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'Creative' Tsitsipas Emerges Unscathed In Dramatic Stockholm QF

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2022

‘Creative’ Tsitsipas Emerges Unscathed In Dramatic Stockholm QF

The Greek awaits Tiafoe or Ruusuvuori next

In a highlight-filled and eventful matchup on Friday at the Stockholm Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas edged home favourite Mikael Ymer to reach his second straight ATP Tour semi-final.

The Greek saved 10 of 11 break points, including one at 5-5 in the opening set, as he did just enough to keep the Swede’s charge at bay. Both men looked to attack early and often in the high-quality contest, combining for 57 net approaches, with each man winning roughly two-thirds of his ventures forward. The pair also combined for 56 winners, Ymer striking 29 to his opponent’s 27.

“It was not easy playing out here,” Tsitsipas said of facing the Swede in front of his home crowd. “I really had to play good tennis, come up with some creative shots, and I’m very happy with the result.

“I had to really work hard for it. He came very close, getting kind of a small lead, but I stopped him. I was there, insisting, and persevered in the first set. It was such a crucial moment to go through, and I did that and the rest came.”

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After failing to serve out the opening set at 5-4, Tsitsipas took control by winning five straight games. His run began with his gutsy hold at 5-5 and ended with another battling service game in which he saved three break points for 3-0 in the second. Those would be the last break points he faced in the match as he saw home his advantage with strong serving.

Now 5-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against Ymer — each win coming in straight sets, including three at Grand Slams — Tsitsipas awaits the winner of third seed Frances Tiafoe’s matchup with Emil Ruusuvuori, last on centre court.

“I’d like to congratulate Mikael on a great fight. [He’s made a] big improvement since last time we played,” said Tsitsipas. “I think he knows better of what he has been doing the last couple of months to get to that level.”

A finalist two weeks ago in Astana, where he lost to Novak Djokovic, Tsitsipas is seeking his third ATP Tour title of the season following triumphs in Monte Carlo and Mallorca.

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Lithuania's Debut Challenger Making Strong Impressions

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2022

Lithuania’s Debut Challenger Making Strong Impressions

The Challenger 80 event is held at the largest indoor tennis complex in central Europe

In the 45-year history of the ATP Challenger Tour, Lithuania had never hosted a Challenger tournament. That all changed this week, as the Challenger circuit turned its eyes to the country’s capital city, Vilnius.

Lithuania, located in the Baltic states, is the 91st country to host a Challenger tournament. Tournament director Ramūnas Grušas, who is the Lithuanian Tennis Federation president, spoke with about the process it took to build the Vilnius Open by kevin.

“We started to think about having a Challenger in 2013,” Grušas said. “We made a trip to some Challengers in Europe and talked to the organisers there and finally, we are doing it. We are really happy and excited.”

The host venue, the SEB Arena, provides world-class facilities to the Challenger 80 event. Boasting 28 indoor tennis courts, the SEB Arena is the largest indoor tennis complex in central Europe. Squash and badminton courts can also be found at the state-of-the-art facility. A recent expansion project included the construction of a stadium court for the debut tournament.

ATP Challenger Tour 

“During the Covid time, we built a new facility, including a centre court with 1,500 capacity,” Grušas said. “We built an extra six practice courts. Throughout the past year, we’ve made the venue really good for the players and spectators.

“It’s really important to show people that we are here. We have high-quality facilities, I think it’s showing that we are going in a good direction. This week, a lot of kids are coming to see the tennis and are enjoying it.

“We are not looking at this tournament for a really commercial side. We are looking to have good quality.”

The Vilnius Challenger marks the first time that Ricardas Berankis, who turned pro in 2007, has competed on home soil.

“I think it’s one of the best Challengers in the world,” The former World No. 50 said. “Not because I’m from here but overall I didn’t see or hear any unhappy players. I hope it will bring more attention from higher-ranked players in the future.”

Home favourite <a href=''>Ricardas Berankis</a> in action at the 2022 Vilnius Challenger.
Home favourite Ricardas Berankis in action at the 2022 Vilnius Challenger. Credit: Saulius Čirba

After initially submitting a tournament application in 2018 and patiently waiting through the Covid break, Grušas said that working closely with the ATP turned the dream of staging a tournament into reality.

“We have good relations with the ATP office,” Grušas said. “They helped us a lot with all of our questions because it was the first time for us.

“They [The ATP Challenger Tour] put the players first. You can feel it from the first step when you are talking with the ATP office and referees. You need to do all the best for the players.”

Frenchman Antoine Escoffier, seeded eighth, has strong impressions of the Vilnius Challenger.

“The event is really well organised,” Escoffier said. “The hotel and food are on site. The physio and practice courts are also on site. I think it’s one of the best conditions to have a tournament. It’s really impressive here.”

With a population approaching 600,000, Vilnius is the largest city in Lithuania. The city is known for its architecture in ‘Old Town’, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Vilnius was named the EU’s European Capital of Culture in 2009 and is one of the fastest growing and developing cities in Europe.

Not only is Vilnius establishing deep roots as a cultural centre in Europe, it’s proving to be a great location for the ATP Challenger Tour.

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Thiem Saves 3 MPs, Topples Hurkacz In Antwerp

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2022

Thiem Saves 3 MPs, Topples Hurkacz In Antwerp

Austrian to face Korda in semi-finals

Dominic Thiem produced an escape act of the highest order Friday at the European Open in Antwerp, where the Austrian saved three match points before downing top seed Hubert Hurkacz with a thrilling 3-6, 7-6(9), 7-6(4) victory.

Thiem saved those match points in a pulsating second-set tie-break, including one with a powerful backhand that crept over the net via a net cord at 5/6. The former World No. 3 then held his nerve to clinch the set and repeated the trick in the decider, surging to an unassailable 6/2 lead in the tie-break to claim his first win against Hurkacz in four ATP Head2Head meetings.

“This victory especially is unbelievable because it’s my first victory over an almost-Top 10 guy in my comeback process,” said Thiem, who returned to the Tour in March after missing nine months due to a wrist injury. “It was unbelievable to play, a great atmosphere and a great match.”

Despite his stroke of luck with the second-set net cord, Thiem kept a high level throughout the two-hour, 55-minute encounter. He struck 36 winners to Hurkacz’s 47, with his trademark backhand a particularly potent weapon.

“Indoors, especially against someone who is serving that great, it’s about little details and margins,” said Thiem. “Today the luck was on my side on that match point. The match could easily have been gone, but it’s like that at the highest level and I’m very happy in general to even get to those close situations again. Today it went my way and I have to enjoy it.”

Thiem’s next opponent will be Sebastian Korda, who wasted no time booking his semi-final spot with a 6-0, 6-2 triumph against Yoshihito Nishioka. Korda converted five of six break-point opportunities to seal a 52-minute win and extend his indoor record for the season to 11-3.

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Rune Rallies To Norrie Win In Stockholm

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2022

Rune Rallies To Norrie Win In Stockholm

De Minaur sees off Shapovalov at ATP 250 event

Holger Rune notched another impressive win on the indoor hard courts of Europe on Friday, when the 19-year-old took out second seed Cameron Norrie in the quarter-finals at the Stockholm Open.

The World No. 27 responded strongly to dropping the first-set tie-break to charge to a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 win. He struck 38 winners, including 11 aces, to claim his first victory against the Briton in four ATP Tour meetings this year.

“It was an unbelievable match, I think we both played pretty well,” said Rune after the victory. “Obviously I’ve lost three times in a row to Cam, so I knew it was going to be difficult and the result today showed it was a lot of hard work, so I’m just super happy that after a tough and very long first set, I could stay composed and find a way.”

Having reached the final in Sofia three weeks ago, Rune’s run in Stockholm so far has lifted him to No. 25 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings as he prepares to meet Alex de Minaur in the semi-finals. The Australian notched an impressive win of his own in Sweden on Friday, downing Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 7-6(4) to reach his fifth tour-level semi-final of the season.

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Berrettini Rolls Into Naples SFs

  • Posted: Oct 21, 2022

Berrettini Rolls Into Naples SFs

Musetti breezes through, Kecmanovic upsets Carreno Busta

Matteo Berrettini continued to look comfortable on the seaside hard courts of the Tennis Napoli Cup on Friday, when the home favourite delivered a dominant 6-2, 6-3 quarter-final victory against Taro Daniel.

The second seed picked up where he left off in his second-round win against Roberto Carballes Baena in Friday’s quarter-final clash, breaking Daniel’s serve in the opening game. Berrettini barely looked back thereafter, cruising to an 84-minute win to reach his fifth tour-level semi-final of the season.

“I think I was aggressive [from] the very first game and I got the break early in the first set and I felt confident,” said Berrettini after the match. “I didn’t give him the time to organise or [let him] make me move too much. We played each other many times, so I kind of knew what to expect from him, and my plan worked really well.”

Berrettini fired 36 winners, including seven aces, to extend his ATP Head2Head series lead against Daniel to 3-1. The Italian was particularly happy to put on a strong showing in front of his parents, who were watching on from the stands.

“It’s super important and I’m super proud that they’re here,” said Berrettini. “Obviously without them I wouldn’t be here… When I started playing tennis, they were the ones that brought me everywhere, so I’m so happy that they’re here, that they can enjoy this atmosphere, and hopefully they’re proud of me.”

The 26-year-old will take on Mackenzie McDonald, a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 winner against Zhang Zhizhen, in the semi-finals as he looks to win his first ATP Tour title in his homeland. Berrettini can also stay within touching distance of a qualification spot for November’s Nitto ATP Finals with a good result in Naples. Friday’s win lifted him one spot to 14th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

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Berettini’s countryman Lorenzo Musetti enjoyed a similarly emphatic quarter-final triumph as he downed Daniel Elahi Galan 6-3, 6-0. Musetti broke the Colombian four times en route to a 78-minute win to cruise into his third consecutive tour-level semi-final.

The 20-year-old Musetti, who is third in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan, has already qualified for November’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. He will next take on fifth seed Miomir Kecmanovic, who upset top seed Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5, 6-2 to reach his third tour-level semi-final of the season.

Carreno Busta was seeking his second win of the day, having halted the run of home hope Fabio Fognini with a 6-1, 6-1 second-round victory on Friday morning. The Spaniard could not back that win up against Kecmanovic, however, as the Serbian converted four of seven break points to extend his ATP Head2Head series lead against Carreno Busta to 2-0.

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