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Why Fritz & Co. Are Drawing Locks On TV Cameras

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2023

Why Fritz & Co. Are Drawing Locks On TV Cameras

Fritz, Tiafoe, Keys and Pegula supporting each other at hard-court major

Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula have made fast starts at the Australian Open, with the quartet dropping just three sets between them in seven matches.

It follows their success at the United Cup earlier this month, when the ATP and WTA stars joined forces to guide Team United States to the title at the inaugural mixed-teams event.

Throughout the 11-day tournament, the Americans shared jokes about being locked-in on court as they built a strong team dynamic in Sydney. Now in Melbourne, the quartet continues to support each other, with Fritz and Pegula drawing locks on the camera following wins at the major.

“[You] just have to stay locked. It’s the whole thing with the United Cup guys. Just staying locked in,” said Tiafoe, who explained the term ‘locked’ as being ‘in the zone’. “I made a joke about it with the guys at the United Cup asking them before the match, ‘Are you locked?’ It’s definitely become a thing. It’s so funny how true it is because staying between the lines, it’s amazing how well you play. It’s a funny thing with everybody.”

Tiafoe is known on and off court for his energetic and relaxed personality. However, it was the 24-year-old who pushed the term ‘locked’ at the United Cup, sparking laughter from his teammates.

“It’s funny coming from me because everyone knows how I go about my business. I’m very open and just joking around. When I’m saying it, it just sounds funny,” Tiafoe said. “So then it became a thing where if Frances can lock, everyone has got to lock. That’s kind of how it all came around…We’re all doing well, and it’s becoming a good team camaraderie.”

Keys earned five wins at the United Cup at the start of the season and has backed that up in Melbourne, advancing to the third round.

The 27-year-old feels the mixed-teams event was the perfect way to begin her year.

“I think I speak for everyone, it was truly the best two weeks of my whole life. It was so much fun,” Keys said. “Obviously winning is the cherry on top and all of that. To have the seven other amazing people and then all of our teams together, it was just a really great group of people. I think it was the perfect way to start the year.

“We had so much fun. I’m really happy that we’ve continued to talk literally every single day. We still have meals together and all of that. So I think just carrying that over outside of the event has been really great for all of us.”

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Ruud, Djokovic Resume Title Bids; Murray & Kokkinakis Clash At Australian Open

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2023

Ruud, Djokovic Resume Title Bids; Murray & Kokkinakis Clash At Australian Open

Rune, Rublev, De Minaur also in second-round action on Day 4

Second-round singles action concludes Thursday at the 2023 Australian Open, where Casper Ruud and Novak Djokovic seek to build on solid opening wins at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Five-time finalist Andy Murray also returns to court, as the Scot tries to build on his epic win against Matteo Berrettini in an enticing clash against home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Taylor Fritz are among the other names in action on Thursday, when men’s doubles action also commences. Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, and 2020 champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury are among teams eyeing a fast start at Melbourne Park. runs through some key battles scheduled for Day 4 at the Australian Open.

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[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. Jenson Brooksby (USA)

Ruud is doubly motivated to make the most of his return to the Australian Open after he missed the 2022 event with an ankle problem. But that unfortunately timed injury now has a silver lining: With no Pepperstone ATP Rankings points to defend, the Norwegian can rise to World No. 1 by winning the title in Melbourne, or by reaching the final if Stefanos Tsitsipas does not claim the crown.

The 24-year-old passed a tough opening test in a four-set win against Tomas Machac, but it won’t get any easier against the tricky Jenson Brooksby in the second round.

“It is great to be back,” Ruud said after his 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-3 first-round win. “I could not play here last year unfortunately, so I am very eager to have a good tournament. This was a good start. I think Tomas played well, very aggressive and played some great points in the third-set tie-break. It was frustrating but I managed to stay strong and earn the win.”

Australian Open debutante Brooksby also needed four first-round sets to defeat home favourite Christopher O’Connell, blitzing through the final three sets after conceding the opener. The American is 4-1 on the season, having reached the Auckland semi-finals last week.

He seeks his second Top 10 win on Thursday, after his upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas last year at Indian Wells. Brooksby could not repeat the feat against Ruud two months later, with the Norwegian scoring a 6-3, 6-4 win in Rome in the pair’s only previous ATP Head2Head encounter.

Seeded second in Melbourne, Ruud has firmly established himself as a player to beat at the Grand Slams: He reached his first two major finals last season at Roland Garros and the US Open.

Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Thanasi Kokkanakis (AUS)

Five-time Australian Open finalist Murray hopes to carry momentum gained in his thrilling first-round win against Berrettini into his meeting with Kokkinakis. The physical toil required for the Scot to reach the second round may have been high, but he believes his off-season fitness work gives him every chance possible to be fresh for Thursday’s clash.

“It’s obviously not that easy to recover from a four-hour 45-minute match,” Murray said after his five-set victory against Berrettini. “But I have put myself in the best chance to be able to do that with the training and stuff that I’ve done the last few months. I wouldn’t expect myself to feel perfect on Thursday, but hopefully I’ll be in a good place.”

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The Scot can also look to his previous tour-level meeting with Kokkinakis for comfort. He beat a then-19-year-old Kokkinakis 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 in a 2015 Davis Cup tie, but will be aware that the Australian now possesses considerably more big-match experience and a strong record on home soil. The 26-year-old wild card won his maiden tour-level title in his hometown of Adelaide in 2022 and upset World No. 6 Andrey Rublev en route to the semi-finals at this year’s Adelaide International 2.

[4] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [Q] Enzo Couacaud (FRA)

Djokovic’s bid for a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown continues with a maiden ATP Head2Head meeting against Couacaud. The 27-year-old qualifier claimed just his second Grand Slam win against Hugo Dellien in a rain-delayed first-round clash on Wednesday, but he now faces one of the toughest tests in tennis against Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena — the Serbian has won his past 22 matches on Melbourne Park’s centre court.

The fourth-seeded Djokovic was in fine form in his opening win against Roberto Carballes Baena, despite playing with a strapped left hamstring that he aggravated during his run to a 92nd tour-level title at the Adelaide International 1 earlier this month. The 35-year-old will feel confident as he aims to stay on track to equalling Rafael Nadal’s record tally of 22 major crowns.

Also In Action…

Holger Rune notched his maiden Australian Open win in straight sets on Tuesday against Filip Krajinovic. The ninth seed faces a tough test next in the big-serving American Maxime Cressy. The pair has never met at Tour-level but played at an ATP Challenger Tour event in France in 2021 and in qualifying for the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Rune prevailed in straight sets in both.

Andrey Rublev came through a potentially tricky first-round clash against Dominic Thiem in style, and the fifth seed will hope to continue his form from that straight-sets win against the clean-hitting Finn Emil Ruusuvuori. Eighth seed Taylor Fritz meets home favourite Alexei Popyrin, while 12th seed Alexander Zverev faces lucky loser Michael Mmoh.

Other seeds in action include Pablo Carreno Busta, Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov. The 14th seed Carreno Busta meets Benjamin Bonzi, 23rd seed Schwartzman takes on American J.J. Wolf and former World No. 3 Dimitrov, the No. 27 seed, plays Laslo Djere.

As well as Kokkinakis and Popyrin, Alex de Minaur flies the flag for the host nation Thursday in Melbourne. The 22nd seed carries a 2-1 ATP Head2Head lead into his second-round clash against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The #NextGenATP American Ben Shelton eyes a third-round berth when he takes to court against qualifier Nicolas Jarry.

Men’s doubles action commences Thursday after inclement weather delayed the competition’s start at Melbourne Park. The first day’s matches include top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski taking on Alexander Bublik and John-Patrick Smith, second seeds and 2020 champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury up against Marcos Giron and Constant Lestienne, and fourth seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic against Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni.

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ATP & ITA Unite To Accelerate Professional Development For US Collegiate Players

  • Posted: Jan 18, 2023

ATP & ITA Unite To Accelerate Professional Development For US Collegiate Players

Forms part of a long-term strategy to promote the rise of young talent in the professional game

The ATP and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) have today announced a groundbreaking collaboration to accelerate the professional development pathway for players in the American Collegiate system.

The collaboration will see ATP Challenger Tour playing opportunities allocated to the highest-ranked ITA College players for the first time. This forms part of a long-term strategy to promote the rise of young talent in the professional game and builds on opportunities offered to the world’s top-ranked ITF Junior players through the Accelerator Programme, which came into play at the start of the 2023 season.

Players ranked in the Top 20 of the ITA final singles rankings at the beginning of June, who have finished their education, will be granted up to eight Accelerator Spots at Challenger 50 and 75 tournaments, with opportunities split between main draw (Top 10) and qualifying (11-20). Players who reach the quarter-finals or better of the individual NCAA Division I Tennis Championships will also qualify for the Accelerator Programme if not already eligible via their ITA ranking. These opportunities will be available from 1 July each season, beginning in 2023, for a period of 12 months.

In addition, players who remain in education and qualify for the programme will receive six opportunities over six months (July–December), enabling them to benefit from the programme during their college off-season and parts of their individual fall season.

Providing further opportunity, eligible college players who achieve direct acceptance into Qualifying of ATP Challenger events via their Pepperstone ATP Ranking will be eligible for promotion into the main draw.

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman: “Today’s aspiring players are the future lifeblood of our sport, and we must do everything we can to provide them opportunities to reach their potential. We’re thrilled to be opening new doors to the American college system, which has been a bedrock of talent in our game for decades.”

Timothy Russell, ITA Chief Executive Officer: “College tennis is the connective tissue in the global tennis eco-system, an aspirational goal for junior tennis players around the world and a proven educational environment and competitive high performance arena in preparation for success in life, including as a career as a top professional tennis player. As an innovative leader in the world of American intercollegiate athletics, the ITA is honored to partner with the ATP in providing this new coordinated and motivational pathway to talented and dedicated college players.”

Ben Shelton, ATP Player and NCAA Champion: “College tennis is a great step to becoming a professional. You learn about playing for something bigger than yourself. I think it’s great that the top college tennis players will now have an opportunity when their season ends to jump into the pro game. To give players that are Top 10, Top 20 in the nation, opportunities to make big jumps quickly is really cool.”

College player eligibility for the 2023 Accelerator Programme will be based off the season-end singles ITA Collegiate Tennis Ranking sponsored by Tennis-Point, scheduled to be published on 1 June 2023.

More information about the Accelerator Programme announced in December can be found here.

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