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Cleveland Challenger: Springboard For American Stars

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2023

Cleveland Challenger: Springboard For American Stars

The Challenger 75 event is celebrating their fifth anniversary

If you’re looking for players who can add to the next generation of top-level American tennis talent, chances are you can find them competing at this week’s Cleveland Challenger.

The indoor hard court event has been a stepping stone for Americans such as Sebastian Korda, Jenson Brooksby (‘21 Cleveland finalist), J.J. Wolf, Brandon Nakashima, Maxime Cressy (‘19 Cleveland champion) and Marcos Giron. All six of those men are currently Top-60 players.

The Cleveland Open has also earned visits from Miomir Kecmanovic, Yoshihito Nishioka, and 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals participant Dominic Stricker, who triumphed at last year’s edition.

ATP Challenger Tour 

“We’ve had an exceptional alumni base that we’ve built in only four years,” tournament director Alex Guthrie said. “We had 17 players in the main draw of the Australian Open [that have been to the Cleveland Challenger in years prior]. It’s really cool that the community of Cleveland can get behind this event because it’s been a pipeline to get players on the ATP Tour and become Top 50 or even higher. It’s cool to see the transition, they come through Cleveland and soon enough they are cracking on the ATP Tour as a regular customer.”

This week, the Challenger 75 event held at the Cleveland Racquet Club is hosting American youngsters such as Zachary Svajda and Alex Michelsen, who upset fourth seed Jack Sock in the opening round. Svajda, 20, won his maiden Challenger title this past year in Tiburon. Several former college standouts like Brandon Holt and Aleksandar Kovacevic are also in action in Ohio as Top-8 seeds.

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The Cleveland Challenger is the latest example of the game’s future stars competing in an intimate setting before rising to the biggest stages in the sport.

“The importance of the ATP Challenger Tour is being a breeding ground for future success,” Guthrie said. “All these players have either been to the top levels of the game or they’re going to be there. This is an important moment in their tennis careers to get matches in and build confidence.”

As players seek to develop their skills and gain valuable experience while collecting prize money and ranking points on the Challenger Tour, now is the time that tennis fans tune in to watch the stars of tomorrow take flight.

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Flashback: Fritz's Sampras Surprise On 18th Birthday

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2023

Flashback: Fritz’s Sampras Surprise On 18th Birthday

Relive a memorable moment for the Break Point star

Netflix’s Break Point showcased the biggest moment of Taylor Fritz’s ATP Tour career, when the American won the 2022 BNP Paribas Open title in his native Southern California. By claiming the Indian Wells crown, Fritz followed in the footsteps of his idol, Pete Sampras, who won the ATP Masters 1000 event twice.

The victory also made Fritz the No. 1 American in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — an honour he still holds today, and one that Sampras held for much of his legendary career.

View Fritz’s Break Point Player Profile

Long before he was chasing the biggest titles in the game, Fritz was just cutting his teeth at the professional level and hoping for an opportunity to meet the man who spent 286 weeks as World No. 1. In a 2018 interview, Fritz recalled a special birthday surprise from Sampras years earlier at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Monterrey.

“I had just started doing well on the pro Tour so I thought maybe I had a chance of talking to him or maybe he would want to talk to me,” Fritz said, recalling that Sampras was in town for an ATP Champions Tour event.

It looked like he would get his wish, as a practice session was set up for the pair. At the last minute, Fritz was told that Sampras cancelled. But his disappointment quickly turned to joy when his idol walked out onto the court bearing a gift.

“I walk on the court to to warm up for my match, and it was my 18th birthday, and Sampras comes out with… they gave him a cake!” Fritz said with a laugh. “I don’t think anyone filled him in on the part that he was giving me a cake.

“It was just really cool. I went from thinking, ‘Oh, he cancelled the hit,’ it was a regular practice… to now this is my idol, on my 18th birthday, hitting with me, warming me up for the match and then giving me the cake. It was pretty cool.”

Follow The Cast Of ATP Tour | Break Point

That moment in 2015 was a long time coming for Fritz, who still has memories of watching Sampras as a toddler.

“I’ve always looked up to Pete Sampras,” Fritz said. “I’ve tried to copy his serve even. He was always my favourite player growing up and he was the best American player of all time so I always wanted to be like him. He was always an idol for me.

“I love the way he was so calm. I thought it was the coolest thing when he would get up a break in the set and he would just tank the return games because he knew he wasn’t going to get broken. I thought that was so cool, having that confidence that I broke serve and the set’s over.”

Sampras, speaking to after meeting Fritz, proved prescient in his assessment of his countryman’s potential.

“He’s got a great game,” Sampras said. “He hits the ball big, has a monster forehand. I haven’t seen him play that much, but he’s got a few big weapons. He’s a big kid. I was just talking to him a little bit about what it takes, that it’s hard work and sacrifice. He’s on his way and he’s got the right attitude, willing to learn and listen. He’s got a great future.”

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Netflix Q&A: Break Point With Taylor Fritz

Nearly a decade later, Fritz is leading a fresh charge for American tennis. The 25-year-old is one of three men from the United States in the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and one of 10 in the Top 50.

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Paul Leads USA, Coric & Thiem In Action In Davis Cup Matches To Watch

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2023

Paul Leads USA, Coric & Thiem In Action In Davis Cup Matches To Watch

Wawrinka plays for Switzerland as Ymer brothers hope to inspire Sweden

Last week, Tommy Paul enjoyed the best run of his career at the Australian Open, where he reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final. The 25-year-old is looking to maintain his momentum this week in the 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers, where he leads the United States against Uzbekistan.

Paul takes on the host nation’s No. 2 Khumoyun Sultanov in his opening singles match on Friday in Tashkent after his countryman Mackenzie McDonald opens against Uzbekistan’s top player Sergey Fomin. The singles matchups will then be reversed on Saturday afternoon, after the solitary doubles match of the best-of-five-rubbers tie, with the winner qualifying for September’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage.

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Sultanov is ranked No. 480 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and Fomin at No. 366, but despite his higher ranking Paul knows he needs to stay focused in unfamiliar conditions in the Uzbekistani capital. Yet the American admitted he may have at least one source of outside help as he prepares for his maiden tour-level meetings against Sultanov and Fomin.

“When the [Australian Open] started I was texting Reilly [Opelka] a bunch about the players I was playing and he was giving me the scouting reports,” said Paul, who reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in Melbourne. “Every morning when I’d wake up for a match, he was sending me a long paragraph about what to do against certain players… maybe I’ll hit him up tomorrow!”

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Wawrinka & Zverev Clash In Trier
A Central European derby features a blockbuster opening day in the German city of Trier, where the home team’s former World No. 2 Alexander Zverev meets Switzerland’s three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka on Friday evening.

That follows a big-serving opening matchup between Oscar Otte and Marc-Andrea Huesler, with every win likely to be crucial in a meeting between two teams that appear evenly-matched on paper.

In Stockholm, Swedish fans will look for strong opening displays from brothers Mikael Ymer and Elias Ymer as the seven-time champion nation bids to extend its winning streak in home ties to six against Bosnia & Herzegovina. The World No. 60 Mikael faces Mirza Basic on Day 1, while his elder brother Elias, the World No. 120, plays Damir Dzumhur.

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France, GB Face Tough Tests On The Road
Another nation with a rich Davis Cup history, 10-time winner France, faces a tricky Qualifier away to Marton Fucsovics-led Hungary. Three-time ATP Tour titlist Ugo Humbert is the man charged with taking on the former World No. 31 Fucsovics. Humbert will look to his teammate Benjamin Bonzi to first settle any French nerves in Friday’s opening rubber against Zsombor Piros.

In the other two Qualifiers set to start Friday, Norway takes on Miomir Kecmanovic-led Serbia while Cameron Norrie and Daniel Evans will hope to handle the high altitude of Cota, a town near Bogota, where Great Britain takes on Colombia.

Fast-rising World No. 40 Jack Draper is another singles option for the 2015 champions, who hold a clear rankings advantage over their opponents but will need to adapt quickly to conditions on the clay favoured by leading home players Nicolas Mejia and Nicolas Barrientos.

Coric, Thiem Set For Saturday Showdown
The draws for the six ties with Saturday starts are to be made Friday, but a Day 1 clash between Borna Coric and Dominic Thiem could light up the tie between Croatia and Austria. The 2005 and 2018 champions Croatia have brought a strong squad together in the city of Rijeka, where World No. 21 Marin Cilic and the doubles pairing of Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic are also set to feature.

Other notable meetings projected to highlight the weekend’s action include Belgium’s David Goffin against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon. Goffin led his nation to the Davis Cup Final in 2015 and 2017, while Kwon lifted his second ATP Tour title in Adelaide three weeks ago. In La Serena, Chile, the host’s former World No. 17 Cristian Garin could face an intriguing clash of styles if he is drawn to play against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.

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Davis Cup Qualifiers: Great Britain's Norrie & Austria's Thiem Among Stars In Action

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2023

Davis Cup Qualifiers: Great Britain’s Norrie & Austria’s Thiem Among Stars In Action

Twelve qualifying ties take place this weekend

Twenty-four nations will start their quest to be crowned 2023 Davis Cup Finals champion this week when 12 qualifying ties take place around the world from 3-5 February.

Cameron Norrie and Daniel Evans will try to deliver for Great Britain in its tie against Colombia, with #NextGenATP star Jack Draper and Top 5 doubles pair Neal Skupski and Joe Salisbury rounding up the squad.

Croatia has reached the championship match in 2021 and the semi-finals last year. They are at full strength once again for their tie against Austria, with singles stars Marin Cilic and Borna Coric and doubles duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in action. Former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem will lead Austrian hopes in his first Davis Cup appearance since 2019.

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Tommy Paul, Mackenzie McDonald, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek make up a strong United States team for its tie against Uzbekistan, while two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev headlines for Germany against neighbours Switzerland.

The 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Jiri Lehecka represents Czech Republic, while David Goffin leads Belgium hopes. Czech Republic faces Portugal and Belgium plays Korea Republic.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2023 Davis Cup: what is the schedule, where to watch, which countries are playing and more.

Established: 1900

When and where is the Davis Cup Qualifiers?

The 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers will be held from Friday 3rd February to Sunday 5th February, with 12 ties taking place around the world. The Davis Cup Finals Group Stage will then take place from 12-17 September with the Davis Cup Finals from 21-26 November.

Who is playing in the 2023 Davis Cup?

The 12 winners from the qualifying matches will advance to the group stage in September, which takes place across four venues in Spain. The 12 winning nations will join 2022 champions Canada, 2022 runners-up Australia and wild cards Italy and Spain in the group stage. From the group stage, eight nations will advance to the finals in November in Malaga.

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How does the 2023 Davis Cup work?

Format Of Ties: All qualifying ties will consist of four singles and one doubles, with all matches played as best-of-three tie-break set matches. There will be two singles and one doubles on Day 1 and two singles on Day 2. The winner is the nation that wins three or more matches.

The 12 losing nations in the Qualifiers will compete in World Group I on 16-17 September alongside the winning nations in this week’s World Group I Play-Offs.

Who won the 2022 Davis Cup?

Canada d. Australia 2-0
Canada defeated Australia in the final, with Denis Shapovalov downing Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4 before Felix Auger-Aliassime clinched the tie, overcoming Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4. Read More.

What is the match schedule? How can I watch?

Order Of Play | TV Schedule

Qualifying Ties

Croatia vs. Australia, held 4-5 February in Croatia
Hungary vs. France, held 3-4 February in Hungary
Uzbekistan vs. United States, held 4-5 February in Uzbekistan
Germany vs. Switzerland, held 3-4 February in Germany
Colombia vs. Great Britain, held 3-4 February in Colombia
Norway vs. Serbia, held 3-4 February in Norway
Chile vs. Kazakhstan, held 4-5 February in Chile
Korea, Rep. vs. Belgium, held 4-5 February in Korea, Rep.
Sweden vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina, held from 3-4 February in Sweden
Netherlands vs. Slovakia, held 4-5 February in the Netherlands
Finland vs. Argentina, held 4-5 February in Finland
Portugal vs. Czech Republic, held 4-5 February in Portugal

Who holds the Davis Cup record for most titles, most wins and more?

Most Titles: United States (32)
Most Match Wins: Nicola Pietrangeli (78)
Last Home Champion: Spain in 2019

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The Best Of Andy Roddick In Netflix's Break Point

  • Posted: Feb 02, 2023

The Best Of Andy Roddick In Netflix’s Break Point

Learn what the former World No. 1 said in the tennis series

Netflix’s Break Point highlights rising stars in the sport who are pushing to reach the top of tennis’ mountain and dethrone all-time greats like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

A legend who provides insight into what it takes to do so is former World No. 1 Andy Roddick, who competed against Nadal and Djokovic for a large chunk of his career. looks at insight the American provided in the new tennis series.

View Special Break Point Page

Roddick Spoke To The Difficulty Of Facing Legends
“When you’re playing against the greats, it really humbles you. You respected their abilities, you knew what they accomplished. But with Rafa, the game plan is very clear,” Roddick said in Episode 2. “You’re not going to get into extended rallies. His physicality and what he does so well is so difficult to deal with. You can’t dance around. You don’t want this thing going nine and 10 rounds. You’ve got to get in there and punch him in the mouth. You can’t wait.”

Roddick gave this explanation to contextualise Matteo Berrettini’s semi-final against Nadal at last year’s Australian Open. The Italian showed flashes of his potential, winning the third set against the lefty. But already down two sets, it was too late in a four-set defeat.

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Casper ‘Hasn’t Gotten Enough Hype’
In Break Point’s fifth episode, the storyline focusses on 2022 Roland Garros, at which Casper Ruud broke through for his best run at a Grand Slam. The Norwegian advanced to his first major final on the Parisian clay.

Roddick did not comment on a specific aspect of Ruud’s game. Instead, he praised something else.

“I love Casper Ruud. He is one of the people who hasn’t gotten enough hype,” Roddick said of Ruud. “He’s not the person who brings attention to himself. He’s not a self promoter.”

What Makes Rafa Great On Clay
It is no secret that Roddick, who won five ATP Tour titles on clay, was at his best on quicker surfaces. However, the American explained Nadal’s clay-court dominance in a simple way, with his typical self-deprecation.

“The conversation has largely become who even has the potential to stop Rafa and the answer is not many,” Roddick said. “You watch Rafa on clay, the sliding isn’t an issue whereas someone like me who didn’t grow up on the surface, I looked like an elephant on roller skates.”

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Roddick On Kyrgios’ Talent
Roddick won 32 tour-level titles in his career, including a major at the 2003 US Open. But he said of Nick Kyrgios on the Netflix series that, “I wish I would have had his talent.”

When a fan who watched the show tweeted that Roddick “had way more talent”, the former World No. 1 expanded his thoughts.

“Definitely didn’t,” Roddick tweeted. “I had lots of weaknesses to cover for and was a pretty “made” player. Like the greats, Nick’s racquet acts like a simple extension of his hand.”

Previewing The Next Episodes
Five more episodes are scheduled to be released later this year. At the end of the fifth episode, when there is a brief look at what is to come, Carlos Alcaraz was featured.

“Alcaraz feels like Rafa and Roger did,” Roddick said of the Spaniard, who won the 2022 US Open and climbed to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

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