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Sudden Impact: Cerundolo Back In Business On ATP Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Sudden Impact: Cerundolo Back In Business On ATP Challenger Tour

The 20-year-old is a four-time Challenger champion

“We were both born with a tennis racquet,” #NextGenATP star Juan Manuel Cerundolo joked as he recalled his earliest tennis memory of him and his older brother, Francisco Cerundolo.

The Argentine brothers have inspired each other throughout their young careers as they’ve built upon their success. An important time for family support came this season, when Juan Manuel was sidelined with injuries.

“My brother and I keep motivating and learning from each other,” Juan Manuel told “We give advice and motivate like, ‘If I can do it, you can do it also’. His achievement this year inspired me to keep going, we keep in touch a lot.” 

ATP Challenger Tour 

This past week, Juan Manuel returned to the winners’ circle as he won the Buenos Aires Challenger to collect his first ATP Challenger Tour title of the season (fourth overall). In front of an energetic Argentine crowd, the 20-year-old defeated countryman Camilo Ugo Carabelli 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 in the final.

“I didn’t expect to win the tournament,” Juan Manuel said. “It was my second tournament coming back from almost two-and-a-half months and before that, I wasn’t competing regularly. Winning now, being healthy and playing in front of my people at home was really nice. It was relieving.

“It’s the best Challenger I’ve won, between the four. The atmosphere was incredible. Both me and Camilo had lots of people cheering for us. That’s something you don’t see in any other place than your home.”

Players from Argentina have combined for a season-leading 19 Challenger titles. Juan Manuel is the 14th different Argentine champion this year, tying a Challenger Tour record for the most different winners from a single country in a season (USA in 2006, France in 2011). The waiting and hard recovery work paid off for the Buenos Aires native.

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Cerundolo Triumphs At Buenos Aires Challenger

“The injury was really frustrating because 2021 was amazing for me,” Juan Manuel said. “When I was starting to play ATP, I tore my psoas muscle [located in the lower lumbar region of the spine], also coming from a problem in my hip. Then we realised my hip was okay, it was more the tendon and muscle. All my results I got last year went away because I couldn’t play. It made me angry because when you play, you want to put your 100% in every match, and I wasn’t able to do that.”

In 2021, Juan Manuel was one of four players to claim a Tour-level and Challenger title. His three Challenger titles – Rome-2, Como, Banja Luka – all came after his initial breakthrough at the ATP 250 event in Cordoba. ‘Juanma’ advanced through qualifying en route to making his ATP Tour main-draw debut on home soil. He didn’t stop there.

The then-World No. 335 became the first Argentine to win a title in his debut and the youngest Argentine champion (19 years, three months) since Guillermo Coria (19 years, one month) won Vina del Mar in 2001. The lefty’s standout season booked him a ticket to the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next ATP Finals in Milan, Italy.

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“Cordoba was a dream,” Juan Manuel said. “I was playing qualifying and I was like, ‘If I can win one qualifying match, it will be a good tournament!’ Then I started winning and I couldn’t believe anything. When I was in the quarter-finals I was like, ‘Woah, what is going on!’ Then I just had the confidence and it happened.

“It was like everything I dreamed of since I was a kid, winning at home, all my friends and family were there. Now, looking back, I learned a lot from that week. It was like the beginning of my career.”

<a href=''>Juan Manuel Cerundolo</a> captures the title at the 2021 <a href=''>Cordoba Open</a>.
Juan Manuel Cerundolo captures the title at the 2021 Cordoba Open. Credit: Cordoba Open

This season, Francisco, 24, followed in his younger brother’s footsteps by claiming his maiden Tour-level title in July, when he triumphed at the ATP 250 event in Bastad, Sweden. Much like Juan Manuel’s achievement in 2021, Francisco also claimed a Challenger title (Santa Cruz, Bolivia) in January. The right-hander is one of six players who have claimed a Tour-level and Challenger title in 2022.

When Francisco, No. 29 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, lifted the trophy in Sweden, Juan Manuel was preparing for the Tampere Challenger. He made sure that he could watch his brother be crowned champion.

“When he [Francisco] was playing the final in Bastad, I was training in Finland,” Juan Manuel said. “My coach put TennisTV on between our trainings and I saw every point I could. It was a very important final for him and he was playing a friend of mine, Sebastian Baez. It was a really nice match, both are having an amazing year.”

Juan Manuel, World No. 148, has shifted his attention towards having a consistent run during the year-end South American Challenger swing as he looks to play a full season in 2023. The lefty is set to compete the next two weeks at the Rio de Janeiro and Coquimbo-2 Challengers.

“With all the injuries I’ve been through this year, now my only goal is to play regularly,” Juan Manuel said. “To play three tournaments in a row would be amazing for me and to have the regularity to win and try to play as much as possible is more important than ranking and tournaments right now.”

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Granollers/Zeballos Boost Turin Hopes With Astana Comeback Win

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Granollers/Zeballos Boost Turin Hopes With Astana Comeback Win

Kyrgios/Kokkinakis ease through in Tokyo

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos held their nerve Thursday at the Astana Open, where they rallied to a 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 second-round triumph against Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies at the ATP 500 event in Kazakhstan.

The win is a potentially crucial moment in the Spanish-Argentine duo’s bid for a third consecutive appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals. The pair is currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, with 11th-placed Krawietz and Mies among their rivals seeking to secure one of the qualification spots for the season finale in Turin, to be held from 13-20 November.

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The third seeds were second best in the early stages against Krawietz and Mies, with the German team opening a 5-1 lead in the first set before the return game of Granollers and Zeballos came to the fore. Although it was by then too late to salvage the opening set, the Spanish-Argentine pair converted four from seven break points from that point, wrapping a one-hour, 42-minute triumph having won 47 per cent (17/36) of points against their opponents’ first delivery.

It was a second consecutive Match Tie-break win for Granollers and Zeballos, who also went the distance against Diego Hidalgo and Cristian Rodriguez in the first round. Their opponents in the quarter-finals in Astana will be second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who earlier eased past Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-6(4), 6-3.

Also on Thursday, Adrian Mannarino and Fabrice Martin sprung an upset by taking out top seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 6-3, 6-4. The unseeded French duo will meet Hubert Hurkacz and Jan Zielinski in the quarter-finals, after the Polish pair defeated Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-2, 11-9.


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Kyrgios & Kokkinakis Advance As Seeds Fall In Tokyo
At the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, top seeds Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis survived a day of upsets in the Tokyo doubles draw as they advanced to the semi-finals on Thursday evening.

The Aussies maintained their perfect set record on the week with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against the Spanish team of Pedro Martinez and Bernabe Zapata Miralles. In an eventful match, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis surrendered a break lead in both sets, but snapped back instantly on both occasions to restore their advantage.

The pair combined for 11 aces while saving two of four break points and converting on four of 11 break chances.

Next up for the duo is the team of Mackenzie McDonald and Marcelo Melo. The American-Brazilian pair knocked off fourth seeds Daniel Evans and John Peers 6-2, 6-7(5), 10-6.

In the draw’s bottom half, Belgian qualifiers Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen scored an upset of their own against second-seeded Aussies Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell. Both teams were two-for-three on break points in the contest, with the Belgians ultimately earning a 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 victory against the reigning Wimbledon champions.

Gille and Vliegen have won three consecutive matches via Match Tie-breaks in Tokyo, beginning in the final round of qualifying. They will meet third seeds third seeds Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez in the semi-finals after the Brazilian-Spanish team downed Americans Brandon Nakashima and Hunter Reese 6-3, 7-6(4).

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Medvedev Runs Hot As Potential Djokovic Clash Looms

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Medvedev Runs Hot As Potential Djokovic Clash Looms

Second seed will next face familiar foe Bautista Agut

Daniil Medvedev moved closer to a blockbuster semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic at the Astana Open after another commanding victory Thursday in Kazakhstan.

The second seed defeated big-hitting Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 event. Medvedev, who denied Djokovic’s quest for a calendar-year Grand Slam in the 2021 US Open final, has not lost more than three games in a set through two matches in Kazakhstan.

“I’m trying to be consistent. That was a little bit the goal this week,” Medvedev said. “But the further you go, the more just [being] consistent is not going to be enough. Emil is a really tough player, he can bring a lot of tough matches to top opponents from what I feel like. I’m sure he’s going to climb the rankings throughout his career.

“So I’m happy that today I managed to win pretty confidently and it was a great level.”

Earlier in the day, Djokovic, who holds the record for most weeks spent as World No. 1 (373), enjoyed a similarly convincing 6-3, 6-1 win over Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp to also advance to the quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw.

Medvedev arrived in Astana on a two-match losing streak, following a fourth-round defeat at the US Open to Nick Kyrgios and an opening-round upset in Metz at the hands of three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka. But he has needed just two hours and 35 minutes to win two matches this week and make his ninth quarter-final of 2022.

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The 26-year-old negated Ruusuvuori’s power with nearly flawless baseline play, making few unforced errors on the indoor hard court. He converted four of his nine break points to triumph after one hour and 15 minutes.

Medvedev was in full control for a large majority of the match. His only slip came at 6-3, 2-0, when he relinquished his serve by missing a forehand passing shot wide.

But Medvedev played dogged defence at 3-2 to recover his advantage. Ruusuvuori ended a long rally with a backhand into the net, and he was unable to recover again.

The former World No. 1 will next play Roberto Bautista Agut, who has proven a tough opponent for him in the past. The Spaniard leads their ATP Head2Head series 4-1, with three of his wins coming in straight sets. Medvedev’s only victory came earlier this year in Halle on grass. This will be the fifth ATP Tour quarter-final played between the pair.

“To be honest he’s just a great player, always close to Top 10. I feel like maybe he’s a little bit more shaky, I don’t know, in [the] Grand Slam later stages because otherwise I don’t see why he is not in the Top 5 from time to time,” Medvedev said. “I’m happy that I managed to beat him once this year. This can give me a little bit of feedback on what I have to do to beat him and that’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow.”

The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals champion, Medvedev is trying to qualify for the season finale for the fourth consecutive season. He is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, with Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas already qualified.

In other action, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz eliminated home favourite Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

It was an important win for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier, who is currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. If he reaches the final in Astana, he will move past Felix Auger-Aliassime into seventh.

Did You Know?
Medvedev is now 14-1 on hard courts this season against players outside the Top 50 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. His only loss came to Wawrinka, a former World No. 3, in Metz.

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Shapovalov Sails Past Noguchi In Tokyo

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Shapovalov Sails Past Noguchi In Tokyo

Fritz downs Moriya to set Kyrgios clash

Denis Shapovalov continues to excel in Asia. The seventh seed has followed up his run to the Seoul final with two dominant wins in Tokyo to advance to the quarter-finals at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

On Thursday, he breezed past Japanese qualifier Rio Noguchi 6-3, 6-1 to reach his sixth quarter-final of the season and end the 23-year-old Noguchi’s debut tournament on the ATP Tour.

“I’m definitely happy to be in the quarters here,” Shapovalov said post-match. “I always feel like I bring out some good tennis late in the year, and I’m very happy that’s the case again. Hopefully I can keep rolling with it.”

The Canadian did not face a break point against Noguchi, taking full advantage of the quick conditions under the closed roof in the Ariake Colosseum.

“The fast court plays well into my game,” he added. “I think I’ve been serving great on this court… we’ll try to take advantage this week.”

Shapovalov will seek to maintain his strong form as he bids for his first ATP Head2Head win in his third try against Borna Coric. The ninth-seeded Coric also advanced to the quarter-finals on Thursday with a 7-5, 6-2 victory against San Diego champion Brandon Nakashima.

“He’s a tricky player for sure,” Shapovalov said of Coric. “I’ve struggled with him in the past. He’s been playing some great tennis this season. It’s going to be a tough match.”

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After spending a week quarantining in Seoul, Taylor Fritz arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday just in time to win his opening match — a three-setter against James Duckworth. The American repeated the feat on Thursday, edging Tokyo native Hiroki Moriya 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals.

Following his first-round victory, Fritz said that his main concern was his fitness after falling ill with COVID-19 and being in lockdown. But the third seed once again rose to the occasion in the final set to reach his eighth quarter-final of the season.

While he gave a good report on his health following the second-round victory, Fritz said his biggest issue is a lack of practice time as he adapts to the fast conditions in the Ariake Colosseum.

“Physically, I feel good,” he said post-match. “It’s more just not having been able to practise and play… It’s tough for me to feel good about going for my shots and being aggressive. So I guess it’s good I’m getting a lot of time on the court.”

Thursday’s match clocked in at just under two hours, finishing just before 11 p.m., while his Wednesday win lasted one hour and 45 minutes.

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The energetic Tokyo crowd played a big role in the late-night match, urging Moriya on as he took the match to his opponent in set two. After losing six straight games to concede the opening set, the home favourite did not face a break point in the second.

“I felt like he really upped his level in the second and he played a lot better,” Fritz said. “Things got very close.”

Fritz regained control in the third and broke late in the set, but failed to serve out the match at 5-4. Undeterred, he secured his fifth break of the match to clinch victory. After finishing with 14 aces, Fritz is counting on his serve to propel him in his quarter-final showdown with Nick Kyrgios.

“It’s going to be a big emphasis on the serve,” he said, previewing the matchup. “I’m going to need to serve well, like I did yesterday in my first match. It’s going to be close.”

Kyrgios defeated Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the day.

The marquee matchup between Kyrgios and Fritz is scheduled to kick off Friday’s evening session, with a start time of not before 6 p.m. The pair, who played three doubles events together in the 2019 season, will meet for just the second time on the singles court. Fritz won their previous ATP Head2Head meeting 6-3, 6-2 in Cincinnati in August.

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Six Of The Best! Djokovic’s Red-Hot Form Continues In Astana

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Six Of The Best! Djokovic’s Red-Hot Form Continues In Astana

Serbian sets quarter-final clash against Khachanov in Kazakhstan

Novak Djokovic’s unstoppable form on indoor hard courts showed no sign of abating Thursday at the Astana Open, where the fourth seed delivered a confident all-around display to cruise past Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 at the ATP 500 event in Kazakhstan.

The Serbian required just 71 minutes to claim victory in his maiden ATP Head2Head clash against the World No. 34 Van de Zandschulp, striking the ball just as cleanly as he had in his impressive first-round dismissal of Cristian Garin on Wednesday. Having arrived in Kazakhstan off the back of clinching his 89th tour-level crown in Tel Aviv, the win extended Djokovic’s winning streak to six.

Djokovic has now reached the quarter-final stage in eight of the nine tournaments he has played in 2022. The 35-year-old will meet Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals in Astana after the US Open semi-finalist earlier prevailed 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 against ninth seed Marin Cilic.

More to follow…

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Vote For Your Favourite Turin Mascot Duo

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Vote For Your Favourite Turin Mascot Duo

Nitto ATP Finals will be held from 13-20 November in Turin

When the potential tournament mascot duos are this cute, it’s not easy to choose a winner. It’s like being asked to pick your favourite child. Perhaps that’s why the Nitto ATP Finals is turning to fans to help select which mascot duo will represent this year’s tournament (13-20 November).

Inspired by the symbols and colours of the event, and the features of the sport, Lob & Drop embody human characteristics and are the physical representation of the event. Together they cover every aspect of the game, from a cunning return shot (Lob) to a surprise and stylish one (Drop).

Turet and Plinaare are two bulls who love every different aspect of the tournament. Their colours bring together the event and the Turin city flag. They are inspired by the city’s traditional water fountain, called toret, which locals and tourists recognise on the city streets..

Turet loves to interact with people from around the world. Plin always likes to try new things, from food to activities in the Fan Village.

Please cast your vote for your favourite duo on Twitter. Voting ends Saturday 8 October 9am CEST.

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'I Sleep With It From Time To Time!' Tsitsipas' Own Piece Of Federer History

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

‘I Sleep With It From Time To Time!’ Tsitsipas’ Own Piece Of Federer History

Greek star reflects on emotional night as Swiss star brought career to a close

He’s one of the very best players in the world, but Stefanos Tsitsipas felt like a kid at the recent Laver Cup in London. With Roger Federer playing the last match of his career in doubles alongside Rafael Nadal, the 24-year Greek nervously approached the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion for a slice of history.

“It would mean the world to me if I could have one of your racquets,” Tsitsipas said to Federer. “I’ve been following you since I was three years old. If I could have a racquet to frame and put in my house, to share that with you is extremely special to me. I hope you don’t mind giving me that piece of your identity.”

Federer graciously offered up one of the 340-gram Wilson Pro Staff RF97s from his bag.

“Obviously, he agreed,” Tsitsipas said this week at the Astana Open. “Look, Roger was an idol of mine growing up. It would have been wrong not to get something from his last match. He was very nice, and I sleep with it from time to time.”

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He might have been joking — but it was impossible to know for sure. Tsitsipas is hoping that brush with greatness as a member of Team Europe will carry him towards the finish line of the 2022 season. He was the fourth player to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, following Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud.

On Wednesday, he advanced to the quarter-finals in Kazakhstan, winning two tight tie-breaks against 19-year-old Italian qualifier Luca Nardi. After his 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) victory, Tsitsipas warmly congratulated Nardi, who had won his first tour-level match in the first round against qualifier Alexander Shevchenko.

That gives the Greek star 51 victories in 2022, one behind ATP Tour leader and World No. 1 Alcaraz. Tsitsipas can equal that total with a victory in Friday’s quarter-final against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Before the event began, Tsitsipas was asked if shared similarities with Hurkacz, the easy-going Polish player.

“I am pretty loud on social media, though,” Tsitsipas said, referring to his prolific posts on Instagram (1.7 million followers) and Twitter. “I’m pretty quiet in real life, but I like to share some opinions here and there. I would say we’re on the quiet side, I would say he keeps everything to himself, extremely talented.”

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It’s been a terrific year for Tsitsipas, a first-round winner in Astana against Mikhail Kukushkin. He reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open, losing to Daniil Medvedev. Then he won the ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo and reached two other Masters 1000 finals, in Rome (l. to Djokovic) and Cincinnati (l. to Coric). He also won on the grass in Mallorca, the ninth title of his young career.

For Tsitsipas, those Laver Cup emotions carried over well beyond Federer’s final match.

“I was crying that night,” Tsitsipas said. “The most surprising thing was how emotional I was the morning after. You would think everything would be let out. But I was in full tears in my breakfast in the morning.

“You see all the beautiful moments go by — I think that’s what you take the most when you share Roger’s amazing retirement. I don’t think you could do it any better with his teammates. I wish one day my retirement can be like that.”

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Kyrgios Weathers Early Storm To Reach Tokyo Quarter-finals

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

Kyrgios Weathers Early Storm To Reach Tokyo Quarter-finals

2016 champion to face Fritz next at ATP 500 event

On a rainy Thursday in Tokyo, Nick Kyrgios weathered another sort of storm under the closed roof in the Ariake Colosseum. After a shaky start to his second-round match, the Aussie locked in to secure a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory against Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

Kyrgios grew frustrated as he played a loose opening service game in falling behind 0-3, and he could not create a break chance in the set. But after saving a break point in the opening game of set two, Kyrgios did not face another as he expertly turned the match around to advance to the quarter-finals.

“Losing the first set, there was never really a doubt in my mind that I was going to win the match,” Kyrgios said, noting his 37 match wins on the season. “I just had to get back to doing what I do well — that’s playing quick and aggressive tennis.

“I’ve got really good confidence in my game right now, so I don’t really doubt myself even when I’m down a set. I think playing Grand Slams and going far in Grand Slams has given me that confidence that even if I lose a set I’m still able to maintain and increase my level in the match.”

The fifth seed finished with 22 aces and won 84 per cent (36/43) of his first-serve points.

“I’ve been serving well all year,” he said. “I know if I’m serving the way I can serve, I shouldn’t be getting broken.”

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Kyrgios was pleased with his “really high level” in the final two sets, and will seek to continue that form in the quarter-finals against third seed Taylor Fritz.

“Fritz is obviously an incredible player. He’s had a great year,” Kyrgios said. “He plays very aggressive, has a great serve and is very dangerous off both wings.”

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