” Tourte said. “If you go back a few years, you would not see any female chair umpires on the ATP Tour. Now you see more and more, so as a young official when you watch TV and you see a female in the chair, you might feel, ‘Well, I could be there, I could make it.’”

For the first time in ATP history, all four of Thursday’s centre court matches were officiated by female umpires, while officiating for the remainder of the event from quarterfinals onwards will be overseen exclusively by female umpires.

ATP Senior Director of Officiating Administration Ali Nili said: “The ATP Officiating Department prioritises high performance and a diverse officiating team. The tournament in Sofia is an example of our successful efforts in that direction. While the road to progress is long, we are proud of the direction we are heading and the future seems bright.”

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Djokovic Seals SF Spot In Tel Aviv

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Djokovic Seals SF Spot In Tel Aviv

Serbian next plays Safiullin

Novak Djokovic overcame a tough test from Vasek Pospisil on Friday at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open to maintain his perfect record against the Canadian.

In an entertaining quarter-final clash in Israel, the Serbian fended off an attacking bombardment from the lucky loser to advance 7-6(5), 6-3. With his victory, Djokovic has improved to 6-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, having won all 13 sets they have played.

“It was a great, positive win,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “Vasek is one of my best friends on the Tour. We have known each other for many years. It is never easy playing someone you respect so much and like so much, but we are both professionals and wanted to win the match and you can see that.

“I think the level of tennis was really high. Especially towards the end of the first set and the second set. Credit to him for fighting. Great to see him back.”

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The top seed, who is competing in just his second tour-level event since he triumphed at Wimbledon in July, showcased great athleticism to hang in points during the first set. He then hit with consistency in the second set to force the 32-year-old into errors and advance after one hour and 53 minutes.

The 35-year-old is seeking his third tour-level title of the season this week after winning trophies in Rome and Wimbledon. Djokovic will next play Roman Safiullin after the 25-year-old downed Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech 6-4, 6-1 in 69 minutes.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Djokovic is 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and, as a current-year Grand Slam champion, will qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals (13-20 November) provided he remains in the Top 20.


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Earlier, Frenchman Constant Lestienne edged fourth-seeded American Maxime Cressy 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(3) to advance to his first tour-level semi-final. The 30-year-old, who is up seven spots to No. 61 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, will next meet Marin Cilic. The Croatian is into his fifth tour-level semi-final of the season after receiving a walkover from Liam Broady at the ATP 250 hard-court event.

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Arevalo/Rojer Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Berth

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Arevalo/Rojer Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Berth

The Salvadoran-Dutch duo is the third team to qualify

Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer are the third doubles team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, joining Wesley Koolhof/Neal Skupski and Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury. The season finale will be played in Turin from 13-20 November.

Arevalo and Rojer clinched their spot at the Pala Alpitour following Friday’s loss at the ATP 250 in Sofia by Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, who are 10th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Rankings.

Rojer will make his seventh appearance in the Nitto ATP Finals with his third different partner. In 2015, Rojer and Horia Tecau captured the Nitto ATP Finals crown. The Dutchman most recently competed in the event in 2019 at The O2 in London alongside Tecau. This will be Arevalo’s first appearance in the year-end championships.

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The first-year duo made a quick start to their partnership with hard-court triumphs in Dallas and Delray Beach in February. They won 10 consecutive matches during the month, following their trophy runs by advancing to the final in Acapulco.

Arevalo and Rojer’s biggest triumph came during the clay-court season, when they earned Grand Slam glory at Roland Garros. They made another deep run at a major in New York, where they reached the semi-finals of the US Open.

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Tsitsipas Earns Fourth Consecutive Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Tsitsipas Earns Fourth Consecutive Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

The Greek won the season finale in 2019

Stefanos Tsitsipas is the fourth player to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, joining Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud. The Greek star will make his fourth consecutive appearance at the season finale, which will be held for the second consecutive year at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 13-20 November.

The 24-year-old clinched his spot Friday as a result of other matches. Four spots remain in the singles field of the year-end championships.

Tsitsipas captured the Nitto ATP Finals trophy in 2019, when he triumphed at The O2 in London. In that edition, he defeated Dominic Thiem for the trophy.

The Greek has enjoyed a consistent 2022 season. Tsitsipas made a quick start in Australia, where he advanced to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The Athens native then reached the final in Rotterdam just two weeks later.

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Tsitsipas made his biggest splash of the year at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, where he successfully defended his title to claim his second ATP Masters 1000 trophy. He continued to excel at that level by reaching the championship match in Rome and Cincinnati, while also lifting an ATP 250 trophy in Mallorca.

The 24-year-old has won 49 matches this season, second on the ATP Tour behind only World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz (52).

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Nishioka Stuns Ruud In Seoul

  • Posted: Sep 30, 2022

Nishioka Stuns Ruud In Seoul

Shapovalov reaches second semi-final of season

Yoshihito Nishioka earned just the second Top 5 win of his career on Friday, when he upset World No. 2 Casper Ruud 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals at the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships.

Competing in Seoul, the Japanese star looked in control throughout the one-hour, 57-minute clash as he outmanoeuvred the Norwegian with his variety, striking 32 winners and committing just 14 unforced errors to earn the biggest win of his season.

“I feel great. My motivation is very high,” Nishioka said. “I am playing very well, very smart… He is a great player. I know he came from Europe and played at the Laver Cup, which is not easy matches. He wasn’t settled on this court or this country yet, maybe. I was ready. I was focused on playing against him and I had a plan and it worked.”

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The 27-year-old, who downed Daniel Evans and Taro Daniel in straight sets earlier this week, will next play Aleksandar Kovacevic after the American lucky loser defeated countryman Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to continue his dream run.

The top seed Ruud defeated Nicolas Jarry in his opening match at the ATP 250 event, with his victory earning him qualification for the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals. He was unable to match Nishioka’s consistency, though, in their second ATP Head2Head meeting. Nishioka is into his second tour-level semi-final of the season, having enjoyed a run to the championship match in Washington last month.

Earlier, fourth seed Denis Shapovalov soared past Moldovan Radu Albot 6-2, 6-2 in 73 minutes. The 23-year-old Canadian did not face a break point and has now improved his quarter-final record this season to 2-3.

Shapovalov, who reached the semi-finals in Dubai in February, will next meet Jenson Brooksby after the eighth-seeded American received a walkover from second seed Cameron Norrie.

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