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Mektic/Pavic Claim Nitto ATP Finals Berth

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2022

Mektic/Pavic Claim Nitto ATP Finals Berth

Croatians have won five titles this season

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are the fourth doubles team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be played at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 13-20 November.

The Croatians, who have won five titles together this year, will compete in the year-end championships together for the second consecutive season.

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Mektic and Pavic claimed their first crown of 2022 in May, when they lifted their fourth ATP Masters 1000 trophy as a team in Rome, before earning another clay-court victory in Geneva and grass-court titles at Queen’s Club and Eastbourne. Last week, they captured glory on the indoor hard courts of Astana.

The Croatians also advanced to the final at Wimbledon, where they fell just short of retaining their crown in a fifth-set tie-break. The pair also reached championship matches in Dubai and Belgrade earlier in the year.

Mektic and Pavic made the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals last year, losing to Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who have also qualified for this year’s season finale. Mektic, who won the Nitto ATP Finals in 2020 with Wesley Koolhof, will make his fourth appearance in the season finale. Pavic will compete in the year-end championships for the fifth time.

In addition to Mektic/Pavic and Ram/Salisbury, Wesley Koolhof/Neal Skupski and Marcelo Arevalo/Jean-Julien Rojer have also secured their spots in Turin. 

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Mektic and Pavic finished as the year-end No. 1 duo in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Teams Rankings last season. That was their first year competing as a team.

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Rune Victorious In Stockholm Debut

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2022

Rune Victorious In Stockholm Debut

Cressy, Garin also advance

Holger Rune continued his strong indoor season with a fast start at the Stockholm Open on Monday. Making his debut at the ATP 250 in Sweden, the #NextGenATP Dane scored a 7-5, 6-2 win against Thiago Monteiro.

The seventh seed did not face a break point in the match and won five of six games to take command from 4-5 in the opening set. He secured his third break late in the second set before serving out the match to love, finishing with a 86 per cent (31/35) win rate on first serve.

Fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan, Rune could pass Lorenzo Musetti for third place with a deep run in Stockholm — though the Italian is competing in Naples this week. Both men have secured qualification for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

After reaching the Metz quarter-finals and the Sofia final, Rune will seek a third straight indoor quarter-final when he takes on Cristian Garin in the second round. Garin also advanced on Monday with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Aussie Jason Kubler.

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Aslan Karatsev set up a second-round showdown with second seed Cameron Norrie by easing past Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-2 to close the day’s play on Stockholm’s centre court.

In the lone three-setter of the day, Maxime Cressy edged Ilya Ivashka 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. The American will next face top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in what will be the Greek’s opening match.

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Bellucci Becomes Seventh #NextGenATP Italian Challenger Champion Of 2022

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2022

Bellucci Becomes Seventh #NextGenATP Italian Challenger Champion Of 2022

Halys earns Challenger season-leading 43rd match win while triumphing in Ismaning

Italian Mattia Bellucci and Australian Li Tu will never forget this week on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Bellucci, 21, advanced through qualifying and dropped just one set en route to claiming the Saint-Tropez Challenger while Tu triumphed at the Seoul Challenger and dedicated the victory to his mother, who recently passed away. Bellucci and Tu were among five champions on the Challenger Tour this week.

On the hard courts nestled in southern France, #NextGenATP star Bellucci defeated countryman Matteo Arnaldi 6-3, 6-3 to capture the Saint-Tropez Open.

“It was an amazing week,” Bellucci said. “I started on Monday, I played every day, seven days, seven matches and with each match, I felt better and better.

ATP Challenger Tour 

“Today, I stayed focussed as much as possible on every point, on every ball. I’m super happy because I won my first Challenger and the first time is always special. When I arrived here, I couldn’t have imagined that I would win the tournament.”

Bellucci is the seventh #NextGenATP Italian champion this season. The lefty joins Arnaldi, Flavio Cobolli, Francesco Maestrelli, Lorenzo Musetti, Luca Nardi, and Francesco Passaro. The title at the Challenger 100 event lifts Bellucci to a career-high 186 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Arnaldi, 21, strengthens his hopes of qualifying for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals following his runner-up finish in France. The Sanremo native climbs to 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan.

At the FILA Seoul Open Challenger, Aussie qualifier Tu capped off an emotional week by defeating Wu Yibing 7-6(5), 6-4 to earn his first Challenger title.

Tu, 26, returned to professional tennis in February 2021 after a six-year hiatus. During his time away from pro tennis, he earned his college degree and coached junior players. Now making a sudden impact on the Challenger Tour, the Adelaide native rises to a career-high 190 following the title in Seoul, which he dedicated to his mother.

“My mom passed away three weeks ago and tomorrow is her birthday,” Tu said during the trophy presentation. “So this is for her.”

Wu, who boasts a 23-4 match record at the Challenger level this season, climbs to a career-high No. 115. The 23-year-old has won three Challenger titles this year and now looks to become the first Chinese man to break through the Top 100. His countryman, Zhang Zhizhen, who is a four-time Challenger finalist this season, is the highest-ranked Chinese player (No. 109).

In Ismaning, Germany, top seed Quentin Halys ended home favourite Max Hans Rehberg’s dream week in the final. Halys fired 24 aces in the championship match, claiming a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory to win the Wolffkran Open by Tannenhof.

“I was playing really great during the whole week,” Halys said. “I was serving amazing, I’m super happy about my performance. In the final, we had chances to break each other, I was lucky to get a break in the second. It was very tough.”

Frenchman <a href=''>Quentin Halys</a> lifts the trophy at the Ismaning Challenger.
Frenchman Quentin Halys lifts the trophy at the Ismaning Challenger. Credit: Juergen Hasenkopf

The Frenchman boasts a Challenger season-leading 43 match wins. Halys joins Constant Lestienne, Nardi, and Wu as three-time Challenger champions this year. Only Pedro Cachin and Jack Draper have captured four Challenger titles this season.

Players from France have combined for a season-leading (tied w/ Argentina) 19 Challenger titles. Both nations are one title shy of tying the Challenger Tour record for most titles won by a single country (20), which Argentina has collected three times (2021, 2016, 2007) and France has claimed once (2005).

Rehberg, 18, was given a wild card and upset second seed Tomas Machac and third seed Vasek Pospisil en route to his first Challenger final.

American Michael Mmoh, who didn’t drop a set all week, took down college standout Gabriel Diallo 6-3, 6-2 in the final at the Taube-Haase Pro Tennis Championship in Fairfield, California.

Mmoh has won 12 of his past 13 matches, including claiming the title this past month at the Cary Challenger. The American believes his success has come after a newfound mindset.

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“The toughest loss for me this year was at the US Open [qualifying],” Mmoh said. “I was up 6-2, 5-2 against Gilles Simon and ended up losing that. That was a heartbreaker, it really crushed me. I really took time to say, ‘What can I do outside of tennis?’ I tried to challenge myself after that horrific loss.

“I started reading books, started talking to psychologists, broadening my horizons. I was challenging myself to get better. Whenever you have some of those losses, you look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘There’s a reason that happened, how can I fix it?’”

The 24-year-old, who boasts seven Challenger titles (all on home soil), rises to No. 110 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and sets his sights on surpassing his career-high mark 96, which he reached in October 2018.

Diallo, who is a senior at the University of Kentucky, climbs to a career-high 250 following his runner-up finish in California. The 21-year-old claimed his first Challenger title at the Granby Challenger in August.

Italian Marco Cecchinato, seeded third, was crowned champion at the Challenger Dove Men+Care Rio de Janeiro after he rallied from a set down to defeat German Yannick Hanfmann 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Italian <a href=''>Marco Cecchinato</a> celebrates his second Challenger title this season.
Italian Marco Cecchinato celebrates his second Challenger title this season. Credit: Luiz Candido

Cecchinato has won 10 of his past 11 matches, including triumphing at the Lisbon Challenger this past month. The 30-year-old is a three-time Tour titlist (Budapest, Umag, Buenos Aires). Following the title on the Brazilian clay, Cecchinato launches back into the Top 100.

In 2019, the Italian reached a career-high 16 shortly after winning the ATP 250 event in Buenos Aires. Cecchinato reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2018, when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals before falling to Dominic Thiem. As the-then World No. 72, Cecchinato became the lowest-ranked Roland Garros semi-finalist since Andrei Medvedev (No. 100) in 1999.

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Passaro, Zhang Qualify For Naples Main Draw

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2022

Passaro, Zhang Qualify For Naples Main Draw

Italy’s Passaro sits ninth in Race To Milan

The top three seeds in the Tennis Napoli Cup qualifying draw all secured their main-draw spots on Monday, with Nicolas Jarry, Zhang Zhizhen and Francesco Passaro all advancing in Italy.

Third seed Passaro overcame a bagel opening set to defeat fifth seed Filip Misolic 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. The #NextGenATP Italian is in ninth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan and could move into eighth with an opening-round win against Mackenzie McDonald, depending on other results.

China’s Zhang also battled through three sets in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win against seventh-seeded Italian Giulio Zeppieri. Seeking to become the first Chinese man to break the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Zhang would accomplish that historic feat with two main-draw wins in Naples. He opens against Marton Fucsovics, who sits at No. 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings as of Monday evening.

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Jarry, the top seed in qualifying, earned a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Italy’s Raul Brancaccio. The Chilean will meet Roberto Carballes Baena in the opening round.

Also advancing through qualifying on Monday was Borna Gojo, a 6-3, 6-4 winner against Italian wild card Stefano Napolitano.

Main-draw play begins Tuesday at the Naples ATP 250 event, with fifth seed Miomir Kecmanovic, seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and eighth seed Adrian Mannarino all set to feature on centre court.

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Draper Boosts Milan Hopes With Antwerp Victory

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2022

Draper Boosts Milan Hopes With Antwerp Victory

#NextGenATP Briton will next face Hurkacz

#NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper boosted his Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals chances on Monday in Antwerp, where he cruised past American Jenson Brooksby 6-1, 6-2.

In a dominant performance, the 20-year-old struck 17 winners and committed just three unforced errors to reach the second round at the European Open after 61 minutes. Draper, who now leads Brooksby 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, will next face top seed Hubert Hurkacz.

“On my service games I was hitting my spots really well,” Draper said in his on-court interview. “I wasn’t missing many returns as well. Jenson is someone who competes really well, so I felt that it was important to get on the front foot and not let him play his game because he is so awkward. I am glad with the way I played.”

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

With his victory, Draper has consolidated his fifth-placed position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan. Draper is currently on 945 points, 43 points ahead of sixth-placed American Brandon Nakashima. Draper is aiming to make his debut at the 21-and-under event, to be held at the Allianz Cloud in Milan from 8-12 November. Lorenzo Musetti and Holger Rune have already qualified.

Earlier this season, the Briton captured four ATP Challenger Tour titles, before he reached his first tour-level semi-final in Eastbourne. Draper also upset Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal, while he defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open. Monday’s meeting against Brooksby was Draper’s first match since the seasons final major.

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Can Anyone Catch Felix For Final Turin Spot?

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2022

Can Anyone Catch Felix For Final Turin Spot?

Canadian can give himself buffer this week in Antwerp

Felix Auger-Aliassime moved into a qualifying position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin by winning the UniCredit Firenze Open. Now the Canadian has an opportunity to consolidate his standing as he pursues a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.

The 22-year-old is the second seed at this week’s European Open in Antwerp, where he extend his lead over his closest challengers. Auger-Aliassime (3,065 points) leads eighth-placed Taylor Fritz (2,885) by 180 points and ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz (2,725), the top seed in Antwerp, by 340 points in the Live Race.

“The plan right now is to play every week, to play in Antwerp, Basel and Paris because there are still tournaments to play and the Race is very close,” Auger-Aliassime said after his victory in Florence. “There [are] players like Taylor [Fritz] and Andrey [Rublev], and many others are competing hard right now to try and qualify, so I’m going to try to put myself in the best position possible to try and make it to Turin.”

View Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin

Eight players qualify for the season finale, which will be played from 13-20 November at the Pala Alpitour. Tenth-placed Novak Djokovic (2,720) has claimed his spot in Turin under the Grand Slam champion provision, making seventh place key. The Grand Slam champion provision awards a Nitto ATP Finals entry to a current-year major winner who finishes between eighth and 20th in the Live Race. 

Eighth-placed Fritz, who held seventh place after winning the ATP 500 event in Tokyo, is not in action this week. Hurkacz, who made his Nitto ATP Finals debut last year, can draw closer to Auger-Aliassime with 250 points awarded to the winner in Antwerp.

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Sixth-placed Andrey Rublev (3,440) is also positioned well as he tries to earn his third consecutive Nitto ATP Finals qualification. The 24-year-old is not playing this week, but he 375 points ahead of Auger-Aliassime. Fifth-placed Daniil Medvedev (3,555) is trying to earn his place at the year-end championships for the fourth straight year.

Players who can move into contention this week include 12th-placed Cameron Norrie (Stockholm), 13th-placed Pablo Carreno Busta (Naples) and 15th-placed Matteo Berrettini (Naples). 

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