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De Minaur Fires Australia To Victory In Davis Cup Opener

  • Posted: Sep 13, 2022

De Minaur Fires Australia To Victory In Davis Cup Opener

Four ties are taking place on Tuesday

Alex de Minaur overcame David Goffin on Tuesday to give Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead in its Davis Cup Finals Group B clash against Belgium in Hamburg.

The 23-year-old saved both break points he faced to move past Goffin 6-2, 6-2 in 67 minutes. De Minaur now leads the Belgian 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.

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In the first match of the tie, Australian Jason Kubler defeated Zizou Bergs 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. The 29-year-old won 64 per cent (14/22) of his second-serve points and twice rallied from a break down in the third set to triumph after two hours and nine minutes. In the last match of the tie, Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell downed Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-1, 6-3 to secure a 3-0 victory for Australia.

Ymer Brothers Deliver For Sweden
Elias Ymer and Mikael Ymer ensured Sweden made a winning start against Argentina in Group A in Bologna.

Older brother Elias rallied past Sebastian Baez 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 30 minutes in the opening match of the tie. In a hard-fought clash, the 26-year-old recovered from squandering match points on Baez’s serve at 5-2 and 5-4 in the third set, eventually holding his nerve in the tie-break to record his win.

The 24-year-old Mikael then sealed victory for Sweden, dispatching World No. 17 Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 38 minutes. The World No. 98 fired 17 winners and broke Schwartzman five times to move the former champion into a 2-0 lead.

What is the format for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals?
The group stage of the 2022 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals will take place across four cities – Bologna, Glasgow, Hamburg and Valencia – from 13-18 September. The 16 nations will compete in four round-robin groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knock-out stage. The knock-out stage will take place in Malaga from 22-27 November.

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Big Moment In The Big Apple: Alcaraz's US Open Victory Lap

  • Posted: Sep 13, 2022

Big Moment In The Big Apple: Alcaraz’s US Open Victory Lap

Spaniard climbed to World No. 1 on Monday

Carlos Alcaraz made history on Sunday when he won the US Open. On Monday, the Spaniard celebrated in style.

After speaking to the assembled media and doing 14 television interviews on Sunday night, Alcaraz woke up ready for more on Monday. Officially the youngest World No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history, the 19-year-old’s media circuit began at 11 a.m., when he was picked up at his hotel.

The teen did an interview on his way to Times Square, one of the most iconic locations in New York. With folks walking in the square, where countless celebrities have been before, Alcaraz, lifted his trophy high for some photos. Several stars have done a similar photoshoot in the same location over the years, from Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.

<a href=''>Carlos Alcaraz</a>
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images
After Alcaraz’s visit to Times Square, he returned to his hotel for more interviews, bringing his total for the day to more than 10.

For a player who became just the second male teenager in the Open Era to win the US Open, joining Pete Sampras, there was a lot to talk about. He is also first in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, putting him in pole position to finish year-end No. 1.

But at 2 p.m., it was time for Alcaraz to continue his journey and fly to Spain for Davis Cup action.

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Carballes Baena, Grenier Collect Challenger Titles At Home

  • Posted: Sep 13, 2022

Carballes Baena, Grenier Collect Challenger Titles At Home

Briton Stuart Parker triumphs in Challenger main-draw debut

Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena and Frenchman Hugo Grenier won ATP Challenger Tour titles on home soil this past week. Carballes Baena cruised to the title on the unique yellow-clay courts in Seville, while Grenier won the Cassis Challenger to rise into the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.

Carballes Baena collected his 10th Challenger Tour title when he defeated countryman Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3, 7-6(6) to claim the LIX Copa Sevilla.

Carballes Baena, who also won the Tunis Challenger in May, dropped just one set all week en route to claiming the title. In his quarter-final match, the 29-year-old enjoyed a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 victory over Federico Delbonis, overcoming his 0-4 ATP Head2Head deficit to the Argentine.

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“I’m very happy to have won the trophy. Last year I didn’t play well in the final (Seville ‘21, l. Martinez), but this week I played at a high level,” Carballes Baena said. “It was an intense match with very long rallies.”

Carballes Baena rises to World No. 73, just two spots shy of his career-high No. 71, which he reached in November 2021.

The historic Sevilla Challenger has hosted many memorable moments, including back-to-back 17-year-old champions Casper Ruud in 2016 and Felix Auger-Aliassime in 2017, and Rafael Nadal making his ATP Challenger Tour debut in 2001.

The tournament celebrated its 31st anniversary with an all-Spanish championship match for the third consecutive year.

Grenier also collected his second Challenger title of the season, taking down Australian James Duckworth 7-5, 6-4 to win the Cassis Open Provence by Cabesto.

Grenier, who won the Segovia Challenger (d. Lestienne) in July, is riding a 10-match winning streak at the Challenger level.

<a href=''>Hugo Grenier</a> celebrates his second Challenger title of 2022.
Hugo Grenier celebrates his second Challenger title of 2022.

The week prior to winning at home, the 26-year-old advanced through qualifying at the US Open before pushing eventual quarter-finalist Matteo Berrettini to four sets in the second round. The summer success for Grenier lifts him to a Top 100 debut, as he climbs to a career-high 95 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The Cassis Challenger, held in southern France, began in 2018 and has seen home favourites claim the title in all four editions (the event wasn’t held in 2020).

Slovakian Jozef Kovalik overcame qualifier Jelle Sels 7-6(6), 7-6(3) at the Tulln Challenger to earn his sixth Challenger title and first since November 2019. The 29-year-old’s impressive run to the title included victories over three of the Top-6 seeded players (Tseng, Rodionov, E. Ymer) at the NO Open powered by EVN.

“It was a really tough fight today under difficult conditions,” Kovalik said. “In the end, maybe I was able to handle the wind just a little bit better. It was very special to celebrate my sixth title here on this wonderful centre court in Tulln.”

<a href=''>Jozef Kovalik</a> triumphs at the Tulln Challenger.
Jozef Kovalik triumphs at the Tulln Challenger. Credit: Gepa-Pictures

In 2018, Kovalik reached the semi-finals at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg (l. L. Mayer) and reached a career-high No. 80 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The title in Austria lifts Kovalik to No. 155 as he looks to return to the Top 150.

Briton Stuart Parker advanced through qualifying en route to claiming his maiden Challenger title at the Bangkok Open-3. Parker, 25, was leading 6-4, 4-1 in the final when Frenchman Arthur Cazaux suffered an ankle injury that forced him to retire.

Parker, who was competing in his first Challenger Tour main-draw, played his best tennis, dropping just one set all week to triumph in Thailand. He is coached by former World No. 4 Thomas Enqvist, who reached the Australian Open final in 1999 (l. Kafelnikov).

<a href=''>Stuart Parker</a> in action during the Bangkok Open-3 final.
Stuart Parker in action during the Bangkok Open-3 final. Credit: LTAT Media

The title propels Parker to a career-high No. 351 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Cazaux, 20, has made back-to-back Challenger finals, claiming victory in 11 of his past 12 matches.

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Q3 Review: Alcaraz, Djokovic, Kyrgios Make Headlines

  • Posted: Sep 13, 2022

Q3 Review: Alcaraz, Djokovic, Kyrgios Make Headlines revisits the storylines from the third quarter of the season

The third quarter of the 2022 ATP Tour season saw the rise of the youngest-ever World No. 1, a familiar face lifting the Wimbledon trophy, and a pair of first-time ATP Masters 1000 champions.

An action-packed grass-court season witnessed Matteo Berrettini and Nick Kyrgios deliver a host of standout performances, but it ended with Novak Djokovic clinching his fourth consecutive title at the grass-court major. The switch to the North American hard courts in August saw Pablo Carreno Busta and Borna Coric claim their maiden ATP Masters 1000 titles, before Carlos Alcaraz lifted his first Grand Slam crown in style at the US Open in September to reach top spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. reflects on all that and more from a thrilling few months on the ATP Tour.

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Alcaraz On Top Of The World
Despite his promising fourth-round run at Wimbledon being ended by his #NextGenATP rival Jannik Sinner, Alcaraz cracked the Grand Slam code in dramatic style at the US Open, where the 19-year-old lifted his first major title after a high-stakes championship match showdown against Casper Ruud.

With the winner in New York set to claim both their maiden Grand Slam title and the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time, it was the #NextGenATP Spaniard who ultimately prevailed. Alcaraz powered to victory in four sets despite having spent 20 hours and 19 minutes on court across six matches at Flushing Meadows en route to the final.

“It is something I have dreamt of since I was a kid,” said Alcaraz. “To be No. 1 in the world, to be champion of a Grand Slam, is something I have worked really, really hard [for].”

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Living The Dream: How Carlos Alcaraz Hit No. 1 At 19

Alcaraz had already confirmed his qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time by reaching the quarter-finals in New York. He now leads the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin from his countryman Rafael Nadal, who became the first player to qualify for November’s season finale with his second-round win at Flushing Meadows.

Despite his championship match disappointment, Ruud looked back fondly on his fortnight in New York, which lifts him to a career-high No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “I’m very proud of being No. 2,” said the Norwegian. “In a way it’s a good thing, because I can still chase the last spot.”

Seventh Heaven For Novak At SW19
Novak Djokovic made his move in the Grand Slam titles race by charging to his 22nd major title at Wimbledon in early July, just one shy of Nadal’s record. The Serbian saw off Sinner, Cameron Norrie and Kyrgios en route to his fourth consecutive triumph in London, where he now holds an 86-10 match record.

The seven-time year-end No. 1’s run in London was not without its tense moments, not least when he trailed Sinner by two sets before completing an inspired comeback win in the quarter-finals. The 35-year-old’s seventh title at SW19 moves him within one of Roger Federer’s record, and Djokovic appeared eager for more after defeating Kyrgios in four sets in the final. “Every single time it gets more meaningful and more special,” he said. “So I’m very blessed and very thankful to be standing here with the trophy.”

<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a>

Novak Djokovic celebrates his comeback win against Jannik Sinner at Wimbledon. Photo Credit: Sebastien Bozon/Getty Images

Berrettini Finds Grass-Court Groove
Another man who enjoyed the grass in 2022 was Berrettini, who returned in style on the surface in June having not played for three months due to a hand injury. The Italian defeated Andy Murray to triumph at the BOSS OPEN in Stuttgart, before successfully defending his Cinch Championships title at the Queen’s Club in London a week later, his seventh tour-level crown.

Despite frustratingly being forced to miss Wimbledon due to Covid-19, Berrettini can look back fondly on a grass season during which he won all nine of his matches to improve his career record on the surface to 32-6, a showing that put any doubts surrounding his injury recovery to bed. “I arrived in Stuttgart and was not feeling great,” said Berrettini, looking back after lifting the trophy in London. “I was not hitting the ball how I wanted and I was like ‘Guys, I think it is going to be tough’. But it has gone pretty well!”

Red-Hot Kyrgios Doubles Up In D.C.
A grass season full of promising performances from Kyrgios culminated in the Australian reaching his maiden Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, although he ultimately fell short in his attempts to stop Djokovic charging to his seventh crown at SW19.

Kyrgios immediately bounced back from that disappointment when his North American hard-court season began in August at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. The show-stopping Australian claimed his seventh ATP Tour title with victory in the U.S. capital, where he also lifted the doubles crown alongside Jack Sock. “It’s just very emotional for me,” said Kyrgios after his singles win. “To see where I was at last year to now, it’s just an incredible transformation. I just came out with great energy.”

Victories over then-World No.1 Daniil Medvedev in both Montreal and at the US Open were also highlights of an impressive stretch for the 27-year-old Kyrgios, who went 26-7 across the grass and North American hard-courts to rise to No. 20 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, having been No. 78 at the start of June.

Carreno Busta Masters Montreal
Carreno Busta’s frank description of 2022 as ‘one of the worst years’ of his career may have required some reassessment from the Spaniard after he strung together an inspired series of performances to claim his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Montreal.

Berrettini, Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz were among those swept aside by the 31-year-old on the Canadian hard courts in August. “It’s an amazing feeling to be a Masters 1000 winner,” said Carreno Busta after he defeated Hurkacz in three sets in the final. “It’s the best title of my career for sure and I don’t know how I’m feeling in this moment.”

Coric Born-a Again In Cincinnati
It was a long and painful road to his third ATP Tour title for former World No. 12 Coric. The Croatian underwent shoulder surgery in May 2021 and entered the draw at this year’s Western & Southern Open in August with a protected ranking after missing the majority of last season for his recovery.

One week later and Coric was an ATP Masters 1000 champion, having stormed to the title in Cincinnati for the loss of just one set. The 25-year-old defeated Nadal, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Norrie en route to the final, where he completed an emotional championship match victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was a first tour-level title since 2018 for Coric, who revealed he now has to dedicate an extra 30 to 90 minutes a day to prepare his shoulder for the rigours of life on Tour.

Kohlschreiber, Querrey, Soares Wave Goodbye
Eight-time Tour titlist Philipp Kohlschreiber brought his 20-year career to a close after failing to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon in June. “The funny thing is, I really didn’t plan to announce it… I didn’t plan to go to Wimbledon and say maybe, maybe not,” said the German, who reached a career-high No. 16 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2012 and was a constant presence in the Top 100 between March 2006 and February 2021. “It was just that day I felt, ‘OK, it’s time.’”

Former World No. 11 Sam Querrey also retired after falling in the first round at the US Open. The big-serving American lifted 10 tour-level singles trophies and notched an impressive 23 wins against Top 10 opponents during his career. “I was a pretty good big-match player,” said Querrey, whose last match was against Ilya Ivashka in New York. “I feel like the better the opponent, the better I played, and [I] had some great wins.”

An illustrious doubles career also ended at Flushing Meadows, where six-time Grand Slam champion Bruno Soares announced the tournament would be his last on Tour. A hugely popular figure with fans and fellow players alike, the Brazilian won 545 tour-level matches and finished 2016 as one half of the year-end No. 1 doubles team, alongside Jamie Murray.

Ram/Salisbury Take Hard-Court Honours
Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury found their form on the North American hard courts to confirm their status as one of the game’s pre-eminent duos. American Ram and Briton Salisbury lifted their third ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati in August before repeating the feat at the US Open, where they were the defending champions.

Those successes saw Ram and Salisbury qualify for November’s Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year. The duo they defeated in the US Open championship match, Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings leaders and Montreal champions Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, had already become the first team to secure its spot at the season-ending showpiece with its first-round win in New York.

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Carlos Alcaraz: 'I’m Not Special, I’ve Worked For It'

  • Posted: Sep 13, 2022

Carlos Alcaraz: ‘I’m Not Special, I’ve Worked For It’

New World No. 1 reflects on his triumph at Flushing Meadows

Winning a Grand Slam at 19 years of age and becoming the No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings inevitably brings with it the impression that Carlos Alcaraz is a prodigal talent, a player with a God-given gift for tennis. However, the Spaniard is quick to distance himself from labels of such magnitude.

“I’m not special, and nobody said I was going to be the best,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve worked for it.”

In an interview from New York, the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings reveals the person hiding behind the premature success of his fledgling professional career.

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You’ve said many times that your dream was to be the No. 1. Is there anything left that excites you?
Playing against Federer would excite me and beating a ‘Big Three’ player in a Grand Slam. I’ve always said that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

In an interview a few years ago you denied being special. Now you are breaking all the records for precocity. Do you stand by that statement or are you starting to think you do have something special?
My answer is the same. Nobody gifts you anything, I believe. You don’t just click your fingers and have the world at your feet. You have to work at things. I think what I have achieved, winning a Grand Slam and being No. 1 in the world, is because of the work I’ve been doing with my team for a very long time.

It hasn’t been a bed of roses, I’ve had to suffer and go through bad times to get here. I’m not special, and nobody said I was going to be the best, I’ve worked for it.

You always talk about your team, family, but what percentage of this success is related to your work on the mental side?
I’ve been working with a psychologist for two or three seasons, with Isabel Balaguer. She’s a great professional, one of the main reasons I am able to be No. 1 in the world today. I’ve improved so much thanks to her.

Having a mental coach is important as tennis is demanding week after week and during a whole year you have to be fresh mentally, you have to cope with the pressure, with everyone watching you and it’s important to be able to handle that. Without a psychologist, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible because nothing is, but it would be far more difficult.

<a href=''>Carlos Alcaraz</a>
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images
What tools has she given you?
We talk, she gives me advice in certain situations: ‘You have to do this, you have to do that’. Things that help on court, she gives me a lot of tools.

Also to deal with journalists or people?
No, not that aspect. I am myself. She doesn’t give me tools for that. It’s more work on court, how to handle things. Also accepting that people recognise you, advice on how to cope with those situations.

Have you incorporated new routines?
I’ve reinforced what I had, always improving, incorporating them in a way that’s more natural for me.

What things do you always do?
Before matches I don’t have a specific routine, I do my warm up, where I always do the same, I try to always go to the same place with my team. If I feel like listening to music, I do, otherwise I don’t. In the match, I have some superstitions with towels, taking four balls, bouncing them five times, the bottles always neatly arranged, always drinking first from one, a bite of my energy bar always before the banana… [laughs].

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What is a day in your life like outside of tennis?
Honestly, I’m a very basic person and that’s what I enjoy the most, being with five or six friends sitting on a bench, in a car or a house, talking peacefully, laughing, telling anecdotes, it makes me happy.

Everyone describes you as a player with no fear on court. What is Carlos Alcaraz afraid of?
Honestly, I’m scared of failure. That’s probably one of my fears. Letting a lot of people down.

Failure in what sense?
Not being up to their expectations. Although I’ve won a Grand Slam or now I’m No. 1 in the world, probably there will be tournaments in which there are expectations and I can’t meet them. Above all, letting down the people around me. In terms of everyone else, there are a lot of people who think and have opinions, but I’m talking about those that are close to me. That’s the thing I’m most scared of.

And off the court?
I’d say the dark. I’m not a fan of horror films either. I’m scared of lots of things.

Nadal has the record with 22 Grand Slams. You’ve already got your first…
I’ll always be proud when Rafa wins Grand Slams and obviously if I lose at a Grand Slam, I’ll always be supporting a Spaniard. I’ve won one, I don’t feel closer, I’ve got 21 to go. For now, I’m going to think about trying to get the second, which very few people have managed, that’s my goal.

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