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Alcaraz & Norrie Withdraw From Acapulco

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2023

Alcaraz & Norrie Withdraw From Acapulco

Both players will be replaced by lucky losers

Carlos Alcaraz and Cameron Norrie withdrew from the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC on Tuesday, Alcaraz due to the right leg injury he aggravated in Rio de Janeiro and Norrie because of fatigue.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play in @AbiertoTelcel. I have a grade 1 strain in my right hamstring that will keep me out for several days, according to the tests we did this morning,” Alcaraz tweeted. “I’m really sad I can’t compete here, but now it’s time to think about recovering and being ready as soon as possible. I hope to see you all soon!”

Alcaraz owns an 8-1 record on the season after winning the Argentina Open and reaching the final of the Rio Open presented by Claro. The Spaniard missed more than three months following last year’s Rolex Paris Masters due to injury.

Norrie claimed the biggest clay-court title of his career in Brazil, where he battled past Alcaraz in the final. The left-handed Briton leads the ATP Tour in match wins this season with 18 (18-3).

“Unfortunately I have to withdraw from Acapulco,” Norrie said in an Instagram Story. “It’s one of my favourite tournaments, so it’s really tough for me to withdraw.”

“We wish you both a speedy recovery,” the Acapulco tournament wrote on social media.

Both players will be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser at 5:30 p.m. local time.

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Nadal Withdraws From Indian Wells & Miami Due To Injury

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2023

Nadal Withdraws From Indian Wells & Miami Due To Injury

Spaniard reached the final at Indian Wells last year

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau, the lefty confirmed on social media Tuesday.

“It’s been a while since I don’t communicate with you. Took my time off, started rehab, gym and physiotherapy as instructed by the doctors. Getting ready to come back the in the best conditions,” Nadal tweeted. “I am sad that I won’t be able to compete at Indian Wells nor Miami. Very sad not to be there. I’ll miss all my US fans but I hope to see them later this year during the summer swing.”

The Spaniard began his season at the United Cup before losing in the second round of the Australian Open to American Mackenzie McDonald. After his Melbourne exit, the 36-year-old underwent tests and reported the results to fans.

“Good afternoon. I have undergone medical tests after losing yesterday,” Nadal wrote in January. “The MRI shows a grade 2 injury in the iliopsoas muscle in my left leg. Now it’s time for sports rest and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. Normal recovery time 6 to 8 weeks.”

Nadal last year reached the final at Indian Wells, the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season. BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director Tommy Haas wished the lefty well.

“We wish Rafa continued healing, and hope to see him back at the BNP Paribas Open next year,” Haas said.

The Miami ATP Masters 1000 event replied to Nadal’s tweet by writing: “Get well soon, Rafa 💪💪 We’ll miss you here in Miami ❤️❤️”

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Djokovic Survives Thrilling Machac Test In Dubai

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2023

Djokovic Survives Thrilling Machac Test In Dubai

Serbian extends winning run to 18 matches with first-round win at ATP 500

Novak Djokovic remains unbeaten in 2023 — but only after the Serbian held off a ferocious challenge from Tomas Machac for a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(1) win Tuesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Machac showcased some top-class shotmaking, particularly off the backhand wing, to roar back into contention after a fast start from Djokovic at the ATP 500. The World No. 1 was at times visibly frustrated at struggling to find his best level, but composed himself in trademark fashion in the deciding-set tie-break to ward off the upset and take a hard-earned two-hour, 28-minute victory.

“Tomas certainly didn’t play like the No. 130 in the world today,” Djokovic said of Machac, who reached his career-high of No. 97 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings last December. “He was giving me all kinds of trouble. But i guess when it mattered, I found another gear.”

Although Djokovic struck 44 winners to Machac’s 34, the Czech rarely allowed the Serbian to dictate play for extended periods in their maiden ATP Head2Head meeting. Djokovic’s serve proved crucial in repelling his inspired opponent — the top seed sent down 12 aces and saved seven of 10 break points he faced.

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“Physically you can always be better,” said Djokovic, who was playing his first match since lifting a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam at January’s Australian Open.. “I demand the highest of standards, levels, and quality of tennis and preparation that I can possibly get.

“I did struggle with injury for several weeks and it took me a little bit of time to get used to holding the racquet. I haven’t played much tennis coming into Dubai, so I’m hoping that as the tournament progresses, I can raise the level of tennis as well.”

Djokovic had led 4-1 in the third set before an inspired Machac rallied to take the 93-time tour-level titlist the distance in the U.A.E. Yet the Serbian held on for the win, and is now 13-0 for the 2023 season after previously winning an ATP 250 in Adelaide prior to his Australian Open title run.

Having finished his 2022 season by going unbeaten at the Nitto ATP Finals, Djokovic’s current winning streak now stands at 18. The World No. 1 is this week chasing his sixth title in Dubai, where he triumphed in 2009-2011, 2013 and 2020. His next opponent in the U.A.E. will be World No. 39 Tallon Griekspoor.

More to follow…

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Felix Blunts Cressy Attack In Dubai

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2023

Felix Blunts Cressy Attack In Dubai

Canadian next plays Sonego

Felix Auger-Aliassime earned victory on his debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Tuesday. However, he was made to work hard at the ATP 500 event, clawing past American Maxime Cressy 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 to reach the second round.

The Canadian survived a serve-and-volley onslaught from a resilient Cressy, finding a number of stunning passing shots in pressure moments to triumph after three hours.

“He has not the most common game. But that is why he is difficult to play. You don’t have to face an opponent like him. He is quite unique and that is why I think he got me last time,” said Auger-Aliassime, who lost to Cressy at Wimbledon last year. “I think I was a bit unprepared and wasn’t able to stay as composed as I did today.

“I was sharp when I needed to. It was unfortunate it had to go three sets, but to be able to break him finally, for the first time since we’ve played together, was good.”

Auger-Aliassime arrived in Dubai off the back of a run to the semi-finals in Doha, where eventual champion Daniil Medvedev stopped him. The 22-year-old, who also fell to Medvedev in the quarter-finals in Rotterdam earlier this month, will next face Italian Lorenzo Sonego after improving to 8-4 on the year.

After winning a tight opening set, Auger-Aliassime was unable to cope with the 25-year-old’s proactive game in the second set, with Cressy clubbing 16 winners in the second set to level. However, the fourth seed remained patient on return and earned the crucial break in the fourth game of the third set, before remaining strong on serve to advance.

Auger-Aliassime has levelled his ATP Head2Head series against Cressy at 1-1, gaining revenge for his first-round defeat to the World No. 36 at Wimbledon last year. The World No. 9 is chasing his fifth tour-level title and first of the season this week.

In other action, Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp upset sixth seed Karen Khachanov 7-5, 6-2, while Australian Christopher O’Connell defeated Finn Emil Ruusuvuori 7-5, 6-4. Eighth seed Borna Coric advanced after Daniel Evans was forced to retire due to injury at 2-2 in the first set.

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Top 5 Fritz Narrows Focus After Latest Milestone

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2023

Top 5 Fritz Narrows Focus After Latest Milestone

American rose to No. 5 on Monday in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings

Taylor Fritz capped off his first day as a Top 5 player with a comeback, three-set win against countryman John Isner on Monday at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. As the first American to earn a place in the Top 5 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings since Andy Roddick in 2009, the Break Point star is leading the pack of 10 men inside the Top 50.

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While the 25-year-old appreciates the gravity of his achievement, both on a personal level and in the broader scope of American men’s tennis, Fritz is doing his best to keep his focus on the task hand this week in Acapulco.

“It’s obviously pretty exciting to be Top 5. I’ve known for about a week now that today was going to be the day that I’d be Top 5,” said Fritz, whose Delray Beach title put him in position to move up two spots from World No. 7, passing Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev after both dropped points last week. “Now I just need to focus on the tournament week and not so much about the ranking.”

He later added: “It’s a huge honour to be the first American in the Top 5 since [Roddick] was and I’m hoping that I can take it even further.”

In order to maintain his position, Fritz will likely need to defend his Indian Wells title next month when he returns to his native Southern California. Nearly one year after winning the biggest trophy of his career, Fritz feels that victory shows he is capable of contending for more of the game’s greatest prizes.

“I think if I’m able to win a Masters 1000, then I’m able to win a Grand Slam,” he said in an Acapulco press conference following his opening win. “Things just need to come together. I need to be playing really well one specific week. I feel like it’s possible for sure.”

For now, Fritz is focussed on winning his sixth ATP Tour title — and his second ATP 500 crown after last October in Tokyo — this week in Mexico. The American, who reached the 2020 Acapulco final (l. to Nadal), will continue his campaign against Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday, when he will try to close the gap on the Canadian’s 5-2 advantage in their ATP Head2Head.

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Rune Rallies Past Shelton In Acapulco Opener

  • Posted: Feb 28, 2023

Rune Rallies Past Shelton In Acapulco Opener

Americans Fritz, Tiafoe also advance

In a hotly anticipated Monday matchup of two of the ATP Tour’s newest young stars, fourth seed Holger Rune edged Ben Shelton in the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting.

In a 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2 victory at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, the Dane won eight of the final 10 games to close out a match that hung on a knife edge until late.

“I managed to find solutions when it mattered,” Rune said post-match. “I had to dig really deep for that break in the second set. In the third set I felt like I was more up. I think I played good overall and it was super tricky match.”

Shelton saved two set points in a thrilling opening-set tie-break before winning it, then erased another two at 4-5 in the second set, including one with a 120-mph second serve. But Rune took his third chance in set two after battling back from 40/0 in the return game.

It remained tight in the final set until Rune rattled off the final four games from 2-2, sparked by the point of the match in which he outdid a Shelton tweener with a feathered half volley. The pair slapped hands after the thrilling exchange, and they met again at the net soon after when Rune won the final four games without being pushed to deuce.

The 19-year-old Dane did not face a break point in sets two and three, losing just one point on his first serve across both sets. Shelton won 80 per cent of his first serve points in the match, with Rune singling out that shot for praise.

“He has a huge serve. For me it’s one of the biggest serves I ever played, ” Rune said of the American. “He has a lot of weapons. Most of all I’m super happy with how I handled everything mentally.”

After spending two hours, 20 minutes as rivals, Rune and Shelton are set to team up in doubles next week at Indian Wells. Shelton, six months Rune’s senior at 20, is also in the doubles draw this week alongside Mackenzie McDonald in Acapulco.

Before Rune’s victory on centre court, third seed Taylor Fritz opened play in the stadium with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against fellow American John Isner. It was the 25-year-old’s first match as a Top 5 player, after he rose up to the No. 5 spot in this week’s Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Fritz will next meet Denis Shapovalov, a 6-7(4), 6-0, 7-5 winner against Miomir Kecmanovic.

Sixth-seeded American Frances Tiafoe also advanced, 7-6(6), 6-4 against Yoshihito Nishioka. Tiafoe will play 41-year-old Feliciano Lopez in the second round. Spain’s Lopez earned his first win at an ATP Tour event since July 2021 with a 7-6(3), 6-4 result against Chris Eubanks.

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